Journey Into The Unknown: America’s Hidden Gems That Are Worth A VisitBy Aakash M
The United States ranks third on the list of the most visited countries by international tourists, which is a true testament to the country’s numerous breathtaking sites and landmarks. From the famous Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon, there’s a lot to explore here.
What’s interesting is that many of these famous places have an even more intriguing backstory about their creation and development. Some of the stories aren’t as simple as you think, as there’s a lot of mystery behind their creation.
Some of these sites date back a thousand years, while others are rather recent. What they all have in common is that they are all relatively unknown and deserve a spot on your bucket list. So, let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?
Coral Castle – Homestead, FL
Doesn’t this image look like it was taken from the set of The Little Mermaid? Without the water, of course. This 2.2 million-pound limestone structure was created by a Latvian-American self-taught engineer. He migrated to North America after being kicked out of his home by his fiancé a day before their wedding!
Way to make lemonade out of lemons. He allegedly caught terminal tuberculosis in the USA, but when he recovered, he started building the Coral Castle, which took him 28 years. He used all the basic tools available to build it, and he didn’t let anybody see the structure until it was fully built.
Edward Leedskalnin put his all into finishing this castle. He moved millions of pounds of large limestones all by himself without help from anybody! It was almost as if the pain of rejection coupled with enviable determination fueled him with incredible strength.
Well, maybe that’s why it took him almost three decades. There are conspiracy theories about him having unnatural powers. However, according to Edward, all he used was hand tools, experience from the time he worked in a lumber camp, and his sweat and effort.
The baffling part
All we have is Edward’s word, and since there are no witnesses or records of him building the entire castle by himself, it’s now the gospel truth. However, it’s quite baffling, especially for engineers and scientists. Additionally, he only studied till fourth grade, but he still built an AC current generator!
After he finished this project in 1951, he fell sick. He didn’t think it was that serious since before he left, he put up a sign saying he was going to the hospital. Unfortunately, he died a few days later. After his death, his nephew inherited the castle, but he sold it two years later.
After the sale
After the sale of the castle, a collection of Edward’s personal belongings was discovered. Among them were instructions on how to access his life savings. During his lifetime, he made good money giving tours around his wonderful creation and selling land around the castle where a highway passed.
You rarely hear of a man who literally built a castle all by himself, which is why his work has often been compared to Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza! Biggest of all, he built this monument in honor of his lost love! Love really does make the world go round.
America’s Stonehenge – Salem, NH
This archeological site was originally called Mystery Hill, and as you can see, it consists of several large-sized rocks scattered over a field of 30 acres in Salem. The site itself is called America’s Stonehenge, but there is a difference between this Stonehenge and the real one.
America’s Stonehenge is a combination of different walls, chambers, and arrangements of stones, unlike Stonehenge. As expected, there are a lot of explanations behind the existence of these structures. It was discovered in 1930 by William Goodwin, but it’s certainly a lot older than that.
No concrete proof
William Goodwin found the structures when he purchased the land on which they are located. He claimed that it was built by monks from Ireland who fled from the Vikings. Looks like both sites have a bit of similarity after all. Europe.
Though there’s no concrete proof behind his theory, Goodwin strongly believed that because of a rumor which stated that the Irish people sailed to North America somewhere around the late 500s. It’s also believed that he rearranged the stones to support his own theory.
Stories and claims
Aside from Goodwin’s theory, there have been several others that tried to explain the site. A marine biologist once claimed that Mystery Hill was the home of ancient scripts, whereas other scientists claimed that the alignment of the stones was a representation of people thousands of years ago. This theory was ruled out later.
It doesn’t end there. Other people think that these structures were built by indigenous people who used to live on the land. According to research by archaeologists, the area was home to a community that lived there about 4000 years ago.
Stone tool theory
As you would expect, experts have invested a lot of time and money in trying to learn more about America’s Stonehenge. As far as their knowledge goes, the surface of the stones was quarried by the native stone workers with stone tools. However, nothing is definite, so we might never know who built it all!
The stone tools discovery aligns with the theory that indigenous people could have built it. After all, stone was the tool of choice back then. In an unfortunate turn of events, the site was vandalized in 2019 by somebody who was trying to re-enact a fictional scene. However, tourism at the site is still booming.
Ringing Rocks Park – Upper Black Eddy, PA
These rocks are unlike any other you have ever seen. Or, in this case, heard. The thousand-year-old site is made up of stones that make lovely sounds thanks to water erosion. You’ll hear a bell-like tone when you tap the rocks with a hammer here.
Now, when you visit such a place, you may be tempted to take one of these musical boulders back home as a souvenir. However, you would be very disappointed once you get home and try to recreate the experience since, apparently, they don’t exactly produce the same ‘magical tunes’ away from the site.
To continue about the Ringing Rocks, they were first found in 1890 when Dr. J.J Ott performed near the place. He used one of the rocks as an instrument by striking it with a hammer and creating a pleasant sound. Talk about an unexpected discovery.
Everybody wanted to know why the rock made such sounds and where it was from. Their curiosity led them to find a seven-acre field full of these rocks! Sadly, only a third of the stones had that musical element. Evidently, the rest were just spectators and fans!
Although there’s nothing entirely certain, let’s hear the theories out. Scientists believe that the rocks make such sounds due to the freeze-thaw process of the field. The musical sound is often described to be metallic, which could be due to the rocks’ density and very high internal stress.
Though it was initially believed that only one-third of the rocks made that sound, it was later discovered that all of them did! They weren’t just spectators, after all. It’s just that their sounds are below our hearing frequency. How cool is that?
The Blythe Intaglios – Blythe, CA
The Blythe Intaglios in California is quite a lot like the Nazca Lines in Peru. The drawings on the ground were indeed made by humans, but the reason behind them is unknown. Although scientists don’t know much about the motives behind the weird figures, they’ve ascertained that they were made with simple tools.
The one that you see here is one of three human figures. There is also a spiral figure and figures of two four-legged animals. These are among the most renowned intaglios across the Colorado Desert, and they were discovered by George Palmer in 1932 when he was flying between Las Vegas and California.
This extraordinary discovery was followed by a land survey, and it also attracted archaeologists to study the site. Two decades later, National Geographic published an article about it, which in turn attracted tourists. This publicity had negative and positive repercussions.
On a negative note, it led to a bit of destruction around the area, but on a positive one, it helped uncover more of these designs in the Colorado desert. The designs themselves are called geoglyphs, and they’re around 450-2,000 years old.
The Great Serpent Mound – Hillsboro, OH
The Great Serpent Mound in Ohio is the world’s largest surviving effigy. It is three feet high and dates back to the prehistoric era. As you can guess from the name, it’s shaped like a snake. Evidently, it’s not just another random hill.
According to researchers, the site was built by the Adena people back in 300 BC. Another fun fact about this place is that about 300 million years ago, a meteor landed there. Hard to tell based on this stunning picture.
According to some archaeologists, the mound was built for burial purposes, but they weren’t able to find any artifacts. Other people think it was made to mark the seasons. The head of the snake is angled at the end of the summer solstice, and the tail is at the rise of the winter solstice.
Alternatively, the humongous snake might have been the only way the people who built it could identify True North. The mound was repaired in 1100 AD, and according to the timing, some archaeologists think that the mound’s creation was influenced by the light from a supernova. Strange, right?
Oregon Vortex – Gold Hill, OR
This place is probably one of the very few where mystery is common. Here, the rules of physics get reversed like it’s no big deal! Also, beware because you might start feeling nauseous when you visit, so maybe don’t wear your favorite sneakers for this trip!
The Oregon Vortex is a spherical force field. Half of it is below the ground, while the other half is above it. It’s called a vortex because it’s like a whirlpool of force. It all came to light in the early 1900s when an engineer and the landowner claimed that the place defied gravity.
A bit unusual
The puzzling occurrences in this place give the word ‘strange’ a whole new meaning. For instance, if you’re standing with another person on a level platform, the other person will seem taller as they move away from you towards the south. They then appear shorter when they come close.
The place actually defies the laws of perspective! While some people thought that it was all a publicity stunt to make money, others have pointed out that since it was quite a remote place in the ’30s, that scenario is not likely.
It’s just an illusion
In 1966, a Physics professor at the University of Oregon, Russ Donnelly, visited the place to see just how much of the mystery surrounding it was true. He concluded that the place was an optical illusion. The landowner also agreed with the professor, but there was more outside the House of Mystery.
Depending on what their exact location was, people grew and shrank! According to the locals, Native Americans who used to live there called the land forbidden. Also, according to travelers, horses refused to go through the place, confirming just how spooky it really is.
Underwater Pyramids – Rock Lake, WI
Although these pyramids aren’t as big as the Great Pyramids of Giza, they’re still a very interesting and spectacular discovery. While some of them are about 18 feet tall, others are as small as an ice cream cone. Located in the rock lake, this site has quite an interesting story.
Some scientists believe that the town fabricated a story for tourism. Few of them believe that these were leftovers from glaciers. Because of the pushback from other scientists, there aren’t any real investigations going on into the site. So, there’s only one story for now – the one by the Lake Mills Chamber of Commerce.
Tales and legends
According to the town, the stone structures are thousands of years old, and according to the locals, the Native Americans built the pyramids in a valley in an attempt to stop the drought. This gesture apparently touched the gods, and they answered by filling the place with water.
This origin story dates back to the 20th century when people started seeing these structures in the lake. Max Nohl, a diver from Wisconsin, dived into the lake in the late ’30s and described them as upside-down ice cream cones.
Practicality vs. legend
Since its discovery, scientists haven’t supported the Underwater Pyramid investigations, and they also don’t believe in the tales and theories around it. However, those who believed in the legend didn’t mind that, so they started doing some digging on their own.
Those who accept the local legend have also used SONAR systems to produce maps of the pyramids. According to their findings, the 18-foot tall structures have a 60×100 feet base. But there haven’t been a lot of revelations from their investigations, so it’s still pretty much a mysterious destination.
Bighorn Medicine Wheel – Lovell, WY
The name of this site is perfect because it is indeed a pretty large site. Located near the Bighorn Mountains in Lovell, Wyoming, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel has stones placed in a wheel-like pattern. It is an 80-foot formation that was built around 3-8 centuries ago.
If you compare it with the other sites on the list, it is relatively recent. The cultural landmark is made of natural limestone and is almost always covered in snow. According to scientists, it was made for ritualistic purposes because the wheel is pretty accurate about the sky and the stars.
In 1970, the Medicine Wheel was declared a National Historic Landmark, certifying its place as an important historical site in the US. Aside from being special for its spiritual purposes to native Americans, the wheel also has unique scientific research values.
Although there are many other medicine wheels, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel is distinct because it has been extraordinarily preserved. Not only that, but it’s also the first medicine wheel that has been studied by scientists and mentioned in popular literature. It is still a place of tribal ceremonial activities.
Underwater Stonehenge – Lake Michigan, MI
Looks like the US has more than one Stonehenge. Who knew? Lake Michigan is undoubtedly among the greatest water bodies in all of North America. It spans 22,000 square miles and hides numerous mysteries beneath its surface, like the Underwater Stonehenge.
This structure consists of a line of stones that are way below the surface. The stones are shaped to form a V-like pattern. Based on the shape, some people think it could have been a carving of a Mastodon, an elephant-like mammal that used to roam the earth 13,000 years ago.
The Underwater Stonehenge was more of a random discovery because archaeologists came across the site when they were searching Lake Michigan for shipwrecks. Although cars and piers have been found in the lake, nobody expected a surprise from the prehistoric era.
We can only imagine their excitement when they stumbled upon these ancient boulders. Compared to other sites on this listicle, this one is a fairly recent discovery since it was found in 2007. Additionally, its exact coordinates aren’t public, thanks to a request by the locals.
After discovering the Underwater Stonehenge, researchers also came across multiple artifacts and stone structures not very far from the site. For example, another structure was found in Lake Huron that is believed to be around 9,000 years old. It was surprisingly well-preserved.
According to John O’Shea, an anthropology professor, the reason behind the excellent condition is the cold water. Such structures have been found in many places, but unfortunately, some of them weren’t really in great shape when they were eventually found.
The Spanish Stonehenge – Cáceres, Spain
Spain also has a Stonehenge – the Spanish Stonehenge, and its discovery is actually more recent than the underwater one. In 2019, when temperatures across Europe were at an all-time high, the shoreline of the Tagus River receded, which revealed the site you see in the image.
This structure is made of more than 100 granite stones, and what’s crazy is that nobody ever knew about its existence! According to archaeologists, it could have been created as a temple or a burial site. This is another thing it has in common with the original Stonehenge.
Racetrack Playa’s Moving Stones – Death Valley, CA
Stones moving across the desert might not sound like a huge thing because you’d immediately think it was the wind. But what if those stones were huge boulders? Now that’s scary, right? Well, you’ll be surprised to learn that 700 lb-rocks move on their own in the world’s hottest desert.
These rocks leave deep treads in the ground, and what’s more interesting is that no human or animal prints have ever been found around them, so it’s all their effort! Called the Racetrack, this intriguing phenomenon happens in a remote valley in the middle of Cottonwood and Last Chance Ranges.
The answer to the mystery
This list is full of mysteries that do not have definite answers, but in this case, scientists have explained how the boulders move in this desert. At first, we guessed that it must be the work of the weather and the elements, and it turns out we were right!
When it rains, water collects on the dry surface and freezes when the temperature drops, covering the rocks in an ice layer. Later, when the temperature rises, the wind picks up and pushes the slippery rocks, making them glide across the desert.
Judaculla Rock – Sylva, NC
This rock was named after a folklore legend, Judaculla. According to the legend, he was an enormous creature and the master of animals. He had seven toes on each foot and seven fingers on each hand. Can you picture it? Apparently, this rock is special because it’s believed that he left his mark on it.
It got marked when Judaculla was jumping between mountains (as folklore creatures tend to do) during a long journey. This story was passed down by the Cherokee tribe from generation to generation, and today, it found its way to you.
Carvings and folklore
Apart from his handprint, the rock also has around 1,500 carvings made by the Cherokee people. This place also allegedly served as a marker for the Cherokee hunters, thanks to its uniqueness. This native tribe inhabited the land for centuries before the colonialists came.
According to folklore, Judaculla used to guard and watch over this hunting ground from a place called the Judgment Seat. That place is now known as the Devil’s Courthouse. The carvings vary in age as some are as old as 1500 years while others are only 300 years old.
Berkeley Mystery Walls – San Francisco, CA
The hills of Northern California possess a very unique feature. They have a 50-mile stretch of rock walls, and some stand at five feet tall. The rocks also vary in shape. But here’s the main question – who built these walls, and for what purpose? That’s a mystery yet to be unfolded.
People have looked into it for many centuries, but no one has arrived at a definite answer. Despite how fascinating they are, there haven’t been any scholarly studies on the Berkeley Mystery Walls. The boulder sizes are different, and some of them weigh more than a ton.
According to ancient Spanish settlers, the rocks were there before they arrived, and when they asked the Native Americans about it, they didn’t know much about the purpose of these walls either. This implies that the walls existed even before them!
The walls don’t have a purpose per se because they are neither continuous nor tall enough to be used as any kind of fence. Though the people who built it still remain a mystery, it’s speculated that they could have been higher centuries ago.
The link to Atlantis
Although not much has been found yet, it hasn’t stopped Californians from trying to uncover the mystery of the Berkeley Mystery Walls. In the early 1900s, writer Harold French thought that the walls could’ve been from Atlantis if a colony from Atlantis populated the mountains.
He thought that the ancient walls could’ve been the last remains of a Toltec civilization. He also wondered if they could be Stone Age relics, a theory that was widely accepted. However, to this day, their full story is still unknown. If only walls could talk.