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Strange Lost & Found items – like how does one lose a nuclear weapon

Ian Harvey

We have all had that sinking feeling when a precious possession, or one that is just very useful, goes missing.

We know that frantic search of all the places it should be and then the profound relief when it finally turns up, usually in the place you would least expect it to be.

Sometimes the oddest things go missing, as this list will tell.

8.Flight Recorder

Flight recorder

Flight recorder

One of the strangest items that have been lost and found is a flight recorder from Eastern Airlines Flight 980, which crashed at El Alto Airport near La Paz in Bolivia on the 1st January 1985, killing all 29 passengers and crew.  At 13,000 feet, El Alto is the world’s highest airport; because the crash site was inaccessible, the flight recorders had never been recovered.

Eleven years later, in May 2016, two climbers from Boston, Dan Futrell and Isaac Stoner were climbing Mount Illimani and stumbled on the remains of the recorders – bits of orange metal and magnetic tapes – at an altitude of 16,000 feet.  They returned the flight recorders to the National Transportation Board, which had sought permission from the Bolivian Government to analyze the tapes.

Permission was granted for the tapes to be analyzed and they should finally bring closure to many families when the results are released.

7.Shipping Containers

Shipping container Photo Credit

Shipping container Photo Credit

An incredible statistic is that at all times around five to six million containers are being carried around the world on massive ships; of these some 10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea every year, one for every hour of the day.  These containers can prove to be a huge hazard to small ships and yachts, but very little is known about what happens to them once they sink to the sea floor.

The Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has decided to undertake a research project on a container that fell off a ship in 2004 within the Monterrey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

This metal box ended up upside down and jammed into the sea floor.  The marine research team found that it had become a new home for snails and crabs, none of which should have been in the area.  This interference in the natural order of things is an unfortunate consequence of our modern lifestyle.  In the coming years, these marine researchers will continue to monitor this and other containers to assess the ecological impact of our carelessness.

6.Motor Cars

One may well ask how you can lose a motor car. The first of our stories is one that many of us can relate to – losing a car in a parking garage – but the second is not so much a story of losing a car but of having a precious car returned to its original owner’s family.

Everyone has, at one time or another, lost a car in a parking lot, but most of us manage to locate the errant wheels eventually. This was not so for a gentleman in Manchester England who borrowed a friend’s BMW to get to a Stone Roses concert at the Etihad Stadium; after the concert, all he could remember was that the car had been parked in a parking garage, but he had no idea which one!  After five fruitless days of searching he gave up, and two months later the owner had still not located the car despite e-mails and telephone calls to all the local parking garages.  The owner reported the car stolen and the police located the vehicle, still in its original parking space. But the owner has to pay $6,150 in parking fees before it can be recovered!

1937 Cord 812 Photo Credit

1937 Cord 812 Photo Credit

Our second lost car is a 1937 Cord 812 Supercharged Convertible Phaeton, which was owned and remade by Glenn Pray from Tulsa, Oklahoma.  In 1960 Pray needed funds to buy a business, so he sold his beloved Cord, vowing to buy it back at some stage.  The vehicle was bought by Jimmy Leake, a Tulsa businessman, for $8,000, and in 1962 he sold it.  Later, in 1968, Pray tried to find his beloved car but could not track down the current owner. He died in 2011, still not having found his car.  Now, the story takes a strange turn.  Pray’s son Douglas, who had inherited his father’s business, received a telephone call from a gentleman in Michigan who owned the Cord.  He had purchased it and stored it in a barn for 45 years and was now offering it back to Douglas Pray.  After authenticating the vehicle, Pray bought it back but then sold it again, through an auction business operated by Jimmy Leake’s family, to raise funds for his own business. He vows that one day he will buy his father’s precious car back and it will then remain in the family.

5.Lost Cities

Tales of lost cities have abounded for hundreds of years and tend to fire the imagination of authors.

Hollywood has also waded into the fray with excellent action adventure films such as the Indiana Jones and Laura Croft series, which both feature lost cities. But there are, in fact, a few cities that have been lost and found.

An illustration by Virgil Finlay for The American Weekly representing the Temple in Mode’s “Lost City of the Monkey God.”

An illustration by Virgil Finlay for The American Weekly representing the Temple in Mode’s “Lost City of the Monkey God.”

South America and its jungles have been the subject of many lost city fables, but one of these cities has recently been found in the jungles of Honduras.  The storied city of La Ciudad Blanca (The White City, also known as the City of the Monkey God) has recently been discovered by using LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology.   This technology uses laser pulses to identify terrain and objects that may be hidden under foliage.  The location of the site has been kept a secret to protect it against thieves while archaeologists examine the site and catalog the artifacts found.  Recently cataloged artifacts, including a statue depicting the transformation of a human into a jaguar, have proven to be extensive, leading to speculation that this is one of many cities still to be found.

Out second lost city that has recently been found is Thonis-Heracleion, an ancient Egyptian city located about four miles off the coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea.   This city was described extensively in classical and ancient texts but had never been located, leading to its becoming almost mystical in nature.  In 2000 a research team from the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology, led by Franck Goddio, located this fabled city and started examining the ruins.  It is uncertain how the city sank beneath the waves, but it is speculated that some form of a cataclysmic event such as an earthquake or tidal wave caused the city to vanish.  Photographs and video filmed at the site reveal the remains of a magnificent city, and the artifacts recovered are mind boggling.  Around 64 ships and 700 anchors or their remains have been found and cataloged along with gold coins, inscribed slabs, statues, and stone sarcophagi.

4.Training Nuclear Bomb

Imagine enjoying a fishing expedition, and instead of your favorite game fish, you come across a nuclear bomb? Well, this is what happened to Sean Smyrichinsky in 2016 while enjoying a fishing expedition at Haida Gwaii, an archipelago of islands about 50 miles off the coast of British Columbia.

He mistakenly thought that he had found a UFO, but he had found a training nuclear bomb that had been jettisoned during a practice flight on the 13th of February, 1950.  The Mark IV, a blimp-shaped bomb ten feet long and weighing five tons, was jettisoned during a training flight of a B-36 bomber that crashed in British Columbia, Canada.

B61 nuclear bomb

B61 nuclear bomb

The bomb was not filled with plutonium but rather with lead.  The Canadian Naval authorities will investigate whether or not the bomb poses an environmental threat and if so, it will be removed. Otherwise, it will remain at the dive site.

3.The Musashi

It is not easy to lose a battleship under normal circumstances, but when it is sunk during a naval engagement, its exact position could be lost.

This is what happened to the Musashi, a World War II Japanese battleship that was at that time the largest and heaviest battleship ever built.

Japanese battleship Musashi leaving Brunei in 1944 for the Battle of Leyte Gulf

Japanese battleship Musashi leaving Brunei in 1944 for the Battle of Leyte Gulf

The eight-year search for the Musashi was financed by American billionaire Paul Allen, who is a self-proclaimed WWII nut.  During Japan’s largest defeat of WWII, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Musashi was sunk in the Sibuyan Sea that surrounds the Philippines, with the loss of almost half the 1,023 crew.  The vessel is a certified war grave, so the wreck is treated with respect and left undisturbed.


Everyone has misplaced a book, but it is amazing when a book that has been lost for hundreds of years eventually comes to light and can be admired by everyone.  One such book is the original and unedited journal of Jack McQuesten, a pioneer who established trading posts to support the gold miners who pushed into the Yukon in the 1800s.

This book is his hand-written journal that everyone thought had been destroyed in the great fire in Dawson City in 1967.  Ralph Troberg was going through a number of boxes left to him by his late father when the journal came to light.  It is the story of Jack McQuesten’s life in the Yukon during the period of 1871-1885.

Jack McQuesten (1836–1909)

Jack McQuesten (1836–1909)

1.Space Ship

Perhaps the most unusual thing that has been lost and found is a spaceship.  As remarkable as it may seem, NASA lost a satellite called STEREO-B for two years.  This satellite and its sister ship were undertaking research around the Sun.  Knowing that while the satellites were on the far side of the sun, there would be no way to contact them, NASA equipped both satellites with technology that would reset their systems if there was no communication with Earth for three days.

On the 1st of October, 2014, STEREO-B failed to communicate; it was not until the 21st of August, 2016 that communication was re-established.  NASA and a team from John Hopkins tried to stabilize the contact, but it was lost again on the 23rd of September, 2016.  Efforts to re-establish contact with the satellite are ongoing – scientists at NASA theorize that the rotational speed systems on STEREO-B failed, so it is unable to keep its solar panels oriented towards the sun.

The US Space Shuttle

The US Space Shuttle

These are some of the most unusual items that have been lost and found, but daily on transport systems around the world big, small, and bizarre items are handed into lost and found offices.  The staff in these offices has become used to odd items being handed in – from strange things such as human skulls, personal sex toys, and stuffed animals to utterly bizarre things such as shrunken heads and fake human hearts, Listverse reported.

Read another story from us: Important facts about the lost ancient civilization of Mesoamerica, the Toltecs

Looking at what has been lost and found in the world, perhaps we should not feel bad when our spectacles or the television remote disappear down in the cushions of the couch!