GATE TO THE UNKNOWN

The following account appeared on page 52 of the Nov. 1954 issue

of FATE magazine.

"In March, 1954, a French Jesuit priest in Sorata, Bolivia,

told a strange story of an exploring trip he had made in the cavern

of San Pedro on 20,000 foot Mount Illampu of the Andes chain.

"The cavern must be entered on all fours through a narrow

passage which widens after a few yards and leads into an immense

cavern filled with stalagmites and stalactites. At one end of the

cavern is a subterranean lake.

"The French priest claimed to be the first person to cross to

the far end of the lake. After several hours of rowing a small boat

by artificial light, he related, the cave narrowed and gave way to a

trail barred by an enormous gate of wrought iron. The grille, he

said, bore all the characteristics of 17th century Spanish ironwork.

"The priest tried unsuccessfully to break through the barrier.

He was eager to see what lay beyond but he had to return to Sorata

without solving the mystery."

The question one might ask in this case is: Did the old Spanish

explorers go through all the trouble to forge the gate in order to

keep someone out, or did they do it to keep some 'thing' in...?

In the Fall, 1980 issue of 'SEARCH' magazine (p. 7) the following

strange incident was reported:

"A MILE OF LIGHTS -- Four teenagers, quite 'shook up', drove up

to Deputy Sheriff Trotta in Putnam County, New York State, about

1:30 a.m. one morning, and said they had seen an 'eerie sight' at an

abandoned iron ore mine in nearby Brewster.

"Trotta thought their explanation did, indeed, sound rather

'eerie', so he got another police officer to accompany him.

"They went to the mine shaft which was on a dirt road, off from

another road, known as 'Lover's Lane'.

"Going into the mine, they found two 'long rows of lighted

candles as far as the eye could see'. The two officers followed

them for about a mile. Then the trail of light suddenly came to an

end, and that was that."

Some of the early Indian inhabitants of Connecticut held a legend of

a large subterranean chamber which was supposed to lie deep below

the surface of their tribal lands. Within this large chamber, the

legend states, a powerful demon or evil one sat upon a throne.

Perhaps such legends were built around actual phenomena such as was

described by Horace C. Hovey in his book 'CELEBRATED AMERICAN

CAVERNS' (Robert Clarke & Co., Cincinnati., 1896). On pp. 199-200

of this volume, under the sub-heading 'THE MOODUS NOISES', Hovey

states:

"Certain inexplicable sounds have mystified the inhabitants of

a portion of the Connecticut valley for more than a century. From

the fact that they were first heard at Moodus, a quite little hamlet

beside a trout stream, they have been called the Moodus Noises. In

1729 these detonations were so remarkable as to have caused

consternation. A clergyman of the day writes:

'Whether they be any thing diabolical in these things I know not,

but this I know, that God Almighty is to be seen and trembled at.'

'I myself,' he adds, 'heard 8 or 10 sounds successively, and

imitating small arms, in the space of 5 minutes. I have, I suppose,

heard several hundred of them within 20 years, still more, some less

terrible. Oftentimes I have heard them to be coming down from the

north, imitating slow thunder, which shakes the houses and all that

is in them.'

"These strange sounds have been recently heard, as late as

1881, at Salem, Conn., New London and elsewhere, and have caused

renewed interest in the subject. Their starting point seems to be

Mount Tom, and in March, 1881, it is affirmed that the faint

rumbling sound rising to a rattling peal was heard for several hours

and by many people. The reason for referring to them here is that,

in the opinion of some persons the Moodus Noises are due to

explosions of gases in subterranean cavities, and indicate the

existence of a large vacuity underneath Southern New England, which

would not be suspected by a survey of the granite hills and smiling

prosperity of the region thus threatened."

The following article, written by Alex Sanders and titled 'HAUNTED

CAVES', appeared in the Oct. 1961 issue of SEARCH Magazine:

"Why (this question has been put to Shaver many times) have not

our extensive mines of coal, silver, iron, gold, etc. broken into

your alleged 'caverns'? Shaver has answered (as he does in SHAVER

MYSTERY MAGAZINE number 2 - page 27) that 'The caves are deeper than

miners penetrate - and they are led away when they get too near.

Mines are too dangerous - many mines are "haunted", no one will work

in them.'

"This brings to mind a CORONET Magazine article - 'THE PHANTOM

OF BUCK HILL CAVES' from the June, 1951 issue.

"J. P. Folinsbee, the author, tells about Virginia's Buck Hill

Caverns, 'a vast underground kingdom that, once discovered, has

never been fully explored.' Unlike the NEARBY world-famous Natural

Bridge which annually attracts some 500,000 tourists, the place was

never opened to the public.

"Unknown is the founder of the entrance, but back in 1889 a

schoolboy named Jake Fitzgeralds did limited exploration around the

surface opening, alone or with friends.

"Then, in October (here I am not sure if it was October of

1889, or years later when Jake was an adult) a Col. Henry Parsons

who had heard tales of the strange beauty underground, talked Jake

into entering the cave, for a dollar a day, to tell what he found.

"A few days later, armed with oil lanterns, candles, ropes,

chisels, Jake disappeared inside with his brother, Joe, as a small

crowd watched curiously.

"Hours later the two muddy figures returned, to whet the

appetite of Col. Parsons with their spine-tingling description of a

miles-long, extravagantly beautiful cavern.

"The following week, an eight-man crew began the task of

opening Buck Hill Caverns.

"Discounting millions of bats, it was enormously impressive

inside, what with vast chambers, a frozen, majestically-hanging

waterfall, a crystal lake, weird stone formations, huge stalagmites

and stalactites to take one's breath away.

"Months passed, then one full year, of steady work.

"Probing with a pick, Jake broke through a wall of flowstone.

Enlarging the hole, his lantern shining within revealed a seemingly

endless pit.

"Quickly a rope lowered him down. Pulled back over the edge an

hour later, the white-faced Jake excitedly described the unearthly

magnificence of waterfalls, pools, lakes, vast chambers, even

[stone] cave flowers.

"The unparalleled sights were verified the next day by the awed

workers. Still, the place was never open to the public. Because -

one day the crew stopped their downward digging abruptly, for no

reason at all, remaining oddly silent. For there came 'a sobbing

cry, uncannily like the wracking voice of a woman, floating eerily

up from the chasm. It stopped. Then it came again, in a long,

moaning sigh that rose like a sob of pain.'

"What was it? A woman crying (perhaps a prisoner in some deep

underground dungeon? - Branton) as she lay down there? A HAUNT

warning the men to depart (as one 'suggested' half-hysterically)?

"They left - fast! - and as they ran silently, a second sobbing

wail echoed behind them.

"The men refused to return after that, though Jake tried for

weeks to get them back to work. Others refused as well once the

story of the Phantom of the Caves spread through the superstitious

mountain country. Buck Hill Cavern, a possible million dollar

wonderland, was necessarily abandoned.

"When the CORONET article was written in 1951, white-haired

Jake Fitzgeralds was still alive, the only man living who had heard

the phantom voice. He resided then in an ancient long house at

Bell's Cove, a few miles from Buck Hill.

"What was the strange nose heard far below the earths crust by

a team of workers over seventy years ago? Was it a freak waterfall

sucking air in some hole? This Jake offered as an explanation.

"Or - deros at work, as Richard Shaver might say, to keep the

curious away?"

* * *

Several years ago, a woman by the name of Christine Hayes described

an incident related to her by a man who had explored a cavern in a

remote mountain in South America. Deep in the cave he came upon an

extensive underground 'lake' and had no sooner done so than a

strange creature like the serpent of Loch Ness itself, raised its

long neck out of the water and let out a cave-shuddering roar. The

sea 'dragon' went back beneath the waves and the explorer left the

cave in a hurry. Some time afterwards he again made a trip to the

same mountain and cavern, only to discover that a 'cave-in' had

completely sealed the entrance to the underground lake.

Vance Randolph, author of several books dealing with Ozark

'Folk' stories, related an incident, allegedly a real event, which

took place in a mountainous region in northern Arkansas. Curious

explorers who were attempting to plumb the depths of a particular

'crevice' has allegedly lowered a heavy rock, tied to the end of a

long rope, about 200 feet down into the pit. They felt a sudden

jerk and lifted the rope up only to find that it had been cut clean.

The rumor was that a giant snake had its lair deep under the

crevice.

'Commander X', in his book 'UNDERGROUND ALIEN BASES' (Abelard Press.

New York) described one incident which was originally related in one

of the 'SHAVER MYSTERY' publications which were prominent during the

1950's.

The incident was reported by a 'Professor W. Wiers' of Mexico,

who stated that he knew of a 'Professor Schwartz' who had made a

long study of cavern anomalies, starting when he was only 15 years

old in Germany. According to Professor Weirs, just before the

beginning of the Second World War, both the axis and allied powers

were interested in using various caves as supply bases for numerous

military applications. At this time, it is said, the Nazi's were

secretly exploring caverns and old mines in the Southwestern United

States, the Himalayas, South America, the Polar regions and

elsewhere.

Professor Schwartz related that he knew of a Nazi who had come

upon an 'enormous circular pit' whose sides dropped straight down

for a good 1,200 feet. Trees could be seen growing tall and

straight below. Eagles soared around, and then dived to the bottom

of the chasm, apparently eating something. Since the sides were

dangerously steep the Nazi had to content himself with using

binoculars instead of descending into the underground realm himself.

Returning later with others (fellow German soldiers?) he

eventually discovered a similar but much narrower shaft, not far

from the first, which was so big that it could not be hidden in any

way to those in the general vicinity. Not having a cable nor

apparatus with which to let down a man into the seemingly bottomless

shaft, they let down a pencil attached to a thin rope or cord. To

their surprise, the cord, when drawn back up was found to be cut

clean, as with a knife, or scissors--and the pencil was gone. Of

course they all resolved to come back and study this pit further,

but the war prevented their doing so.

The location of the shaft is supposedly in Northern Guatemala.

Near the place is a witch doctor, friendly to Professor Schwartz,

who assured the Professor that there is a secret passage, closed by

a revolving rock door, which goes to an enormous hidden chamber

which is still below the vast roof cave-in seen from above.

Some years ago researcher Penny Harper visited eastern

Guatemala and learned of a strange cavern called 'Silpino' cave

which had a legendary history. This caverns entrance was right next

to a major road. It is uncertain whether this road was the one

running from Zacapa to Puerto Barrios or another similar road.

However, this cavern was said to be an ancient MAYAN cave. Explorers

have claimed that ancient Mayan artifacts and carvings can be seen

deep within the cave, and at one point the electrical cells in some

of the explorers' flashlights were mysteriously drained. One man

claimed he traveled for MANY days through the passage and came out

at the bottom of the central shaft of an extinct volcano. He could

see a pinpoint of light entering through the upper cone high above,

and an underground stream with strange subterranean fish meandered

through the cavernous maze. Another man entered the cave and

returned about a month later, his body swollen from weeks of

wandering in the damp underground tunnels. These accounts at least

suggest that the ancient Mayans had a definite interest in the

'subterranean' world.

The following anomalous letter appeared, under the heading 'SOMEBODY

ASK THE ARMY!', in the Nov. 1947 issue of AMAZING STORIES magazine,

and was submitted by a Mr. Kenneth Henderson of (at the time) 1441

Madison Ave., Indianapolis, Indiana:

"Sirs... Here is some information you may have; if not, this

can be added to the Shaver Mystery.

"I will reveal no names or how I came across this as it might

involve the ORDINANCE OFFICER who told it to some friends of mine.

"Recently in Mexico in some caverns the U.S. Army found six

spaceships.

"They know not who they belong to, or what they are made of.

The construction of them is strange as they seem to appear to run of

compressed air or by some such method. I hope this will add to your

knowledge."

Clay Perry, and veteran speleologist who may be the leading

authority on New England caverns and subterranea, made the following

comments on pp. 199-201 of his book 'UNDERGROUND EMPIRE: WONDERS AND

TALES OF NEW YORK CAVES' (Ira J. Friedman, Inc., Port Washington,

Long Island, N.Y.):

"...Out of the clear skies of Utah, in June, 1947 came a

strange inquiry about reputed caverns near Syracuse, N.Y. Miss Opal

Kemp of 220 Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, made the inquiry, first to

the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, then to the Secretary of the State

of Albany, and finally to me, through the circulation of one of her

letters to officials of the State Museum and the State Department of

Conservation, who had the idea that a spelunker from Pittsfield,

Massachusetts, would know about it if anyone did.

"Miss Kemp had written that 'a group of us are planning to

visit the east this summer and wish to explore caverns known as THE

EAST CAVES OF SYRACUSE. These caves are said to be the western

entrance to the subterranean passage which extended under the

Atlantic Ocean to the British Isles. Part of the cavern system has

collapsed--one as recently has 1928--so that it is now impossible to

travel in them. However, the entrances remain intact.'

"It took but a few minutes of research in the geology

department of the State Museum to discover that there actually are

some caves east of Syracuse, and that they are curious ones, indeed,

and deep and some of them quite long, for in THE GEOLOGY OF THE

SYRACUSE QUADRANGLE by Thomas Cramer Hopkins, published as NEW YORK

STATE MUSEUM BULLETIN 171m in 1914, there was found not only an

elaborate study of the 'EAST CAVES OF SYRACUSE,' but photographs

taken, exteriorly, of some of the odd crevices, with people perched

in them.

"These crevices are in Onondaga limestone, which is the hardest

kind found in New York State and which spreads clear across the

Syracuse quadrangle, in some areas forming large, level floors of

rock swept free of residual matter by glaciers and the wash of

water, and with deep clefts in the rock.

"One of the areas lies along the top of a cliff that borders

what is known as the Clark Reservation, a state park, about three

miles southeast of Syracuse. As Professor Hopkins describes them,

"'..At the Syracuse caves, three miles southeast of the city,

some of these fissure caverns have been explored to a depth of more

than a hundred feet and some hundreds of feet in length. Where the

fissuring has been intensified it produces the well-known KARSTEN

topography.

"'In a few places there has been a little deposition of calcite

on the walls of the fissures, but in general the deposition is very

slight in comparison with the solution since most of the material

dissolved has been carried away into the streams or deposited in the

deeper portions of the underlying rocks.

"'Some of the fissures are open enough at the top to permit

large quantities of snow to enter them during the winter months, and

remain in the form of snow and ice during the greater part of the

summer, forming what is known locally as the 'ice caves.' These

occur in cliffs around Blue Lake and at Split Rock quarries.'

"This officially confirms Miss Kemp's long-distance tip on

caves which, until June, 1947, had completely escaped the attention

of present-day geologists, speleologists, and spelunkers as well as

the usually alert boosters of the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce,

which brings us to the inland and western entrance to that

prodigious reputed trans-ocean subway from the United States to the

British Isles! But where, oh where is the other end."

At this point in his book Mr. Perry referred to a cavern in

France which was at the time of that writing measured to a depth of

over 2,193 feet. The cave is known as the 'Great Hole of Preta',

near Verona. However, since that time far deeper caves have

'officially' been explored and documented. In THE GUINNESS BOOK OF

WORLD RECORDS, we find that the cave system known as the 'Reseau du

Foillis' had been explored in France to a depth exceeding 4600 feet.

New 'depth' records are 'officially' being broken every day,

however. Perry continues: "...But America may find that it holds

the record for the longest cave in the world beneath its land, if

these 'East Caves of Syracuse' do now or ever did extend from cliffs

of the Syracuse area across under the ocean to the British Isles,

for it is some two hundred miles from Syracuse to the Atlantic

Coast.

"It develops that the Geology Department of Syracuse University

made some study of the caves, and that parties of students, with an

instructor, used to explore the deep cliffs, using ropes, and

actually have gone down as deep as 100 feet in them. Among those

who have explored the caves (was) Professor Louis W. Ploger of the

Geology Department, who was a student during the time such field

trips were being made..."

Helen C. Gordon, in a letter which appeared in the 'SHAVER MYSTERY

MAGAZINE', Vol. 1, No. 2, 1947, pp. 3234., described a strange

experience she and her husband had with a massive subterranean

cavern below southern New Mexico.

While driving near the Organ mountains southeast of Las Cruces,

the two had spotted what seemed to be mine tailings high upon the

forbidden-looking slopes. Being a bit curious and adventurous, they

decided to spend some time and walk up the mountains and see if

there were any mines as they suspected from the tailing piles. They

finally reached the entrance to what they knew to be a mine, perhaps

excavated sometime in the 1800's, and proceeded to explore it's

interior. They made their way back into the dark interior, feeling

their way along. They continued farther still until the entrance

was a mere pinpoint of light, and suddenly they noticed that the

right wall had disappeared into empty blackness. A natural or

artificial 'wall' or partition blocked off most of the 'empty area',

which spanned a considerable distance along the side of the

horizontal mine. Just behind the 'wall' a narrow ledge ran along

the top of what seemed to be a chasm.

The chasm was deeper than their lights could reach and appeared

to be more of a natural result of some ancient geological activity

rather than artificial. They looked around for some wood and

combustible material and constructed a torch, which they then

dropped down the pit. They watched fearfully and in awe as the

torch light became smaller and smaller until it disappeared from

view altogether.

After questioning some of the old timers in the area they

learned that such chasms were encountered on rare occasions by

miners, who referred to them as 'glory holes'. A glory hole is a

natural shaft of such depth and expanse that it's bottom is

difficult to plumb. The old miners apparently broke through to this

'glory hole' and left the partition of the rock there for safety

purposes.

source: KeelyNet courtesy of Rick Lawler.