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Vacation in Valdanos, Montenegro

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Come to the beautiful crescent-shaped beaches of Valdanos, nestled in a cove on the southeastern shores of the Adriatic Sea. Wake up to a beautiful Montenegrin sunrise peeking over thousand year-old olive tree groves. Play fútbol on the grass fields or try a round of mini-golf. Tennis courts are a stone’s throw away from the ocean. Afterward grab a quick lunch at the waterside café, or take a dip in the pool!

The resort has laundry, post office, and a supermarket for your basic needs. Every villa has sweeping views of the sea. For those who prefer to caravan, a full-service campground is also on the premises. Valdanos offers 240 sunny days a year, but for the restless at night the discotheque should whet the appetite.

There is one problem… It has been closed for years. Read more…

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Sigiriya: The Lion Rock of Sri Lanka

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Deep in the middle of Sri Lanka, a massive column of rock juts out from the green tropical forest. It reaches 660 feet tall and features frescoes, graffiti, and landscaped gardens. The rock is known as Sigiriya (see-gee-REE-yah) and holds a special place in the island’s cultural history.

It was established as the stronghold of a rogue king over 1,500 years ago, and today the Sigiriya complex stands as one of the earliest preserved examples of ancient urban planning. Ultimately the rock was unable to save its king, but it succeeded in preserving ancient Sinhalese culture.

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The Forgotten Castle on the Hudson

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On a lonely island fifty miles north of New York City, the bricks of a once-proud castle slowly return to the earth. The crumbling fortress is one of several remaining structures on tiny Pollepel Island, an abandoned six-and-a-half acre crag hugging the east bank of the Hudson River.

The 100 year-old Bannerman’s Castle was originally built as an arsenal, and has been abandoned for the last forty five years since a fire ravaged the island in the summer of 1969. It was the creation of a nineteenth-century businessman and served as an advertisement for the era’s largest military surplus empire.

When the castle’s namesake passed away, the island was forgotten. It’s brief resurrection was cut short by a fatal fire. For half a century the building has been losing battles against nature. Absent intervention in the very near future, it may lose the war.

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Abandoned Industrial Icon: Armour Meat Packing Plant

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The Armour & Company meat packing plant in National City, Illinois is a window into a bygone era, a time capsule with late-19th century technology still on display. During its heyday the busy stock yards of East St. Louis were the largest in the world, and known around the U.S. as the “Hog Capital of the Nation.”

Advances in technology and labor disputes ultimately drove the meat packers out of National City. The obsolete Armour plant had become expensive to operate and was eventually shut down by the company in 1959.

Unused since Armour & Co. left nearly 55 years ago, the 110 year-old structure still sits in East St. Louis today.

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Concrete Arrows and the U.S. Airmail Beacon System

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Scattered across the United States is a network of mysterious concrete arrows. They are often found in remote locations or areas difficult to access. Some will be accompanied by a small shack, a few have a metal tower affixed to their base. Many are in good condition while others have succumbed to nature. The shape and direction of the arrows vary, but it is clear they served the same purpose.

The purpose was important: helping early pilots navigate U.S. transcontinental flights at night.

In a era before radar, pilots used ground-based landmarks for guidance. This solution worked for flight during the day, but grounded pilots at night. Before long, a system of beacons was established across the United States to guide airmail pilots around-the-clock. When radar and radio communications made the beacons obsolete years later, most were torn down and abandoned.

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Texas City Disaster: Deadliest Industrial Accident in U.S. History

courtesy Associated Press

Across the bay from Galveston in Texas is Texas City, a busy port with convenient access to Houston and the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to shipping, the city plays an important role in the production and refining of petroleum products. As a port with deep water access to the coast, Texas City hosts international shippers hauling everything from electronics to fertilizer.

The town made headlines in 1947 when a fire on a cargo ship reached the explosive payload and detonated. The blast was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in U.S. history, and the disaster would claim the lives of nearly six hundred people. Read more…

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