Secrets of Americian Landmarks
If it's a trip to Stone Mountain or a tour of "energy vortexes" around Montezuma's Castle to UFO sightings in the Cascade Mountains, there's some strange stuff going on in our country.
Often (inaccurately) billed as the "largest exposed piece of granite in the world," Stone Mountain is actually a giant piece of quartz monzonite. But, while it's undeniably a huge hunk of rock, people visit the park for the views and the carving on the north face, the largest of its kind.
This enormous carving features three confederate heroes: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, each on horseback. The United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned the Civil War Memorial in 1916 but the project met many challenges. Gutzon Borglum started the carving but abandoned it to work on Mount Rushmore. A second artist stopped work on the carving in 1928 and nothing further was accomplished for thirty years. It was completed in 1972.
But before this rock became a memorial, a group of men met at this site in 1915 to reincarnate the Ku Klux Klan. For many years, the Klan played a large role in funding the monument and even influenced the carving.
The Lakota Souix knew this spot as Six Grandfathers but today Mount Rushmore only features the faces of four former presidents. The US seized control of the mountain after several military conflicts and was known by several different names, including Slaughterhouse Mountain, before Charles E. Rushmore took over and suggested the carving as a way to increase tourism to the area.
But, before the US stepped in, the mountain, part of the Black Hills, represented something quite different to Native Americans. The Souix and Cheyenne believed it was the sacred center of the world. But the Lakota inhabited the hills when the first settlers showed up. The question of ownership was answered by the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie -- the Lakota owned the area. But the US changed their mind when gold was discovered and relocated everyone.
A Supreme Court Case in 1980 awarded nearly $106 million to the Lakota for the illegal seizure of the land by the US. The Lakota turned down the settlement wanting to return to the Black Hills instead. Today a monument in honor of Crazy Horse is under construction on Thunderhead Mountain.
Montezuma Castle in Sedona, Ariz.
Fielding about 350,000 visitors a year, Montezuma Castle was the home of the Sinaquas Indian tribe. These five-story, 20-room cliff dwellings were used around 1400 A.D. Oddly enough, early American settlers who discovered the site incorrectly named it after the Aztec emperor Montezuma, due to beliefs that the emperor had been connected to the dwellings. In reality, the ruins had been abandoned a hundred years before Montezuma even existed. These homes aren't formed as a castle but were ancient high-rise apartments.
The ancient cliff dwellers (and folks today) believe that spiraling energy vortexes swirl abundantly around this particular area, creating the perfect environment for spiritual clearing. International visitors from all over the world flock to this sacred space for all types of healing. In August 16th and 17th of 1987, the great "Harmonic Convergence" was said to have happened. Author and academic José Argüelles, a huge advocate of this special planetary alignment, described this as a critical time where the Aztec and Mayan calendars indicated that the world would enter a new age.
Named after Herbert Hoover, the Nation's 31st President, Hoover Dam was built in 1930s. At the time, it was the highest dam ever built, and home to the largest power plant.
Architect Gordon B. Kaufmann (he designed the Los Angeles Times Building) lent his influence via the rhythmic lines of Modernism and Art Deco. You can see his vision at the power plant, dam crest, intake towers, and spillways. Allen True, a muralist, helped Kaufmann with the interior design and color. Responsible for the dam's distinctive motifs (such as the Southwestern Indian designs in the terrazzo floors), True merged Native American geometric ideas with Art Deco flavors.