Mystery at the Museum


A valuable mineral specimen stolen in April 2013, from a mining museum at the University of Nevada, Reno was returned anonymously, 24 days later. The mineral, worth about $30,000, was left on the steps of the building.

The specimen was inside a crate, wrapped in a plastic bag and didn’t appear to be damaged. The mineral is prized by collectors because of its long slender bladed crystals with a brilliant gray and black metallic luster.

It’s not especially rare, but the specimen is unusually large, weighing in at 25 to 30 pounds. It mysteriously disappeared from a display case inside the Keck Museum, which houses more than 6,000 mineral samples and fossils along with historic mining tools and equipment.

Interestingly enough, the museum is located inside what is considered one of the most haunted buildings on UNR’s campus – the Mackay School of Earth Sciences. Built in 1908, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The resident spirit is believed to be that of Katherine Duer Mackay, the first wife of John Mackay’s son, Clarence. Many believe much of the Mackay building’s spooky activity is centered on a large painting of Katherine, located in Conference Room 302.

However, both staff and students report objects being moved from one place to another and lights turning on and off by themselves through out the day and night. One former student even claims to have seen the figure of John Mackay in one of the buildings windows one evening as she crossed the quad.

How the specimen disappeared and then returned remains under investigation.

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