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Freaky and funny facts of the world - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Freaky and funny facts of the world
Woo-hoo... I've been given an excuse to do a real geography program! I can geek out!

It being for teenagers, I want to take a fun approach, seeing weird (or at least unusual) things and hearing about funny and freaky facts about places they don't know.

Well, and places they do know, but mostly new spots. I'm going to look around for places and stuff myself, but any help... well, is there something funny or freaky or neat about where you are? Hit me with the Wiki link if there is one, or just tell me and I'll find what I can find. Eg, a freaky story from here that I might share is The Great Molasses Flood, or, from my hometown, The Silver Lake Sea Serpent. Just stuff that you know about, local stories that might not have spread much, and so on, that you think people might find it fun to know about.
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greyathena From: greyathena Date: May 25th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
This may not be a terribly exciting story, but I did grow up near Washington Crossing, PA, which is so named because it is the site of George Washington's historic Christmas crossing of the Delaware to attack the British in New Jersey. The reason it's funny is because although the history books and the painting make it out to be this big brave crossing across the snowy ice-filled river, the river at that point is so shallow - even in the very center - that people doing canoe trips often have to pick up the canoes and carry them. So apparently the Continental Army could have waded across the Delaware and barely gotten their pants wet.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I dont' know about the kids, but I'm laughing my butt off.
gehayi From: gehayi Date: May 25th, 2006 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Would you be interested in supernatural stuff? Because my state has a cursed town.

We also have a burned-out village--nothing left but chimneys and cellar holes--only if you go there, you can still hear the village in full swing. Sheets flapping on a line, a blacksmith hammering at a forge, men arguing, women calling children in to eat.

And I don't think it's a tape. People keep trying to tape things there--one man did when I was visiting--and tape recorders don't work there. Or cameras. Or anything electrical. In fact, you have to park your car about a mile away so that it will start when you want to leave.

Would you be interested in either of those?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: May 25th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Not sure if this stuff counts as interesting, but I am from Eugene, Oregon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene%2C_Oregon
Lots of fun facts: Nike started up the street from my parents' house, when Bill Bowerman used his wife's waffle iron to make a new shoe sole in the garage for Steve Prefontaine and his teammates. Ken Kesey lived in Eugene until his death; my coir used to hang out with him every year at a holiday concert.

Local legend has it that the town's first name was Skinner's Mudhole (the founder was Eugene Skinner), because before the rivers were dammed and controlled the valley flooded every winter, leaving behind extremely fertile mud/silt after the water receded. The oldest houses in town, as a result, are high up in the hills.

I'm sure you'll get lots of ghost stories, but here's one: We got engaged a year ago at an inn outside of Boston where Longfellow used to spend a lot of time, the Longfellow Wayside Inn. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longfellow%27s_Wayside_Inn
It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman named Jerusha How—we stayed in the haunted room (he didn't tell me that until the next day), and sure enough around three in the morning there was all this thumping on a weird, tiny staircase (almost unusable) outside the room. None of the staff were around that late, and...eek, anyway. People write notes about their lives or their experiences with the ghost and tuck them into all the cracks in the beams, and hide them in a secret compartment in the dresser. Creepy.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Skinner's Mudhole? I wonder about American naming instincts sometime--my town, Perry, was originally called "Slabtown."
valerie_valerah From: valerie_valerah Date: May 25th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I live in Saugerties, NY, which is about 10 minutes from Woodstock. We also hosted Woodstock '94 :P http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodstock_%2794

There are lots of weird things that go on in Woodstock. There's a guy, an old hippie vagabond type guy, who rigged up this weird cart thing that he attaches to his bicycle and gives people rides for money. It's crazy, because it's so covered with ribbons and decorations that it's difficult to tell where his bike ends and his cart stops. I think he's referred to as Old Man Woodstock.

Saugerties itself is also the home of HITS (Horse Shows In The Sun), as well having many, many antique shops.

It's actually a very, very neat little town. Here's a link if you're interested in talking about us :P http://www.saugerties.com/
valerie_valerah From: valerie_valerah Date: May 25th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, jeez, and I forgot to mention the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival! It's quite easily the biggest event we have in Saugerties. http://www.hvgf.org/
People from all over come to our little town just for this. Of course, it clogs up our streets because they're not built to handle that much traffic. But it's always fun :D
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: May 25th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, The Faroe Islands could be interesting - As in, I many of those teenagers know that we exist.

We have Europe's tallest cliff, Cape Enniberg, one of the world's oldest parliament, and unbelievable birdlife.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dude, if you could send me a picture, or know of a good place with Faroe Islands pictures, I'd love it. I've found some pics online and read up (because you provide me with a lovely excuse for saying, "Wow, I'll read about the Faroe Islands today), but you know online pics--"Here is a picture of a fishing town. They catch fish. It is a town."

(We're getting a globe. Finally! I've wanted one for ages. And I'm going to party with our new globe. I'm going to make a production of it. If I can put up pictures around it of places on it, that would be awesome.)
norwegianblue47 From: norwegianblue47 Date: May 25th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
It isn't exactly famous, I mean, I live at one of the angles (Abington, shhh, don't tell anyone)and have probably heard about it all of two or three times, but in my folklore class there was some coverage of it. Of course it was the day I had to go to a funeral, but I found some stuff on the Internet.

Bridgewater Triangle. Googling it comes up with 700 something hits, but I don't know if there'd be much in print about it.

here's another page.

No wiki page, sorry.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
:Twilight Zone theme:

leeflower From: leeflower Date: May 25th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I went to the highschool the Blair Witch was named for. The directors were students there and they filmed it in Maryland.

We have a running 'townie joke' where when people say "Oh, you're from Silver Spring? Is the Blair Witch real?" we're supposed to answer "Heck yeah she's real-- I'm dating her."

Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. DC's biggest suburb outside of Arlandria.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I got motion sick when I tried to watch that movie!

gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: May 25th, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I was born in Cordoba, Veracruz, the place where Mexican independence was signed. The place also has its own history of witchcraft.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: May 25th, 2006 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, I screwed up with the html in that last link. The legend can be found here
From: magnolia_mama Date: May 25th, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Roanoke, Virginia, my former hometown, is one of the few cities (I'm not positive if it's in the US or the hemisphere; I'm getting conflicting data) with a mountain entirely within the city limits. The city's former name was "Big Lick," so named because the valley in which it's located consisted of a group of large salt marshes that drew large herds of bison, antelope and other grazing animals before white settlers discovered it.

And in case it comes up, the only connection between Roanoke, VA and Roanoke Island (the "Lost Colony") is about 400 miles of the Roanoke River. I used to work in the Ronaoke, VA Visitor's Center and we'd get several people in each week looking for the Lost Colony. Needless to say, we'd use the "Oh, sorry, we lost it" line far too much. ;-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll bet! I'm sure people who work in tourist centers could compile a really interesting list of repeated silly questions.

Interesting about the mountain.
disturbed_kiwi From: disturbed_kiwi Date: May 25th, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Manawatu Gorge near my home is an interesting geography thing. It's a gorge, carved out of mountains by a river, but it goes right through the range from one side to the other.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
From: boldsunshine Date: May 25th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

The World's Largest...

You might look up the world's largest teapot, which resides across the Ohio river from my town - it's in Chester, West Virginia.

The Wikipedia link is here.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 25th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: The World's Largest...

Oo! Teapot! We lose these things by flying too much...
sreya From: sreya Date: May 25th, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a lot of pictures from Egypt that might be useful. If you're going for a bit of the unusual, I have shots of the new Library of Alexandria, and I think I have a couple pictures of the little village that's taken the place of Memphis, the ancient capitol. Let me know if you'd like anything from that area, I'll see what I've got that could be interesting.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: May 25th, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, there was that time in the late '70s when one of the parties running for student government at UW-Madison promised to bring the Statue of Liberty to Madison and actually did it (well, sort-of). They covered the "postcard view" lawn on campus with plastic flamingos, too.
(no subject) - feylin17 - Expand
vega_ofthe_lyre From: vega_ofthe_lyre Date: May 26th, 2006 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm a Nova Scotia gal (Cape Breton) so here're some links you might want. Nifty freaky type stuff.

http://www.townofantigonish.ca/folklore.html (Mary Ellen Spooks bit)
merlinssister12 From: merlinssister12 Date: May 26th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Here is a link to a few of the ghosts haunting my home town. I've even had friends encounter the ghost at The Angel Inn and the ghost on the upper floor of the barracks, they named him Irving.
merlinssister12 From: merlinssister12 Date: May 26th, 2006 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I know fern is a big Steven King fan, so this fun-fact is mostly for her. The rectory of St Mark's Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which was used as John Smith's house in the movie version of "The Dead Zone," is rumoured to be haunted, as is the churches graveyard. The graveyard also has a lot of cool headstones, one called the "butcher's block" was used for just that purpose when the Americans invaded the town during the War of 1812.
Here are the wikipedia links for both Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Kingston Ontario, both places are full of Canadian history.
marukka From: marukka Date: May 26th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
In Visby (Gotland, Sweden) we have a medieval city wall and, er, lots and lots of medieval ruins, and some medieval buildings that aren't ruins, and a medieval legend about how the island was "tamed" from the world of the supernatural by the first human settlers, and the city is surrounded by medieval mass graves from the battle against the medieval Danish king Valdemar. We also have the middle age week. I'm not sure how exiting that is, but I'm having a hard time thinking of something here that isn't in some way medieval. It's a very profiled town, you might say.

Outside on the island, by Martebo moor, a wandering ghost light can sometimes be seen traveling along the road that crosses the moor. It's been known since at least the 19th century.
miss_daizy From: miss_daizy Date: May 26th, 2006 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
We have more than the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia!

Teens might be interested in the Eastern State Pennitentary. http://www.easternstate.org/

Al Capone and Willie Sutton were imprisoned here ~ Sutton escaped at one point. It's design and "reform" plan were innovative at the time it was built and were widely copied throughout the US.

I live right near the prison, so if there's any info/brochures/etc. you might want, let me know.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 26th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yeah, they love Al Capone. I'm still putting the program together, but when I do, I may well put out a call for materials.

(I grew up near Attica. It's a weird thing to have a big prison be the defining part of the region. Of course, it does give me chuckles whenever the NYC attorneys on Law and Order pop up to Attica for a day trip and figure they can take in Niagara Falls after lunch, as it's about a ten hour drive each way...)
njelruch From: njelruch Date: May 26th, 2006 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, there's Champ, the monster in Lake Champlain. The legend of the lake monster was already being told by the Native Americans in the area before Samuel de Champlain found it in 1609. Best of all, Vermont put Champ on its endangered species list.

And in more Lake Champlain news, if you've ever wanted your own fort, someone's selling Fort Montegomery on e-Bay

Fort Montegomery is also know as Fort Blunder -- the original fort was constructed shortly after the War of 1812 as a defense against British Canadians, only they built it on the Canadian side of the border. http://www.wptz.com/asseenon/2626338/detail.html
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 26th, 2006 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
And in more Lake Champlain news, if you've ever wanted your own fort, someone's selling Fort Montegomery on e-Bay

From: (Anonymous) Date: May 26th, 2006 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Darn. I'm usually all up on trivial history, and now my mind's a blank. Here's what I can dredge up.

The little known Pig War of the Pacific Northwest was, I believe, the last war between the U.S. and Great Britain. Causulties: three men, one pig, (or so I was told as a child).

"Nottingham" comes from the Old English for "home of the descendents of Snot." You can always get a laugh out of kids telling them that one (although "Snot" came from the Old English for "Wise" and is not related to the word for nose mucus).

chickadilly From: chickadilly Date: May 26th, 2006 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I have an old entry here where I talk about local urban legends - lots of comments from people with links and such of urban legends from their areas too. :)
chickadilly From: chickadilly Date: May 26th, 2006 07:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh! this post has links of local places too. Most of them are ghost stories but there is the Procter Valley Monster link too.
keestone From: keestone Date: May 26th, 2006 01:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well there's Nothing , Arizona, which I've always found amusing.

Also, I've heard on good authority that Rathangan in Co. Kildare, Ireland actually translates to "place of nothing there". I don't speak Irish myself and I'm not an expert, but I find place names amusing. (Apparantly there's also a street in Dublin that's named something to the effect of "piss with your back to the wind" in Irish as well, but I can't remember what it is.)

Speaking of amusing place names, there are always tautological place names like Torpenhow hill (hill hill hill hill, although this one may be partially debunked) and the La Brea Tar Pits (the tar pits tar pits). Heck. I just googled "tautological names", and the Mississippi River is another one. It's "Big River River".
affabletoaster From: affabletoaster Date: May 26th, 2006 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
pellatuliptime.com/ -- My town, where some rich Dutch settlers ended up after leaving Holland because of religious persecution (they're Dutch Calvinist. Now my town persecutes everyone else, like Catholics, Anglicans, and all those other "condemnable idolaters.") Downtown all the buildings have to have some nod to Dutch architecture. I think even the Super Wal*Mart they're building has to have some sort of Dutch front. Signs are strictly regulated; neon is not allowed, and they're not allowed to be more than 10 ft. off the ground unless they're on a building (even McDonald's). We have the tallest working windmill (in the U.S.), and lots of other generally Dutch stuff. It's all very quaint.

I go to school in Nova Scotia, and there are some interesting things there. The Bay of Fundy, for example, has the highest tides in the world. Cape Breton Island is a beautiful piece of Scotland, inhabited by the sweetest people!

Newfoundland has some interestingly named places: Witless Bay, Conception Bay, Little Heart's Ease, Bay Vert (rhymes with "Bert"), Dildo, Harbour Harbour, and Nameless Cove. An entertaining list can be found here.

Less obscurely, I have pictures from Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan (touristy and non-touristy) in Egypt, and Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and parts of Galilee (touristy and non-touristy) from our stays there, should you want them. I also have loads of pictures of Turkey which you can browse here (There are also pictures from a Sisters of Charity house in Egypt, and some Egypt pictures, including sheep being ceremonially slaughtered outside our kitchen window.)
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: May 26th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 happened on the same day as the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin/Upper Michigan. While the Chicago fire became part of Midwestern myth, the Peshtigo fire was forgotten. Here's a great site for compiled info: http://www.peshtigofire.info/

As a side note, I took a weeklong trip to the Netherlands/Germany last month, with stops in Nijmegen (NL) and Bremen (G). Pictures here:
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: May 26th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Home sweet home


Our widest main street is my favorite fact about Greenwood.
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