Re: Port Orford Meteorite Hoax ...

>>Although his early exploring trips and specimen collecting provided at
least a beginning for a natural history of the Pacific Northwest, Evans
clearly was not a highly regarded<<

Although I am familiar with Plotkin's and Roy Clark's report on the Port
Orford meteorite, I am not in full agreement that John Evan's was the fool
he is made out to be nor is he a unhighly regarded geolgest or scientist.
Rather I will offer some information (providing references) that he was VERY
highly regarded in the scientific circles of his time, by his boss and by
his peers. Read on.

First off it is not just John Evans but Dr. John Evans. From the American
Philosphical Society, Volume 103, Number 3, June 1959.

"In 1847 Dr. David Dale Owen who was appointted United States Geologist to
conduct a geological survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and part of
Nebraska chose as sub-agents Dr. John Evans and Dr. B.F. Shumard. The Work
of Evans soon attracted the attention of Owen so that great confidence was
placed in his ability.

"He has credit of having been the first scientific explorer who visted those
vast cemetaries of extinct animals which have excited so much interest
amoung scientific men."

Dr. Owen had this to say about Dr. Evans of the Bad Lands expedition: "In
addition to his scientific duties, Dr. Evans had almost exclusive, control
of the business department of  Dr. Ownes survey, which of itself involved an
immense deal of labor. The satisfactory manor in which he discharged these
onerous duties, often in the midst of dishearting privations and even
danger, commanded the highest esteem and confidence of Dr. Owen and his
associates, while his goodness of heart, uniform courtesty, and
self-sacrificing disposition, secured to him their warmest friendship."

I could go on and on but feel this is enough for the time being to at least
refute some of the negative publishes items about Dr. John Evans in regards
to the Port Orford Mystory who seem most highly regarded by his boss (which
by the way was no push over) and his colleges at that time. I will try to
post more if interst exists on this "hoax" and try to shed some light on
some discrepancies I have with the mystery but certainly not with Dr. John

--AL Mitterling

[meteorite-list] Largest single Pallasite?

almitt almitt at
Tue Oct 26 19:45:01 EDT 2004

Hi Bernd and all,

bernd.pauli at wrote:

>John Evans' 10 tons of the Port Orford pallasite was a deliberate hoax.<
>His Port Orford specimen was actually a piece of the Imilac meteorite.<

I don't disagree that the pieces sent to the Smithsonian and Vienna were
Imilac, but I do think there is more than a little merit that it could also
NOT be a hoax. I have a college who has done extensive research on Port
Orford and there is as much mystery on some of the findings that have "put to
rest" this story as the story itself. Probably the biggest question is why a
copied manuscript was used to go back and trace Evan's routes. Certainly a
copied manuscript could have been mis-copied by accident or even intentional,
though it looks like Evan's wife may have done the copy but that hasn't been
proven yet.

I have posted in the past about the mystery (search under the Port Orford
Meteorite) and why I am not convinced that it really has been solved. The
person that has done the research is quite a historian and has been to
hundreds of locations digging up information that points to a number of very
interesting contradictions to the publicized official version. It may very
well be that another person might have been involved in causing some
confusion from the past. It is however up to the person doing the research to
publicize their findings. I am simply looking at this in a purely may be or
may not be but lets look at all the facts and not just what were told
fashion. That's the way science is done, yes? All my best!


[meteorite-list] Largest single Pallasite?

Robert Warren cometman_75 at
Thu Oct 28 11:00:46 EDT 2004
Hello Al and others interested,

Yes there was a gold rush going on around the time Evans reportedly found 
his meteorite.  Though most people think it occurred only along the coast 
line south of Port Orford, that is not true.   The naming of Johnson 
Mountain, the one that Plotkin says he search on, is after a man who was at 
first called 'Bovine Johnson.'  He worked for a lumbering operation 
east-northeast of Port Orford.  He had a friend who was involved with an 
Indian woman.  She told him how to go to one creek and he could find gold 
there.  He did and did find gold.  Then he told Bovine, how to get there, 
which Bovine did.  Bovine found so much gold there, they changed his name to 
Coarse Gold Johnson, and the creek was named after him, hence Johnson's 
Creek, which is at the base of Johnsons mountain.  The mountain was named 
after him because he continued living along Johnson's creek digging gold.  
But even then as today, and as LaPaz foundout back in the 1930's and 1940's, 
it is not easy moving around on any of the mountains out there, unless they 
had been burned off.  There is simply to much underbrush.  In the case of 
LaPaz, one of his assistants went into the brush and moved around within 50 
yards for a day, and nobody saw him.  They could hear him, but since the 
brush was so thick, they couldn't see any sign of him.  And that search was 
on a mountain that is within sight of Port Orford, to the southeast, today 
called bald knob.

According to the the Port Orford Quadrangle book byu the U. S. Geological 
Survey, during the 1880's, the 1890's, and several times during the early 
20th century, there were mudslides and landslides along many of those very 
same creeks.  Throughout the first 50 years of the 20th century, there were 
a number of reports published in the newspapers, where someone found a piece 
of pallasitic meteorite in several of the creeks.  They turned them over to 
a man named Foshag, who worked for the Smithsonian.  They have never been 
seen since, and the Smithsonian claims they never had them.

Overall, the questions to ask are as follows.

       (There is no evidence of such a dealer being in existence, in any of 
the books, journals, scientific publications I have found, in any other 
source other than in Plotkin.)
would be needed for anyone conducting surveys such as Evans was doing.
SAME AREA AT THE SAME TIME?  One of them became well known in California 
after he made a survey in Southwestern Oregon in the 1850's.

By the way, if anyone is interested, I have gotten much of this information 
from actual newspapers from that time period, and from books, both published 
by the Smithsonian, including their annual reports, the U.S. Geological 
survey reports, and booklets, and from books written and printed privately, 
but the sources of their material is checkable.

I just think there are too many, way too many questions about Plotkin and 
his theory.  Too many things in his booklet, do not add up, in light of the 
actual records from the 1850's, till today.

Have a good day,

Bob Warren


[meteorite-list] Largest single Pallasite?

Robert Warren cometman_75 at
Wed Oct 27 10:40:43 EDT 2004

Geetings and salutations,

I am in agreement with Al Mitterling, concerning the Port Orford Meteorite.  
If anyone would read carefully Plotkins book put out by the Smithsonian, 
check all of his references, and then look at the information he does not 
quote from, or refer to, they would get a completely different picture.  
Plotkin refers to a series of letters, or correspondence from two gentlemen, 
who were on a steamboat with Evans going up the Missouri river, towards a 
point that they intended to get off and proceed to the Bad Lands.  Before 
they got on the boat, in the correspondence that Plotkin does not quote or 
refer to, they say how Evans loaned them money so that they could buy the 
supplies they needed for their trip.  They were on a fixed budget, with no 
idea as to how much anything would cost, in the then frontier state of 
Missouri.  They didn't know about the cost of mules, horses, food, camping 
gear, or even the fees for getting on board the steamboat.  But Plotkin, 
leads us to believe that Evans could not manage money.  That is a recurring 
theme throughout his work.  But that theme is unfounded.  He says that Evans 
concocted the hoax so as to pay off debts incurred sometime between 1856 and 
1858.  However, he does not mention how in 1858, there was a world wide 
economic panic, or what we would call today, a depression.  He does not 
mention how one gentleman in California, at the same time, was asked by his 
superiors in St. Louis, as to what he thought should be done with the bank 
they owned, a branch that he was the manager of, in San Francisco?  His 
response was to close it, which they did.  They transferred him to New York 
City, where the same thing happened.  That gentlemans name was William 
Tecumseh Sherman, of Sherman's march to the sea fame during the civil war.  
Plotkin  makes it sound as if Evans was the only one in financial trouble.  
Yet if anyone reads through a history of Geology in the United States, he 
would find instance after instance, where almost everyone contracted by the 
U. S. Government for a period of over one hundred years, starting in the 
1830's and going into the 1940's, has been short changed, by not being paid 
enough for their efforts, and in some cases they never recieved payment at 
all, even though they had a contract for doing the work and being paid for 
it.  One such case is of a gentleman, who was contracted to survey the State 
of Michigan, in the 1830's.  He hired a couple of men to help him.  They 
were at work, when one of those men decided he knew more about what was 
going on, and he told both his boss, as well as the government.  The 
goverment decided to listen to that man, and did not pay the man in charge.  
He quit in disqust, and always held a grudge against the government until he 
died.  That man was C. T. Jackson, the very same chemist that Evans sent the 
samples to around 1858-1859.  It was he who found the sample that he said 
was a meteorite.  By the way, why in 1860, when he wrote the first paper 
about the Port Orford meteorite, why did he use the word "specimens", 
plural, not singular.  This would imply that he had more than one piece.  
Why is it that he himself had been collecting meteorites since the 1830's 
and nobody mentions that in relation to the suppossed hoax.  He himself put 
out a 3-6 page catalogue of meteorites in his own collection.  How do we not 
know that he kept the original Port Orford specimen (s), and substituted a 
piece of Imilac, which has made it down to us today, and history.  This 
would explain why Lincoln La Paz back in the 1930's during the course of his 
searches for the Port Orford, he was told by the Museum in Boston that they 
still had the Port Orford in their collection, which by that time, the 
SMithsonian claims to have already purchased it from them.

The long and the short of it, is simply this.  There are too many questions 
about Plotkin's work that does not correlate with the historical record.  I 
suggest everyone should get out and research it, and not take the word of 
Plotkin, just because he has the Smithsonian behind them.

Bob Warren

[meteorite-list] Largest single Pallasite?

Robert Warren cometman_75 at
Fri Oct 29 10:59:43 EDT 2004
Good morning,

What is quite a story.  The half truths, not presenting the whole story, not 
presenting all of the facts, as Plotkin has done?  Or are you referring to 
the researchI have done for over ten years, in trying to fathom out the 
facts, and the truth about what happened?  I have combed many libraries, 
from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, Texas, California, 
Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and many others, seeking anything that would 
pertain to Port Orford, or the meteorite,or the individuals involved.  I 
have been to Oregon several times, checking into its historical sites, and 
libraries.  Sure I started with Plotkins book, but when I read it, I found 
to many questions in it that he did not answer.  There are to many questions 
that he never addressed in his book.  He advocates the theory that Evans 
created a hoax based on Evans suppossedly owing money for back taxes in 
Oregon.  But then he fails to mention anything about the economic crisis 
going on world wide at the same time.  That crisis would help explain any 
economic problems Evans would have had, because during such crisis, the 
price of everything goes up, not down.  Since in the 1850's, because of the 
Oregon gold rush, which is documented in many books about Oregon, but not 
once is it mentioned in Plotkins book, but because of that gold rush, so 
much of what Oregonians used to grow on their farms, was not being grown 
anymore.  During the California gold rush of 1849, many Oregonians left 
Oregon and headed south to California to search for their future, but many 
failed to find it, so they moved back to Oregon.  But they had sold their 
land when they left to go to California.  So many farms were idle during the 
1850's.  So much of the land around Port Orford, was unreachable except on 
trails originally made by the indians possibly hundreds of years before, so 
it was not easy getting around.  In fact the primary way of getting to Port 
Orford was by steam packet boats that sailed between Portland, and san 
Francicsco.  In fact the gentleman who started Port Orford in 1851, 
Tichenor, owned such a boat and used it to take the first settlers there.  
None of this is mentioned in Plotkin.  None of Coarse Gold Johnson and his 
career is mentioned in Plotkin.  That is strange too, because, Plotkin even 
though he says the Evans Journal is not in his handwriting, (It is in his 
wifes handwriting, because Evans had hurt his arm sometime around 1858-1859, 
and was unable to write until he learned to use his other arm and hand), but 
then Plotkins uses the information out of the journal as though it is 
gospel.  But when you read the journal, you find that Evans in one entry 
clearly visits Johnson's camp on the creek.  According to the history books, 
and books about the Origin of Place Names in Oregon,  by 1856, Johnson's 
creek and Mountain was already known by those names. So why would anyone 
look on Johnson's mountain for the meteorite since Evans does not mention it 
in the journal, but he does mention visiting with Johnson and other miners 
at the Johnson camp which was on Johnson's creek which is at the base of 
Johnson's mountain?  Plotkin does not mention any of this, nor does he 
mention any of the hsitory of Johnson's mountain, all information which is 
clearly available in the history books about Oregon, Coos and Curry 
Counties, which is where Port Orford is located.  In the National Archives 
recod group for John Evans, is a letter where Evans himself after he is able 
to start writing again, explains in the letter how he had hurt his arm and 
could not write for awhile, so his wife Sarah Evans, was doing all of the 
correspondance, which would explain why the journal is in her hand and not 
Evans.  Yet even though this is in the national archives, Plotkin does not 
mention this.  Why????  In one of those letter from John Evans, he explains, 
that anyone could buy the meteorite real cheaply from the Indian chief, Old 
John, because it was on his land.  this is the only place the Evans possibly 
makeds a mistake.  Old Chief John, had surrendered along with all of his 
tribe, sometime around August - september 1856, after the Rogue River War 
was over.  So in 1858 - 1859, when Plotkin says Evans went back to Oregon, 
and then concocted the hoax, Old Chief John would not have been the owner of 
the land, because by then he had been in an Indian Reservation over a 
hundred miles away north of  Port Orford, and everyone around that area of 
the country would have known that.  So why did Evans mention it then.  the 
only conclusion, is that Evans did not visit Port Orford after July of 1856, 
and so would not have known about the surrender.  Also Evans clearly states 
in either that letter or another one, that the Bald mountain could be seen 
from Port Orford.  I am sorry to tell everyone this, but Johnson's mountian 
is not visible from Port Orford, nor is Brays Mountain, nor Iron Mountain.  
There is just too much brush and forest, plus part of Port Orford itself is 
on a higher terrain on the coast, with a colection of mountains between the 
coast and Johnson's mountain.  So Johnson's mountain does not, nor has it 
ever fit the description by Evans.

This is food for thought for anyone who would like to actually read the 
literature, and compare it to Plotkin's book.  What he has to say, simply is 
not supportable by the history, the facts, teh archival records.  There are 
too many unanswered questions left undiscussed in his book.  And what he 
does discuss, does not add up.

Bob Warren