Monumental Mysteries: Ellis Island Pictures

Don Wildman visits Ellis Island, examines the bizarre story behind San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House and investigates the site of a massive volcanic explosion.

Photo By: Jeremy Woodhouse

Photo By: Barry King/WireImage

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Dennis Flaherty

Remembered as a symbol of heroic struggle against impossible odds, the Alamo draws millions of visitors each year. But unbeknownst to many, this hallowed ground may also be the site of a secret fortune.

The 1.2 million acres of Arizona’s Grand Canyon offer a spectacular array of geological wonders, enthralling visitors and enticing those with a taste for adventure.

In the early 20th century, a daring pair of newlyweds set off on a trip down the canyon’s Colorado River that they hoped would earn them a place in the history books. And while they eventually became famous, it was not for the reasons they expected.

San Jose, CA, is home to a sprawling Victorian-era mansion spread over 6 acres and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With 160 rooms, 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 fireplaces and 6 kitchens, the Winchester Mystery House belonged to a woman who believed spirits were trying to kill her.

Resting on a 27-acre island just over a mile off the tip of Lower Manhattan is the former gateway for newcomers to New York City. Ellis Island’s grand inspection station – completed in 1900 – welcomed 5,000 immigrants a day for half a century.

By the outbreak of World War II, Ellis Island was used solely as a detention station, from which enemy aliens and spies were deported. In an unlucky twist of fate, the Von Trapps, a much-loved singing family from Austria, were once held captive there. They were eventually released and settled down on a dairy farm in Stowe, VT.

Deep inside California’s Death Valley National Park lies a dried-out lakebed called the Racetrack Playa. Here, a mysterious set of stones have been making a silent journey across the desert, unaided by human hands. Scientists have been baffled by the phenomenon for generations, unable to explain its strange behavior.

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is 333,000 acres of craters, scalded desert and rainforests. Mauna Loa holds the distinction of being the world’s most massive volcano -- at 30 miles long and 60 miles wide, it takes up half the island and is larger than Mount Everest.

For centuries, Mauna Loa’s eruptions have been frequent, but one in particular was extremely dangerous for residents. On Nov. 21, 1935, Mauna Loa erupted, and 2 weeks later lava began oozing towards the town of Hilo at an alarming rate. The town was miraculously spared when a naval officer came up with a strange plan.

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