6Empty Lot of Land Becomes Guthrie, Oklahoma, in One Day
April 22, 1889 marked the astonishing one-day transformation of an empty expanse of prairie land into a town of 10,000, all between noon and sundown. It also marked the last time anyone was anxious to get into Oklahoma.
You see, due to a perfect conjunction of laws and stealing land from Indians, there was suddenly a ton of free land to be had in Oklahoma for anyone who could get there and put a tent on it first. But the law said that nobody could cross the border until noon on April 22 for some reason. In the days prior to the 22nd, hordes of land-hungry carpetbaggers began to pile up on the border, waiting to pour through the gates like Walmart shoppers on Black Friday.
Like this, only with a lot more horse carts and dysentery.
Unlike Black Friday, there aren't any records of anyone being trampled to death, but there were quite a few people illegally camping out inside the territory, which is basically like going into Walmart the day before Thanksgiving and hiding yourself in a display of Pepsi cans, and then popping out at 4 a.m. on Black Friday and shouting, "First!"
These people were called "sooners," and Oklahomans are apparently proud of this behavior, because it's their state nickname (the Sooner State) and the Oklahoma University team name.
John Silks via Wikimedia Commons
"Whoooo! We like cutting in line!"
When the clock struck noon on the 22nd, the crowds piled onto trains and went racing into the territory, many of them getting off at the first station -- Guthrie -- at 1:25 p.m., where they found a handful of sooners already staking their claims. Seeing that they weren't the first to get there, and noticing that lots of the people on the train were as impatient as they were, the campers sprang into action, and the town went from 0 to 10,000 in the course of an afternoon. And since this was back when elbow grease was America's number one export, tire axle lubricant and preferred soup base, the sudden citizens had already laid out the streets, staked out lots and started forming a government by the time midnight rolled around.
"Dibs on Minister of Rocking Out!"
Four months later, the town was pretty well built out, with the directory listing "six banks, 16 barbers, 16 blacksmiths, 17 carpenters, two cigar manufacturers, five newspapers, seven hardware stores, 15 hotels, 19 pharmacists, 22 lumber companies, 39 doctors, 40 restaurants" and, of course, 81 lawyers.
5U.S. Navy Delivers Aircraft-Carrier-Shaped Magic Trick
In World War II's Battle of the Coral Sea, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown had a hole ripped through its flight deck by a Japanese bomb, which penetrated several decks and exploded inside the ship, killing or seriously injuring 66 men. Despite its gaping wound, the Yorktown was able to make it back to the Pearl Harbor naval yard for repairs, forever proving that the Titanic was a wimp.
"We're going to need four, maybe five tubes of caulk."
The bomb damage, plus all the other damage sustained in the battle, was expected to take three months to repair, although crews estimated that they could get her just barely patched up enough in two weeks to return to the U.S. mainland for serious repairs. Admiral Nimitz, channeling his best Captain Kirk, told them they had three days -- and not just to get the ship limping back to the mainland, but to send her out to fight.
Soon after that order, his shirt ripped open.
Several sleepless days later, the USS Yorktown was on her way to Midway like a freaking magic trick. The sheer impossibility of the Yorktown being afloat, let alone ready to fight, led the Japanese to assume they must be looking at a new carrier. The Yorktown took down four Japanese carriers before doing what it did best and was shot to pieces. This time, the ship sank like a stone, but the Americans who went down with it had done their damage, and the battle where the U.S. Navy made Japan think they were being attacked by a freaking ghost ship ended up being one of the keys to turning the tide of the war. The battle put the Japanese behind in terms of ships and manpower, and they never caught up.
The ragtag team of hot female mechanics that we like to imagine fixed the ship.