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Showing posts from June, 2014

Allison Hill's House of Mystery

Today, the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg is regarded as a dangerous place, where gunshots ring out during all hours of the night and drug deals take place in the darkened alleyways behind rows of low-income housing. Local historians are quick to point out that Allison Hill- one of the city's oldest neighborhoods- was once the site of charming Victorian homes, magnificent gardens, and stately churches. Many of these historians, however, are not aware that Allison Hill's sinister reputation isn't a modern creation; In the early 1900s, Allison Hill was the site of one of the most intriguing unsolved murders in Pennsylvania history.

A young girl's skeleton, a rusty razor, and chicken feathers.

These were the items found in the cellar of home at 133 South Fourteenth Street, by plumbers who were digging in the basement of the building in February of 1915. The coroner, Jacob Eckinger, was summoned and immediately concluded that the girl had been murdered. Unfortunate…

Remembering the strange life (and death) of Mag the Hag

In the late 19th century, three hunters from the western part of Sullivan County, New York, made a gruesome discovery which brought to a close the tragic saga of Margaret Conkling, known throughout the Mongaup Valley as "Old Mag the Hag".

Mag was a member of a large clan of "half-savages" who dwelt in caves and primitive cabins in the wooded hills of Sullivan County. This colorful clan of inbred wild folk was comprised of three hundred and fifty, who went by the last names of Conkling, Hinks, Henion, and De Groates. According to contemporary newspaper articles of the time, the Conkling clan earned a living by stealing, swindling, and poaching. Some of the more civilized members of the clan earned money by weaving willow baskets, which they sold to farmers and locals. However, the money earned from selling baskets invariably went toward the purchase of whiskey.

They also planned robberies and depredations of all kinds, and every basket-selling tour is sure to be foll…

10 trademarks FAR more offensive than "Redskins"

Earlier today it was announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the trademarks belonging to the Washington Redskins. The decision was the result of a petition signed by five Native Americans who implored the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademarks, citing a section of the Trademark Act which "prohibits registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute." Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins, stated that he will appeal the ruling.

While Americans continue to debate whether or not the name of Washington's football team is offensive, the fact remains that the USPTO has issued numerous trademarks far more repugnant. Here are ten examples of trademarks which managed to fly under the USPTO radar:


Although this trademark has long since expired, the Tar Baby label appeared on citrus fruits and fresh vegetables since the 1950s. Texas-based Vale Mayes & Co. applied…

5 Things Tourists Don't Know About Alcatraz

Established as a federal maximum-security prison in 1933 after eight decades of use by the U.S. Army, Alcatraz is perhaps the most famous prison in the world, and certainly one of the most storied prisons in America.  A popular San Francisco area attraction, the former prison and the island upon which it sits has been under the control of the National Park Service since 1973. 

According to the National Park Service, more than one million visitors from around the world flock to Alcatraz Island each year.  While tourists continue to visit Alcatraz in large numbers, many of these tourists are unaware of the five following Alcatraz facts.

1. Contrary to popular belief, San Francisco Bay is not swarming with man-eating sharks.

Since nobody has been known to ever successfully escape from Alcatraz, many theories about the island have been perpetuated throughout the decades.  One popular belief is that San Francisco Bay contains man-eating sharks, which have made escapes from the island all …

America's First Bigfoot Sighting

Tracking down the first recorded sighting of Bigfoot in the United States is nearly as difficult as tracking down the mythical hairy creature itself. While most sources seem to agree that the first credible evidence of Bigfoot in North America was discovered in 1811 near the town of Jasper, Alberta, Canada, nearly every serious Bigfoot researcher has his or her own opinion as to when and where America's first documented Bigfoot sighting took place.

Even Wikipedia isn't 100% clear on this matter; according to Wikipedia, Bigfoot stories in America date back to 1840, when a missionary named Elkanah Walker recorded stories of giants among the Native Americans living in Washington state.  In 1847, Paul Kane recorded similar stories about "skoocooms"- supernatural cannibalistic wildmen living on Mount St. Helens.

Of course, since Walker and Kane only recorded oral legends, these cannot be cited as actual Bigfoot sightings. In fact, even the well-known 1811 event in Jasper,…

Debunking the Myth of the Bermuda Triangle

Perhaps it is mankind's nature to form a fascination with things that seem to defy logic or scientific explanation. From ghost tales to UFO abductions to Bigfoot, most of us are tantalized by terrific and terrifying tales. The Bermuda Triangle is no exception.

Although many people dispute the size of the geographical area known as the Bermuda Triangle, the general consensus is that the boundaries of this mystical area extend to San Juan, Puerto Rico, the southernmost tip of Florida, and the Caribbean island of Bermuda. This results in thousands of square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, a geographical area larger than several American states combined.

This vast expanse of sea is allegedly responsible for thousands of plane crashes and shipwrecks. But is this "Devil's Triangle" really a mysterious place? Basic logic says no.

The area known as the Bermuda Triangle contains some of the most traveled shipping routes in the world. The area is also in a geographical region where…