It was the autumn of 1869 when a farmer in the Onondaga Valley of upstate New York made an incredible discovery. He was digging a new well and came upon an enormous limestone figure of a human being: a stone giant, nude and with his limbs drawn up as if in agony. It appeared to be a petrified human being of enormous proportions. The farmer quickly got a friend to set up an exhibit of his find and charged people to get a glimpse of what was called 'The Cardiff Giant'.
Experts examining the statue declared that it was a carving, rather than an actual fossil, but eyewitnesses, impressed by the visible pores on the giant's skin and the blue coloration under the limestone looking exactly like human veins, took the giant literally. Even the experts agreed that the statue was of a considerable age. Water had worn channels into the hard limestone in places, proving that the statue had lain buried for a long time.
Legend quickly sprung up around the giant, including a story that an Onondaga squaw had declared that the statue was "undoubtedly the petrified body of a gigantic Indian prophet who flourished many centuries ago and foretold the coming of the palefaces and who, just before his own death, said to those about him that their descendants would see him again."
Local clergy embraced the giant as proof of the veracity of Scriptures. Even university professors who came to examine the statue were reluctant to contradict the torrent of faith professed by the giant's believers. But very few of the experts were permitted to get too close to the statue. If they had, they would have discovered that it was carved not of hard local limestone but of gypsum, a soft type of stone easily eroded.
Little facts began to come out; such as that farmer Newell was paying a percentage of his take from exhibiting the giant to a stranger from out west named Hull, who happened to be the farmer's brother-in-law. Then it was remembered that Hull was seen in the neighborhood some months before hauling a huge crate which he claimed was full of farm machinery.
About this time, master showman P.T. Barnum offered to buy the Giant to show at his famous museum. Newell refused the offer, but Barnum undaunted hired a sculptor to create a duplicate. Soon there were two rival giants and no one knew which one was authentic.
Actually, neither was. Witnesses turned up from Iowa and Illinois who attested that the figure had been carved out of a great block of gypsum dug up in Fort Dodge, Iowa. It was so big, that in order to transport it, workers had to break off a part of it. A German stone carver was hired to make the figure. Since the block had been truncated, he was obliged to draw up the figures legs, giving the statue it's peculiar posture. Finally, the underside was carved with grooves to give the appearance of erosion and distressed with a mallet faced with steel needles to give the appearance of pores and treated with a stain to give the appearance of great age.
At this point Hull decided that the joke had gone on long enough and confessed. He had come up with the whole scam, inspired by the argument he had with a literalist preacher over the biblical reference in Genesis to “giants in the earth”. It occurred to him that since so many people found pleasure in believing in such things, that he would give them a literal giant. And for a time, there really were giants in the earth; only of a fictitious nature.
Game and Story Use
- P.T. Barnum has hired you to take measurements of the Giant so that he can make a replica for his museum; but farmer Newell isn't about to let someone else cash in on his gold mine…
- That isn't the real Giant! A secretive conspiracy stole the real one and concocted the Hull story as a cover-up. It's your job to discover the truth!
- The Giant is a statue dating back to antediluvian times and represents a servitor of the Great Old Ones
- The Giant is actually an alien in suspended animation. Attempts to authenticate the 'statue' just might wake him up!