Wonder is everywhere. That’s why, every other week, Atlas Obscura drags you down some of the rabbit holes we encounter as we search for our unusual stories. We highlight surprising finds, great writing, and inspiring stories from some of our favorite publications.

The Untold History of Japanese American Bird Pins

by Susan Shain, High Country News

At a World War II concentration camp for people of Japanese descent in the Arizona desert, a former art student named Roy Takahashi began carving delicate bird pins to pass the time. He started a trend that spread through other camps. Today, the works of art—fashioned from scraps of wood from shipping crates and wires from window screens—are museum items.

The Water Is Eating the Island

by Tommy Trenchard, Hakai Magazine

Nyangai, off the coast of Sierra Leone, will soon disappear. In the last decade alone the island has shrunk from roughly 2,300 feet long to just 550 feet. Where there were once 500 homes, there are now 100, crowded into the quickly vanishing sand.

Will a Giant Burger in the Sky Draw Tourists to This Sleepy Town?

by Joseph Pisani, Wall Street Journal

For the last seven years, some residents of Hamburg, New York, have been advocating for turning the town’s unused water tower into a roadside attraction—a giant hamburger, 130 feet in the sky. To those who worry it would be cheesy: “I say to them, ‘Look, don’t worry, we live in Hamburg, not Cheeseburg,’” jokes the project’s biggest booster.

How a Curator at the Museum of the American Revolution Solved a Nearly 250-Year-Old Art Mystery

by Rosa Cartagena, Philadelphia Inquirer

An 18th-century sketch hung in a bedroom in a home outside Philadelphia for 40 years before a curator from the Museum of the American Revolution spotted it and recognized it as a rare depiction of the women camp followers—the wives and daughters of enlisted men who traveled with and supported the Continental Army.

The Underwater Hunt for the Lost Ship of a Slave Trafficker

by Terrence McCoy, Washington Post

For decades researchers have been hunting for the Camargo, the lost ship of Nathaniel Gordon, the only person ever executed in the United States for trafficking enslaved Africans. They’ve finally discovered it—they think—off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Andy Warhol ‘Mao’ Print Vanishes From a California College’s Vault

by Julia Binswanger, Smithsonian Magazine

In 1972 and 1973, Andy Warhol created 199 iconic silkscreen paintings of Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong. One of them—number 187—found its way to Orange Coast College in California. Last month, the painting, estimated to be worth $50,000, disappeared from the school’s vault.

Sagrada Familia ‘Will Be Completed in 2026’

by Stephen Burgen, Guardian

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia basilica is scheduled to be completed in two years, 144 years after the first stone was laid, according to the organization responsible for the construction. But a controversial stairway leading to the main entrance, which was not part of Antoni Gaudí’s original plans, will not be finished until 2034.

Empty Frames and Other Oddities From the Unsolved Gardner Museum Heist

by Tom Mashberg, New York Times

Empty frames still hang on the walls of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where, on March 18, 1900, two men dressed as police officers stole $500 million in art. The bizarre case continues to baffle authorities and the 13 works stolen during the largest art theft in history remain missing.