1974
1974

Man-Eating Piranhas

An article by sports writer Bob Peel in the Syracuse Post-Standard warned anglers to stay at least three feet away from the banks of streams and to absolutely NOT go in the water. An accidental mix-up at the hatchery had led to several dozen man-eating piranhas being released along with the thousands of trout set free in preparation for trout-fishing season. The piranhas, the article warned, could completely devour an ox in less than five minutes. Even the fountain outside the downtown Courthouse was potentially not safe because it had been stocked with a few fish. The article ended with the line, This is baloney. ALL PURE BALONEY. But a reporter for WSYR-TV, who apparently hadn't read to the end of the story, shared the warning with viewers, causing piranha-fear to spread throughout the county. Bob Peel reportedly had to spend the next few days answering calls from worried anglers, reassuring them that there weren't really piranhas loose in the waters of upstate New York.

The Eruption of Mount Edgecumbe

The residents of Sitka, Alaska woke to a disturbing sight. Clouds of black smoke were rising from the crater of Mount Edgecumbe, the long-dormant volcano neighboring them. People spilled out of their homes onto the streets to gaze up at the volcano, terrified that it was active again and might soon erupt. Luckily it turned out that man, not nature, was responsible for the smoke. A local practical joker named Porky Bickar had flown hundreds of old tires into the volcano's crater and then lit them on fire, all in a attempt to fool the city dwellers into believing that the volcano was stirring to life. According to local legend, when Mount St. Helens erupted six years later, a Sitka resident wrote to Bickar to tell him, This time you've gone too far!