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5 Scary Places and the Legends Behind Them

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There are more haunted places and scary stories around the world than you can shake a stick at. Here are a few you might not be familiar with already.

The Haunted Tunnel

Moonville, Ohio was once a thriving mining town with a population that peaked at about 100 people. Nearby is a railroad tunnel that is purported to be haunted by any of the four people who died there. The most famous is a railroad brakeman who had too much to drink and tried to stop a train, but was hit in March of 1859. The train wheels mangled his leg and he died of his injuries within days. The other deaths were a miner who was trapped in a collapsed mine, a woman who was crossing the railroad trestle when a train passed, and a fellow who crossed the tracks after a train, but didn't see another portion of the train that had become detached and was still moving in the same direction. Several accounts exist of people who see the brakeman near the tunnel, swinging a light in an attempt to stop the train, or see the woman who died in 1905 walking beside the tracks. Railroad workers occasionally see a semi-transparent man being hit, and sometimes they hear screams, but no solid body is hit during those events.

Devil's Town

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Djavolja Varos translates to English as Devil's Town, and is located between Devil's Gully and Hell's Gully in Serbia. This area has hundreds of stone towers made of volcanic stone that rise when the surrounding soil is washed away. They only last a few hundred years, so the landscape changes and this led to the legend of demons fighting each other. The story goes that the devil placed a curse on the local waters and those who drank it forgot their ancestry. This led to a wedding between brother and sister. A fairy tried to stop the marriage, but the couple refused. The fairy was left with no choice but to turn them into stone, along with all the wedding guests. The legend is fed by the presence of mineral springs in the area, one that is used for medicinal purposes and another that produces red water. Acoustics play a part in the haunting as well. When the wind whips around the stone towers, you can hear eerie whistles, howls, cries, and squeaks. Image by Geologicharka.

The Curse of English Cave

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A cave runs under Benton Park in St. Louis, but no one can find a way in. The main entrance to English Cave, named after its first owner, was sealed up 100 years ago after it was found that water was draining in to it from Benton Park. In the early days of St. Louis, several businesses tried to use the cave and failed. Ezra English used it for storage for his brewery. He opened a beer garden attraction in 1849, which was also the year a cholera epidemic his St. Louis. The city even opened a new graveyard for cholera victims nearby. The cave attraction fizzled. In 1887, news owners tried a mushroom farm, which went out of business in two years. A winery used the cave in 1897, but that business didn't last long, either. Was the cave cursed? Legend has it that English Cave was the hiding place of two Native American lovers who fled there to avoid the tribal war chief, to whom the woman was promised in marriage. The chief and his warriors kept vigil outside the cave, until the couple inside died of starvation. Many years later, white explorers found two skeletons in the cave. Some say the ghosts of the couple are the real reason no business can thrive in English Cave.

The Haunted Bridge

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An old stone bridge called Packhorse Bridge in the northeastern Welsh village of Caergwrle is the scene of this ghostly photograph. Locals say this is the ghost of "Squire Yonge". However, this term turns up in Chaucer as well as Arthurian literature, and means young squire, which could refer to any number of people. The bridge was built in the 17th century. Nearby Caergwrle Castle was mostly completed by 1282, the final castle built before Wales lost its independent to England. The retreating Welsh filled in the well and sabotaged the castle in order to reduce its value to the English. It is mostly in ruins now. See more spooky night pictures of the bridge.

Fisher's Ghost

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Every November, Campbelltown, NSW, Australia holds the Festival of Fisher's Ghost. Frederick Fisher was a local businessman who had been in and out of prison. His neighbor George Worrall held power of attorney over Fisher's property while he was incarcerated. On the night of June 17, 1826, Worrall announced that Fisher had fled to England to avoid more legal trouble. Worrall soon disposed of Fisher's assets, and the suspicious citizenry had him arrested. Worrall blamed four other men, who were also arrested. But where was the evidence? The legend is that farmer John Farley saw the ghost of Fisher sitting on a bridge, pointing to an area where his body was subsequently found. The ghostly story was not used as evidence in the trial, but Fisher's body was recovered on October 25th, and Worrall was convicted of the murder and hanged. The story was made into a movie in 1924.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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Why Your Traditional Thanksgiving Should Include Oysters
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If you want to throw a really traditional Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll need oysters. The mollusks would have been featured prominently on the holiday tables of the earliest American settlers—even if that beloved Thanksgiving turkey probably wasn’t. At the time, oysters were supremely popular additions to the table for coastal colonial settlements, though in some cases, they were seen as a hardship food more than a delicacy.

For one thing, oysters were an easy food source. In the Chesapeake Bay, they were so plentiful in the 17th and 18th centuries that ships had to be careful not to run aground on oyster beds, and one visitor in 1702 wrote that they could be pulled up with only a pair of tongs. Native Americans, too, ate plenty of oysters, occasionally harvesting them and feasting for days.

Early colonists ate so many oysters that the population of the mollusks dwindled to dangerously low levels by the 19th century, according to curriculum prepared by a Gettysburg University history professor. In these years, scarcity turned oysters into a luxury item for the wealthy, a situation that prevailed until the 1880s, when oyster production skyrocketed and prices dropped again [PDF]. If you lived on the coast, though, you were probably still downing the bivalves.

Beginning in the 1840s, canning and railroads brought the mollusks to inland regions. According to 1985's The Celebrated Oysterhouse Cookbook, the middle of the 19th century found America in a “great oyster craze,” where “no evening of pleasure was complete without oysters; no host worthy of the name failed to serve 'the luscious bivalves,' as they were actually called, to his guests.”

At the turn of the century, oysters were still a Thanksgiving standard. They were on Thanksgiving menus everywhere from New York City's Plaza Hotel to train dining cars, in the form of soup, cocktails, and stuffing.

In 1954, the Fish and Wildlife Service tried to promote Thanksgiving oysters to widespread use once again. They sent out a press release [PDF], entitled “Oysters—a Thanksgiving Tradition,” which included the agency’s own recipes for cocktail sauce, oyster bisque, and oyster stuffing.

In the modern era, Thanksgiving oysters have remained most popular in the South. Oyster stuffing is a classic dish in New Orleans, and chefs like Emeril Lagasse have their own signature recipes. If you’re not looking for a celebrity chef’s recipe, perhaps you want to try the Fish and Wildlife Service’s? Check it out below.

Oyster Stuffing

INGREDIENTS

1 pint oysters
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
4 cups day-old bread cubes
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Dash poultry seasoning
Dash pepper

Drain oysters, saving liquor, and chop. Cook celery and onion in butter until tender. Combine oysters, cooked vegetables, bread cubes, and seasonings, and mix thoroughly. If stuffing seems dry, moisten with oyster liquor. Makes enough for a four-pound chicken.

If you’re using a turkey, the FWS advises that the recipe above provides enough for about every five pounds of bird, so multiply accordingly.

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