A Tulsa, Okla., man says his faith in God led him to believe in the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, but his trip to a remote area in eastern Turkey led him to accept the historic vessel was genuine.

Val Smith says he traveled to Mt. Ararat recently to see what a 1960 Life magazine article suggested was the final resting place for the Ark, though the journey was an attempt to solidify, not validate, his faith.

“If God’s word is true, then these remains are out there somewhere,” he told KTUL-TV in Tulsa. “There’s some of this actually happening.”

When he arrived, he found a number of artifacts – iron rivets, petrified wood and ancient tar – he says are all a part of the Ark.

The object, or formation, in question was first featured in Life magazine more than four decades ago. Those photos, which were taken by a Turkish military officer at 10,000 feet, also show a cylindrical boat-shaped object resting in what reports at the time said was a landslide “of recent origin.”

Some believe this 2003 satellite image shows Noah’s Ark (courtesy: DigitalGlobe)

“While routinely examining aerial photos of his country, a Turkish army captain suddenly gaped at the picture shown above. There, on a mountain 20 miles south of Mt. Ararat, the biblical landfall of Noah’s Ark, was a boat-shaped form about 500 feet long,” said the Life magazine caption. “The captain passed on the word. Soon an expedition including American scientists set out for the site. At 7,000 feet, in the midst of crevasses and landslide debris, the explorers found a clear, grassy area shaped like a ship and rimmed with steep, packed-earth sides. Its dimensions are close to those given in Genesis: ‘The length of the ark shall be 300 cubits, the breadth of it 50 cubits, and the height of it 30 cubits,’ that is, 450x75x45 feet. A quick two-day survey revealed no sign that the object was man made. Yet a scientist in the group says nothing in nature could create such a symmetrical shape.”

For Smith, the journey was a combination of living history and faith.

“Many people tell me I don’t need Noah’s Ark, I have faith. Well that’s great. I had faith. But, now I know. I’ve been on this thing,” he told the NewsCenter 8 in Tulsa. “Don’t believe me and don’t believe others. Read the Bible for yourself and look at these things. That’s what really makes it simple.”

The Turkish government has turned the region into a tourist spot, designating it “Noah’s Ark National Park” and even building a visitor’s center.

According to Space.com, the U.S. Air Force took the first photographs of the Mt. Ararat site in 1949. The images allegedly revealed what seemed to be a structure covered by ice, but were held for years in a confidential file labeled “Ararat Anomaly.”

The government released several of the images in 1997, but experts say they are inconclusive.

In August 2004, WND reported that a separate private group, relying on current satellite photos of the area, said they too believed they had found Noah’s Ark, but in Dogubayazit, Turkey, near Mt. Ararat – a site different from the one visited by Smith and photographed 45 years ago.

Some believe this is Noah’s Ark, already found on a mountain next to Mt. Ararat, near Dogubayazit, Turkey (courtesy: wyattmuseum.com)

“These new photos unequivocally show a man-made object,” Honolulu businessman Daniel McGivern told reporters in April at the National Press Club in Washington. “I am convinced that the excavation of the object and the results of tests run on any collected samples will prove that it is Noah’s Ark.”

Related stories:

Noah’s Ark discovered?

Satellite photos spark Noah’s Ark trek

CIA releases new ‘Noah’s Ark’ documents

Noah’s Ark? Or elaborate fraud?

Raiders of the lost Ark

In search of Noah’s Ark

Pharaoh’s chariots found in Red Sea?

Real-life raiders hunt Ark of the Covenant

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.