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Montezuma Well


Montezuma Well
* Montezuma Well and Montezuma Castle, Arizona *

One of my favorite wells in America, this Native American sacred site is phenomenal and full of mystery! When driving up to the Well, just north of Montezuma Castle, its a small 1/3 mile hike up a short hill to a naturally occurring spring in a sink hole thriving for hundreds if not thousands of years in the desert. Over the top of the sink hole is a series of empty cliff dwellings, caves, and ruins of stone pueblos from peoples who used to live at the sacred spring. It was formed by an enormous limestone cavern collapsing into the spring forming the sinkhole that you see here. From prehistoric cultures to a 14th century farm, the ruins on this National Park property is enticing on their own with the magical spring as icing on the cake. This natural oasis is like none other as a natural well with a never-ending supply of water for a region where water is very scarce. The waters in this spring well up from deep underground caverns and flow constantly out into the sinkhole and down through the boulders into the nearby river. The sinkhole measures approximately 368 feet across and 55 to 120 feet deep with an elevation of 3,618 feet above sea level. The well’s spring water trickles down through the limestone boulders into Beaver Creek, the sacred outlet being a spring hole under the boulders from the sinkhole and is most likely the the revered sacred outlet of the spring.

Over 15 million gallons (57 million liters) springing forth from these primordial origins. The geology of the area is very unique providing refuge to various species of animals, plants, and creatures that are found no where else in the world. This contributes to the sacredness it possesses to early peopling in the area, especially those living at Montezuma Castle cliff dwellings. The name “Montezuma” is a misnomer, as he most likely never visited nor knew of this place. The Hopi called it “Yuvukva” meaning “sunken spring” or “Tawapa” meaning “sun spring”. The Yavapai called it “Ah-hah gkith-gygy-vah” meaning “broken water”. The Western Apache called it “Tu sitch’iL meaning “Water breaks open”. The spring and sinkhole is embedded into emergence mythologies and is a place of origins to many tribes. The communities that settled here were able to exist here for several centuries. No one is sure of why these people left, but it could have been a build-up of low-level arsenic found in the waters affecting their health over time. The Dwellings date from the 1100’s of the Common Era (C.E) through 1400 C.E. when large networks of pueblo-communities set up their villages in the Verde Valley especially at Sacred Mountain and Montezuma Castle.

The two peoples that lived in this area well recorded were the Hohokam and the Sinagua. The first settlers were believed to be the Hohokan, a Pima word for “all used up”. They lived in pit houses made of sticks, poles, and mud irrigating crops of beans, corn, and squash. The second peoples were the Sinagua. Sinagua means “without water” in Spanish, and may have related to the disappearance of the people when droughts hit the area. The Sinagua created the cliff dwellings and pueblos upwards of 55 rooms in the area. They primarily farmed the area as well as some hunting. They were master craftspeople creating tools, manos, metates, ornaments, and garments. Natives first occupied the area around 2,000 years ago – along the Verde River and Beaver Creek. The peoples went through waves of occupations and disappeared almost as quickly as overnight. Archaeologists pondered the reason for this, from low levels of arsenic in the waters making them ill over time, drought, exhausted soil, diseases, wars with marauding tribes coming into the area, or viral outbreaks. No one knows for sure, but when they left, they left the dwellings in the same condition as they had inhabited them.


This sink hole has been a mystery to everyone who has encountered it. Science today is still stumped about its complexities – its depth, its source, and its constant flow. It is considered quite miraculous. The Yavapai and Apache peoples believe that once something emerges from its vents at the bottom of the well, it can never return. Oral traditions tell of the spirit of a great water serpent that still lives here called “Ah-hah bavilwaja” or “water monster”. That has been true, even to science. Even when a regional drought is taking effect on the area, a sweet 1.6 million gallons flow through its main vents every day at a fairly regular consistency and nearly constant 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius). Science thinks they might have an idea where the water originated and is constantly investigating with National Park Service dive teams. 55 feet deep, fluidized fine sand boiling up in swirling cascading mounds creating the mirage of a false bottom as the vents are another 65 feet deeper making measuring its depth difficult. They tried to put research equipment in and just as the legend dictates, could never get them in, they would always be pushed out. Specialists of all kinds have come to study the well through the years. The geology of the well tells its formation was between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago from precipitation atop the Mogollan Rim peculating down through hundreds of yards of rock, basalt flows, Coconino sandstone, Supal Group, Hermit Shales and others until it reached the relatively permeable Red wall Limestone beneath trickling towards the Spring that is Montezuma Well. The waters and soils combined with an underground dike of volcanic basalt forcing it back to the surface after its ten-millennium journey. Geological patterns and ripples of travertine just 1/3 of a mile around the spring are remains of another massive dome created by yet an older spring than the existing one in Montezuma Well. There are no fish within these waters, just thousands of freshwater leeches and is home to creatures found nowhere else on the planet. Since there are high levels of dissolved carbon dioxide – 80 times higher than any other lake, life is impossible for the fish, amphibians, and aquatic insects to settle here. The well is home to only 5 living species with the leeches being the top of the food chain. These are (1) Endemic leeches, (2) amphipods, (3) snails, (4) diatoms, and (5) water scorpions. The amphipods risk going to the surface to feed on microscopic algae trying to escape the leeches during the late afternoon sunlight. Once darkness folds, the leeches rise and feast on them. Migrating ducks, native sonoran mud turtles, and muskrats often come in and swim the waters on occasion as well. Around the edge of the spring is quite a varied assortment of plant and animal live. The plant life include the One seed Juniper, Arizona Sycamore, Arizona Walnut, Acacia, Velvet Mesquite, Velvet Ash, Joint-fir, Ephedra plant, Cliff-rose, Brittle bush, Salt Bush, Creosote Bush, Desert Broom, Spanish Dagger, Indian paintbrush, gray thistle, hedgehog cactus, gray thistle, pale evening prim rose, penstemon, prickle poppy, prickly pear, jimsonweed, milkvetch, yellow columbine, maidenhair spleenwort, and Globemallow. Animal life include deer, raven, american wigeons, coots, cinnamon teal, canadian geese, gadwalls, ruddy ducks, mallards, robin, roadrunner, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, american kestrel, belted kingfisher, gamble’s quail, cardinal, canyon wren, black phoebe, gila woodpecker, great blue heron, lesser goldfinch, mourning doves, red-shafted flicker, gopher snakes, bull snacks, rattlesnakes, collared lizard, horned toad, cottontail rabbit, javelina, skunks, arizona gray fox, porcupine, beaver, chipmunk, cottontail rabbit, and jackrabbits.

While Native Americans inhabited this region for hundreds if not thousands of years, the first white explorer to come to the well was the Spanish explorer Antonio de Espejo during his 1583 expedition. He basically described the Montezuma casle and well site in his journal as an abandoned pueblo with a ditch running from a nearby pond. Early settlers believed the cliff dwellings belonged to the Aztec emperor Montezuma which gave root to the naming misnomer. The castle was actually home to the Sinagua Indians and deserted a century before Montezuma was even born.


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Bittangee Bay Storage Ruins

Bittangee Bay Storehouse Ruins * Bittangee Bay/Ben Boyd National Forest
New South Wales, Australia

Just below the campground at Bittangee Bay/Ben Boyd National Forest lies the relatively hidden Bittangabee Bay ruins. An area used for over 6,000 by the indigenous as a “secret men’s meeting and training place” the park has been a popular hotspot for camping. These stone ruins were created however by the first European settlers to the area as a “storehouse” for fishing, building, and industry. The ruins date to about 1844 and were originally believed to be of Portugese origin. In 1977, this was disproved by historian Michael Pearson. It is the only standing structure left within 6 kilometers of the beach house and light house. It housed the supplies for the Green Cape Lighthouse as dropped off by ships bringing in goods to the bay. Eventually it was replaced by a 7 kilometer long wooden tramway through the woods to the lighthouse from this spot so building of the lighthouse could be properly achieved. Supplies were pulled along this trolley by horses from 1880 to 1927.

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Hellfire Club Dublin

Hellfire Club Tour – Dublin, Ireland
* http://www.hiddendublinwalks.com/ghost-tour-dublin.php

I really wanted to experience this ghost tour – but unfortunately Hidden Dublin Walks cancelled the tour sometime between me waiting at the Brazenhead and the 20 minutes it took for a representative to show up to tell me it was cancelled. So its on my list of things to do for my next visit to Dublin in 2011. For €22 the Hidden Dublin Walks will bus you out to the infamous ruins of the Hellfire Club and tell you haunted tales. They do the tour every thursday at 7 pm meeting outside the Brazenhead tavern at 20 Lower Bridge Street in Dublin. However, best to book online or make reservations for if they don’t have enough attending, they won’t do the tour. The also offer private larger group excursions upon reservation request. On the dark road to the Hellfire Club they will tell more legends and lore, ghostly tales, and stories about St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rathfarnham Castle and Kilakee House as well as the dark Dublin Mountains range that you will be entering. A walking tour through the haunted hunting lodge that dates to 1725 C.E. that is a rumored location for Satanic rites, supernatural tales, and Occult practices. The storyteller tells the tale of its history, the destruction of ancient megalithic monuments on the site, the exhumation of the demonic statue and dwarf statue as well as the presumed evil rituals, events, and black masses, rumored human and animal sacrifices, and the infamous card game called “cloven-hoofed visitor”. Travel time and tour takes about 2 and a half hours.

The Legendary Hellfire Club a.k.a. Club Thine Ifrinn is a ruin located on Montpelier Hill that stands about 383 metres high in County Dublin, Ireland. The building is an Palladian architecture designed old hunting lodge built in 1725 by William Conolly, a Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Conolly purchased Mountpelier Hill from Philip the Duke of Wharton, the founder of the first Hellfire Club in 1719. The upper floor consists of a hall and two reception rooms, on the east side was a third timber-floored level with sleeping quarters. The Ground floor hosts a kitchen, servant’s quarters, and the stairs to the upper floors. The house had a semi-circular courtyard enclosed by a low stone wall and entered by a gate. Originally on this summit was a cairn with a prehistoric passage grave that was desecrated and used to construct the hunting lodge formerly called “Mount Pelier Lodge”. A standing stone that was on the hill was used for the lintel over the fireplace. Shortly after its completion, a storm blew off the roof, which locals blamed was the work of the Devil as punishmen for destroying the cairn/passage tomb. Conolly rebuilt the roof which remains today. Connoly died in 1729. The Connolly Family let the lodge to the Hellfire Club. Members of the Irish Hell Fire Club, an elite social group of occultists, have been said to actively used the lodge as their meeting place from 1735-1741. Rumors and local imaginations ran amiss claiming wild parties, debauchery, occult practices, human/animal sacrifices, Satanic rites, and demon manifestations took place at the location. No accounts of how much the Hellfire club actually used the estate as it was pretty remote. Many publications such as Robert Chamber’s Book of Days (1864) and the Gentleman’s Magazines (1731-1922) states there was heavy use of the estate by the Club. The lodge was damaged by fire so the members of the Hellfire Club relocated down the hill to the nearby Steward’s House which is also rumored to be haunted by a massive black cat. Today Montpelier Hill and much of the surrounding lands are owned by the State forestry company Coillte and are open to the public.

The Hellfire Clubs internationally were the name for several exclusive clubs of high society rakes that were established in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century. These were related to the “Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe”. Supposedly these clubs were the meeting places of “persons of quality” who wished to take part of immoral acts. Most of the members were politicians. The very first Hellfire club was founded in London in 1719 by Philip Duke of Wharton. The Club motto went with the philosophy of “Fais ce que tu voudras” (Do what thou wilt) – a philosophy of life associated with François Rabelais’ fictional abbey at Thélème and later used by Aleister Crowley. Practices were believed to be rigorously Pagan with Bacchus and Venus as the Deities of honor who were legendarily sacrificed to while nymphs and hogsheads were laid in against he festivals of the new church. The Irish Hellfire Club was founded in 1735 by Richard Parsons, the 1st Earl of Rosse and Colonel St. Leger. The president of the club was Richard Chappell Whaley, a descendant of Oliver Cromwell and was known as “Burn Chapel” Whaley since he had the thirst for setting fires to Catholic churches. Most of their meetings took place either at the Eagle Tavern on Cork Hill near Dublin Castle or at Daly’s Club on College Green. Legend has it that the members drank “saltheen” – a mixture of whiskey and hot butter and that they left a chair vacant at each meeting for the Devil. Their mascot was supposedly a big black cat. One of the legends is of a stranger who arrived at the Club on a stormy night. He was invited in and joined the members in a card game. One player dropped his card on the floor and when he bent down under the table to retrieve the card he noticed the stranger had a cloven foot. Shortly after the visitor disappeared in a ball of flame. Another tale tells of a priest who came to the house one night and found the members engaged in the sacrifice of a black cat. Supposedly the priest grabbed the cat and uttered an exorcism upon which a demon was released from the cat’s corpse. Another tale tells of Simon Luttrell, the Lord Irnham later Earl of Carhampton and once Sheriff of Dublin has supposedly made a pact with the Devil to give up his soul within seven years in return for settling his debts, but when the Devil came to the Hellfire Club to claim his due, Luttrell distracted the Devil and fled. Luttrell is also the man referred to as “The Diaboliad” in a 1777 C.E. poem dedicated to the “Worst Man in England”. Another legend states there was a sacrifice of a dwarf on this site. The Hellfire Club was revived in 1771 and active for another 30 years and called “The Holy Fathers”. They too supposedly met at Mount Pelier Lodge. One legend has it the members kidnapped, murdered, and ate a nearby farmer’s daughter. At this time its most notorious member was Thomas Buck Whaley the son of Richard Chappell Whaley. When he passed away in 1800, the Irish Hellfire Club supposedly died with him. Supposedly in 1970 a dwarf human skeleton was found below the floor of Killakee House, another location for Hellfire Club meetings.

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Windsor Ruins (Mississippi)

Windsor Ruins
Bruinsburg, Mississippi
One of Mississippi’s most fantastic secrets, hidden away in the swamps out in the middle of nowhere, are the ghostly remains of the Windsor plantation. The Windsor plantation was built from 1859-1861. The plantation was built, owned, and first inhabited by Smith Daniell who only was able to live in the mansion for a few weeks before he passed away at age 34. Smith Coffee Daniell II was born in 1826 as a son of a Indian fighter turned farmer. He was married to his cousin Chatherine Freeland (1830-1903) who bore him three children. Construction of the mansion cost him $175,000 to build it which included its furnishings. It was built with slave labor. The construction was designed by David Shroder. The original grounds were well over 2,600 acres. Atop the mansion was a roof observatory where Mark Twain would muse over the Mississippi River that inspired his works of art. Twain compared the plantation to a college instead of residence because of how large the plantation was. This observatory was also home to signal equipment that would notify Confederate troops of Yankee movement. The mansion was fixed with elaborate furnishings in its beginning, hosting wrought iron staircases to get from each of the four floors. Tanks resided in the attic to provide water for the baths within. There was 25 rooms with 25 fireplaces, a basement with a school room, dairy, commissary, doctor’s office, and plenty of storage rooms. The main floor held the master bedroom, a bath, 2 parlors, a study, a dining room, and a library. The third floor were 9 more bedrooms and an additional bath. The fourth floor held a unfinished ballroom. The roof held an observatory. It was a distinct portrayal of Southern Life during its era. The Mansion saw a bit of death – from Smith Daniell’s death to a yankee who was shot in the front doorway. Other deaths took place when the mansion once served as a union hospital and observation post during the civil war. Its involvement in the Civil War as a hospital saved it from being burned down to the ground during the Civil War. After the War it was burnt down during an accidental fire involving a misplaced cigar on the upper balcony during a house party on February 17, 1890. After the fire, it was never rebuilt. Parts of the mansion were scavenged, and even the wrought iron staircase found its home at nearby Alcorn State University. All that remain of the ruins is the foundation and the 23 – 30′ high Corinthian columns, some pieces of broken china, a set of wrought iron stairs, and portions of the balustrade. The Ruins have become famous, especially by Hollywood, as it was used as a setting for films such as “Raintree Country” (1957) and “Ghosts of Mississippi”. The property is now owned and maintained by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 23, 1971. The Ruins are located 12 miles southwest of Port Gibson off Highway 552. Also of interest in the area is the Ghost town of Rodney. A must see for any history buff. Rating : 5 stars out of 5. Visited 6/22/2005.


The Harbour Temple at the Xanten Archaeological Park (Germany)

The Harbour Temple (Colonia Upia Traiana)
LVR-Archaeological Park Xanten / LVR-RömerMuseum
* Trajanstraße 4, 46509 Xanten, Germany * Phone: +49 (0) 28 01 / 712 – 0 * apx@lvr.de * http://www.apx.de/english/archaeologicalpark/rec_buildings/harbour+temple.htm

In the Archaeologie Park resides a partially reconstructed ruins of an ancient Roman temple of which is unknown which God/dess(es) were worshipped. It stands tall with columns and partially reconstructed walls to give the visitors an idea of the size of the monument and what it may have looked like. Climbing downstairs, the originally walls and structure can be found and protected from the elements as was left after excavation. Interpretive signs in German surround the inside of the basement to explain the temple. It is named “the Harbour temple”, which is probably the most phenomenal structure on the Park’s grounds. Easy to see from a distance, towering as a high-profile landmark of Roman culture far above the city walls, clearly visible from ships approaching the Colonia Ulpia Triana on the river Rhine. The temple was the second-largest in the city after the Capital and is similar to most Roman temple designs. It would have been dedicated to a deity but research has not revealed the identity of this God/dess. It was given the name of “Harbour Temple” during the excavations on account of its proximity to the harbour. There are several parts of the temple reconstructed on a three metre high podium. Several full-sized pillars were reconstructed with roof beam fitted to give some impression of the effect created by this magnificent edifice of a total height of 27 meters. Details of the Temple reproduced on the basis of innumerable fragments found during the excavations. One of the pillars has been painted in colour to illustrate the temple’s originally magnificent colouring. Wide and thin steps lead up to the temple’s podium and its cella where the ritual acts took place. In the Roman times, only a select group of people could enter the temple, ordinary mortals were not allowed. The foundation plate of the temple and its innumerable fragments were discovered during the excavations in 1977, many of which are on exhibit in the Museum. You can view the foundation through the back of the temple, for the reconstructed building stands over it like a protective shield.
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Lady of the Rhine, Part 2: Chapter 4C – Xanten Archaeological Park; the Temple, the Amphitheater

, Segment C

Lost Gods Temple

Sunday, 29 March 2009
Xanten, Germany

After the Museum we wandered back into the carriage for a spin to the Archaeologie Park lot, where we walked through the gates of the the city, and ventured over to the Temple of Lost Gods (they do not know who the temple was dedicated to as the information is lost). Exploring the ruins of the temple, quite bare and empty, we wandered down below to the original ruins as above was the reconstructed lot. Again, no hints or suggestions for our adventure. Exploring the Park remains of the city, where Lord Sven and Lady Brea were toying around with the electric fence that were keeping in the sheep, we made our way to the ancient game room for some puzzle play where Princess Brea accidentally left her handbag undiscovered until we were gone later that evening. On to the Colloseum where games are still held, as well as concerts. Then to the recreated bath houses. A good day was had by the exploration party, and to wrap it up we went back to Lord Sven’s flat for some cake and tea. Thanks to Sven for his wonderful hospitality! Back at Christian and Vanessa’s flat, the explorers settled down to an evening watching “The Gamers” which they found quite hilarious. All parties exhausted, it was time for sleep.

The Adventure party at Xanten

Cake and Tea

Continue reading Lady of the Rhine, Part 2: Chapter 4C – Xanten Archaeological Park; the Temple, the Amphitheater