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Mel’s Hole, Devil’s Holes, and Other Paranormal Pits in the Earth

Among all of the strange stories of the mysterious and paranormal there are often those which seem to be particularly strange and inexplicable, and which serve to grip us with their enigmas. Certainly among these are the numerous cases throughout history of bizarre holes in the earth which seem to penetrate down into paranormal oddities and anomalies that we can only grasp at the answers to. Portals to other dimensions, doorways to Hell, and just plain wellsprings of surreal mysteries and horrors, here are some of the most mysterious alleged paranormal holes in the earth there are.

By far the most well-known such mysterious hole first came to public knowledge on February 21, 1997, when the late, great radio talent Art Bell, host of the legendary radio show Coast to Coast AM had a guest join him on the air who called himself Mel Waters and claimed to own a stretch of secluded rural property in Kittitas County, Washington, near Manastash Ridge that apparently had something rather strange going on. As Bell listened on as calm and unflappable as always, Waters would over the course of a series of several shows weave a truly, increasingly bizarre tale of a mysterious hole in the earth that he had found on his property and which seemed to defy and warp reality as we know it.

Art Bell in his studio

The legendary hole was apparently long known in the area as The Devil’s Hole, and supposedly measures around 9 feet across, with the strange addition of seemingly hand-placed bricks lining the interior down to a depth of around 15 feet, after which it drops off into, well, no one really knows. According to Waters the hole had been known in the area since humans had first inhabited the region, and Natives and early settlers found that anything they threw into the hole would vanish into the yawning void without ever issuing any sound of actually hitting a bottom of any kind. The Native people of the area apparently stayed well away from the cursed hole, and claimed that animals would not go near it. Waters himself said he began to use the bizarre hole as a sort of garbage dump, and after never hearing a sound of even the heaviest objects connecting and no sign of the hole filling up, he became increasingly obsessed with the idea that it may in fact be bottomless.

To test his odd theory Waters told Bell that he had concocted an experiment in the summer of 1996, wherein he would rig a fishing line over the hole with a one-pound weight attached and lower it until it hit the bottom to see how deep it really was. This would apparently turn out to be easier said than done, as he claimed to have used spool after spool of line without ever reaching the bottom, and he estimated that it had to be at least a staggering, physics-defying 80,000 feet deep. Waters also discovered at this time the unsettling fact that shouting down into the hole produced no echo, and radios brought near it would sometimes pick up strange things such as unidentified voices and old-fashioned music from another era materializing from out of the ether. Mel’s dogs were also apparently completely terrified of the hole, absolutely refusing to go anywhere near it. This is already quite weird enough as it is, but what would come to be known as “Mel’s Hole” would prove to be even stranger still. Waters claimed in one of his interviews that a local man had once thrown his recently deceased dog down into the hole and that it had come back to him from the dead, of which he would say:

One guy claims he threw his departed canine down into the hole… and the guy that did it swears the dog actually came back to him… he was a hunter and he was out there hunting and he saw the same dog, he had the same collar, he had the same little metal thing on his collar there and he said it was the same dog and he says he knew he had thrown the dog into the hole!

The initial interview with Bell created a sensation that propelled the story of Mel’s Hole firmly into the pantheon of great unexplained paranormal phenomena, and pretty soon it was being excitedly discussed and debated all over the place. Waters would end up having more interviews with Bell over the years, during which it came out that he had been experiencing some unusual activity since his story had been made public. In one incident he was allegedly heading out to the hole to perform another experiment when he was warned away from approaching by some official looking gentlemen who told him that the area had been closed off due to a plane crash. Waters claimed that at the time he had noticed some personnel nearby who appeared to have been wearing some sort of bio-containment suits. When Waters demanded to be let in, he was apparently told in no uncertain terms that he would face serious repercussions if he should try and do so. The government then apparently leased the land from him and paid handsomely to have him relocated to Australia, all while denying that anything had happened at all.

Waters would go on in a later interview to claim that he had spent two years in Australia before heading back to the United States despite alleged warnings against doing this. After arriving he said that he had been removed from a bus headed for Washington by police and dumped 2 weeks later onto the streets of San Francisco with IV needle marks on his arm, some of his teeth missing, and no memory of what had happened to him. He still managed to make it back to his hometown, where he had then been menaced by mysterious strangers dressed in black and had seemingly been under constant surveillance. As to his land, he was told that it had been taken under control of the government, and oddly enough it seemed to have been erased from an early mapping system called TerraServer, a sort of early version of Google Earth.

All of this talk of government conspiracies reinvigorated interest in the mysterious Mel’s Hole, and this isn’t even the end of the bizarre odyssey of Mel Waters, as he would claim to go on to find a second mysterious hole, this time in the badlands of Nevada and that was by his account every bit as strange, if not more so, than the first one. This particular hole was of similar dimensions to the first, only instead of a brick lining possessed what looked like some sort of metal ring around the entrance that extended all the way down into the perpetual gloom. Like the first hole, anything dropped into it seemed to simply cease to exist, never hitting the bottom. With the help of local Natives, Waters claimed that he had then decided to continue his experimentation, and this is where things would get outlandish rather quickly.

In one experiment Waters would claim that a bucket of ice had been lowered into the hole down to a depth of around 1,500 feet, after which it had been brought up to find that the ice was warm to the touch, yet not had not melted. What’s more, the ice seemed to have changed into a type of flammable substance. Perplexed, Waters moved on to a live test subject, this time having a sheep lowered down into the hole inside a wooden crate. It was apparently quite a time trying to get the animal anywhere near the hole, as it was overcome with a profound panic, but what is really strange is what supposedly happened next.

As with the ice, the sheep was lowered down to 1,500 feet, shrieking, screaming, bucking and kicking the whole way until it abruptly went silent. At this point the metallic surface of the pit was said to have begun to hum and vibrate ominously, and after fleeing the scene for some time Waters and his crew were finally able to hoist the sheep back up, after which it was found to have been gruesomely cooked on the inside by some unknown force. In addition, an anomalous tumor was purportedly found on the sheep, which seemed to be moving and which they went and cut open to see what was going on. It was a decision they would soon regret.

As soon as the tumor had been cut open, something quite horrifying was regurgitated forth from the sheep’s carcass, which was described as looking like a “fetal seal,” which stared at them for some time with intelligent, human-like eyes before jumping into the murky depths of the hole. Waters and company, shocked and disgusted by what they had seen wasted no time in tossing the dead sheep in after it to sail down through that bottomless abyss. To make this all the more surreal, Waters would credit the creature with curing a cancer he had had, and even claimed that it would regularly visit the local sheep herders after that, who described it as being a benevolent presence. After this incident there were also seen various brightly colored birds loitering about the hole that were supposedly impervious to bullets, and a few instances of what Waters called a black beam emanating from the hole, which he described as looking like “if you had a flashlight, and it was capable of throwing up a solid black.”

The whole tale is just about as far-out and absurd as it could be, yet it captured the imagination and continued to be hotly talked about, with numerous sites devoted to dissecting the case of Mel’s Holes and countless believers in the tale trying to deduce the locations to no avail. Since Waters had never given away the exact location of either hole they remained a cipher, and considering that his last interview with Bell was in 2002 there was no other forthcoming information on the holes and their myriad anomalies and phenomena. Then, in 2008 the tale was reignited when a man claiming to be a tribal medicine man named Gerald R. Osborne, or also by his tribal name “Red Elk,” came forward to claim that not only was Mel’s story true, but that he had seen the one in Washington himself on several occasions and that it was every bit as odd as Waters had described. Red Elk would go on to speculate that it was the entrance to some sort of underground UFO base, and would even claim that he had once seen a UFO hovering over the pit.

Others have come forward since who have claimed to have been to one Mel’s Hole or the other, but no one has ever given any proof or made the supposed locations of the holes public, which means that these claims have only added to the mystique and mythology of the tale. The mystery of Mel Waters and his holes has never really faded, and is still discussed as much as it ever was. Considering that no one seems to have ever really had any idea of where either hole could be, and that there is no evidence that Mel Waters was ever even a real person at all, combined with the sheer bizarreness of it all, it is a distinct possibility that this was all an elaborate hoax that got out of hand to propel itself into urban legend. However, there are still plenty of people who believe Waters was telling the truth. Until the holes are found, it seems it will continue to be one of those stories that is impossible to prove or disprove, and will likely linger in the lore of great paranormal mysteries.

Although Mel’s Holes are by far the most well-known, they are not the first, and indeed tales of mysterious pits in the earth have been around for a while. In ancient Rome and Greece tales of sinister bottomless holes with supernatural qualities were all the rage, and were well-witnessed by scores of people. Often there would be actual temples, shrines, and even amphitheaters erected at these “Gates of Hell,” and in many cases animals would be dropped down towards these fissures to suddenly drop dead as if by some evil force. These areas, such as one in Turkey’s ancient city of Hierapolis, would often be considered the realms of the gods of the underworld, and to the people of the time it was all seen as a decidedly supernatural event.

It has in recent years been found that these places were constructed over cracks in the earth that seem to vent high concentrations of CO2 gas, which would form a sort of CO2 lake, and that this could have been the reason that these animal sacrifices were snuffed out so quickly. In these cases, the priests and observers are speculated to have been situated high enough to have escaped the lethal effects of the gas, and it all would have seemed like a very mysterious occurrence, with the power of the underworld belching out from beneath the ground. It is an interesting instance of science managing to come close to an understanding of some of these mysterious holes.

Another one of the older and more infamous paranormal holes can be found in the Czech Republic. Constructed between 1253 and 1278, the majestic Houska Castle is said to have been built specifically to cover a hole which led straight to Hell, said to have spontaneously formed in a limestone cliff and to be a bottomless pit full of tormented souls, which would vomit forth all manner of horrific creatures birthed from the underworld. These demonic monstrosities were said to emerge from the hole to fan out across the countryside at night, terrorizing local villages to the point that people were afraid to leave their homes after sunset, and certainly would not go anywhere near the hole even in daylight. Such was the ominous reputation of the hole that prisoners were sometimes thrown into the pit as punishment, with the caveat that they would be released if they could climb back out. Not many did, and even when they did there were strange tales surrounding their reemergence. In one story, a prisoner who had been thrown into the hole began screaming with such abject terror that he was hoisted back out to find that he had aged 30 years within moments.

The persistent tales of marauding demons and dark forces at work within the malevolent hole, as well as the growing panic of villagers in the area, is said to have prompted construction of Houska Castle in an effort to block the gateway. There are many odd details about the castle that lend weight to this theory. Although the castle has a large number of windows, very few of them are actually real, and most of them have thick walls directly behind the glass. There is also the odd fact that the castle had no water source, was not near any trading routes, and remained without occupants for years. The frescoes and artwork found within the castle also point to its true purpose, such as pagan imagery denoting demonic creatures, not common in most castles of the time, as well as various depictions of St. Michael fighting dragons and images which have hints and leanings of a Satanic undertone. It is said that the purported demonic powers of the castle were the reason why Nazis chose it as a base of operations during World War II, and that they carried out secret experiments trying to harness its enigmatic power.

If Houska Castle was indeed built to cover up a pit to Hell, then it seems it was only partially successful because strange stories have continued to emanate from the location to this day. Visitors to the lower floors have long claimed that at times there can be heard the sound of what seems to be claws or talons scrabbling and clawing at the floor underneath, as if something is trying to break free from underground. There are also reports from the chapel on the premises, which is said to be built directly over the hole itself, of a “chorus of screams” that allegedly pours forth from the bowels of the earth below. There are also numerous reports of a wide variety of strange apparitions roaming the cold, stone halls and corridors of the castle. One such apparition is said to be a headless corpse that lurks within the courtyard spewing blood, and there are also featureless shadow people, winged creatures like warped, giant bats, and even a bizarre entity said to look like a combination of human, frog, and a bulldog. Adding to all of the other weirdness are reports of levitating objects, numerous inexplicable thumps or bangs, visitors being tapped, pushed, or even hit, and roaming cold spots, all of which have made Houska Castle a popular destination for paranormal investigators.

Houska Castle

One curious case of a strange, possibly demonic portal in the earth of some sort allegedly occurred in 1947 at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Yealmpton, South Devon, England. At the time a Reverend Alfred Byles was serving as the Vicar of the church, and he would say that one day he had been walking about in the churchyard when he noticed a gaping pit planted right in the middle of the pathway that led up to the church proper. He claimed that he entered the church for just a moment to fetch his wife to take a look, and when he came out again it had inexplicably grown in size. Peering into it, they could see no bottom to the hole, and a rock thrown in hit some kind of stonework on the side that looked like a manmade wall.

Byles said that he had gone into town to find something to cover the hole with, as it seemed to be an unsafe thing to have there on the church pathway, and while he was looking around he invited a local builder to come with them to see it for himself. However, when they arrived the hole was apparently gone, with no scar in the earth, the grass all back to where it was, and no sign whatsoever that a yawning maw in the earth with walls within it had ever been there at all. Byles would write of the incident decades later in a letter to the magazine Reports and Transaction of the Devonshire Association in 1975, and the odd tale attracted the interest of the TV show Arthur C. Clarke’s World of Strange Powers, which interviewed him on the phenomenon in 1985. If this strange hole really did exist, then what was it and where did it go? It remains a mystery.

In later years there have been other stories of strange holes in the earth as well. In 1984 something very strange happened near Grand Coulee Dam, in Eastern Washington state, in the United States. Here in a secluded wheat field operated by a Fred Timm and his sons was found a huge chunk of earth measuring 10 feet long and 7 feet wide and weighing several tons that had been cleanly removed from the ground and placed right-side up 73 feet away to leave a circular hole with smooth vertical walls and an almost perfectly flat bottom behind. It looked almost as if it had been removed with some enormous cookie-cutter. The chunk of earth appeared to be completely intact, and there was also found a trail of dirt that had apparently dribbled from the main slab as it had travelled to its displaced location.

Scientists were baffled as to what had caused the sudden appearance of this hole, as it was so well-formed and the chunk that had been removed so intact. Although there had been a minor earthquake in the region just before the discovery, the temblor was a mere 3.0 on the Richter Scale, and it was deemed impossible by geologists that this could have moved that piece of earth and formed that bizarre hole. It was also suggested that a meteorite could have somehow caused it, but the “cookie-cutter” nature of the hole and the lack of any signs of impact made this unlikely.

It also seemed that the roots of the plants seemed to have been torn rather than cut, suggesting that the enormous block had been lifted by some force. Then it had been moved over the ground, not along it, so that it seemed as if some sort of machinery would have been needed to do this, yet there was no sign of anything large enough to have accomplished this. No one has been able to figure out how this could have happened, but some have theorized that it might have been the doing of some as-yet unidentified geological phenomenon had caused some sort of waves that could have ejected the block of soil. Explosions, rogue tornadoes, helicopters coming in to lift the piece out, all explanations were deemed insufficient to explain what had happened, and scientists are still not sure what to make of it all.

Of course, with something this inexplicable and bizarre UFOs have absolutely come into the mix, and it turns out that the area had actually experienced some sightings of strange things in the sky in the days surrounding the odd discovery. Other reports of this “cookie cutter phenomenon” have been recorded in various areas around the world since, but in the end there has been no rational explanation.

One very recent mysterious “pit to Hell” that has generated quite a lot of debate in recent years is the so-called “Well to Hell,” of the cold expanses of Siberia, in Russia. The story goes that a crew of Russian engineers and geologists were drilling an ambitiously deep borehole in the desolate wilds of Siberia, which penetrated up to 14.4 kilometers deep (about 9 miles) into the earth when it broke through some unseen cavern deep down below to reveal something extremely bizarre. When temperature readings were taken from the borehole they revealed an astonishingly scorching 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (around 1,100 degrees Celsius) near the bottom, but even stranger still was what they purportedly picked up when they lowered a sensitive, heat resistant microphone designed to hear the sounds of plate movement down into the murk.

Supposedly, the microphone picked up what sounded like a sea of human wails and screams from thousands, perhaps millions of souls, seemingly out of incredibly pain and suffering before it was extinguished by the relentless heat, leading the scientists to believe that they had bored down into a literal passage to Hell itself. The director of the survey, known only as a Dr. Azzacov, apparently told media at the time: “The information we are gathering is so surprising, that we are sincerely afraid of what we might find down there.” Additionally, later reports claimed that there was “fountainhead of luminous gas shooting up from the drill site, and out of the midst of this incandescent cloud pillar.” It was then said that over half of the team quit out of a profound fear of what they had uncovered, and that the team had come to the conclusion that the earth was hollow and that something decidedly malignant dwelled within.

The whole chilling incident was apparently first featured on the the Christian-based Trinity Broadcasting Network in Southern California in 1989, after which it appeared in the Finnish newsletter Ammennusastia in 1990, after which it then went on to take on a life of its own, appearing on Internet sites and in tabloids all over the place. The bizarre story eventually ending up featured on an episode of famed paranormal radio show Coast to Coast AM in 2002. On this particular show, host Art Bell produced a recording of the sounds recorded within the pit, which are indeed quite disturbing, but could be anything.

It seems like an incredibly fantastical story and no doubt it likely is. It is thought that the whole story of the “Well to Hell” had its origins at least partially in fact, with a 1984 article in Scientific American which told of a team of geologists had drilled an extremely deep borehole 12 kilometers down in Russia’s Kola Peninsula, one of the deepest ever recorded and definitely not in Siberia. Although impressive and some interesting discoveries were indeed made, there was no report at all from this team of anything supernatural going on, and certainly no word of the mass screaming of condemned souls languishing in Hell. It seems that this story was picked up and then further tweaked and exaggerated until it took off onto the Internet and picked up more and more embellishment as time went on, feeding and gorging itself on unverified rumors, hearsay, and uncorroborated “facts.”

It does not help that one of the original purveyors of the story was a Christian broadcasting network who would obviously have a vested interest in somehow proving that a literal Hell exists, and the various recordings allegedly taken within the borehole are inconclusive at best. They could be anything. The story also has various versions that have evolved over the years, including one story in that righteous last bastion of journalism Weekly World News, which reported the event as having happened in 1992, only this time in Alaska and ending in the deaths of 13 expeditions members when Satan himself emerged to ravage them. Nevertheless, despite all of the signs pointing to the Well of Hell story as being an out of control hoax, there are many out there who still argue that the whole incident indeed happened, and is merely being covered up and made to seem like a hoax by those who do not want us to know that Hell actually exists.

These stories truly run the gamut between the mysterious and the far reaches of the bizarre, and in many cases we are left with very little evidence as to how true any of the tales are. Even if they are real we are left to wonder just what is going on with these various holes, pits, and fissures and their wellsprings of weirdness. Are these portals of some sort, doorways to other dimensions? Are they entrances to other realms or even Hell itself? Is it aliens? We have very few answers to these subterranean mysteries and they remain in the realm of speculations and the imagination, enigmatic entrances into the earth and perhaps into unknown domains past our understanding as well.