Pat Shingleton: A Fresh Frozen Bogus Story
Bogus stories lace the colorful history of Death Valley, CA. As noted in a previous column, in 1874, the Virginia Territorial Enterprise's editor was "filling space" and concocted a story about a scientist who invented a "solar armor" suit. The scientist covered himself with sponge-like material, saturated in water and set across the desert and was discovered perched on a rock, frozen solid. Rapid evaporation supposedly turned the sponge into ice and his beard was covered with frost and a foot-long icicle hung from his nose. The story had the trappings of scientific fact. The hoax was reprinted by newspapers world-wide. Perspiring does lower the body temperature, as more people have died of dehydration in Death Valley than heat stroke.