40 Cool Historical Facts You Definitely Weren’t Taught In Schools


21Dying is Illegal Here

Dying is Illegal Here

During the early 20th century, there was an outbreak of Spanish flu in the Americas which caused large amounts of suffering and death among afflicted throughout the world. Eleven victims were claimed by the flu living in the town of Longyearbyen in the North Sea. However, the very cold temperature there created a layer of permafrost at burial depth which accidentally preserved remnants of the flu. This made it illegal to die there as turning up the ground would likely re-release the disease. However, scientists studying epidemics such as the Spanish flu use samples from deceased in Longyearbyen.

22The Picnic Battle

The Picnic Battle

The Battle of Bull Run, during the American civil war, was called “The Picnic Battle”, because so many civilians from Washington went on picnics on the sidelines and watched. But once the battle actually started, and the Union started losing, they all ran away, running over injured soldiers and dead bodies and generally disrupting the battle. Picnics like these were actually a relatively common thing during the Civil War and happened at Gettysburg too.

23Bat Bombs

Bat Bombs

A dentist friend of Eleanor Roosevelt proposed bat bombs. He said that not only were the Japanese terrified of bats, but bats could also roost in difficult to access areas of Japanese buildings. Combine this with a timed incendiary device and the wood-and-rice-paper construction of Japanese buildings would cause catastrophic damage. The Army Air Force spent six months trying to build bat bombs and achieved little aside from burning down the test range at Carlsbad Army Air Field Auxiliary Air Base when some of the bats escaped, nested under a fuel tank, and exploded 6,000 miles from the intended target. After the debacle at Carlsbad, the USAAF fobbed the project off to the Navy, who wisely passed it along to the Marines. To everyone's surprise, the Marine Corps was able to get the project to work, even carrying out a successful test at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. Unfortunately, the project lost out to the atomic bomb and was canceled in early 1944.

24Phantom Turd

Phantom Turd

The Apollo 10 mission was involved in several mysteries, from spooky “music” heard by the crew on the far side of the Moon, to the ongoing search for Snoopy and possible recent sightings of its long-lost S IV-b stage. However, the most fascinating mystery of Apollo 10 has to be the infamous “Rogue Turd Incident.” A mysterious piece of turd appeared out of nowhere and was spotted by Commander Tom Stafford. He was heard saying “There’s a turd floating through the air.” Within the 500-page-plus transcript of the Apollo 10 mission, pages 414-415 detail the astronaut’s encounter with a floating turd. The culprit remains a mystery to this day.



The longest piano piece of any kind is Vexations by Erik Satie. It consists of a 180-note composition which, on the composer's orders, must be repeated 840 times so that the whole performance is 18 hours 40 minutes. Its first reported public performance in September 1963, in the Pocket Theater, New York City, required a relay team of 10 pianists. The New York Times critic fell asleep at 4 a.m. and the audience dwindled to 6 people. At the conclusion, one person shouted “Encore!”

26Monkey Hangers

Monkey Hangers

There's a community in the UK, in and around Hartlepool who are known as “Monkey Hangers.” According to local folklore, the term originates from an incident in which a monkey was hanged in Hartlepool, England. During the Napoleonic Wars, a French ship of the type chasse marée was wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool. The only survivor was a monkey, allegedly wearing a French uniform to provide amusement for the crew. On finding the monkey, some locals decided to hold an impromptu trial on the beach; since the monkey was unable to answer their questions and because they had seen neither a monkey nor a Frenchman before, they concluded that the monkey was, in fact, a French spy. Being found guilty the animal was duly sentenced to death and hanged on the beach.

27Elmer McCurdy

Elmer McCurdy

Elmer McCurdy was a really inept train robber. He once tried to blow up a safe to get to some silver coins and ended up melting the safe and the coins. Another time, he tried to rob a train, but all they were able to get was some whiskey and like $15 from the conductor. After that, he holed up at a farm, drank all the whiskey, and got into a shootout with the Sheriff and died in 1911. But that’s not the end of his story. They took him to the funeral home and embalmed him with a lot of arsenic because they thought it’d be a while before someone claimed him. They were right. No one claimed him. So the funeral director decided to make money off him and put him on display as the Oklahoman Outlaw and charged money to see him. People had to put the money in his mouth. The funeral director’s kids used to put Elmer on roller skates and scare other children with him. Eventually, two men came to claim their brother Elmer. They were actually sideshow operators. Elmer was on the circuit now. He went places. He was sold a few more times, ended up in a “museum”, and they rented him out. He was in a movie theatre lobby as a hophead who tried to hold up a store and was shot, in order to promote an anti-drug film. Decades went by and he started looking a little rough, all desiccated and missing a couple of fingers and his hair. They then rent him out to a display at Niagara Falls, and they send him back because they think he’s a really creepy waxwork. Yes, it’s been so long no one remembers now that he’s a real dead guy. He gets sold to the Pike, an amusement park in Long Beach, California. He’s hung up in Laff In The Dark, their ghost/funhouse ride. In December 1976, they’re filming an episode of “The Six-Million Dollar Man” in Laff In The Dark, moving stuff around, and they move this painted neon orange dummy and its arm breaks off. It’s a real arm. He’s eventually taken to the coroner, eventually identified, and then eventually buried in Boot Hill in Oklahoma under concrete, so he won’t go wandering again.

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2818th Century London

18th Century London

In London in the 18th century, d*ldos were a must-have. One George-Louis Lesage (1676-1759), visiting England in 1713, noted that there were always some women in St. James's Park carrying baskets full of dolls that seem to be in great demand with the young ladies. Instead of legs, the dolls were supported by a cylinder, covered with cloth, which was about six inches long and one inch wide. According to Lesage, one young woman complained that hers was too big and she wanted to exchange it for a smaller one, but the vendor refused to do so, arguing that it would be impossible to resell it.

29Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli, author of the Prince, once got so horny he visited a prostitute, only she was so ugly he threw up all over her. His description of the event is both gross and hilarious. “What the hell, Luigi, you can see what fortune can do to men. You had just finished fu*king your woman when you want another one. I've been in Modena for several days when I came across an old woman who washes my shirts. She asked me to come to her hovel because she wished to show me some fine shirts. Innocent prick that I am I went in. There was a woman over in the corner. ‘This is the shirt that I wanted to sell you,’ the hag said. I was terrified. But I fu*ked her. I found her thighs flabby and her c*nt damp. Her breath stank. But I was horny. When I was finished I took a torch and looked at her. I nearly dropped dead. The woman was ugly. She had a tuft of hair on her head but her head was bald. Her forehead was scarred. One eye looked up, the other down. Her eyes were filled with mucus, and she had no eyebrows. Her nose was twisted into a funny shape. Her mouth looked like Lorenzo de' Medici's but was bent to one side. She was toothless and saliva drooled out of her mouth. Her upper lip had a mustache. I looked at her stupefied. “What's the matter sir?” she asked me. As soon as she opened her mouth, such a stench came out that my eyes and my nose were assaulted and my stomach indignant. They could not bear it, and I vomited all over her.”

30Frane Selak

Frane Selak

Frane Selak, a Croatian music teacher, began his unlucky streak in 1962 on a train going from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik. The train inexplicably jumped the tracks and fell into an icy river killing 17 passengers. Selak managed to swim to shore suffering from hypothermia and a broken arm. A year later, while on an airplane, its door flew off and Selak was sucked out of the airplane. The plane crashed and he woke up in a hospital. He was found in a haystack. In 1966, Selak was on a bus that went off the road and into a river. Four people were killed, but he only suffered minor injuries. In 1970, his car caught on fire and he stopped it and got out just before the whole car blew up. In 1973, Selak was driving another car when a faulty fuel line sprayed gas all over the engine and flames blew through his air vents. His only injury was the loss of most of his hair. In 1995 he was hit by a bus but he only sustained minor injuries. Finally, in 1996, he was driving on a mountain road when he went around a bend and saw a truck coming right at him. He ran his car through a guardrail and jumped out to watch his car blow up 300 feet below him. In 2003, Selak bought a lottery ticket for the first time in 40 years at the age of 74. He ended up winning $1 million.


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  1. Louis XIV looks just like Henry VIII. Also the castle in the background look uncannily like an English castle dating to about King Henry’s Time.



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