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Showing posts from December, 2017

Dowsing for Lost Graves

Dowsing, also known as divining, is the ancient practice of locating buried objects with twigs or metal rods. While the mind immediately conjures up old-time treasure hunters searching for buried loot, dowsing has traditionally been used to its greatest extent in the search for underground water. Even today, some utility workers use dowsing rods to locate buried pipes and cables-- much to the eye-rolling of "enlightened" skeptics.

Yes, the overwhelming consensus is that dowsing is a pseudoscience. The art of dowsing has never been shown to work in a controlled scientific experiment, and even famed skeptic James Randi tested the claims of numerous dowsers in the form of his now-defunct One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. Dowsers who participated in the challenge by agreeing to find buried water pipes under highly-controlled circumstances all met with utter failure.

However, there are some educated persons who maintain that dowsing really does work. After all, there are co…

A haunted streetcar in Savannah

This fascinating story comes from 1893, and features a haunted electric streetcar. According to the story, every time the car passes by Laurel Grove Cemetery, the cries of a child can be heard. The story also points out that the haunted streetcar, "No. 26", had recently struck a killed a child. Spooky!

Pierre Davis: The Hermit Prophet of Porum

Pierre Davis made his home in a small hut on the bank of the Canadian River, near the village of Porum in Oklahoma's Muskogee County.  He lived in solitude in this humble abode for thirty years, and during that time he never journeyed more than six miles in any direction, and then only for the most necessary of provisions.  Pierre stood six feet tall, was finely built, and had a commanding presence.  However, it was neither Pierre's hut nor his imposing physique which made him famous throughout Muskogee County; it was his hobby.  Pierre Davis' hobby was prophecy and, from what history records of the hermit, he was pretty darn good at it.

Unlike many prophets, whose predictions are vague and open to interpretation, Pierre had a specialty.  His predictions were limited to floods.  So accurate were Pierre's predictions that railroad workers from the Midland Valley Railroad consulted with the revered recluse before laying tracks and building bridges.  Three times, in the a…

The uncanny misfortunes of George Flower

George Flower, a farmer from Indiana who lived during the early 20th century, was a man whose name is little remembered today. He amassed no great fortune, nor did he rise to a position of power. But his little-known story and strange legacy should be remembered as a cautionary tale about what happens when a mere mortal decides to tempt fate.

Flower's troubles began in 1902 after he purchased a strip of land in Sand Ridge, near the city of Vincennes, in order to enlarge his farm. On this strip of land was the oldest cemetery in the area, containing more than three hundred graves. Flower pulled up the headstones, using them to build a foundation for his new home. The unused headstones he threw in the Embarras River. He then plowed up the land and planted melons and potatoes.

Shortly thereafter he noticed that that, while the crops he planted on the rest of the farm flourished, the crops he had planted on the grounds of the old graveyard withered and rotted. Some of the crops were …

The greatest prank of all time?

The Carrara region of Italy is famous for its marble, which has been used by artists and craftsmen since the days of the ancient Roman Empire. Some of the most famous structures in the world have been built with Carrara marble-- the Pantheon and Trajan's Column, just to name a few-- as well as many of the great artistic works of the Renaissance, such as Michaelangelo's David.

Carrara, as it turns out, may also have been the home of one of the world's greatest practical jokers, as this article from an 1891 newspaper demonstrates.