Travel Blogging Turns 20 Today

HP Virtual Museum

Today marks the 20th anniversary of what’s believed to be the first travel blog post. So happy birthday to us, and maybe you too!

In honor of the occasion, travel bloggers worldwide are raising a glass (ok, they were probably doing that anyway), Jeff Greenwald, the author of that first travel blog post, uploaded from the tourism bureau in Oaxaca, Mexico, reflected back on the experience for “Wired.”

A recently-released program called Mosaic was revolutionizing what might be possible on the World Wide Web. “What we hope you’ll do,” the editor [at O'Reilly Media] said, “is write columns for us – from the road. We’ll publish them live, on the GNN [Global Network Navigator, O'Reilly's website], where people can read them as you travel.” The Travelers’ Center, he told me, would include a feature that sounded miraculous: A map would be displayed on their website, with dots showing the locations from where I’d sent back posts. People would simply click on those dots – and see the story I’d written from that location!

As Greenwald points out, today is also the 20th anniversary of Nancy Kerrigan’s knee getting bashed in at the U.S Figure Skating Championships by members of the unofficial Tanya Harding Fan Club. Draw what connections you will between the two anniversaries.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa Just Got a Little Bit Straighter

Flickr/Neil Howard

Pisa’s famous bell tower has just lost a little bit of its lean, according to a new report by researchers. The Italian tower, which has been tilting perilously for more than 800 years, has straightened by 2.5cm (1 inch) since 2001 thanks to a massive restoration project.

The Tower of Pisa has been leaning to one side pretty much from the beginning-the tower took nearly two centuries to build and it was obvious from the start that things were a little off kilter.

By the early 1990s, the tower was leaning nearly 18 feet, and each year, the tower was tilting more and more, with the incline increasing by more than a millimeter (0.04 inches) a year. That might not sound like much, but experts feared the building could collapse all together.It has taken engineers years to stabilize the tower, which included digging tunnels under one side of the structure to give its foundation room to shift, and attaching steel cables to the tower to keep it upright. It worked, and the tower has been straightening as predicted. In fact, engineers say that theoretically, they could straighten the tower completely. That, however, is unlikely to happen. More than 6 million people visit Pisa each year lured by the sight of the leaning tower, so while locals are happy to see the building restored, they’re not eager to see it straightened anytime soon.

Abandoned Coal Mines Of West Virginia

West Virginia has been defined by the coal industry in many ways. While the industry still employs miners all over the state, abandoned coal mines are remnants throughout the area of a booming past. Exploring the abandoned coal mines is highly dangerous, but the hobby attracts the likes of spelunkers and urban explorers and it’s easy to understand why-the mines are mysterious places that provide a gateway to how life used to be in West Virginia.

According to the website for Coalwood, W.V., the number and location of the abandoned mines is largely unknown. Open shafts and horizontal openings to these abandoned coal mines are often difficult to spot amid the overgrowth. Once inside, abandoned coal mines pose the threat of rusted machinery, dangerous bodies of water and even explosives that are now defected.While the videos and photos available online of these abandoned coal mines are impressive, explorers put themselves at great risk to obtain this kind of footage. What do you think West Virginia officials should do with the abandoned coal mines?

West Virginia's Coal Mining Industry

Ghost Town In Connecticut: Trespassers Beware

Dudleytown, Conn. (also known as Village of the Damned) has been touted as a ghost town for years. The only trouble in seeing it for yourself is that it’s on private property, and fines for trespassing are commonly handed out by the police who regularly patrol the area. When I visited the area years ago, this was a concern and it still is today. But the story behind the ghost town is compelling enough that the cryptically curious continue to take the risk.The story begins with an English nobleman named Edmund Dudley. Legend has it that he was beheaded for treason and the Dudley family was put under a curse. When the family settled in Connecticut, it’s said that the curse followed them across the ocean. Some members of the family went insane and a couple committed suicide. Although it is speculated that the real reason behind the crazy spells was probably unclean water, explorers have reported and still do report ghost sightings in the area.

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Haunted Hotels Are In Full Swing

If luxury horror is your thing, look no further than haunted hotels this Halloween. As rounded up in a spread on USA Today, several hotels across the country are incorporating their own tales from the crypt into their businesses this time of year. A couple examples of haunted hotels participating in the spooky season:

The Biltmore Coral Gables in Miami has been everything over the years from a speakeasy during Prohibition to a hospital ward for World War II soldiers to the murder scene of a gangster. Guests have complained of visions and other kinds of ghostly disturbances-including getting dropped off at the 13th floor form the elevator despite the button not being pressed-since the building reopened as a hotel in the 1980s.The Bourbon Orleans Hotel in New Orleans once served as a ballroom and theater, but was then turned into a girls’ school, orphanage and medical ward. Guests routinely complain of hearing voices that sound as though they belong to children.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And if you can’t convince them your hotel isn’t filled with ghosts, convince them of the opposite instead.

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