Saluda River Petrified Man

From Kook Science


The Saluda River Petrified Man was a cement statue that was exhibited as petrified remains after their alleged discovery by W. M. Buff near the Saluda River, five miles north of Columbia, South Carolina during November 1895. It was described in Buff's advertisements as being 5 ft. 9 in. (1.75 m.) in height with a weight of 313 lbs. (142 kg.), and was proposed to have been British solder who died during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). It was exhibited at the first South Carolina State Fair in 1896 and toured throughout the Carolinas until around 1899, at which time one William C. Dreher wrote a regionally-publicised pamphlet, issued through the Berlin Anthropological Society, in which he declared he had studied samples and found the supposed petrified man was "made out of lime and clay silicate, poured into a mould."[D]

In early 1902, it was reported that the statue had re-appeared in Atlanta, Georgia, being held at the local railway depot after having been shipped there from Newborn, South Carolina in September 1901. Again, one year later, in 1903, the Pristine Petrified Phenomenon was reported as having been discovered in Henderson County, North Carolina, and many asserted it was simply the second-go-around of the Saluda River man.

Press Coverage

Discovery (1895)

Touring Circuit (1896-1898)

A German Debunking (1899)

Resurfacing in Atlanta, Georgia (1902)

  • "A Funny Story.", The Manning Times (Manning, SC): 1, 12 Mar. 1902,, "The Atlanta Journal says quite a sensation was sprung on the citizens of Athens Wednesday morning when the rumor became general that the body of a dead man was at the warehouse of the Georgia railroad depot and had been there since last September. Early in the morning crowds were at the depot to verify the story. The box was received by the authorities in September and was from Newborn, S.C., and consigned to W. T. Hoffman. After being in the depot all this while it was opened up by depot officers Thursday and they were astonished to find the body of a petrified man. The box was a plain, oblong one, somewhat casket shaped. The man is five feet nine inches and weighs 240 pounds. It is claimed the body was in Saluda river, South Carolina. In the breast are two bullet holes and the man had been scalped, presumably by the Indians. The teeth are plugged with gold and finger and toe nails are perfect. The hands are crossed across the breast — just as the body was buried. It is claimed that the man had been on exhibition in Charleston and Chicago."