Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weird Wednesday - Strange Places

So I've been collecting a small database of, shall we say, odd places. I have a theory that if you dig around enough, you can probably find something weird about just about any place. But the locations in this list sort of stand up and shout out how odd they really are and don't require much digging at all. I've been using the list for possible locations in some Weird West stories. Strangely enough, most of them have the word "canyon" or "devil" in their name. Bonus points if they have both. And if it's not "canyon" or "devil," it's a mountain. So if you ever see a sign pointing the way to "Devil Mountain Canyon," go the other way. Alright, now for the list:

  • Canyon Diablo, AZ - This is, of course, a canyon. The world famous Route 66 used to go over Canyon Diablo. It was also scouted by  a camel troop in the 1850's. The U.S. Army thought camels might be useful in the American Desert Southwest, and indeed they were. For some reason, the idea never caught on, although there were renegade camel sightings in the area as recently as 1900. Canyon Diablo is also near Meteor Crater, and fragments of said meteor are known as Canyon Diablo Meteorites. Also in the 1850's, traders in the region invented a concoction known as Arizona Frontier Whiskey, which consisted of raw alcohol, water, cayenne pepper and chewing tobacco. Umm, moving right along... When a railroad bridge was being built over the canyon in 1880's, the town of Canyon Diablo sprouted up in the nearby desert. Mostly forgotten today, the old timers said Canyon Diablo was the wildest of all wild west towns. The first marshal was buried in Boot Hill the same day he was hired. The next three marshals lasted only a few days each before they came to violent ends. Finally a man carrying two guns who used to be a preacher was hired. He lasted a whole month and is said to have killed a man a day. But, once the railroad bridge was completed, the town dried up and faded away, right before the Army was scheduled to restore order. And of course, there is a legend of a fortune in treasure, buried somewhere around the canyon by train robbers.
  • Skeleton Canyon, AZ - This desolate piece of real estate gets its name from the bones of massacre victims that would occasionally be uncovered by storms. The bleak and foreboding canyon was part of the Smugglers Trail, and many an outlaw used it for a quick getaway or hideout. According to the legend, in the early 1880's a gang of outlaws (supposedly including some of the Clantons from Tombstone fame) ambushed a group of bandits carrying a fortune in treasure stolen from Mexico. The outlaws killed all of the bandits and most of their mules. Gold, silver, and jewels spilled onto the ground everywhere. There was so much, they couldn't carry it all away, so of course, they took what little they could and buried the rest. The idea was that they would lay low for a while, then come back later to get the rest. You just know this can't end well, right? Yep, the old "no honor among thieves" trope pops up when some of the outlaws decide to double cross the others, and they re-bury the treasure in a different place. Then the guys who did the double cross get killed in a shootout and nobody knows where they buried the loot. Although treasure hunters occasionally come across bleached bones and pieces of silver or gold, nobody has every found the buried treasure.
  • The Domes, AZ - Here we have strange concrete dome shaped buildings in the Arizona desert. Look twice to make sure it's not some kind of UFO parking lot/wrecking yard. Today, they seem to be mostly used for illegal dumping and graffiti practice. No doubt a few weary travelers have taken up permanent residence. But the real mystery here, is who built these strange structures, when they were built, and why. Was it for some sort of alternate BioSphere2 experiment? A Jetsons theme park? The city of the future? Or just maybe a slipstream low rent district from the future of another dimension. Nobody seems to know.
  • Santa Lucia Mountains, CA - This mountain range, near the coast of southern California, is supposedly home to the Dark Watchers. Strange tales of mysterious, giant dark figures visible at twilight, were featured in Indian legends and cave paintings. Even John Steinbeck wrote about them. Eye-witnesses to the Dark Watchers claim that the strange figures disappear if you examine them too closely or come too near. Are they some kind of strange mirage, or portal to another world, or just a very weird kind of hallucination or optical illusion? Whatever the answer is, it's still a very interesting phenomenon...
And finally, we have a few more to round out the list. These seem more like urban legend type locations that probably aren't that odd at all in reality. But, you never know...
Do you know of any strange places?

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