The Hollow Earth

I stand on the brink of a precipice. I cannot see the bottom. I grasp the rope in front of me with both hands. I rest my weight against the rope to my back. I inch my feet along the narrow ledge, trying not to think about what I am doing.

I am Tom Sawyer in the treasure cave. I am Frodo in the Mines of Moria. I am David Innes in Pellucidar.

This is the story that has led me into the caverns of the Ozarks.

It was in June of 1964 that a group of experienced cavers returned to Blowing Cave near Cushman, Arkansas for what they imagined to be just one of many exciting but uneventful expeditions into the cave. On this occasion, however, the unexpected happened. While exploring a portion of the cave floor that was covered with debris, the men noticed an opening under one of the rocks that seemed to open wide enough for a descent. After moving some of the heavy stones they began the climb down into a previously unexplored part of the cave. It was likely that they had walked over or around this opening countless times in their many trips to Blowing Cave, little realizing the wonders to be found just under their feet.

After traveling down for almost four miles, the explorers found themselves in an enormous cavern, which they named Glass Cave. In the floor of Glass Cave, the men discovered yet another crevice partially hidden under rocks. Reaching the bottom of the crevice they found that they were in a large, smooth-walled tunnel. With a domed ceiling and flat floor, the tunnel clearly looked to be man made. It was illuminated by a faint green glow that emanated from the walls, which were clear like glass. In some areas they could see through the transparent walls into the cavern around them and could make out the faint shapes of moving creatures - giant serpents, reptiles, and insects.

On the third day of their journey they encountered a race of tall, blue-skinned people. Using an electronic device, the Blues were able to communicate with their visitors. The surface dwellers learned that the Blues were representatives of a great subterranean civilization, whose origins predated those of surface civilizations by thousands of years, perhaps stretching back to the ancient days of Atlantis. They shared the deep caverns with the giant insects and reptiles and with a race of hairy Sasquatch-like creatures. These creatures were exceptionally violent and seemed to be engaged in an eternal struggle with the giant reptiles. The Sasquatch had the advantage, however, as they were armed for their conflicts with laser guns.

While the rest of the group returned to the surface world, at least one of their members stayed behind.

Now I am in Blowing Cave, led by an experienced group of cavers from Little Rock, Arkansas.

I am trying hard not to think of the fate of the cavers from the movie The Descent, but that is proving hard to do. Pale-skinned, blind, cannibalistic troglodytes push the friendly blue-skins out of my mind.

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