We live in a crazy world, and as time goes by, we experience things that sound too unrealistic to be true. The history of the world is filled with events that when you read about them for the first time, the first thought that pops into your head would probably be, “This can’t be true.” If sources didn’t back these events, you definitely wouldn’t believe that they actually happened. In this list, we bring you historical events that sound like fiction.
The 1904 Olympic Marathon
What happened at the 1904 Olympic marathon was bizarre yet very entertaining. The marathon was held in St. Louis on August 30th on a hot summer day. Thirty-two men competed in the 39.99 km long marathon, but only 14 out of them managed to finish the race. This was a tough track as the roadways weren’t smooth; some rocks were strewn around, people were walking their dogs, and there were only two locations where the runners could find drinkable water. To add up, coaches and doctors drove by the runners while they ran, causing the dirt and dust to stir up. Initially, Frederick Lorz was the first one to cross the finish line and the winner of the marathon.
Soon after he admitted that he dropped out of the race due to his exhaustion after the 9th mile and hitched a car ride to the 19th mile before continuing the race. Thomas Hicks was the second one to cross the finish line after having been given a low dose of strychnine. High doses of strychnine are very toxic, but small doses can act as a stimulant. He had to be carried over the finish line by his support team as he was barely able to walk. Had not Cuban mailman, Andarian Carvajal, taken an hour nap he took on the side of the road, he would have finished first place. Among the people who didn’t complete the marathon was William Garcia, who ended up in the hospital with bleeding. Another was a South African participant who got chased by dogs.
Vesna Vulović’s Fall
Vesna Vulović was a 22 years old flight attendant on a flight to Denmark in 1972. She initially wasn’t supposed to be on this flight as her schedule got mixed up with another flight attendant with the same name. She didn’t mind the mix-up and was actually excited to travel to Denmark. On the same airplane, Ustache, a far-right nazi terrorist group, had planted explosives in the baggage compartment. At around 4 PM, the bombs detonated and the aircraft broke apart mid-air.
For three long minutes, the airplane continued to fall a staggering distance of 33,330 feet before hitting the ground. Out of the 28 passengers, Vesna was the only survivor. She currently holds the record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute. Within ten months, Vesna was able to walk again and make a full recovery. How did she survive? Well, it’s mostly attributed to her low blood pressure, which made her pass out as soon as the plane started falling, which prevented her heart from bursting.
The London Beer Flood of 1814
On October 17th, 1814, the residents of St Giles in London were met by a tsunami of beer that filled the streets around Tottenham Court Road. It might sound like a complete dream for some, but this disaster sadly claimed the lives of 8 people. A brewery in the area, Meux and Company Brewery, a tank containing 610,000 liters of beer ruptured. Due to the force of the hot fermenting ale, the walls of the brewery collapsed releasing gallons upon gallons of beer into the streets. Hundreds of people gathered all the containers they could land their hands on to scoop up the beer. The brewery was taken to court for the incident, but the accident was ruled to be an Act of God with no one arrested for it. The brewery was later demolished in 1922.
The Town of Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber
During the thirty years war that lasted from 1618 to 1648, which was caused by a dispute between Catholics and Protestants, many places were destroyed in Germany throughout the war. In October 1631, the Catholic army of 40,000 men led by Count of Tilly, Johann Tserclaes, wanted to quarter his troops in the town. They refused and tried to defend themselves but failed.
Count Tilly’s troops defeated them and gained entry to the town. Legend has it that the leaders of the city council offered him a 3.25 liters tank filled with local wine. After having a couple of drinks, he challenged the people to drink the tank in one go, and in return, he would spare the town. The mayor of the town stepped up and successfully drank the tank. The Count of Tilly kept his word and left with his army.
Operation Paul Bunyan
In 1976, two American army officers were killed in North Korea while they were cutting down a tree. The North Korean attacked them with their axes before leaving their disfigured bodies next to the tree. In response to the murder of the American officers, Both the United States and South Korea launched operation, Paul Bunyan, three days after the killings happened. 23 American and South Korean vehicles that held two eight-man engineering teams arrived at the location of the tree with chainsaws. Those two teams were guarded by 30 security platoons equipped with pistols and ax handles. Also, they had 27 helicopters circling above them. The operation was carried out smoothly, and the tree was cut.
Starfish Prime was a test done by the United States as a part of a bigger operation in 1962. Its purpose was to test nuclear power as they hadn’t discovered much about it at that time. They launched the nuclear warhead, and it detonated in outer space. What they didn’t expect was its effects in Hawaii. A deep red aurora appeared in the skies, and hundreds of people in Honolulu gathered to stargaze. The aurora wasn’t the only effect it caused but also around 300 street lights failed, power lines fused, and alarms went off. The disappointing part about the test was that they didn’t have suitable equipment to study the aftereffects.
Wojtek the Bear
Wojtek the Bear was a Syrian brown bear was bought as a young cub by the Polish soldiers. The bear was soon enlisted to provide for his rations and was allowed to stay as the unit’s new mascot. As the bear continued to grow with them, it adopted their habits that included smoking and drinking beer. During the war, Wojtek helped the Polish soldier by carrying crates of ammunition and moving them. After the war was won, Wojtek was moved to the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland where he continued to live until he died in 1963.
Surviving a shipwreck in the middle of the ocean in the freezing cold sounds almost impossible and incredibly lucky. However, surviving two sinking ships and a collision sounds wholly unrealistic and movie material, and that is precisely what happened to Violet Jessop. Jessop was a nurse and a stewardess on the RMS Olympic. While she was onboard, the Olympic collided with a warship. Luckily, neither of the ships sank.
Almost a year later, Jessop got a job on the RMS Titanic as a stewardess at age 24. Four days after its departure from the port, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank two hours later. Thankfully, she was loaded into a lifeboat and was later rescued. These two traumatic events didn’t phase Jessop because years later, she took another job on the Britannic. The ship didn’t last long after departure, and it sank after an unexplained explosion within 55 minutes. And again, Violet survived.
On October 1st, 1956, a man named Tommy Fitzpatrick was drinking after a bachelor party when someone in the bar made a bet with him. In his drunken mind, Fitzpatrick accepted the bet and drove to the airport in New Jersey where he stole a two-seater airplane and flew back to Manhattan. He landed the plane on a narrow street and was only fined $100. A couple of years later, Fitzpatrick was recounting the story in a bar when a patron became skeptical and doubted that the event had actually happened. So to prove him wrong, Fitzpatrick drove once again to the airport and stole the airplane. He landed it near the bar.
The Battle of Pelusium
The Battle of Pelusium in 525 BC was a battle between Egypt and the Achaemenid Empire. At that time and throughout history in Egypt, they had great respect for animals, especially cats. Cats were popular and sacred because they were associated with the goddess of the home, domesticity, and fertility, Bastet. Cats were so highly regarded that the penalty for killing a cat was death. Pharaoh Amasis was a great ruler during the period of 570 – 526 BC. The Persians, led by Cambyses II, invaded Egypt after Amasis sent him a ‘fake wife’ instead of one of his own daughters to marry him.
Cambyses II took this an insult and decided to attack Egypt. Amasis died not long after and left his position for his young son, Psametik III. To get under their skin, Cambyses II decided to psychologically torment his enemies by having the image of Bastet painted onto their shields. They also gathered all the animals that the Egyptians held sacred and placed them in front of the line. Psametik III feared that they would injure the animals and surrendered. Cambyses II later executed Psametik III, and the Persians ruled Egypt in the 27th and 31st dynasties until they were driven out in the 28-30th dynasty.