I love trivia and finding out oddball facts, especially about some of the places where we travel. So today, just for fun, I thought I’d share 5 Weird Things You Never Knew.
Mount Rushmore, polygamy and the KKK – There are few things that make a statement about America’s power and glory more than Mount Rushmore. But Sculptor Gutzon Borglum, celebrated for the massive sculptures at Mount Rushmore, had some connections that are decidedly opposed to our country’s values. Gutzon’s father, James Miller Borglum, was a polygamist with two wives, Borglum’s mother and his mother’s sister. When he decided to leave his home in Idaho and move to Nebraska, he cast Gutzon’s mother out of the family and forbade his family to ever speak of her again. While many people think of Ku Klux Klan activity as being a southern phenomena, their tentacles reached most areas of the nation over the years. Sculptor Borglum was active in the South Dakota Ku Klux Klan, which organized its first Klaverns in the Black Hills in 1922.
Strange presidential pets – The White House is one of the most popular places to visit in Washington, D.C., and over the years the different First Families have brought a strange assortment of critters with them. First Lady Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, kept several hundred silkworms in an unsuccessful attempt to make raw silk. Her husband kept a pet alligator in one of the White House bathrooms. President Calvin Coolidge had a menagerie that included six dogs of different breeds, a cat, a goose, a bobcat, a pair of lion cubs, a wallaby, and a pygmy hippopotamus. By comparison, the two opossums and billy goat that President Benjamin Harrison owned seem almost normal.
The mobile lighthouse – In 1999, the National Park Service moved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina almost 3,000 feet to a new location when it was threatened by severe beach erosion. The lighthouse was moved onto railroad tracks for the trip, which took 23 days and cost nearly $10 million.
The black slave owner of Natchez – Natchez, Mississippi is a beautiful town, and visitors from around the world come to tour the beautiful antebellum mansions that were home to some of the wealthiest plantation owners of the day. Natchez’s slave auction did a thriving business. But not all slave owners were what you might think. William Johnson, known as the “barber of Natchez,” was a free black man who owned a barbershop and had other business interests in the city. Johnson kept a detailed journal of his daily activities, in which he listed his assets and business dealings. At the time of his death, Johnson owned sixteen slaves and wrote openly in his diary about his slaves and the trials and tribulations of being a slave owner. Johnson’s house, on State Street, is administered by the National Park Service and is open for tours.
Folks are batty in Austin – Austin, Texas is home to over 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats, which live under the Congress Avenue Bridge. From March to October, thousands of people come to the bridge just before sunset to watch the bats fly from their homes in nooks and crevices under the bridge to go hunting for food. The bats eat between 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects nightly, and their flights are so huge that they appear on local weather radar screens.
Thought For The Day – The problem with drinking and driving is that trees defend themselves very well.