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Warehouse B
How Could It Be?
Page Two
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Was An Ancient Spark Plug Found In A Rock?

By James Donahue

It was in 1961 that California rock collectors Wallace Lane, Virginia Masey and Mike Mikesell picked up a most controversial geode on a mountain near Olancha. Later, when attempting to cut open the stone for grinding and smoothing as an item for sale in their rock shop, they cut through what appeared to be the core of a spark plug, embedded in the stone.

The discovery caused a sensation because it suggested that our own civilization was preceded by an earlier advanced civilization like our own, that somehow disappeared or went extinct. Some people estimated that it might have taken up to 500,000 years and a lot of violent geological activity before an item like that could become encased in solid rock.

As we have reported in other stories, this item is not the only anomaly of its kind to be found in the rocks on our planet. Things like steel nails and even fine jewelry have been found in coal dug from deep under the surface. All of the discoveries have been disputed by nay-sayers, including the spark plug, which presents what could be the strongest evidence of an early civilization that reached technological advancement equal to our own.

Known as the Coso Artifact, because of its discovery in the Coso Mountains, critics note that the item has never been seriously studied and carbon dated by known geologists, and its documentation published in a real scientific journal. They also argue that the material surrounding the artifact may not have been a solid rock geode, but rather decay material generated from the metal in the spark plug.

One investigation by Pierre Stromberg and Paul Heinrich, with the help of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, suggested that the artifact is a 1920s Champion sparkplug, and not very old at all. They propose that the spark plug was dropped on the mountain by miners and that it became encased in a concentration as the iron rusted, thus creating an iron oxide concretion around itself.

So much for arguments by the nay-sayers. Evidence supporting the suggestion that the item came from antiquity also can be found in this story.

Remember that the people who found this artifact were rock collectors who operated a rock shop in Olancha. They identified the stone as a geode and planned to cut it into pieces for grinding and polishing before putting them up for sale with other items in their shop. It is unlikely that they would have made a mistake in identifying the rock they picked up that day.

It was Mike Mikesell who cut through the geode the next day with a diamond saw and ruined the saw blade when it struck something very hard in the rock. When the stone was split, they discovered a circular section of very hard, white material that appeared to be porcelain. In the center of the porcelain cylinder was found a two-millimeter shaft of bright metal that responded to a magnet. Surrounding the porcelain was found a layer of decomposing copper.

Other items including fossil shells, the metal objects that resembled a nail and a washer also were found in the stone..

An examination at the Charles Ford Society confirmed that the object was some kind of mechanical and man-made instrument. X-ray photographs showed that metallic shaft is fixed to a tiny spring, thus suggesting it was an electrical device.

When INFO Journal featured the artifact, editor Paul J. Willis speculated that the device within the rock might be some sort of spark plug. His brother later wrote that "I was thunderstruck, for suddenly all the parts seemed to fit. The object sliced in two shows a hexagonal part, a porcelain or ceramic insulator with a central metallic shaft - the basic components of any spark plug."

Another part, however, that appeared to be a spring, helix or something with metal threads did not fit the spark plug theory.

The Coso Artifact has been featured in numerous articles, and even appeared in an "In Search Of ..." television episode hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Brian Wood, producer/director of The Paranet Continuum Radio Program suggested that if the device is not a spark plug, it may be "some sort of antenna."

The artifact appears to have disappeared since all of the original excitement. The last known person to possess it was Wallace Lane, one of its discoverers. INFO Journal reported that the Coso Artifact was on display in his home, and he was refusing to allow anyone to examine it.

Lane was offering to sell the artifact, however. His price was $25,000.