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The Lost Tunnel Of Niagara
Blog Posted:10/1/2012 3:48:00 AM
The Lost Tunnel of Niagara
There is a story more than a thousand years old. It involves a secret Native American treasure worth more than a hundred million dollars in today’s money. The thing is no one has heard about it. It was spirited off by a Native American chief and there was only one written record of it and that was on a stone buried on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. The thing is that the record is written in a language that died out more than a thousand years ago.
A couple of years ago an older man was walking around the whirlpool a few miles downriver from the falls. He was looking for strange stones at the bottom of the gorge. Now, he had been lucky most of the time but that day the gods were not shining on him. Despite all of his searching he had come up with nothing but that changed when he saw a stone sticking out of the rock wall. As soon as he pulled it out he saw that it was cut into a rectangle and there was writing on it…actually two styles of writing that he could not read. He dug it out and took it out of the gorge with him and, thinking that it might be worth something, he took it straight to the Niagara Falls Historical Society.
That was the first time he took anything there so he did not know what kind of reaction he would get when he walked carrying the stone. To his surprise that reception he received was a hell of a lot better than he ever expected.
“Hello or Bonjour,” the man behind the counter said as he extended his hand in friendship. The older man told him that he spoke English. “Thank you very much sir. How may I help you?
The older man held out the stone tablet and said that he had found it down by the Whirlpool Rapids. “I collect rocks down there and this was sticking out of the ground. It looks like it has some kind of writing on it.”
The man behind the counter took the rock, looked at it carefully and disappeared into a hallway leading to a series of rooms. The man ducked into the third room and almost as soon as he went in he and another man rushed back out and came running into the lobby. “I am Dr. Fredric Depau, Director of the historical society. My assistant said that you have something that I should see.”
“I found this down in the gorge,” the old man said. “It was sticking out of the wall, I just had to do a little digging and it came right out.”
He took the tablet and held it out for the man to see. Depau took it gently and looked at it…it did have two kinds of writing on it just as the old man thought. One was a Seneca Indian language that was used when the white men discovered the Niagara region so it was easily readable. The other was older…much older…possibly more than a thousand years old.
Depau looked at it for several minutes, analyzing it in his mind. He knew that he had seen the writing before but he had no idea what it said. “Oh my God,” Depau said as he slowly sank into a chair. “Do you know what you have here?
“I have no idea,” the old man replied.
“Man, you have found the holy grail and the Rosetta Stone,” Depau said while grasping the stone as hard as he could. “We can know what people have wanted to know ever since the first white man’s eyes set foot on the falls.”
“What does that mean,” the old man asked.
“My friend, you have found the key to a legend that has been told for a thousand years,” he said as his eyes darted back and forth between the texts. “This will answer a lot of questions.”
“What questions,” the old man asked.
“There was an animal skin scroll written more than a thousand years ago. It was found up by the falls but it was in a language that no one knew how to read. If I am right…using this we may be able to find out what that scroll has to say. If I am right you are going to be a very wealthy man…I can promise you that.” Then, after making a Xerox copy of the stone for the old man he had him write down his name, address and phone number.” I should be calling you in a couple of weeks to let you know what we found out.” The old man nodded in agreement, put the paper in his pocket and left for home.
For the next several weeks Depau looked and relooked, read and reread and, finally, he was able to make a somewhat accurate translation of the ancient scroll. It read, “Under the falling water lies a tunnel. If you enter you will walk a long way into the stones. There I placed my treasure…a treasure meant for my people after I have left this world. It was vague but at least there was a glimmer of hope that maybe…just maybe, the treasure was still there.
“Holy shit,” Depau yelled in a very un-academic tone. “We found it! We know where it is!” Immediately afterwards, rather after he calmed down enough, he got on the phone to set up a meeting at the University of Quebec. The meeting would involve him, academics from the university and the leaders of the Seneca Nation.
The meeting lasted about seven hours and when it was done there was a unanimous vote that an expedition would be launched to explore behind the falls and find out if, as they believed, there was a cave hiding treasure or if the entire thing was just a prank played several centuries before. The expedition was scheduled for the following week. It was to include Depau and five other scientists of different fields.
Finally the day came. Their first stop was to be at Table Rock where they all met and bowed their heads and said a prayer to The Lady of the Mist. They asked for her protection during their upcoming endeavor. Each tossed a silver dollar into the flowing water as a kind of blessing to the woman who was to protect them.
One by one they entered the elevator which would take them down below the falls. It took about three minutes to make the trip to the bottom. Donning raincoats they stepped out on the deck and as they looked up they finally saw the power that they were facing. There were more than 500,000 gallons flowing over top of them.
“Oh my God,” Depau said loud enough to be heard over the roar of the falls. “How in the hell are we supposed to get back in there?”
They all strained their eyes as they looked behind the falling water. There, hidden by the mist, was what could only be called the echo of a long unused footpath. It was badly beaten and covered with moss from side to side and from what they could view of it, it had large sections that were covered by rocks. Now, they were not the huge rocks that lay at the bottom of the American Falls. Rather, they were small to medium in size. Not too bad but they would make the trip challenging to say the least.
Depau took the first step. The rock was slippery but he managed to keep his balance. The others followed closely behind. Each slipped in the same spot and they kept their balance.
The roar of the water was deafening. They were caught between the water and the solid rock so the sound was even louder than it was when they were standing up on Table Rock. The mist in the closed area was thick…so thick that, even with their raincoats on, within seconds their clothes was soaked and their vision was cut down to just a couple of feet in front of them.
Step by step the measured each movement they made. All of them knew one thing…if they slipped and fell into the raging water there would be no chance to rescue them and that meant sure death. Maybe they were showing bravery, maybe it was common sense but they didn’t have ropes tied between each other. That way, if one fell the rest would not be pulled into the falls with them.
Their travel went slowly. Depau felt every inch of the rock wall. There were hundreds of cracks in the otherwise solid wall. Even though he could not be heard Depau said, “How are we supposed to find the cave, That rock has been beaten so long no wonder…” Just then he felt something that was more than a crack. They were about half way across the walls and Depau’s hand was touching …nothing. He looked, smiled and yelled,” It’s here! I think we found it!” The word passed from one member to the next and by the time it reached the end all of them were carefully jumping up and down and cheering.
There was a ledge outside of the hole. It was just big enough for Depau and a couple others to stand on. The rocks were moss covered and they saw ferns growing between some of the small cracks that had been formed. The scientists also noted that there was a strong wind blowing into the opening; it was strong but not strong enough where they would have trouble. They also noticed that it was a lot quieter that it had been for the last couple of hours.
Depau lead the group in. It was narrow but they were able to walk comfortably. Step by step they walked father into the tunnel. The light from the opening faded and the flashlights came out. The light revealed a cave of such beauty that no one could believe what they were seeing, Pink quartz, blue azure and gem stones lined the walls. The floor was covered with wood planks, rotten somewhat yes but still able to holds a man’s weight. The tunnel went on for more than a half a mile and by the time they reached the cavern they were nearly exhausted,
“At last,” Depau said as he entered the room. It looked like a cathedral. Stalactites hung from the ceiling. “This is so beautiful,” he said.
At last they were where they thought, according to the scroll, the treasure would be. They spread out and one of the scientists found a box. It was nearly rotted away but the sides still held what remained of the lid. Depau slowly lifted the lid and looked in. Inside was a single gold disk. Not big at all. It was about the size of a fingernail…worth about $150. They searched and searched for several hours but there was nothing else anywhere.
Yes, they were disappointed but yet the expedition was a glowing success. They didn’t find the massive treasure they were looking for but that disk…that little piece of gold proved that the legend was true. That was the most they wanted to achieve…they proved an unknown part of history.
The old man…they called him and told him that they did find gold and Depau kept his word. He paid the man half of what they had found…$71.94.
As far as anyone knows that old man still searches the walls of the Niagara escarpment. He has found a few artifacts but nothing as important as the one he found that afternoon in the valley of the whirlpool.
© Robert Taylor 2012 All Rights reserved