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The Top Ten Strangest Places in the United States
By Julie Lain
Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. From roach displays to stone gardens, America is home to many wacky and out-of-the-ordinary spots. Some are man-made structures, while others are unexplained natural phenomena, but either way they definitely make heads turn. To find out more, I’ve compiled a top ten list of the most bizarre places in the U.S. of A.
1. Grand Prismatic Spring--Yellowstone National Park, WY
Not your typical body of water, this hot spring is the largest in the U.S. and third largest in the world. But what also makes this one fascinating is the diverse array of colors. This “boiling lake” is deep blue in the center due to the high temperature of the water which makes it impossible for anything to live, and has different colored bands of water toward the outside from different pigments of bacteria.
2. Oregon Vortex--Gold Hill, OR
Physics doesn’t seem to apply in this slanted mining shack that slid off its foundation in the 1930’s. This gravity-defying structure has strange effects such as bottles rolling uphill, a broom standing by itself, and people’s heights changing depending on where they stand. While some believe this to simply be an optical illusion, others theories point to magnetic forces as the cause.
3. Marfa Lights Viewing Area--Marfa, TX
When most people look up at the nighttime sky, they may see starlight or moonlight. But in an area near Marfa, Texas, it is not unusual for residents to see mysterious balls of bouncing light. The Marfa Lights still have scientists scratching their heads with many theories—some say they are simply car headlights, while others have offered more otherworldly explanations like spirits or aliens. But regardless, this unusual sight has captured the imaginations of many and attracts visitors from all over the world.
4. Roswell, NM
The aliens have landed! Or at least that’s what residents of this town in eastern New Mexico thought when a mysterious aircraft crashed in 1947. Despite the U.S. Armed Forces’ affirmation that the debris was that of a weather balloon, many conspiracy theorists believed otherwise, making the incident a pop culture phenomenon. To this day, the town holds an annual festival to attract curious tourists.
5. Cockroach Hall of Fame & Museum--Phoenix, AZ
Exterminator Michael Bohdan turned a commonly hated insect into a popular destination when he created one of the most bizarre museums in the country. Originally located in Plano, Texas, the museum features dead cockroaches dressed in costumes, which are even given pun-filled, celebrity-inspired names such as Marilyn Monroach, David Letteroach, and even Liberoachi, complete with a little piano.
6. Garden of Eden--Lucas, KS
Each year, thousands of people take a guided tour of this unique concrete garden created by retired vet S.P. Dinsmoor in 1904. Visitors who take the tour can expect to see cement sculptures of different things ranging from soldiers and American flags to the devil. In a back corner, they’ll even find a see-through coffin containing the remains of Mr. Dinsmoor himself--creepy!
7. Coral Castle--Homestead, FL
Many people handle heartbreak by staying home or drowning themselves in comfort food. Immigrant Ed Leedskalnin, however, was much different. After being jilted by his fiancee, Leedskalnin constructed this stone garden located south of Miami as a tribute to his lost love. According to legend, Leedskalnin built this popular attraction by himself with about 1,000 tons of rock using only basic homemade tools and electromagnetism to move the rocks, claiming he knew the secrets of pyramid-building. To this day, the engineering marvel remains open as a tourist attraction.
8. Winchester House--San Jose, CA
This one would drive an architect crazy. With twisting hallways and stairs that lead to the ceiling, Sarah Winchester had this intricate mansion built after her husband and child died with the hopes of confusing evil spirits, even having carpenters work around-the-clock for 38 years. Whether it worked or not remains a mystery, but tourists are welcome to visit this infamous house and decide for themselves.
9. Cadillac Ranch--Amarillo, TX
Here’s something you don’t see every day during your commute. Off of Highway 40 in Amarillo, Texas is a line of ten used, brightly-painted Cadillacs partially buried in the ground with the tail end exposed. This unique installation was created in 1974 by three artists known as The Ant Farm as a tribute to the evolving tail fin and ranges from the ’49 Club Sedan to the ’63 Sedan DeVille. Travelers are encouraged to stop and spray-paint them, but should take pictures before leaving since their artwork tends to be painted over by others within hours.
10. Memorial Shrines--Aspen/Snowmass, CO
And the award for Most Unique Memorial Site goes to the mountains in Aspen and Snowmass. Several years ago, someone stuck an Elvis Presley picture onto a tree on one of the mountains in honor of the late legend and, ever since, memorials and tributes created by locals have popped up all over the skiable slopes. Skiers can expect to see shrines consisting of license plates, flowers, beads and other keepsakes in honor of deceased musicians, 9/11 victims, and of course, cats.