Monumental Mysteries: Sugar House Pictures

Host Don Wildman explores a mansion in Michigan that was built on the back of the sweetest of swindles, and learns of a violent uprising in New York City’s Central Park.

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Beacon Hill
Escape From Slavery

Escape From Slavery

On the north side of Boston, sitting along a narrow cobblestone street, is a regal and admirable mansion. Built in 1833, 66 Philips Street was considered one of the most expensive mansions in Beacon Hill, MA. The sophisticated structure features 4 grand stories with a red brick facade and delicate square windows decorated with wooden shutters. Today, it’s a private house, but it remains 1 of 14 sites on the Beacon Hill Black Heritage Trail where tour groups walk by daily to learn the amazing story of how this house became the scene for one of the most riveting talks of the time. 960 1280

  

Escape From Slavery

Escape From Slavery

The Hayden House is known as an Underground Railroad station that sheltered slave fugitives on the run. In 1848, Ellen and William Craft escaped from Macon, GA, to the Hayden House. When the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850, Ellen went into hiding and William remained at the Hayden House. Lewis Hayden threatened to blow up the house if any captured slave stepped foot on the grounds. The tactic worked, and Ellen and William were able to marry at the Hayden House. 960 1280

  

The Cloudbuster

The Cloudbuster

Mount Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson, AZ, rises more than 9,000 feet above sea level, and the peak can be buried under 57 inches of snow a year, which makes it a magnet for skiers. But, it’s actually the lack of precipitation of a different kind that once inspired a dreamer to come here on a seemingly impossible mission. 960 1280

  

The Cloudbuster

The Cloudbuster

In 1954, Dr. Wilhelm Reich came to this church in Tucson, AZ, with his “Cloudbuster” machine to help end a 4-year drought. He spent more than a month pointing the pipes of his device at the sky and drawing “deadly orgone” energy out of the sky. With the skies “unblocked,” rain clouds gradually started to appear. By December 10, a steady rain began to fall in the Arizona desert. Reich felt he had proved that his “Cloudbuster” really could draw rain from the skies, but scientists and the government were not convinced. They declared Reich to be at best a madman who’d happened to be in the right place at the right time for it to rain and, at worst, a man who was deliberately raising false hopes in his inventions in order to make money. 960 1280

  

The Horn That Made A Big Bang

The Horn That Made A Big Bang

This church in Holmdel, NJ, is where 2 Bell Lab scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, began researching a massive horn antennae. They discovered the antenna picked up a constant hum that interfered with incoming signals, but couldn’t find any reason for its existence. It was not until they were referred to Princeton physicist Robert Dicke that they began to unravel the mystery. Dicke had a theory that a “big bang” explosion created the universe, and the left over energy was still detectable at very low levels. Penzias and Wilson discovered that this hum was indeed leftover energy -- accidentally confirming the big bang theory. 960 1280

  

The Horn That Made A Big Bang

The Horn That Made A Big Bang

This odd-looking device positioned in the middle of a clearing at Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, NJ, stands 30 feet tall and 50 feet long. It’s primarily made of aluminum and weighs 18 tons. The device sits upon a steel turntable that allows it to swivel in all directions. This bizarre piece of equipment was built to make our everyday lives easier, but inadvertently revolutionized what we think of humanity’s place in the universe. 960 1280

  

The Legend Of Ol' Rip

The Legend Of Ol' Rip

In 1897, a small horned lizard known as “Old Rip” was placed inside a time capsule at the Eastland County Courthouse in Texas. Thirty-one years later, the capsule was opened and Old Rip was found alive and well. The lizard became a celebrity, but there are many cynics who believe it wasn’t possible. No one ever admitted to switching the lizards before the capsule was opened. 960 1280

  

The Legend Of Ol' Rip

The Legend Of Ol' Rip

Eleven months after his unveiling, Old Rip died of pneumonia. The lizard’s body was preserved and stored in a custom casket that is on display outside the Eastland County Courthouse. In 1973, his body went missing and a ransom note was found. Someone was demanding that town officials admit that they switched the lizards when the capsule was first opened. Old Rip’s body was never found, but it was replaced with a new one that people from all over the state still come to visit. 960 1280

  

The Real Arsenic and Old Lace

The Real Arsenic and Old Lace

A look at the entrance of Hillside Cemetery in Cheshire, CT, where a key piece of evidence was found in the case of The Real Arsenic and Old Lace. Carl Goslee, a full-time insurance man and part-time investigative reporter, was convinced that Amy Archer was a mass murderer. An alarming number of residents at her Home for Aged People had passed away with no explanation. When patient, Franklin R. Andrews’ sister went to him to inform him that Archer had been pressuring her brother for money, Goslee finally had the essence of motive. He was able to exhume the body of Andrews and show that Archer had been feeding him large amounts of arsenic to collect his life insurance policy. 960 1280

  

American Venus in Central Park
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

  

Ames Pyramid
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  

Photos

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

  

Smoky the Yorkie

Smoky the Yorkie

The Rocky River Reservation located in Cleveland, OH, is home to a small dog park with one special feature. Standing proudly within its boundaries is a life-size bronze sculpture of a Yorkshire terrier sitting in an overturned helmet, perched atop a 2-ton blue granite base. 960 1280

  

Smoky the Yorkie

Smoky the Yorkie

Smoky the Yorkie was found in a jungle in New Guinea by an American GI in 1944. From that day on, Corporal Bill Wynne and Smoky were inseparable, and he carried her in his backpack everywhere he went. But their bond is put to the test when the tiny dog must save the lives of hundreds of soldiers. 960 1280

  

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Spanning the entrance to San Francisco Bay, the vibrant orange Golden Gate Bridge is one of this country’s most iconic monuments, but few visitors realize that its origins were shrouded in tragedy. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Yosemite Half Dome

Yosemite Half Dome

In the midst of a vast mountain wilderness in Yosemite, CA, sits a colossal granite rock formation that rises over 4,700 feet above the valley floor. Known as the Half Dome, it’s North America's sheerest cliff, with a dizzying 93% grade. 960 1280

Purestock  

Half Dome

Half Dome

In 1875, Scotsman George Anderson becomes the first man to accomplish the impossible – he climbs to the top of the Yosemite Half Dome. But how does he do it? 960 1280

  

Thinkstock

Thinkstock

Capitol State Forest in Oakville, WA, is a 91,000-acre expanse of rustic, rambling beauty. But in August 1994, after what they thought was a rainstorm, many Oakville residents wake up to a coating of strange goo all over their properties. When a number of residents fall ill, an investigation begins. 960 1280

Iakov Kalinin  

Tombstone, AZ

Tombstone, AZ

Designated a National Historic Landmark district in 1961, the town of Tombstone in southern Arizona is one of the best-preserved specimens of rugged frontier towns from the 1870s. Tombstone was also home to a lesser-known renegade of the Old West: Johnny Ringo, but his demise remains a mystery. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Collyer Brothers Park

Collyer Brothers Park

Collyer Brothers Park, located in Harlem, NY, is a monument to 2 of New York City’s most … eccentric … former residents. 960 1280

  

Collyer Brothers Park

Collyer Brothers Park

In 1947, 2 wealthy brothers, Langley and Herman Collyer are found dead in their decaying brownstone (now the site of the park in their name). But what lead to their demise? And why are they now known as New York’s greatest hoarders? 960 1280

  

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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