Nevada’s Petrified Shoe Sole

After speaking with a Shoshoni elder about Tanis, she talked with a Paiute elder. Together, they put me on to the name Dr. W.H. Ballou.

According to The Journal of Wild Mushrooms, William Hosea Ballou was no stranger to incorrect opinions. In his 2007 article, Leon Shernoff further writes:

“Of his cockamamie opinions that made it into print, perhaps the one that got the most exposure was his notion that Stegosaurus used the plates along its spine to fly, an idea that was picked up by Edgar Rice Burroughs for his book At the Earth’s Core, where the heroes encounter a number of dinosaurs, including a flying Stegosaurus.”

Ballou also wrote an article that appeared in the American Weekly section of the New York Sunday American on October 8, 1922., titled, “Mystery of the Petrified: Shoe Sole 5,000,000 Years Old.

“Some time ago, while he was prospecting for fossils in Nevada, John T. Reid, a distinguished mining engineer, and geologist stopped suddenly and looked down in utter bewilderment and amazement at a rock near his feet. For there, a part of the rock itself was what seemed to be a human footprint!

Closer inspection showed that it was not a mark of a naked foot but was, apparently, a shoe sole that had been turned into stone. The forepart was missing.

But there was the outline of at least two-thirds of it, and around this outline ran a well-defined sewn thread which had, it appeared, attached the welt to the sole. Further on was another line of sewing, and in the center, where the foot would have rested had the object really been a shoe sole, there was an indentation, exactly such as would have been made by the bone of the heel rubbing upon and wearing down the material of which the sole had been made.

Thus was found a fossil which is the foremost mystery of science today. For the rock in which it was found is at least 5 million years old.”

Geologists inspected and said the print was authentic and that the rock was from the Triassic Period (205-250 million years ago). They could even see the twisted threads of stitching along the outer edge of the sole.

Discovered in Fisher Canyon, Pershing County, Nevada, the fossilized imprint was lost, and its present location is unknown.

Is this a Runner or a Seeker? Maybe John T. Reid or Edgar Rice Burroughs is the key to unlocking this mystery.


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