Solving the ‘Face Rock’ photo mysteryPublished 9:09am Friday, April 15, 2011
Column: Between the Corn Rows
It sure didn’t take long to solve two of the mysteries based on the four Bidney Bergie photos featured in the April 3 Lifestyles section.
Here’s the update about the mysterious rock with the human facial features from Coleman (Cole) Anderson.
“… I went home to visit my parents who live four miles north of Albert Lea. While lounging in the living room on Sunday evening, my mom was reading the AL Tribune and commented on a photo under ‘Bidney Bergie’s Mystery Photos’ of a rock that had the appearance of a human face. She asked me, ‘Do you remember that rock you found when you were little that looked like a face?’ I said yes, and upon looking at the photo in the paper I excitedly said, ‘That’s my rock!’
“I am the boy that found that rock on our farm in 1983 when I was eight years old. Although the article in the newspaper had a typo stating it was found in 1938, the 45-year difference is but a blink of an eye in the history of my ‘Face Rock,’ that’s what I always called it, that was carved by nature thousands of years ago. As a young boy growing up on our dairy/crop farm, I loved to hunt for treasures. All my life I’ve had a strong interest in history and science. I collected rocks, coins, baseball cards and lots of antiques that I had found on the farm. I dug up old planter plates in the grove, found two old sleigh bells in a corn field, horse shoes and several square nails. When we took down the old dairy barn in 2003, we found old glass bottles and jars, all empty, that had been left within the framing of the walls, boarded over. My dad has found some Indian artifacts, and a large fossilized stone that I brought to my third grade class for show and tell. …”
Linda Evenson from the museum staff and I both checked Bidney’s photo a second time and he had written the date of 1938 on the back. Cole’s correction makes more sense. Now here’s more of his reply.
“My favorite treasure in my collection, however, was always my Face Rock. My mom had given me a small jewelry box to keep it in. It was the type of box that a ring would come with from the store. I was fascinated by the ‘face’ that appeared to be staring back from that small piece of limestone. I looked at it often. When my friends and cousins came to play at the farm, they always wanted to see the Face Rock (which is actually about an inch or two in size).
“Over the years I lost track of the stone, assuming it had been lost. But about a month ago I was going through some drawers in my store room, and came across a small, blue jewelry box with gold colored trim, and I knew immediately what was in it! I was so excited to find that I still had my Face Rock, and then to see a picture of it in the newspaper just a month later was incredible. In an eerie side note, when we saw the picture in the Tribune, my mom said she was just thinking about that rock a few weeks ago, and my brother looked at her and said ‘me too!’ Everyone was a bit silenced when I told them I had just found it in a drawer a month ago.
“The geological aspect of the rock is interesting, but so is the psychological aspect. …
“This phenomenon is probably most well known as ‘The Face on Mars,’ a geographical region on the planet Mars that was photographed by American space orbiter Viking 1 in 1976. The photograph appears to show an enormous structure of a humanoid face on the surface of the planet. More recent photographs of the same area, however, revealed that it was simply the combination of light and shadows on a large hill that was recognized by people as a face. The same effect is also seen in what we call ‘The Man on the Moon.’
“Other, more earthly geographical structures that have the appearance of a face include ‘The Old Man of the Mountain,’ located on a mountain cliff in New Hampshire, which is also featured on the reverse of New Hampshire’s state quarter. (The coin was issued in 2000. This large facial structure collapsed on May 3, 2003.)
“Surely, the erosion on my rock wasn’t intended by mother nature to depict a human face, but that is what I saw the first time I picked it up off the ground. Thank you for bringing my Face Rock back to life! I currently live in Mankato, and work as a claims adjuster for State Farm Insurance. I recently received a metal detector as a gift that I will be using back on the farm to (hopefully) dig up some more cool and interesting things.”
Local historical researcher Kevin Savick found a post card in his personal collection that clearly proves the 1916 street scene on another of the mystery photos is really uptown Ellendale.
Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.