Genevieve “Gennie” Pilarski quietly passed away in her nursing home room one September day in 1998 at the age of 79. Few noticed or cared as she had been a prisoner of Illinois state mental institutions for over 50 years.
Gennie’s parents had her committed to Manteno State Hospital in 1944 when she was only 25. But after being committed to Manteno, Gennie would never be the same. The state would take her freedom, and the doctors would take her sanity. Read more…
On the Maryland side of the Potomac River just west of Chesapeake Bay, the largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere sits half-sunk and decomposing. In the early 20th century, hundreds of U.S. vessels were scuttled to Mallows Bay to be destroyed and scrapped – and to this day the remains of dozens of them can still be seen in the shallow water.
How did the ships end up here and why were they abandoned?
Built in 1888, this Victorian home from a different era has braved the elements and fought shoreline erosion on Holland Island in Chesapeake Bay for well over a century. Despite former resident and owner Stephen White’s best efforts to save the house and protect the island, the waters would overcome both and erase them from the map.
So what happened to Holland Island, and why did one man try to save it?
About 570 kilometers southwest of Buenos Aires lies the remains of a deserted resort town on the coast of Laguna Epecuén in Argentina. Named Villa Epecuén, the town was founded in the early 1920s as a vacation resort for the well-heeled in Buenos Aires to get away from it all.
The town would prosper for over 50 years, eventually peaking in the 1970s. Villa Epecuén was a true paradise until a breach in the dam in 1985 would see it completely submerged. 25 years later the waters have finally receded, revealing what little is left of what was once a thriving vacation town.
After the end of World War II, the climate of worldwide conflict changed and the dawn of the Cold War altered the direction of military strategy. The United States saw a need to establish an agency to conduct worldwide intelligence-gathering operations and to engage in espionage and counter-terrorism. During the war, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) occupied this role. After the war, the National Security Act of 1947 officially established the Central Intelligence Agency with the intent to expand these operations and create a formal authority to oversee covert activities worldwide.
One of the first missions tasked of the new agency was to study behavioral engineering and mind control. Project MKUltra is thought to have first begun in the early 1950s, and for nearly 20 years the CIA’s programs would see countless unsuspecting Americans exposed to drugs, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, abuse, and torture. It wasn’t until the Church Committee Congressional hearings in 1975 that many of the CIA’s activities from MKUltra would come to light.
Unfortunately we’ll never know the full extent of the program after former CIA director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of MKUltra documents in 1973. But what we do know is alarming.
In 1927, the state of Illinois purchased over 1,000 acres of land earmarked for a massive mental health complex to become known as the Manteno State Hospital. By 1929 the dedication ceremony took place with Illinois announcing Manteno as the tenth such hospital to be “dedicated by the State of Illinois to the welfare of its people for their relief and restoration, a place of hope for the healing of the mind and body where many may find health and happiness again.”
After World War II plans were conceived by the U.S. military to construct a massive outpost in Alaska, due in part to the growing concern of suspected Soviet activities next door. Whittier was strategically chosen and construction on the 273,660 square-foot facility would begin in 1948. Five years later the Buckner building was operational. At the time it was the pride of Alaska, the largest building in the state.
The pride would be short-lived. When the Great Alaskan Earthquake struck in 1964 the facility was permanently damaged, leaving it exposed to the elements for the next 50 years. Read more…
In late October 2012 the east coast of the United States was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. Sandy swept through the entire eastern seaboard, killing over 250 people in seven countries. Financial losses were over $74 billion; Sandy was in fact the second-costliest natural disaster in United States history.
What happened to the flood-damaged vehicles? One company had the foresight to sign a lease on a seldom-used airport just before the storm hit the coast. Thanks to photographer Doug Kuntz, we have aerial photographs of their salvage progress. Read more…