6 Things You Won't Believe Were Built by a Single Person

As we've mentioned once before, humanity has been blessed with a staggering capacity for creativity matched only by our collective dislike of doin' stuff on a weeknight. But sometimes that unlimited imagination is paired with both inspiration and obsession, and this sexy three-way of abstract concepts gives us some truly awesome feats -- monumental actions that would impress us if they came from the collective efforts of entire towns, but that we actually owe to one single overachiever who's out there making the rest of us look bad.

#6. An Entire Mountain Highway

Swapan Nayak via Outlook India

Dashrath Manhji led a quiet life in the Gehlour hills of India, tending to his goats and looking after his wife, until one day she fell down a slope and injured herself. Since the nearest hospital was 45 miles away and Manhji didn't own a vehicle, we'll skip the sad details and just say that 14 puppies are born every second.

Not wanting anyone else to experience his loss, Manhji sold his goats, bought a hammer and chisel, and got to work ... single-handedly carving a freaking road into the mountain.

City of Warangal
"I mean, not all once. I took breaks for sex."

For the next 22 years, Manjhi hammered away at the rock and dirt that would eventually come to be known as Dashrath Manjhi Road, a 30-foot-high, 25-foot-wide, and 360-foot-long passage that connected his mountain village to the nearby town of Wazirganj, reducing the previous distance of 45 miles to a mere 4.

Google Maps
What did you make today that can be seen from space?

That's right: One man punched right through that immense rock formation, and he did it all with hand tools and gumption. We gave up on washing the car one time because our rag fell all the way into the bucket. Some people just operate on a different plane.

Although Manjhi would go on to achieve minor stardom among his fellow citizens of India, his dream of paving the road would go tragically unfulfilled in his lifetime -- the government initially refused to assist him in this noble task because they're an uncaring bureaucracy enslaved by budget constraints, or maybe they just assumed he'd get the project done faster by himself.

#5. A Robot Army

Reuters/Guang Niu via The Atlantic

Wu Yulu is a Chinese man who lives in a small farming village on the outskirts of Beijing. His daily routine is not unlike what you would expect in this bucolic settlement, with the minor exception that he sometimes rides a giant robot rickshaw to work.

Getting human-robot relations off to a great start by relegating them to demeaning jobs.

Wu first tried his hand at robotics when he was only 11 years old, but after dropping out of primary school because his parents were unable to pay his tuition, Wu's passion for creepy mannequin heads on crude metal frames holding worrying looking bundles was put on hold. But you can't keep a dream down forever.

Reuters via The Daily Mail
But sometimes, kids, you should. You really should.

Years later, Wu got his first job at a real factory, and once he laid eyes on all that beautiful machinery, he knew his life's mission was to give all of that equipment googly eyes and sex doll mouths.

Jing Daily
If you name it, it will be that much harder to crush it in a hydraulic press when the uprising begins.

Over the next 26 years, Wu would forge 25 different automatons (although he rather unsettlingly calls his robots his "sons") that possess a variety of skills, like lighting cigarettes and serving tea.

Reuters via Dogo News
"Here we have a robot sketching out military strategy."

Aw, it's like one big disconcerting biomechanical family! But much like everybody who visited Disneyland's Country Bear Jamboree, Wu was very nearly butchered by heartless automatons. One of his robots caught fire, burning down his home and everything in it. Another had a rechargeable battery explode, engulfing Wu's hands and arms in flames. But severe burns across much of your body is no reason not to embrace ... your dreams.

It's just going to hurt a lot when you do it.

Having every single one of his possessions burned to a crisp turned out to be exactly what the murderous robot doctor ordered, however: Wu was forced to sell one of his creations to fund a new home, and word of his inventions spread. After selling just one of his robots to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, he was offered a job as a prop maker for China Central Television's science department, and was even invited to show off his inventions at the Shanghai 2010 Expo.

Lin Yi/Cai Studio via Art in America
"No, I wouldn't call it an army. This is a platoon, at best."

There were no survivors.

Oh, sorry: injuries. There were no injuries.


#4. A Miniature World

Pull Over and Let Me Out

Joseph Zoettl immigrated to the United States from Germany in the 19th century. He settled in Alabama. He spent the rest of his days trying to forget it.

Zoettl spent his free time gathering discarded materials like toilet bowl floats and plastic animals, which he mixed with nearby stones and turned said disgusting garbage into wondrous recreations of international monuments. While some were fictional locales, most of Zoettl's sculptures were of real places he would one day like to visit, like St. Peter's Square and Jerusalem and seriously anywhere that wasn't Alabama.

Carol M. Highsmith Archive
He could just use a literal shit hole for that.

Because Zoettl had only old photographs and his imagination to work from, some of the buildings look nothing like the real thing (also not helping his accuracy were the toilet and garbage building materials). But still, he did some amazing stuff with what he had: Zoettl turned 4 acres of land into a sprawling little world, encompassing 125 astoundingly ornate sculptures.

Walter Bibikow / JAI / Corbis
Some people get really into model railroads.

Squint your eyes a little, and that's an actual town. Pretty crazy, right? And he finished it using only discarded materials and whatever rocks he found nearby. Oh, and did we mention he did all of this with a hunchback?

(Not, like, a captive one or anything -- his own back was painfully hunched.)

Ave Maria Grotto
"What hump?"

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