McGinty the Petrified Man

From Kook Science

McGinty the Petrified Man was a manufactured petrified corpse that was claimed to have been discovered by J. J. Dore while prospecting at Farmers' Creek, near Jimtown, Mineral County, Colorado, on 9 April 1892. The statue famously came into the possession of Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith, who exhibited it for some years in Colorado, before shipping it to Spokane, Washington for a showing, where it was left as abandoned property.

Though some sources describing McGinty claim it was measured at a height of some 7 feet (2.13 m.), the first contemporary reports gave the height as 5 ft. 9 in. (1.75 m.).

Press Coverage

  • "Creede's Petrified Body.", Salida Mail (Salida, CO) 12 (89), 12 Apr. 1892,, "A genuine petrified man has been the sensation and talk of Creede since Saturday. J. J. Dore was out prospecting seven miles southeast of Jimtown Saturday, and in a draw on the east side of the hils of the Rio Grande he found a perfect specimen of petrification. The body had been buried, but a landslide had let the soil away so that one foot protruded. Dore examined, and finding that a man was buried there, he went to Jimtown to get a wagon and assistance, and went out to bring the body in. There can be no doubt as to the genuineness of this find, and the fake Cardiff Giant and Solid Muldoon are eclipsed by fact. It is the body of a man who was apparently about 35 years old. He was five feet nine inches in height and well formed. The body was perfect when found, but the left arm and big toes were broken off in getting it out from the four feet of soil which covered the greater part of the body. It weighs about 400 pounds and the stone is a peculiar unclassified stuff solid and firm. Every detail of form, wrinkle and graft of skin is perfect. The man was probably a member of Fremont's party and, whoever he was, met a violent death. His right arm shows signs of blows from a tomahawk in warding off an attack. A sharp cut slashed the wrist to the, bone, his throat had been cut by a knife and the head in the forehead appears to have been struck so that the brains protruded and some of the examiners claim to see evidence of scalping. The corpse had been buried by white men and the posture is that of the civilized dead. There is much speculation who the man may have been and how he met death in this out of the way place. Hundreds of people have been to see the curiosity and the finder has reaped a great harvest by charging a 25 cents admission fee. Saturday night the tent in which he was placed was cut and a thief stole the left arm, which was broken off and had been left lying in the box. An offer of $5,000 was refused by Dore for the find. It is to be known as McGinty." 
  • "ANOTHER MULDOON.", Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO): 4, 12 Apr. 1892,, "The Creede 'Muldoon’s' body is of a blueish gray stone, exactly the same material of which the Pueblo monstrosity was constructed." 
  • "The Grand Fake.", Mohave County Miner (Mineral Park, AZ): 1, 23 Apr. 1892,, "The petrified man alleged to have been found on Farmers' creek, near Creede, is a grand fake, and was shipped from Santa Fe to Wagon Wheel Gap lately as 534 pounds of merchandise. The box which the stiff came in was torn to pieces and thrown into the Rio Grande river, pieces thereof having been found by parties who were able to identify it. At Wagon Wheel, the box was said to contain a prospecting outfit, but the owners were very careful about having the box thumped about very much. The 'petrification' was driven to Farmers' creek, the 'discovery' made, and the job was completed. The 'petrification' is a grand fake, The Wagon Wheel freight receipts will probably show it. — San Juan Prospector" 
  • "SLICK MAN IS SMITH, 'Soapy' by Name and Smooth and Urbane by Nature. GRAFT A PETRIFIED MAN, Although a Relic of the Stone Age, the Scheme Was Worked in Spokane.", Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA): 3, 22 Oct. 1896,, "Up to date the petrified man is still in the possession of the Pacific Express Company, Ennis is out $250 and Smith is out of town[...] The man is supposed to have come from the 'petrified man' factory of a Merced, Cal. man, who a few years ago indulged in the profitable business of making petrified men to order. One petrified man is quite a curiosity, but the manufacturer was so industrious that the market was soon overstocked, and there are but few who are able to make their stone man bring such excellent figures as J. Sapolio Smith." 
  • "STONE MAN A DEAD ONE. OWNERS HAVE APPARENTLY ABANDONED 'PETRIFIED' MAN. He Is Snoozing Quietly in Basement of Riverside Avenue Store - Came Here From Colorado - Deal for Him on a Basis of $1800 Fell Through.", Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA): 10, 11 Dec. 1901,, "Been Here Three Years. Three years have passed since the man of the stony shape impressed his gritty personality upon Spokane. Though he entered quietly, his sentry was not entirely unheralded. In fact the dead walls of the city were emblazoned with placards announcing his coming. Profuse were the adjectives used in describing his worth. Then a Riverside avenue storeroom was secured and the man put on exhibition at 10 cents a ticket, children half price. Business in Spokane was not good with the dead one, and eventually the exhibition closed. A sale was managed by which the Colorado owners were to get $1800 and a syndicate of local men were to get the fireproof corpse. The deal fell through at the crucial moment and the owners left the stone man with E. Dempsie, a Riverside merchant. They were disinclined to pay the freight on it out of town. It has been more than a year since Mr. Dempsie heard from the men who left the petrified man in the cellar of his store, and he is beginning to believe he will have the curio permanently on his hands. The receptacle for the exhibit, a huge strong box with handles on its sides, like those of a dead box, has become entirely covered with discarded pasteboard boxes, sample books and other riffraff of the Dempsie establishment. The merchant says he will keep the ghastly relic as he still has hopes of hearing from its owners."