Mammoth Cave

16 Oct

Mammoth Cave –

One of the World’s largest cave systems, and possibly haunted by many spirits from the past. The first known visitors were over 12,000 years ago; early cave explorers used Mammoth Cave as a burial place for their dead. Many mummies have been found, usually in the typical burial posture, but also the mummified remains of early cave explorers have been found.

One spirit may be a slave, Stephen Bishop, who became enamored with the cave, living his life in and among the corridors of Mammoth Cave. He was the first man to explore- and map -the cave system. He loved it so that even when offered his freedom he chose to stay at the cave exploring it until his death. The love of this cave could be what ties the spirit of Mr. Bishop to Mammoth Cave.

And then there are even more possibilities of lingering spirits. Back in 1822, John Croghan became the owner of Mammoth Cave. He was amazed by the size of the rooms and the chambers they found. He could see the many possibilities and strived to bring visitors to tour the cave. Being a doctor he saw the medical benefits of the cave as well. John had heard of underground hospitals in Europe in which those suffering from tuberculosis had been cured. He believed that the moist air and the constant temperature of the cave might slow, or even reverse the ravages of the disease. It is said they constructed huts in the cave and then invited 15 tuberculosis patients to participate in the experiment. Several of the patients died in the cave and the attempt was considered a failure.

Generations of visitors, guides and personnel have shared legends and stories of strange sounds and sightings, hence the haunted legends attached to this cave. These eerie stories tell of unexplained lights, disembodied footsteps and of course, apparitions and spirits. The long history of the cave enhances the idea of spooks and specters, as many died from accidents in the days of the saltpeter operations. Of course Native Americans wandered into the cave and never found their way out; cave explorers went missing, the tragic tuberculosis victims suffered and died there. Could the apparition of a man in suspenders be one of those sickly patients? Which spirits enjoys playfully shoving visitors in the section of the cave where the guide turns out the light?  Could it be Beverly, the young girl who fell in love with her tutor and tricked him inside the cave, darting off in a hidden spot and allowing him to find his way out on his own as a joke? He never returned, and she never got over the deadly prank, she later died of TB and many see what is believed to be her apparition, and others hear a female voice calling for the lost man.

Tragedy seemed to ensnare those who loved the cave the most. Another man who lost his life there was Floyd Collins. In one attempt to explore areas not open to the public, Floyd became wedged in a crevice of the cave. His leg was trapped between a rock that had fallen on his foot and the sandstone wall. Fortunately after he was missing for a few days his family and friends searched for him and found him alive though injured. Many attempts to free him were developed. It seemed each and every attempt failed and exasperated the situation. The crevice was so narrow and tight that all attempts to free Floyd caused more rubble to fall and entrap him even more. His father offered a $500 reward to anyone who could rescue him. Local news covered the situation and word traveled. Soon it became like a circus with more than 20,000 onlookers vying to see the trapped man. And then it happened, more slate caved in around Floyd, shutting him off from the outside world, and his rescuers became too afraid to help, even after they realized he was still alive. They started making a vertical shaft and finally made it to Floyd- but it was too late – he had died three days earlier, on Friday 13th.  

Sadly, the family sold the cave and the next owner, Dr. Thomas wanted to move Floyd’s body because he was sure it could be a great moneymaker. He exhumed Floyd’s body and displayed it in a glass, bronzed metal coffin and opened it for public viewing in 1927.  Hundreds flocked to see the body of one of the greatest cave explorers. Floyd’s family battled Thomas in court for years to try to stop the ghoulish advertisement of their son’s remains. Eventually the body was stolen, and after authorities and blood hounds located the body wrapped in burlap bags approx 800 yards from the cave’s entrance, missing one leg, the body was returned to its casket where a metal lid was fitted and locked every night. It seems Dr. Thomas won the legal battle and continued to show the cadaver until 1952 when the cave was closed to the public. Eventually Floyd Collins was buried many years after his actual death at the Baptist Church cemetery up on Flint Ridge Rd. Has his spirit finally found peace? Or is it trapped, much like his physical body was, in a cave that seems to hold much tragedy and remarkable history? It is easy to believe with as much death as permeated the cavernous walls of Mammoth Cave it is likely to be haunted.

On our visit we did catch hundreds of orbs in pictures, but nothing else. I attribute those orbs to dust and moisture.  We enjoyed the tour and sought the evidence of spiritual residents, yet we came up empty handed. You can’t easily dismiss the many stories of spiritual encounters that have survived generations, but we could not confirm it is haunted.



Our Experience with The Bell Witch Cave

16 Oct

The Bell Witch Cave Edit this entry

Posted on April 21, 2010 by instantescape

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I waited for months to finally see the legendary Bell Witch Cave in Adams, TN. The infamous haunting surpasses most ghost stories, as the entity that uprooted the lives of the Bell Family seemed more intelligent and more visible than any spirit documented in the state of Tennessee thus far.

There are many books, and even a film chronicling the strange haunting that occurred in Robertson County between 1817 and 1821. A local farmer named John Bell was troubled by a violent spirit for nearly four years. The spirit presented itself by becoming a mysterious creature, using a disembodied voice, and was capable of touching people and moving objects, it became increasingly violent, even resulting in the death of John Bell.

Having tormented John Bell to death wasn’t enough satisfaction, as the witch didn’t leave the family immediately after his death. She hung around, warning Betsy Bell not to marry the man that she truly loved, Joshua Gardner. The witch would never say why she didn’t approve of the relationship.  Eventually Betsy feared she and Joshua would be tormented to death, like her father. She broke off the engagement and later married a local schoolteacher, Richard Powell. This coupling did not ignite disapproval from Kate the witch.  When the Bell Witch left the family she promised to return in seven years. As promised she returned and plagued the family again for two weeks. Before departing the last time she promised to return in 134 years. That date has since past, but many residents of Robertson Count and visitors to the Bell farm and cave claim she never left.

The cave and farm have passed through many owners, and although no one has ever experienced a haunting even remotely similar to what the Bell family endured, past and present owners admit to mysterious and unexplainable phenomena. Many believe the cave is a portal used by the Bell Witch. Or is it a portal used by many spirits? The cavern is beneath an old Indian burial ground, in fact, there is an empty grave near the entrance of the cave, where once the bones of a young Indian girl were buried. Trespassers stole the artifacts and this is the spot where I witnessed a brief manifestation of something, or someone from the past.

In addition to some of the pictures I am sharing here, I made a video on YouTube, it is on my website “ParanormalSpectrum”  so you can see the “mist”, and the faces that seem to form in  the rock formations. If I had been the only one to experience something odd, it could easily be dismissed. There were five in my group, possibly 10 people in the tour including the guide. We heard deep voices from within the cave at the beginning of the tour, I thought it might be from another tour, but there is only one tour at a time. The cave is rather small, so there was no way anyone could have been at the back of the cave without us knowing. The entrance is also the exit.

At one point my daughter looked up into one of the crevices leading to a second level and thought she saw an old woman’s face. She blinked and looked again and it was gone. As for me, at the very end of the tour as we returned to the room where the Indian’s grave was, I saw a hovering, spiraling mist, that wasn’t white, almost a muddy shade, and I watched as it swirled approx  1 1/2 ft off the ground, it was approx 3-4 ft tall. I thought at first it was a dust plume, but then realized this is a very wet cave, there was no dust, and furthermore it hovered and irrigated as I stared intently at it. I reached out to tap my son to show him, as it remained there for more than a solid 45 seconds, and he saw it, too. In fact, I asked him if he saw anything and he said “Yeah, it looks like the shape of a little girl.”  In my confidence that it was something indeed worthy of attention I announced, “What is that? Is it a mist?” And then called for the remaining group, averting my eyes to motion for  our group to look in that direction, I glanced back and it was rapidly dissipating, so no one other than my 8  yr old son and myself saw what I believed was something trying to manifest.

Wishful thinking? Possibly. My gut feeling says otherwise. I did stare at it long enough to know this was not a trick of the eye. Certainly it could have a logical explanation. I just don’t have an answer to explain what I saw.

In researching the Bell Witch Cave before our visit I found many posts and blogs about odd experiences from various people who visited the cave over the years. It seems some people have heard haunting voices from the depths of the ground. Others have been slapped in the darkness of the cave, with imprints of a hand on their skin when they emerge. Still some have become so heavy that they can not move for a short amount of time, until suddenly the weight is seemingly lifted and they feel normal again. Of course there are pictures of orbs and blobs and eerie faces and shapes. Some visitors share their experiences on the internet. In my opinion there is something that visits the area from time to time, if for no other reason than to remind us that maybe the Bell Witch still watches the old homestead.

See our Youtube video: It really shows the allure of this small cavern.


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16 Oct

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