Thursday, June 3, 2010

Indian Cave on Calico Rock Bluff

Click images to enlarge.

View Video Here.

A property-owner from Calico Rock, Ed Matthews, recently asked the EIC Crew to visit the site of an interesting and very unusual cave within the city of Calico Rock. Ed and others with properties near the cave have long wondered about the origins of the unique rock walls that have been built inside the natural shelter and asked us to investigate and add our insight.

On Saturday, May 29th, 2010, the EIC Crew, joined by Tony McGuffey and his wife Roberta as well as by Jeff and Laura Snyder, visited the site during a preliminary trip to prepare for a future expedition to more thoroughly investigate what we found. The cave, which lies only a few feet from a main County Road, has a carefully concealed entrance, the mouth having had a stone retaining wall built in front of it and backfilled to create a small slit in the earth with steps leading to the cave below. The natural shelter is approximately 40 feet wide and as many feet deep with walls constructed of stone to create three seperate rooms resembling a warehouse or underground dwelling. In fact, a natural hole in one wall of the cave opens into a small chamber containing clear, fresh water which stands in a natural reservoir. This "cistern" is accessible from above the cave as well as from inside. The largest man-made wall runs the width of the cave and sports a doorway and two wondows perched near the roof of the shelter.

The property-owners near the site have never spoken with any long-time residences of Calico who remember anything at all about the use of this cave. No one in living memory seems to have any idea whatsoever how the site was created or for what it was used. Speculation persists.

Some have offered the suggestion it was used as a speak-easy during the days of prohibition. Others have guessed it might have been used as storage for munitions during the Civil-War, we found on our preliminary's very moist inside the structure. Buddy, a local landowner who has lived near the cave for 20 years, told us that they had tried keeping potatoes in the cave but they soon rotted suggesting that the cave would not have been used for the purpose of storing produce of any kind.

Personally, considering the fact that there were many in Izard County during the Civil-War who opposed slavery and who were also defiant towards the Confederacy, I believe it is possible the site could have been used as a stop on the notorious Underground Railroad, though its just as possible some home-owner during the latter part of the 19th century simply built the walls in the shelter cave as a summer home to stay cool during the suffocating heat of the season.

The EIC Crew has asked those who were along for this preliminary visit to the site to share their own thoughts about what we observed. We also invite readers to join the conversation. We will be revisiting this post in the future after we have had a chance to more thoroughly investigate the site. We hope to even dig a few small "test-holes" to see what kind of artifacts we can find which will help to give a better picture of how the site was used in the past...and who actually used it.

We welcome your comments!