The Unclaimed Baggage Center: Where to Find Unusual Missing Items

A shrunken head, a camera from a space shuttle and a 4,000-year-old Egyptian burial mask with a mummified hawk are among the items that have turned up at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in the small city of Scottsboro, Alabama.

The center, which covers more than a city block, purchases bags left on airline carousels that were never reunited with their owners, despite a three-month search. The lost bags arrive by tractor trailer at the center’s processing facility, and the items inside are sorted. Clothes are dry-cleaned and laundered, fine jewelry is cleaned and appraised, and all electronic equipment is cleared of personal data. The best items are sold on the center’s retail floor; the rest are donated or thrown away.

Each year, more than 1 million visitors from every state and around 40 foreign countries visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center, which was created by Doyle Owens in 1970 and now is owned by his son, Bryan Doyle. Other unusual items that have arrived at the center are a live rattlesnake, 50 vacuum-packed frogs, a replica of a full suit of 19th-century armor, someone’s ashes, a coffin and a missile-guidance system for a fighter jet.


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