The story of the Coso Artifact has been embellished over the years, but nearly all accounts of the actual discovery are basically unchanged.
On February 13, 1961, Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey, and Mike Mikesell were seeking interesting mineral specimens, particularly geodes, for their "LM
& V Rockhounds Gem and Gift Shop" in Olancha, California. On this particular day, the trio were about six miles northeast of Olancha, near the top of
a peak about 4,300 feet in elevation and about 340 feet above the dry bed of Owens Lake. According to Maxey, "We hiked about three miles north, after
we had parked some five miles east of State Highway 395, south of Olancha, California." At lunchtime, after collecting rocks most of the morning, all
three placed their specimens in the rock sack Mikesell was carrying.
The next day in the gift shop's workroom, Mikesell ruined a nearly new diamond saw blade while cutting what he thought was a geode. Inside the nodule
that was cut, Mikesell did not find a cavity as so many geodes have, but a perfectly circular section of very hard, white material that appeared to be
porcelain. In the center of the porcelain cylinder, was a 2-millimeter shaft of bright metal. The metal shaft responded to a magnet.
There were still other odd qualities about the specimen. The outer layer of the specimen was encrusted with fossil shells and their fragments. In
addition to shells, the discoverers noticed two nonmagnetic metallic metal objects in the crust, resembling a nail and a washer. Stranger still, the
inner layer was hexagonal and seemed to form a casing around the hard porcelain cylinder. Within the inner layer, a layer of decomposing copper
surrounded the porcelain cylinder.
The Initial Investigations
Very little is known about the initial physical inspections of the artifact. According to discoverer Virginia Maxey, a geologist she spoke with who
examined the fossil shells encrusting the specimen said the nodule had taken at least 500,000 years to attain its present form. However, the identity
of the first geologist is still a mystery, and his findings were never officially published.
Another investigation was conducted by creationist Ron Calais. Calais is the only other individual known to have physically inspected the artifact,
and was allowed to take photographs of the nodule in both X ray and natural light. Calais's X rays brought interest in the artifact to a new level.
The X ray of the upper end of the object seemed to reveal some sort of tiny spring or helix. INFO Journal Publisher Ronald J. Willis speculated that
it could actually be "the remains of a corroded piece of metal with threads." The other half of the artifact revealed a sheath of metal, presumably
copper, covering the porcelain cylinder.
The Artifact: Where Is It Now?
The last known individual to possess the Coso Artifact was one of the original discoverers, Wallace Lane. According to the Spring 1969 issue of INFO
Journal, Lane was the last known person to possess the object. It was on display in his home, but he adamantly refused to allow anyone to examine it.
However, he had a standing offer to sell it for $25,000. In September 1999, a national search was attempted to locate any of the original discoverers,
but the attempt was fruitless. The authors of this article suspect that Wallace Lane is dead, and the location of the artifact is unknown, possibly
destroyed. Virginia Maxey is alive, but is avoiding any public comment. The whereabouts of Mike Mikesell are still unknown.