#14 – Exploring the Cave – 1982

Written by Russell Burrows:

I have been into caving the better part of my life and had no fear of going into this one. Besides, this cave seemed to be something different, something natural and yet modified, and certainly blocked up for a very special reason. With the pit, carvings and strange markings in the close vicinity I knew I was onto something that could prove to be unique.

I found the cave to be rather tight top to bottom, but the width was of a good size. Later I realized that most of the stuff I was crawling or slithering in was silt that did not belong there. The distance from the silt to the ceiling was only about fifteen to twenty-four inches, but the width ranged from maybe fifty-five feet at the widest to just under three feet at the narrowest point. It was obvious from the smoke-blackened ceiling that fire had been used at some time in the past. The depth of less than two feet was of course not the true measurement. I found, by the use of shotgun cleaning rods, that the silt was nine to twelve feet deep. Where had all the silt come from? I was to find the answer to that question later.

I cannot say that this cave is a thing of beauty. On the contrary, it is very tight and dirty. From the top of the silt to the ceiling some places get down to a foot or less and there are places where there are breakdowns. That is, where the cave ceiling has fallen. Those places are very tight and risky to get through. The danger here is whether or not the rocks which have fallen and the rocks in the roof of the cave are stable enough to withstand the rubbing which is bound to occur when one is passing through. You must remember that I work alone. If I get stuck I could be in a lot of trouble.

The first thing I noticed was a lamp which had been cut out of the solid stone on the left side of the cave wall. The lamp was six to eight inches long with two human-appearing heads carved out of the same rock as the cave wall; these were part of the lamp on either end, with one looking toward the outside of the cave the other looking into it. Now to me that thing was completely out of place. I mean, a lamp with two heads on it cut out of a stone wall? There was no doubt about it now: I was into something entirely different. I had never heard nor read of anything like this before.

Later I discovered more of these lamps on both sides of the cave along the wall, spaced about twenty-five feet apart. They all had blackened rims and the area above each is blackened with soot. I also noticed that the ceiling further in was all blackened with soot.

As I progressed into the depths of this cave, I again began to take notice of those strange letters, the same kind I had seen in the pit where I had fallen. I have seen thousands of Indian artifacts and seen many pictures in books, but nothing like these. The letters were almost always in panels or clusters, not strung out. No, these panels are well ordered and, as I have since learned, are related to the others, that is, one panel may well lead to the next one.

Remember, what I have described here is located at the very top portion of the cave walls. You just have to wonder what is down there under all that silt.

The thick coating of black soot on the roof of the cave was very impressive. To me, it meant very old and lots of use. They must have had torches to light the cave, perhaps made of some kind of hide or skin wrapped around a stick and soaked with pitch, grease, oil or some other material that would burn a long time; and in doing so the torches left their mark.

I can’t honestly say exactly how or where I found the first artifact. After all, I had no idea of what I was getting into. But when I found it, it was a shock! I was flabbergasted. Never had I seen anything like the stone tablet that I first found. Here is this gosh-awful looking face all cut neatly out of a solid piece of black rock which I took to be slate or even possibly a piece of coal. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, and I knew it couldn’t be Indian. I didn’t know who could have carved it, and I still don’t. I’ve had lots of ideas and suggestions, some of them good and to my mind some of them ridiculous. We’ll just have to wait and see.