When Dan Jones walked into Wimpie's Restaurant in Soddy Daisy early one morning recently, almost no one in the dining area paid much attention to him, even though he was carrying an old, gray gym bag that appeared to be fairly heavy. Inside the bag was something, however, that made everyone suddenly stare with curiosity: a large, gray rock that had a fishing reel embedded in it that was made more than a century ago.
Mr. Jones brought the rock to the popular restaurant to show me so I could take photographs of it and do an article for Chattanoogan.com.
Mr. Jones lives in Hixson; I live in Soddy Daisy. Our mutual friend, Jerry Floyd of Red Bank who was with Mr. Jones when he found the rock decades ago, arranged the breakfast meeting.
After carefully removing the rock, Mr. Jones began explaining to those around his table where and how he found it. He has kept it in his basement of his home for about 40 years.
The mysterious rock, he said, was discovered by him in 1978 while he was trout fishing in the Tellico River with Mr. Floyd. “I walked up on a sandbar and saw it laying there with water splashing up on it,” recalled Mr. Jones. “I picked it up and carried it everywhere with me because I thought nobody would believe it unless they saw it.”
Finally, in 2003 Mr. Jones's lingering curiosity motivated him to take the rock and reel to UTC, where the entire geology department examined it. He was accompanied by Richard Simms, a correspondent of the Times-Free Press who heard about the rock from his barber, Keith Woods.
Mr. Jones said that during the UTC visit, only a few geologists offered theories as to how the bait-casting fishing reel became embedded within the rock but that all concluded it was impossible to know the exact age of the reel. Dr. Ann Holmes noted that the rock itself was estimated to be about 300 million years old, which was long before bait-casting reels were invented.
Mr. Jones said that he believed the reel was patented in 1897 and was probably manufactured in the early 1900s.
To test the authenticity of the rock, Dr. Holmes put a drop of acid on it and saw that there was no chemical reaction, proving it was not made of concrete as part of a hoax. It is a genuine “metamorphic rock,” she concluded, noting that such rocks are found in the Appalachians and were formed most likely when Africa and America collided geographically.
Of course the catch-22 of this story is that if the 1800s reel had somehow embedded itself into the rock, it could not have happened millions of years ago, and the evolution theories of modern-day geologists would appear to be built upon sand.
Mr. Jones's mysterious rock would also be a stumbling block for adherents of Charles Darwin's controversial 1859 book "On the Origin of Species." Which asserts that man evolved from apelike creatures millions of years ago.
Those evolution theories, of course, appear to contradict the Bible's account of creation that God created the heavens and the earth and all things in six days.
Mr. Jones noted that before the story was first published in 2003, a man from New York representing a museum called him and inquired about the rock. The man wanted to possibly purchase the rock for the museum to display if it could be authenticated.
Mr. Jones said he refused to mail the rock to the man, so he sent two representatives from the museum to Mr. Jones's house to photograph the rock “from all angles.” Which they did, but no one ever contacted him again.
UTC offered to "microwave the rock" for further testing, but Mr. Jones declined the offer.
How the reel became embedded in in the rock is a “true mystery,” UTC's Dr. John Miles told Mr. Jones back in 2003.