Cryptid Profile: The Minnesota Iceman
Throughout the late 1960’s and 70’s, an attraction made its way to shopping malls, carnivals, and state fairs across the United States. The object on display was housed in a large refrigerated container and was frozen solid in a large block of ice. Those lucky enough to see the attraction describe the mystery object in ice as male, human-like, 6ft tall, hairy, with large hands and feet, very dark brown hair about 3 - 4 inches long,and a flattened nose. One of its arms appeared to be broken and one of its eyes appeared to have been knocked out of its socket, allegedly by a bullet that was said to have entered the creature’s head from behind.
The creature became known as The Minnesota Iceman.
The summer of 1967 was the year that Minnesota native Frank Hansen began touring the Iceman. The attraction locations were the normal stopping points for an item of this nature, so for the entire summer, onlookers from all over would make their way to local fairs and carnivals and pay 25 cents to feast their eyes upon the frozen monster. Hansen was describing the creature as a “man left over from the ice age.”
The attraction quickly spread through word of mouth until it reached the ears of two cryptozoologists by the names of Ivan Sanderson and Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans in 1968. Heuvelmans had been staying with Sanderson as a house guest when they began hearing about a large creature that was not fully man yet not fully animal either. Their interest grew even more when they heard it was also incased in a block of ice. Sanderson and Heuvelmans made their way to Hansen’s farm where they were able to view the creature themselves while it was currently being stored for the winter.
Upon arriving at Hansen’s farm, both men made their way into a cramped trailer that housed the refrigerated container that kept the iceman frozen solid. The best possible way for both men to view and examine the frozen man was to hang bright lights over the glass which kept the block of ice contained. At one point (as told by Hansen), one of the men placed one of the hot lights directly on top of the cold glass which caused the entire thing to shatter. Both Sanderson and Heuvelmans were front row when the pungent odor from the rotting flesh of a corpse filled the room. After examining the creature for three days, Heuvelmans declared the iceman as genuine and authentic.
Both Sanderson and Heuvelmans wrote papers on the creature after the examination. Heuvelmans wrote “Preliminary Note on a Specimen Preserved in Ice: Unknown Living Hominid” for The Institute of Natural Sciences in Belgium. Sanderson wrote an article entitled “Living Fossil” for Argosy Magazine.
Eventually, these papers, continued word of mouth, and the asking of Dr. John Napier to examine the creature by Sanderson led to the Smithsonian Institution getting involved. The Smithsonian eventually heard of a theory that the Iceman may be a normal human that was murdered and passed around under the guise of an attraction and asked the FBI to investigate. The agency found no wrong doing upon viewing the creature and Hansen was able to add a sign to his attraction that read “The Near-Man…. Investigated by the FBI” when the Iceman went back on tour.
Many viewers of the creature asked Hansen where the creature came from, he originally told them that the he met a man in early 1967 in Arizona who was in possession of the creature. The man told Hansen that the creature was discovered floating in the ocean by Chinese fishermen while frozen in a giant 6,000lb block of ice. Hansen promptly bought the creature off the man and began to display it. He also told onlookers that the creature was discovered in the vast wilderness of Siberia and was killed out of fear, frozen in ice, and shipped back to the United States. Later in life though, Hansen told the actual true story of how he came upon the creature.
Hansen told the story of how he had been hunting in the upper north woods of Wisconsin when he came upon what he thought was a group of bears in the distance. Frightened when one of the creatures turned in his direction and began to charge towards him, Hansen thought to only do one thing, he took aim and put the beast down with a shot to the head. The other two creatures retreated back into the woods. Upon approaching the fallen trophy, Hansen made the startling discovery that this was no bear, but a large hairy thing that resembled a mix between an ape and a man. Scared of the possibility that he could face jail time for killing this mystery creature, Hansen came up with a story about how it was discovered floating at sea, as well as a story about how it was found in Siberia. He loaded the carcass up and transported it back to Minnesota where it was promptly frozen.
Throughout the years, many people have come forward stating that the Iceman was a hoax. A father and son team from California claimed to have been hired to make a rubber Neanderthal body to be displayed in a cabinet under ice for a business man. A woman also came forward claiming to be the actual hunter who killed the Iceman when it attacked her near Bemidji, Minnesota. She said she killed the creature with a shot through the eye and sold his corpse for cash.
After growing old with the touring circuit, Hansen removed the creature from exhibition and even claimed to have buried it. Others state that Hansen sold it to a private collector for a hefty profit. But Hansen would never go on record stating what officially happened to the Iceman. Every once in a while, a rumor pops up stating the Iceman is currently being shown at local state fairs or museums again, but these have all been proven to be costumes or recreations built to the eyewitness descriptions of the classic creature.
Currently in Texas at the Museum of the Weird, a recreation exhibit of the original Minnesota Iceman (complete with refrigeration case and “authentic” recreation body within) has been put on permanent display for all to enjoy. (Photo of this recreated exhibit is shown below.)
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Google