THE BASEMENT’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES: Pedro the Mountain Mummy

Welcome to the second installment of my Cabinet of Curiosities, this time showcasing what is known as Pedro, the Mountain Mummy. Just recently, while going through some old boxes, I came across what appeared to be a glass bell jar wrapped heavily in bubble wrap and upon opening it, found Pedro, forgetting that I even had him! He came into my possession many, many years ago and though he is not the original mummy found in 1932, he is still very interesting nonetheless.

The story of Pedro began during October of 1932  in the Pedro Mountains, approximately 60 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming. Two gold prospectors, Cecil Mayne and Frank Carr, were blasting through some thick rock when they uncovered a room that measured approximately 4′ x 4′ by 15′ deep. It was in this room that the two reportedly found Pedro. It was sitting on a rock ledge about two and a half feet off the ground. There was nothing else in the room.

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The small figure was in a sitting position with its arms crossed which covered its legs. It weighed about 1 pound and was only 7 inches tall (in the sitting position, an estimated 14 inches if standing). Some of the evident features were a flattened skull, large bulging eyes and a jelly like substance that was found on top of its head.

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When news broke of the discovery, it was dismissed as a hoax almost immediately. Most thought it was either a fake or that the prospectors had stolen a fetus with medical defects. Both Mayne and Carr were determined to prove their find to be genuine and they put a call out to any scientists who may be interested in examining the mummy. It was finally x-rayed in 1950 by a Dr. Henry Shapiro, of the American Museum of Natural History, and an almost fully formed skeleton was revealed. Pedro had a complete set of ribs, fully formed arms and legs, a damaged backbone and a fractured left collarbone. It was certified as genuine by the Anthropology Department of Harvard University.

Pedro was displayed in a drug store for several years and was eventually purchased by Ivan T. Goodman, a Casper businessman, and taken to New York City. Following Goodman’s death in 1950 the mummy passed into the hands of one Leonard Waller and disappeared, but interest in it continued nationwide.

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From the time it was discovered until around 1980 only two detailed studies were made of the mummy. The second was done by a Dr. George Gill, then professor of biological anthropology at the University of Wyoming. While both studies focused on the x-rays, both doctors came to separate conclusions as to the true origins of Pedro.

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Dr. Shapiro concluded that the remains were that of a fully functioning 65-year-old man at the time of his death. He also found that the remains featured large canine teeth, looking almost vampiric. He felt that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

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Dr. Gill came to some of the same conclusions but differed with Dr. Shapiro on one major point. He concluded that the x-rays showed nothing more than a premature baby or even a child with anencephaly, which is a disease where the skull gets abnormally misshapen often resulting in a swollen or flat look.

Unfortunately, no other studies have been conducted as the current whereabouts of the original mummy is unknown as it disappeared more than 35 years ago. The last known owner was Leonard Wadler, who passed away in the 1980’s and Wadler’s family claims to know nothing about the mummy and insists they are not hiding it. There is currently a $10,000 reward from Bibleland Studios for the person who finds the missing mummy that has yet to be claimed.

Discoveries of mummified remains are not uncommon in Wyoming, which has an arid climate. Indians may have found other mummies of similarly diseased infants and quite naturally assumed that they were the remains of small adults. This in turn would tend to support the legend of a “little people.”

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The mummy, if it ever shows up, may be subject to the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act since it is almost certainly the remains of a Native American child, removed from its grave. This may be the reason the mummy has disappeared, due to the legalities of owning human remains. My Pedro is a clever and very well done reproduction created by a well-known sideshow gaff artist so there’s no chance of me getting that $10,000 reward!

~David Albaugh

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