Weird West

Lost States (Quirk Books, $29.95), by Michael J. Trinklein, points out that 50 is a nice round number for the U.S., then goes on to list 70 wannabe states that didn’t make it. Some beat the odds by splitting in two, including Virginia, Carolina and the Dakotas—but not West Florida and South Jersey. Failed states include Texas’s German colony of Adelsverein, Tennessee’s backwoods Nickajack and Maine’s thwarted theft of a chunk of Canada labeled Acadia. This big, beautifully-illustrated book is chockful of fascinating, one-of-a-kind maps, as well as slyly factual tales alive with absurd characters, political gamesmanship and high hopes.

Author Charmaine Ortega Getz and editors Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran settle for just one state to discuss in Weird Colorado (Sterling, $19.95), but it’s enough to cram 270 pages with Ant People, Vampire Graves and Blue Mist, while human beings, and some not so human, tower above washing machine museums and Lost Money Wagons. These include the omnipresent Sasquash and the fellow monster Albert Packer, who dined on his snowbound pals ’til he was last on the menu. On the feminine side Rattle Snake Kate dressed stylishly in snakegowns. Topping the list, as a nationally-known mad professor, has to be Nikola Tesla, who came west to Colorado and invented radar and AC—alternating current—as well as radio. But his créme-de-la-créme invention was manmade lightning. As for the present book, it proves an electrifying companion to Sterling Publication’s Weird U.S.

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