Escape From Slavery, Hatteras Island, a Big Bang

Host Don Wildman explores a historic home involved in one of the most audacious escapes from slavery; investigates an oak tree linked to stories of witchcraft; and marvels at an antenna that changed our lives.

From This Episode

Beacon Hill
Escape From Slavery

Escape From Slavery

On the north side of Boston, sitting along a narrow cobblestone street, is a regal and admirable mansion. Built in 1833, 66 Philips Street was considered one of the most expensive mansions in Beacon Hill, MA. The sophisticated structure features 4 grand stories with a red brick facade and delicate square windows decorated with wooden shutters. Today, it’s a private house, but it remains 1 of 14 sites on the Beacon Hill Black Heritage Trail where tour groups walk by daily to learn the amazing story of how this house became the scene for one of the most riveting talks of the time. 960 1280

  

Escape From Slavery

Escape From Slavery

The Hayden House is known as an Underground Railroad station that sheltered slave fugitives on the run. In 1848, Ellen and William Craft escaped from Macon, GA, to the Hayden House. When the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850, Ellen went into hiding and William remained at the Hayden House. Lewis Hayden threatened to blow up the house if any captured slave stepped foot on the grounds. The tactic worked, and Ellen and William were able to marry at the Hayden House. 960 1280

  

The Cloudbuster

The Cloudbuster

Mount Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson, AZ, rises more than 9,000 feet above sea level, and the peak can be buried under 57 inches of snow a year, which makes it a magnet for skiers. But, it’s actually the lack of precipitation of a different kind that once inspired a dreamer to come here on a seemingly impossible mission. 960 1280

  

The Cloudbuster

The Cloudbuster

In 1954, Dr. Wilhelm Reich came to this church in Tucson, AZ, with his “Cloudbuster” machine to help end a 4-year drought. He spent more than a month pointing the pipes of his device at the sky and drawing “deadly orgone” energy out of the sky. With the skies “unblocked,” rain clouds gradually started to appear. By December 10, a steady rain began to fall in the Arizona desert. Reich felt he had proved that his “Cloudbuster” really could draw rain from the skies, but scientists and the government were not convinced. They declared Reich to be at best a madman who’d happened to be in the right place at the right time for it to rain and, at worst, a man who was deliberately raising false hopes in his inventions in order to make money. 960 1280

  

The Horn That Made A Big Bang

The Horn That Made A Big Bang

This church in Holmdel, NJ, is where 2 Bell Lab scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, began researching a massive horn antennae. They discovered the antenna picked up a constant hum that interfered with incoming signals, but couldn’t find any reason for its existence. It was not until they were referred to Princeton physicist Robert Dicke that they began to unravel the mystery. Dicke had a theory that a “big bang” explosion created the universe, and the left over energy was still detectable at very low levels. Penzias and Wilson discovered that this hum was indeed leftover energy -- accidentally confirming the big bang theory. 960 1280

  

The Horn That Made A Big Bang

The Horn That Made A Big Bang

This odd-looking device positioned in the middle of a clearing at Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ, stands 30 feet tall and 50 feet long. It’s primarily made of aluminum and weighs 18 tons. The device sits upon a steel turntable that allows it to swivel in all directions. This bizarre piece of equipment was built to make our everyday lives easier, but inadvertently revolutionized what we think of humanity’s place in the universe. 960 1280

  

The Legend Of Ol' Rip

The Legend Of Ol' Rip

In 1897, a small horned lizard known as “Old Rip” was placed inside a time capsule at the Eastland County Courthouse in Texas. Thirty-one years later, the capsule was opened and Old Rip was found alive and well. The lizard became a celebrity, but there are many cynics who believe it wasn’t possible. No one ever admitted to switching the lizards before the capsule was opened. 960 1280

  

The Legend Of Ol' Rip

The Legend Of Ol' Rip

Eleven months after his unveiling, Old Rip died of pneumonia. The lizard’s body was preserved and stored in a custom casket that is on display outside the Eastland County Courthouse. In 1973, his body went missing and a ransom note was found. Someone was demanding that town officials admit that they switched the lizards when the capsule was first opened. Old Rip’s body was never found, but it was replaced with a new one that people from all over the state still come to visit. 960 1280

  

The Real Arsenic and Old Lace

The Real Arsenic and Old Lace

A look at the entrance of Hillside Cemetery in Cheshire, CT, where a key piece of evidence was found in the case of The Real Arsenic and Old Lace. Carl Goslee, a full-time insurance man and part-time investigative reporter, was convinced that Amy Archer was a mass murderer. An alarming number of residents at her Home for Aged People had passed away with no explanation. When patient, Franklin R. Andrews’ sister went to him to inform him that Archer had been pressuring her brother for money, Goslee finally had the essence of motive. He was able to exhume the body of Andrews and show that Archer had been feeding him large amounts of arsenic to collect his life insurance policy. 960 1280