#4. A Terrifyingly Accurate Prediction by Edgar Allan Poe
In 1838, Edgar Allan Poe released a book called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, his only full novel. The book was a bomb, but his is where it gets weird. One scene in book visits a whaling ship lost at sea, taking with it all but four crewmen. Out of food, the men drew lots to see who would be eaten, the unfortunate decision landing on a young cabin boy named Richard Parker. Forty-six years later, there was an actual disaster at sea involving the Mignonette. It became famous due to the legal consequences of some gruesome events on board, specifically the way the men drew lots and decided to eat their cabin boy...who was named Richard Parker.
#3.Morgan Robertson Writes About the Titanic... 14 Years Early
A hundred years before James Cameron filed Titanic, American author Morgan Robertson wrote a Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, about the sinking of an "unsinkable" ocean liner. Where it Gets Weird: The Wreck of the Titan was published in 1898, 14 years before RMS Titanic was even finished being built. The similarities between Robertson's work and the Titanic disaster are so astounding that one has to imagine if White Star Line built Titanic to Robertson's specs as a dare. The Titan was described as "the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men," "equal to that of a first class hotel," and, of course, "unsinkable".
Both ships were British-owned steel vessels, both around 800 feet long and sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, in April, "around midnight." While the novel does bear some curious coincidences with the Titanic disaster, there are quite a few things that Robertson got flat wrong. For one, the Titanic did not crash into an iceberg "400 miles from Newfoundland" at 25 knots. It crashed into an iceberg 400 miles from Newfoundland at 22.5 knots.
#2. The Civil War Keeps Finding Wilmer McLean
When the American Civil War erupted in 1861, Wilmer McLean of Virginia was too old for battle. Unfortunately, he also happened to live smack dab on the road between Washington, DC and Richmond, VA, the respective capitals of the Union and Confederacy.
The first battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run, broke out on July 21, 1861 near Manassas, Virginia--McLean's hometown. Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard took McLean’s house to serve as his headquarters.
This immediately subjected the building to artillery fire, so McLean decided to move his family, however, he took so long to leave that when 1862 rolled around, a battle nearly twice as large and four times as bloody exploded just outside his front door again--the Second Battle of Bull Run. McLean finally sold and moved his family as far away as he could afford.
When McLean settled on a cottage in Clover Hill, Virginia, the town that later changed its name to Appomattox Court House. By 1865, Robert E. Lee's Army of North Virginia was chased by Grant all across Virginia to... Appomattox Court House, where on April 9, 1865, General Lee officially surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. The site for his surrender: the parlor of Wilmer McLean's new home.
Once the two armies left (and helped themselves to some furniture as souvenirs), the now-bankrupt McLean remarked: "The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor," which is probably the classiest way a man can handle the single most rotten luck in American history.
The first two aviators in both Ohioan and American history were Orville and Wilbur Wright, who successfully demonstrated the world's first airplane in 1903. Fifty-nine years later, another Ohioan, John Glenn, became the first American shot into orbit on February 20, 1962. Now, for the weird: the first man on the moon? Neil Armstrong, who was also from Ohio.
First in flight, orbit and the moon--Ohio, Ohio and Ohio. The state produced another 22 astronauts along the way—a state containing just 3% of American’s population so utterly dominates the frontiers of human flight.