On September 10, 2017 · Comments Off on Spooky

A lot of tangential articles began to appear on social media recently, tying-in with the hype around the latest film adaption of Stephen King’s "It." One article I noticed included a list of his major works, from the early days of his writing career to the present. It included "The Shining," and rightly so, a very successful book (1977) and movie (1980) in its own right. The article mentioned that the Stanley Hotel inspired the setting for The Shining. I guess I knew this very real hotel influenced the fictional setting although I never thought about it much. Then I began to consider other possibly infamous, spooky places.

The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel - Estes Park
The Stanley Hotel – Estes Park. Photo by Robin Kanouse on Flickr (cc)

Anyone wanting to visit the Stanley Hotel could head over to Estes Park, Colorado (map) where it continues to operate today. The resort began in the early 20th Century, the creation of Freelan Oscar Stanley. He’d made his fortune on the east coast as the inventor of the Stanley Steamer, an early automobile powered by steam. Stanley arrived in this beautiful Rocky Mountain valley suffering from what used to be called Consumption, now commonly called Tuberculosis. Fresh mountain air helped considerably with his condition and he vowed to return as often as he could. Eventually he built a luxury hotel with every amenity his High Society friends from the east would appreciate.

The Stanley lost a lot of its luster by the time Stephen King and his wife visited in the 1970’s. It was about to close for the season and the Kings were the only lodgers in an otherwise empty 140-room hotel. That night, King woke from a nightmare while staying in Room 217, and quickly outlined the plot for The Shining. The Stanley Hotel became the Overlook Hotel in his novel although Room 217 still figured prominently.

The Stanley did not have a haunted reputation during its first seventy years. Oddly, or perhaps suspiciously, self-proclaimed paranormal investigators discovered all sorts of spooky anomalies in the years after the The Shining appeared.

112 Ocean Avenue

Amityville Horror House. Photo by john on Flickr (cc)

All I need to say about 112 Ocean Avenue (map) is the city where it’s located and many readers will recognize the reference immediately: Amityville, New York. The Amityville Horror, published in 1977, told the story of the Lutz family who fled the house only four weeks after they moved in. The book — advertised as a "true story" — became a runaway bestseller and inspired a movie and various sequels.

The DeFeo family lived in this Long Island home for several years before the Lutz family moved there. One night in 1974, the eldest DeFeo child, Ronald Jr., murdered his family in this home. His parents and four siblings all died from gunshot wounds. Ronald went to prison where he still remains more than forty years later.

George and Kathleen Lutz purchased the home soon thereafter, well-aware of its history. They claimed that all sorts of evil, demonic things happened to them while they lived there. They fled, wrote their book, and made a pile of money. A falling out with their attorneys led to a string of lawsuits and accusations of fraud. One of the self-admitted conspirators claimed it was a hoax that they created as they drank several bottles of wine.

Since that time, the home has passed to several new owners, none of whom reported any unusual paranormal activities. One owner finally altered the exterior of the home and changed its address to 108 Ocean Ave. although people continue to visit. It attracted quite a bit of attention during its latest sale in November 2016.

Bran Castle

Bran castle
Bran castle. Photo by Nomad Tales on Flickr (cc)

Where did Dracula live? In Transylvania, of course. The Irish writer Bram Stoker published Dracula, his most famous work in 1897. It spawned the entire Vampire genre of horror fiction that continues to remain popular.

Most people probably knew that the name of the novel’s title character came from Vlad the Impaler, a Prince of Wallachia. That region of Romania fell "between the Carpathians and the Danube River." It did not include Transylvania. Dracula came from his surname, having been born the son of Vlad Dracul. He earned his ghastly Impaler title when he attacked a bunch of Saxon villages, marched the inhabitants back to Wallachia and impaled them on stakes. Later, in 1462, he had no qualms about crossing into Ottoman territory and slaughtering several thousand more people there. Stories of his cruelty and butchery spread throughout Europe. Stoker read accounts centuries later and thought Dracula would be a great name for a bloodthirsty vampire.

One Romanian castle on the border between Wallachia and Transylvania gained a reputation for being Dracula’s abode. Bran Castle somehow claimed the title (map). Interestingly, Vlad never resided there. Sure, he passed it various times on his military excursions through the valley, although nothing more significant than that. Additionally, Bram Stoker probably wasn’t thinking of this castle specifically when he wrote Dracula. More likely, he used a composite of ideas. Nonetheless, Bran Castle somehow marketed itself successfully as a place that seemed like it should be Dracula’s castle. Good for them. Keep those tourists coming.


Bigfoot would also meet the definition of this article. However, I mentioned the most famous Bigfoot location, the spot of the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, in Hairy Man.

I came up with a few other ideas too, enough for another article so stay tuned for Part II. Feel free to put ideas or suggestions in the comments and maybe I’ll continue with even more spooky places after that.

Rama Setu (Adam’s Bridge)

On June 17, 2012 · 5 Comments

Articles often influence new 12MC articles that I never anticipated originally, as is the case today. Actually, this one come from a comment on All Ways – Every Cardinal Direction by reader "Snabelabe." I got fixated somehow on a link embedded in the comment, a list of countries and territories by border/area ratio.

I always gravitate towards extremes on these lists, the items at the very top and the very bottom. The bottom in this one featured self-contained island nations, all with ratios of zero because they didn’t have any land borders with other nations. I found that meaningless from an oddity perspective so my eyes wandered up the list to the first non-zero value. Sri Lanka had the lowest border-to-area ratio of any nation or territory listed, at 0.0000015 m/km2.

Sri Lanka? — I was muttering to myself because I hadn’t yet had my first cup of coffee for the morning — that’s an island. What land border? Yet, according to the list, it abuts another nation for 0.1 km.

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The obvious candidate is India. Sri Lanka rests like a little teardrop off of the southeastern tip of the Indian subcontinent. Really, it’s not all that distant when one ponders the situation. Only the Palk Straight separates the Tamil Nadu state of India and the Mannar district of Sri Lanka, with a total distance of maybe 100km at its widest? Drill down and one notices other places that come considerably closer. The area known as Rama Setu or Adam’s Bridge comes closest yet. This chain of islets, shoals, sandbars and shallows nearly connects Sri Lanka to India contiguously. It’s alleged that land pokes just high enough above water at a crucial point to provide a brief overland boundary between the two nations.

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I guess maybe I must have heard about Rama Setu at one point or another. It seems like the type of geo-oddity that would grab my attention. I must have either overlooked it or forgotten about it, so it was an unexpected joy to either find it or become reacquainted with it.

Rama Setu used to connect Sri Lanka to India in a literal sense. "It was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until storms deepened the channel: temple records seem to say that Rama’s Bridge was completely above sea level until it broke in a cyclone in 1480 CE."

The origin of Rama Setu is still a bit of a geological mystery. One set of theories centers on a ridge created as Sri Lanka pulled away from India. Another focus on longshore drifting and tombolos (I do love a good tombolo!). A Hindu religious origin has been ascribed to it in a Sanskrit epic, which doesn’t surprise me considering the formation has been around for a long time and it’s pretty impressive. Modern-day fringe researchers also postulate that Adam’s Bridge is literally a bridge, constructed by intelligent yet unknown hands (aliens, lost civilizations, the usual suspects). I’m not going to wade into those later waters. If you want to hit the search engines and poke around a bit, go for it.

Adams Bridge aerial
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5)

What everyone can agree upon, however, is that Rama Setu impedes commercial shipping albeit they disagree on whether that matters or not. Only the smallest, lowest draft vessels can make it through. Everything else has to go around Sri Lanka and that’s why the government of India wishes to build the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal.

Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project which envisages dredging of a ship channel across the Palk straits between India and Srilanka is finally taking shape. The project will allow ships sailing between the east and west costs of India to have a straight passage through India’s territorial waters, instead of having to circumvent Sri Lanka. This will lead to a saving of up to 424 nautical miles (780 Km) and up to to 30 hours in sailing time. Two channels will be created — one across north of Adam’s Bridge… and another through the shallows of Palk Bay, deepening the Palk straights.

It seems like a straightforward idea although it’s wrapped in controversies from one end to the other. Some object to the project from a religious perspective (Rama Setu is a sacred structure to Hindus) and others from an environmental perspective (it has the potential to alter alignment of ocean currents in a biologically sensitive area). Still others argue that it’s simply not cost effective economically.

Is there truly a land boundary between India and Sri Lanka as claimed? That’s proved to be more elusive than I figured. It’s possible that a border perhaps crosses one of the islets or sandbars, either continuously or intermittently. I’m not convinced it’s entirely meaningful.

I wonder if there are other international borders that may (or may nearly) have been erased by natural forces?

All Ways South

On June 10, 2012 · 8 Comments

I noticed a claim on the Intertubes, primarily because someone using a search engine landed on the Twelve Mile Circle seeking more information, that asserted one can travel due south from Missouri to enter each state that borders it. That doesn’t seem logical so that’s why the claim attracts attention.

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Missouri and Tennessee are the only states that share a border with eight other states. No state has nine or more adjacent neighbors so it would seem to be quite an accomplishment if the claim could be proven. One needs to examine a map where Missouri touches Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. That shouldn’t be too difficult.

Lets mention the obvious one first. Arkansas requires little thought because it hugs Missouri’s southern border for most of its length. Let’s move on.

The slight-of-hand that allows one to travel south from Missouri into various neighboring states exists because portions of its border follows rivers; the Missouri River on the west side and the Mississippi River & Des Moines River on the east. Select any of the linked state names to view a Google Maps page of an example: Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas and Nebraska. One would need a helicopter or a boat to accomplish this feat, but it would be possible to travel due south from Missouri into each of those states from at least one point.

Oklahoma seems to be the troublemaker. The border appears to be completely straight, seemingly following an exact line of longitude and thus making it appear impossible to cross south from Missouri into Oklahoma. However, as we’ve observed many times on 12MC, quite often one can find tiny anomalies and surveying corrections in what seems to be a straight-as-an-arrow border. Such is the case here, too.

I noticed a small tick in the border between the two states south of Interstate 44 and just north of E. 40 Road using Google Maps. I believe this is a Google Maps error based on further research. The 2000 version of the Newton County, MO plat book, the place where the alleged border jog is located, does not show this anomaly. So much for the most obvious opportunity to prove the point.

Undeterred, I pressed onward with a better result.

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This minuscule boundary adjustment, no more than about 75-100 feet wide, can be found a couple of miles north of Seneca, Missouri where Oklahoma’s E. 94 Road hits the border. This is not a Google Maps error. It shows up on the 2000 Newton County plat book too. Thus, in at least one very small location, it is indeed quite possible to travel due south from Missouri and enter Oklahoma (on foot no less). The Internet claim is proven.

As an aside, one uncovers an interesting phenomenon as one searches on terms like "anomaly Oklahoma Missouri border." I didn’t find any border jogs using this method — I had to squint at a bunch of maps instead — but it does bring up what’s known as the Hornet Spook Light or the Devil’s Promenade. It’s ascribed to lots of paranormal and other-worldly causes although it seems to have a a more mundane explanation.

People who have had close encounters with the light describe it as being anywhere between the size of a baseball and a basketball or larger. It can be almost any colour, and may change colours or have multiple elements, but is most frequently described as orange or yellow… The area has been studied many times, including most famously by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1942, who concluded that the phenomenon was due to the refraction of distant headlamps on Route 66…

The border jog that allows one to travel south from Missouri to Oklahoma sits directly within prime Hornet Spook Light territory. It holds significant promise as a premium twofer geo-oddity adventure for those in the area searching for such things.

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Does the small boundary connection feel a bit bogus to you? It does to me. Technically it is correct although I wonder if perhaps our unknown searcher was confusing Missouri with the other 8-neighbor state? Tennessee also allows one to travel south into all of its neighbors, and more elegantly: Kentucky, Virginia; North Carolina; Georgia; Alabama; Mississippi; Arkansas and Missouri.

Come to think of it, I imagine one could pick just about any state and any cardinal direction and replicate this feat thanks to small surveying errors and corrections. It might be fun to try this trick with more challenging rules, such as one must be able to drive, not hike, fly or float.

Totally Unrelated

Just go ahead and close this page unless you enjoy immature potty humor.

Google Anal

Apologies in advance, but I couldn’t help notice the very unfortunate way my browser truncated the Google Analytics tab. This would have to be the worst, most invasive Google tool ever developed. I don’t want to know what the Search Overview of Google Anal would involve, however, I imagine the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may want to investigate it for airport check-in lines.

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