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Travel Suggestions: 'Gates Of Hell' And Ringing Rocks Park

Aug 31, 2015
Originally published on September 2, 2015 6:54 pm
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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This summer we've been hearing about trails that lead somewhere amazing and unexpected. To take us to new destinations, here's a voice we heard from the beginning of the summer.

DAVID PLOTZ: I'm David Plotz with Atlas Obscura, which is a website devoted to the world's most wonderful places.

MONTAGNE: And David Plotz has two places for us today.

PLOTZ: About 45 years ago in Turkmenistan, a Soviet drilling rig accidentally punctured a cavern that was much bigger than they expected it to be. And in the middle of the desert, this huge area collapsed, leaving a pit that's about the size of a football field, and it was on fire. Soviets didn't know what to do with it. And so what they did is they just kind of left it. So for 40 years in the middle of the desert, there's this gigantic flaming pit. And it's called "The Gates of Hell." It's this orange, glowing thing that's visible for miles around. It's become a tourist attraction in Turkmenistan. People come from across the world to see this strange wonder. I hate to think what it's doing to the air quality in Turkmenistan, though.

In eastern Pennsylvania, there's this rock field, that's a - kind of about as big as a few football fields long. And it's about 10 feet deep with boulders, which look like any other boulder that you'd come across. Some of them are hand size, some of them are table size. Some are even bigger than that. And in the late 19th century, the residents of this area discovered that if you banged on these rocks they made a clear ring sound in a way that most rocks don't.

(SOUNDBITE OF RINGING SOUND)

PLOTZ: No one is really sure about the science of why these rocks ring and other rocks don't, but you can create this kind of concert feel - and, in fact, there are - people have even had rock concerts - the original rock concert was in 1890 in Ringing Rocks Park in Pennsylvania. So I have not been to Ringing Rocks Park and nor am I a thief, but apparently if you take a rock away from Ringing Rocks Park, the rock will no longer ring. I don't know what it is, but that's what is said. So those of you who want to go to Ringing Rocks Park and steal a harmonic, beautiful rock, don't do it.

MONTAGNE: Two favorite getaways from David Plotz of the travel website Atlas Obscura. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.