May 30, 1811. The workmen, on removing the rubbish of part of the cliff, near Dover Castle, that fell down a few months before, by which a mother and her children were killed, and their bodies found the next day, discovered a hog that was buried in the ruins at the same time, and was supposed to have perished; but, strange as it may appear, he was found alive, making it exactly five months and nine days since the accident. At that time the animal weighed about seven score; when he was found, he was wasted to about 30 pounds; but is still likely to do well.
– National Register, June 2, 1811
Monkeys in India are more or less objects of superstitious reverence, and are, consequently, seldom or ever destroyed. In some places they are even fed, encouraged, and allowed to live on the roofs of the houses. If a man wish to revenge himself for any injury committed upon him, he has only to sprinkle some rice or corn upon the top of his enemy’s house, or granary, just before the rains set in, and the monkeys will assemble upon it, eat all they can find outside, and then pull off the tiles to get at that which falls through the crevices. This, of course, gives access to the torrents which fall in such countries, and house, furniture, and stores are all ruined.
– Edmund Fillingham King, Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, 1860
In June 1911, a meteorite fell to earth in Alexandria, Egypt. A local farmer named Mohammed Ali Effendi Hakim claimed that one fragment had landed on his dog. If it’s true, this would be the first recorded instance of a meteorite killing an animal. But it’s hard to verify without evidence — the dog, if it ever existed, was vaporized.
An enterprising rhinoceros could make a pretty good living in 18th-century Europe, where people clamored to see such an outlandish creature. A rhino named Clara toured the continent for 17 years in a special wooden carriage, meeting royalty in England, France, Prussia and Poland and posing for portraits and sculptures. The French navy even named a ship after her.
She died in 1758, probably wondering what all the fuss was about.
August 18, 1765. One Carr, a waterman, having laid a wager, that he and his dog would leap from the centre arch of Westminster Bridge, and land at Lambeth, within a minute of each other; he jumped off first, and the dog immediately followed him; but the faithful animal not being in the secret, and fearing his master should be drowned, laid hold of him by the neck, and dragged him to the shore, to the no small diversion of the spectators.
– Annual Register, 1765
Percy Fawcett set out to solve a mystery and only compounded it. In 1925, after studying ancient legends, the British archaeologist became convinced that the dense Matto Grosso region of western Brazil concealed a lost city that he called “Z.” In May he set out with two other men into the uncharted jungle, leaving a note that none should try to rescue them if they did not return.
They didn’t. The decades that followed brought many rumors: Fawcett had been murdered by Indians, killed by a wild animal, stricken with amnesia or felled by illness. In all, 100 rescuers in 13 expeditions have died trying to discover what happened to him. To this day, no one knows.
Mr. James Wrigley, master of the Golden Lion inn, at Liverpool, going into his cellar, October 26, 1759, having some oysters there, a large Norway rat, endeavouring to seize an oyster that was open, it closed, and held him so fast, that he was carried into the kitchen, and exhibited to some hundred persons, while alive.
– Annual Register, 1759
Cricketer I.L. Bula played nine first-class matches for Fiji between 1947 and 1954.
Sportswriters must have been glad he didn’t use his full name — it was Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau.
Daniel McCartney never needed a diary — he could remember every day of his life since age 9. On his death in 1887, the Cardington, Ohio, Independent published this account:
That the reader may more clearly understand what has just been written, I will give Mr. McCartney’s answer to a question of my own: ‘Wife and I were married on the 28th day of January, 1836; give the day of the week, the kind of weather, etc.?’ He gave answer in a few seconds. ‘You were married on Thursday, there was snow on the ground, good sleighing and not very cold; father and I were hauling hay; a sole came off the sled, we had to throw the hay off, put a new sole on the sled and load up again before we could go.’
The writer (whose name is not given) met McCartney again a dozen years later and asked the same question. McCartney gave the same details.
A strange story is that related in a paper on ‘English and Irish Juries,’ in All the Year Round. The president judge in the case, Sir James Dyce, chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas, astonished at the verdict of acquittal in so plain a case, sought an interview with the foreman, who, having previously obtained a promise of secrecy during his lifetime, confessed that he had killed the man in a struggle in self-defence, and said that he had caused himself to be placed on the jury in order to insure his acquittal.
– Charles Bombaugh, Facts and Fancies for the Curious From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1905
March 15, 1761, Tregoney, in Cornwall. As some tinners were lately employed on a new mine, one of them accidentally struck his pick-axe on a stone. The earth being removed, a coffin was found. On removing the lid they discovered a skeleton of a man of gigantic size, which, on the admission of the air, mouldered into dust. One entire tooth remained whole, which was two inches and a half long, and thick in proportion. The length of the coffin was eleven feet three inches, and depth three feet nine inches.
– Annual Register, 1761
On Nov. 7, 1940, photographer Leonard Coatsworth was halfway across Washington’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge when he felt it move strangely:
“Just as I drove past the towers, the bridge began to sway violently from side to side. Before I realized it, the tilt became so violent that I lost control of the car. … I jammed on the brakes and got out, only to be thrown onto my face against the curb… Around me I could hear concrete cracking. … The car itself began to slide from side to side of the roadway.”
Gripping the curb, he crawled 500 yards back toward the toll plaza, turned and watched his car plunge into the Narrows. With it went his daughter’s dog, Tubby, who was too terrified to jump out.
The bridge had been competently designed, with supports by Golden Gate designer Leon Moisseiff, but no one had counted on its twisting and buckling in the wind.
On Jan. 31, 1921, the five-masted commercial schooner Carroll A. Deering was found aground in North Carolina. The ship’s log, navigation equipment and lifeboats were missing, as were the crew’s personal effects. She had last been sighted by a lightship at Cape Lookout, whose captain had spoken with a thin man with reddish hair and a foreign accent — decidedly not the Deering‘s captain. The lightship also noted that the crew seemed to be “milling around” on the Deering‘s foredeck, where they were usually not allowed.
But that’s all anyone knows, really. The crew’s disappearance remains unexplained to this day. Was it piracy? Mutiny? A commandeering by Russian communists? Without evidence, it remains a mystery.
The Wolfsegg Iron is a lump of iron found inside a block of coal at a mine in the Austrian village of Wolfsegg. The scientific journal Nature describes it as “almost a cube” with a “deep incision” running around it. It weighs about 1.7 pounds.
It’s not at all clear where it can have come from. A meteorite would not have such an artificially cubical shape, and prehistoric civilizations should not have had the technology to make such a thing.
After a thorough examination in 1966, researchers at Vienna’s Natural History Museum concluded that the block is simply man-made cast iron, perhaps used as ballast in primitive mining machinery. But no other such blocks have ever been found.
In 1940, British colonial officer Gerald Gallagher found a human skeleton and a sextant box under a tree on Gardner Island, a coral atoll in the western Pacific. Colonial authorities took detailed measurements, and in 1998 forensic anthropologists judged that the skeleton had belonged to a “tall white female of northern European ancestry.”
It may have been Amelia Earhart.
On the 27th of August, 1814, while the Majestic, Capt. Hayes, was cruising off Boston, a strange figure was perceived in the eastern horizon, about two o’clock in the morning; which, as the sun arose, gradually became more distinguishable, and, at length, assumed the perfect appearance of a man, dressed in a short jacket and half boots, with a staff in his hand, at the top of which was a colour hanging over his head, marked with two lines, perpendicularly drawn at equal distances, and strongly resembling the French flag. The figure continued visible as long as the rays of the sun would permit it to be looked at. On the 28th the figure displayed itself in the same posture, but rather broken. On the following morning, it seemed entirely disjointed, and faded into shadow, until, at last, nothing more could be seen than three marks on the sun’s disk. — Captain Hayes, his officers, and about 200 of the crew, witnessed the spectacle, both with the naked eye and through glasses. In superstitious times, such a phenomenon would have been construed into a providential warning or ominous token of some unexpected event; in this enlightened age, however, it may be easily accounted for by the reflective power of the atmosphere, which is well known to be wonderful. Most probably the figure represented was some one ashore, or on the deck of the Majestic.
– Courier, June 13, 1815
Like Sabato Rodia and Justo Gallego Martínez, Nek Chand knew the value of imagination. In the late 1940s, the Indian roads inspector started collecting building materials from local demolition sites and in a hidden forest gorge began to realize his vision of the divine kingdom of Sukrani.
Amazingly, he kept it a secret for 18 years — by the time the authorities discovered it in 1975, it had grown into a 12-acre complex of sculpture-filled courtyards. After some havering, they decided to let him keep it, and today Chand’s secret rock garden is visited by 5,000 people a day.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
October 9, 1792. One M’Gregor, a painter, in Kelso, undertook for a trifling wager to fell a bullock with his fist at three blows, which he performed in a second. What makes it more extraordinary, he is a very slender man, and not above five feet seven inches high.
– Rivington’s Annual Register, 1792
Jeffrey Hudson was only 18 inches tall, but his life was enormous. Born in 1619, the “rarity of nature” was served in a pie to a delighted Queen Henrietta, who adopted him. Thereafter he played in court masques for Inigo Jones, undertook a mission to France, observed the Spanish siege of Breda, won a duel (on horseback!) against the queen’s master of horse, was captured by Barbary pirates and enslaved in North Africa, returned to London, and was imprisoned for his Catholicism. He died in 1682, both small and great.
Okay, let’s keep an open mind here. Reportedly native to central Asia, the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary was rumored to put forth lambs as fruit in order to graze the surrounding ground. It’s thought to be a medieval myth to explain the existence of cotton.
When it ran out of grass, it died. Still, kudos.
There’s something odd about Illinois’ Bull Valley Police Department — it has no square corners.
The house was built by George Stickney, a spiritualist who believed spirits could be caught in 90-degree angles. Stickney used to hold seances on the second floor; he had lost nine of his 12 children and possibly was trying to reach them.
Whatever the truth, the house seems a poor place for a police department. There are numerous rumors of paranormal activity, and so far two officers have quit.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Last week, while the sexton of Tynemouth Church was digging a grave in North Shields Church Yard, he imagined he heard a feeble voice under his feet, pronounce the word ‘murder!’ but looking down, and perceiving nothing, he plucked up his spirits and resumed his work. No sooner, however, did he begin to make use of his spade, than the same awful sound vibrated three times in his ears: the courage of the astonished Moses forsook him — the spade dropped from his grasp, and, with the agility of an harlequin, he skipped out of the grave, and fled from the church yard, to the no small amusement of those who were in the secret. A soldier practising ventriloquism, who was placed at a convenient distance, conveyed the sound.
– Times, Oct. 29, 1808
In 1976, off Bombay, the oil tanker Cretan Star sent out a distress call:
VESSEL STRUCK BY HUGE WAVE THAT WENT OVER THE DECK
It was never seen again.
The above is a sketch of a cave which well deserves a place among our collection of Wonders. It is called Port Coon Cave, and is in the line of rocks near the Giants’ Causeway. It may be visited either by sea or by land. Boats may row into it to the distance of a hundred yards or more, but the swell is sometimes dangerous; and although the land entrance to the cave is slippery, and a fair proportion of climbing is necessary to achieve the object, still the magnificence of the excavation, its length, and the formation of the interior, would repay greater exertion; the stones of which the roof and sides are composed, and which are of a rounded form, and embedded, as it were, in a basaltic paste, are formed of concentric spheres resembling the coats of an onion; the innermost recess has been compared to the side aisle of a Gothic cathedral; the walls are most painfully slimy to the touch; the discharge of a loaded gun reverberates amid the rolling of the billows, so as to thunder a most awful effect; and the notes of a bugle, we are told, produced delicious echoes.
– Edmund Fillingham King, Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, 1860