1816 was called “The Year Without a Summer” after the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. Crop failure forced Joseph Smith to leave Vermont, and his journeys resulted in “The Book of Mormon,” the dreary rain in Switzerland drove Mary Shelley to stay indoors, where she wrote “Frankenstein.”
19th century England (and later the US) had ‘Ugly Clubs’ where people that had less desirable facial traits met up to drink, sing, and satirize their own looks.
Humans used crop rotation 8,000 years ago. As far back as 6000 BC, farmers alternated planting crops each year. They did not understand the chemistry, but knew that doing so kept the soil healthy for good harvests.
The world’s first traffic signal was short lived. Installed in London in 1868, it exploded less than a month later, injuring its policeman operator.
The Roman Imperial army created specialized fighting units to capture dangerous wild animals to fight in the Colosseum. They were forbidden from harming the animals and were considered to have one of the most dangerous jobs in the empire.
Life in Puritan New England was so hard that children who were abducted by Native Americans often refused to come back.
In the 19th century China came extremely close to being ruled by the leader of a Christian cult who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ. It took the deadliest civil war in history with 30 million dead to defeat him.
Currency shaped like knives was in circulation in China from 770 to 220 BC.
Former dictator of Equatorial Guinea Francisco Macias Nguema banned the use of lubricants in Malabo city power plant, saying he could run it using magic. The plant exploded.
In 18th century England, umbrellas were strictly taboo and seen as a detestable, effeminate contraption. Cab drivers saw them as a threat to their business and grew violent towards umbrella owners.