Strange tales of subterranean civilizations, cities and ancient technology
is something fundamentally and primally mysterious about caves and
tunnels. Maybe it's their darkness or the fact that they open into the
very body of the Earth. They are invariably the subjects of adolescent
adventure stories, such as the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew mysteries, and
R.L. Stine's books. And they serve as backgrounds in exciting stories
directed at older audiences as well, such as Jules Verne's A Journey to the Center of the Earth
and the Indiana Jones films. Tunnels represent the unknown and touch
the fears that reside deep in the primitive human subconscious.
I've come across several sites on the Web that tell what some
believe are true stories of vast underground networks of tunnels. And
they are no less mysterious and fantastic than those used as settings
in the fictional tales mentioned above.
It's not that the tunnels merely exist and are unknown to most people,
it's what they contain, who built them, and why – and that takes us
into the deepest recesses of the unknown.
People who claim to have first- or second-hand knowledge or
experience with these tunnels make many astonishing claims: that they
contain long-lost cities; that they are inhabited by advanced
civilizations – perhaps the descendents of Atlantis; that they are bases for extraterrestrials
and their flying saucers; that they are bases for secret government
installations. The government no doubt has top-secret military
installations deep within mountains and perhaps underground, but this,
of course, is the least fantastic of the stories.
Grand Canyon Mystery
The April 5, 1909 edition of The Phoenix Gazette carried a story entitled "Explorations in Grand Canyon."
According to the article, a man named G.E. Kinkaid made an astonishing
discovery while on an expedition, sponsored by the Smithsonian
Institute, in the Grand Canyon. Among his findings:
- A mammoth chamber about 1,480 feet underground from which radiates dozens of passageways "like the spokes of a wheel."
- Several hundred rooms, some of which contain artifacts such as
weapons and copper instruments of a kind that have never been known to
be native to the Americas.
- A crypt containing mummies - all adult males - wrapped in a bark fabric.
- A shrine containing a Buddha-like idol sitting cross-legged with a lotus flower in each hand.
- Stone tablets on which are carved mysterious Egyptian-like hieroglyphics.
The article also mentions a legend of the Hopi Indians that says
their ancestors once lived in an underworld in the Grand Canyon.
Crumf Burial Cave
In 1892, Frank Burns of the U.S. Geological Survey reported that
he found strange coffins in the Crunf Cave along the southern branch of
the Warrior River in Murphy's Valley, Alabama. The wooden coffins
appeared to be hollowed out by fire, then chiseled with stone or copper
tools. Each coffin was 7.5 feet long, 14 to 18 inches wide, and 6 to 7
inches deep. The lids were open on each empty coffin. The specimens
were sent to the Smithsonian, which suggested the coffins might
actually be troughs. In any case, the museum lost the artifacts.
Tunnel Network Under California
According to an article entitled in the Fall 1985 edition of Search
magazine, a high-ranking but unnamed Naval officer told of the
discovery of a huge network of tunnels under portions of the west coast
of the U.S. He said that U.S. nuclear submarines had explored some of
these tunnels, which are accessible just off the continental shelf, and
had followed them inland for several hundred miles. Here are more
highlights of this incredible claim:
- What is being passed off as the San Andreas Fault are actually
large, unsupported chambers that are in the process of collapsing.
- A well-known U.S. Nuclear submarine lost its way in one of the passages and was never heard from again.
- (Two U.S. nuclear submarines have disappeared under mysterious circumstances - the U.S.S. Thresher and the U.S.S. Scorpion.)
- Some of California is actually floating on the ocean. When oil
companies began pumping oil from beneath the city of Long Beach, it
began to sink - up to 26 feet before the pumping was stopped.
More and More Tunnels
The above story was written up in a long article called "The Underground Empire," which reveals many more details. It also offers these other fascinating accounts:
- A couple from Bishop, Calif. discovered a circular hole in the
ground while exploring for petroglyphs. They climbed down the hole
which bottomed out to a horizontal corridor. On one of the walls was
carved a face out of the mouth of which poured water. Suddenly the
water started to gush out of the face and from other openings, and the
couple was forced to abandon the tunnel. Later, both recalled that they
heard music down there.
- In West Virginia, workers found some caverns with strange
hieroglyphics written on the walls. They also claimed to gear faint
voices and what sounded like machinery coming from beyond the walls of
- Two men searching for bat guano (which has some value as
fertilizer) at the foot of Mount Lassen found a deep cave. They
followed it inside for a mile or two and noticed that the floor was
worn smooth, as if it had been used for a road. Eventually they met
three strange "men" who asked if they are "surface people," and then
took them deeper in the cave on an electromagnetically powered
hovercraft. The story gets stranger from there.
- Travelers Ferdinand Ossendowski and Nicholas Roerich claim
to have discovered a subterranean society below central Asia, which
they referred to as Agharta or Agharti. They say it is home to 20
million people, and their civilization extends throughout all the
subterranean passages of the world.
- A 12-man speleological team broke into an ancient tunnel
system in northern Arkansas and encountered the inhabitants of the
- Exploring another cave in Arkansas, just north of
Batesville, explorers found a tunnel illuminated by a greenish
phosphorescence where they met a race of beings who stood 7 to 8 feet
tall and had bluish skin. The beings, who have advanced technology,
told the explorers they are the direct descendents of Noah.
Brazil is said to have many entrances to an underground world. Several people claim to have proof:
- Two explorers returning from tunnels near Ponte Grosse in Brazil
say they spent five days in an underworld city inhabited by 50 adults
and some children.
- The same two explorers found another tunnel entrance in
Rincon and saw luminous flying saucers going in and out, and heard
beautiful choral singing.
- An old man living near Concepiao told how he had visited a vast underground city where strange vehicles darted back and forth.
- An explorer looking through a tunnel near Rio Casdor met a
beautiful woman who appeared to be about 20 years old, but told the
explorer she was 2,500 years old.
Pretty far-out stuff, huh? There is, of course, no proof to verify
any of these stories, and the explorers always seem to lose or forget
where the exact entrance to these caves and tunnels are. Some of the
stories may have a basis in fact, but most are certainly tall tales,
exaggerations, or outright fabrications. But they fortify our
fascination with strange caves and tunnels. They make me, at least,
want to go exploring in them. And who knows what would be found!