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Carlsbad Caverns National Park


~ Carlsbad, New Mexico USA ~

One of my favorite parks, Carlsbad Caverns was like Disney World to me as a kid growing up in New Mexico. I certainly visited the caves as often as a Florida kid visits said theme park. As a “Rockhound” and Geology buff, I went there often on my own during high school, fascinated by the depths, the stalagtites, columns, and stalagmites. I still share the fascination at this world class cavern never bored on its fantastic features and creatures.

The Cavern is located about 18 miles southwest of Carlsbad in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Anyone viewing the cave can hike in through the natural entrance, or if hiking disabled can take the elevator down to the bottom via the visitor center. The main chamber of the cavern that is the most famous is called “The Big Room” which is 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high – as a large limestone chamber that is recorded as the fifth largest chamber in North America and the 28th largest in the world. There are over 119 caves and caverns in the park of which three are open to the public for tours but the main large show cave is the prime attraction. Slaughter Canyon Cave, New Cave, and Spider Cave are undeveloped with guided adventure caving tours available by reservation. Lechuguilla Cave has a prestine underground environment with delicate speleotems that once was used by guano miners. There have been over 120 miles of cave passages mapped and explored to a depth of 1600 feet.

The caverns were created roughly 250 million years before present when the area was once a coastline for an inland sea. At this time, there was a major reef called the Capitan Reef abundant with corals, sea creatures, and life. There are fossil records of Permian life including bryozoans, sponges, and other micro-organisms. Once the Permian period came and disappeared, most of the water evaporated leaving the reef buried in evaporites, sediments, and sands. There was great Tectonic action during the late Cenozoic which pushed the reef above ground, then it was hit by erosion, which sculpted the Guadalupe Mountains to how they are today.

As the water drained through the bed of limestone it was within the groundwater zone. The petroleum rserves were far beneath the limestones, and during the end of the Cenozoic, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) seeped upwards from the petroleum into the groundwater, combining with oxygen from the groundwater created sulfuric acid which continued upward dissolving the limestone deposits in its path creating caverns. The gypsum in the cave was the bbyproduct of this process when the sulphuric acid combine with the limestone. As the acidic groundwater drained from the caverns, speleothems deposited within the caverns and exposure to the influx of air into the cavern helped carve the caves we see today. As rain water and snow melt entered the cavern, it picked up carbon dioxide and as it reached the cavern ceiling precipitated and evaporated leaving calcium carbonate deposits that would grow dow from the roof as stalagites, this would create stalagmites, columns, soda straws, draperies, helictites, and popcorn features.

The cavern was first discovered by Euro-Americans in 1898 when Jim White, a teenage at the time, made a homemade wire ladder to climb down within – discovering the magical world before him. He assigned names to many of the rooms and features such as the Big Room, Queens Chamber, Papoose Room, Green Lake Room, Kings Palace, and New Mexico Room for the chambers, and Witches Finger, Totem Pole, Temple of the Sun, Fairyland, Rock of Ages, Giant dome, Bottomless Pit, Iceberg Rock for various formations.

Tourists were taken down into the caverns well before 1932 by means of a switchback ramp down to 750 feet and it was in 1932 that the visitor center was opened including an elevator for visitors who wore out easy or had difficulties walking down into the depths. They also built a cafeteria down below, gift shop, and restrooms. Millions of visitors now visit the caverns annually. The Guadalupe Room was discovered in 1966. Additional chambers and rooms were discovered in 1985 when new exploration techniques were invented discovering the chambers known as the Spirit World and the Baloon Ballroom. In 1993 a series of new smaller passages were explored that took the explorers well over a mile further discovering additional rooms outside of the New Mexico Room and being catalogued as “Chocolate High”. The bottom was discovered to the Bottomless Pit at 140 feet deep. In October 2013, a new large chamber was found hundreds of feet aboe the main area of the Spirit World and called “Halloween Hall” at 100 feet diameter with more than 1,000 bat bones on the floor.

They built a bat flight seating area so visitors could watch the bats fly out of the cave each evening with programs included and explanations of what is happening. There are often morning programs as well so that visitors can see the bats return to the cave. Most of the cave’s inhabitants are the Mexican free tailed bats who fly out each evening from the natural entrance to the nearest water sources. There have been recorded over 17 different species of bats in the park. The populations were estimated in the millions but much of the population has declined in recent years due to the use of DDT in the local surroundings by farmers and ranchers.

A recreation area detached from the park called “Rattlesnake Springs” picnic area is a natural oasis as a wooded riparian area in the desert, home to over 300 species of birds. The area is developed with landscaping, wildlife habitats, and picnic tables for visitors.

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Sitting Bull Falls (Carlsbad, New Mexico)

Sitting Bull Falls
~ Eddy County Rd 409, Lincoln National Forest, Carlsbad, New Mexico USA ~ https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lincoln/recarea/?recid=34238 ~

This amazing oasis in the middle of the desert outside of Carlsbad New Mexico is amongst my world’s favorite locations and cooling off zones. I grew up with the Cave and the pools from childhood, hanging out there with friends from high school, partying in the pools above, stealthily camping and cave exploring long before there were required permits and restrictive gates or access. It has changed quite a bit, but very much improved for recreation and protecting the natural resources on location. It is a day-use only site. The site has pavilions, picnic tables, water, and restrooms accessible. There are established hiking trails from the site. It is open from 8:30 am until 6 pm with a $5 per vehicle parking fee.

The site is a astonishing dream-like 150′ waterfall than pours over canyon walls with a stalactite/stalagmite filled cavern behind it, dumping down into crystal clear natural swimming pools beneath. It is one of a series of waterfalls found in this canyon lost within the Lincoln National Forest that are spring fed through a series of streams and pools until reaching its drop-off. Most of the river’s water disappears into cracks, gravel, and bedrock and reappears in springs further down the canyon eventually joining the Pecos Valley underwater aquifer.

The geology of the area is a remnant reef system known as the Capitan Great Barrier Reef dating from the Permian period around 250 million years ago when the region was the edge of an inland sea. The name of the falls has never been proven, but legend has it that the cave behind the falls was used by Sitting Bull to hide. The Apache called the area “gostahanagunti” meaning “hidden gulch”. In 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed number of stone buildings that are now part of the parking lot and picnic area. THere is a time capsule dated March 24, 1999 embedded into one of the buildings. The park was closed from APril 27, 2011 through April 6, 2012 after wildfires in the are destroyed the area making it unsafe.

There are numerous sacred pools above the falls which are great for swimming in. In order to explore the cave behind the waterfall or any of the other caves in the area, one needs proper equipment and obtain a permit.

The site is easy to get to, though quite a distance from Carlsbad so be ready for some bumpy dirt roads. Take US highway 285 north from Carlsbad, turn west on NM 137 for 20 miles to county road 409, turn right and continue to the site. Another turn-off is right across the highway from the turn-off to Bradford Lake State Park.

Another family’s video of caving in the cave: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWWj5Z7iy_I

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Blue Hole (Santa Rosa, NM)

Blue Hole
~ Santa Rosa, New Mexico
~ http://santarosabluehole.com/ ~

In the middle of the New Mexican northeastern desert is a aqua dark blue oasis called the “Blue Hole”. It was also once called “Blue Lake” or “Aqua Negra Chiquita” as one of the seven sister lakes connected underground by a vast network of water sources that gives Santa Rosa its reputation of being a city of natural lakes. These are all part of the Santa Rosa sink – a popular watering hole, recreation spot, and tourism along historic Route 66 and old settlement days. The Sink became a National fish hatchery in 1932 and by the 1970’s became a Recreation Area and morphed into the Blue Hole Dive and Conference Center. It is a source of clear pure water that is a treasured natural resource – with 100′ visibility as the water continually renews itself ever six hours with a constant 62 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant inflow of over 3,000 gallons per minute. The surface is 80′ wide and expands to 130 feet diameter at the bottom. A circular bell shaped pool that is a spring and a sinkhole in one. As Santa Rosa is at a elevation of 4,616 feet above sea level, divers training in the Blue Hole have to use high-altitude dive tables to computer their profile and decompression stops while diving. Swimmers, cliff jumpers, and bathers enter above for free with sometimes no lifequards present.

The Blue Hole has claimed many lives which has forced the City to place a grate over the cave entrance at the bottom for safety. Even when they have opened the grate for expert divers to go in and map the caves, death was often the end result. March 26, 2016 – 43 year old expert California cave diver Shane Thompson became trapped and drowned while exploring the passageways. According to the Albuerqueque Journal in March 1976 two divers within a group of 10 university students were diving together and 21 year old David Gregg and 22 year old Mike Godard didn’t resurface and lost their lives in the caves. After multiple rescue dives, their bodies recovered. In 1979 it happened again, two other divers got lost and died in the caves, bodies recovered after multiple dives. This led to the closing of the entrance. There is a 1960’s-1970’s urban legend of another diver who got lost, and his body never recovered in the Blue Hole. Legend states his body was found naked and scraped up in Lake Michigan that somehow the Blue Hole and Lake Michigan was connected via underground caves and tunnels. However since all the other bodies were quickly recovered and scientists state its impossible for the tunnels to connect to the Great Lakes not only because of geology but a need for a continuous rock stratum to support such caves. There is also the impassible hydrological barrier of the Mississippi River that acts as a giant collection system not only moving surface water to the Ocean, but subsurface water to. The body would have to swim upstream to get to the Great Lakes.

Map of Blue Hole: http://santarosabluehole.com/map/santarosamap4000.pdf

Additional Reading:

  • According to Leanne 2012 “Diver deaths spawn rumors of underground waterway” website referenced 7/11/18 at https://accordingtoleanne.com/2012/12/06/diver-deaths-spawn-rumors-of-underground-waterway/.
  • NY Daily News u.d. “Expert diver died after getting trapped overnight navigating the dangerous Blue Hole caverns in New Mexico: ‘Everything went terribly wrong’ website refereced on 7/11/18 at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/expert-diver-dies-blue-hole-caverns-new-mexico-article-1.2586285

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions, visited 6/26/2018. ~

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Cave of the Cats (Rathcrogan/Roscommon, Ireland)

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – Gateway to the Underworld and the Morrigan’s Palace.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats
– Gateway to the Underworld and the Morrigan’s Palace. Rathcrohan / Rosscommon, Ireland
GPS: 53.79677, -8.31038
Article/Research by Thomas Baurley/Leaf McGowan/Technogypsie Productions, 10 October 2017

One of my most favorite sites in Ireland is the “Cave of the Cats” underneath the realm of “Rathcrohan“. It is officially called “Oweynagat” and pronounced “Owen-ne-gatt”.
The Cave is also labelled “Uaimh na gCat”, Irish translating to “Cave of the Cats”. When I first visited this site we had a tremendously hard time finding it. We found where it was supposed to be, but it lay behind fencing on a farmer’s field. We knocked on the farmer’s door, and there was no answer. A neighbor saw us, asked what we were doing and who we were, and he showed us the entrance, giving us permission to enter. It was a small hole under some Fairy thorn trees. The Site is actually a natural narrow limestone cave that hosts a man-made souterrain at its entrance. This is seen by all as the official entrance to the Otherworld and home to the Morrigan or Medh. In the Medieval Period of Ireland, it was labeled “Ireland’s Gate to Hell”. It is a particular sacred site for the Pagan holiday and festival of “Samhain” or Halloween.

It is said that during the Feast of Samhain, the dead, their God/desses, and Spirits, would rise from their graves and walk the Earth. This cave is one of the main places where Spirits and the dead associated with the Fae and/or the Morrigan, would re-surface including creatures, monsters, and the un-dead. There exists an Irish legend based off the “Adventures of Nera” where a warrior is challenged to tie a twig around the ankle of a condemned man on Samhain eve, after agreeing to get him some water would discover strange houses and wouldn’t find water until the third house. Upon returning him back to captivity would witness Rathcroghan’s royal buildings destroyed by the spirits. After this he must follow the fairy host to the Sidhe where he meets a woman who tells him the vision he saw will happen a year from now unless his mortal comrades are warned. He leaves the Sidhe and informs Ailill of his vision who destroys the Sidhe in response.

Some believe the “síd” or the Sidhe of this tale is either the Mound of Rathcroghan or Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. It makes the most sense that the Cave of the Cats is where the destructive creatures and fae emerged. There was a triple-headed monster called the Ellen Trechen that went on a rampage across the country before being killed by Amergin, father of Conal Cernach. There have been tales of small red birds emerging from the cave withering every plant they breathed on before being hunted to their death by the Red Branch. There is also legends of herds of pigs with similar powers of decay emerging from the cave until hunted and killed by Ailill and Medb.

The name itself, “Oweynagat” is believed to refer to the Magical wild cats featured in the tale of “Bricriu’s Feast” that emerge from this cave to attack the three Ulster warriors before being tamed by Cúchulainn. Some also claim that the cave was named after Irusan, the King of the Cats, who is featured in Irish fairy tales and hailed from a cave near Clonmacnoise (her home). Another tale from the 18th century CE tells of a woman trying to catch a runaway cow that fell into this cave (nevermind the entrance being too small) and followed it into this cave. It is said the cow and woman emerged miles away in County Sligo, near Keshcorran. There is also a legend of a woman that was told to have killed a monster cat in this cave, turning the woman into a great warrior, and this is why its called “Oweynagat”, Cave of the Cats.

The Birthplace of Medb

It is also believed that this cave is the actual physical birthplace for Queen Medb. The legend states that the Fairy Queen/Goddess Étain who was fleeing her human husband with her fairy lover Midir came here. Midir wanted to visit a relative named Sinech (the large breasted one) who lived in the cave. Within the cave was said to be a great otherworldly palace where a maid servant named Crochan Crogderg (“Blood Red Cup”) lived, and she had granted Midir and Etain entrance. It was here that Crochan was believed to have given birth to a daughter named “Medb“.

The Entrance

Nestled under a fairy tree in a farmer’s field (private property) is a small opening that really only looks large enough for a house cat to fit through. But if a human gets down on their hands and knees, can shimmy into this small hole, they will be presented with a small chamber that connects to a passageway that continually increases to a massive tunnel wider and higher than one could fathom. At the inner lintel of this entrance is an Ogham inscription that bears the words “VRAICCI…MAQI MEDVVI” translating to “FRAECH” and “SON OF MEDB”. Some also translate this to mean “The Pillar of Fraech son of Madb”. This is also seen as the birthplace of Medb. A second ogham inscription, barely visible, reads “QR G SMU” but has not been translated. This beginning chamber is actually a man-made souterrain at the entrance to a natural narrow limestone cave. The souterrain was originally contained within an earthen mound that was later damaged by a road construction project in the 1930’s. The souterrain is made of drystone walling, orthostats, lintels, and stones that measure approximately 10.5 meters from the entrance to the natural cave’s opening.

Oweynagat Cave – Cave of the Cats – entrance chamber

The Tunnel

After crawling on one’s hands and feet, the passage increases in width and height, eventually one can stand up, and eventually the tunnel becomes wide and tall enough that a small Giant could move through it. This is the passage of the Fae, and leads to the Morrigan’s Lair. As one continues down, they’ll find a caved in shamble that is behind a muddy pool of water. If one successfully climbs up and over it, the passage continues to another area that is caved in. Apparently workers on the surface planted a utility pole that collapsed this section of the tunnel. Beyond this is believed to be the Entrance to the Otherworld, and the Morrigan’s Lair. This is actually a natural limestone cave that has been mapped approximately 37 meters deep.

The Morrigan

The Queen of the Dark Fae, the Goddess of the Underworld, of Darkness, and Battle, rules the world of the Fae from this place. It is believed that every Samhain, she is pulled on a chariot out of the Cave of the Cats by a one-legged chestnut horse alongside various creatures such as those mentioned above. Some also say on occasion she leaves the cave with a cow, guided by a giant with a forked staff, to give to the Bull of Cúailgne. She is also known to take the bull of a woman named Odras who follows her into the cave before falling under an enchanted sleep upon awakening to see the Morrigan who repeatedly whispers a spell over her, turning her into a river, the same river that feeds the muddy pool at the shamble. Apparently the cave is seen as a portal through which the Morrigan would pass in order to work with Medb as Goddess of Battle. She drove her otherworldly cattle into the cave every sunset. The Morrigan was blamed to have stolen a herd of cattle who belonged to a woman named Odras, and upon following to Morrigan to retrieve them, was turned into a lake by the Goddess. As is the story of Nera, a servant of Medb who met a Fairy woman here in this cave. He married her, and she warned him of Medb’s palace being burnt to the ground next Samhain by the creatures of the otherworld. Upon hearing this, Medb stationed her forces in the cave each Samhain to protect Cruachan from destruction.

Rathcrohan is the legendary burial grounds of the Kings of Coannaught. The region covers approximately 518 hectares hosting more than 20 ring forts, burial mounds, megalithic tombs such as the Relig na Ri (burial ground of the Kings), Rath na dTarbh (For the Bulls), and the Rathbeg. The archaeological site is massive, with earthworks spread over the region with the Grave of King Dathi (Last Pagan King of Ireland) as a 2 meter high standing stone being one of the few physical landmarks left that can be seen. This is also the site of the mythical battle of the “Tain Bo Cuailgne” that remains in the hearts, minds, and folklore of the people of Tulsk and Rathcroghan recorded in the Ancient Irish Epic of the Tain Bo Cuiailgne, the “Cattle Raid of Cooley”. The Tain Bo tells the story of Queen Maeve of Connaught and her armies that pursued the Grat Brown Bull of Cooley, the mighty warrior Cuchulain who does battle with the armies here, and his foster brother Erdia as he defends the Brown Bull, and the province of Ulster. There is a “Tain Trail Cycling and Touring Route” that re-traces the journey that Queen Maeve and her armies traveled from her Royal Palace at Rathcroghan across Ireland to the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth, the home of the Brown Bull. Rathcrohan hosts over 60 National Monuments here.

Bibliography/References:

  • Druid School: Oweynagat Cave of the Cats. Website referenced January 2012.
  • Fenwick, J. et al 1977 “Oweynagat”. Irish Speleology 16, 11-14.
  • Hannon, Ed 2012 “Visions of the Past: Oweynagat Cave”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://visionsofthepastblog.com/2012/10/01/oweynagat-cave-souterrain-co-roscommon/.
  • Mulranney, R. n.d “Caves of Ireland: Oweynagat Cave of the Cats”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://cavesofireland.wordpress.com/home/caves/oweynagat-cave-of-the-cats-co-roscommon/.
  • Waddell, J. 1983 “Rathcroghan – A Royal Site”. Journal of Irish Archaeology 1.
  • Wikipedia n.d. “Rathcroghan”. Website referenced 10/10/17 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rathcroghan.

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Cave of the Winds (Niagara Falls, NY)

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Cave of the Winds
* Goat Island * Niagara Falls State Park, New York *

Not to be confused with Cave of the Winds in Colorado, the Cave of the Winds Niagara was a natural cave that ran behind Bridal Veil Falls in the Niagara Falls State Park on the U.S.A. side of the Niagara River. It ran roughly 130 feet deep and was discovered in 1834. It was originally called “Aolus’ Cave” named as such in tribute to the Greek God of the Winds. Tours began in 1841 taking people down within for a view of the falls from beneath. Unfortunately in 1920 a rock fall made the actual cave no longer safe to go within. Tours began again in 1924 bringing visitors to the foot of the falls, but does not go behind it. There are points along the decks and walk ways where tropical storm-like conditions can be felt with winds upwards of 70 mph raging under the falls. The cave eventually eroded away by rockfalls finally in 1954 and the name of the attraction as a “cave” is more a “underlook” and “overlook” depending on your viewing platform. The platforms are removed every winter to avoid damage by ice fall, and are not bolted into the rocks, but rather wedged into the crevices.

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Bottomless Lakes State Park (Roswell, NM)

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Bottomless Lakes State Park
* Roswell, New Mexico, USA *

The memories of Bottomless Lakes State Park … it was my family and friend’s swimming hole and playground while growing up in Roswell, New Mexico. Bottomless Lakes provided much cooling off during the hot and dry summers of the desert. Only Fifteen miles from Roswell, the Lakes are Located along the Pecos River, and are a series of natural caves and sinkholes forming lakes used for recreation. The parks were established in 1933 and was the first State Park founded in New Mexico. There are Eleven small deep lakes along the escarpment of the Pecos River Valley that represents the remains of an ancient limestone reef. Caves formed within this limestone and eventually collapsed via erosion creating sinkholes or “cenotes” as round circular lakes or swimming holes. One of the largest lakes is Lea Lake and Lazy Lagoon, providing a large sandy shoreline that outdoor recreational visitors can use for picnicking, camping, outdoor sports, and swimming. Lazy Lagoon is the largest of the lakes and spans over 26 acres as a single lake but is made up of three interconnected sink holes. The lagoon is level with the salt flats which gives it an appearance of being very shallow, where in contrast, it is actually quite deep – over 90 feet deep. As opposed to the old days, Lea Lake is the only lake in which swimming is allowed, due to accidents that occurred in the others, especially Devil’s Inkwell.

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The shallowest is Pasture Lake with a depth of 18 feet and a surface of .76 acres. The deepest are Lea Lake (90 feet deep – only one that allows swimming) and Lazy Lagoon (90 feet/ 26 acres). The smallest of the lakes, is the darkest, known for its color, steep sides, and algae growth, called “the Devil’s Inkwell” and is approximately .36 of an acre. Figure 8 Lake is actually two lakes separated by a thin beach that seasonally gets covered making it look like one lake at times. The circular shapes connecting create the figure 8 symbol. Cottonwood Lake is 30 feet deep, and Mirror Lake at 50 feet. The Lakes are fed by underground streams and aquifers perculating through the rocks up into the catchment holes. The lakes are home to various endangered species and all of the park’s lakes are protected. The four known endangered species found at the park are the Cricket Frog, Eastern Barking Frog, Rainwater Killifish, and the Pecos Pupfish.

The lakes were originally visited frequently by Prehistoric Indians of the region, and in the 1500’s were said to have been visited by Spanish Conquistadors searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. While the Conquistadors did not record their visitation, it is said that the Native Americans drew a petroglyph at the Lakes depicting a Spanish Conquistador riding a horse according to John LeMay’s book “Legends and Lore of Bottomless Lakes” having also appeared in the Roswell New Mexico Centennial Magazine as well.

According to legend, the lakes got their name as “Bottomless” because the outlaw Billy the Kid and his gang who once hid out in the bluffs supposedly dipped their ropes in one lake to see how deep it was and they didn’t hit bottom so called it “Bottomless”. The deepest lake is Leah Lake at 90 feet.

There are numerous legends surrounding the lakes from a Octopus Man, giant turtles, giant catfish, a White Ghost Horse, and a Dragon. There are many legends of people drowning in the muddy depths and being transported by an Underground Artesian river and cave system to Carlsbad Caverns, giant turtles eating people who went missing there, sheep and horses reportedly been swallowed by the lakes, and numerous cars. The only evidence of such legends are remnants of cars at the bottom. Some say atop the lakes cliffs and bluffs, teens had drag-raced and lost their cars over the edges into the lakes. A local boater claimed to have seen a giant turtle surface in the 1980’s large enough to claim Nessie was in the lake and that it came to eat him.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5. ~ Thomas Baurley and Leaf McGowan.

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    The Eleven lakes are:

  1. Lazy Lagoon – one of the two deepest at 90 feet with a 26.1 acre surface area.
  2. Cottonwood Lake – 27.5 feet deep with .52 acres of surface area and having natural shade over it.
  3. Mirror Lake North – 32.8 feete deep with 3 acres of surface area.
  4. Mirror Lake south – 43.3 feet deep, .44 acre surface area.
  5. Devil’s Inkwell – 28.2 feet deep, .36 acre surface area, has dark algae in it that makes it appear darker than others.
  6. Figure 8 Lake North – 37 feet deep, 1.46 acre surface area. Forms a figure 8 with Figure 8 Lake South, but is an independent lake.
  7. Figure 8 Lake South – 22 feet deep, .76 acre surface area. Forms a figure 8 with Figure 8 Lake North, but is an independent lake.
  8. Pasture Lake – 18 feet deep, the shallowest of the lakes, having a .76 surface area.
  9. Lost Lake – The depth is unknown, and has a surface area of .1 acre.
  10. Lea Lake: the deepest of the lakes with a maximum depth of 90 feet, 2nd largest in acreage at 15 acres surface area. Only lake where swimming is currently allowed and hosts a daily spring flow of 2.5 million gallons.
  11. Dimmit Lake – unknown depth, made up of two basins covering 10 acres, is privately owned.

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The Blarney Badger Cave

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Badger Cave
* Blarney Castle, Blarney, Ireland * http://www.blarneycastle.ie *

A feature of the Blarney Castle are the caves below the fortress called “Badger Cave”. This was the escape route used by the garrison when Cromwell’s general Lord Broghill besieged the castle and fired down from Card Hill above the lake and broke through the tower walls. He found only two trusty old retainers and the garrison gone. He was hoping to find the fabled golden plate but appeared that it was taken through the caves to escape his capture. Some say the plate was sunk in the lake. There are believed to be three passages in these caves – one that leads to Cork, another to the lake, and another to Kerry. However, no one seems to be able to find these legendary passages ….

In order to provide public access to one of the passageways in the cave archaeologists had to evaluate the passage before tourist entry. The 2007 Excavation report of Badger Cave, Site 07E0672 / CO062-177 / 16080 07531 report concluded that this main 35 meter long passage interlinked with two short connecting fissures (7 meters long and 13 meters long respectively) extending from its south-eastern wall. This main passage was excavated with a trench 23 metes long by 1 meter wide by .8 meter deep with 50% of excavated deposits wet-sieved. Within the findings were over 340 naturally occurring recent animal bones and a proximal end of a flint flake that potentially dated to the Neolithic.

There are some myths and legends about paranormal activity in the caves, castle, and grounds. The Echo Ghost hunters investigated the site from 2010-2011 and captured an image of a man in the 3rd floor window of the castle (no stairs or access to that window) and recorded strange Kll hits in the caves.

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