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I’ll be at Glichcon this weekend

So Glichcon is this weekend in Springdale, and I’ll be in attendance.

My scheduled panels are:

1:00 Saturday – story storm

2:00 Saturday – dos and fonts of panting and plotting

But Glichcon tends to have a very open paneling system in that I’m allowed to sit in on any other panel I want.  So I plan to sit in on several more panels on Friday and Saturday. 

Plus, Yard Dog press will be there with books Saturday.  So if you are going to be at Clichcon this weekend, see you there! 

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

What’s Cookin’?

 

So I haven’t blogged about the dinner and a movie date night.  Mainly because I haven’t done anything as spectacular as the Beef Wellington James Bond date.  But for the sake of completion, I’ll talk a bit about the last couple of dates. 

In May Hubby and I watched Casablanca (Here’s Dining With You, Kid). We tried Moroccan food, including chicken tagine that was surprisingly bland, couscous and an out-of-this-world lemon cake.  Seriously! Hubby and I polished off the cake within 2 days! I won’t bother linking the dinner.  But you can find the lemon cake here

Then, Little Man had his second birthday, and I made a pigeon cake to go along with his birthday party, which was themed after the book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.” 


For June, Hubby and I watched Pirates of the Carribbean.  For our dinner, I made an old favorite: Bimini Bob’s Burgers. 

There’s a bit of backstory to this.  Last year Hubby and I and the progeny vacationed near Gulf Shores. For the most part, we cooked in our condo.  

Eating out is always a bit of a challenge for us.  If the food is only fair, you feel cheated because you know you can do better for less than what you spent on dining out. 

But we’d been out all day and cooking wouldn’t mean eating with any speed.  So we went to a restaraunt called Bimini Bob’s and had their specialty burger.  (Which is a beef patty seasoned with Carribbean Spice blend and topped with a pineapple and a slice of Swiss) and a side of sweet potato fries.

Not only was the food good, but it gave me a new food to try to make at home. 

Desert was so rich that Trump couldn’t afford it.  It was so rich, Scrooge McDuck swims around in it.  It was so rich, I couldn’t eat more than half a slice. 

I’m talking about a coconut Tres Leches cake. Now the recipe is cupcakes, but I made it as a bar cake, and it worked just fine. 


Yum! 

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

Despite what Alannis said, irony is not like rain on your wedding day.  But irony just might be all those guys on the internet who claim that women ruin everything. Especially when “everything” happens to be things that were invented or shaped by the rest of us cooties-having women. (Google “women ruin” to get an idea of what exactly “everything” encompasses.)

So with this in mind, here are a couple of thumbnail biographies of awesome women who invented or shaped some very cool things.

1.Mary Shelly – Mary Shelly and her social circle, which included her husband Percy, Dr. Polderi (inventor of the tragic sexy vampire archetype) and Lord Byron (model for the tragic sexy vampire archetype) were vacationing near Lake Geneva during the “year without summer.”  To stave off boredom (which presumably came from being stuck inside due to the whole lack of summer) the group held a storytelling contest.  Mary’s story – Frankenstein– became the first science fiction story.  Making her the mother of all science fiction. And speaking of lord Byron …

Not Felicity Smoak.

2.Ada Lovelace – Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron) was the only acknowledged daughter of Lord Byron(his other unacknowledged kids included a daughter with Mary Shelly’s sister, and possibly another daughter with his own sister.)   Ada’s mother was so afraid that little Ada would turn out like dear old daddy that mommy dearest made sure Ada studied math to squelch the “Byron demon.”  Ada later met and befriended Charles Babbage (famous inventor of the first computer) at a party. While collaborating with Babbage, she wrote the first computer program. And while we’re on the subject of computers …

3.Grace Hopper – Grace Brewster Murray Hopper already had a PH.D. In Mathematics when the United Stares Navy opened up to women for positions other than nursing or paper pushing in WWII.  Grace volunteered for the WAVES, and became a programmer for the MARK I computer.  When you write computer code, you can thank Grace Hopper – who influenced the development of computer programming into languages rather than 1 and 0 code to make programming easier.  When you debug your software, you can also thank Grace, who removed a moth from the inside of a Mark II. She tried to retire twice, but the Navy just kept calling her back into service.  By the time she finally retired at age 80, she’d been promoted to admiral and was the oldest active duty commissioned officer.  The people whom she was a hero to nicknamed her “Amazing Grace.”  And speaking of heroes …

Wayne, Bruice Wa . . .it! Wrong story.

4.Emma Orczy – while super hero comics started with Superman, heroes like Batman drew on established fictional characters like The Scarlett Pimpernel, a swashbuckling vigilante who wore a mask to protect his secret identity and acted like a foppish coward to throw suspicion off of himself.  His creator, Baroness Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála “Emmuska” Orczy de Orci, possibly drew from her own childhood in creating Pimpernel.  Orczy lost her childhood home and had to flee Hungary during an uprising.  Possibly she envisioned The Scarlet Pimpernel as the type of hero who might have defended her family during her childhood. Orczy also created the first fictional female detective in an earlier story. And speaking of entertainment …

5.Hedy Lamar – actress Hedy Lamar is better known as an exotic temptress in movies such as Sampson and Delilah, but the Austrian-born actress was also a prolific inventor.  Some of Lamar’s inventions include a tablet similar to Alka-Seltzer, an improved traffic light and technology that today’s Wifi networks still use.  So next time you pair your phone with your Bluetooth, thank Hedy Lamar.

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

This is the last of my series of rescued Firefox News articles. As I’m posting these more than a month ago, this is past self Hoping future me will have gotten off my can and written something else for next week. 

— Tracy 

The RMS Queen Mary

She’s a war hero and a celebrity. She’s been the subject of books and the star of both TV and movies. Some people say that she’s a haunted lady. 

She’s also a boat. 

The Queen Mary, which is now a floating hotel in Long Beach, California, is considered the most haunted structure in America. But how did she get that way?
In 1930, The Cunard shipping company began construction on the RMS Queen Mary as part of a ship building race with Germany’s Norddeutsche Loyd line. However, construction was halted due to the Great Depression.
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Cunard applied for a loan from the British government to finish the ship. They were granted one that would not only finance building the Queen Mary, but also her sister ship the RMS Queen Elizabeth. The condition for the loan was that Cunard would merge with the White Star Line, the company famous for building the RMS Titanic. Once the two companies merged, they completed work on the ship, and it was launched in 1934.

In 1936 the Queen Mary beat out a rival ship, the Normandie, to hold the record for speed in Transatlantic crossing. It briefly lost the record back to Normandie in 1937, but reclaimed it and held it from 1938 to 1952.

In the pre-World War II era, when air travel had yet to establish dominance, speedy travel by large, elegant steam ships was the most practical way to cross from Europe to the Americas. Passengers who could afford to travel in luxury would pay for the comforts that the finest ships could offer. In this distinction, The Queen Mary did not disappoint. First Class passengers could enjoy an indoor swimming pool, salon, ship’s library, children’s nursery, first class dining.

The ship’s grandeur attracted noted passengers, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo and Clark Gable.

All of this changed during World War II. During this time, Allied commanders pressed the ship into service as a troop transport ship. The ship’s speed would allow her to outrace German submarines. She was given a coat of grey paint to better camouflage her. This, along with her elusiveness during wartime, caused her to earn the nickname The Grey Ghost.

In addition to the paint, she was refitted inside to carry significantly more troops. The pools were drained and standee bunks were installed. Troops slept in shifts.

Her use as a troop transport was so integral to the Allied war effort, that Hitler offered a $250,000 reward and Germany’s highest military honor to any captain who could sink the vessel.

During this time, two notable incidents occurred. On October 2, 1942, the ship accidentally sank one of its escort cruisers, the HMS Curacoa.

While traveling, the ships traveled in zig zag patterns for safety. The Curacoa passed in front of the Queen Mary and was struck mid-ship. The Queen Mary cut the Curacoa in two. Due to orders, the transport ship couldn’t even stop to lend assistance. Other ships in the convoy were able to rescue survivors, but the accident resulted in 338 casualties.
The Queen Mary’s bow was crumpled from the incident..

The second incident occurred in December of the same year. The ship was transporting 16,082 American GI’s from New York to Great Britian when it was struck broadside by a rogue wave. The ship tilted dangerously, and nearly capsized. The incident inspired the book and movie The Poseidon Adventure. The ship also served as the backdrop for the movie.

After World War II, the ship was briefly used to transport European war brides and their children to their GI husbands in North America. Then it was refitted, and once again became a Transatlantic passenger vessel. It served the Cunard line from 1947 to 1967, when Cunard sold her to the city of Long Beach to finance the construction of the Queen Elizabeth 2.

Once the city of Long Beach began to convert the ship into a hotel and floating museum, reports began to circulate of ghostly inhabitants.

The RMS Queen Mary Today

In the past 60 years, the ship has had at least 49 reported deaths on board. Official statistics vary, but the Queen Mary is said to be haunted by at least 130 known spirits. These include the ghosts of passengers, crew, and soldiers.

Some of the more famous haunted areas include the first and second class swimming pools, where sightings of ghostly women in 1930’s era bathing costumes, splashes, and wet footprints have been reported.

In the second class poolroom in particular, the ghost of a child named Jackie, who is said to have drowned during a transatlantic crossing, has been spotted.

The changing rooms off the first class swimming pool is another haunted area. There seems to be a vortex of negative energy, or so several psychics have claimed. .

Other children have been spotted in the third class playroom, where it is said that if you listen closely, you can hear the sounds of disembodied crying.

One particularly haunted area is the ship’s engine room. There, Door Number 13 is the site of an unlucky accident, where a crewman was crushed to death during a routine drill. Since then, many have reported seeing the ghost of a workman in coveralls walk toward Door 13, and then vanish.

Additionally, the cargo hold is said to be haunted in the vicinity of the area that was damaged when the ship struck the Curacoa.

The ship’s officials have capitalized on the ship’s notorious haunting by offering ghost tours of every stripe. While some are straightforward, others offer dramatizations of the hauntings to make the tours seem more eerie to patrons. In addition, a haunted maze is hosted on the ship. During Halloween, the attraction is greatly expanded.

 

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

Cover_art.jpgMy short story, The Hobos, The Devil and James Dean’s Car is featured over at the pulp magazine Crimson Streets. You can read it here.

In honor of the publication, I’m podcasting an abridged version of the article that inspired the story.  If you’d like to read the longer article, you can do so here.

Or if you only have 5 minutes to spare, you can listen now.

 

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

This is the next of my series of rescued Firefox News articles.

— Tracy

 

Not these teens.


Imagine going for a walk and finding a mystery that would endure for over two centuries. According to legend, this is what happened to teenager Daniel McGinnis in 1795. What would follow would be a 200 year long odyssey for buried treasure that would make The Goonies look sophisticated.
 
 
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Along the way, the Money Pit would earn its name as investors (including Franklin Roosevelt) sank dollar after dollar into the deepening hole that constituted the search that would claim six lives. 

But long before all that, there was only Oak Island, fear of unexplained spook lights and the whispers of pirate gold.

Oak Island is a 140 acre island off the coast of Nova Scotia in Mahone Bay. The island itself is one of hundreds that lace the bay. And while in the eighteenth century most of them were sparsely vegetated with seagrass, oats and wildflowers, Oak Island was different. The island was studded with live oaks, trees more common to the humid delta regions of the Southern United States than to the colder climate of Nova Scotia. 

At the time of Daniel McGinnis’ walk, it was taken for granted that the island had been favored by Captain William Kidd because of its well protected bay and the natural harbor on the ocean side, which allowed his ship to come and go completely undetected from the mainland. 

It was said that Kidd and his crew had chosen Oak Island becasue of its distinctive vegetation. And since it was further north than his usual haunts, Kidd was relatively safe from pursuit there. Legend held that in 1720, large bonfires were spotted on Oak Island. Several fishermen who rowed over to investigate vanished without a trace. For decades afterward, locals stayed away from Oak Island, fearing the spook lights that had caused the fishermen to vanish. 

All this was on Daniel McGinnis’s mind on the April day when he rowed out to Oak Island in search of pirate souvenirs. His hope was to find a knife or maybe a gold coin or two. Something he could sell for a little pocket change. He soon found evidence that the island had been inhabited, although not recently. His findings pushed him to look inland. Before long, Daniel found an old oak tree with a block and tackle hanging by a piece of rotting rope from the lowest branch. The pulley system hung over a circular depression that was filled with loose soil, as if something had been buried there. 

McGinnis returned the next day with two friends: John Smith and Anthony Vaughn. The three boys explored the island. On the southern shore they found a boulder with an iron ring embedded into it that would have been the perfect place to anchor a ship. As they further explored, they found an overgrown road that ran the length of the island and led to the clearing with the strange depression. 

Once there, they further explored the tree. It looked as if something heavy had been hoisted from the tree into the depression. The wood where the pulley hung was deeply scarred. 

Encouraged, the boys began to excavate the depression, reasoning that they would find a pirate’s treasure and be home by nightfall

The first try.

However, they quickly found that their plans were not meant to be. Two feet down they came across a layer of flagstones that covered the Pit. They pried these up, and continued the excavation. 

At ten feet down they came to a layer of oak logs that spanned the Pit. The logs were rotten, and had been caulked with ship’s putty. Subsequent carbon dating would place the logs to 1575, the era of Spanish Conquest. 

 

The boys pried these up and continued to dig. At both twenty and thirty feet down they found more layers of logs. By now, they had spent several days excavating the shaft. At this point, the boys were unable to continue. They went home with the intention of someday returning to continue their excavation. 

 

I bet this is what they were hoping for.

It took them nearly eight years, but the boys, now men decided to let a wealthy friend in on their story. The friend, Simeon Lynds, formed a company for the purpose of digging up the treasure. He called it the Onslow company, found a few investors and raised the capitol for another excavation. In 1803 workman once again began to dig down the shaft. 

The second try.

At the thirty five foot mark, workmen uncovered a layer of coconut fiber, presumably transported from the west Indies, some two thousand miles away. 

The workmen again uncovered a platform of logs every ten feet until they reached the ninety foot mark. Each level was sealed with something different. Some layers with coconut fiber, some with ships putty, some with coal. 

At ninety feet, they broke through a layer of brick-hard putty and encountered an inscribed stone. The inscriptions were in a type of hieroglyphics that no one had ever seen, on a stone unlike anything that existed in Nova Scotia. 

Unsure what it meant, John Smith took the stone home and built it into his fireplace. He was careful to face it outward so that the inscription could be seen – on the off chance that someone might decipher it someday. 

At ninety eight feet, the workmen heard the sound of a large, hollow vault. Encouraged that they were near the end, the workmen decided to knock off for the night. It was late on a Saturday, and since no one would work on the Sabbath, it would be Monday before anyone returned to the excavation. 

But the treasure was not meant to be. On Monday the workmen returned to the shaft – only to discover that the Pit had filled with water back up to the level of 30 feet. Workmen tried to bail the shaft – first with buckets and then with a pump. But the water level remained the same. In defeat, they halted the excavation. 

Two years later, in 1805, McGinnis, Smith and Lynds tried again. They dug a Pit running parallel, but ten feet deeper. The hope was that if the Money Pit had struck a natural spring, thaen they would bypass it and dig up underneath the treasure to retrieve it. 

Unfortunately, the workmen made a fatal error and dug the second shaft too close to the first one. When the group tried to tunnel over to the first shaft, the pressure of the water collapsed the wall between the two. Three men were drowned and the new shaft filled with water to the same level as the Money Pit. By now the treasure seemed further away than ever. In disgust, the group gave up.

The booby (trap) prize.

As it turned out, the Onslow Company had triggered a sophisticated booby trap laid out by the Pit’s original designers. As they excavated the shaft, they inadvertently unplugged a 500 foot waterway that had been dug from the Pit to nearby Smith’s cove by the shaft’s designers. Part of the reason that the pumps would not pump the water out was that as quickly as the water was removed, it was refilled by the sea. 

Eventually excavators would discover a very complex system of channels created by the Pit’s designers to keep diggers away from the secret of the shaft. But none of this was known to the treasure hunters in 1805. 

The third try. 

A half-century later, a new group of treasure hunters made a try at the Money Pit. Calling themselves the Truro company, the group was formed by Dr. David Lynds, a relative of Simeon Lynds, and Anthony Vaughn, the youngest of the original three teens who had started the search for the Money Pit. By now, McGinnis had died and Smith chose not to be part of the new venture. 

By now both shafts had collapsed, and the company had to start again. They dug a new shaft in the spot where the original shaft had been. At a depth of eighty six feet, things appeared dry, and the group was convinced that they had avoided their predecessors’ misfortunes. 

As had happened before, on Sunday the group stopped working to attend church. By two o’clock that afternoon, when workmen returned to the shaft, they found it filled with water to a depth of thirty feet. Once again, attempts to bail out the Pit proved futile. 

However they were undaunted. Since they were unable to dig their way to the treasure, they decided that they would drill down and find out if there was actually something there. 

The results of the core sample were as follows: At 98 feet the drill went through a spruce platform. The it encountered four inches of oak and then 22 inches of “metal in pieces.” Next 8 inches of oak, another 22 inches of metal, four inches of oak and another later of spruce. 

The Truro company concluded that the oak/metal/oak sample was from two treasure casks filled with coins. When they brought the core sample up, there were three links from what looked to be a fine gold watch chain in the sample.

This was all the proof the Truro company needed to continue their search. The following spring they attempted to sink a parallel shaft into the earth just as the Onslow company had. Predictably, this shaft also flooded. At this point, the workmen noticed that the water filling the shaft was sea water, which rose and fell with the tides. In a belated moment in which all persons involved were probably smacking their foreheads into the palms of their hands, most everyone realized that the shafts of the Money Pit always flooded to a depth of thirty feet: Sea level. 

Around the same time, the workmen also noticed that at low tide, there was water flowing out of the beach. Which led to a shocking discovery: The beach was artificial. 

The shocking discovery.

 

If a pirate did hide something here, his ghost is probably going HAHAHAHA!

What the Truro company discovered was a diabolically clever plan worthy of One-Eyed Willie.

 

Whomever had created the Money Pit had also devised a way to forever safeguard the treasure. A drainage system, consisting of five channels that spread like the fingers of a hand from the Money Pit to the sea. Each channel was filled with a filtering system of coconut fiber, rocks and eel grass to keep silt and salt out while still allowing water to flow into the Pit.

 

Armed with this information, the Truro company reasoned that the answer was simple: block off the sea, pump out the Pit and dig down to the treasure.

To do this, the company planned to build a dam around the beach at Smith’s cove.

Amazingly, when workers began construction, they found the remains of an older dam. One that possibly had been built to hold out the sea water while the channels were being built in the island.

Construction on the dam was nearly complete when a storm knocked it down.

Plan B was to block off the channels. However the company failed to find them after sinking numerous shafts inland. Discouraged and disheartened, the company gave up.

The bottom drops out. 

The next attempt to retrieve the treasure was made by the Oak Island association in 1861. First they cleared the Money Pit down to a depth of 88 feet. Then they sank a second shaft to the east of the Pit in the hopes of intercepting the channel that filled the Pit with sea water. The new shaft was dug to a depth of 120 feet without encountering the channel and then abandoned. A third shaft was dug to the west of the Money Pit down to a depth of 188 feet. Then they attempted to dig over to the Money Pit. 

Again, water began to flow in – both to the west Pit, and the Money Pit. Attempts at bailing out the water seemed to be working – when suddenly water rushed into the shafts and the bottom of the Money Pit dropped by fifteen feet. The Oak Island Association was left scratching their heads and wondering why. 

One theory put forth was that there was a chamber below the Money Pit. Years of drilling, floods, excavation and more floods weakened the chamber leading to it’s eventual collapse. Another theory was that the Money Pit collapsed into the western shaft – scattering the goodies at the bottom of the Pit into both shafts. 

Over the next few years, various groups tried unsuccessfully to excavate the Money Pit. One man was killed when a steam pump exploded from the strain of pumping water from the shaft. By this point, approximately 37 holes had been dug into the area surrounding the Money Pit. Since few – if any – records were kept by the various treasure hunters excavating the Pit, many treasure hunters were left combing over previously hunted ground. 

In 1866 the place where the channel met the Money Pit shaft was discovered – but by then it was too late to plug the hole. So many boreholes and shafts had been dug around the Pit that the water would divert into the honeycombed area and seep into the Pit through a dozen different directions. At one point dynamite had been used in an attempt to close the channel. 

A second find in 1866 further fueled the spirit of discovery. A language professor in Halifax translated the inscription stone that sat in John Smith’s fireplace. According to him, the inscription read: Forty feet below, two million pounds are buried. 

What lies beneath. 

In 1893, Frederick Blair formed a new search party, the Oak Island Treasure Company. The group was able to dig down to 111 feet – where they briefly found the mouth of the channel — temporarily blocked with Rocks. The water eventually worked its way through the rocks, but not before Blair’s company was able to take another core sample. 

At 126 feet, wood was struck and then iron. This was probably part of the material that fell during the crash of the Pit. On previous drillings, the wood was encountered at 122 feet and the iron was missed completely, Which may have indicated that the material was lying in a haphazard way due to the previous collapse 

At 130 and then again at 160 feet, more layers of the putty were found similar to those discovered by McGinnis, Smith and Vaughn. 

In the gap between these layers, a cement vault was discovered. The vault itself is 7 feet high with 7 inch thick walls. Inside the vault, the drill first struck wood, then a void several inches high and an unknown substance. Next a layer of soft metal was reached, then almost three feet of metal pieces, then more soft metal. 

When the drill was brought back up, a piece of velum was stuck to the auger. The fragment had a set of letters written on it in India Ink. The letters spell out either “vi,” “ui” or “wi.”

A second tunnel. 

Blair became more convinced than ever that treasure was within his grasp. The Oak Island Treasure Company began sinking more shafts around the Money Pit. However all of them were unsuccessful due to flooding. Suspicious that there might be a second flood tunnel, the workmen dropped red dye into the Pit. Then watched the beach to see where it would come out. To their amazement, the dye came out on both sides of the island. There was indeed a second tunnel. 

By the turn of the century, the Pit had yet to yield up its treasure. The original site was a quagmire, and the oak tree that had once pointed the way was long gone. Five men had lost their lives in pursuit of the treasure. But this did nothing to stop the interest in Oak Island and the Money Pit. 

A link to Kidd? Maybe. 

In 1936 a retired wealthy businessman named Gilbert Heddon was the next to make a serious attempt at the treasure. Heddon thought that if the second tunnel was blocked off, the quagmire would eventually dry out and the island would be safe to excavate again. 

Heddon researched pirate lore to try and find the floodgate. During this attempt, he stumbled over a pirate map that he believed to belong to Captain Kidd. The map, he believed, pointed to the Money Pit as the location of a cache of Kidd’s gold. But ultimately, the map turned out to be a fake. 

 

Tragedy strikes. Again.

In 1959, Robert Restall , a former circus performer, moved to Oak Island with his wife, Mildred and their two sons, Bobby and Rich. This was to prove a fatal choice on their part. In 1965 Restall was working in a twenty seven foot shaft, when he passed out from inhaling carbon monoxide that had collected there. 

Seeing his father fall, Bobby rushed to his aid. He too, succumbed to the gas. Two other workman also failed to realize what was happening and met their untimely demise in the shaft. 

Soon after the Restall tragedy, Bob Dunfield brought in heavy machinery to deal with the island. He first tried heavy bulldozers and cranes to block the inflow of water from the north channel. Then he attempted to do the same with the south. Although he failed to find the southern channel, he did discover an additional channel. One that seemingly went nowhere. 

Dunfield theorized that the island contained a large, natural underground cavern. 

After 1970, the rights to search the Money Pit have were held by Daniel Blankenship and Triton Alliance. Following up on Dunfield’s theory that there was a natural cavern under the island, Triton made several boreholes in search for the underground cavern.

In one attempt, now known as borehole 10X, a probable underground cavern was found. An underwater camera was lowered into the hole. The camera photographed what may be chests filled with treasure, as well as human remains. 

An attempt was made to send divers into the underground cavern, but poor visibility and strong current made the attempt impossible. Since that time the hole had closed up and the Triton partnership has collapsed.

Despite this, Blankenship and the group who now owned the other half of the interests to Oak Island Tours received the proper legal documents to once again search for the treasure. New excavations have begun in 2008. 

The theories. 

Skeptics who doubt the existence of the treasure have pointed out that all of the information listed above is merely the popular legend. In the way of facts, much of it is unverifiable due to a lack of physical evidence, contemporary accounts or primary sources. 

Many elements of the story, they point out, are drawn from romanticized stories of pirate gold: from the cypher stone, to the tantalizing but inconclusive clues. Further, new elements seem to be added to the story any time there is a renewed interest in buried treasure. Many of them designed to draw in investors. 

In 1995, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute undertook a two week survey of the island. Their findings indicated that the drainage system that exists on the island is natural, not man made. They viewed the footage taken in borehole 10X and found it to be inconclusive. 

Despite this, there is no end to the belief in the buried treasure, or the theories as to what might be hidden at the bottom of the money pit. 

Theories have ranged from the pirate hordes of Captain Kidd and Blackbeard to the missing crown jewels of France, to the Holy Grail, to the treasure of Rome brought to these shores by the Visgoths, to the secret treasures of the Knights Templar and the Freemasons. Only slightly more credible is the theory that the treasure is the missing back pay for British soldiers, hidden from American Revolutionaries in Nova Scotia.

Today, the island hosts tourism events, even as Oak Island Tours continue searching for the treasure. However, it’s doubtful that any gold found would ever equal the vast amount of money and resources that have been thrown into the Money Pit. 

 

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

Another Firefox News article.  This hotel was the basis for the hotel I used in Bride of Tranquility.

— Tracy

There are a lot of places that claim to be the most haunted in America, but only the Crescent hotel has the pedigree to back up that claim. The building has been a Victorian-era resort, a private school, a sanatorium straight out of a horror movie, a women’s college and more recently, a movie star thanks to numerous documentaries including an episode of Ghost Hunters. 

The Crescent Hotel looks like the perfect setting for a ghost story. It’s a five story Victorian Gothic with balconies, thick stone walls and overhangs. It sits high on a mountain overlooking Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In this climate, it’s a small wonder that rumors of hauntings date back to the very moment it opened. 
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In the early 1880’s when the hotel was constructed, the Ozark Mountains were experiencing a tourist boom. At the time, it was believed that the spring waters, so abundant to the region, had curative powers. The legacy of that belief still exists in the names of towns like Eureka Springs and Siloam Springs. 

The hotel earned its first ghost during construction, when Michael, an Irish stonemason working on the hotel, fell from the roof and landed in the second floor area. The place where he landed, now room 218, is said to be the most haunted room in the building. 

The hotel was an instant success from the time that it opened, drawing tourists from across the nation to enjoy the beauty of the Ozarks and imbibe the supposedly healing properties of the spring waters. However, interest in the area as a vacation destination died off once people realized that the waters had no curative properties. 

Over the next few years the hotel began a gradual slide into disrepair before being turned into a a girls school and then a women’s college. It was during this time that rumors of hauntings multiplied. Usually the ghosts were attached to stories of wayward girls and lovelorn young women who had either hung themselves or thrown themselves from the balconies in a fit of depression. 

But the real horror was yet to come. 

In 1937, Norman Baker leased the building with the intention of turning it into a health resort. Baker was a charismatic man who thought of himself as a medical expert. Through a nationally-broadcast radio show, Baker claimed to have discovered the cure for a laundry list of ailments, including cancer. 

This would be the second health resort that Baker ran. The first, in Muscatine, Iowa, was closed down by the authorities. Undaunted, Baker moved his patients to his new resort in Eureka Springs and advertised his resort with the claim that he had saved patients lives without using X-rays or operations. 

The patients who went to Baker for help found only disappointment and death.

And while records show that no one died due to Baker’s treatments (which mostly consisted of spring water and ground watermelon seeds) their suffering was drawn out while they submitted to Baker’s treatments rather than seeking true medical care. 

 

Eventually, Baker was arrested on charges of mail fraud. And while authorities believe he was nothing more than a quack and a con man, locals tell a different story. 

Baker, they say, liked to experiment on his patients – both living and dead. One of his more gruesome treatments – according to rumor – was to peel back the patient’s scalp and pour his curative directly into the patient’s brain. According to legend, dozens of patients died from this treatment. 

Supposedly, when the hotel was later renovated, workmen found skeletons hidden within the walls. To this day, local legends say that there are preserved body parts – hidden so well that even the hotel’s current owners haven’t been able to find them. 

After renovations, when the hotel was opened to tourists, thestaff received frequent reports of ghostly activity.. Hotel guests, particularly guests in room 218, report being shaken awake at night. Others have seen a silent man, dressed in Victorian clothing, sitting forlornly in the bar area. 

The hotel once had an antique switchboard in the basement, but it was disconnected after it had been left off the hook by an unknown prankster one too many times. Locking the basement doors didn’t seem to help. Although the staff thought they had fooled a human jokester, the switchboard continued to signal to the front desk that it had been left off the hook. 

Even more troublesome, the staff members who went to reset the switchboard reported feeling that they were not alone in the basement. Some refused to go down to reset the switchboard again.Eventually the hotel simply removed it. 

Other ghosts frequently seen by guests include Dr. Baker, who has been seen in the first floor stairway and one of his nurses who wanders the third floor hallway pushing a gurney. Some guests report being shaken awake at night, or hearing the sounds of unseen children. 

In room 419, guests and housekeepers alike have reported seeing a woman who introduces herself as a cancer patient before vanishing. 

What makes the hotel such a hotbed of spectral activity? Some say that the high energy contained in the mineral waters of the underground spring that runs beneath the hotel attracts the ghosts. Others say that the stories were cooked up to draw in tourists and revive interest in the old hotel.

Whichever you believe, the ghosts have put the hotel on the national radar, thanks to documentaries and shows like Ghost Hunters. 

 

The hotel offers ghost tours nightly, seven days a week. And hotel guests and visitors are welcome to wander the halls and decide for themselves

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

Cover art

Cover art for my short story, drawn by Cesar Valtierra

My short story, The Hobos, The Devil and James Dean’s Car has been published in the pulp magazine Crimson Streets.  You can read it here. I got the idea for the story after I wrote an article about James Dean’s cursed car, (which you can read here). 

 

In other news, I’ll be at Soonercon on Friday and Sunday (but sadly, not Saturday), Celebrating Yard Dog Press’s 20th anniversary.  

My schedule is as follows:

Friday

Getting into comics (where to jump in as a new reader) – 2:00 pm 

Worst book ever – 3:00 p.m.

Yard Dog Roadshow 8:00 p.m.

 

Sunday

Koffee Klatch – 10:00 a.m.

Autographs – noon

Reading – 2:00 p.m.

The future of the force 3:00 p.m.

 

 

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

That Dress Is To Die For!

During the Industrial Revolution, nearly everything could kill you.  You could catch the flu from your big, drafty manor house, catch illness from your unpasteurized milk, or poison yourself wearing an arsenic green silk dress.

In this, my latest attempt at podcasting, I discuss the dangers of living during the industrial revolution and how even Napoleon might have been killed by the poison lurking in his very walls.

It’s less than 7 minutes long.  Give it a try!

My research for this Podcast:

Emerald Green or Paris Green The Deadly Regency Paint

Pigments Through The Ages: Emerald Green

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Deadly Victorian Fashions

The Strange Story Of Napoleon’s Wallpaper

 

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

Another oldie from Firefox News.  I’m not sure how relevant this one is anymore. But it was fun to write. 

–Tracy


The cheeriest entrance to hell on the planet.

Let’s say for the sake of argument, Satan got married. (Personally, I always thought of Old Scratch as a harem-type of guy, but I suppose it could happen.) 

And let’s also say that The Darkness family (as in Prince Of) had a child. But unlike his more famous half-brother, The Jersey Devil, little Lucifer Jr. and mom didn’t survive the delivery. 

The question is, where would The Devil bury his family? (Assuming he cared.) According to several generations of Kansas University college students, that place would be Stull cemetery.

There aren’t many places on the planet as controversial as Stull Cemetery. To local residents, it has always been a quiet local graveyard, where several generations of Stull residents rest in peace. But to area college students, the legends tell a different story. 

The story starts either 100 years ago, or in the mid-70’s depending on who you ask. 

In November of 1974, an article appeared in the University of Kansas student newspaper describing the strange events that supposedly occurred in the now-notorious cemetery. According to the story, the cemetery in Stull Kansas was one of the seven gateways to hell. (The other six were located in Oklahoma. Go figure.) And that twice a year, on Halloween and the Spring Equinox, the Devil comes to visit the cemetery (along with some place in India).

Though the article didn’t list any definitive source, it said that the story “went back at least 100 years,” and that local students “knew of the story from their grandparents.” The article went on to say that students who visited the cemetery experienced memory loss, missing time, were grabbed by unseen hands, or had been menaced by a werewolf (Satan’s little ankle-biter in the literal sense).

Residents of Stull were quick to denounce the story (you would be too, if someone told you your dearly-departed granny was a Devil-worshiper). But the tale took on a life of its own. Over the years, the graveyard has received as many as 500 visitors at a time. Like the Devil’s paparazzi, they wrecked havoc on the old cemetery.

Over the years, some of the stories attached to the cemetery have included:

  • The original name of the town was Skull. It was later changed to Stull to hide its black magic roots.

    (In actuality, the town’s original name was Deer Creek Community. It was changed in 1899 by the town’s postmaster, Sylvester Stull. )

  • The town became cursed when in 1850, a stable hand murdered the town’s mayor in an old stone barn located in the cemetery. (Deer Creek was a mayor-less community in 1850 )

  • A stairway to hell was located in the old stone church inside the cemetery. Despite the fact that the roof had long since fallen-in, no rain would fall inside the church. A cross hanging on one wall would turn upside down anytime someone looked inside. (all untrue.)

  • On a visit to Colorado, Pope John Paul II ordered his plane to fly around eastern Kansas so that he wouldn’t fly over the “unholy ground” of Stull. (also untrue).

  • Stull was the reason that the rock band The Cure would not play in Kansas City.

  • Hangnails? Blame Stull.

  • Rumor has it that in Stull, Chuck Norris sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Chuck beat the devil up and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn’t stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.

Over the years, much has been done to discourage unholy rubberneckers. A fence has been installed around the property with prominent no tresspassing signs, and the slowly-collapsing church has been demolished. 

Almost in response to this, a new story has cropped up. Legends now say, that it’s not that Stull cemetery that the devil visits. All along it’s been the other Stull cemetery. 

The one question no one seems to be asking in all of this is why? Assuming (as we already have) that the Devil comes to Stull twice a year to visit the graves of his wife and child. Presumably, Mrs. Lucifer and little Luci Jr. would go to hell upon death, where the Prince of Darkness reigns supreme. So if they’re in hell with him, why visit their graves at all? 

Maybe he just wants a vacation.

Originally published at Tracy S. Morris. You can comment here or there.

About Me

I'm the author of the Tranquility series, which is a series of urban, rural, urban fantasy mysteries that aren't really urban.

Think Green Acres meet The Hardy Boys, Jeff Foxworthy meets The X-Files or Eureka meets The Beverly Hillbillies.

The latest in the series, Bride of Tranquility is a murder mystery set in a haunted hotel during a Renaissance wedding.

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