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Is This the Coldest and Windiest Intersection in North America?

The corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba has been called the "crossroads of Canada”—an apt descriptor for an intersection that’s right smack dab in the middle of the country. But it’s better known for also being the nexus of some seriously unpleasant weather features.

The crossroads has existed for over 150 years, which makes it older than Winnipeg itself, and began as an ox cart trail. It was purchased in 1862 by Henry McKenney, but was considered undesirable at the time because it was “low and swampy” and far from the Red River colony.

The location eventually became a bustling hub, was the site of a few local historic moments, and was long considered a gathering place for rallies and public expression. It became car-only in 1976, which might be for the best, as the corner of Portage and Main is also regarded as one of the harshest urban weather locales in all of Canada. Its reputation as both the coldest and windiest intersection has been solidified in public imagination and pop culture: the chorus of Randy Bachman and Neil Young's 1992 song "Prairie Town" features the repeating line, "Portage and Main, 50 below."

The veracity of the claim is impossible to prove once and for all (unless someone wants to start tracking temperature at every intersection on the continent), but downtown Winnipeg is reportedly slightly warmer than surrounding areas because of the urban heat island effect. Still, if you’re a visitor who’s worried about facing the extremes, you can traverse the area via an underground pedestrian walkway.

[h/t WTF With Marc Maron]

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What Do You Get the Person Who Has Everything? Perhaps a German Village for Less Than $150,000
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TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Looking for a gift for the world traveler who has everything? If cost isn't an issue and they're longing for a quiet country home, Fortune reports that an entire village in East Germany is up for sale. The tiny hamlet of Alwine, in Germany's Brandenburg region, is going up for auction on Saturday, December 9. Opening bids begin at $147,230.

Alwine has around one dozen buildings and 20 full-time residents, most of them elderly. It was once owned by a neighboring coal plant, which shut down in 1991, soon after East Germany reunited with West Germany. Many residents left after that. Between 1990 and 2015, the regional population fell by 15 percent, according to The Local.


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In 2000, a private investor purchased the decaying hamlet for just one Deutsche Mark (the currency used before the euro). But its decline continued, and now it's up for grabs once more—this time around, for a much-higher price.

Andreas Claus, the mayor of the district surrounding Alwine, wasn't informed of the village's sale until he heard about it in the news, according to The Local. While no local residents plan to purchase their hometown, Claus says he's open to fostering dialogue with the buyer, with hopes of eventually revitalizing the local community.

[h/t Fortune]

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Spelunkers Discover New Caverns in Montréal's Ancient Cave Network
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An ancient cave system beneath a Montréal park is much more vast than experts believed, the National Post reports.

In 1812, a farmer discovered a cave underneath his property in Montréal’s present-day Saint-Léonard borough. Once used to stockpile ammunition and conceal soldiers during the Rebellions of 1837, the Saint-Léonard cave system in Parc Pie XII is today a tourist attraction and historical landmark. But some speleologists (cave experts) suspected there was more to the natural wonder than met the eye.

Beginning in 2014, two amateur explorers named Daniel Caron and Luc Le Blanc began searching for undiscovered passages in the Saint-Léonard caverns, according to National Geographic. By 2015 they had some leads; in October 2017, they used drills and hammers to break down a cave’s wall to reveal a new cavern.

The stalactite-filled chamber has soaring 20-foot ceilings, and it's connected to a serpentine network of underground tunnels. These passages formed during the Ice Age around 15,000 years ago, when glacier pressure splintered underground rock.

So far, Caron and Le Blanc have explored between 820 to 1640 feet of virgin cave passage, and expect to find even more. They believe the vast network sits atop an aquifer, and ultimately leads to the Montréal water table.

Spelunking the Saint-Léonard cave system is challenging—some passages are filled with water or require special climbing or rock-breaking equipment. The explorers hope that the caves will be easier to investigate during the dry season, and that the receding waters will allow them to reach new depths below Montréal’s surface.

[h/t National Post]

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