Monumental Mysteries: Ames Pyramid Pictures

Don Wildman examines the origin of a massive financial scandal, the site of one of America’s most notorious -- and bizarre -- crimes, and a monument to a tragic love story.

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Statue of the First Circus Elephant
Statue of the First Circus Elephant

Statue of the First Circus Elephant

In Somers, NY, is a 20-foot granite obelisk on top of which sits a statue of an unlikely pioneer -- an elephant. 960 1280

  

Crew films the statue of "Old Bet"

Crew films the statue of "Old Bet"

"Old Bet" first arrived in America in 1805 and went on to a storied career as the first circus elephant. 960 1280

  

Historical marker explaining the Greenbrier Ghost

Historical marker explaining the Greenbrier Ghost

In a quiet graveyard in Greenbrier County, WV, is a historic marker to the "Greenbrier Ghost.” 960 1280

  

Zona Hester Shue's tombstone

Zona Hester Shue's tombstone

In 1897, a young woman by the name of Zona Heaster Shue is suddenly found dead. Weeks after Zona’s funeral, her mother approaches the authorities convinced that her daughter’s ghost revealed that she’d been murdered by her husband. The ghostly encounter is used as evidence in court and leads to a murder conviction. 960 1280

  

Monument dedicated to "Champ" the lake monster

Monument dedicated to "Champ" the lake monster

On the banks of Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT, is an intriguing stone slab with an etching of a strange aquatic creature. Sightings of this legendary beast date back to the first European explorers to visit the lake. Could there really be a monster lurking in Lake Champlain? 960 1280

  

Captain James Cook Statue

Captain James Cook Statue

On the island of Kauai in Hawaii is a statue to the great British explorer, Captain James Cook, who circumnavigated the globe 3 different times, exploring thousands of miles of previously uncharted territory. 960 1280

  

Crew filming a re-enactment of Captain Cook's visit to Hawaii

Crew filming a re-enactment of Captain Cook's visit to Hawaii

Captain Cook was the first European to reach Hawaii, but during his second visit to the Big Island, he met his tragic demise after a confrontation with a group of natives. What lead to this shocking outburst of violence? 960 1280

  

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American Venus in Central Park

American Venus in Central Park

Scattered around New York City are 3 statues inspired by the same stunning model, Audrey Munson -- often referred to as the American Venus -- who was a muse to hundreds of artists. This statue stands at the USS Maine Monument in Central Park. 960 1280

  

Statue of Audrey Munson at the New York Public Library

Statue of Audrey Munson at the New York Public Library

Another Audrey Munson-inspired statue, entitled “Beauty,” can be seen at the New York Public Library. 960 1280

  

Located in Arizona, the Sitgreaves National Forest is home to over 400 species of wildlife and 680 miles of rivers and streams. But this verdant oasis was once the site of a bizarre encounter. Was a man abducted by aliens here, as he claims? 960 1280

  

Alien Abduction in Arizona

Alien Abduction in Arizona

In 1975, logger Travis Walton mysteriously disappeared from the forest and re-appeared 5 days later, claiming to have been abducted by aliens. All these years later, the veracity of his story has never been disproven. 960 1280

  

Anchor Bar in Buffalo

Anchor Bar in Buffalo

A carved wooden statues stands out front of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, celebrating the creation of the famous American dish: Buffalo wings. But when a journalist decided to track down the creator of the spicy treat, he found that the tale was not so simple. Who was the real inventor of Buffalo wings? 960 1280

  

Face in the Courthouse Window

Face in the Courthouse Window

The quaint southern town of Carrollton, AL, is home to charming churches and old cemeteries. But one window at the Picken’s County Courthouse has a mysterious and horrifying image that some say was left there by an angry spirit. 960 1280

  

Face in the Courthouse Window

Face in the Courthouse Window

Is the face, forever burned into the glass in the courthouse window, that of a former slave who was executed in 1878, after being accused of arson? And does he still haunt the town? 960 1280

  

Lake George, located amidst the mountains and forests of New York’s Adirondack Park, has been a vacation destination for generations. But at the turn of the century, some say a terrifying and monstrous beast arose from the depths of this typically placid body of water, inciting panic and creating a mystery that has remained unsolved for decades. 960 1280

  

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls was one of the most important sites on the Underground Railroad, and played an integral role in allowing abolitionists to smuggle runaway slaves to freedom in Canada. 960 1280

Scoast  

Niagara falls

Niagara falls

The falls was the site of one of the most daring escape attempts in the history of the abolitionist movement. 960 1280

  

Mazart Prospect Park

Mazart Prospect Park

Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY, is home to a bronze bust of the legendary Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Could this musical prodigy’s death -- at the young age of 35 -- have been a case of deliberate poisoning? 960 1280

  

Along the Indian River Lagoon in Titusville, FL, is the Space Walk of Fame, and among the outdoor plaza’s monuments is the glistening Gemini Monument. Few may realize that the 8th Gemini mission involved a hair-raising episode that nearly cost the lives of astronauts David Scott and Neil Armstrong. 960 1280

  

Riverside Cemetery

Riverside Cemetery

At Riverside Cemetery in Hopkinsville, KY, is the modest tombstone of Edgar Cayce, a man whom many consider to be the most important American psychic of the 20th century. 960 1280

  

Sleeping Prophet Cayce

Sleeping Prophet Cayce

Could Cayce, the so-called “Sleeping Prophet,” really use his trance-like abilities to heal the hopelessly ill? 960 1280

  

Yosemite

Yosemite

One of the crown jewels of America’s national park system, Yosemite has been enjoyed by generations of American nature lovers. But few realize that the efforts of a man named Galen Clark helped save this majestic natural monument from destructive exploitation at the hands of developers. 960 1280

  

Selling Grant's Tomb

Selling Grant's Tomb

When newspapers report that the General Grant National Memorial is falling into critical disrepair, 67-year-old hustler George Parker gets an idea. In 1928, he poses as President Ulysses S. Grant’s grandson and “sells” the tomb to a number of businessmen, all of whom dream of making a fortune by eventually charging entry to the majestic monument. 960 1280

  

Selling the Brooklyn Bridge

Selling the Brooklyn Bridge

But Grant’s Tomb wasn’t the only monument Parker had “sold.” He began his scheme back in 1883 when he posed as the owner of New York City’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge and “sold” it to unsuspecting immigrants. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Selling the Brooklyn Bridge

Selling the Brooklyn Bridge

Police frequently had to roust so-called “owners” of the bridge as they attempted to put up tollbooths. The police finally resorted to handing out pamphlets at ports warning all immigrants that they can’t “buy public buildings.” 960 1280

  

Statue of the Republic

Statue of the Republic

The Statue of the Republic, commemorating the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, reminds passers-by of the exhibition, but also its dark history. During the fair, a man going by the name of H.H. Holmes built a “hotel” where he lured young women, most of whom never came out. 960 1280

  

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

In 1937, Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe were the first 2 prisoners to successfully make it to the shore of the San Francisco Bay after breaking out of Alcatraz. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Officials quickly concluded that the pair had drowned in the San Francisco Bay, but many reports of future sightings suggest otherwise. 960 1280

  

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier

On June 24, 1947, private pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying at 9,200 feet near Mt. Rainier on a mission to find a missing transport airplane when he encountered something extraordinary … he saw a shimmering light followed 30 seconds later by a series of bright flashes north of the mountain range. 960 1280

  

Flying Saucers

Flying Saucers

Arnold then observed flat crescent-shaped objects flying in a chain formation, which he describes as “saucers on water.” The supersonic speed of the unidentified flying objects and the strangely-shaped discs grab both the media and the public’s attention, and the term “flying saucer” makes its debut. 960 1280

Terry Bridges  

Confederate General Robert E. Lee

Confederate General Robert E. Lee

April 14, 1865. Just 5 days after the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln decides to take in a show at Ford’s Theatre in the nation’s capital. 960 1280

  

John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth

At 10:13 p.m., a well-known actor and Confederate sympathizer -- John Wilkes Booth -- enters the president’s box and shoots him in the back of the head. In the ensuing chaos, he flees Washington on horseback. Twelve days later, Union soldiers track him down and shoot him. Soldiers claim he died, but did he? 960 1280

  

Chestnut Hill Baptist Church Cemetery

Chestnut Hill Baptist Church Cemetery

Buried at the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church Cemetery in Exeter, RI, is the body of a girl who was believed to be a vampire. 960 1280

  

Mercy “Lena” Brown

Mercy “Lena” Brown

In January 1892, 19-year-old Mercy “Lena” Brown succumbed to a strange disease – one that caused her to cough up blood as her body wasted away. At the time, many claimed that Lena was a vampire, and they exhumed her body to prove it. 960 1280

  


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