The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has generated a tremendous amount of uncertainty worldwide, though one thing you can be sure of is the efficacy of wearing a mask. Not only does a face covering limit the number of germs entering your body, but it also prevents you from spreading the virus to others. If you still don’t believe that masks are worth wearing, hopefully these celebrities rocking their favorites will convince you to go out and pick up a few of your own!

SJP knows a few things about shoes, so it’s no wonder her mask is just as stylish. Carrie Bradshaw would be proud of this fashionable face covering!

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Hollywood heartthrob Luke Evans clearly doesn’t mess around when it comes to wearing his mask, though with a camo pattern like that, we barely even know it’s there. Let’s just hope he doesn’t lend it to John Cena…

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Just keep “Breathin” — through your mask, of course. Still, we bet Ariana’s voice would sound just as amazing from behind the mask as it would without it.

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Even being a superhero doesn’t stop Sebastian Stan from taking the proper precautions each time he steps on a plane. Some people might call this going overboard, but, hey, better safe than sorry!

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There’s definitely a correct way to wear a face mask, but no one ever said anything about a few slight variations. At least she’s covering her nose!

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What do acting legend Robert Downey Jr. and media man Chris Cuomo have in common? They both know to wear their mask — even on bike rides!

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The Mother Monster has never been shy about her out-of-the-box style, a fact that seems to have carried over into her choice of masks as well. Let’s just be thankful this accessory wasn’t totally made of meat.

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When you’re arguably the greatest athlete of all time, you’re not going to mess around with getting sick. Granted, this is LeBron James we’re talking about — he could probably put up a triple-double with one hand and sip chicken soup with the other!

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With such an intense stare, Jennifer Aniston is making her message clear: wear your mask! Maybe she should let us in on where she got hers — it looks super comfy!

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The Biebs is clearly a big fan of wearing his mask — and you know his fans are a big fan of him. If he released his own line of Bieber-sponsored face coverings, you can bet every Belieber in the world would have one.

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Mindy knows how to rock this Greek mythos-inspired mask, though if she really wanted to channel her The Office character Kelly Kapoor, she’d probably get one with Ryan Howard’s face on it.

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There really is nothing Hollywood’s premiere power couple can’t do — except wear a mask the right way. J.Lo better get A-Rod to shape up real quick!

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What goes well with a big floppy hat? Why, a mask, of course! Reese clearly knew that from the start; after all, she’s been fashion forward ever since her Elle Woods days.

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Most parents probably worry their mask might scare their young children, but John Legend clearly doesn’t have that problem. Then again, John does look like a small child himself, so maybe his son took some comfort in that.

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If you ask Kerry Washington, there’s nothing Scandal-ous about wearing a mask. If only the COVID-19 pandemic was a crisis Olivia Pope & Associates could manage…

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“We’re all in this together” is a phrase Zac Efron is used to hearing from his High School Musical days, but the saying rings true now more than ever before. Good thing that mask doesn’t get in the way of his dance moves!

Keeping Up With the Kardashians may be coming to an end, but it looks like one member of this famous family is still keeping up with COVID-19 protocols. You go girl!

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Even on the court, Rafa’s not about to let germs get in the way of his next win. Come to think of it, the mask might even muffle some of his excessive grunting!

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She may have kissed a girl and liked it, but Katy Perry is now putting casual smooching on hold indefinitely. That probably explains the inspiration behind her new song, “I Elbow Bumped a Colleague and It Was Weird.”

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Not even actual royalty are above wearing face masks (and rightfully so). After all, when you’re second in line to the British throne, no risk is worth taking.

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The superstar singer recently decided to double up on protection, wearing not one, but two masks at all times. This seems a bit like overkill, but according to P!nk herself, she can breathe just fine!

NPH has just three letters for people who don’t wear masks: WTF. If Barney Stinson was experiencing COVID-19 like the rest of us, you can bet his mask would be legen — wait for it — dary!

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The Girlfriends and Black-ish star has plenty of people in her life she wears a mask for, though perhaps the most important is her mother, music legend Diana Ross. Can’t afford to put such talented genes at risk!

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If Steve Harvey were to ask you, “Name something that helps prevent the spread of COVID-19,” you can bet money that the entire Family Feud audience would have “a mask” as their number-one answer. “Hand sanitizer” would probably nab you some points too.

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Even with a mask on, the paparazzi just can’t get enough of Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams. If only we could say the same about that final season…

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If the despised Draco Malfoy is willing to wear a mask, then why wouldn’t you? I’m sure even Harry Potter would be willing to put aside their differences to get behind such important advice.

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Kristen may find herself in the afterlife in The Good Place, but that’s the last place she wants to be in real life. That’s why she’s staying home with her pup and making sure that mask is on good and tight.

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A 15-time champion who never lost a match, Floyd Mayweather is fearless. Still, he clearly understands that wearing a mask affects more than just himself each time he goes on one of his legendary shopping sprees.

What’s better than curling up on the couch with a good book? According to Emma Roberts, it’s wearing a mask! Hopefully it’ll prevent her from being in a real-life American Horror Story.

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You didn’t really expect the Goop queen to be without a mask, did you? Surprisingly, this one doesn’t feature any kind of healing crystal or scent of a certain female body part.

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The R&B superstar clearly isn’t afraid of standing out from the crowd. Even though everyone around him is mask-free, The Weeknd knows to keep his face — and his angelic voice — protected.

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Actress. Filmmaker. Mask wearer. Natalie Portman continues to do it all, proving that she can pull off everything from a shaved head to a big, cozy mask.

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As one of the world’s top models, Bella Hadid is constantly in the air — and constantly wearing her mask while doing so. We wouldn’t be surprised if masks even become the hottest trend at next year’s Paris Fashion Week!

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Everybody knows Steve Martin, but with a mask on, he’s had some trouble getting recognized lately. That’s why every time he goes out, he makes sure to wear a sign on his head that says “Steve Martin” in bright red letters — seriously.

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Parents to three children, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds sometimes find themselves with so many arts and crafts they don’t know what to do. Thankfully, these homemade masks are just what the Hollywood couple needed!

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Don’t have an actual mask handy? No problem! A t-shirt or scarf works just as well, or you can follow Marisa’s lead and use a bandana to really give off those Wild West vibes.

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“Social distancing but make it fashion” — we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Taking care of yourself — and looking out for others — really never goes out of style.

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If you’re planning on visiting NYC any time soon, be like Rebel Wilson and wear your mask! The standard benefits are obvious, but if you decide to take an impromptu cruise around the Statue of Liberty, it’ll keep your face warm too!

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Nothing complements a good eyeshadow like an even better mask. Of course, Jennifer Hudson doesn’t have to worry about her voice being muffled: she’s got the kind of power that’d make Whitney Houston proud.

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Even out in the fields, Australian icon Hugh Jackman is playing it safe. He knows how dangerous the coronavirus can be, though he and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness have been enjoying spending more time together. And celebrity examples aren’t the only reasons why you should mask up…

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In the U.S., the consequences for not wearing a mask are pretty tame (with the exception of, you know, actually catching or spreading the coronavirus). Sure, sometimes you get dirty looks for endangering yourself and others, but it’s not like you’re breaking any laws, right? 

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Not so much. 33 states put mask mandates in place, but as you’ve probably seen for yourself, enforcing a mask rule is easier said than done…unless you live in Indonesia.

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As the U.S. stumbled over its reaction to COVID-19, Indonesia was similarly slow to the uptake. Cases spiked despite months of proof that simply wearing a mask and social distancing can help stop the spread, and the number of cases they saw were staggering.

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By October 2020, 307,000 coronavirus cases had resulted in over 11,000 deaths and counting. It’s possible these numbers could’ve been even worse: Back in July, Indonesia passed a law requiring people to wear masks in public, but the law came with a catch.

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When it came to enforcing the law, the government left that responsibility to local officials, making each region’s response to noncompliance unique from the other. What each region does have in common, though, are the “three pillars.”

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The “three pillars” is a team consisting of the Indonesia National Armed Forces, Indonesian National Police, and local law enforcement. They’re in charge of enforcing the mask restrictions, and some of the punishments they’re doling out are…unconventional, to say the least.

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In Cerme, anyone who is caught not wearing a mask has two options: They can either pay a fine of 150,000 rupiah ($10) or do a “social punishment,” which forces them to break a sweat in the most unexpected ways.

Secretary Salatiga Regency

Mild forms of the social punishment involve push-ups and cleaning, but it’s the extreme version of the social punishment that is making headlines. In East Java, a rural province of Indonesia, anti-maskers were given a mask, a shovel, and a plot of land…

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These people weren’t doing yard work. In an effort to make anti-maskers face the potential consequences of their actions head-on, East Java’s local politician, Suyono, is having people dig graves for victims of COVID-19.

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“There are only three available gravediggers at the moment, so I thought I might as well put these people to work with them,” Suyono told Tribun News. Compared to push-ups, it’s definitely one of the more psychologically challenging punishments.

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So far, at least 8 people have been forced to confront their own mortality by digging graves for COVID victims. The main hope is that these anti-maskers, consisting of three middle-aged men and five minors, will gain a little empathy every time they sink their shovel into the soil.

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“Hopefully this can create a deterrent effect against violations,” Suyono said. Although these anti-maskers don’t bury the victims themselves, they dig the graves and build wooden planks to make sure the caskets are supported. It’s a morbid job indeed — but not the most morbid punishment.

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If you thought digging graves was as morbid as it gets, then take a trip to Jakarta. Indonesia’s capital has instituted an even more spine-chilling punishment for those who refuse to wear a mask, except this time, it involves the media.

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In September, an anti-masker was forced to lie in a mock coffin while members of the public watched and took pictures. Though this kind of punishment doesn’t exactly help social distancing, it can remind the anti-masker of their potential fate.

“The goal is to make people aware that COVID-19 is still present and dangerous,” said Santoso, deputy head of Pasar Rebo. They hope that the individual’s time spent in the coffin gives them the chance to “reflect on their mistakes.” 

As news of these macabre punishments have spread, so too have other weird forms of punishment for anti-maskers in Indonesia. Some people in the Bogor Regency of West Java were forced to sit in the back of an ambulance next to a bunch of coffins, for example.

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It only gets weirder from there: Some were forced to lie in a coffin and count to 100, and in one instance, more than 50 people completed their social punishment by being transported to a cemetery late at night, where they prayed for the victims of COVID-19.

Sidoarjo Police

All of these punishments were controversial in Indonesia, but especially the gravedigging. Despite the authorities’ insistence that it was an “innovative” way of teaching people about the dangers of COVID, its actual effectiveness leaves much to be desired. 

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Some viewed the gravedigging punishment as overly traumatic, and one community leader even admitted that the punishment will have to undergo some regulations. It’s not clear yet whether these morbid punishments are really sinking in with the public…

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And by now, the steadily-rising cases and death rate speak for themselves. Indonesia has the second-highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, second only to the Philippines. By mid-September, the country’s health infrastructure was shaky at best.

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All 20 Jakarta hospitals approved to treat COVID-19 cases were at full capacity, making the next few months an uncertain time, especially for those who refuse to wear a mask. If all else fails, though, Indonesia has one more trick left up its sleeve.

In the center of a busy intersection in Jakarta, a fake coffin with the words “COVID-19 victim” stands as a stark warning to the public of what they and their families stand to lose by not taking the pandemic seriously. To Americans, these tactics may sound extreme.

But if you look back to our own history, you’ll see that we’ve done some pretty extreme things to combat widespread illness, too. Though the 1918 influenza pandemic turned the U.S. upside down, one small rural town fought back in the strangest way possible.

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On September 20th, 1918, 250 soldiers from Montana arrived in the city of Boulder, Colorado. Of the 250 men, 13 were on their deathbeds. They weren’t dying from battle wounds, however. They were shaking, sweating, and almost delirious with the flu. 

Ohio History Connection

Before long, the flu was zeroing in on Gunnison, Colorado, a farming and mining town with a population of 1,300. Gunnison was filled with tough, salt-of-the-earth people who took life day by day. Looking back, this clear-headed attitude may be what saved them.

History Colorado

But back in the fall of 1918, when those 13 soldiers fought for their lives in Boulder, the situation certainly made most Coloradans panic. After all, the pandemic had been something other countries were dealing with. Suddenly, it was knocking on their own doors. 

University of Michigan

“The flu is after us,” the Gunnison News-Champion warned on October 10th. “It is circulating in almost every village and community around us.” This wasn’t just fear mongering. Two railroads ran through Gunnison and connected it to Denver, which was a hot-spot of flu cases.

By October 16th, governor Julius Gunter had issued an executive order banning public and private gatherings. Of all the towns in Colorado, Gunnison’s reaction is what made them stand out. Unlike others, they refused to be inactive in the face of panic.

The News-Champion published one front-page article on influenza, including steps to take for avoidance and treatment, in every weekly edition. Since this was before the time of news alerts, the people of Gunnison clung to every word.

Stephen Leonard

Back in 1918, people weren’t sanitizing their doorknobs with antibacterial wipes or soaking their hands in Purell. They weren’t able to horde face masks or toilet paper or frozen foods. Instead, they were forced to rely on something that seems completely foreign to us today.

MSNBC

They were forced to trust their leaders. They depended on local newspapers for updates, doctors for guidance, and the police for authority. Dr. F.P. Hanson, the county physician, took a leading role…and made an unprecedented decision.

“I have caused a strict quarantine to be placed in Gunnison county against the world,” he announced. “Barricades and fences have been erected on all main highways near the county lines.” For the first time ever, life in Gunnison ground to a complete halt.

History Colorado

Motorists were instructed to either drive straight through Gunnison or submit to days-long quarantine. The railroads, once the lifeblood of the county, were eventually shut down. “Any person may leave the county at his will; none may return,” Hanson warned.

Gunnison, once filled with bustling businesses and friendly neighbors, was silent and still. The people looked not to politicians for comfort, but to local doctors like Hanson and J.W. Rockerfeller, who were given “entire charge” of the county…and the physicians weren’t kidding around.

Anyone who violated the rules of quarantine would be “dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” Hanson said. “And to this we promise our personal attention.” It wasn’t long before Hanson and Rockerfeller had to put their warning to action.

Residents reported two motorists and a rail passenger who were trying to avoid being quarantined. The result? Their immediate arrest. “This little instance should show outsiders what Gunnison county’s stand is,” Rockerfeller warned. As the flu spread elsewhere, Gunnison remained on lock-down.

National Archives

At first, the success of the enforced quarantine was touch-and-go; each time it seemed safe to lift the bans, the state would be rocked by another wave of influenza. By 1919, Gunnison had been in quarantine for two full months, and its citizens were more than a little restless.

History Colorado

Still, the doctors held on to their insistence that quarantine was for the best. “It is not a pleasant or profitable undertaking, [but] when whole families have been wiped out…isn’t it worthwhile to maintain, although it entails inconvenience, hardships, and financial loss?” Rockerfeller wrote.

Underwood Archives/Holger Mollgaard

Another newspaper gave terrified citizens some — if not uplifting — tips. “You are a soldier in civil life. It is your patriotic duty to do your utmost to avoid unnecessarily exposing yourself or others to this disease…a little carelessness on your part may cost someone’s life.”

Nassau News-Record

And so the quarantine in Gunnison continued…until early February, that is. At this point, flu cases had decreased in the state. People in Gunnison started peering out of their windows for signs of life. Was it safe to go out?

PBS/Arthur Rothstein

There was only one way to find out. Gunnison lifted its travel and quarantine restrictions, and people left their homes for the first time in months. But it was all for nothing: By mid-March, an unexpected wave of influenza hit Gunnison while its guard was down. 

The newspaper was filled with headlines shouting about the “Grim Reaper”, and on March 13th, one headline read simply: “Flu Gets Us At Last.” One by one, previously healthy Gunnison citizens were bedridden. The carnage was projected to be great.

Denver Public Library

Although spring came to Gunnison, the carnage never did. Of all 1,300 residents, seven died: Two adults and five children. The rest of the flu cases were mild and left Gunnison with almost all of its families intact…and with an unlikely legacy.

Gunnison is now known as the town that narrowly avoided a pandemic. Looking back, their success comes down to three things: precautions when it seemed unnecessary, patience when it seemed impossible, and of course, plain old luck.

U. of Kentucky

Gunnison officials forced citizens to stay indoors during the 1918 flu pandemic because they thought doing so would save lives. But what if you’re told to do the opposite? The people of Celles, France, had to answer this question themselves in the 1950s.

As much as it might look like this quaint waterside village is something out of a movie, it’s actually a very real town called Celles located in Southern France’s Salagou Valley. And it’s the center of a lot of controversy.

Wikipedia

Because, these days, the town looks far different than it used to back in the beginning of the 1900s. If you venture out to the Salagou Valley today, you’ll find the area strewn with abandoned buildings.

Wikipedia

It’s a sad sight, unfortunately. What once were the homes of residents are now crumbling structures where families were raised. Some of the windows are still intact, but ruins now overtake Celles.

Sam Harrison

Celles was never a bustling city by any means, but at one point in time during the 1950s, it had about 65 residents who ensured the village ran smoothly every day.

To this day, the reservoir around Celles is tranquil and scenic, but you would never know the water was actually the reason the town was so quickly abandoned. The events that unfolded in the late 1950s were heartbreaking.

Sam Harrison

Prior to the residents fleeing Celles, nearly all of them were either farmers or winemakers, living off the land and honing agricultural methods. However, even though everyone lived simply, Celles faced a crisis.

They were experiencing what was known as a “viticulture crisis.” Basically, too many people were making wine. The market was completely saturated with product, and prices were at an all-time low.

So, in order to bring a bigger diversity of agriculture to the area, the local government figured building a reservoir would be an ideal option. But, they had to completely flood out the town of Celles to do so.

Between the years of 1959 and 1968, the people of Celles were instructed to sell their homes. Those who didn’t abide by the law were forced out by any means necessary. After an 11-year struggle, the town was deserted.

Wikimedia Commons

What remained after the dictatorial government action was exactly what you’d expect. The skeletons of homes lay rotting away, and the peaceful energy that once filled the streets was nowhere to be found.

Sam Harrison

Now that the residents were gone, the reservoir and dam were quickly completed. The water level slowly rose, but before it hit the expected level of 150 meters, it stopped 11 meters short. The water never even reached Celles.

Wikimedia Commons

The town was totally deserted for absolutely no reason at all. People left their lives and abandoned everything they knew for an end result that never even happened. People were devastated by the outcome.

Sam Harrison

That wasn’t even the worst of what happened, either. After it was discovered there was an entire town up for grabs, squatters came in and began living in the skeletal remains of buildings. Looters took whatever goods were left.

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So, what was to come of this sad town that once housed hardworking Celles residents? Many would think all abandoned hope, when in fact, some people did try making a difference.

Sam Harrison

Amazingly, three families actually agreed to sign long-term leases at Celles in an attempt to revitalize the village. Of course, it will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but Celles’ mayor is confident it can happen.

Motoroaming

Her name is Joëlle Goudal, and she’s been fighting her entire life to help keep the idea of rebuilding Celles into what it once was alive and well. But, it’s been a struggle.

Languedoc Living

“We wanted a lively village. A village that’s lively is a place where people work; where kids go to school, where people wake up in the morning to go to their jobs,” Goudal said.

One beacon of hope for Goudal is based on a special lease called a “bail réel solidaire.” What the lease states is whoever plans on moving in has to agree to take part in rebuilding the structural integrity.

To enforce the lease, Celles is currently only welcoming people who can bring entire businesses in to kickstart some kind of economy. “We chose people based on their project or the enterprise they will bring,” said the mayor.

Cpl. Daniel Woodall

Goudal eventually wants Celles to become a functioning town again, but it’s hard to say how many people are willing to join such a stressful undertaking. Those in charge knew from past events how hard it was to really people for a cause like this.

Flickr / Kristy Schmidt

See, back in 1965, residents of Niagara Falls, New York, began to notice that, on their side of the falls, things were looking a bit wonky. The falls’ water levels were beginning to dwindle, and something, the locals knew, was off.

See, American Falls — one of three fall that make up Niagara — was a self-destructive mess (which is totally relatable). Its waters eroded the shape of the landmark, and talus, which is the rock that collects at the bottom of the falls, grew to over half of the height of the cliff!

Apparently this excessive deposit of talus was preventing the water from falling gracefully. People were worried that the aggressive amounts of rock affected the aesthetic allure of the American side. The Americans were worried.

Niagara Falls Public Library

It was a concern that the American side would lose a portion of its revenue if the waterfalls’ serene magic dimmed. So, in 1965, Niagara Falls, New York, residents propelled a campaign to preserve the aesthetic wonder of the American Falls. 

In response, American and Canadian authorities were on the case, as they contacted the International Joint Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about restoration. After consideration, the refurbishment plan was a go! It wouldn’t be easy, however.

To give the American Falls a makeover, engineers had to strip Niagara Falls of its water completely to thoroughly analyze the talus rock face. The goal was to remove 280,000 cubic yards of talus, and, in June of 1969, said engineers got to work.

Engineers brought approximately 27,000 tons of earth and rock to the American Falls. We know what you’re thinking: Why would they bring more rubble to the talus-saturated falls? Well, they needed to build a cofferdam, an enclosure that pumps out water, to create a dry workspace.

By creating a cofferdam, engineers redirected the flow of water from the American Falls to the Horseshoe Falls (which borders both sides of Niagara Falls). By doing this, they could finally take a peak at the American Falls’ cryptic underbelly.

They figured the reveal would simply expose Niagara Falls’ geological features, which have been hidden for nearly 12,000 years. They were in for the shock of their lives, and it wouldn’t be a pretty one.

The American Falls held something much darker than just heaps of talus rock. Like dead bodies. Tourists spotted human remains from both a man and a woman laid out on the riverbed. Questions mounted.

No one knows the identities of these perished souls, however, it was commonly spread that the man leaped to his death from the tippy top of Niagara Falls. And how did the woman’s body end up wasting away at the bottom of the falls?

That remained a mystery. Though the engineers were disturbed by their discovery, they found it more shocking that the team didn’t discover more bodies among the eroded rocks, considering what they knew about the falls.

An estimated 5,000 bodies were found at the base of the falls between 1850 and 2011, making it odd that only two were found in 1969. Considering statistics approximate 20 to 40 suicides a year at the falls, it’s not the only explanation for this graveyard of sorts.

Thrill-seekers have taken the daring plunge from the falls’ peak since the 1820s, having built inventive barrels and casks to topple over the falls in. With fingers crossed, only a few have survived the audacious feat.

Niagara Falls Public Library

The most famous survivor is arguably Annie Edson Taylor, who took the plunge over the falls in 1901, cradled inside a wooden barrel. Reportedly, the adventurer said “No one ought ever do that again,” after her triumph. Sadly, many didn’t heed her warning, which explains some of the found remains.

Being less dreadful, but more disruptive, millions of coins were, too, found among the talus collection in 1969. That’s a whole lot of wishes. Still, coins and bodies aside, the engineers still needed to get the falls gushing with water again.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Believe it or not, after the intense, and wildly expensive, construction at the American Falls, engineers decided to leave the eroded talus after their realization that the rock supported the cliff face behind. Though it sounds absurd, the project didn’t go without purpose.

It opened up an opportunity to give the American Falls some much needed TLC. With the help of anchors, bolts and cables, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked on stabilizing the falls so it could glisten and gleam for years to come.

The International Joint Commission concluded “man should not interfere with the natural process.” Nevertheless, recent years have spawned talks of once again dewatering the falls, this time in hopes of restoring bridges. Experts know this could reveal important details from history.

That’s what happened about 100 miles away from Portland, Oregon, where the Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River creates a reservoir known as Detroit Lake. The lake provides water for the city of Salem — and intrigue every autumn.

Sally DeSouza

Towards the end of every year, the lake runs mostly dry, exposing a cracked-and-grassy surface that brings locals out to the Marion County mountains in droves. It’s not the lake’s barren surface they want to see, however — well, not exactly.

Bicycle Times Mag

Rather, travelers pull off Route 22 every fall — usually between October 1 and January 1 — hoping to catch a glimpse of history: a piece of the area’s rich past jutting from the soil like a troop of two-foot soldiers.

Tree stumps pepper the landscape, vestiges of the past creating an eerie atmosphere. Touch a stump and you won’t feel the familiar bark; rather, you’ll feel a thick-and-bloated stump that belongs to the depths of Detroit Lake.

State Library of Oregon

Most thought these stumps, interesting as they are, were all the drained lake had to offer (when full, the lake’s a popular place for water sports). But in 2015, a drought drained the lake in its entirety, revealing the deepest depths of the reservoir…

Jamie Hale / Oregon Live

During the drought, and thanks to a lack of snowfall in the Cascades, the lake dropped 143 feet below capacity. Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Zahn saw this as an opportunity to explore the land beyond the stumps.

KPTV

“I went on a treasure hunt down along the river, figuring I’d find foundations or something like that,” Deputy Dave said. He wandered the dried-up lake bed, grazing the stumps with his fingertips until he saw something in the distance.

Oregon Live

In a part of the lake bed submerged underwater for over 70 years, the deputy saw what at first might’ve looked like a fat tree branch in between two stumps. But as he neared the oddity, he saw more clearly what it actually was.

James Hale / Oregon Live

Out of the mud stuck a wagon, complete with massive spoked wheels and a spring seat. Low oxygen levels in the reservoir preserved the piece of history almost perfectly, including a metal plate with some telling details.

Oregon Live

The metal plate revealed the wagon was built in 1875 by the Milburn Wagon Company of Toledo, Ohio, the biggest wagon manufacturer in the U.S. at the time. A simple discovery, yes, but one that had an immeasurable impact on the local community.

The wagon discovery reopened the past. While the history of Lake Detroit wasn’t exactly a secret, it didn’t hurt for Oregonians who might not know to ask what’s the story behind this wagon and all these stumps?

Oregon Live

The charming history, soon consumed by locals intrigued by the wagon, went like this: in the 1880s pioneers — likely steering carts like the one Deputy Dave found — left Michigan for the Pacific Northwest. They made a settlement along a river.

They called their settlement “New Detroit,” named, of course, for their home state’s largest city. While New Detroit never matched the size of its namesake, the settlement did grow to about 200 people.

Oregon Live

The small community nestled in a pocket of trees first housed builders for the Oregon Pacific Railroad, but eventually, it thrived on its own merit as citizens built cafes, churches, hardware stores, and logging companies.

Joseph Rose / Oregon Live

For about 70 years, the small settlement grew, but then Congress devised a plan to help out farmers and downstream towns getting obliterated by a constantly-flooding North Santiam River: the construction of a dam.

Oregon Live

The 463-foot-high dam was for electricity, irrigation, and most importantly, flood control, and its creation, New Detroit residents knew, meant the demise of their humble settlement. In 1952, after World War II, the Army Corps of Engineers arrived.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Corps cleared over 3,000 acres of trees from what would be the dam’s reservoir, not knowing, of course, they were creating what would be a local attraction 70-some-odd years later: the tree stump garden.

David James Visuals

Residents protested the destruction of their settlement, but to no avail. Still, grim as it looked, this was not the end of New Detroit, which by then was alive with automobiles instead of horse-drawn carts!

Residents who’d grown fond of their little corner of the world simply packed up and moved to the top of a plateau about one mile away. It must’ve been haunting to watch the water turn their old settlement — including the wagon — into a ghost town!

Wikimedia

Thanks to Deputy Dave’s lake bed exploration, the history of New Detroit was brought into the light once more. That neat wagon, which experts supposed had never before been exposed until that 2015 drought, triggered an entire area’s interest in its colorful past!

Joseph Rose / Oregon Live