Eureka Daily Sentinel (1887)
A Thrilling Experience by John T. Baker
2933709Eureka Daily Sentinel — A Thrilling Experience1887John T. Baker


A THRILLING EXPERIENCE


A Vistor from Eureka in Ruby Valley Meets With an Adventure—He has a Talk with a Soldier Who has Been Dead Many Years.
Cave Creek, Ruby Valley,
Elko Co. June 16, 1887

Editor Sentinel: I wish to inform the editor of the Sentinel as well as its numerous readers of a very remarkable occurance, of rather two extraordinary events, which may by some incredulous or skeptical people simply fiction; but I assure you that what I am about to relate actually occurred. As preliminary to what I consider the marvelous part of this letter, I will state a few circumstances, which all old timers in this country know to be true. In 1862-3 the government built a fort at the south end of Ruby Valley, to protect the emigrants on the old overland road. The soldiers remained there for several years. Not long after being stationed there they heard of the wonderful cave, the sound of whose rushing waters I distinctly hear as I open these lines, and they at once determined to visit and explore it. About half a dozen of the men obtained a leave of absence of Col. Jerry Moore and visited the cave, ten miles distant from the Fort. but they found after going in a distance of about 50 yards that the cave got wider and the water deeper, so deep that they could proceed no further without a boat. So they went back to their quarters and immediately commenced the construction of a small boat. They made it in sections, and put it together inside the cave, as the hole by which entrance is gained is so small that there is only room for one man to enter at a time and a boat intact could not be got through. To get into the cave at all, or at least the main portion of it, a person must climb up a rugged rocky incline about 40 feet, and then go feet first through a small orifice, and then climb down the same kind of an incline the same distance to the water. After the soldier has completed their boat they went up again, launched it, and up stream they went. They had some whisky along, and elated at their success as boat builders, navigators and explorers, they, or the most of them, indulged quite freely. Upon going about 500 yards the cave apparantly came to an end-a perpendicular partition of rock came down from the roof, which stopped their further progress, and the water boiled out from under this partition. They tapped this rock,, and it sounded hollow,, and then all had no doubt that beyond this thin wall the cave continued. One of the men,, more daring or reckless and perhaps more inebriated than the balance, proposed that he would give into this seething torrent and gain the surface of the water beyond the wall. He was admonished not to make the attempt, but in vain,, he made the plunge. His comrades waited in breathless anxiety for about five minutes, when the water brought him back a corpse. Now comes my experience in this mysterious cavern. Last winter, I was out at Mr. Tom Short's a long time, and he and I used to come here frequently to hunt ducks and geese. One very cold day in January we were going out to hunt in different directions, but close together. I wanted the dogs to go with me, as he had rubber boots and I had none. This he would not permit, and I got "riled" and would not go at all, and went back to the house. I then took it into my head that I would go and explore the cave, which is only about two hundred yards from the house. I procured candles and matches,, and away I went. I knew the boat was in there and I carried a dry poplar pole to propel it. The outer opening of the cave is large, and the daylight penetrates to the place where it is necessary to climb to through the small hole. I lighted a candle and climbed to the hole. By considerable contortion I got my feet ahead of me and went down on the inside over the rough and ragged rocks backward like a crab, until I reached the water below. I had but little difficulty in finding the boat, and when I found it immediately embarked and poled up stream. It seemed to me there that I was out of the world. The glistening stalactites above snarkled and flashed like so many diamonds; the rushing water beneath me; the pitchy darkness beyond the light of my feeble candle., and the roar of the water ahead as it emerged from beneath the granite wall, 'thrilled me with fantastic terrors never felt before." I arrived at the wall and was intenty gazing on the spot where the infortmate soldier made the fatal plunge, and wondering what could induce a same man to he so inconsiderate, when to my terror a soldier stood before me. My hair stood on end,, and I could feel a heavy fur cap which I wear now perceptibly rise up, while shivers ran over my whole system. The soldier was dressed in regular regulation uniform and he said; -I ain't doing nothing.' He said, 'Get out of here, then;' I said, 'I will if you will give me a chance;, said he, "Go;" and I went,, and did not stand on the order of my going either. I said nothing to Tom about it when I got back, for I very well knew he would ridicule the idea and laugh at me. I told some few friends in Eureka about it and some of them thought I was joking, but to all such I will say that they are mistaken, as it is the exact truth. And to make myself satisfied that it was no hallucination I revisited the same place last week, saw the same soldier, and this time had a long talk with him, in which he told me the story of his life and how he was suffocated for want of air after he got to the surface on the surface on the inside of the wall, and that he was not drowned. (?) I will give you his story in another letter. Yours in truth and fact, J. T. B.


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