What's Your Favorite Unsolved Mystery?

The world is full of unsolved mysteries. It’s one of Atlas Obscura’s driving principles. We’ve looked into classic mysteries like the unsolved case of D.B. Cooper; sinister mysteries, like the unknown happenings at Dyatlov Pass; scientific strangeness such as the true nature of dark matter; and sillier puzzles like what the deal was with Garfield phones washing up on a French beach. And now we want more! We want to hear about the unsolved mysteries and inexplicable conundrums that fascinate you and keep you up at night.

(Image: Robert Lukeman/Public Domain)

One of my personal favorite unsolved mysteries is the true identity of S.W. Erdnase, author of the 1902 card sharp bible, The Expert at the Card Table. Erdnase’s book has become a foundational text in the world of card magic and the card-handling arts, but the author (or authors) remain a mystery. Was Erdnase a con-man, gambler, and master of the cheat? A magician and performer who knew the value of card handling in games of chance? Nobody is quite sure, or at least if they are, they aren’t talking. And despite the fact that we might never know, the mystery itself is still and intriguing subject of speculation and intrigue.

In the comments below, tell us about the ongoing mystery that most fascinates you, why you find it so intriguing, and what your personal theory about it is. Your submission might be included in an upcoming round-up or future feature where we ask our audience to try find a solution. Truly the greatest mystery is what mystery is the best mystery.


I never thought to check if there was a story on Dytalov pass here, but I shouldn’t be surprised that there is.

Personal favorite, relatively local to me and I got to add it to the Atlas (squee)


One of my favorite mysteries is: Who is the real Satoshi Nakamoto, the person or group of people who created Bitcoin. I have no idea who it might be, but I find it absolutely fascinating to think about a mathematical genius who created something used around the world, who not only wishes (we presume) to remain anonymous, but has actually succeeded in doing so for quite a long time.


We also have a video :love_you_gesture::love_you_gesture: https://youtu.be/wENKt8bR2RM


A mystery I found a few years ago (in the Atlas!) is one of my favorite things ever, I find it endlessly puzzling and compelling: the mystery of UNFAVORABLE SEMICIRCLE, an enigmatic, haunting, creepy YouTube channel of <crack of lightning!> unknown origin. A wiki created by investigators of it’s source and meaning describes it perfectly:

Unfavorable Semicircle was the name of a channel on YouTube which garnered attention for the huge number of videos it published and the unusual nature of the videos over the course of a year. The account went live on March 30, 2015 and began posting extremely frequently, with two or three videos being published every two minutes.

Tens of thousands of videos were posted on the channel while it was active, some only a few seconds long, others as long as eleven hours. All featured abstract images and were either silent or contained distorted voices and unusual sounds.

The channel garnered much attention and curiosity after one of its videos was posted to Reddit and soon hit the mainstream news on February 22. On February 25, 2016, the channel had been terminated by YouTube.

On March 3, 2016, Unfavorable Semicircle was discovered on Twitter and on a new YouTube account after decoding a post on the Google+ page that was linked to the Original YouTube channel.

On 2017 the channel deleted itself, and its twitter account.


Number Stations, I mean we know what they were for presumably, but you can still listen to them I believe. It’s so creepy the fact that you could be listening to codes for spies. What are they saying!!!:rage::rage:


Season 4, when it was hosted by Robert Stack.



It is not possible to write enough books about the Tamam Shud Man.

1948, Adelaide, South Australia - A dead man is found sitting at the beach. He has no wallet, no money, no hat, and the labels are removed from his clothes. He does have a comb, an unused rail ticket, and a scrap of paper ripped from the final page of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat. It reads “Tamam Shud”, Persian for “It is ended.” The book is later found in the back seat of a parked car. Indentations on the pages show a phone number and encrypted text. The text has never been decoded, the man has never been identified, and every step of the investigation just led to weirder and weirder questions.


For me it has to be Ed Leedskalnin’s Coral Castle:

It may forever remain a mystery how this single person, single handedly and secretly carried all that heavy coral to built his castle. There was a will and there was a way, we just don’t know it yet (or we may never know).


I dont know if I have a favourite really , but I do love a good unsolved historical mystery , I am a bit of an amateur sleuth really.

I’m still researching a 19th century Victorian murder that I have previously wrote about on the forum.


I’m fascinated by the fate of the explorer John Cabot (or Giovanni Caboto). It’s bizarre that this great voyager from the Early Age of Exploration - especially one who (re?)discovered the coasts of North America - is shrouded in mystery and, ultimately, unaccounted for.

What we know suggests he lived an interesting life before eventually being commissioned by Henry VII and making his landmark, groundbreaking voyages. What is most beguiling, though, is that it’s unknown how and when he died. Evidence is sketchy and it’s assumed that he died on a journey and his fleet went with him.

I’m determined to write some fiction based on this at some point (I tried years ago and recalling Cabot I’m tempted to come back to it!). We all love mysteries and this one - set in an age where the seas are unmapped and starring a man of many names pushing the boundaries of the known - is particularly tantalising…


I’ve never heard of Calbot till this point but I’m definitely going to do some reading about him at some point.

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I have three.
The first is the lost colony of 1590. All that remained was the word Croatoan carved in a tree.

The second is Flight 19, lost in the Bermuda Triangle.

The third is Benjamin Bathurst. <<On the night of November 25, 1809, a British diplomat by the name of Benjamin Bathurst was on his way to Berlin in order to get back to London after an important trip to Vienna. On the way, Bathurst made a stop at the town of Perleberg in order to get new horses and to have a meal. When the horses were ready and he had finished eating his dinner, Bathurst excused himself and told his assistant he would go out and wait in the carriage so that they could continue on their trip. The diplomat then went out to the carriage and the assistant followed moments after, yet when the door to the carriage was opened Bathurst wasn’t there. In fact, he was nowhere to be seen, and there was no sign of where he could have gone, even though he had been there just seconds before.>>

What the heck, let’s toss Amelia Earhart in there, too.


An obvious one, but the Disappearance of the Roanoke Colony. It has fascinated me since I was a kid!


Here’s my favorite story about him:


Malaysian Airlines flight 370, which disappeared on March 2014. The families of those who perished definitely need answers.


The Beale Cipher Treasure of Bedford County, Virginia has been of interest as there is lots of material, but no confirmed solution to the mystery.

Oake Island is another good mystery.


I’m also interested in the Lost Colony. I lived in Fayetteville, North Carolina long ago and there were stories told of the Lumbie Indian tribe around Lumberton, in the county to the south.

The stories were that a band of Indians that attacked the lost colony, took them all captive and went south-east inland, ending up in the area that became Lumgerton. When the white people discovered the Lumbie, many had names such as Oxendine and other European names. they also spoke with accents very different from the other tribes in that area. In 1978, when I went there, the natives spoke English with very British-sounding accents.

Among the non-Indians around Fayetteville, this was treated as historic, rather than speculative knowledge. I never spoke to a native to find out their views on it.


The Voynich manuscript. I’m still hoping for someone to decipher it and publish their findings.