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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Murdered Elephant and Weird Taxidermy: Miami County Museum

I'm a big fan of small town local museums.  Sure, a lot of it is going to be boring history and quilts, but there is almost some crazy artifact that will make your trip worthwhile.  One such museum was brimming with promise:  The Miami County Museum in Peru, IN.  (People in Indiana like to pretend they are in Florida, to help themselves feel warmer).

Peru Indiana bills itself as Circus Capitol of the World, which is enough to get me excited.  The main event is the Skull of Charley the Elephant.

You see Charley was a Circus Elephant, who like many circus Elephants before, he decided to murder his trainer.   After Charley joyfully drowned his trainer in a river the rest of the circus decided to kill Charley and filled his brain with bullets.

This is a surprisingly common occurrence across America, Elephant murders trainer and Elephant is executed.  One of these executed Elephants is the notorious Mary the Elephant, who was hung by the neck in Erwin, TN.  I have traveled to Erwin several times and despite having a wonderful local museum, there is no mention of Mary's execution.  In fact, it almost seems that the town is somewhat ashamed that they publicly executed an animal.

This is not the case in Peru, IN as Charlie's bullet ridden skull is front and center with arrows pointing to the bullet holes.

Now, this is the point were I give my one complaint about the Miami County Museum.  While photographing Charley's skull a lady came up to me and informed me that flash photography is not allowed in the museum.  She said that it damages the artifacts.

I'm sorry, but If the Smithsonian let's me take a flash photo of Abraham Lincoln's hat I think your Elephant skull will be fine.

Lincoln's Freaking Hat: Not seen in Peru, IN
There are several other artifacts worth mentioning at the Miami County Museum, such as world's tallest man ever Robert Wadlow's Overalls....

They also have some spectacular taxidermy, including the first time I have ever seen a taxidermied bald eagle, which I can't imagine was ever a legal thing to do.

As well, as a poor sea turtle that was turned to soup.  

They have a small cabinet of curiosities featuring a siamese pig.......

A two headed calf.....

And a freaky rabbit with giant feet.

Definitely worth a stop if for some reason you are forced to travel through Indiana, just watch the flash on your camera, or it might cause the stuffed bald eagle to melt.

The Carpetbagger

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  1. Great museum! I would love to own a pair of Robert Wadlow's overalls!
    my grandmother loves to tell me about a restaurant she used to go to near daytona beach where you picked a sea turtle out of a big tank in the middle of the restaurant and they pulled it out and made you a sea turtle steak. can you believe that?

    1. I admit I have a lot of obsession, but I amn super into Rober Wadlow :) I'd kill for one of his shoes.

      Serving Turtles sea turtles out of an aquarium like lobsters sounds like the most horrifying thing I have ever heard!

  2. Another great post..... I don't know if I MUST get to this museum now, or avoid it at all costs!
    A couple of thoughts... Why do you keep hating on Paducah? Never mind.
    Also, "Charley was a Circus Elephant, who like many circus Elephants before, him decided to murder his trainer"- has anyone ever written a book on murderous elephants? I would love to see that!

    1. The thing is, I used to actually work in a small local museum and it was my job to vacuum the quilts. You do this by taking a vacuum hose, covering it with a panty hoe and turning it to its lowest setting. It takes forever. One solid day of quilt vaccuming and you will never want to see museum quilts every again. So my irrational distain is directed at quilts, not Paducah. I actually like Paducah.

      I know I saw a documentary about murderous elephants on Discovery or National Geographic. There is a sanctuary that only takes Elephants who have killed people.