ROAMIN' CANNON: 'The Devil's Hole'

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Many of you may know about the famous “Devil’s Hole” located in the Nevada desert, but you may not know about the infamous Devil’s Hole located on Burger Mountain adjacent to Short Mountain right here in Cannon County.

A recent guest speaker for the Historical Society, Mike West tells of a fascinating history of the cave hidden and forgotten by time. Mike tells the story of a trip he took long ago with a man named Urby Daniel to see the cave marked only by limestone outcroppings and underbrush.  

His description of a cavern around 110 feet deep, accessible only by ropes and a harness is enough to warrant a second guess on climbing down to see the bottom. It is certain without the proper equipment a person could get hurt very easily attempting to spelunk this cave. The problem is not in getting down to the bottom, it is getting back up to the top.

Mr. Daniel explained while he was the principal of the Short Mountain School that a man from Indiana approached him about exploring the cave with his two sons. Mr. Daniel told them where to find the cave with the provision they would come back and give the children a description of what they saw. Here is an excerpt of their description:

The spelunkers described the cave’s opening as funnel shaped. After the opening the cave narrowed before flaring out as it reached the floor. At the cave’s base there was a large pile of rocks, tree limbs and other debris thrown down by visitors to Devil’s Hole. The vertical drop opened on a large room, measuring about 30 or 40 feet by 50 feet. The cave room had a ceiling some 30 feet high. Air inside the room was fresh and there was a slight breeze, Daniel said. But the cavers failed to find another entrance.

Through the years there have been many wild and unfounded tales of the cave known as the Devil’s Hole. Stories include those of a man killed and thrown into the cave or of a screaming woman who was thrown down into the cave by her husband. No evidence was found by the man from Indiana, so I am quite certain those stories are false.

One thing is for certain though; the Devil’s Hole was used as a gathering place for picture taking, picnics and Sunday meetings over the years. Apparently it became a regular meeting place for the Seventh Day Adventist church that would meet and hold services there regularly.

In his talk Mike was able to give a vivid description of Mr. Daniel and others who told stories of their youth spent around the Devil’s Hole. A different era when people gathered together to spend time with family and friends. A time when young men of a church would camp around the entrance of the cave and play music into the night. It was said the music could be heard for miles drifting off of the mountain.

I am unsure of how the name “Devil’s Hole” was given to this small cave, but we have many fascinating places right here in our own back yard and don’t even realize it. We could live here for years in our small community nestled at the foot of Short Mountain and never realize the stories and places that were once popular to the generations past.

I don’t suggest attempting to go spelunking anytime soon at “The Devil's Hole, especially without the proper equipment and permission from the landowner. However, it is an interesting story of a place right here at home that many of us may never have known.

A special thanks to Mike West for sharing with me his notes on the subject.
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September 07, 2010 at 10:18am
Thank you for this article. How would one go about getting permission to explore this cave?
September 07, 2010 at 12:25pm
who owns the proprty this cave is on> and where in short mountain
September 07, 2010 at 12:47pm
Nice article. Too bad there were no pictures. I know some caving stories about Cannon County. I grew up on Rush Creek close to a farm owned by Paul Tennpenny. One day Paul told us he found hole in his hill side. This hole was between two trees whose roots had kept a shallow layer of dirt intact until one day the roots gave way and the dirt fell to the bottom. Three of us rappelled to the bottom. It was a blind pit with no passages at the bottom. If I remember correctly, it took 120 feet of rope to reach the bottom.

During the 70s a logger named Paul Preston was riding his mule out of the woods in a hollow off of Hwy 53 North when the mules front legs stumbled on what he thought was a ground hog hole. Paul was thrown over the mules head and down the hill side while the mule fell into a hole as the ground gave way. The mule was killed as it fell to the bottom of the pit. I didn't rappel into that one, but I saw the pit, and the mule, too. The sides of that one were all dirt and it was maybe 25 to 30 feet deep. I never went back there but was told the whole thing had filled back up and the pit no longer existed after a couple years. Could be waiting for the next logger...
September 07, 2010 at 1:43pm
Sorry Tea, I do not know the current land owner of the property.

I would suggest going to the Register of Deeds Office and see if they can provide you the name of the land owner.

You could then contact them and see if they would give you permission to go spelunking.

I hope you have good luck!
September 07, 2010 at 9:37pm
The Logger was John Preston who had the mule to fall in the hole.The hole was north of Ledbetter Hollow Rd. off of 53 north. He was married to Eula Ledbetter.
September 14, 2010 at 3:58pm
My Dad took me to see the Devil's Hole in the late 60's. I remember that there was another cave close to it (50 to 100 feet). This cave was a horizonal cave. Since I didn't have a flashlight, I decided to make a torch and explore the cave. I stripped dry bark from cedar trees, and tied the bark to a stick with honeysyckle vines. I lit it and went into the cave a little way, but the smoke ran me back out pretty quick. I then went back over to the Devil's Hole to throw in some more rocks, and discovered that smoke was coming out of Devil's hole. I expect the breeze the cavers discovered was because the caves are connected somehow.
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