There is a magical place known as the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Founded in 1970 by Doyle and Sue Owens, this one-of-a-kind store is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Scottsboro, Alabama. We’ve all experienced those moments at the busy airport watching that single suitcase circle the track over and over in search of someone to grab it and claim it as their own. If you have ever wondered what happens to these bags and where they end up, there is no need to wonder anymore. Now you know.
Over one million items pass through this special store every year. About 60% is clothing; the remaining 40% related to cameras, electronics, books, sporting goods and jewelry. After 90 days of sincere tracking on the part of the airlines, these items are declared unclaimed cargo and may become available for sale in this incredible store.
In the words of Bryan Owens, son of the founder: “Many of our guests come again and again. But whether people are visiting for the first time or are among the ‘regulars’ who drop by frequently, everyone enjoys the sense of adventure in seeing what treasures they can find among the lost items on display in the store.”
What are some of the strangest and most valuable items found? Get a load of this partial list:
1- Hoggle Puppet
This treasure comes from the 1986 David Bowie movie, Labyrinth. It is not for sale and is part of the museum’s permanent display.
This priceless musical instrument that dates back to the 1770s is also part of the permanent exhibit.
3- Egyptian Artifacts
Ranging from a mummified falcon to a shrunken head that dates back to 1500 BC, these incredible treasures were recovered from an old Gucci suitcase, and in the 1980s, were relegated to Christie’s auction house where they were sold to the highest bidder.
4- A Live Rattlesnake
Roaming free in the unclaimed cargo area. Need I say more?
5- Naval Guidance System
Worth about $250,000, this piece of equipment was never claimed. The Unclaimed Baggage center dutifully returned the GPS to the embarrassed Navy who never noticed it was missing in the first place.
6- A NASA Space Shuttle Camera
Is national security slipping? This item was also returned to the powers-that-should-have-been more careful.
7- Loaded Barbie Doll
A doll purchased for a little girl turned out to contain some $500 rolled up inside its body.
8- A Full Suit of Armor
How anyone could possibly forget about a full suit of armor is the biggest mystery of all! (It’s like forgetting where you put the elephant.) Although a replica of a 19th-century piece, it is still valuable and quite difficult to misplace.
Number #9 truly defies belief and #10 alone proves that diamonds really are no one’s friend!
9- A 40.95-Carat Natural Emerald
10- A 5.8-Carat Diamond
This incredible gem was set in a platinum ring and packed in a sock.
One can only wonder about things that are carefully guarded if items like these can be lost and not even missed!
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