The Mysterious Sites of America

Sites of mystery—the pyramids, the Nazca Lines, Machu Picchu—are all over the world, but the U.S.A. has its own oddities.

From "American Stonehenge" in Georgia and an underwater Stonehenge-like structure in Lake Michigan to a mountain known as a "cosmic power spot" in California, there are some mysterious places in America.

The heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune had a house built with miles of hallways and doors that open to nowhere in order to ward off evil spirits. A 5-foot-tall, 100-pound man built a home and gardens out of large pieces of stone—without being noticed. He said he did it all himself using the same method and knowledge that the ancients used to build the pyramids.

Explainable or not, sites such as these certainly make America interesting.

Mount Shasta

Part of the Cascade Mountain Range, Mount Shasta, in Redding, California, is known as one of the world's “cosmic power spots." Mount Shasta (photo above) has long drawn Native Americans, Buddhist monks and other spiritual seekers. On and around the mountain, visitors have reported seeing UFOs and have gone in crystal caves. After a visit, author James Hilton was inspired to write about a utopian Shangri-La in "Lost Horizon."

The lore of some of the Klamath Tribes in the area say that Mount Shasta is inhabited by the Spirit of the Above-World, Skell. Non-Native American legends center on a hidden city of advanced beings from the lost continent of Lemuria. In 1931, Wisar Spenle Cerve wrote "Lemuria: the lost continent of the Pacific," about the hidden Lemurians of Mount Shasta.

The Georgia Guidestones
The Georgia Guidestones in Elbert County are said to contain 10 "new" commandments for an "Age of Reason." (©Ashley York/Wikimedia Commons)

Georgia Guidestones

The Georgia Guidestones, sometimes referred to as the "American Stonehenge," is a granite monument erected in Elbert County, Georgia, in 1979.

The stones are engraved in eight languages—English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Russian—each relaying 10 "new" commandments for "an Age of Reason." A man named R.C. Christian told the Elberton Granite Finishing Co. that he wanted to build an edifice to transmit a message to mankind. He said that he represented a group of men who wanted to offer direction to humanity, but even now, no one knows who R.C. Christian really was or the names of those he represented. 

Of the 10 commandments, the first one is perhaps the most controversial: "Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature."

Skinwalker Ranch

Many cases of supernatural and mysterious activity have been reported at Skinwalker Ranch in Uintah Basin, Utah. Visitors to the 480-acre compound have reported seeing blue orbs and shape-shifting creatures and hearing loud, underground noises.

According to Native American lore, the site is full of dark energy. In fact, it derives its name from the Native American legend of the skin-walker, a person with the ability to turn into any animal. The ranch, which borders the Ute Indian Reservation, has been nicknamed the "UFO ranch" because of its 50-year history of odd events that are said to have taken place there.  

Mount Adams

At the base of Mount Adams, the second-highest mountain in the state of Washington, lies a hotbed of UFO activity: a wooded ranch-turned-spiritual-retreat owned by James Gilliland. The founder of Enlightened Contact with ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence and the Self-Mastery Earth Institute has been playing host to seekers at “the ranch” since 1986.

Countless visitors to the consciousness-raising compound report UFO eyewitness accounts: documented sightings, sounds, even alleged contact. One wave included as many as 50 unidentified crafts. Coincidentally, it was after seeing a UFO near Mount Adams in 1947 that pilot Kenneth Arnold first coined the term “flying saucer.”

Coral Castle
Coral Castle was built by a man who claimed he did it using the same methods used to build the pyramids. (©ebyabe/Wikimedia Commons)

Coral Castle

Small Latvian immigrant Edward Leedskalnin—he was  about 5 feet tall and 100 pounds—built Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida, after his fiancee left him on the eve of their wedding.

There's nothing mysterious about that, per se, except that he built it by himself using 1,000 tons of limestone boulders.Because it is documented that no one ever witnessed Leedskalnin’s labor in building Coral Castle, some have said he had supernatural powers. Leedskalnin would only say that he knew the secrets used to build the ancient pyramids. 

Another mystery in the house's construction was that Leedskalnin used no mortar to keep the boulders in place.

Newark, Ohio, Earthwork

Scattered around the town of Newark, Ohio, is the world’s largest geometric earthwork. Historians believe the earthwork was the site of ancient rituals and Native American ceremonies. The Great Circle alone is nearly 1,200 feet in diameter.

Built by the prehistoric Hopewell culture between 100 B.C. and 500 A.D., the structure was part cathedral, part cemetery and part astronomical observatory. The entire Newark Earthworks originally encompassed more than 4 square miles.

Over the years, the growth of the city of Newark destroyed many of the Newark Earthworks, but three major segments survived. One theory is that the Hopewell built these earthworks on such a massive scale for astronomical accuracy—long, straight embankments provide longer sight lines that increase the accuracy of astronomical alignments. 

Ringing Rocks Park

Deep in the woods in a 128-acre park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is a large field of mysterious boulders that, when struck, sound like bells, as if they are hollow and made of metal. Each summer, hundreds of visitors flock here, hammers in hand, to perform their own "rock concerts."

Scientists have determined the stones are made from a volcanic substance called diabase, but there's no explanation for their unusual ringing properties, nor for the 8-acre field, which is situated high on a hillside, not at the bottom, which rules out that it was formed by a glacier or avalanche. 

All the rocks are made of the same material. Oddly, though, only a third of the rocks ring when struck. Rocks that ring are known as “live” rocks, and those that don’t are “dead” rocks.

The Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House has miles of hallways and stairs that go to nowhere. (©Ben Franske/Wikimedia Commons)

Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House, in San Jose, California, was built by Sarah Winchester with the legacy of the Winchester rifle. After the deaths of her child and husband, she started adding unique architectural features to her home. She claimed she created the house to ward off evil spirits.

According to legend, Winchester enacted a nightly séance to help with her building plans and for protection from bad spirits. Some rooms were remodeled many times. It is estimated that 500-600 rooms were built, but because so many were redone, only 160 remain. This naturally resulted in some peculiar effects, such as stairs that lead to the ceiling, doors that go nowhere and that open onto walls and chimneys that stop just short of the roof.

Underwater Stonehenge

In 2007, Mark Holley, a professor of underwater archaeology at Northwestern Michigan College, discovered a series of stones—some of them arranged in a circle and one of which seemed to show carvings of a mastodon—40-feet beneath the surface of Lake Michigan. The stucture is believed to be at least 10,000 years old.

One stone in the outer circle, although still up for debate, appears to have a carving of a mastodon, an animal that resembles an elephant and went extinct more than 10,000 years ago.

The best explanation as to how they got there? The structure could have been created during the last Ice Age when the lake bed was dry. Many people, however, question whether the rocks were purposely placed or a random occurrence. 

Lake Champlain Monster

Champ, or Champy, is the name given to a reputed lake monster living in Lake Champlain, a natural freshwater lake situated across the U.S.-Canada border in the Canadian province of Quebecand. 

Though there is no scientific evidence for Champ's existence, there have been more than 300 reported sightings. Port Henry, New York, has even erected a giant model of Champ and holds "Champ Day" on the first Saturday of August. Champ also is the mascot of Vermont's lone Minor League Baseball team, the Vermont Lake Monsters.

Two Native American tribes living in the area, the Iroquois and the Abenaki, had legends about such a creature. An account of a creature in Lake Champlain was given in 1609 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Québec and the lake's namesake, who is supposed to have spotted the creature as he was fighting the Iroquois on the bank of the lake.