#7 Virginia Hourigan’s Pictures – 1988

Written by Fred Rydholm

The woman from New York was a very sincere and extremely interested member of ISAC. She was the one person that I felt was doing everything in her power to get the story of the cave to the proper people, but in the course of time I learned that she too had met with many difficulties. Her name was Virginia Hourigan, and though from New York City she bore no tell-tale marks of a New Yorker. She wore her hair very plain and pulled back, was tall, strong and without a trace of an eastern accent. In fact she almost seemed to have the distinct language sharpness of the kind of speech I was used to. I thought she could easily pass as a person from my own Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I wasn’t too far off: her father had been a logger, and she was reared in lumber camps in Minnesota. I learned that she was a very educated person, knowledgeable in many fields, a professional musician with many New York organizations and self-sufficient. She rode a huge motorcycle to and from the meetings, and had traveled on it across the country and back many times.

Virginia Hourigan’s pictures were staggering. I didn’t know how many of them there were, but figured conservatively that there had to be more then a thousand of them. They were beautifully done, sharp and of good color. She generously let those who wished to, paw through them. When I told her that I would like to spend more time and study them a little, she obligingly put my name on a list that seemed to have about six or seven names and addresses on it. The whole great box full of pictures (carefully sorted into bundles of twenty or so, with each picture in its own transparent protective cover) would be sent to me to study for a few weeks, after which I would ship it all on to the next person on the list.

I asked for the pictures near the end of July, so I could show them to several people at Huron Mountain Club whom I knew would be interested. As it turned out I had the pictures for an extra week or so because the next party on the list was on a trip, and asked that I hold them until they returned.

In the meantime I was in touch with another student of ancient societies whom I had met at other meetings. He was Charles Bailey of Duluth, Minnesota, a consultant to railroad companies. Being the only two far-northerners at most meetings, naturally we became acquainted. Chuck asked if he could have the pictures for a few days and I sent them to him, after which they went to the fellow in Colorado who was next on the list. Some years later Chuck Bailey organized an Upper-Midwest Chapter of ISAC.

Nearly everyone who spent any time at all with the pictures was astounded by what they saw. A notable exception was my friend Chuck Bailey, who was unimpressed. He told me so in a letter, a copy of which he sent to Dr. Fell. It was printed in ESOP, vol. 19 (1990).

The gist of Chuck Bailey’s skepticism about the artifacts was that: (1) they appeared to have been carved by the same person and many faces exhibited the same “lantern jaw;” (2) the figures wore clothing and armor from several different epochs – from 2000 BC to 1000 AD; (3) the figures were crude and hastily done, and appeared to be copies of everything “from Egyptian and Babylonian tomb paintings to gargoyles from Notre Dame and dragons from the Book of Kells;” (4) many of the objects had no utility, but represented many objects found everywhere.

Chuck Bailey’s summary of his conclusions was:

“There may be a cave somewhere in Illinois that these objects came from but I strongly doubt it – especially if these pictures show what is supposed to have come out of it. It appears more to me that a prodigious effort has been made to manufacture a bunch of stuff to hoodwink the unwary.”

Among others who were believers, or at least still open-minded on the cave and its contents, most couldn’t believe that several years had gone by since the discovery of the cave and yet there were still no known plans for an archaeological dig. What was being done to protect the find from the hordes of well-meaning, but all too often ultimately destructive people who are constantly searching out such places and carrying things off without reporting them?

Several people questioned me about the details of the cave – what did I know about the people involved, and could this all be a fraud? To most people, the pictures they saw of the cave artifacts just didn’t have any place in history as they knew it. It never entered their minds that the history they knew could be wrong or at best incomplete. They thought there just had to be something very fishy about it all, it must be a clever hoax, it had to be fake.

“How much did these cost you? Who’s getting rich on this scheme? Why are you being so gullible?” I had no answers to these questions, but sincerely wanted to learn more about the cave. I wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Among the friends with whom I discussed the pictures from Burrows’ Cave was a lawyer from Detroit named Jon Clark. We had been friends for a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed his vast intellect and grasp of things.

When he asked me if I had seen any of the rocks myself I had to say I hadn’t. But I told him that I had been in touch with the people involved in the cave and had been invited by both Jack Ward and Russell Burrows to come and visit them sometime. They assured me that they would show me everything they had and would be happy to answer any questions.