A mystery. What was in that abandoned safe in New York?

Every once in a while you come across one of those modern-day mysteries that sounds like it has to be some sort of campfire tale legend but it turns out to be true. A situation like that popped up in the tiny, western New York State town of Barre back on August 14th, located in a rural region near Lake Ontario. One of the farmers in the area, Kirk Mathes, went out into his fields one morning and was greeted by an unusual sight. A huge, ancient safe that looked like something out of black&white era movie had been dumped in one of his fields. Attached to it was a cryptic, unsigned note. The story was picked up in the local news without much fanfare. (WIVB News)

One man in Orleans County woke up to a bizarre surprise in his fields.

Kirk Mathes found a safe on his property earlier this week. The Town of Barre posted pictures of it on Facebook

The safe was left with a note attached to it, which read “If you can open this, you can have what’s inside.”.

You can see several pictures of the safe at the town’s Facebook page linked in the excerpt. One immediate question was how anyone got the thing out into the middle of the field without being noticed. It’s simply huge and has to weigh a quarter of a ton (literally). And the note read, “If you can open this, you can have what’s inside.”

I found the story intriguing, but no further details were provided and for the better part of a week, there was no more mention of it. What could possibly be inside? It’s probably a sign of our times that my first thought was that it might contain a bomb or some sort of bio-weapon. But who tries to blow up a farm field in the middle of nowhere?

I then started to think it must be some sort of a prank, but whoever did it had to have gone to a lot of trouble. I did some digging online based on the information from the pictures and was easily able to locate the type of safe it is. It was manufactured by the Cary Safe Company located in nearby Buffalo, New York. And the safe was indeed very old because Cary was established in 1878, but went out of business in 1929 at the start of the great depression, so this one is probably more than a century old.

The company made specialized safes to order for banks, businesses and families wealthy enough to afford one. The one the farmer found had the name Woods & Vick (I think) emblazoned on the top as they did for most of their customers. I couldn’t find any reference to a company by that name during a quick search, however. What happened to the safe next took things to another level.

Nearly a week later, a followup article appeared on the website for WHAM News 13, also local to that area. Once word got out about the safe, locals showed up in the farmer’s field and began trying to open it by crude and forceful methods, They managed to knock off both the handle and the combination dial, rendering them useless. Attempts to break the hinges and walls of the safe were futile.

After that, the farmer removed it to one of his barns. He told the local news outlet that he planned on hiding it once they left and that the contents are probably better left being a mystery. He’s also been in touch with a group that is planning to start a local museum and they are interested in featuring it as one of their first attractions.

“My personal feeling is, leave it as a mystery,” said Mathes.

He says the debate about what’s inside has been a welcome distraction for many.

“If you open it, the show is over. In these times, with the virus and the politics, it might get people a chance to set their problems or troubles aside and have a lot of fun talking about it,” Mathes said.

Now, there are plans to make the mysterious safe part of a future-planned history museum for the Town of Barre.

If you’re wondering why a rusty, damaged old safe would be a fitting showpiece for a museum, you should consider that the Town of Barre covers some 55 square miles of land and has a population of barely 2,000. The cows vastly outnumber the humans. In other words, there isn’t a lot going on there.

Whoever pulled this prank, assuming that’s what this is, missed out on an opportunity. I see those safes selling for some impressive prices at auction to collectors. Perhaps it was just some family heirloom that the owners grew tired of and decided to have some fun with it. Who knows? But I’ll confess… I’d still really like to know what’s inside.

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