Look inside the shipwreck of the HMS Terror

First Look Inside the Wreck of the HMS Terror

See inside the HMS Terror for the first time since it vanished with the Franklin Expedition over 170 years ago.

Aside from a few bodies found mummified in the Canadian permafrost and tales told by Inuit tribes of madness and cannibalism, nothing was ever found of the Franklin Expedition after it vanished in 1846. Over 30 expeditions failed to find any trace of the two ships and most of the 129 men that set out from England in 1845 to find a passage through the Arctic that connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

That is, until extensive surveys based on Inuit oral history lead searchers to the wreck of the HMS Erebus in 2014. Just two years the second ship, the HMS Terror, was discovered. Both ships were discovered in shallow water near King William Island, where two members of the crew had been found long dead in a lifeboat in 1859.

Mummified body from the Franklin Expedition
A member of the Franklin Expedition found buried on Beechey Island in 1984, mummified in the permafrost

Now, for the first time, we can get a glimpse inside the ship thanks to the Parks Canada researchers who have been studying the remarkably preserved wrecks.

The Erebus has had a few more years to be studied, and some artifacts have been brought up, but until this year weather conditions made it difficult to examine the Terror.

Thanks to calm seas, the underwater archaeology team was able to guide a small ROV into the ship and capture some amazing video of the interior.

“Overturned armchairs, thermometers on the wall, stacked plates, chamberpots, washbasins — often in their correct position,” team member Ryan Harris said. “We were able to see an incredible array of artifacts.”

Recommended Reading
Frozen in Time book about the Franklin Expedition
Buy now on Amazon

The camera was piloted through an open hatch into the ship.

“You have the lights of the ROV penetrating the darkness,” Harris said. “Looking forward in the corridor, you see the list of the ship to starboard.

“And then off to the left, you see a succession of doors into various officers’ cabins. Every single sliding door agape. Just imagine piloting the vehicle into one cabin after the next and see the private quarters of each officer. You see the bed places, you see the shelves, shipboard articles on the shelves, scientific instruments in their cases and many, many drawers.”

Harris said it feels like violating the privacy of the crew that once occupied those spaces. “It’s exhilarating, but it’s quite a solemn space.”

Inside the HMS Terror shipwreck
Inside the wreck of the HMS Terror

The only door found closed in the ship was the one leading to cabin of captain Francis Crozier.

That cabin is likely to be filled with journals and maps preserved and still legible that could help answer many questions about the doomed expedition.

“It looks like the ship, in many ways, was fully operational and then suddenly deserted,” Harris said. “All the cabin doors were opened, almost as if there was a rush to see if anyone was on board as it sank. We don’t know.”

Read more right here.

World's largest Ouija board

Salem Unveils World’s Largest Ouija Board This October

The Talking Board Historical Society will be revealing Ouijazilla this October is Salem, MA.
Ouijazilla the world's largest ouija board to be unveiled in Salem this Halloween

Rick Ormortis Schreck, the Vice President of the Talking Board Historical Society whose family has been dubbed the “real-life Addams Family,” has been hard at work preparing to crush the current world record holder for the world’s largest Ouija board.

The massive board, which has been named Ouijazilla, was constructed out of wood and hand-painted by Schreck in the classic Ouija style.

“So I finally am able to talk about the Top Secret project that I have been working on since last summer,” Schreck posted on Instagram. “It has been a Hell of a journey and. It ain’t over yet. Stay tuned for sneak peeks at the Monster!”

Ouijazilla will be unveiled in Salem this October. More info here.

World’s Largest Ouija Board

World's largest Ouija board

The Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, Pennsylvania currently holds the Guinness World Record for the Ouija board they painted on their roof in 2016 along with the accompanying ten-foot planchette on wheels.

I’m thrilled to see what kind of monster Ouija Schreck has created.

Alternate Endings documentary

Alternate Endings: Documentary Explores New Ways to Die in America

HBO documentary showcases the non-traditional funerals people are choosing to celebrate the end of their lives.

The death positive movement has been growing for a while now, empowering people to embrace the end, take control, and eschew traditional funerals for a memorial that’s meaningful to them. An upcoming documentary from HBO called Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America will explore the options, from going up in flames in a viking funeral and green burials in wicker caskets to embedding cremains in glass art or blasting them into space.

“It’s my death,” one man says in the trailer, as he’s shown helping build his own coffin. “Don’t tell me what I have to do.”

Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America HBO documentary

Alternate Endings premieres August 14th on HBO.

Mary Nohl width house in Fox Point

August 2019 Newsletter: Mary Nohl’s Whimsical Sculpture Garden

The Witch’s House is a Milwaukee landmark with an eerie legend, but the only magic Mary Nohl was conjuring was her yard full of strange sculptures.

There is a curious old home in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin suburb of Fox Point, a cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan, which has been the source of urban legend for decades. My dad drove me past it when I was a kid. The yard was filled with large concrete sculptures of giant heads and abstract figures. Humans, fish, and other water creatures all made with materials gathered from the beach.

Frightened whispers of countless curious visitors tell a story as chilling as the howling wind that blows in from the lake, the tragic tale of a reclusive old woman whose husband and son drowned in the turbulent waters just offshore from their home. In her grief, they say, the “Witch of Fox Point” constructed the bizarre sculptures to keep watch for her lost loved ones to return.

But Mary Nohl was never married, and had no children. She was an artist who conjured fantastical creations that transformed her home into her masterpiece – which continues to be a thorn in her neighbor’s sides to this day.

“Mary cared nothing about conforming, resisted the stereotypical roles for women of her generation,” Barbara Manger, author of Mary Nohl: Inside & Out, said in a 2009 interview. “She set her own direction and pursued creating regardless of the views of others.”

In that way, maybe Mary really was a witch – a strong, independent woman who lived the life she chose regardless of societal expectations.

And it seems she had a sense of humor about the legend, if the word “boo” formed by beach pebbles on her front step is any indication.

The home of Mary Nohl, known as the Milwaukee Witch's House

Mary was born to Leo and Emma Nohl in 1914. Leo was an attorney in Milwaukee. The Nohls bought the lot where the house stands now on North Beach Road and built a small prefab cottage as a summer retreat in 1924. It quickly became 10-year-old Mary’s favorite place. At the time, the road was little more than a dirt path and wasn’t plowed during the winter, so it wasn’t an ideal place to live year round.

That changed by the early 1940s, though, and the Nohl’s hired an architect to build an addition. There were some delays during construction as World War II caused a shortage in building materials, but the house was eventually completed in 1943. The Nohls sold their Milwaukee home and moved in.

Mary graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1937. She taught art in Baltimore and Milwaukee until 1943, when she decided that making art was more enjoyable. She opened a pottery studio in Milwaukee and moved back in with her parents at the house on North Beach Road, where she would spend the rest of her life.

Mary’s parents died in the 1960s, leaving her a sizable inheritance. She didn’t have to work anymore, so she began filling the home where she now lived alone with her creations of concrete, scrollsawn wood, driftwood, glass, bone, and other found objects.

The spectacle soon attracted curious visitors, and with them, vandalism. But Mary didn’t let that hinder her creativity.

“I was awakened early one Sunday morning to the sound of a crackling fire,” she wrote about a particular incident, probably in one of her biannual mimeographed newsletters she sent to friends and family, “and relieved to find that the fire was burning a driftwood figure in the front yard – and not the house. This particular sculpture has been a target for the kids for years – about fifteen feet high and so encrusted with paint and so dried in the sun, that the burning was like a series of explosions. Called the poor, overworked police who sat in three squad cars outside the fence and watched it burn. Sass, Basil and I sat inside and watched from the front window with the aid of a beer. All that was left were two ten-foot pipes anchored in cement, and before the last sparks had drifted off I had plans for my largest cement animal. The two pipes conveniently became the
two front legs of a less destructible cement creation.”

Sculptures by Mary Nohl

Mary died in 2001 at the age of 87. She left her home and sculptures to a philanthropic organization called the Kohler Foundation that works in the areas of art preservation, grants, scholarships, and performing arts. Her estate of over $11 million went to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation to oversee the administration of the Mary Nohl Foundation and Mary Nohl Fellowship, providing arts education for children and scholarships for artists.

North Beach Road is a wealthy area, and to Mary’s neighbors, her home was an eyesore. They petitioned the city to have it demolished. Instead, the property was granted entries in the Wisconsin Registry of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places, and is now protected.

The Kohler Foundation wanted to open it to the public, but a decade-long struggle with residents and zoning laws proved unsuccessful. In 2014, a plan was announced to move the entire house and sculptures to a more accessible site in Sheboygan County, but it has since been cancelled because the art was deemed too fragile to move.

Sculptures by Mary Nohl, the Witch of Fox Point

Conservators have cataloged hundreds of individual works of art from inside and outside Mary’s home. In her master’s thesis on Nohl, Debra L. Brehmer categorized the yard sculptures into four distinct groups: monolithic heads, figures and groupings, mythic animals, and architectural ruins.

Records of Mary’s works include descriptions such as, “Man & Fish Conversing,” “Tall Horned Figure,” “Wall of Faces,” “Crowned Heads,” and “Mermaids.”

“To build these pieces,” Brehmer wrote, “Mary first develops a rough idea on paper. She then makes armatures out of metal rods, old pipes, fence wire or tin and fills in the forms with stones she collects by the beach in an old red wagon. She applies concrete in sections, from the ground up, allowing each to dry for two or three days before adding the next. She often combs or trowels a texture into the wet medium and adds subtle decorative flourishes, such as beach stone, marbles or reflector eyes and ornamental bits of pottery or tile.”

Among the various exhibitions of Mary’s work over the years was the “Greetings and Salutations and Boo” installation at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in 2017, which included Mary’s intricately embellished living room, carefully removed from her home and reconstructed for the exhibit.

Mary Nohl Art Environment

That may be the closest most of us will ever get, as the house itself remains a private residence for a caretaker from the Kohler Foundation.

The National Register of Historic Places record calls the Mary Nohl Art Environment “one of Wisconsin’s most original and outstanding works of art.”

What doesn't kill us makes us stranger Cult of Weird t-shirt
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Weird News

A selection of the strangest and most fascinating headlines in science, history, archaeology, travel, and more from last month:

August Observances

August 3 – PT Barnum was born on this day in 1810
August 5 – National Underwear Day
August 9 – Sharon Tate and her guests murdered by Manson Family 50 years ago on this day
August 17 – Black Cat Appreciation Day

Send questions, photos of your favorite oddities, or share share your strange or unexplained experiences to be included in the next newsletter. Use the contact form or email info@cultofweird.com

WTFact

The LaBianca murder house 1969

On August 10th, the night after Sharon Tate and her guests were slaughtered by members of the Manson Family, the killers randomly selected this home as their next target, where they violently murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Earlier that year, the LaBiancas got police involved with other strange, seemingly unconnected incidences where things were found moved in the house, or the dogs were discovered outside when they had been kept in. But there was no evidence anyone had broken in, and nothing was stolen. Authorities believe there was no connection between the Manson Family murders and the previous activity.

The Los Feliz home was sold in July 2019 to Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans.

Previous Newsletter: Wisconsin’s UFO Capital of the World

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