Somewhere in the wilds of Washington State is a bizarre geographic anomaly that locals believe may well be a gateway into another dimension. While the legend of the Devil’s Hole allegedly goes back for decades… if not centuries… the public at large did not become aware of the phenomenon until 1997, when legendary radio host and paranormal enthusiast, Art Bell, invited a man named Mel Waters to be interviewed on his globally syndicated radio program Coast to Coast AM.
Mel Waters is a captivating character who claimed to be the owner of an unusual piece of property located near Manastash Ridge, Washington. The property, which is adjacent to the Yakima Firing Range near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, was, in and of itself, nothing special, but situated on an isolated portion of the acreage is a geological irregularity -- a hole to be specific -- that was said to bear strange and arcane attributes that could only be found at one other place on Earth.
For decades residents from the Manastash Ridge region have talked about one of the most unusual aspects of the sprawling landscape that haloed their hometown. Hidden nearby, on a densely forested parcel of private property, was a seemingly bottomless well that was surrounded by an aura of mystery and danger.
This unfathomably deep pit was said to be about 9-feet in diameter and was shored up with hand placed bricks to a depth of nearly 15-feet until it gave way to earthen walls. The hole had been known to locals for generations -- and to Native Americans before them -- and had been used as an unofficial dumping ground for everything from defunct refrigerators to old tires and television tubes to livestock and pet carcasses.
What disturbed those who utilized this illegal dumping ground most was the fact that no matter how heavy the object being discarded may have been, those that tossed it into the void never heard it hit bottom. This led some of the more supernaturally inclined in the region to dub the place the “Devil’s Hole,” and rumors quickly spread that this never-ending crater tunneled a direct trajectory to Hades, making it, in effect, a highway to hell.
In September of 2008, an inter-tribal medicine man by the moniker of Red Elk -- who’s legal name is Gerald Osborne -- appeared on a radio show and claimed to have visited the enigmatic hole with his father as a young boy in 1961. According to Red Elk, the hole was well known to the indigenous peoples, as well as local and federal authorities, and was believed to be an unbelievable 24 and 28-miles deep.
The medicine man also speculated that pit served as a tunnel which connected to Mt. Rainier and that it might be associated with both UFOs and vile, quasi-reptilian entities that allegedly dwell deep within the bowls of the Earth known as "reptoids." A Washington native by the name of Jay Nickell also claimed to have stumbled across the Devil’s Hole while exploring the region as a teen.
Other folks who stumbled across the site notice an eerie sensation that would wash over them when they neared the pit. They also noted that birds and other crearures seemed to give the allegedly “evil” hole a wide berth and that the rim of the pit was lined with the bones of small animals. Over the years visitors would come and go, but none of them would make a mark quite as deep as the next owner of the property… a man named Mel Waters.
Waters, who claims he and his wife bought the property sometime in 1993, discovered the hole soon afterwards and -- much like all those who came before him -- used it as a convenient (if environmentally unfriendly) rubbish bin.
It wouldn’t be long, however, before he became irresistably drawn to this strange hollow. In particular Waters became fascinated by the its’ inexplicable ability to “devour” all that was thrown within. In his own words:
“Well so, we’ve been here several years we just take all of our trash rubbish there. Anything we have we have to get rid of we take it and just throw in the hole there. Everyone’s throwing their stuff in the hole. The people from around there throw all the stuff in the hole. I mean it’s just been going on for a long time well, and I got to thinking one day how come this hole is not filling up? It must be an awfully deep hole.”
In the summer of 1996, Waters’ decided that his first experiment would be to ascertain just how deep this crevice actually was. Being, by his own admission, an avid marine angler, Waters had a plethora or high test fishing line. So, in an effort to discern the depth of the pit, he rigged the line to the center of the opening and attached what he referred to as a “triangular, one pound, standard lead fish weight” to a long spool of fishing line and lowered it into the black depths of the hole… it never reached the bottom.
Waters attached spool after spool of to each other, but he was always thwarted in his attempts to find the base of the pit. He even took to tying a roll of Life Savers to the end of the line to see in there was water at the bottom, but the candy always returned topside dry as a bone.
Eventually, determining the depth of his mystery pit would become an obsession with Waters, even to the detriment of his own marriage. After spending countless hours spooling out an extraordinary 18 reels of 5,000-foot, 20 lbs test and coming up empty handed, he came to the conclusion that the hole must be in excess of 80,000-feet deep. It was then that Waters discovered that the hole had even more extraordinary -- and frankly terrifying -- properties.
The first thing he noticed was the fact that whenever he would shout down into the well there would be no echo. Waters also noted that his own dogs dug their paws into the dirt to prevent him from dragging them to close to this portal to the unknown. According to Waters:
“Well I mean the normal thing to do is kind’a like yell into it there to see and echo and I’ve never heard an echo come out of that thing… and its one the first things I noticed about it. As usual I brought the dogs with me they wouldn’t go anywhere near the damned thing and they went back to the Suburban and hung out over there… if I try to bring them there on a leash they‘ll just dig their feet in - they do not want to go anywhere near the hole.”
As if a dearth of echoes and whimpering guard dogs weren’t creepy enough, according to Waters, there was a fellow who claimed that his dead dog had resurrected -- à la Stephen King’s classic “Pet Sematary” -- after he had tossed the canine’s remains in the Devil’s Hole. In Waters’ own words:
“This could be an apocryphal story, but 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 threw the dog into the hole!”
The tale of the resurrected dog had such an effect on Waters that he claimed that instructions were incorporated into his will that his remains be disposed of into the pit following his demise. One can only hope that his benefactors (or the local authorities) show better judgment whenever that day occurs.
In the winter of 1997, Waters sent a FAX to a man who was, at the time, the preeminent disseminator of paranormal information, radio presenter and Coast to Coast AM founder, Art Bell. Bell became intrigued by Waters and his “never ending hole” and on February 21st, 1997, Waters was invited to speak on Bell’s hugely popular late night program.
Bell and Waters discussed some of the more the scintillating secrets -- though not the precise and clandestine location -- of the Devil’s Hole and it soon became apparent that millions of listeners were enthralled by Waters and his unusual tale. Within a few short hours this weird cavity graduated from local legend to legitimate paranormal phenomenon. The story proved so popular that Waters again spoke to Bell just three nights later.
Within months of appearing on Coast to Coast, Waters and the Devil’s Hole -- which would soon be re-dubbed “Mel’s Hole” by Bell’s enormous fan base -- would gain a significant amount of notoriety. Waters claimed that he was beset by a series of odd events not long after he went public with his information regarding the hole.
The first strange incident occurred while Waters was on his own property en route to the Devil’s Hole. Waters planned to continue his research when he was suddenly stopped by a pair of men identifying themselves as “government agents.” These agents -- one in plain clothes and two in military regalia -- informed him that there had been a plane crash nearby and that the area had been cordoned off.
The plainclothes further stated that no one but military personnel would be allowed into the restricted area. Waters then noticed men wearing yellow hazard suits milling around behind the trio that were blocking his path. Waters, angered at being denied access to his own property, demanded that they let him pass and that’s when these so-called agents got down to brass tacks. According to Waters the agents proceed to inform him that if he did not follow their instructions he would be falsely accused and arrested for concealing a meth lab on his land. It is presumable that the evidence of this lab would have been manufactured if necessary.
It goes without saying that the military officers from the area wholeheartedly deny such allegations. Ken Cooper, a spokesman for the Army's Yakima Training Center, dismissed the entire incident to the Tri-City Herald in 1997:
"What I understand is, this Ellensburg guy said he had some property on Manastash Ridge, and he was going up there to visit it and was stopped by soldiers…the Army's not hiding an aviation accident, nor an 80,000-foot-deep pit. We're just training, just like we always do."
While this may well be the case, one can’t dismiss the possibility that these denials are being handed down from a higher authority or that -- assuming this is a classic “black op” -- Cooper and his cohorts simply aren’t in the “know” about this incident.
Regardless of the veracity of either Cooper or Waters statements, the latter claimed that following this threat the agents then made and even stranger (and exceedingly lucrative) offer. If Waters agreed to lease the government his property into perpetuity he would be given a hefty monthly stipend of $250,000 to live off. There was just one caveat… he had to leave the country… immediately.
Waters, whose marriage was ending badly, decided against bucking the system and accepted their offer. A lover of wildlife, Waters used the generous leasing fees he had accrued to start a wombat-rescue operation and for the next two years he would live a fairly contented life in Australia.
As satisfied as he was down under, Waters was finally overwhelmed by homesickness and in December of 2000 he boarded a plane and -- against specific orders from still unknown representatives of the U.S. Government -- returned to the States. Once there things would take a frightening turn.
First off, his liberal leasing fees were immediately cut off, indicating to Waters that he had been under constant surveillance. Secondly, while riding on a bus to Olympia, Washington soon after his plane touched ground in America, Waters testified that he had witnessed a dispute between a fellow passenger and police officers. The officers allegedly removed Waters from the bus under the pretense that he had to sign a police statement confirming what he had seen. That would be the last thing that he would remember for almost 2-weeks.
Waters swore that the next thing he could recollect was stumbling around San Francisco in a stupor no less than 12-days after he was removed from the bus, with no clue as to how he got there. He further asserted that he had been physically beaten and that his rear molars had been extracted during his “black out.” As if all of this weren’t enough to send conspiracy theorists into a tizzy, Waters further claimed that he had IV tracks on his arm. This convinced him that he had been drugged by the police or -- more likely than not -- government agents dressed as police.
As if his life weren’t already in enough of a tailspin, Waters soon found that not only had his stipend been suspended, but that all of his assets had been frozen and that his Australian rescue facility had been dismantled. Perplexed and fearing for his own life, Waters phoned his nephew who wired him enough cash to take a bus back to Manastash Ridge.
Once back on his property, Waters was served with legal documents by what he referred to as “men in black types,” who indicated that his ownership of the land was in question due to “modifications” that had been made to the property and that the government would officially be taking control of the land.
One of Waters neighbors got a hold of him days later and told him that he had seen large black vans outside of Mel’s house during his absence and that dark-clad men had been ransacking the place.Waters felt sure these were also shady black op agents. As if things weren’t bad enough for Waters, he was officially presented with divorce papers and, even worse, diagnosed with esophageal cancer almost immediately afterwards.
Now at the end of his proverbial rope, Waters once again contacted the one sympathetic voice he could find, Art Bell, and in April of 2000, Waters once again spoke about his misadventures. He related his harrowing tale to the inquisitive masses and even recounted a story told to him by an old neighbor regarding the huge Stonehenge-like monoliths that were once said to halo the hole.
Could these alleged monoliths indicate that it was an ancient place of worship? Waters began to believe that it was and this led him to the next leg of his fascinating journey.
Waters took it upon himself to research other mystery holes throughout the world and managed to discover another strange pit -- alleged to be on public land in Nevada -- that was similar in size and reputation to the Devil’s Hole, which he had, for a brief period, owned. Waters made the pilgrimage to Nevada and once there he purportedly continued his research into these anomalous openings.
It seems that Waters was able to make friends with the local Basque people in the area and they took him to the sacred hole, which he described as also being about 9-feet in diameter, but unlike the Devil’s Hole this round aperture had a solid metallic "collar" sticking out of the ground around the lip of the gap. This notched collar was evidently man made (or at least intelligently designed) and rose about 2-feet above the pit. According to Waters:
"In my estimation… it could possibly be a locking collar… something could be lowered onto it and locked into place."
Does this mean that this portal -- to what may well be another, possibly Lovecraftian, dimension or even hell itself -- has an as yet undiscovered seal laying somewhere in the desert? Or could this be where the UFOs, which are occasionally associated with the hole, land for reasons too nefarious to mention? If Waters knows, he’s not talking.
Waters did disclose, however, that when he dropped his toolbox onto the collar the impact didn’t make a sound. This seems comparable to the lack of echoes found at the first Devil’s Hole. Is there some sort of strange sound dampening device attached to these holes? If so, where is it? And, more importantly, why does it exist?
Waters also claims that the area around the collar is warm year round and keeps nearby tents toasty even in the winter. He also confirmed that the metal from which the collar is constructed descends into the interior of the pit for as far as the eye can see.
The remote locale of this 2nd Devil’s Hole was said to be under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Land Management and was, according to Waters, utilized by both Native Americans and "members of the Basque community" for grazing sheep. Waters later told Bell -- during one of his five on air interviews -- that Basques claimed that the hole had been there since their community had been founded in the 1800s.
Waters petitioned the curious Basques to help him in his continued experiments regarding the nature of these holes and they obliged him. Some of these tests yielded results that were merely unusual… and one them ended in an event that was nothing short of horrifying.
The first experiments consisted lowering a bucket of store bought ice approximately 1,500-feet down the hole, with a test bucket remaining topside. When the team raised the bucket they discovered that it had not melted, but what truly caught their attention was the fact that the ice was now warm to the touch with a silica-like feel to it and, even more bizarrely, it actually became a flammable substance.
No one could explain this chemical change in the ice, but one of the men brought the ice home and filled his woodstove with it. He claimed that the “burning ice” burned for three months and seemed to have a strange penchant for sucking all of the moisture out of the air around it.
By the end of the winter the woodstove had inexplicably plummeted through the floor of the man’s shack sinking 5-feet into the ground; soon after the entire hut was said to have dissolved into a fine wood dust.
According to Waters, a group of unidentified (likely government funded) researchers quickly descended upon the dissolute shack and attempted to raise the sunken woodstove. The men employed heavy chains and construction equipment, but were unsuccessful until they filled the crevice above the stove with water.
Waters and other eyewitnesses claim that upon contact with the water the chains fused to the woodstove and the team was then able to lift it from its moistened tomb. The stove was swiftly secured to a large truck and stolen away to an undisclosed locale.
While burning ice is unquestionably odd, the following experiment would test even the limits of Waters sanity. In an act of what must be construed as animal cruelty, Waters and his Basque cohorts then decided that a live subject was necessary for the next test, so they quickly snagged a sheep from one of the many nearby flocks and dragged it toward the hole.
Waters claimed that the sheep became agitated when it approached the hole -- much like the reaction of his own dogs at the site of the first hole -- and that the petrified animal had to be “stunned” and shoved into a crate in order to subdue it. The men then began to lower the crate and the poor creature awoke as it began its descent.
Waters confirmed that the beast began thrashing violently in its crate and making sounds that can only be compared to shrieks of terror. The crate was purportedly lowered to a depth of approximately 1,500-feet, at which point the sheep’s undulations and screams were silenced. That was when the metallic rim of the hole suddenly began to vibrate.
Waters and company, no doubt startled by this development, backed away from the pit and allowed the unfortunate sheep to linger in the complete blackness of the crevice for no less than 30-minutes before they worked up the nerve to hoist the crate back up the surface. It should come as no surprise that the animal was found dead inside the crate. Terror alone would have been enough to kill the poor beast, but when they cut the creature open for an impromptu autopsy, the men found that "the sheep looked like it had been cooked" from the inside!
As if that weren’t disconcerting enough, Waters discovered a gelatinous, tumor-like glob where the sheep’s internal organs should have been. Waters removed the “tumor" and that’s when things started to get weird… really weird.
Some of the Basque men noticed that the tumor seemed to be moving of its own accord, as if something was pushing out from within. Waters decided that the tumor needed to be cut open, and one intrepid fellow did the deed, releasing a creature that Waters described as looking like a "fetal seal" connected to the tumor inside the sheep with an umbilical cord.
Waters went on to claim that this strange tumor seal had haunting human-like eyes, which it locked onto the experimenters. This as yet unclassified creature from the abyss and its surface hosts stared at each other in stunned silence for the better part of two hours before this sheep born abomination apparently “nodded” at its would-be captors and dove back into the hole. The men swiftly regained their composure and hurtled the tarp wrapped tumor and carcass into the depths with it.
Instead of being mortified by this biological atrocity, Waters felt that the seal-like beast was "filled with compassion" and he believed that his experience with this entity resulted in the total remission of his esophageal cancer. Waters further asserted that the seal-like entity made regular visits to the Basque shepherds who made camp near the hole and was even able to communicate with the humans via a portable radio. Sadly, efforts to record the creature’s voice resulted only in a series of unintelligible, static-like sounds.
Strange as the tumor seal may be, Waters claimed that the locals also began noticing a new species of brightly plumaged bird that seemed to be making its home around the new hole. At least six specimens of the bright red, blue beaked birds -- which were quickly christened “sunbirds” -- have been seen orbiting the fathomless pit since the “sheep experiment.”
This, of course, begs the question: did the “animal sacrifice” performed by Waters and crew in the name of science unintentionally open a rift through which the fauna of another dimension can enter our own? Farfetched as that may seem -- presuming that anything Waters claims is true -- then what other explanation is there? And, if that does prove to be the case, how long before larger predators follow these birds through the opening? Perhaps these friendly visits by the seal-entity are soon to be followed by not-so friendly visits by something much larger and potentially carnivorous.
Waters publicly stated that he believed that the bird came from deep within the hole and he claims that the locals have already concocted a myth wherein that these birds were somehow responsible for the sheep's death as well as the tumor that produced the seal creature. Waters, being more scientifically inclined, attempted to shoot down a bird so he could dissect it, but his efforts were met with naught.
Although he did managed to shoot one of the birds, after a short tumble the avian anomaly righted itself and continued on its merry way. Waters later found two crumpled bullets below where the bird had been flying. This has led him to conclude that the birds were likely bulletproof.
Waters also told Bell that this Nevada Hole occasionally emitted what he described as a “black beam,” which shoots into the heavens in short bursts. He conceded that:
"This is a contradiction, but a black beam of light, okay, comes from the hole. It lasts a very short time, but it just goes directly up to the sky… [it’s like] if you had a flashlight, and it was capable of throwing up a solid black."
Some researchers have also noted that this second Devil’s Hole bears a marked resemblance to the “bottomless pit” said to be located in the Death Valley region, which Charlie Manson and his notorious family mentioned numerous times in their debacle of a trial.
Manson believed that during this catastrophic war, the Family would be making forays from the Bottomless Pit. Accordingly, Manson had the dune buggies the Family acquired fitted with machine gun mounts; while the men would drive, the girls would operate the guns
While it is doubtful that Manson was referring to Nevada’s Devil’s Hole when he spoke of the “bottomless pit,” there is a chance that he stumbled across it during one of his acid fuel desert sojourns. Could it be the pit that drove him over the edge of sanity? Again, it is dubious hypothesis, but one that’s entertaining to ponder nonetheless.
On a closing note, rumor has it that one of the, evidently suicidal, Basque men volunteered to be lowered into the hole in the same fashion as the sheep, but Waters and his fellow amateur scientists, in what must be considered a rare burst of good judgment, managed to convince the foolhardy volunteer against the decision. If a sheep allegedly produced a mutant seal-like beast, what would a human percolate in his internal incubator? I cringe to imagine.
In the years that have followed Waters revelations concerning the first Devil’s Hole, there have been sporadic expeditions into the woods around Manastash Ridge, but no one has ever managed to find the mystical pit… and Waters himself seems just as enigmatic.
Some say that the government filled the hole in when they were finished using it for whatever arcane purposes they had, others suggest that a shed like structure has been erected over the site to hide it from prying eyes. There are also some who feel that aliens protect the space with a sort of "cloaking device" and still others who are, understandably, convinced that the darn thing never existed in the first place and that Waters, for reasons known only to him, made the whole thing up.
Skeptics counter by saying that the satellite photos have been altered to protect the military’s training facilities. They also add that there is no official record of Waters ever living, voting or owning property in the region. In fact, there seems to be little evidence that a man named Mel Waters ever existed.
Of course, if Waters’ admittedly bizarre tales are true and there actually is a top secret geographic anomaly of apparent military significance located in the proximity of the Yakima Firing Range and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, then it goes without saying that military officials would go to great lengths to conceal what actually exists in the expanse, even to the point of doctoring photos and erasing identity, registration and tax records.
Skeptics also assert that the temperatures inside Earth at the depths that Waters claimed to have dropped his lead weight are in excess of 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, which, of course, would melt fishing line. Still, if one is able to accept the premise that these miraculous fissures can transform ice into a flammable substance or impregnate dead sheep with human-eyed tumor seals, then one must assume that they are not bound by the normal geological rules.
Red Elk would publicly state he had once seen a “very large space ship” hovering above the Washington hole, which he insists is nowadays covered by an nondescript, shack-like structure, which conceals the orifice. Unlike most believers, however, Red Elk asserts that it’s not the U.S. government in control of the site, but reptilian humanoids who utilize the hollow to transport cargo -- which sometimes consists of human remains -- to their underground bases throughout the region.
In the past few years, Waters has largely been off the proverbial radar, but on June 28th, 2011, a letter from someone claiming to be Waters as posted online by the Whales in Space website. His comments are reprinted here verbatim:
“Hello to all of you. This is Mel. I’m sorry I’ve been inconspicuous for so long, but you see, I had to put my life back together after my experiences with the hole. I returned to Australia to renew my efforts with my wombat refuge after finally receiving a large settlement from the BLM [Bureau of Land Management.] I have not spoken of the hole or its properties since my last conversation with Art on Coast to Coast, as part my agreement with the U.S. Government. I can however, discuss generally, the second hole I discovered in Nevada while living among the Basque people there. I can assure you all that everything I told Art and his listeners regarding THAT hole was true. Out of respect for the local culture though, I cannot reveal its location without their consent and they do not wish it to be so. The elders there see the hole as a sacred place and would not want it compromised by outsiders and media. I can say that my experiences there changed my life and I don’t regret any of them. I hope that some day I will be able to reveal everything in a way that will allow the public to know the truth, but I am not in a position to do that at present. I will say that I believe the truth will be known one day, but I can’t say how. I could prove my story but the risk to myself is too great, and I’ve learned from my experiences that when I get an offer, its best to take the money and run. I hope you all understand and maybe you’ll hear from me again, sooner or later…”
Thus, for now anyway, ends the saga of Mel Waters and the Devil’s Holes. His tales have even been immortalized in song by the Handsome Family who recorded a song inspired by Mel and his exploits called "The Bottomless Hole," which was released on their 2003 album "Singing Bones" and there's even been an artists exhibit inspired by the legends.
I’ll be the first to admit that in many ways his tales feel like the product of a grand old storyteller whose tall tales get wilder and weirder each and every time he speaks, but perhaps there is a kernel of truth in there somewhere.Maybe he really did manage to find to portals into alternate dimensions or perhaps he stumble across a pair of micro black holes that are constrained by forced we can scarcely imagine.
Whatever the case may be, the impression I get is one of a great spinner of yarns who got himself so swept up in the myth making process that he was unable to extricate his own life from the story itself. Still, one cannot complete discount the veracity of Waters account.
If reports are to be believed there have been scores of sacred natural formations worshiped (and just as often avoided) by indigenous peoples and samples of satellite imagery I’ve seen do appear to have been intentionally blanked out, but whether or not there is an ounce of truth in the tales above, the fact remains that they remain one of the most outlandishly entertaining and utterly intriguing mysteries that I’ve encountered in a very long time.