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Three KY museums highlight mysteries tied presidents, military

The Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington offers 450 million years of northern Kentucky history and culture, including a mastodon jawbone from 10,000 B.C. Photo: Behringer-Crawford Museum
This piece of plane connects Franklin in Simpson County to the U.S. military’s investigation of UFOs in the late 1940s. It can be viewed at Simpson County Archives and Jail Museum. Photo: Simpson County Tourism
Captain Thomas F. Mantell was directed by Godman Army Airfield flight tower in Fort Knox to pursue a UFO, but died in a plane crash in Franklin during pursuit.

An item uncovered in Union was the catalyst for conducting a scientific dig with the University of Nebraska and the U.S. Geological Survey, and it helped preserve the land in Boone County as a state park. The discovery of the mastodon jawbone is also tied to President Thomas Jefferson, considered a Father of Paleontology. See the fossil at the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington’s beautiful Devou Park. bcmuseum.org, (859) 491-4003.

A confiscated copper still made in Bristol, England, in 1787 and seized by ATF agents in 1939 is believed to be the very still used by Founding Father and first U.S. President George Washington at Mount Vernon in Virginia. The agents seized it from a family descended from Washington’s servants. See it at Bardstown’s Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, served by Salt River Electric. whiskeymuseum.com, (502) 348-2999.

“The Simpson County Archives and Jail Museum has a little piece of Franklin history that made headlines across the country and the world,” says Joanna Drake, who handles social media and marketing at Simpson County Tourism. “On January 7, 1948, while on a training flight with three other P-51Ds (Mustangs), Capt. Thomas F. Mantell was directed by the flight tower at Godman Army Airfield in Fort Knox to pursue an unidentified flying object.”
Unfortunately, while in pursuit of the UFO, Mantell died in a plane crash in Franklin, becoming the first flight casualty of the Kentucky Air National Guard. An intense military investigation of the incident became part of Project Sign, later renamed Project Blue Book, the military’s investigation into UFOs. A piece of the plane, along with newspaper articles, photographs, and more, can be seen at the museum: simpsoncountykyarchives.com, (270) 586-4228.

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