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Examiner
  • Jason Offutt: Troubles? It can always get worse

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  • The residents of Trout River, Newfoundland, Canada, are faced with a messy dilemma. Acid rain? Bigfoot? Another NHL lockout? No, exploding whales.
    And you think your town has problems.
    The corpse of a bloated 18-foot whale has washed onto the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence close enough to Trout River a good poke with a stick would send exploding whale parts from Staples Business Depot to the Molson Brewery. (Real places on opposite ends of Trout River. Yes, folks, actual research.)
    But shoving things into a dead whale is just what some residents want to do.
    “The kids were wanting to go over and poke at it,” a Trout River resident told The National Post. “I said to them, ‘My God, don’t you be doing that, because if that whale bursts you’ll be blown to smithereens.’”
    There’s obviously not much to do on a Saturday night in Trout River.
    Disasters aren’t limited to Canada (yes, I remember the Montreal Expos). It gets worse.
    The coal-mining town of Centralia, Pa., is nestled in green tree-covered hills that look a bit like Narnia instead of what they are – the Ninth Plane of Hell. In 1950, the town of about 2,000 people flourished because coal was awesome and hippies hadn’t been invented. Then, in 1962, while burning trash, the coalmines that run under the town caught fire.
    Yes, the ground under the town of Centralia was burning. Oh, did I say, “was?” Fifty-two years later, the ground beneath the town, and 400 acres surrounding Centralia, is still on fire. The 10 residents who remain there apparently love the smell of toxic gas.
    But at least Centralia isn’t cursed.
    Dudleytown, Conn., was settled by descendants of a Saxon named Dudd. His title – Duke of Merica. Seriously? Who wouldn’t want that title? “Hi, my name’s Jason, I’m Duke of ’Merica.” Amazing.
    Dudd’s great-great-great-somethingorother Edmund Dudley died from a serious case of beheading for attempting to overthrow Henry VIII. At that time, the line of Dudley was cursed to suffer unspeakable horrors, so they moved to ’Merica (sorry, America) and founded Dudleytown in a place called Dark Entry Forest, as opposed to Bright Sunny Happytime Land, which may have helped tourism.
    After years of sickness, suicide, madness, forest monsters, ghosts and the occasional resident killed by lightning, residents abandoned the town.
    Parts of the town are still visible, unlike Bayou Corne, La.
    Concerned with an overly flatulent swamp in 2012, residents in Bayou Corne called the one place no one should ever call for help. The United States government. Blaming local oil production for the excessive swamp gas (we all know it was witches), U.S. Geological Survey noticed something it thought was a bit odd – the town was sinking.
    Page 2 of 2 - Now it’s gone. A 750-foot deep, 24-acre sinkhole opened underneath Bayou Corne and ate it all up.
    Yes, that’s right. The earth devoured an entire town.
    Underground fires, European curses, and hungry, hungry sinkholes? You got off easy Trout River, Newfoundland. Give me an exploding whale any day.
    Jason Offutt writes this column for The Examiner.
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