This Week in History – Machu Picchu Discovered

This week in 1911, Hiram Bingham discovered the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. “Discovered” is, in this case, a bit inaccurate; those living in the region already knew about the ruins nestled in the dizzying mountain heights. It was one of these locals who pointed Bingham in the right direction and spoke the name by which the settlement is known.

Lost City FoundLost City Found Sun, Jun 22, 1913 – Page 41 · Daily Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas) ·

Machu Picchu DiscoveredMachu Picchu Discovered Fri, Dec 22, 1911 – Page 6 · The Daily Notes (Canonsburg, Pennsylvania) ·

Bingham's expeditionBingham’s expedition Fri, Dec 22, 1911 – Page 2 · The New York Times (New York, New York) ·

Bingham’s explorations and excavations of the city, and the subsequent publicity, brought it into headlines across the world. Its stony remains and the thousands of steps one must climb to reach them have since become one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions.

Try a search on for more on Bingham and Machu Picchu.

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Beyond Shark Attacks: 3 Unusual But True Shark Stories

Take a break from the typical shark attack stories with these 3 unusual—but true—shark encounters!

Sailor Says Shark Saved His Life
When a seaman is forced to jump from a sinking ship into shark-infested waters during World War II, you don’t normally expect his story to end with a shark saving his life. But that’s what happened to Charley Matthews.

After a series of explosions sank his ship, 17-year-old Matthews hit the water only to hear others shouting “Sharks! Sharks!” He was about a block-and-a-half’s distance from a lifeboat, which he managed to reach despite torn ligaments in his knee. But when he reached the lifeboat, it was already overcrowded, and the man in command refused to let him on. That’s when Matthews noticed a shark approaching him.

But before the shark could reach him, a bigger shark blocked it. Matthews gave up hope, believing that the big shark would attack him itself, but instead he felt hands dragging him into the lifeboat. The big shark that had unintentionally saved him (which Matthews named Wilbur) and other sharks followed the lifeboat until the men were rescued 5 days later.

Shark Eats the Evidence
Important evidence for a trial can be found in all manner of unexpected places, including the belly of a shark.

It was 1915, relatively early in World War I, and officials of the Hamburg-American Steamship Line were set to go on trial in the United States for violating American neutrality laws.

Important to the government’s case were the ships’ clearance papers, but there was a problem. When one of the Hamburg-American ships had put in to port in Brazil, the captain dropped the papers overboard in a waterproof bag and then claimed they were lost.

But luckily for the U.S. government, a shark happened to eat the papers when they were tossed overboard. Then that same shark was later caught by the crew of a Brazilian warship, who, when they opened up the shark, discovered the papers in its stomach. This chain of events might sound a little too convenient, but nevertheless, there was a government witness prepared to testify to it under oath at the trial.

Bitten by a Dead Shark
You might think that if a shark is dead, it no longer poses a danger, but in 1950 23-year-old Lola Allison of Australia learned differently.

The daughter of the proprietor of a “man-eating sharks” sideshow, Lola was trying to pry open the jaws of a 7-foot nurse shark when the stick she was using snapped. The shark’s jaws clamped down, and she suffered deep puncture wounds to her right hand.

Similarly—and also in Australia—9-year-old Leonard Balmer was taking a shark’s jaw to school in 1961, when he slipped, and the shark’s teeth gashed him on the leg.

And lest you think these things only happen in Australia, in Florida in 1935, a county commissioner was prying open the jaws of a dead shark for a photograph, when the jaws snapped shut and caught the man’s finger.

Find these shark stories and others by searching on And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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Find Gold in Montana’s Historic Newspaper Archives!

Montana’s nickname is the “Treasure State.” You can join the treasure hunt by exploring our updated archives for newspapers in Montana! We’ve added issues from The Billings Gazette; The Montana Standard in Butte; The Independent Record in Helena; and The Missoulian.

Butte Mine Disaster 1917
Our archives date back to 1874, two years before the Battle of the Little Bighorn between Native Americans and George Armstrong Custer, and 15 years before Montana achieved statehood!

After parts of Montana were acquired through the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson sent the expedition of Lewis and Clark to survey the land. Clark left his name chiseled on a rock about 25 miles outside of Billings.

The Billings Gazette: The first edition of The Billings Gazette in 1885 almost didn’t happen. A fire roared through the building destroying the press. After salvaging the pieces, the first editorial lobbied for the creation of a fire department. Billings earned the nickname “Magic City” after the Northern Pacific Railway came to town in 1882 and the city experienced rapid growth. Within months, nearly two thousand buildings were erected. The paper recorded the worst train wreck in Montana history when a 1938 flash flood roared through a creek bed weakening a trestle bridge. A train crashed through the bridge sending rail cars plunging into the water below.

The Montana Standard: We have issues dating from 1928. Read how Butte got its start with the discovery of gold, silver and copper. The city earned the nickname “The Richest Hill on Earth,” after billions worth of metals were mined at the Anaconda and other mines. A tragic 1917 mining disaster resulted in the loss of at least 166 lives when a carbide lamp ignited a blaze that spread throughout the shafts trapping miners.

The Independent Record: With issues dating back to 1874, early editorials were sympathetic to the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. (known as “The Company.”) The Company owned The Independent Record in the 1920s. In 1959, Lee Enterprises purchased the paper allowing an independent and open community forum.

Early Helena prospectors struck gold in 1864, in a creek they named Last Chance Gulch. Helena became the territorial capital of Montana. In 1894, the paper lobbied for Helena to become the state capital. Helena was a gold camp that would grow up to become a permanent thriving city.

The Missoulian: We have issues dating back to 1892! Read about the establishment of the University of Montana in 1895 where Missoula native Jeannette Rankin was educated. She was the first woman elected to Congress in 1916 – before women in American could vote! Rankin was a leader in the suffrage movement and introduced legislation in 1919 that led to the enfranchisement of all women.

To learn more about the rich history of Montana, search our archives at!

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The Near-Rescue of Floyd Collins

In February of 1925, a previously unheard name splashed across newspapers in the U.S. and beyond. Floyd Collins, an American cave explorer based in central Kentucky, had become trapped in an impossibly tight crawlway with arms tight at his sides and feet pinned by fallen rocks and debris. Rescue efforts captured the fascination of the country. Soon everyone knew the name and plight of Floyd Collins.

Floyd Collins Trapped in Sand CaveFloyd Collins Trapped in Sand Cave Sat, Feb 7, 1925 – Page 1 · The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana) ·

Collins trapped, efforts madeCollins trapped, efforts made Tue, Feb 17, 1925 – Page 1 · Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, West Virginia) ·

Sand cave swarmed with curious onlookers and willing helpersSand cave swarmed with curious onlookers and willing helpers Fri, Feb 6, 1925 – Page 2 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) ·

Early Rescue Efforts 

Early attempts to rescue Collins were small-scale but fervid. Collins’ friends and loved ones—those who could squeeze into the narrow cavern where he lay—made every effort to get him out. His brother Homer was the first man brave and lithe enough to reach Floyd. Johnnie Gerald, a caving friend, made a valiant effort with little success. A young reporter known as “Skeets” Miller also volunteered, and it was his involvement and subsequent reporting that made Floyd Collins a household name.

William William “Skeets” Miller, reporter Thu, Feb 11, 1965 – Page 3 · The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) ·

They tried digging. They tried pry bars. At one point a rope was suggested, though everyone involved was pretty sure it would leave Collins without his foot. Unfortunately the angle of the tunnel was just too sharp and the process too painful. The rope idea was abandoned, and Collins remained trapped.

Tried to pull him out by ropeTried to pull him out by rope Thu, Feb 11, 1965 – Page 3 · The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) ·

Ambulance WaitsAmbulance Waits Tue, Feb 17, 1925 – Page 11 · The Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) ·

Hoaxes abounded from people trying to make a buck off a popular news story. Claims were made that Collins wasn’t trapped at all, and in some cases, men stepped forward to say that they were Collins. But the real Collins was very much stuck inside that cave, and after the tunnel used to reach him collapsed he was left alone without food or water. Only a lone light bulb remained with Collins to lend him meager warmth and even worse company.

A New Plan

A new plan was made. Since Collins couldn’t be reached through the cave tunnels, a shaft would be dug straight from the surface down to Collins. Unfortunately, progress was excruciatingly slow. A process rescuers intended to finish in a handful of days took almost two weeks, and hope began to dim. So too did the light bulb, which blinked out at some point on February 11th. But the shaft was nearly finished, and those digging knew that Collins would be found soon, one way or another.

Lightbulb left with Collins extinguishedLightbulb left with Collins extinguished Wed, Feb 11, 1925 – Page 1 · Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Indiana) ·

HeadlinesHeadlines Wed, Feb 11, 1925 – 1 · Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky) ·

On February 16th, Collins was finally reached.

The Disappointing Conclusion

Collins Reached; is DeadCollins Reached; is Dead Mon, Feb 16, 1925 – Page 1 · The Town Talk (Alexandria, Louisiana) ·

After weeks of concerted effort, national attention, and long-strained hope, rescue teams found Collins’ body. It was estimated that he had died two or three days before the shaft finally broke through to the cavern that trapped him…less than a day after his light bulb had gone out. It was a tragic, sobering end to the story, but not wholly unexpected. What man could survive the February cold with no food or water for seventeen days? Just like that, a nation that had hoped together became a nation that mourned.

A tragic end to the rescue effort of Floyd CollinsA tragic end to the rescue effort of Floyd Collins Tue, Feb 17, 1925 – Page 1 · Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, West Virginia) ·

Letters from readersLetters from readers Tue, Feb 17, 1925 – Page 11 · The Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) ·

There are hundreds of articles about Floyd Collins. Try a search to find more about Collins before the incident, the sensationalized reporting of his entrapment, and the stories of those who helped him on

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This Week in History – Romanov Execution

Story on the Romanovs, May 1918Story on the Romanovs, May 1918 Thu, May 16, 1918 – 8 · Cherokee Harmonizer (Centre, Alabama) ·

In the early morning hours of July 17, 1918, the exiled Romanov family and loyal servants were murdered by Bolshevik guards under the orders of Vladmir Lenin. The executions were so concealed and misinformation so thoroughly woven around the event that for years no one knew what happened to the czar and his family.

Rumors of the death of the ex-czarRumors of the death of the ex-czar Sun, Dec 22, 1918 – Page 7A · The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana) ·

Suspicious details, but no proofSuspicious details, but no proof Sun, Dec 22, 1918 – Page 7A · The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana) ·

Nearly a decade later Soviet leaders confessed to the murders, though they absolved themselves of direct involvement and responsibility. The truth came out in patchy pieces. It wasn’t just the czar who had met a violent end, but his family as well, a fact which didn’t sit well even with detractors. The following clipping shares a (slightly graphic) account of the family’s last moments.

Graphic description of Romanov murdersGraphic description of Romanov murders Sun, Nov 11, 1928 – 119 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) ·

It took decades for the bodies to finally be found. In 1998, 80 years after their deaths, the family was buried together in St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.

Find more on the rough politics leading up to this moment and on the deaths of the Romanovs with a search on And of course there is much to be found about the youngest daughter, Anastasia, and the many impersonations that would follow speculations of her survival.

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5 of the Strangest Sports You’ve Never Heard Of

Bored? How about sticking ferrets down your pants or sitting on top of a flagpole? Strange as they may sound, these are real sports—there’s even evidence in the newspapers!

From the weird to the wacky, we’ve collected 5 of the strangest sports people have participated in over the years. Check them out!

Ferret Legging
Ever felt inspired to put two sharp-toothed, carnivorous, weasel-like animals down your pants and let them run around? No? Well, it’s a real thing people have done.

Called “ferret legging,” the sport was popularized in Great Britain in the 1970s. It entails putting the ferrets (who can’t be sedated or missing teeth) down your pants, which are tied at waist and ankle to prevent an escape. No undergarments are allowed, and you can’t be drunk (though the idea of someone attempting this without being drunk boggles the mind). Then you see how long you can endure the gnawing, clawing, and biting of the squirming, furry creatures. Amazingly, the record is five-and-a-half hours.

Ferrets put in pants to gain record, 1972Ferrets put in pants to gain record, 1972 Sat, Jan 29, 1972 – 3 · Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida) ·
Balloon Jumping
Touted as the “next innovation” in 1924, “balloon jumping” (or “hopping”) was set to take off as the next big thing in the 1920s. Basically, you attach yourself to a balloon whose lift is slightly less than your own weight. (So if you weighed 150 pounds, you would use a balloon whose lift was 100 pounds.) Theoretically, this was supposed to allow you to “casually jump over lakes, trees, houses, moving automobiles, and almost anything else,” because you would essentially “weigh” only 50 pounds, while your muscles would be used to moving 150 pounds. The sport never really caught on, however, due to the dangers of the sport, including the high-profile death of one of its early adopters.

Balloon jumping photo, 1928Balloon jumping photo, 1928 Tue, Sep 18, 1928 – Page 24 · Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) ·
Flagpole Sitting
Also a product of the 1920s was the baffling sensation of “flagpole sitting,” which was exactly what the name implies: set up a little platform on the top of a flagpole and see how long you can sit there. The stunt attracted crowds and made celebrities out of those daring enough to do it, such as Betty Fox and Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly. Kelly’s record for flagpole sitting was an astounding 49 days!

Shipwreck Kelly demonstrates flagpole sitting, 1928Shipwreck Kelly demonstrates flagpole sitting, 1928 Mon, May 21, 1928 – Page 1 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) ·
Snail Racing
No one really knows how long people have been racing snails, but mentions of it began cropping up in newspapers in the 1880s. At that time, it was said to be all the rage in Paris, where enthusiasts would race snails on a smooth board with a lighted candle at one end. The rules of later iterations of the sport got more intricate, with standardized course lengths, time limits, bait restrictions, and handicap guidelines. Reportedly, snail racing got so popular in Paris that in 1912 it had to be banned in governmental offices because the clerks were betting on the races.

Snail racing has seen resurgences in popularity over the years and remains a pastime today, with the annual World Snail Racing Championships taking place in England.

Snail racing, 1963Snail racing, 1963 Sun, Nov 10, 1963 – Page 58 · Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York) ·
Toe Wrestling
If feet weird you out, this next sport is not for you. In “toe wrestling,” two competitors lock toes and then try to turn the foot of their opponent, though apparently the toe hold is often broken before either foot is turned. Another variation created in 1974 involves only locking big toes with your opponent. This type of “toe wrestling” is not to be confused with a popular older game by the same name in which two opponents seated on the ground used their feet to try to make the other player lose his  balance.

Toe wrestling, 1968Toe wrestling, 1968 Mon, Oct 7, 1968 – Page 8 · The Petaluma Argus-Courier (Petaluma, California) ·
Learn more about these sports and others by searching on And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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Early Household Appliances

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

In 1910, it took 12 hours a day to do the housework (six hours for cooking alone)! Domestic chores were no walk in the park. Take a look at these ads for newly invented household appliances from the early 1900’s. These time-saving devices would revolutionize domestic life!

Hoover Suction Sweeper 1912
The Hoover Suction Sweeper: The first upright vacuum was invented by James M. Spangler, a janitor at an Ohio department store. He rigged a device to clean floors then filed a patent for his design. Spangler sold the patent to his cousin’s wife, William Henry Hoover. Hoover improved the design and started the “Electric Suction Sweeper Company.”

The Thor Washing Machine: In 1909, women swooned over Thor – the washing machine not the superhero! The Thor washing machine was an electric powered washing machine that took the place of galvanized tubs, washboards and elbow grease. It revolutionized wash day in America!

Drum-type clothes dryer invented by J. Ross Moore
Clothes Dryer: Tired of not being able to hang laundry out to dry in frigid North Dakota winters, J. Ross Moore invented the clothes dryer. The dryers were sold under the name “June Day” beginning in 1938.

Hot Point Iron: In 1910, a company called Hotpoint developed an electric iron that was hotter at the tip making it easier to iron ruffles and around button holes. Soon everyone wanted the iron with the hot point!

1913 Refrigerator
Refrigerator: This 1913 refrigerator shows the latest and greatest in refrigeration technology. These icebox type refrigerators kept food cool with blocks of ice that needed to be replenished regularly.

Electric Refrigerator: By 1918, Frigidaire started mass producing electric refrigerators for home use – and no ice required!

Electric Dishwasher: Tired of washing dishes? In 1920, you could wheel in this portable electric dishwasher, load it and press a button. Voila!

Electric Oven 1913
Electric Oven: For about $10, families could buy this 1913 “El Bako” countertop electric oven. It was 14-inches square and constructed of one-inch thick steel walls to maintain heat. It had three heat levels: low, medium and high.

Does your family have any of grandma’s old appliances kicking around? Tell us about it and search our archives for other fun finds!

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This Week in History – Long, Hard War Being Predicted

Found in a July 13, 1942 Connecticut paper, this article warns that 1944 would be the earliest possible end date for the ongoing war.

Long Hard War Being PredictedLong Hard War Being Predicted Mon, Jul 13, 1942 – Page 1 · Naugatuck Daily News (Naugatuck, Connecticut) ·

This was just one of many articles printed in papers throughout WWII that foresaw a slow end to the deadliest conflict in history, a war that had already been going on for years and promised to last for several more. As we know, the estimates were pretty accurate; Japan’s official surrender ended the war at last in August, 1945.

Find more on WWII and important headlines from the time with a search or browse on

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