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
"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
"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
"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
* * *
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
'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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"'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
"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
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
source: KeelyNet courtesy of Rick Lawler.