Kryptos is a puzzle sculpture that’s been on the grounds of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia since 1990. Three of its four coded messages have been solved – and now we have a clue that might reveal the fourth. Plus: the story of the J.W. Westcott II, the only ship that has its own ZIP code.

Kryptos (CIA.gov)

This Sculpture Holds A Decades-Old C.I.A. Mystery. And Now, Another Clue. (New York Times)

A Look at J.W. Westcott Co.: The Detroit Business That Delivers Mail Via Boat (Hour Detroit)

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Today we’re talking about what could be the beginning of the end for one of the great puzzle mysteries of our time.

It’s called Kryptos, and it’s a puzzle sculpture that’s been on the grounds of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia since 1990.

Its sculptor, Jim Sanborn, cut 1,735 letters into the a standing copper scroll.

Those letters both pay tribute to important codes in history and make up four coded messages.

After years of work, people have managed to solve three of them.

The first reads “Between subtle shading and the absence of light lies the nuance of illusion.”

The second refers to a key Sanborn gave the then-CIA director, William Webster, that could solve all four messages, and the third quotes Howard Carter’s description of opening King Tut’s tomb.

As for the fourth, known as K4? Well, we just don’t know.

Thousands of people have been trying to figure out the final 97 characters all these years, with apparently no success.

We know that Sanborn added some misspellings to the first three messages to make them more difficult to decode.

The fourth could have those, as well as lots of other cryptological obstacles.

We do know a few of the final characters, because Sanborn has revealed them, in the hopes that someone might be able to solve the whole message.

Ten years ago he revealed the word BERLIN was in there, and in 2014, he announced the word CLOCK came next.

Just last week, another clue. He told the New York Times the message also includes the word NORTHEAST.

Will that clue finally lead to a breakthrough while the 74 year old sculptor is still around to see it?

Perhaps, but the Times report also notes that the fourth message isn’t the end of the puzzle, that there’s another riddle once the entire text is revealed.

So beyond this mystery, there’s probably another mystery.

It’s National Mail Carrier Day, and many of those carriers are out walking and driving through their neighborhoods.

But there are also deliveries going out by boat, courtesy of the J.W. Westcott II.

It brings mail and parcels to commercial ships on the Great Lakes, and it’s the only ship that has its own ZIP code – 48222.