Historical Events

From the Age of Enlightenment to the Christmas Truce, learn about some of history's most pivotal events.

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Ridiculous History: 150 Years Ago, Men Killed for the Eggs of These Birds

The Gold Rush-era Egg War of 1863 saw business competitors in San Francisco engage in lethal violence... over eggs?

Mysterious First Settlers of Madagascar Identified by Ancient Seeds

Linguistic and cultural clues have long suggested Madagascar's prehistoric human settlers came from Southeast Asia, but now scientists have found physical proof.

Watch: China's Ancient Buddhist Cave Art Perfectly Recreated in L.A.

A new exhibition creates exact replicas of cave art, found in a remote region along the Silk Road and spanning centuries, cultures and styles.

Ridiculous History: Bears, Raccoons — and Alligators? — in the White House

The presidential digs have housed more than a few untraditional pets through the years. Rebecca the Raccoon and Josiah the Badger are but two.

10 Terrible Cases of Mistaken Identity

Identity errors have led to a range of awfulness, from lengthy prison sentences to the wrong person being declared dead.

Queen Nefertiti in Secret Tomb Behind King Tut? It's Not That Simple

Controversies surround not just the possible existence of hidden chambers, but even the ability of Egyptologists to undertake the search for them.

Underwater Dig Finds Proof Humans Settled U.S. Earlier Than Thought

Mastodon remains and stone knives discovered in Florida show human activity predating the Clovis people, long thought to be the region's first human settlers.

Ridiculous History: That Time Wine Flowed Out of the Taps

On the first Sunday in October, a fountain in the Italian town of Marino flows with wine. One year, however, things didn't go as planned.

Shunning the Suez: Tankers Take the Long Route to Save Cash

With oil prices dropping, a report showed some cargo ships found it cheaper to sail around South Africa, rather than paying $465,000 to go through the Suez Canal.

Ridiculous History: The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

In 1835, a newspaper ran a series of articles on lunar discoveries, leading papers to fly off the shelf. There was just one problem.

Ridiculous History: Ranchers Hacked Barbed Wire Fences to Create Phone Lines

A phone call from an early-1900s rural homestead was at the forefront of communications technology, and farms were the most networked communities of the time.

Ridiculous History: When Scientists Hid Under Beds to Do Research

Imagine a researcher eavesdropping on your conversation from underneath your bed and recording it for an experiment. That really happened.

How Operation Plowshare Worked

How to go from a Bible verse to carving canals with nukes in just a few easy steps — almost. Learn how operation plowshare worked at HowStuffWorks.

Racial History: Oregon Was Whites-only Until 1926

Think systemic racism was only a problem in the Southern slave states? Think again. It was alive and well in the Northwest, too. Is it still?

Ridiculous History: The 1919 Boston Molasses Flood Killed and Injured Dozens

Imagine 2.3 million gallons of molasses pouring down city streets in a massive, lethal wave. That was the scene in Boston on January 15, 1919.

10 Strangest Mass Hysterias

Mass hysteria epidemics are not as rare as you might think. They often occur in small, insular worlds like schools and factories where people feel stressed. We've got examples from the 16th century to the 21st.

Tragic History: The Bioethical Boondoggle in Guatemala

In the mid-20th century, STDS were a big problem, and penicillin was a potential solution. In an experiment gone badly awry, U.S. scientists brought the two together.

New Clues to Ancient Roman Art Discovered in Egyptian Mummy Portraits

The captivatingly realistic Roman-Egyptian Fayum mummy portraits date to more than 1,500 years before the Renaissance. Scientists used state-of-the-art analytical tools.

Ridiculous History: Soviet Hipsters Bootlegged 'Bone Music' on Human X-rays

Under repressive regimes, teens still need their rock 'n' roll. What drastic measures did Soviets go to to create an underground vinyl record market?

Ridiculous History: The Time We Erased One of the World's Biggest Waterfalls

A placid lake above a hydroelectric dam on the border of Brazil and Paraguay was once site of Guairá, among the world's most awe-inspiring. Why'd we get rid of it?

Ridiculous History: San Diego's Unsettled $10,000 Rain Tab

It's December 1915. San Diego is booming but its main reservoir is low when along comes a rainmaker by the name of Charles Mallory Hatfield.

Ridiculous History: The Use of Animals in Espionage

A spying dolphin or a subversive squirrel may seem like far-fetched fiction, but animals have been employed by military forces for years.

Ridiculous History: Here's Why West Point Cadets Rioted Over Eggnog in 1826

Windows shattered, furniture broken, and dozens of cadets including Jefferson Davis nog-wild on smuggled booze. A "party" in 1826 nearly altered the course of history.

Ridiculous History: A Nation Sacrifices Its Sausage to Fight a War

They may not seem stealthy to us, but back in World War I, zeppelins were airborne war machines. And some of them were made from cow intestines.

Ridiculous History: The Wild, Wild West Was Really the Mild, Mild West.

We think the Wild West was a big shoot-‘em-up, but statistically speaking, people of the wild frontier were more likely to encounter a handshake than a bullet.