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National Park Quiz 76: Ringer I

Lincoln scholar and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sandburg failed to earn a high school diploma, much less a college degree. But did he also fail the grammar component of a West Point entrance exam? Library of Congress photo by Al Ravenna.

Only nine of these ten statements about national park-related personalities are true. Can you spot the bogus one?

(1) True of false? Author/poet Carl Sandburg, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for writing, was given a failing grade for grammar when he took the West Point entrance exam.

(2) True or false? When President William Howard Taft ran for reelection in 1912, he came in third.

(3) True or false? Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Everglades conservation advocate and author of The Everglades: River of Grass, lived to the ripe old age of 108.

(4) True or false? President Andrew Jackson had a bullet lodged in his chest when he was sworn into office.

(5) True or false? Edgar Allan Poe married his 13 year-old cousin.

(6) True or false? John Muir was drafted into the Union army, got wounded at Petersburg in 1865, and walked with a slight limp for the rest of his life.

(7) True or false? Thomas Edison filmed the electrocution of a rogue elephant.

(8) True or false? Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Constantine “Costa” Dillon was the principal screenwriter for the 1978 classic film “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.”

(9) True or false? After he lost the 1912 presidential election, Theodore Roosevelt went on a lengthy expedition in South America, fell gravely ill, and barely survived.

(10) True or false? John Colter, an early explorer of the Yellowstone country, escaped his Blackfeet captors in 1808 after being stripped of his clothes and ordered to run for his life.


(1) True. Sandburg, who later won two Pulitzer Prizes and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, lost his conditional appointment to West Point in 1899 when he failed both the grammar and arithmetic components of the academy’s entrance exam.

(2) True. Sitting President Taft not only lost the 1912 presidential election to Woodrow Wilson, he also drew fewer votes than Bull Moose party candidate Theodore Roosevelt.

(3) True. Marjory Stoneman Douglas was born on April 7, 1890, and died on May 14, 1998. Her ashes were scattered in the Everglades.

(4) True. Andrew Jackson fought 13 duels before he became president. The one he fought with Charles Dickinson on May 30, 1806, left Dickinson mortally wounded and Jackson with two shattered ribs and a bullet lodged so close to his heart that it couldn’t be removed.

(5) True. Poe married his first cousin, Virginia Eliza Clemm, when he was 27 and she was 13. Poe was heartbroken when Virginia died of tuberculosis in 1847.

(6) False. Muir, who was 22 years old and subject to the draft at the time, left for Ontario, Canada, in 1864 and stayed there until a few months after the Civil War was over. Whether he did that to evade the draft remains a matter of debate.

(7) True. On January 4, 1903, a 6,600-volt jolt of alternating current (AC) electricity was used to electrocute “Topsy,” an elephant that had killed three men. Edison, who had suggested the electrocution, captured the event on film and distributed copies nationally.

(8) True. Superintendent Dillon is listed in the film credits as C.J. Dillon. The J stands for James.

(9) True. In 1913, Roosevelt participated in a grueling expedition that explored the 600+ mile-long River of Doubt, an uncharted Amazon tributary. Roosevelt grew so emaciated and weak from exhaustion and disease that his son and other companions were amazed he survived the trip.

(10) True. The fleet-footed Colter, who had tricked his Blackfeet captors into believing he was hobbled by injuries, managed to kill the only Indian that was able to catch up to him.


Thanks for another informative quiz, Bob. Did note a common misspellling: (5) "Edgar Allen Poe" should be "Edgar Allan Poe." As a Poe fan, and in honor of the many English teachers who helped me appreciate his work, I simply can't let it go.

Guilty as charged, RoadRanger. A very nice catch. I've fixed it in the article, but I'm going to leave your comment here to reinforce your point. It's interesting that the name Allan is forever associated with the great poet, even though he was never formally adopted and, as I understand it, had no particular liking for his foster father.

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