The Only Mystery: How Did this Get on Our List?

The Cosmos Mystery Area somehow made it on our list as a must-see. Signs line the highway throughout the black hills, and I guess part of the intrigue is that we aren’t quite sure what the “mystery” part entails. It bills itself as a place where everything is topsy-turvy and nothing is what it seems. I hope that’s true because as we get closer, it SEEMS like a tourist trap.

We drove up a steep dirt-mountain road, parked and entered the gift shop where we paid $19 ($9.50 each) for tour fee. We were shuffled to the porch to await the next tour – at least we have great timing. We had only a few moments to peruse the gift shop and then quickly made our way to the back door when our tour was called.

The mystery begins immediately outside at two parallel strips of concrete. The guide, a young man with a scripted delivery, asks one person to stand on the northern and a second to stand on the southern strip. They were then asked to switch positions. Though their heights were supposed to appear very different, we noticed only a very little variance.

At this point, the tour group – made up of three groups of rambunctious children – was starting to get antsy as the sky opened up (for the first real time on our trip) and rain began to pour. The group quickly hiked up to a very crooked, open-air cabin at the top of the hill.

Standing in the rain outside the cabin, the young guide poured water on a “uphill sloping” window sill, and the crowd let out some circus “oohs” and “ahhs” as the water and an accompanying tennis ball rolled up the hill. It was interesting, but if the “properties” of this house change gravity, then why am I still getting soaked by rain that clearly appears to be coming straight down on our shivering shoulders?

Inside the cabin (where rain is unable to fall – oooooohhhhh), the floor was severely slanted to one corner. The tour guide explained that when the college kids who found this cabin first entered, they felt a strange force sucking them to this one corner. He then proceeded to show us the magical powers by standing ON the wall and leaning out towards the middle of the room, then by hanging from a bar and seeing how the human body was pulled toward the front entrance.

After waiting for everyone to try the parlor tricks, we moved to the second room of the cabin. The tour guide selected a one child to sit on a chair balanced on a thin wall ledge. He informed us that this was called the truth chair. If the kid answered questions correctly the chair would remain safely leaning toward the wall, and if he didn’t the chair would fall forward. After all the questions, the tour guide let go and the chair surprisingly went crashing against the wall like it was attracted by a magnet – I have to admit, I was hoping for a different result.

In addition to the major demonstrations, we were also treated to other height tricks and a mysterious “curving” tennis ball that changed direction when the guide threw it to another guest.

The kids absolutely loved it, as they should, but we were surprised by how excited and mystified the parents remained. It was as if they simply had no explanation for how this house worked. This short 20-minute tour didn’t have us wondering what mystical power allowed all those things to happen, it had us wondering how this made it on our list at all.

To find out how the Cosmos Mystery Area can make your money disappear, click here.