Sunday, June 1, 2014

One Weird Fact About Your State—Part 1 of 5, Alabama through Georgia

Everyone's home state has special…and weird…claims to fame, maybe even weirder than you realize. For every proud historical landmark, event and hero your state had produced, there are countless bizarre ones it can claim.  This is a 5 part blog, each week dealing with 10 states listed alphabetically.  I hope you enjoy these random pieces of trivia.

Alabama—There's a store that sells unclaimed baggage from airports.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro buys luggage that has never been claimed from airports and then sells the found items to the public. Anything from vintage Leica cameras to autographed jerseys is up for grabs.

Alaska—A jokester once burned tires inside a dormant volcano to make it seem active.
On April 1, 1974, Oliver Bickar climbed into Mt. Edgecumbe, a volcano that had been dormant for around 9,000 years, and made it look like it was coming back to life. After four years of planning, Bickar doused 100 tires in cooking oil and lit them on fire inside Mt. Edgecumbe. He also spray painted "April Fool" in 50 foot letters around the rim.

Arizona—The U.S. Postal Service still uses mules to reach two areas.
Residents of Supai and Phantom Town receive mail by mule trains, as the terrain is too tricky for motorized vehicles. The trek requires hours of travel through the Grand Canyon valley.

Arkansas—A school for the deaf has a leopard for a mascot.
The Arkansas School for the Deaf's choice of a leopard for their mascot has actually been around since 1941, so it wasn't named after the British rock band Def Leppard. Still, an amazing coincidence.

California—Hollywood was initially founded to escape Thomas Edison.
Thomas Edison's film business held so many patents that competing film studios could barely make a profit, so a bunch moved west hoping patent laws wouldn't bother to reach them. This led studios to center themselves in Hollywood, Calif., instead of the original film capital, Fort Lee, N.J. Both Paramount and Universal were created in this westward move. Another take on this western migration says the studio owners were looking for a location where they could film outside all year without having to deal with cold snowy weather. Their goal was Arizona, but on the day they arrived it was raining so they continued on to sunny Southern California.

Colorado—Every year a town celebrates a frozen dead guy.
The town of Nederland celebrates the cryogenically frozen body of Bredo Morstoel, who had been kept in a local barn for decades by his family. The body was almost forced out of the barn, as keeping a dead body in a family home was considered illegal, but the town rallied to let his descendants keep up the tradition.

Connecticut—A cat was once sentenced to house arrest for terrorizing a neighborhood.
In 2006, a tomcat named Lewis was put on house arrest after attacking an Avon representative selling products in the Connecticut town of Fairfield. Lewis' owner, Ruth Cisero, claimed that her cat only attacked because he was under a lot of stress from being tormented by egg and water throwing neighbors. A judge ruled in 2008 that Lewis was safe and free to once again roam the streets of Fairfield.

Delaware—The state may be the real home to the city of Metropolis, of Superman fame.
According to works done by former DC comics editor Paul Kupperberg, Metropolis is actually located in Delaware, rather than New York City, as often shown in films, or in Metropolis, Ill., a real city which claims to be Superman's hometown. In the 2006 film "Superman Returns," the Metropolis license plates bear the slogan "The First State" which is also on Delaware license plates. The exact location may remain a mystery, but Delawareans have a pretty good case for claiming it as their own.

Florida—Remains of a human civilization as old as the ancient Egyptians were found buried in a bog.
In 1982, human bones were found in the black peat bog of Windover. They ended up being around 7,000 years old, according to carbon dating. The black peat was so good at preserving these ancient bodies that human brain tissue was found in a woman's skull with her DNA still intact.

Georgia—A tree once became the legal owner of itself.
Located on the corner of South Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, Ga., Jackson Tree legally owns itself and the surrounding eight feet around its base, thanks to its previous owner, Colonel William H. Jackson. According to the legend, upon Jackson's death he deeded the tree:  "That the said W. H. Jackson for and in consideration of the great affection which he bears said tree, and his great desire to see it protected has conveyed, and by these presents do convey unto the said oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet of it on all sides." Unfortunately, the tree was struck by lightning and killed in 1942, but a new tree born from an acorn from the original is alive and thriving.

Stop by next week for part 2 of 5 covering Hawaii through Maryland.

4 comments:

Ashantay said...

The next time I'm in Athens, GA, I'm looking for the Jackson tree - love that it is legally protected! Hmm, may need to drive over to Alabama, too. A vintage Leica would be a great find -

A.D. said...

Great stuff. Love reading these and will look forward to the next installment

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: A while ago (a few years ago?) I saw a segment of some show, probably on the travel channel, about the unclaimed luggage store in Alabama. It was huge and among the unclaimed items were several pieces of expensive (according to the appraisal they obtained) jewelry.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

A.D. Glad you enjoyed them. More weird tidbits coming through the end June.

Thanks for your comment.