The Ghost in the Courthouse Window
In November 1876, the Pickens County Courthouse in South Carolina burned to the ground. Suspecting arson, residents wanted to punish the person responsible. After more than a year a former slave, Henry Wells, was arrested in connection with a string of burglaries and taken to the newly rebuilt courthouse. Thinking Wells was also responsible for the arson, a mob gathered outside, ready to hang him.
From a garret room upstairs, Wells was reportedly peering down at the angry crowd when a bolt of lightning struck near the courthouse and somehow etched the anguished expression on Wells’ face onto the glass of the window. The ghostly face is said to appear often. As for the legend’s truth, an urban adventure to the courthouse might provide the answers.
The Great Moon Hoax of 1835 - Life on the Moon
On Tuesday, 25 August 1835, the New York Sun began publishing, in serial form, a long account of stunning astronomical breakthroughs by the famous British astronomer, Sir John Herschel. They were made “by means of a telescope of vast dimensions and an entirely new principle.” Herschel, the article declared, had discovered planets in other solar systems and had “solved or corrected nearly every leading problem of mathematical astronomy.” Then, almost as if it were an afterthought, the article revealed Herschel’s final, stunning achievement: he had discovered life on the moon!
But the newspaper article described more than just life, they discovered entire civilizations. The account told of fantastic animals, including bison, goats, unicorns, bipedal tail-less beavers, and bat-like winged humanoids who built temples. There were even trees, oceans and beaches.
Eventually, the authors announced that the observations had been terminated by the destruction of the telescope, by means of the sun causing the lens to act as a ‘burning glass’, setting fire to the observatory.
The article was an elaborate hoax. Herschel hadn’t observed life on the moon, nor had he accomplished any of the other astronomical breakthroughs credited to him in the article. In fact, Herschel wasn’t even aware until much later that such discoveries had been attributed to him. However, the announcement caused enormous excitement throughout America and Europe. To this day, the moon hoax is remembered as one of the most sensational media hoaxes of all time.
Authorship of the article has been attributed to Richard A. Locke, a Cambridge-educated reporter who was working for the New York Sun at the time. Locke never publicly admitted to being the author and the newspaper never issued a retraction.
The Haunted Tomb of Captain Buck
In the town of Bucksport, Maine, there stands a cursed memorial where Captain Buck is buried. The tomb of the town’s founder, Colonel Jonathan Buck, features a mysterious stain — the image of a woman’s stocking foot or boot. The leg stain on the memorial, according to legend, came about when Colonel Buck burned a witch and her leg rolled out of the bonfire. Apparently before she died, she cursed at Buck that he would always bear the mark of his horrible deed. His heirs tried to clean the foot off the stone and are said to have replaced the monument twice but the foot kept coming back.
The legend of the Mysterious Tomb of Bucksport varies depending on who tells it. In one version, instead of burning her, he had her hanged. In another, she wasn’t a witch at all, just unfortunate enough to be pregnant with his child, and the witch execution was an easy fix to his inconvenient problem.
The legend grew over the centuries, fully forming as a tourist attraction when locals started selling postcards. Tourists started pouring into town to see the ghostly smudge. The town, recognizing a good thing, upgraded the Cursed Tomb experience in recent years. There is a little parking area next to the cemetery, and a wheelchair-friendly concrete ramp leading up to the cursed monument. You can photograph it through a wrought iron fence.
Museum of Fantastic Specimens
This online collection of creatures is “curated” by Hajime Emoto. The three-story virtual museum consists of nine rooms filled with water and land dwelling monsters, demons, and dragons from all over the globe. Some of the monsters look so incredibly real, it’s hard to believe that they are sculpted from paper, modeling paste and bamboo. Since the virtual museum is written entirely in Japanese, the links below can help guide you through a tour:
- 1st Floor: Room 1, Room 2, Room 3
- 2nd Floor: Room 4, Room 5, Room 6, Room 7
- 3rd Floor: Room 8, Room 9
- Basement: Shop, Cafeteria
Each specimen has a clickable thumbnail that links to additional photos and background information (in Japanese). The basement contains a bookshop and a cafeteria that serves dishes prepared with some of the creatures featured in the museum.
[Link: Museum of Fantastic Specimens]
Eaten by Mountain Rats
“In 1876, Pike’s Peak Signal Station attendant Private John O’Keefe told tall tales of life in the station to lawyer, newspaper man and drinking friend, Eliphat Price. O’Keefe recounted a story of large, man-eating rats that lived in caves on Pikes Peak.
“The story grew to include how these rats attacked him and his wife and daughter in the station itself – devouring a side of beef in less than five minutes. While Private O’Keefe tried to protect his family using a club to fend off the rats, it was actually Mrs. O’Keefe who saved the day by electrocuting the rats with a coil of wire connected to the signal station’s battery.
“According to the story, her efforts were too late. Before she could connect the wire to the battery terminals, hundreds of these killer rats had already devoured Erin, the O’Keefe’s only daughter.
“O’Keefe quickly erected a grave on the summit to support his story and to woo tourists. However, O’Keefe wasn’t married and he didn’t have a daughter. Despite this, the story hit the wires and ended up being published in many newspapers around the globe.”
Helltown - Haunted Ohio
The Northern part of Summit County in Ohio is known by its eery name, Helltown. In the 1970’s, Boston Township was the site of a government buyout and subsequent mass eviction of citizens of the area. The houses were intended to be torn down and the land used for a national park, but the plans never quite manifested. Legends spawned wildly. Driving through the dark, wooded landscape was enough to give chills even when it was populated, but now the drive is by boarded up houses standing next to the burnt out shells of others.
The persistent legends of Helltown add to its scary, abandoned status. The steep Stanford Road drop off, immediately followed by a dead end, is aptly named The End of the World. If you get stuck at this dead end for too long, you may meet your end at the hands of the endless parade of freaks supposedly patrolling the woods. Satanists, Ku Klux Klan members, escaped mental patients, abnormally large snakes, and mutants caused by an alleged chemical spill are all still being reported as haunting the area. If you stray from the roads, you may find Boston Cemetery, home to a ghostly man, grave robbers and, believe it or not, a moving tree. A true challenge for any suburban explorer.
The Curse of the Hope Diamond
Throughout history, diamonds have signified many things to many cultures, from wealth, power and love to mystical God-like powers. But one stone’s global fame and mystique has surpassed all others: the legendary Hope Diamond.
This 45-carat, deep blue gemstone is the most valuable diamond in the world, and the most coveted and mysterious. It has been at The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, in Washington DC, for over 50 years.
Allegedly a curse to all that own it, the diamond’s bizarre properties have mystified scientists for decades and its sinister reputation as a ‘hoodoo gem’ has spawned thousands of paparazzi headlines.
The diamond’s “curse” has believed to either leave its owner and their family dead or in equally grave circumstances. The last owner to actually wear the diamond was a Mrs. Evalyn McLean, pictured above. With the Hope in her possession, her young son died in a car crash, her daughter had committed suicide at the age of 25, Evalyn herself became addicted to morphine and her husband was declared legally insane, committed until his death. From there it went to Harry Winston, who quickly donated the diamond to the Smithsonian.
Not only is the Hope Diamond an object of spectacular provenance, science has declared it a geological anomaly. Under ultraviolet light, the diamond glows an eerie deep blood red.
To some, this provides compelling evidence of a supernatural force but for a group of expert scientists, it inspired a major pioneering investigation which has shown that most all blue diamonds show read and green peaks in their phosphorescence spectrum.
However scientific investigations cannot explain the mysterious and deadly events that have besieged the Hope Diamond’s previous owners. Even science has its limits.
The Gateway to Hell
The small town of Stull, Kansas, has a notorious reputation. It is said that its small cemetery is where Satan appears in person, having been materializing there since the 1850s. The town was originally named Skull, but was changed to Stull to cover its association with black magic.
According to local legend, the devil appears in Stull Cemetery on the night of the Spring Equinox and on Halloween in the ruins of the old church. There is a story that tells of Lucifer having a child by a witch in Stull and that it is buried in this cemetery. Some around here will tell you about the story that appeared in the early 1990s in Time Magazine about Pope John Paul II. According to the story, the pope asked that his airplane route be changed so he did not fly over the ‘unholy ground’ in eastern Kansas. Even musicians avoid this place; supposedly the band the Cure refused to play in Kansas because it brought them too close to the hell-gate. For years, stories of witchcraft, ghosts and supernatural happenings have surrounded the old graveyard and church.
It was claimed that despite not having a roof, no rain would fall inside the old church. The decrepit cross on the wall would invert at midnight. People said they have been subjected to a strong wind that held them down on a still night and sinister growls would come out of thin air encircling passersby. Almost everyone you speak to has a story about how ‘something’ happened to them at Stull. Almost everyone except for the 30 or so of the residents of Stull.
Locals claim that the only thing special about their cemetery is the fact that their loved ones are buried there. Furthermore, town residents are annoyed that so many people believe the stories and are tired of their cemetery being vandalized by gatherings of unruly college kids and so-called Satan worshipers.
The Griffin - King of All Creatures
The Griffin is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion, combined with the head, wings, and front feet of an eagle. Since the lion was considered the king of the beasts and the eagle, the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be “king of all creatures”. Because they are especially powerful and majestic, griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions. Pretty cool creatures.