10 Events in History That Sound Fictional But Are Actually Real

10 Events in History That Sound Fictional But Are Actually Real

As we move through time, we create several historical moments that will be remembered forever. The events are then taught to the younger generation so they are aware of the brilliant minds that worked hard to achieve what was once thought to be impossible. Today however, we are not only talking about those brilliant men and women, but events in history that sound like fiction. For instance, there was was a war between two cities over a wooden bucket. Here, we have gathered some pretty interesting events throughout history that are true but sound totally fictional.

1. In 1859, an Australian man named Thomas Austin thought that it would be a great idea to release 24 wild rabbits in his backyard. The rabbits, which were imported from England, multiplied into more than 200 million within a few years.

fictional, facts, life, people, nature, Australia, history
Image: British Library/Gerrie

Like mosquitos and rats, rabbits are an invasive species, capable of multiplying at an extremely fast rate. In 1859, Thomas Austin from Winchelsea, Victoria, was saddened by the fact that Australia didn’t have any wild rabbits suitable for hunting. So, he imported 24 wild rabbits from England, and released them in his backyard. Sadly for him, the 24 rabbits found Australia to be favorable and multiplied into millions within just a few years. According to reports, in less than 70 years, the population came to a staggering 10 billion.

The rabbits then started to migrate across the country and destroyed precious farmland. Since winters are mild in the country, the climate is idea for them to reproduce year round. The Australian government had to build fences to keep the rabbits out as well as use biological methods to reduce their numbers. It is estimated that today, there are more than 200 million rabbits spanned over 2.5 million square miles of Australia. (source)

2. During the 1800’s, there was a baboon named Jack, who worked on the railway system in South Africa for 9 years; without ever making a single mistake.

Baboon, Jack, India, facts, life, people, fictional
Image: Wikimedia

In 1877, James “Jumper” Wide, who worked for the Cape Town Port Authority Railway service was involved in a freak accident that took both his legs. Devastated but not disheartened, Jumper made two wooden legs and continued working for the railway service, changing tracks and signaling trains. One day, he was at the local market when he saw Jack, a baboon who was pulling an ox wagon. Surprised by his intelligence, Jumper hired Jack as his assistant to help at the station. Jack was quick to learn everything and signaled the trains as well as changed the tracks whenever Jumper gave him the signal.

The locals however, saw this as a safety issue and the head officer began receiving complaints. Although some officers were aware of the baboon working at the station, not everybody was happy about it. A railroad officer was dispatched to fire the duo but Jumper pleaded for their jobs. Jumper convinced the officer to give Jack a chance to prove his ability, to which he acquiesced. An engineer was ordered to blow the train’s whistle, to which Jack changed the signals precisely. Surprised by how accurate and determined he was, the officer made Jack a permanent employee with a salary of 20 cents per day. Jack went on to work for 9 long years without ever making a single mistake. (source)

3. In 1518, a town in France was affected by the ‘dancing plague’, a truly bizarre medieval phenomenon, that caused spontaneous and continuous dancing by crowds of people until they collapsed through exhaustion.

dancing plague, facts, people, fictional, life, history
Image: Hendrik Hondius

The ‘dancing plague’, also known as ‘St Vitus’s Dance’, was a truly bizarre medieval phenomenon that occurred in Central Europe. One of the wildest outbreaks occurred in June 1374 in Aachen, Germany, which then spread across Cologne, Flanders, Utrecht, and later Italy. More than a century later, a woman named Frau Troffea began dancing in the street in 1518. Within just four days, 33 other locals joined her and within a month, the number rose to 400; many of whom suffered heart attacks from exhaustion.

Since the field of medicine was not as advanced as it is today, the phenomenon was never studied to fully understand what caused this mysterious dance epidemic. Some doctors and scientists speculate that it could have been caused by a skin infection or muscular inflammation that lead to uncontrollable spasms. Some locals however, believed that it was actually a curse by St. Vitus and resorted to prayers to heal their loved ones. (source)

4. On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV called for a Christmas truce, which was officially rejected. Despite this, a truce was held between Germany and the UK. German and British troops sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, exchanged gifts and played a game of football.

WWII, facts, history, fictional, factual, life, people, soldier
Image: Imperial War Museums

Despite being at war with each other and the Pope’s plea to hold a truce during the holidays being ignored, the German and British troops engaged in an unofficial Christmas truce, which was truly a Christmas miracle. More than 100 years ago, on a chilly morning, the troops put down their rifles and spent time mingling with their enemies. According to some records, the truce began with the troops singing Christmas carols to each other.

The next morning, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English, while the British soldiers went to greet them. Over the next few days, the troops exchanged gifts such as hats, buttons and cigars, and officially played a game of football to brighten their spirits. Of course it was a truce that only lasted for a few days, which was then proceeded by hostility. (source)

5. During the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, the first place marathon runner hitched a car ride to the finish line. The second place winner had to be carried to the finish line because his legs were literally twitching.

Olympics, St Louis, 1904, facts, fictional, life, people, weird
Image: Wikimedia

The 1904 Olympics wasn’t even supposed to be taking place in St. Louis but regardless of the initial decision to host it in Chicago, the decision was later changed to St. Louis. The event was riddled with mistakes from the beginning, which caused it to be nearly five months long. One of the famous events involves the marathon, which is considered one of the most outrageous marathons in Olympic history. First of all, the marathon was held in 90-degree weather on a dust-covered road; forcing 18 of the 32 competitors to withdraw from exhaustion.

One of the runners was severely dehydrated and suffered a stomach hemorrhage, which forced him to quit and require immediate medical attention. Despite all the issues, Fred Lorz managed to cross the finish line and take the trophy home; that was until his secret was revealed. Lorz was in fourth place until the race’s nine-mile mark, when he hitched a car ride towards the finish line. After 10 miles, the car broke down and Lorz ran the remaining few miles and crossed the finish line. Thomas Hicks won second place but he was severely dehydrated and his legs were twitching; forcing his trainers to carry him to the finish line. Finally, when Lorz’s secret was revealed, he was disqualified and Hicks was awarded the first place trophy. (source)

6. In 1993, a Missouri man purposely damaged a levee on the Mississippi river to delay his wife coming home from work so he could party with his friends. Instead, the river flooded 14,000 acres and caused billions in damage. He was arrested and is still serving time in prison.

Mississippi River, Levee, flooding, facts, life, fictional, weird
Image: NARA

On July 16, 1993, James Scott decided to find an unusual way to keep his wife away so that he could party for a few more hours. Scott broke the levee by moving sandbags that were reducing the pressure exerted on the levee. His actions caused farmlands to be flooded, businesses to be destroyed and even forced a main bridge to be shut down. Scott only intended to keep his wife away in Missouri, so he could party in Illinois, but his actions caused a catastrophe. He was eventually arrested and convicted of causing a major catastrophe. A jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison but an appeals court overturned the verdict because prosecutors failed to notify the defense about two new witnesses whose testimony implicated him. (source)

7. In 1325, the city of Bologna went to war with the city of Modena because Modenese soldiers stole a bucket from a city well. The bucket still remains in the possession of the city of Modena.

Bologna, Modena, Italy, facts, war, life, fictional
Image: Wikimedia

The War of the Bucket took place in 1325 between two rival cities; Bologna and Modena. For years, tensions had been rising between the two until a small incident, such as a missing bucket, was enough to ignite the fire. One day, some Modenese soldiers attacked Bologna and stole a bucket from the city well. When Bolognese city officials learned of the treachery, they demanded that the bucket be returned, but Modena refused. A war ensued and more than 4,000 people lost their lives from both sides. Despite all this, Modena still won the battle and as a trophy, they took another bucket from Bologna’s city well, which is still in their possession. A peace treaty was signed by both cities after the unusual war. (source)

8. In 1994, when the entire city of L.A. suffered a massive blackout, the residents called 911 to express concerns about strange clouds hovering overhead. They were seeing the Milky Way for the first time.

milky way, Los Angeles, facts, life, people, fictional
Image: Denis Degioanni

Light pollution is a major reason why we are not able to witness the stars or the Milky Way. In 1994, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake rumbled through Los Angeles at 4:30 a.m. Residents woke up to witness the entire town in darkness and upon looking at the sky, they saw an unusual sight. The sky was riddled with cosmic bodies, twinkling stars, clustered galaxies, distant planets, even a satellite or two. The residents had never witnessed such a sight and became concerned that Earth was under attack by aliens. Many called 911 to inform authorities about their concern and had to be told that it was none other than the Milky Way. (source)

9. A Japanese WW2 soldier named Hiroo Onoda refused to surrender until 1974, because he did not believe that the war had ended.

Hiroo Onoda, Japan, war, facts, life, fictional, weird
Image: Malacañang Palace

WW2 officially came to an end on September 2, 1945 but Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier, did not believe it. For the next 29 years, until 1974, Onoda remained in the jungle on Lubang Island near Luzon, in the Philippines. Officials made several attempts for him to emerge out of the jungle but Onoda refused every time. Finally, in 1974, his aging former commanding officer had to be flown in to convince him. After nearly three decades, the Japanese soldier finally obeyed the order, surrendered and returned to Japan as a hero. (source)

10. In 2007, Ewa Wisnerska, a paraglider, was sucked 32,000 ft into the air by a passing storm. She survived lack of oxygen, frostbite, and lightning, landing safely, 40 miles from her launch site.

paragliding, facts, fictional, life, people, historical
Image: Milivoj Kuhar

Ewa Wisnerska, 35, from Germany, was preparing for the 10th World Paragliding Championships. She was above the town of Manilla in New South Wales, when a passing storm pulled her away from her route. The paraglider was taken 32,000 ft into the air where she experienced temperatures of -58 degree F. Not only that, the lack of oxygen caused her to pass out. Approximately 40 minutes later, she woke up to find that she was around 6,000 ft high, with her hands frozen. Despite the frostbite all over her body, Wisnerska managed to somehow grab the brakes and land to safety, approximately 40 miles away from where she started. She’s the only person known to have survived such extreme temperatures and conditions. The entire ordeal was recorded by a global positioning beacon and a radio that was attached to her equipment. (source)

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