ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Some people think of it like the Loch Ness monster of Forest Park. A monstrous piece of steel from another time that could be right underfoot, only no one knows exactly where.
"I think it's the intrigue of not knowing," said Sharon Smith at the Missouri History Museum.
The mystery is centered around the massive ferris wheel from the 1904 World's Fair in Forest Park. It stood 26 stories high and each of the 36 cars on the towering attraction was as big as a metro bus. The cars could hold 60 people. Some booked the cars for wedding parties, another man went onto the ferris wheel on horseback!
Two thousand passengers could ride the ferris wheel and it took a full 20 minutes for it to make a round trip.
The only question historians have about the ferris wheel today:
Where is it?
It's a question that has motivated conspiracy theories and unlawful treasure hunters to Forest Park.
"'What would we do if we found it?" Smith asks rhetorically with a smile."Then we can't talk it about it anymore."
This much we know for sure. The giant ferris wheel came from Chicago after that city hosted the World's Fair in 1893.
After the 1904 fair in St. Louis, demolition crews turned the majestic observation wheel into a pile of steel and cables. That's where the real mystery begins.
Most experts believe the majority of the ferris wheel was sold off for scrap materials. All except the hefty 72 ton axle to the ferris wheel. That crucial cog is still here...we think.
(You can images of the ferris wheel and the axle in question by clicking the player window on this page.)
Sharon Smith is pretty certain the axle is buried somewhere in the vicinity of Skinker Boulevard and Wydown Boulevard. That theory is mainly based on the fact that there are no pictures or accounts of anyone taking the axle away.
"Wouldn't we know? Wouldn't we have pictures? Wouldn't people be pretty excited about it being pulled out of the earth?" asks Smith. "So, I think it's still there and I really believe it's just going to stay there forever."
St. Louis was the 4th largest city in America in 1904. Memories of the World's Fair continue to loom large in the collective psyche of St. Louisans.
"People are still fiercely proud of this city," said longtime resident and World's Fair enthusiast Samuel DiLorenzo. "That's why any concrete--or steel-- connection to the fair, buried or not, still hits a nerve."