In 1848, to begin construction on the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, engineers needed to secure a line across the 800-foot chasm. The lead engineer held a kite-flying contest and eventually paid a local boy $5 for securing the first line over the river.
Southern sweet tea was originally used to show wealth, as tea, ice, and sugar were all very expensive at the time.
During the first battle of the American Civil War, hundreds of civilians from Washington DC brought picnic baskets and came to watch the battle, sure the Union would easily win. The Union lost, and the civilians were caught in the retreat of the Northern army.
Hat making in the past involved prolonged exposure to mercury vapors, causing poisoning which symptoms are sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), and a lack of coordination. this inspired terms like “Mad as a hatter” and of course, the mad hatter of Alice in wonderland.
When trains were introduced in the U.S, many people believed that that “women’s bodies were not designed to go at 50 miles an hour,” and that their “uteruses would fly out of [their] bodies if they were accelerated to that speed.”
A 15 year old Roman Emperor named Heliogabalus, was a notorious prankster. He would get his party guests black out drunk and then dump them into a bedroom full of toothless leopards, lions and bears. He also created the 1st known ‘whoopee cushions’ using inflated animal bladders. Needless to say, Heliogabalus’ antics angered many people, which is what led to his assassination when he was 18-years-old.
Scientists recreated a 9th century onion and garlic eye remedy from an Anglo-Saxon manuscript, and found that it killed 90% of antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria (MRSA).
In 1906, a three-year-old Swiss toddler was convicted to three and a half months’ imprisonment for “theft.”
Henry III received a polar bear as a gift from King Haakon of Norway in 1252. The bear lived at the Tower of London and was given a long leash so it could swim in the river Thames and catch fish.
Before about 1700, it was customary for people of European descent to bring their own spoons to the table. Spoons were carried as personal property in much the same way as people today carry wallets, key rings, etc.