Pennsylvania definitely has had some weird history. You probably have heard about Centralia, the coal town that’s been on fire for over 50 years and you more than likely know of a few other strange tales. However, there are many bizarre and significant things that have happened in our state that aren’t as well known. For instance, did you know that Connecticut and Pennsylvania once waged war over Wyoming Valley? Read on to discover interesting, weird, or downright bizarre tales of our state…
1. In 2010, a high school gave each of its students a laptop and then secretly spied on them through their webcams.
Lower Merion School District was the center of the scandal colloquially known as "WebcamGate," in which it was discovered that the school district was spying on students through software installed on school-issued laptops. Photographs were surreptitiously taken of students through the computers' webcams, and their internet use was monitored. Creepy!
2. In 1971, a Pennsylvania man tried to sue the Devil.
The man filed a lawsuit against Satan, claiming that he "threatened him, caused him misery, impeded his course in life, and generally precipitated his downfall." It sounds like this could have been a class-action lawsuit... Unfortunately, the case, Gerald Mayo vs. Satan and His Staff was dismissed because the court didn't have evidence that Satan lived within its jurisdiction.
3. In 2000, a Bucks County man was arrested for serial crumbling more than $8,000 worth of baked goods in stores over the course of three years.
We have no idea what his possible motivation could have been, but hidden security cameras caught Samuel Feldman in the act. He would enter the stores and pulverize cookies, loaves of bread, and other baked goods in their packaging, leaving unsellable remains in his wake. He was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.
4. There is a giant federal office located in an old coal mine 20 stories below ground level near Boyers.
Known as Iron Mountain, despite its odd setting, this office is less shrouded in mystery than you might expect. 600 federal employees file retirement paperwork by hand. The mine was chosen as the location for this work not because of its hard-to-find location, but because it is so spacious.
5. After the Revolutionary War, Connecticut and Pennsylvania fought viciously over Wyoming Valley.
The map of Pennsylvania could look very different if this conflict had ended with Connecticut claiming the land that includes Wilkes-Barre. Pennsylvania forces disarmed Connecticut residents who were settled in the valley and forced them to leave the territory on foot, leading to numerous casualties before full-scale war broke out between the conflicting groups. Eventually Pennsylvania won and Wyoming Valley became part of Luzerne County.
6. In 1924 a Labrador Retriever was admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary for killing the governor's cat.
Poor kitty. Governor Gifford Pinchot allegedly sent the dog to jail for killing his wife's cat. Other tales claim that the dog simply was sent to prison to keep the inmates company... In any case, Pep the dog lived in Eastern State Penitentiary for ten years, which is about seventy dog years. Woof.
7. The leader of a doomsday cult-like society, Celestia, transferred the ownership of the town to God in order to avoid losing townspeople to the military draft.
Peter Edward Armstrong believed that armageddon was imminent in 1844 and formed a community of followers. Because members of the community began to be drafted to fight in the Civil War, Armstrong transferred the land to God and it remained under this name for more than ten years, until the land was claimed by the government for unpaid property tax and auctioned off. Armstrong's son bought the land.
8. R. Budd Dwyer, the Pennsylvania State Treasurer, shot himself on live television in 1987.
The politician was facing serious criminal charges of bribery and fraud. He faced up to 55 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines. He shot himself in the head during a press conference and was pronounced dead immediately after, upon being taken to the hospital.
9. Professional wrestler Andre the Giant once consumed over 100 beers in a Pittsburgh hotel.
You might recognize Andre the Giant from his acting, his wrestling, or his face from Shepherd Fairey's OBEY campaign. Once he spent an evening drinking in a Pittsburgh hotel bar, where he drank 127 beers. He passed out on the floor and because the hotel staff were unable to move him, they had to simply leave him there until he woke up.
10. In 2009, a Pennsylvania high school urged students to donate to victims of Hurricane Katrina by blasting the song "MMMBop" through the school.
This is a brilliant fundraising technique! The school blasted the famous Hanson song over the school's PA system in between classes and only stopped the music once donations reached $3,000. Not only was this an efficient way to raise funds from the students, but the band Hanson matched the amount of money donated by students and also gave each student in the school a copy of their album. Mmmmm, Bop.
Do you know of any other shocking stories? Share in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear from you!