by Dan Hoffman
God’s miracles happen all around us. Sometimes even in our own backyards.
Click through to check out some of our nation’s most memorable wonders—from an incredible plane landing in New York City to a miraculous fire hydrant in San Francisco.
On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 took off with 155 people from New York’s LaGaurdia Airport. Minutes later, just north of the George Washington Bridge, it struck a flock of geese and lost engine power. The pilots managed to safely land on the Hudson River off of midtown Manhattan in what was famously dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
In 1778, during the Revolutionary War, American soldiers faced a harsh winter famine at Valley Forge—and near-certain death if they didn’t disband their camp. A “false spring” came and caused shad to begin their migration north to Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River early—right where hungry soldiers could fish them. Shortly after this miraculous turn of events, George Washington is quoted as having written to Virginia planter Landon Carter in 1778: “Providence has a just claim to my humble, and grateful thanks for its protection & direction of me, through the many difficult & intricate scenes which this contest hath produced; & for its constant interposition in our behalf when the clouds were heaviest, & seemed ready to burst upon us.”
In 1870, a congregation in Swan Quarter, North Carolina, sought to build a Methodist church on an elevated plot of land that would be less prone to coastal flooding. The landowner refused to sell that plot, though, so the church was built elsewhere. In 1876, a hurricane struck and the church, now known as “The Church Moved by the Hand of God,” was plucked from its foundation and carried by floodwaters to the original intended location, where it remains today.
Union prisoners-of-war in Andersonville, Georgia, were in desperate need of water in the summer of 1864. In August, a natural spring—now enshrined in a marble monument—suddenly burst forth within the prison yard, saving the lives of many. One of the inscriptions on the monument describes it perfectly: “The prisoner's cry of thirst rang up to Heaven. God heard, and with His thunder cleft the earth, and poured His sweetest waters gushing here."
In December 1996, a mysterious sheen appeared on the windows of the Seminole Finance Company in Clearwater, Florida. It was shaped like the Virgin Mary and stood 60 feet tall and 20 feet wide. The building was later bought by the Shepherds of Christ Church and renamed Our Lady of Clearwater. In 2004, part of the image was vandalized. The church replaced that section with stained glass and installed a layer of bulletproof glass to protect it. Visitors can still stop by today to see what’s left of the heavenly sight.
In 1859, a young Belgian immigrant named Adele Brise claimed she was visited three times by the Virgin Mary in Champion, Wisconsin. A shrine was built on the site of her first vision and named Our Lady of Good Help. Numerous answered prayers and physical healings have taken place around the shrine throughout the years, most famously during the great Peshtigo Fire that ravaged Champion in 1871. Citizens fled to the shrine and survived. The church also miraculously remained intact, even though the land surrounding the church was scorched.
In October 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure, aka Baby Jessica, fell 22 feet into a well in her aunt’s backyard in Midland, Texas. Rescuers worked non-stop over the course of 58 hours to save her. Despite the odds, she was rescued alive. As Jessica told People magazine recently, “I had God on my side that day. My life is a miracle.”
On May 16, 1986, David and Doris Young walked into Cokeville Elementary School in Wyoming with a homemade gasoline bomb and took 154 hostages. After two and a half hours, the students and teachers began to pray. Doris Young lifted her arm—and accidentally detonated the bomb. No hostages were killed. After the children were rescued, they reported seeing angels and a “lady in white” who led them to safety.
In 1888, the sisters of the Loretto Chapel in Sante Fe, New Mexico, searched far and wide for a carpenter who could build a staircase that reached the chapel’s choir loft. No one was able to do the job. The sisters prayed for days and, on the ninth day, a stranger came and offered to help. He had only the most basic tools, insisted on working in privacy and only asked for tubs of hot water. Three months later, he disappeared without asking for payment, leaving behind a beautiful spiral staircase built without nails and no clear support structure. Also unusual was the staircase’s number of steps. Thirty-three. The same number of years Jesus lived on earth.
In April 1906, an earthquake left much of the city of San Francisco in flames. This hydrant in the Mission District was the only one that kept on pumping to battle the fire—even though water in that area was supposedly completely shut off. In honor of that miracle, the fire hydrant gets a fresh coat of gold paint every year on April 18. A memorial plaque on it reads: “Though the water mains were broken and dry on April 18, 1906, yet from this Greenberg hydrant on the following night there came a stream of water allowing the firemen to save the Mission District.”
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