The Most Mysterious National Monuments in the United States
MYSTERIOUS STRUCTURES - The US has amazing national monuments. Some of them are in remote areas, while others are weekend destinations for many people. There is also great mystery to some of these national monuments.
It is as if they want to tell us the story of an ancient past, but can’t reveal everything yet. For this article, we picked three national monuments that we think have the greatest potential for discoveries about natural or human history. Do you agree?
The Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve in south-western Alaska could change our view of history someday. Unknown traces of human and natural history could be buried in this inaccessible area.
Mount Aniakchak is an ancient volcano. Its present shape was formed around 1650 BC, when a large volcanic cone collapsed. The mountain then went from 7,000 feet in height to 4,380 feet. A large caldera (an large, open “bowl” or “pot” shape) or was formed with several smaller cones and domes inside. A lake emerged inside the mountain, aptly called Surprise Lake. Part of the caldera wall was breached, giving birth to the Aniakchak river. This river is a flow of water from the lake to the Aniakchak Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Fog, rain, wind and remoteness make the Aniakchak volcano and the area around it difficult to visit. Until the 1920s, nobody had even bothered to explore it. The volcano erupted as recently as 1931. Today, pontoon planes can land on Surprise Lake, if conditions are favorable. Access by road is limited.
The collapse of Mount Aniakchak effectively buried everything that lived on and near it. Based on finds in the surrounding area, archeologists assume that Mount Aniakchak must have been settled by humans prior to this event. People of Alutiiq or Aleut ancestry are now considered to be native to the Aniakchak region, but they are likely settlers that arrived some 2,000 years later. Aniakchak could be hiding the remains of unknown, ancient civilizations under layers of volcanic debris.
The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado has the highest density of archeological remains in the US, much of which is still lying about unresearched. It is therefore one of the most intriguing places to learn about ancient civilizations. The area has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years. While it features multi-story pueblos and cave cities dating from 1100 to 1300 AD, many of the structures are from an earlier period. Hikers can explore the monument on their own. They are given instructions not to touch the petroglyphs and ancient structures and artifacts.
It is thought that the Canyons of the Ancients National Park mainly contains the heritage of an ancient people called the Anasazi. This is a confusing name though. It is sometimes used as a synonym for Pueblo, but sometimes it also refers to a more ancient people or Pueblo ancestors.
There are ancient geoglyphs in the area (large drawings on the ground that can only be seen from the air) that are attributed to the Anasazi. The first archaeologically recognizable people called “Anasazi” appeared around 1200 BC. They were then the Basketmaker people. Apart from the fact that these people actually made fine baskets, they were also the first to grow corn. The many petroglyphs and rock art they left behind gives us an impression of what they experienced and did in their time.
In short, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is an open invitation to new research into our distant past.
Devils Tower in Wyoming is an unusual natural phenomenon, that could one day reveal hidden secrets about the forces of nature. Well-known for its climbing opportunities, the site gets lots of visitors. Devils Tower is a 1,267-feet-tall rock formation that seems to be completely out of place in an otherwise more or less even terrain.
The mountain is a bundle of small hexagonal rock columns, which make it look like a giant tree trunk. According to an Indian legend, Devils Tower has the claw marks of a bear. It tells how a group of girls was once chased by a bear. The girls climbed onto a rock, prayed to the Great Spirit and he saved them by making the rock grow into a mountain. The girls are still hanging around today, in the form of the Pleiades star cluster.
Geologists cannot fully explain how Devils Tower came to exist. It consists of igneous rock – solidified magma or lava – but there are no traces of volcanic activity in the area. The best theory so far is that it formed deep underground and was then brought to the surface over millions of years, as the softer rock around it eroded away.
Devils Tower is sacred to native Americans. The mountain also seems to attract aliens, at least in the movies (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and according to UFO believers. This impressive formation still has things to reveal about the forces of nature.