#3. A Tuberculosis Sufferer's Tragic Thrill Ride Inspires Annual Coffin Races
Over a century ago, young Emma Crawford moved to Manitou Springs, Colorado. You see, she had always dreamed of hiking up Red Mountain, and she had high hopes that the mountain air would help cure her tuberculosis. Spoiler alert: It didn't.
Indeed, the mountain was already stained with the discharge of a thousand infected lungs.
But even after she died and her fiance and 12 other men lugged her earthly remains to the top of Red Mountain to be buried in the place she loved, fate wasn't quite finished sticking it to her: In 1929, torrential rains came along and washed her coffin right the hell down to the bottom of the mountain, where she ended up as a big ol' pile of them bones to be swept up and buried in a cemetery plot of the boring, non-mountaintop variety.
To celebrate her tragic and short life, every year Miramont Castle Museum hosts Emma Crawford's Wake, an authentic re-enactment of a Victorian-era wake, as a way to pay homage to this local legend in a dignified and respectful manner. Oh, but only a few people celebrate Emma Crawford like that. The rest do it like this:
An authentic re-enactment of Victorian-era slapstick.
Every year around Halloween, people celebrate the Emma Crawford Memorial Coffin Races, where they recreate Emma's post mortem thrill ride down the mountain by decorating coffins "like hot rods, baby carriages, and the Popemobile," designating one member of their team to act as their coffin-riding "Emma," and then racing them down the street. Oh, and they do it while dressed as pirates and zombies, because shit, why not?
The event draws around 15,000 spectators -- three times the population of the tiny town. And while some might call it an abhorrently disrespectful way to honor a person's memory, we're having a tough time thinking of a way we'd rather be remembered. The killjoys can have their quiet, somber get-together. We'll be racing down the hill in a rocket coffin.
#2. The "Dracula" Graveyard Becomes a Goth Tourist Mecca
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Dating back to the 12th century, St. Mary's Church is a timeless crown atop a tall hill in Whitby, Northern England, endlessly looming fortress-like over the small coastal town. Its undeniably creepy churchyard is brimming with "weathered tombstones and monuments to sailors, fishermen, Royal Navy seamen, and lifeboatmen." Plus, it just so happens to be the cemetery where Dracula took his victim Lucy in Bram Stoker's classic novel, which makes it the bona fide, grade-A perfect spot for a Goth to snap him- or herself a new profile pic.
Konica Minolta/Whitby Gazette
"Say cheese! I mean death! Death by cheese!"
For nearly 20 years, droves of Goths and their accompanying photographers have converged on the little port town for the twice-yearly Whitby Goth Weekend, of which using the famous graveyard as a backdrop for photo shoots is a major attraction. That's thousands of Goths, all clamoring to capture photographs of themselves with the graves in one small cemetery, twice a year for 20 years.
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images
This being small-town Yorkshire, many are less "sullen rebel" and more "dignified enthusiast."
It got so extreme that, in 2011, the church's rector banned photography in the graveyard, stating that it was disrespectful to the descendants of those buried there for swarms of Goths to pose for photographs as they "stand, sit, or even lie on the table graves."
Even though the dead fishermen got more ass this way than they ever saw while alive.
But it turns out that having massive groups of tourists swoop into a small town twice a year is pretty goddamn good for its economy (who knew?), and despite what any grumpy church rector may have to say, the event is still going stronger than ever, with the Goths (and more photographers than anyone knows what to do with) continuing their biannual takeover of the tiny town to do whatever it is Goths do when they put on a Weekend. We're picturing Burning Man, but with way more eyeliner.
#1. John Dillinger's "Tommy Gun" Inspires a Generation of Schoolboy Snickering
Eric Thayer/Getty Images News/Getty Images
John Dillinger was one of the most notorious of the 1930s American gangsters. And you'd assume that being the top badass in a whole era of badasses would be enough of a legacy on its own. But a single photo taken at the morgue after the famed outlaw's final shootout with the FBI instantly saw Dillinger remembered for an altogether different reason:
A few visitors are looking at his face. Maybe we're talking about his face?
OK, we admit this article is mostly about dicks.
If you've stopped giggling, the bulge under Dillinger's sheet is apparently just his arm. But that didn't stop the rumor mill from banging on about John Dillinger's comically enormous shlong, and his apparent arousal at having been shot to death. And the expressions of the other people in the photo certainly seem to support the wang explanation.
It's not known exactly how or when the legend really took hold, but eventually it became widely believed that the gangster's circus tent pole was pickled and stored somewhere inside the Smithsonian Museum. The myth was so pervasive that it even made it into an episode of the classic TV show The Wonder Years, and the Smithsonian Institution itself had a form letter on file to respond to inquiries about it:
"In response to your recent query, we can assure you that anatomical specimens of John Dillinger are not, and never have been, in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution."
Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"We have art. Any art inquiries? No?" *sigh*
Of course, the conspiratorially minded will say that this is just a ruse, and that Dillinger's most famous asset is kept safely under lock and key for fear that he may rise from the grave and beat us all to death with it.
Jason is a freelance editor for this fine website, Cracked.com. Like him on Facebook and help him think of ideas for his kickass epitaph.
Related Reading: People get memorials wrong pretty frequently. Just ask the holocaust victims memorialized by this awful float. Or the 9/11 victims forever remembered by this huge metal vagina. And if you think those memorials were bad, check out the ones our forum members designed.