California Gold Rush Bear Fights

I got the following story from an episode of QI, which I'm coming to realize is just my blog, but on TV and hosted by Stephen Fry. That man is always two steps ahead of me. Anyway, the episode was Series F, episode 4: "Fight or Flight".

In the late 1840 to the mid 1850s, thousands of people migrated west for the California Gold Rush. And any time you get a predominantly male hoard moving into uninhabited land, you are going to get a lot of boredom resulting from the lack of civilization and entertainment. When you work all day panning the rivers, what do you do at night except drink? (By the way, this is the exact situation happening in the Dakotas right now with men drilling for oil. If any of my readers are strippers, you can make a FORTUNE working there. God speed.)

So what happens when you get thousands of drunk people in the wilderness who are desperate to entertain themselves? That's right, BEAR FIGHTS.

And not just any bear fights–not like the bear baiting of yore where you chained up a bear and stabbed it or had dogs tear it to pieces. Oh, no! These were "experiments" to see what animals stood a chance against a bear. So you'd have bears fight wolves and bears fight bulls and bears fight . . . I dunno . . . rattlesnakes, probably.

But then, THEN, you guys, these men were still bored, and still drunk, but now they were bored and drunk and rich. And when that happens, you get some seriously dubious purchases.

They imported African lions to fight bears because none of the other animals were lasting very long. I would love to see someone try to explain that situation at customs today. The Gold Rushers thought that if there was one creature that could stand up to a bear, it must be the King of the Beasts. Unfortunately, after several attempts, they realized that lions' skulls are actually quite thin and before they could get anywhere near the bear, it would bop it on the head like a Whack-A-Mole and kill it. So if you are ever trapped with a lion, its weak spot is the top of its head. If you are ever trapped with a bear, just give up. It has no weaknesses.

And of course there are plenty of stories about everything going wrong and the bears escaping and people getting killed, but god love those Gold Rushers, they just kept trying.

I'm not a scientist or anything, but this might be the reason why women live longer than men.

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