WTF Fun Fact 13173 – Augusta and Adeline Van Buren

While still in their 20s, sisters Augusta and Adeline Van Buren were the first women to travel from New York to California on solo motorcycles. (They were the second and third women to drive motorcycles across the continental U.S.)

Who were Augusta and Adeline Van Buren?

Augusta Van Buren was born on March 26, 1884, and her sister Adeline on July 26, 1889. They came from a wealthy New York family and were descendants of U.S. President Martin Van Buren.

They became known for partaking in traditionally male activities, like boxing and motorcycle riding, early in their lives. They were also part of the U.S. Preparedness movement, part of which involved showing that women could help enhance the military’s war effort during WWI.

In 1916, the Van Buren sisters each rode a solo motorcycle 5,500 miles in 60 days across the continental U.S.

According to the Women in Exploration website (cited below): “The Van Buren sisters set out to prove to their country that women were capable of serving in the military as dispatch drivers. They also hoped to remove one of the primary arguments for denying women the right to vote. The Van Buren’s ride was successful, but their applications to be military dispatch riders were rejected. However, both women went on to pursue careers. Adeline achieved a law degree from New York University and Augusta became a pilot and flew in Amelia Earhart’s Ninety-Nines, an international organization dedicated to creating a supportive environment and opportunities for female aviators.

The Van Buren sisters’ adventure

Augusta was 32 at the time of the ride, while Adeline was 26. They rode Indian Powerplus motorcycles, which sold for $275 at the time.

Augusta and Adeline Van Buren’s adventure began in New York City, after which they headed to Springfield, Massachusetts to visit the motorcycle factory. Their journey across the country followed what is now known as Interstate 80.

Poor maps, dangerous weather, and bad roads were all challenges on the cross-country trip, especially once they got west of the Mississippi River.

Once they got outside of Chicago, they were often harassed by law enforcement and locals because it was illegal for women to wear pants in many states. And as you might imagine, they weren’t wearing dresses on those bikes!

Regardless, they made it. On the way, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren because the first women to reach the top of Pike’s Peak on motorized vehicles.

Their journey ended at the U.S.- Mexico border just two months after they started out.

Adeline died at age 59 (in 1949( and Augusta at age 75 (in 1959). In 2002, the sisters were inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Augusta & Adeline Van Buren” — Women in Exploration

WTF Fun Fact 13113 – The Island in a Lake in an Island in a Lake

Vulcan Point has an interesting factoid that few pieces of land that share this distinction. It’s an island in a lake in an island in a lake in an island. These are called “recursive islands.”

How do you get an island in a Lake in an Island in a Lake?

How does this make sense?

Well, Vulcan Point is a tiny piece of land inside a crater lake on Volcano island in Lake Taal, which sits in the island of Luzon in The Philippines. Luzon is in the Batangas province. You can see it all here on Google.

Vulcan Point isn’t a tourist destination so much as it’s just a curiosity. Lake Taal is believed to have been formed by rainwater, and it was covered in vegetation until recently when the Taal Volcano erupted in 2020, and it evaporated. However, typhoon water brought back the lake, and its island is now a bit bigger (and Vulcan Point is on its peninsula).

Trust us, looking at a map will help.

Recursive islands

A recursive island is merely an island in a lake. But there are 12 other islands in lakes in islands in lakes in islands in the world. Canada has the most. Indonesia has a pair as well. The rest are in the UK and Cuba.

There’s only one island in a lake on island in a lake on an island in a lake in the world (which takes it all one step further). It’s called Manar. But its island, lake, next biggest island, etc. remain unnamed. But the main island is in Lake Yathkyed, way up in Nunavut.

We’re not sure they make the best vacation spots – though there’s little stopping you from visiting many of them – but they do make for good trivia!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Taal Volcano Main Crater Lake” — Wikipedia

WTF Fun Fact 12754 – Sudan Pyramids Outnumber Egypt’s

Interested in ancient civilizations? Want to see pyramids without all the tourists? Then you may want to consider visiting the Meroe region in Sudan. In Sudan, pyramids outnumber the Egyptian kind by nearly 2:1.

Nubian pyramids in Sudan

The pyramids belong to the ancient Nubian kings, who lived in the northern part of present-day Sudan. Meroe was the capital city of the Kingdom of Kush. The structures themselves are nearly 5000 years old and are largely untouched these days.

The main source of destruction to the pyramids was an Italian “explorer” named Giuseppe Ferlini. He blew up quite a few and destroyed the tops of many structures in his hunt for the kings’ treasures in the 1880s.

What’s inside Sudan’s pyramids

These little-known Nubian tombs have paintings on the inside celebrating the kings buried inside. And since the Nubians did business with other ancient civilizations, you can see Greek and Roman, influences in the artwork.

Since the Kushite kingdom is part of the Nile River Valley, the most prominent influence is that of the Egyptians. (Of course, Egypt’s pyramids are much older, dating back to the era of the New Kingdom from the 16th century BC to the 11th century BC).

Of course, many of the tombs were raided by Ferlini during his destructive episode, and the “loot” now resides in many European museums. But they had been plundered in ancient times as well.

Preserving the past

Luckily, the Nubian pyramids are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are generally protected from more harm. Until 2019, National Geographic funded further excavations of the site to learn more about the ancient kings and their civilization.

Much of the excavations require researchers to dive underwater to enter the structures.

According to NatGeo, “The largest and oldest pyramid at Nuri belongs to its most famous resident: the pharaoh Taharqa, a Kushite king who in the seventh century B.C. rallied his troops to the northern edges of his empire to defend Jerusalem from the Assyrians, earning him a mention in the Old Testament.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Dive beneath the pyramids of Sudan’s black pharaohs” — National Geographic