This is the fifth and final of my five-part blog series of weird state facts.
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 has produced, there are countless bizarre ones it can claim. I hope you enjoy these random pieces of trivia about the states.
South Dakota—The world's fastest recorded change in temperature.
On January 22, 1943, the temperature in Spearfish changed from 4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit to 45 degrees above zero in two minutes, a difference of 49 degrees, making it the world record holder for fastest temperature change. Later in the day, after the town heated up a bit more, the temperature dropped back to 4 degrees below zero, causing windows to crack.
Tennessee—The band PARAMORE broke a decades long Nashville Curse...but were then accused of being a fake band.
The Nashville Curse began in the early 1980s and plagued rock bands from Music City for more than two decades. The legend claims that a band called JASON & THE NASHVILLE SCORCHERS agreed to take the word Nashville out of their name to secure a record deal. This supposedly cast a curse that prevented them from reaching mainstream success. The curse followed around other rock bands who never surpassed local fame. It was finally declared broken by the band PARAMORE in 2008, but in 2010 two of the original co-founders claimed they were a fake band created by their record label. Lead singer Haley Williams has denied this. The Nashville band KINGS OF LEON has gone platinum since.
Texas—The state legislature once honored the Boston Strangler.
On April 1, 1971, Texas state Rep. Tom Moore proposed a bill to honor Albert DeSalvo, the self-confessed Boston Strangler who allegedly murdered 13 women. Moore's point was to show that his colleagues didn't read the bills they were voting on, a point that was proven correct when the state House approved the bill. Moore retracted the bill after its passage.
Utah—NASA measures space sickness using the name of a U.S. senator from the state.
NASA's unofficial scale for measuring motion sickness in space is called the Garn Scale. Jake Garn was formerly a U.S. senator from Utah and was an astronaut on the Discovery mission, where his job was to purposefully get sick for research. Garn claims he never actually threw up.
Vermont—A giant dome was almost built over a city just north of Burlington.
The town of Winooski was almost covered in a giant dome when city planners decided it might be a good way to address the town's winter energy conservation problem. This idea apparently came about after a few glasses of wine, but ended up going far enough to attract political support and worldwide media attention. In the end, the town couldn't secure the funds, meaning that Winooski remains domeless. [Hmmm…not to be confused with Stephen King's UNDER THE DOME]
Virginia—The residents of a small fishing island still talk in a dialect closely resembling Restoration English.
Tangier Island has retained a dialect that's been determined to closely resemble the language used during Restoration England, a period just slightly after Shakespeare's time. Even though the recent proliferation of television programs and other mass communication devices has deteriorated the accent, for generations the inhabitants spoke like early English settlers and are featured in the documentary, AMERICAN TONGUES.
Washington—There's a mystery soda machine here that is somehow always filled, but no one knows by whom.
According to legend, nobody knows who stocks or owns the Mystery Coke Machine in Seattle, but it never runs out of soda. The machine appears to be from the 1970s and features a Mystery Button that, when chosen, spits out a random soda that isn't one of the other choices. The machine has a Facebook fan page that claims the machine is always open for business.
West Virginia—According to legend, this state is home to Mothman, a tall satanic figure with wings.
In the late 1960s, a couple in the town of Point Pleasant claimed they had seen a man-bird hybrid with glowing red eyes—and so the legend of Mothman was born. Mothman has apparently shown up more and more over the years, so the town immortalized the beast with a statue, festivals and a museum. Mothman was also featured in the 2002 film, THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES.
Wisconsin—There's an upside down replica of the White House that makes absolutely no sense.
Top Secret in Wisconsin Dells is an upside down White House that also has upside down furniture and a fun house attraction inside. However, that's not the truly weird part. It has received a poor 1.5 rating on both TripAdvisor and Yelp, where people have said that despite the high ticket price tour guides are often nowhere to be found, the heat isn't turned on in the winter, all that's inside is a "shot of air from an air compressor" and the place is just really dusty in general. One reviewer seemed to perfectly sum it up as, "we weren't even sure what the whole point was." That said, although it doesn't seem to be all that fun inside, the reviewers do agree the outside is still pretty cool. There's actually a chain of upside down White Houses called Wonderworks in 4 other states, but they don't nearly compare to the bizarreness of Dells' Top Secret and seem to be respected establishments.
Wyoming—A whole town was built on top of an abandoned airport, with the old runways serving as main roads.
The town of Bar Nunn was established in 1982 atop the old Wardwell Field airport. The original runways were used as the town's first streets. Over 2,000 people now live in the community.
BONUS: Washington D.C.—There's a Darth Vader gargoyle on the National Cathedral.
To raise money for construction on the National Cathedral's west towers during the 1980s, a contest was held for children to submit gargoyle designs to add to the construction plans. Christopher Rader won third place with his Darth Vader design, and the Sith Lord was added to the building.