Monumental Mysteries Sneak Peek

Join Don Wildman as he explores the statues, memorials, parks and sculptures that commemorate our nation's most intriguing events, notorious crimes, disasters and triumphs.

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Unconditional Surrender
Unconditional Surrender

Unconditional Surrender

The Unconditional Surrender statue commemorates perhaps the most famous public display of affection in history -- the unforgettable moment in 1945, captured in an iconic photograph, when a US Navy sailor kissed a nurse in Times Square to mark the end of World War II in the Pacific. 960 1280

  

USS Midway

USS Midway

The statue is located next to the retired USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum in San Diego, CA. 960 1280

  

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

At the base of the staircase leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a statue of the fictional movie icon – Rocky Balboa – to commemorate the film Rocky III. The writer, director and star of the movie, Sylvester Stallone, is said to have been inspired by the career of a real life boxer from New Jersey. So who was the real Rocky? 960 1280

  

Angeles National Forest

Angeles National Forest

Outside of Los Angeles is a pristine expanse of mountains, lakes and woodlands known as the Angeles National Forest. This beautiful natural monument is said to be home to a terrifying mythical beast known as the “Devil’s Lake Thunderbird.” Despite attempts by locals to capture and kill the creature, the legend of the Thunderbird continues to haunt the region to this day. 960 1280

Eric Lowenbach  

Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery

In Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, 2 tombstones mark the graves of Dr. Harvey Burdell and his wife Emma Cunningham. Shortly after Dr. Burdell’s brutal murder in 1857, police arrest his widow, Emma, and charge her with his murder. But could this seemingly devoted wife have murdered her husband? 960 1280

  

Hilo Clock Hawaii

Hilo Clock Hawaii

In the coastal town of Hilo on Hawaii’s Big Island stands a public clock forever frozen in time, marking the moment at 1:04 a.m. on May 22, 1960, when a massive tsunami hit the island, destroying everything in its path. 960 1280

  

Hawaii Disaster

Hawaii Disaster

Sadly, the story of this disaster reveals a tragedy that could have been avoided. 960 1280

  

At the base of the iconic St. Louis Gateway Arch stands “The Captains’ Return” statue, dedicated to the historic voyage of discovery lead by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. But few people realize that their voyage owes part of its success to a rather unknown woman. She is said to have saved their lives in a Nez Perce encampment in September 1905, but who was this mysterious woman? 960 1280

  

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Stanford Mausoleum

Stanford Mausoleum

At the heart of Stanford University’s historic campus, and guarded by 4 marble sphinxes, lies the Stanford Mausoleum, which houses the remains of the institution’s founding family. 960 1280

  

Stanford Mausoleum

Stanford Mausoleum

But the death of one of the interred Stanford family members remains shrouded in mystery. In March 1905, 76-year-old Jane Stanford, one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful women, died suddenly while vacationing in Hawaii. Many believe that she was poisoned, while others claim she had a heart attack. 960 1280

  

Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue is one of New York’s most spectacular and beloved landmarks. The striking skyscraper is easily identified by its gleaming, terraced crown, a marvel of Art Deco architecture that shines so brightly it can serve as a beacon to ships miles off shore. Today, at 77 stories, it is the third tallest building in the city. 960 1280

  

Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

Few may realize that the Chrysler Building was part of the “race to the heavens” in the 1920s. The history of the construction of the building reveals a bitter rivalry between 2 architects, thwarted ambition and deception. 960 1280

  

Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station

Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station

The town of Lakehurst, NJ, is home to the Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station. What makes this active Navy base stand out is the unusual memorial on its grounds -- a 30-foot by 10-foot coffin-shaped imprint, made up of geometric slabs of red terracotta and white stone. 960 1280

  

Hindenburg

Hindenburg

The memorial commemorates the legendary disaster that put this quiet community on the international map, when the Hindenburg, a luxury German zeppelin, caught fire and came crashing down to earth, killing 35 people. Today, this anchor-chain outline of the zeppelin marks the exact spot where the Hindenburg came down. 960 1280

  

Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles

Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles

A stone’s throw from the world-famous Hollywood sign in Los Angeles is a celebrated sidewalk, spanning one of the most popular boulevards on the planet. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is lined with pink terrazzo stars inscribed with the names of the entertainment industry’s greats. 960 1280

  

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign

Nestled among them is a pink star for Hollywood siren Hedy Lamarr, once dubbed the “most beautiful woman in the world.” But this beauty also had brains, and she pioneered an invention that we still use today. 960 1280

  

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Stretching over nearly 2 million acres of multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes and canyons is the stunning Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, named for its unusual sandstone labyrinths and layers of sedimentary rock that form "steps" in the distinctive colored cliffs. 960 1280

  

Everett Ruess

Everett Ruess

The incredible expanse of wilderness is the last place that explorer Everett Ruess was seen, and his demise remains a mystery to this day. 960 1280

  

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