Monumental Mysteries: Golden Gate Pictures

Don Wildman investigates the tragic origin of the Golden Gate Bridge and tells the story of New York City’s greatest hoarders.

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Selling Grant's Tomb
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

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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

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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

  

Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station in New York City is one of the country’s best-loved landmarks. With 44 platforms, it is the largest train station in the world. 960 1280

  

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

The station is most known for the epic grandeur of its main concourse, crowned by the arching splendor of an enormous astronomical mural painted in gold leaf and cerulean blue on the towering ceiling. 960 1280

  

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

The station’s mural depicts the star signs of the zodiac, and at 40,000 square feet, it’s the largest diagram of its kind in the modern world. But this zodiac is unlike any other – could there be sinister symbolism hidden in the design? 960 1280

  

Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku

Kuhio Beach in Waikiki is home to a revered statue of a local legend, often referred to as “the father of modern surfing.” But while Duke Kahanamoku’s athletic achievements are internationally renowned, one remarkable incident in his life is all too often forgotten. How was he able to rescue 8 people from a sinking ship as it was slammed by 30-foot waves? 960 1280

  

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu

Spanning Arizona’s Lake Havasu is a bridge that’s much older than the planned community that surrounds it. The London Bridge -- originally built in 1831 to cross the Thames -- was purchased in 1968 by Robert McCullough and installed across a boating channel in the lake. 960 1280

  

Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu City, AZ, is now the second biggest attraction in the state. But did McCullough unknowingly purchase the London Bridge instead of London’s more iconic Tower Bridge? 960 1280

  

Woodlawn Cemetery

Woodlawn Cemetery

At Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park, IL, are 5 large granite elephants that surround a plot of land known as Showman’s Rest. The remains of 61 people were interred in a mass grave here when, on the night of June 22, 1918, performers and the crew from the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus were involved in a tragic train crash. 960 1280

  

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

In the hills of Death Valley National Park lies the gravesite of William Scott, the man who engineered one of the most scandalous gold mine hoaxes of all time. 960 1280

  

Scotty's Castle

Scotty's Castle

Located in the Grapevine Mountains of Death Valley National Park in California is an enormous 2-story Mission Revival-style villa that became known as “Scotty’s Castle.” But who paid for this elaborate, opulent structure? 960 1280

  

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Ames Pyramid

Ames Pyramid

On a summit near Laramie, WY, is a strange monument known as the Ames Pyramid. This national historic landmark commemorates 2 brothers who were the driving force behind the Trans Continental Railroad. But what massive financial scandal came about as a result of the Ames brothers’ achievement? 960 1280

  

Zodiac Island

Zodiac Island

Known to locals as Zodiac Island, this tiny strip of land in Lake Berryessa, CA, was a crime site for one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Two young victims were found here bound and bleeding from a vicious attack. So who was the Zodiac killer? 960 1280

  

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, is well known as the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but decades earlier, the monument played host to another landmark event in Civil Rights history -- a 1939 concert by the African-American opera singer Marion Anderson. 960 1280

  

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

But what threatening obstacles did Anderson overcome to perform her historic concert? 960 1280

  

Castillo San Marcos

Castillo San Marcos

Overlooking Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine, FL, is the historic Castillo San Marcos. This landmark fort was the site of many battles, but it is perhaps best known for a secret romance and mysterious disappearance. 960 1280

  

Captain Manuel Abela

Captain Manuel Abela

What became of the fort’s commanding officer’s wife and her lover, Captain Manuel Abela? 960 1280

  

Isidor and Ida Straus

Isidor and Ida Straus

On Manhattan’s Upper West Side is a small oasis known as Straus Park, and in it stands a beautiful statue of a Grecian figure. This lovely monument commemorates one of the great tragic love stories of American history -- that of Isidor and Ida Straus. The department store baron and his wife would meet their fate in 1912 on the decks of the RMS Titanic. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Marfa, Texas

Marfa, Texas

A lonely structure outside the small west Texas town of Marfa serves as a viewing outpost for a mysterious phenomenon. 960 1280

  

Marfa Lights

Marfa Lights

For generations, people in this area have reported seeing a strange set of lights in the desert that vanish suddenly. Is there a scientific explanation for the Marfa Lights, or is something otherworldly at work? 960 1280

Jack in DC via Flickr Creative Commons  

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

  

Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs

Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs

After the Great Depression, a man by the name of Norman Baker purchased the rundown Crescent Hotel and vowed to restore the town of Eureka Springs, AR, to its former position as a famous place of healing. He quickly developed plans to open a hospital for cancer patients on the site, claiming to have found a miracle cure to the disease. 960 1280

  

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

But what was Baker’s “Secret Remedy #5”? When investigators discover that Baker had never, in fact, attended medical school, they test his “revolutionary” potion, and the results reveal a tragic story of deception. 960 1280

  

Female Paul Revere Statue

Female Paul Revere Statue

On April 26, 1777, the daughter of a colonel in the American army, Sybil Ludington, rode through the night to alert local militias that the British army was approaching. 960 1280

  

Reenactment of Sybil Ludington's Ride

Reenactment of Sybil Ludington's Ride

The 16 year-old rode 40 miles through the night, rousing hundreds of soldiers, who quickly readied to defend nearby Danbury, CT. 960 1280

  

The small wooden shed that contains the frozen dead man

The small wooden shed that contains the frozen dead man

In 1994, an eccentric Scandinavian woman applies for a building permit for her home in Nederland, CO – leading to an alarming discovery. 960 1280

  

Packed ice covering the frozen dead man

Packed ice covering the frozen dead man

In a small wooden shed in the woman’s backyard, authorities discover 2 frozen dead bodies. What were they doing there, and how did the discovery lead to the creation of a strange new festival? 960 1280

  

Chuck Yeger Statue

Chuck Yeger Statue

At Edwards Air Force Base in California is a statue of American hero Chuck Yeager, a pilot who was tasked with breaking the sound barrier. 960 1280

  

Chuck Yeger Statue

Chuck Yeger Statue

But when the young pilot fractures his ribs 2 days before his historic flight is scheduled, he decides to conceal his injury from the Air Force. Will he be able to break the barrier? 960 1280

  

Pontalba Buildings in New Orleans

Pontalba Buildings in New Orleans

The iconic Pontalba Buildings in New Orleans, LA, have a tragic history. The 2 matching buildings were built in 1840 by Micaela Almonester de Pontalba, a wealthy woman who was tormented by her greedy father-in-law, and was eventually shot for refusing to sign her wealth over to him. 960 1280