Eccentric Orbit

Seven Fortean Wonders of the USA

When the New Seven Wonders of the World was announced, Loren Coleman suggested making a list of seven fortean wonders to accompany it. I found the prospect of choosing a world list intimidating, however, and decided to concentrate on the United States.

The qualifications for being one of the New Seven Wonders were not rigorous; candidates had to be "man made, completed before 2000, and in an "'acceptable'" state of preservation." [1]. I used the same criteria, including some choices that represent a category of objects.

That said, here they are, ready to be made into postage stamps and collectible spoons, the Seven Fortean Wonders of America.

  1. Integratron- A domed wooden structure built in California's Mojave Desert by George Van Tassel. Van Tassel conducted meditations sessions/ séances during which aliens gave him instructions for creating the building, which is also a time machine, rejuvenation machine and anti-gravity device.
  2. The Winchester Mystery House- A vast mansion in San Jose, California, built by Sarah Winchester, heiress of the Winchester rifle fortune. The oddities of the building's construction and layout are well known including the constant use of 13 elements (e.g., windows have 13 panes) and decorations based on daisies and cobwebs. Legend attributes most of the house's peculiarities to Spiritualist beliefs, and it's ripe for interpretation in terms of sacred geometry or hidden wisdom.
  3. Cardiff Giant- the greatest hoax in 19th century America. George Hull secretly buried a statue of a ten-foot tall naked man on a farm in Cardiff, New York, uncovered it a year later, then charged admission to see the "fossil". Hull reportedly wanted to make money and embarrass people that believed in Biblical giants. The statue inspired debate concerning the nephilim, the possibility of Old World civilizations visiting North America (someone called it a "Phenician idol"), along with popular interest in petrification and anomalous human remains. The figure is now on display at the Farmer' Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
  4. Area 51- US Air Force base in the Nevada Test and Training Range that is probably used for developing experimental aircraft and studying foreign military technology. Area 51, also known as "Dreamland", has inspired a vast body of folklore, concerning flying saucers, aliens and government conspiracies, as well as, several hoaxes.
  5. Lily Dale- The "World's Largest Center for the Religion of Spiritualism" is a small town in upstate New York populated entirely by Spiritualists and home to dozens of psychics and mediums. Paranormal phenomena, visions and miraculous healing are reportedly common at the annual summer camps. The town has a museum, library, and numerous séance artifacts including slates, trumpets, "precipitation paintings" and direct writing. Lily Dale is one of several Spiritualist communities in the United States.
  6. The Great Serpent Mound- Ohio's Great Serpent (which is eating an equally great egg) is the best known of the approximately 20,000 ancient earthworks that once existed throughout the country. They were created in many sizes and shapes, including "effigy" mounds in the forms of animals and people. Their age is uncertain and little is known about the civilizations that built them or why. Buildings once stood on some and human remains and artifacts found in others. Mounds are said to be "spiritually charged" and have been associated with earth energies, ley lines, Atlantis, anomalous human remains, buried treasures and, more recently, monsters. [2]
    (See also Type “mounds” into Search)
  7. The Columbia River Heads-A collection of centuries old carved stone heads found along the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. Several of the heads look like apes or monkeys and are included here as examples of Native American art that might represent modern monsters like Bigfoot, giant birds, sea serpents and lake monsters.
    (See also

With only seven spots to fill, many potential wonders had to be left out, including the Coral Castle, Mystery Hill ("America's Stonehenge"), Newport Tower/Old Stone Mill, Big Horn Medicine Wheel, Trapezium House, and American rune stones. The Mary Celeste is not in an acceptable state of preservation [3] and some candidates have vanished altogether, like San Francisco's Emmanuel Baptist Church (a leprous building if there ever was one [4]) and John Murray Spear's New Motive Power. [5]

If you have a list of your own, or an outstanding nominee that's been overlooked, please let me know.


  1. New Seven Wonders of the World
  2. See Chapter 18, "The Native Landscape" of Linda Godfrey's Hunting the American Werewolf (Trail Books, 2006).
  3. The remains of the Mary Celeste might have been found off Haiti. See Brian Hicks, Ghost Ship, Ballantine Books, 2004.
  4. According to Bruce Sanders, the church was struck by lightning soon after it was built and badly damaged; funds were collected to make repairs and a trustee ran off with them. One of the pastors shot a newspaper editor from the pulpit, killing him, then blew his own brains out. In 1895, two horrific sex murders were committed in the church and the bodies hidden in the library and tower. See Bruce Sanders, The Cumbersome Corpse, Barnes & Noble Books, 1995, pp 101-116. The Emmanuel Baptist Church has also been linked, albeit weakly, to Jack the Ripper.
  5. See The God Machine

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