Quirky History: Strange and surprising historical events.

Quirky History: Strange and Surprising Historical Events

Throughout history, there have been numerous instances of quirky events that leave modern readers questioning the authenticity of such tales. Whether it's the unusual habits of ancient leaders, bizarre coincidences, or simply inexplicable occurrences that defy common knowledge, the annals of history are filled with curiosities that make it all the more intriguing. Here, we delve into some of these strange nuggets of history.

The Dancing Plague of 1518

One of the most peculiar events in history occurred in Strasbourg in 1518, when a woman named Frau Troffea began dancing in the street. This wasn't just a momentary outbreak of joy; she danced continuously for days. Bizarrely, within a week, 34 others had joined her, and by the end of the month, some sources claim the 'dancing plague' had spread to around 400 people. Physicians of the time declared it a natural disease caused by 'hot blood', and suggested that the afflicted simply dance the fever away. Ultimately, many died from heart attacks, strokes, or exhaustion.

London's Great Stink of 1858

In the hot summer of 1858, the residents of London found themselves in the midst of a predicament so unpleasant it was named ‘The Great Stink’. With thousands of residents and industries dumping their waste directly into the River Thames, the intense heat caused it all to ferment and create an intolerable smell. The incident led to the creation of a modern sewer system under the direction of Joseph Bazalgette.

The Emu War of 1932

Australia’s Emu War is another quirky event of history that's hard to believe. Post World War I, Western Australia witnessed a migration of flightless birds called emus that were destroying crops across the region. In response, Australian authorities initiated a military operation, the Emu War, using machine guns to reduce the population of the bird. The operation was unsuccessful, and officially ended after a few weeks, cementing its place in history as a standout bizarre event.

The Great Molasses Flood, 1919

Add one more to the list of strange historical events - The Great Molasses Flood of 1919. In Boston, a large molasses storage tank burst, releasing a massive wave of molasses into the streets. The wave was 25 feet high, moving at 35 miles per hour, and killed 21 people while also injuring 150. It took weeks to clean up the mess and the harbor remained brown until summer.


These are only a small selection of the quirky events the pages of history hold for us. These oddities remind us that history is not just about dates and facts, it is a vivid tapestry of human experience, flushed with its fair share of bizarre, inexplicable, and fascinating events. The study of these strange occurrences helps provide a unique lens through which we can view and comprehend our past, making history all the more enthralling.