Did You Know America’s Greatest Religious Hoax Started In CNY?
One of the world's greatest religious hoaxes started right here in Central New York. It'll go down in American history as America's greatest hoax. Have you ever heard the story of The Cardiff Giant?
The Cardiff Giant was conceived by George Hull. Hull was a cigar manufacturer and atheist who lived here in Central New York. After he'd spent an evening arguing with a fundamentalist minister, Hull decided to test the world's intelligence:
Hull remembered Genesis 6:4 and its reference to "giants in the earth" and wondered if people like the minister could be convinced that a large, stone statue found in the ground was actually a "petrified giant." He decided to find out."
Hull had a ten foot statue carved in secret and used himself as the model. He even decided to wash it with sulfuric acid, and pound it with darning needles to make it look old. The next step of the hoax was to have it buried on a friend's farm in Cardiff, which is a hamlet south of Syracuse. This prank set him back $2,600, but Hull figured that enough people would want to see it for him to make a profit. A profit he did make.
On October 16th, 1869, workers hired to dig a well on the Cardiff farm instead dug up the giant. The statue was denounced as a fraud by many, but, as Hull had guessed, it was fervently defended by Christian fundamentalists. While the world decided to debate this statue, Hull made around $30,000 charging admission at 50 cents a peek.
Today you can still see the statue thanks to the New York Historical Association. They bought the giant for $30,000 and brought it to Cooperstown, where you can see it at the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown.