Mysteries from History.

From ghosts, hauntings, religious sects, cursed artifacts... all the usual things that keep you up at night.
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n11pilot
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Mysteries from History.

Post by n11pilot » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:14 pm

May years ago when I was in college and a member of the History Undergrad Association I belonged to an informal sub-group of the association that examined some of the more famous mysteries from the past. Some had a paranormal aspect, some were just unexplained. I can't claim that we ever came up with solutions to any of these mysteries but we did find some interesting points that are often overlooked in the popular legends surrounding them. While I'm not suggesting a Fedora based group exploration of these mysteries I am saying that if you ever get bored and need a diversion you could do some sleuthing of your own. Below is a list of mysteries that we either explored or at least considered. In no particular order:

Roanoke Colony
The Mary Celeste
Mothman
NAZI gold train
The Amber Room
USS Cyclops
Flight 19
Amelia Earhart
Judge Crater
The Black Dahlia
The Anasazi

These are just a minuscule sample of the many mysteries that abound in history both ancient and recent and they all make interesting research and good reading.

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Cousi
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Re: Mysteries from History.

Post by Cousi » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:26 pm

The Mary Celeste is something that has intrigued me. Boats are not just abandoned without a reason. Some have proposed a storm but the sort of damage on the ship does not support it. They took the important things (navigational charts, logs, etc) and left in the lifeboat. In spite of there being no reason for it, they jumped ship in a hurry. No one know why. None of the theories ring true to me.

The whole Pueblo Peoples fascinate me, too. What caused them to create dwellings carved into the walls of cliffs and create site like Aztec, New Mexico or Chaco Canyon? None of their contemporaries were doing that, except perhaps the Mississippian culture (see Cahokia). There was more going on in the Americas than archaeologists would have us believe. In a future podcast, maybe Eric and I will dive into the destruction of the history of the First Nations peoples purposely done by the Smithsonian Institute. It's really infuriating.

The Templars have fascinated me too, on and off. I've always had a fascination for arcane or secret societies like the Illuminati, Rosicrucians and the infamous Hellfire Club.

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n11pilot
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Re: Mysteries from History.

Post by n11pilot » Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:50 pm

Cousi wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:26 pm
The Mary Celeste is something that has intrigued me. Boats are not just abandoned without a reason. Some have proposed a storm but the sort of damage on the ship does not support it. They took the important things (navigational charts, logs, etc) and left in the lifeboat. In spite of there being no reason for it, they jumped ship in a hurry. No one know why. None of the theories ring true to me.
I'm glad to read that none of the theories ring true to you because I feel the same way. No one explanation so far given covers all of the facts, or reported facts of the mystery. Even some of the "Facts" have more than one explanation. The cargo was something in the neighborhood of 1700 kegs of industrial alcohol, that is ethyl alcohol of between 190 and 200 proof or 95% to 99.5% purity. One theory put forth by the salvage crew of the Dei Gratia is that the Mary Celeste was abandoned due to fear of an explosion because of leak in the cargo. There were nine nearly empty kegs found in the hold. Sounds good except that for some reason red oak was used as staves for the kegs instead of the conventional white oak. Red oak is significantly more porous than white oak and kegs made from it were known to be prone to loss through evaporation. In view of the properties of red oak the "Leaking cargo" theory seems a bit weaker.

Another theory is that the crew of the Dei Gratia turned opportunistic pirates and did away with the crew and passengers of the Mary Celeste in order to claim the ship as a salvage prize. Nothing definite in this except for the award given the prize crew. Insurance and admiralty board investigators had enough doubts about the crew of the Dei Gratia that the insurance company presented a prize of only 1/6th the total insured value. This is remarkably low considering that the ship and most of the cargo was salvaged intact. It seems that the crew of the Dei Gratia didn't raise too much of an official fuss over the slight which is strange in itself. All in all interesting case.

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Cousi
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Re: Mysteries from History.

Post by Cousi » Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:51 am

n11pilot wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:50 pm
I'm glad to read that none of the theories ring true to you because I feel the same way. No one explanation so far given covers all of the facts, or reported facts of the mystery. Even some of the "Facts" have more than one explanation. The cargo was something in the neighborhood of 1700 kegs of industrial alcohol, that is ethyl alcohol of between 190 and 200 proof or 95% to 99.5% purity. One theory put forth by the salvage crew of the Dei Gratia is that the Mary Celeste was abandoned due to fear of an explosion because of leak in the cargo. There were nine nearly empty kegs found in the hold. Sounds good except that for some reason red oak was used as staves for the kegs instead of the conventional white oak. Red oak is significantly more porous than white oak and kegs made from it were known to be prone to loss through evaporation. In view of the properties of red oak the "Leaking cargo" theory seems a bit weaker.
While all of that is true - and it tracks with what I've learned - as a sailor I can honestly say that leaking alcohol would not cause anyone to abandon ship. Jokes about drinking it aside, the fix is simple; find the leaking keg and toss it over the side. Why abandon ship? That makes no sense at all. I understand the fire hazard and such but sailors of that age were used to such dangers and had processes in place to deal with it. Mop enough sea water over it and you don't have to worry about it.

Summary - I don't buy that as a valid reason.
n11pilot wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 6:50 pm
Another theory is that the crew of the Dei Gratia turned opportunistic pirates and did away with the crew and passengers of the Mary Celeste in order to claim the ship as a salvage prize. Nothing definite in this except for the award given the prize crew. Insurance and admiralty board investigators had enough doubts about the crew of the Dei Gratia that the insurance company presented a prize of only 1/6th the total insured value. This is remarkably low considering that the ship and most of the cargo was salvaged intact. It seems that the crew of the Dei Gratia didn't raise too much of an official fuss over the slight which is strange in itself. All in all interesting case.
That seems the most plausible to me, except there was no evidence of violence. When they turned in the ship, there would have been evidence of violence. By some reports the captain of Dei Gratia and the captain of Mary Celeste were friends, and the wife of the Mary Celeste's skipper said they had eaten dinner the night before she left port. It doesn't track. If the prize was motivation, why only accept 18 cents or so on the dollar? They'd have to been masterminds of the time to have been able to pull it off without any sign of violence. Crews do not leave their ships entirely while at sea unless they fully believe the ship is going down. Some fighting would have taken place and that means blood being shed. There were no blood stains (or at least none detectable by the admiralty board investigators and you can be dam sure they were looking for them). Also, there were no signs of violence on the Dei Gratia either. Any investigation would have investigating the recovery ship as well.

Summary - I'm not buying it.

No one knows what happened, that's why its an enduring mystery.

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Re: Mysteries from History.

Post by n11pilot » Thu Nov 15, 2018 12:28 pm

Cousi, Your analysis is well thought out and logical and punches holes in the two theories. That is exactly the way it is with every accepted explanation of the the mystery of the Mary Celeste. Every one of them is almost right until it is examined from a different angle or by someone with specialized knowledge. I think that unless some long lost diary, journal, log, or death bed confession turns up the Mary Celeste will remain a compelling mystery.

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Cousi
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Re: Mysteries from History.

Post by Cousi » Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:16 pm

n11pilot wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 12:28 pm
I think that unless some long lost diary, journal, log, or death bed confession turns up the Mary Celeste will remain a compelling mystery.
I agree. Which is why I sometimes go back to it. I just can't completely let it go.

Tell me about the NAZI gold train. That one I'm not familiar with.

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n11pilot
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Re: Mysteries from History.

Post by n11pilot » Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:00 am

Cousi wrote:
Thu Nov 15, 2018 8:16 pm

Tell me about the NAZI gold train. That one I'm not familiar with.
The NAZI gold train is a complex case in that there is infinitely more legend floating around than fact. Like the Lost Dutchman mine every telling of the story increases the value and content of the cargo and reveals plots, sub plots and conspiracies of what may have happened to it and the identity of the main actors.

Basically in the waning days of WWII the NAZIs who were well known kleptomaniacs on an industrial level, established a collection point for gold, works of art, precious stones, and historical documents looted from occupied countries in the East in the town of Breslau. At the time this was in lower Silesia which is now part of modern day Poland. To escape the oncoming Red Army the loot was loaded aboard a freight train which departed for a location deeper in Germany. Unfortunately for the NAZIs the Red juggernaut was moving faster than anticipated and the train only made it as far as Waldenburg. Near Waldenburg was a mysterious NAZI complex dug deep beneath the Owl Mountains. This complex has as many legends as the gold train itself, it was said to be a development center for wunderwaffen like the V-1 and V-2, or even death rays, etc. It was also said to be an archaeological dig to find the roots of the Aryans, or a last stand fort for Hitler, etc. In any case the complex consisted of miles of tunnels. Legend has it that the train was backed deep into the complex on temporary rails then the entrance was dynamited and sealed to keep it out of Russian hands. The NAZIs were said to do NAZI things like sealing the train crew and extraneous laborers in with the train to limit witnesses. Then the remaining NAZIs fled deeper into German and most were wiped out in last ditch defenses.

Now, no sooner was the shooting over than rumors of the train started to surface from sources that had seen it being loaded, sources who saw it being backed into the mountains, miners, railroad officials etc. Some were very trustworthy and held high political positions after the war.

The thing that keeps this from being dismissed is the fact that this was the NAZI MO. In fact the Allies captured just such a train in Hungary before it could head West. This is well documented and can be found appropriately under the title "NAZI Hungarian Gold Train"

Today the owl Mountains are in Poland and people can actually tour some of the better maintained tunnels but despite repeated attempts no one has ever located the missing train.
Last edited by n11pilot on Fri Nov 16, 2018 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Cousi
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Re: Mysteries from History.

Post by Cousi » Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:18 am

:shock:

How is it I haven't heard of this before? Just when you think you've heard every bat-shit crazy thing the Nazi's did, you hear something new and just go "well fuck." Pardon my language but just ... damn.

I now need to look up that complex and the train. The creative part of my mind is already percolating with ideas and concepts but my curiosity for as much of the legend as I can get is overpowering it.

That's cool as hell.

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