There is perhaps no creepier place than a long, winding tunnel or cave leading off into the darkness into the confines of the earth. It instills some sort of primal dread in us, a fear we cannot escape, and leaves us to wonder just where that dim passageway leads and what things lie within it. Of course considering the spooky nature of the tunnels, caverns, sewers, and other subterranean places of our world there are bound to be tales of something weird pacing about in those places beneath our feet, and there are plenty. Some of the most spectacular and bizarre of reports of underground monsters have to do with beings and beasts that are somewhat humanoid in nature, prowling about down there in the depths and beyond our understanding.
A very odd case of something odd lurking in dank underground tunnels has sort of an urban legend vibe to it, but is persistent enough to warrant a look. For this one we go to the U.S. state of South Carolina, deep down into the service tunnels that spread out under the the University of South Carolina, some of which date back to the 1800s, and which have long been said to be the haunt of something less than human. Sightings of something bizarre lurking down there begin in November of 1949, when a student of the university by the name of Christopher Nichols was walking along in front of Longstreet Theatre one evening when he was startled by a humanoid figure wearing a “silver suit,” who crossed the street, opened a manhole cover, and disappeared down into the tunnels below. When it hit the school newspaper, The Gamecock, they called it the “Sewer Man,” but this would not be the last sighting of whatever it was.
In April of 1950, a police officer was in the area when he had a rather frightening encounter of his own. As he went about his patrol in the same vicinity of the original sighing, he came across a pile of what looked like the discarded remains of dead chickens, still bloody, that had been mauled and mutilated by some animal. As he ran his flashlight over the scene, the beam caught the sight of a hunched over figure decked out in a silver suit in the shadows, which was described as having grey skin and being grotesque in appearance, and most oddly of all the officer reported that the thing had a third eye right in the center of its forehead. The humanoid creature allegedly scowled at the police officer and scurried down into the tunnel system below, leaving behind its macabre stash of mangled chickens.
The strange denizen of the tunnels would gain the name “The Third Eye Man,” and sightings would continue into the 1960s and 70s, with one particularly harrowing report describing the thing charging a group of university fraternity members with a lead pipe and seemingly murderous intent. With all of the reports coming in of some possibly deranged psychopath prowling the area the tunnels were thoroughly searched to find not a trace of what was being reported. In order to be safe, the tunnels were mostly sealed off from the outside world, but there are enough ways to get in for adventurous curiosity seekers, and there have supposedly been sightings of the Third Eye Man right up to the present. Considering that there is very little to verify these tales there is the distinct possibility that this is all an urban legend, but I would still stay away from those tunnels if I were you. What is this bizarre abomination? Who knows?
A very strange account with some other sort of humanoid comes from 1978 in Toronto, Canada. Here within the dark confines of the various networks of tunnels and caves under this sprawling metropolis, a 51-year-old man known only as Ernest had a strange and frightening encounter in August of that year. The witness claims that he had been out searching the neighborhood for a missing kitten from a litter he had been raising with his wife, when he had stumbled across a tunnel entrance and decided to get a flashlight and investigate where it led, perhaps to even find his missing cat in the process. He claims that he penetrated around 10 feet into the murk and suddenly came across a creature that looked somewhat like a long and thin monkey around 3-feet in height, with large teeth and covered in grey fur. The unsettling eyes which peered out of the darkness from deep sockets were described as being bright orange and slanted, and to make the whole ordeal even more horrific, Ernest reported that the creature actually spoke to him. He would say of the odd events:
I saw a living nightmare that I’ll never forget. It said, ‘Go away, go away,’ in a hissing voice. Then it took off down a long tunnel off to the side. I got out of there as fast as I could. I was shaking with fear.
Ernest would later grudgingly tell the Toronto Sun newspaper of his frightening experience after being encouraged by a friend to do so, and he refrained from giving his last name out of fear that he would be ridiculed. Staff from the Sun even went as far as to accompany Ernest to the location of his strange sighting in March of 1979, and they found that indeed there was the entrance to a cave at the end of a passageway between houses, which led into a narrow tunnel that dropped off into the gloom sharply and was surmised to lead to the unseen sewer system down below. When they investigated the tunnel they did not see any strange creature, but they did find the maimed carcass of a cat half-buried in the ground. When sewer officials were questioned about what Ernest had perhaps seen, an employee gave the rather ominous statement:
People who work on the surface just don’t know what it’s like down there. It’s a whole different world. Who would have thought a few years ago that people would live in sewers, and yet that’s what they found in New York a few years back. I don’t know what he (Ernest) saw down there. I’ll tell you one thing. If we could get in there, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go down alone.
The so-called “Cabbagetown Tunnel Monster” is truly bizarre in that no other such report like it has come in, and it is hard to say what the creature in question could possibly be, especially considering that it allegedly actually spoke. Concerning the witness himself, friends and family said that he was an honest and reliable man, not prone to making up tall tales, and the Sun reporters who interviewed him said that he seemed earnest and honestly scared and reluctant to tell his tale at the time. What did he see down there, if anything? We may never know. One idea of what the Cabbagetown Tunnel Monster could have been was not a tunnel dweller per say, but rather some cryptid from above ground taking refuge or shelter within the tunnel. The region where it was sighted has long had accounts from the natives of a race of smallish hairy humanoids that inhabited areas near waterways and were called the Memegwesi, and perhaps something like this could have found a home down in the tunnel. We will probably never know for sure.
Another locale known for its mysterious tunnel and cave systems are the mysterious Superstition Mountains of Arizona, which as I have written before already have their fair share of weirdness to go around. One of the strangest phenomena reported from the remote area is that of reptilian humanoids said to reach immense sizes of up to 10 feet in height, and which dwell down in the murky catacombs below the earth, as well as numerous other odd encounters with things in the area’s many gloomy mines, shafts, caves, and tunnels here. One very bizarre account of such beings was relayed to Lon Stickler, of the site Phantoms and Monsters, by an individual who claimed to have encountered an individual who had been down in those caves and had quite the stories to tell about the tunnels. He would say:
He spotted a mine entrance on the west side of the main Mt. side. He said that the mine looked to be in good shape, so he started walking in the shaft. He had gone about a half mile in when he saw a sign that said no entrance beyond this point. The mine shaft was still in good shape, so he went in a 100 yards. He told me that people seemed to come out of the walls of the shaft. Men in black uniforms questioned him and then took him to a holding area in Mesa, Arizona for 72 hours. They questioned him again and found out that his home was in Colorado. They gave him a plane ticket to Denver, CO and told him never to come back to the Phoenix area. He asked me not to tell anyone that I had seem him. He wanted to pick up personal items that got left behind. I have never seen him after that.
There are other stories of treasure hunters going into old mine shafts and finding holographic walls in the shaft. They did not try to enter the area behind the wall as they feared that they may not be able to get back out. They told me that they took a round rock and rolled it through the screen and heard it roll for some distance. One of them reached through the screen with a flash light in his hand. He turned the flash light back toward the screen, but could not see any light. He said that he withdrew his arm as he had the feeling that some thing was back there and he didn't want it to grab his arm and drag him in. I asked the men to take me up there and show me the mine. They all said no way they were going back in there. We got a topo map out and they showed me the area that they had encountered the wall. I did go into the area to search but was never able to find the mine. This is not strange as other people have found opening and marked the entrance with a pyramid of large rocks and left to get lights and more people and equipment. When they got back, the rocks are still there as they had stacked them, but the entrance is gone!”
A similarly strange cave encounter was reported in 1966, by a witness named George D. Wight and group of spelunkers, who had been exploring at Blowing Cave, Arkansas. As they mad their way through the claustrophobic passages in near total darkness they allegedly spotted a faint glow coming from somewhere ahead of them. As they approached they came to a very narrow passage through the solid rock, as well as what looked like a staircase going off into the darkness. According to a report on Phantoms and Monsters:
He called to the others and they climbed through the opening. The tunnel expanded and they suddenly came into a large corridor, 20 by 20. The walls and the floors were smooth and the ceiling had a curved dome shape. Soon they encountered blue skinned but otherwise human-like individuals. The strangers communicated with the witnesses, telling them that they had instruments that could measure people's emotions. They learned that the tunnels went on for miles.They were led to underground cities populated by entities that included serpent-like creatures and large hairy bipeds. Using an elevator-like device, they were taken to a glass like city. Soon after this incident, Wight apparently returned to the cave and was never seen again.
In other cases the underground monsters seem to resemble something more like Bigfoot, and there are several reports to this effect. One case which is hard to categorize originates in the rugged Cascade Mountains of Skykomish, Washington, where there is a long abandoned train tunnel called the Cascade Tunnel, where there reportedly dwells a hulking beast with shining yellow eyes. One account of this creature was written of in Brad Steiger’s book Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside, in which a witness called “Dave” tells of a frightening encounter within the tunnel. The witness says that he had gone to the tunnel to investigate the reports and take some photos, and that when he was about 40 feet in he had seen the glowing yellow eyes of the creature himself, remarking that no normal animal’s eyes shone like that. The eyes apparently belonged to an indistinct, massive shadowy figure standing out in the dim murk that was reported as standing at least 9-feet tall.
Startled, Dave fled to his truck in a panic, and as soon as he got in he claims to have heard a loud, metallic bang from the tunnel entrance, which was enough to send him roaring off in his vehicle. A few days later, Dave went back to the site with some other people who were curious as to what he had seen and they would also see the yellow eyes peering from the darkness. None of them would ever go back. Was this a Reptilian humanoid of some kind? Was it a Bigfoot using the tunnel as a shelter? Was it a ghost, spirit, or some other supernatural entity? Interestingly, there have been Bigfoot reports from that very same area, but the glowing eyes seen here seem to be a remarkable detail.
Another beast in a similar vein is the legend of what has come to be called “Orange Eyes,” from the wilds of the area of Charles Mill Reservoir outside of Mansfield, Ohio. Beginning from the 1960s, numerous witnesses came forth with mind-boggling tales of encountering a beastly, enormous creature estimated as up to 11 feet tall, covered with filthy matted hair, exuding an odiferous stench, and possessing two large glowing orange eyes. The bizarre creature was most often said to roam about an area called Ruggles Road,” which was a popular make-out place for young couples and also had the nickname Lover’s Lane.
The monstrosity was known to terrorize those who came here, looming over vehicles menacingly or even rocking cars to the point that they threatened to tip over. One of the most spectacular reports of Orange Eyes comes from April of 1968, when a group of school kids spotted the creature and actually chased it with flashlights in hand, but it disappeared into the night. The story goes that this abomination spewed froth from the tunnels underneath Cleveland’s River Side cemetery, driven out when its home was destroyed by construction work carried out there in the 1940s. Interestingly, the area of Charles Mill Lake has another cryptid that may or may not be related, in the form of an aquatic humanoid with no arms, luminous glowing eyes, and enormous webbed feet, which surged out from the water of the lake to frighten witnesses Denny Patterson, Wayne Armstrong and Michael Lane in March of 1959. Authorities would later uncover “tracks that resembled the footgear worn by skin divers,” but the case has never been solved and there is no reliable connection to the Orange Eyes phenomenon. What it was or where it came from is anyone's guess.
We are left here with a plethora of truly bizarre cases that seem to evade and defy conventional understanding. Just what could any of these strange entities and beasts have been? Are these cryptids, ghosts, demons, or something all together more mysterious still? Or are they just tall tales and urban legend? There is little we can do to unravel these mysteries, as most of these cases are fairly isolated and stand on there own, head held high upon the lanscape of the world of the weird. Whatever they may be, the sprawling catacombs, tunnels, and caverns beneath our feet certainly hold plenty of strange tales, and serve to make us wonder at what may lie down there ensconced within this eternal night of a world we rarely see.