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Showing posts from October, 2005

History of Halloween

Halloween or All-Hallows Eve, as some may call it, started out as an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1st which marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of winter. It was a time that was often associated with death. The Celts believed that on the night before New Year the boundary of the worlds between the living and the dead became blurred.

Therefore, on the night of October 31st, they celebrated Samhain, the day ghosts were believed to return to Earth to cause trouble and damage crops. The Celts also thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids and the Celtic priests to make predictions about the future. For those dependent on the violatile natural worlds, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To celebrate this event, the Druids built huge sacred bonfires to sacrifice crops and animals to the Celtic deities. During t…

Cheesman Park

Did you know that the movie Poltergeist was based on the history of a real cemetery? Located in Denver, Colorado, Cheesman Park was apart of a city government scandal. Buildings weren't built on the cemetery by mistake. How about I start from the beginning.

In 1858, William Lamier set aside 320 acres of land for a new cemetery named Mount Prospect. Sites on the crest of the hill were set aside for the wealthy, paupers and criminals were buried on the far sides and the average people were buried somewhere in the middle.

John Stoefel murdered his brother-in-law and was sentenced to hang from a cottonwood tree. Stoefel and his brother-in-law were buried in the same grave. More and more murder victims and those killed from accidents were buried in the lower parts of Mount Prospect. Nicknames like "Old Boneyard" or "Boot Hill" were soon given to the cemetery.

In 1873, the graveyard was re-named the City Cemetery. The lack of interest and care made the cemetery becom…

Sloss Furnace

From 1882 to 1972, Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama transformed coal and ore into hard steel. From skyscrapers in New York to automobiles made in Detroit, Sloss Furnaces were relied on for providing materials to produce thousands of products.

In the early 1900s, James "Slag" Wormwood was the foreman of the graveyard shift where 150 workers toiled to keep the furnace fed. Only the poorest and most desperate men would take on the harsh conditions of working the graveyard shift during the summers. Wormwood would make the workers take dangerous risks in order to impress his supervisors. Forty-seven men lost their lives during his reign not counting the numerous accidents that left men unable to work. They weren't allowed breaks or holidays.

In 1906, James "Slag" Wormwood lost his footing at the top of Big Alice (the highest blast furnace) and fell into a pool of melted iron ore. He was killed instantly. It was reported that he became dizzy from the methane gas…

History of Jack-o-Lanterns

How many of you knew that carving a Jack-o-Lantern at Halloween is an old Irish tradition? Those who didn't know that don't feel bad. Neither did I. If you didn't know that, then you probably didn't know that the original Jack-o-Lantern wasn't even a pumpkin. Ok so here is how the legend goes.

Hundreds of years ago in Ireland, there was a man named Stingy Jack who was a miserable, old drunk. He loved to play tricks on everyone including family, friends and even the Devil himself. One time, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree and once he was up there, Stingy Jack placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. Since The Devil was unable to come down the tree, Jack made him promise not to take his soul when he died. Once the promise was made, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.

Years later, Stingy Jack died and his soul went to the pearly gates. Unfortunately, Saint Peter denied him access to Heaven. Saint Peter told him that he was too…