Monthly Archive: February 2016

3

The Magic Well That Turned Objects To Stone

In 1630, Sir Charles Slingsby was given the cave and well associated with the birth of Mother Shipton, said to be a witch, soothsayer, and fortune teller. He recognized the well for the gold mine it was. Any object left in the waters would be covered with lime and “petrified” within only a few months. Slingsby began charging people to check out the well and created the first paid tourist attraction.

1,409

Pennsylvania’s (Not So) Secret Underground Base

Raven Rock Mountain Complex is a military base in Pennsylvania that has been referred to as an “underground Pentagon.” Security is tight, but the base itself isn’t very well-hidden. Razor wire fences and guardhouses stand out clear as day. Personnel allowing visitors to use guardhouse phones and posting information about conferences at the base hasn’t helped, either.

3

The Weirdly Successful Conspiracy Theory About an Entire German Town

In the 1990s, a group of college students decided to poke fun at Usenet conspiracy theorists by starting their own rumors. They said that the German city of Bielefeld didn’t exist, and as people came forward to say it really did exist, the whole thing spiraled into a set of rumors and theories about why people’s minds were being manipulated into believing that the city was real. It was rumored to be the site of an extraterrestrial compound, a secret tunnel to Atlantis, and even the site of a sleeping dragon and a sect of knights. The obviously fake story—and its satirical spirit—has had some staying power, though, with Chancellor Angela Merkel even expressing her doubts the city exists.

3

The Mythical African Mountains That Were On Maps For Centuries

Early maps of Africa show some odd mountain ranges running from east to west across the continent. For decades—even after they were discovered to be nonexistent—the Mountains of Kong and the Mountains of the Moon showed up on maps of the African continent, as late as 1995. Stories of the Mountains of the Moon date back to ancient Greek traders looking for the source of the Nile, and even David Livingstone died insisting that they were real—even though they weren’t there when he finally ventured into the area.

2

The Mountain With A Devilish And Ghostly Rainbow Illusion

The Brocken is the highest peak in Germany’s Harz Mountains, and it’s long been the center of stories of witches, warlocks, and secret meetings with the Devil. That’s partially because of the eerie optical illusion that often happens there: the Brocken Spectre. When the Sun casts the shadow of a climber into the mists below, the image is turned into a surreal giant surrounded by a circular rainbow. Even today, it’s the site of a Faustian rock opera and the annual celebration of Walpurgisnacht.

3

When Animals Were Put On Trial In The Middle Ages

An amazing, and seemingly superstitious, part of the legal systems throughout the medieval period in Europe involved the question of how animals should be treated by the law. Animals of all kinds, from pigs to birds to insects, were sometimes put on trial—just like people. A fascinating 1906 book, called The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, gives us a window into this little-known aspect of the medieval world, where animals were granted public defenders and legal papers were left where they would conveniently find them.

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The Historic LA Monument Made Entirely Of Brewery Pallets

In 1951, Los Angeles eccentric Daniel Van Meter asked the Schlitz Brewery for a few pallets. When they dropped off five truckloads—unloading them amid a labor dispute over who had to repair them—he decided to build a 7-meter (22 ft) tower. In 1977, the fire department declared it a hazard, but Van Meter appealed to the city’s cultural commission for protection. They labeled it a cultural landmark (although they later questioned their own vote). Sadly, the tower was demolished after Van Meter’s death and replaced with an apartment building.

1

The Only Known Case Of A Catholic Priest Killing A Nun

In 1980, Sister Margaret Ann Pahl’s body was found in a hospital chapel. She had been stabbed to death with an oddly shaped blade and wrapped in the altar cloth. Twenty-six years later, Father Gerald Robinson was convicted of her murder. It is the only known case of a Catholic priest killing a nun.

4

The Rancher Trying To Kick-Start The End Times With A Red Heifer

According to the Bible’s Numbers 19, a pure red heifer is needed as a sacrifice to ensure the purification of the unclean and prepare them for the End Times. Clyde Lott, a US cattle breeder, is hoping to hurry along the Second Coming by breeding that perfect red heifer. With the support of the Temple Institute (an organization dedicated to restoring the world to the times, values, and animal sacrifices of the Old Testament), the Evangelical preacher has been breeding his cattle since the early 1990s, hoping for the genetic anomaly of a pure red heifer.

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Vegetarianism Originally Had Little To Do With Animal Rights

Today, many of the most vocal vegetarians aren’t afraid to say they’re doing it for the animals even though the origins of the vegetarian lifestyle had less to do with saving animals and more to do with maintaining a clean, bland lifestyle that would curb sexual desire and prevent the downfall of society. The movement was started by the Reverend Sylvester Graham (of graham cracker fame). He pushed the idea of a meat-free, flavor-free diet in order to help curb sexual appetites and free people from the need for masturbation. It wasn’t until some of his followers—the Kellogg family—decided to try their hand at making fake meat that the Seventh-day Adventist Church got hold of the idea and came up with the now-familiar hot dogs and burger patties.