Events & Stories
The Cardiff Giant – A Hoax

     The great hoax, the Cardiff giant, was conceived by one George Hull, a tabacco-sist [sic] of Binghampton, New York. It was the out-growth of a controversy held one evening in 1866 between Hull and a Rev. Mr. Turk, of Ackley, Iowa, regarding the former existence of giants in the earth, in which the latter proved victorious, his ready tongue and loud voice easily bearing down and overwhelming his opponent.  Hull retired at a late hour; and being chagrined with his defeat, lay awake the greater portion of the night, thinking of the extreme gullibility of the world in matters where the Bible could be cited as evidence, and in planning how to turn this peculiarity to his advantage. The result was, that he decided upon producing an image which should, after being buried and exhumed pass muster as a fossil man of unusual size, being assured that such men as his late opponent in argument would aid not a little in contributing to the final success of the undertaking.

     In 1868, having studied the subject carefully, and completed his arrangements, Hull associated himself with one Martin, and proceeded to Fort Dodge, Iowa, to procure a suitable block from which to carve his image. An acre of quarry-land was purchased, and work commenced, but only to be soon abandoned, owing to the extreme friability [sic] of the stone, and the persistent annoyance of the curious and inquisitive inhabitants of the neighborhood.  Martin, now thoroughly disgusted, withdrew from the project; but Hull, hearing of another gypsum bed in a more retired locality, on the line of the Dubuque & Sioux City Railroad, then in the process of construction, went thither, and the following Sunday engaged the foreman of the Railroad gang to employ his men in quarrying out as large a slab as the nature of the ground would permit, paying for the labor with a barrel of beer.  The result was a slab weighing three and a half tons, measuring twelve feet length, four in breadth, and twenty-two inches in thickness.   

     With almost incredible difficulty and labor the block was transported over forty miles of terrible road to Montana, the nearest railroad station, where it was shipped to E. Burghardt, Chicago, who had been engaged to grave the image.  On its arrival at that city, it was moved to Burghardt's barn, which had been prepared for its reception, and two men at once set to work upon it -- one, Edward Salle, a German, the other an American named Markham.  It was Hull's desire to represent a "man who had laid down and died," but, as he entertained doubts as to the universal acception [sic] of the "fossil-man" theory, it was decided to produce an image that might also pass for an ancient statue.  This combination of designs was the cause of that curious feature which attracted notice and provoked discussion when the giant came to be exhibited, viz., the lack of hair.  -- Dr. G. A. Stockwell in  Popular Science Monthly.     [reprinted in Corvallis Gazette {Oregon}, July 19, 1876]