Sunshine Skyway: The Day the Bridge Came Down

In 1980, a cargo freighter ran into one of the major bridges over Tampa Bay, collapsing it and killing 35 people. It was the worst shipping accident in Tampa’s history.

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The rebuilt Sunshine Skyway bridge

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The Republic of West Florida

Most people in the US today know about the Republic of Texas and the Republic of California. But few people remember that, for a brief time in 1810, portions of what are now Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana were also established as an independent nation, known as the Republic of West Florida.

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The Republic of West Florida

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Three Mile Island: A History of America’s Worst Nuclear Accident

In 1970, nuclear power was assumed to be the bright future of humanity, providing us with nearly limitless quantities of cheap clean energy for the foreseeable future. Instead, by 1980, nuclear power in the US was dead, and no new plants were being built. Part of the reason was the accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, which remains the worst nuclear accident in the US and the third-worst in the world.

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Three Mile Island nuclear power plant                    Photo from US Dept of Energy

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Skylab and the Sit-Down Strike in Space

It was a one-of-a-kind event: in 1972, during a mission on the Skylab space station, a group of American astronauts, frustrated by an unreasonable work schedule, organized their own version of a sit-down strike in space. They won all their demands, but in the end, NASA had its final revenge.

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The Skylab 4 space strikers.                                                     photo from NASA

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Ferdinandea: The Island that Everyone Wanted and Nobody Got

In 1831, four naval countries of Europe–Britain, France, Spain, and the then-independent kingdom of Sicily–argued over ownership of an island in the Mediterranean Sea. An island which lasted less than half a year before vanishing.

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The Island of Ferdinandea, as drawn in the logbook of the first ship to see it.

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Forgotten mysteries, oddities and unknown stories from history, nature and science.