The Subterranean River Canyons of California
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The Subterranean River Canyons of California

Excerpt from branton's CAVERNS, DUNGEONS & LABYRINTHS:

Leon Davidson, in an early issue of 'FLYING SAUCERS' Magazine, spoke of a large network of "underground tunnels in the California desert, at Camp Irwin, near Barstow." This may tie-in with an item related by a Los Angeles municipal water director, as related in an early issue of Richard Toronto's SHAVERTRON letter-zine, stating that this water director knew of 5 large underground rivers which ran beneath the Mojave desert, and that die-traces showed that at least one of these emptied into the Pacific ocean through openings in the continental slopes (One source stated that such a river exited in the Gulf of California.

Other sources speak of a "Kokoweef" river-system which is alleged to lie below Kokoweef peak just east of FORT Irwin, which looked- -according to it's alleged discoverer, a Mr. Earl Dorr, and a few "Indians" who also claimed to have been in it--like a "Grand Canyon" underground. It allegedly consists of a river chasm generally 500 ft. wide and over a thousand feet high-deep, sided by steep tiered-shelved underground cliffs, huge stalactites and cataracts. Also, the alluvial sands on the 'beaches' along the river, which allegedly hold a large percentage of gold dust, are said to be several feet deep.

The entrance to this cavern was allegedly dynamited shut by Mr. Dorr to protect anyone else from getting to "his" gold. There is in fact evidence that Dorr did dynamite shut the lower level of 'Kin Sabe' cave in Kokoweef Peak, and there are present-day attempts to break through into this underground system. The water of the river allegedly rose and fell with the tides, suggesting that a very large body of water might exist upstream, that is if Dorr's account as well as the accounts of the Indians were not fabricated).

The municipal water director, according to the SHAVERTRON article, spoke with aman who claimed that he was hired several years ago by the government to look for water sources for Ft. Irwin. He alleged to have explored an old mine in the area and found that deep down, the shaft intersected with an ancient earth fault or chasm- like cave which continued horizontally for a considerable distance. This government employee followed the chasm and allegedly emerged onto the bank of a huge underground river-cave over a quarter of a mile wide! The tremendous water flow-- possibly originating from the waters that apparently disappear beneath the Great Basin, the Nevada and Mojave deserts?--could have 'fed' the water needs of all of Southern California.


The following excerpts are from branton's SECRETS OF THE MOJAVE - SECTION 2 & SECTION 3:

In 1962, a researcher by the name of Chuck Edwards released some of his own discoveries concerning what might be referred to as the 'Western Subsurface Drainage Network', which seems to cover parts of Utah, Nevada, and Southern California, where are located many drainage systems which do not ultimately flow into the Pacific ocean (via surface rivers, that is), but instead make their way underground into a vast subterranean drainage network. His letter appeared in issue A-8 of 'THE HIDDEN WORLD', one of the few specialized publications which grew out of the Palmer-Shaver controversy of 1940-45 which appeared in AMAZING STORIES science fiction/science fact magazine. The 'controversy' arose around Richard Shaver's claim's to have inside knowledge of two subterranean races which possessed aerial disks: the 'Deros' which have been variously described as a race of ancient out-of-control Atlantean robots, degenerate human troglodytes, or a race of reptilian non- humans (or all three) who were at war with another much more benevolent (and human) subterranean race known as the 'Teros'. The Deros were allegedly tormenting those on the surface of the earth through psychic attack and electronic mind control from their underworld lairs, in preparation for a possible future invasion of the outer world.

The answers to the aerial-subsurface mystery remained rather confused during the 'AMAZING STORIES-Shaver Mystery' period, possibly because of Shaver's perhaps well-intentioned but unwise attempt to inform the readers about the world beyond and the world below through science-fact-fiction stories (however, the readers were never clearly instructed as to where the fact ended and the fiction began), or because of editor Ray Palmer's attempts to 'occultize' many of Shaver's stories with his own mystic-occult philosophies, which Shaver accused him of doing.

So it was in the wake of this period that investigators like Mr. Edwards' were born. Some of the researchers of this period delved off into the metaphysical, seeking the answer to their questions from 'channeled' supernatural entities who tickled their egos, yet whose intentions and revelations could not be physically substantiated. The fact that many of these occultists ended up with severe emotional or psychotic problems -- in essence seeing a 'Dero' under every bed and degenerating into schizophrenic paranoid behavior -- would indicate that the greater majority of their 'sources' were no doubt astral or alien deceivers out to mislead these seekers after truth. Others however retained their intellectual and analytical sanity and, although not discounting the presence of evil influences, did not so easily open themselves up to their lies and misleading propaganda but set out to investigate the phenomena in a rational, sane, and intellectual manner. It is with this in mind that we quote from Chuck Edwards' letter (Note: These comments are addressed in a letter to Richard S. Shaver):

"This letter is in reply to your January 31 letter. Please forgive me for not answering sooner. Enclosed is some material I hope that you can glean something of value (from). Please be as candid as you have been in the past and if I am far off base don't hesitate to tell me...

"Our foundation has located a vast system of underground passages in the Mother Lode country of California. They were first discovered in 1936, ignored by all even with our best efforts to reveal them. Recently a road crew blasted out an opening verifying our claims. ONE (of the chambers is) 200 feet long, 70 feet wide and 50 feet high. We have disclosed what we believe to be a vast subterranean drainage system (probably traversing the Great American Desert country for a distance of more than 600 miles). We believe this system extends out like five fingers of your hand to such landmarks as Zion Canyon in Utah, the Grand Canyon, another runs south from the Carson Sink in Nevada and yet another follows (below) the western slope of the same range, joining it's counterpart and ending somewhere in the Mojave Desert. We believe, contrary to orthodox geologists, that the existence of this underground system drains all surface waters running into Nevada (none, with the exception of the Armagosa runs out) and accounts for the fact that it is a Great American Desert. The hairy creatures that you have written about have been seen in several of these areas. Certainly there has been much 'saucer' activity in these parts. For two years I have collected material pertinent to these creatures and if you have any opinions along these lines I would appreciate hearing them.

"So much for now. I hope that I am still your friend. Much of my time has been devoted (to) helping a farmer near Portland who has made a fantastic discovery of incredible stone artifacts. He has several tons of them. They predate anything yet found (or accepted), let us say that for now. We are making slow but steady progress in getting through the wall of orthodoxy. - Chuck Edwards."

Several years ago, subsurface researcher Richard Toronto reprinted a news article in his SHAVERTRON newsletter describing a Municipal Water Director in Los Angeles. This official talked with a man who said that he was hired by the government to look for underground water sources for Camp Irwin in California.

At one point the man and a partner came across an abandoned mine and decided to follow it to the bottom. Near the bottom he was surprised to discover an ancient earth-fault which was wide enough for him and his companion to enter. They traversed this fault for a good distance until they finally emerged into a huge river-cavern. To his surprise he saw before him a crystal pure underground river over a quarter of a mile wide which flowed through the passage and out of sight.

Since learning of this incident the Municipal Water Director claims to have 'discovered' at least five similar underground rivers. Some of these have allegedly been die-traced and were found to emerge from the continental slope below the surface of the oceans, and at least one of them into the Gulf of California.

This might confirm the allegations made by one anonymous retired Navy officer that the Navy has knowledge of a VAST system or labyrinth of aqua-caverns which meander beneath the surface of California and even into other western states, and that these watery labyrinths exit out into the oceans via huge entrances in the lower walls of the Continental Slope. One of the more extravagant claims is that some of these aqua-caverns are so large that they can be navigated by submarine, and that one nuclear submarine on a secret mapping mission in fact became lost within the maze and was never heard from again. Two American nuclear submarines have disappeared without explanation in the past, the U.S.S. SCORPION and the U.S.S. THRESHER. It is true that one woman who claimed to have had a very strong emotional bond with her husband who worked on the Thresher, insisted at the time that she just 'knew' that her husband was still alive after the 'disaster'. She said that she and her husband had such a spiritual-emotional connection that they always knew when the other was in trouble (For information on the Navy's investigations of the aqua-labyrinths via nuclear subs, etc., see: 'CALIFORNIA FLOATS ON OCEAN?'; article in the March, 1980 issue of John J. Williams' "REBEL MAGAZINE", which at the time was available from: Consumertronics Co., c/o John J. Williams. Pres., 2011 Crescent Dr., P.O. Drawer 537., Alamogardo, NM 88310). The 'Thresher' incidentally 'disappeared' on April 10, 1963 with a crew of 129 men under the command of John W. Harvey, USN.)

Researchers Will Carson and Jeannie Joy interviewed the woman mentioned above shortly after the disappearance. She said:

"...My husband was on the submarine Thresher when it disappeared. I don't consider myself a widow. I don't believe my husband is dead. No, it's not a matter of just not being able to believe it, to accept reality; I just can't get over the conviction that he's still alive somewhere. I love my husband very much. I know he loved -- loves me. We were very close. We could always tell when something was wrong with each other. Intuition, I guess. I should have felt something the instant there was trouble, if he was really in serious trouble and knew it -- a matter of life and death -- but I didn't."

"What do you believe really happened?" Carson and Joy asked the attractive young woman.

"Most people think I'm crazy when I say this, but I believe the Thresher was captured."

"By whom?"

"I can't say for sure, but there WAS a Russian submarine spotted near there that day (that is, near where it REPORTEDLY vanished 220 miles off Boston harbor) -- only I can't imagine how even the Russians could CAPTURE a vessel like the Thresher without leaving the slightest evidence!"

John J. Williams' source, the retired Navy officer (whose credentials Williams verified), stated that "an eccentric billionaire" (Howard Hughes!?) financed the false Thresher "recovery operation" to satisfy the public and the media.

( Note from Branton: I do not recall where I read this, but many years ago I read an article or letter written in a paranormal magazine or newsletter, by a woman. Near the time of the Thresher's disappearance she had a vivid 'dream' in which she saw a submarine with the words: "THE THRESHER IS THE REAPER" written on it's side... So, IF the above story is correct, and the husband DID survive, we might imagine that after a harrowing journey through the massive aquiferial labyrinth, the crew perhaps finally surfaced into one of the huge cavern systems which others have described as existing beneath California... caverns so vast that they are illuminated by a faint phosphorescent ilumination -- somewhat similar to the electromagnetic atmospheric glow or illumination which causes the polar 'borealis' lights... and, being unable to find their way back, they may have remained in this vast subterranean world and made a significant impact on it's inhabitants. If the woman's husband WAS still alive after the submarine entered this vast cavernous labyrinth -- this world within a world -- then they MUST have found some fantastic cavernous realm and became involved in adventures which would rival those in the most popular science fiction novels...)


The following additional details are taken from branton's SECRETS OF THE MOJAVE - SECTION 9:

William Halliday, in his book 'ADVENTURE IS UNDER- GROUND', records an affidavit submitted by a Mr. Earl P. Dorr, describing vast caverns he and an associate allegedly discovered and explored in Southern California. Portions of the sworn testimonial are quoted below:

"...These caverns are about 250 miles from Los Angeles, California. Traveling over state highways by automobile, the caverns can be reached in a few hours.

"Accompanied by a mining engineer, I visited the caverns in the month of May, 1927. We entered them and spent 4 days exploring them for a distance of between 8 and 9 miles. We carried with us altimeters and pedometers, to measure the distance we traveled, and had an instrument to take measure- ments of distance by triangulation, together with such instruments convenient and necessary to make observations and estimations.

"Our examinations revealed the following facts, viz:

"1. From the mouth of the cavern we descended about 2000 feet. There, we found a canyon which, on our altimeter, measured about 3000 to 3500 feet deep. We found the caverns to be divided into many chambers, filled and embellished with the usual stalactites and stalagmites, besides many grotesque and fantastic wonders that make the caverns one of the marvels of the world.

"2. On the floor of the canyon there is a flowing river which by careful examination and measurement (by triangulation) we estimated to be about 300 feet wide, and with considerable depth. The river rises and falls with the tides of the sea -- at high tide, being approximately 300 feet wide, and at low tide, approximately 10 feet wide and 4 feet deep. (Obviously this can only mean that, if this account is true, the "source" of the river is an underground reservoir large enough to be moved by the tides, "overflowing" into the river during the high tides and "receding" at low tide - Branton)

"3. When the tide is out there is exposed on both sides of the river from 100 to 150 feet of black beach sand which is very rich in gold values. The sands are from 4 to 11 feet deep. This means there are about 300 to 350 feet of rich bearing placer sand which averages 8 feet in depth. We explored the canyon sands a distance of 8 miles, finding little variation in the depth and width of the sands.

"4. I am a practical miner of many years' experience and I own valuable mining properties nearby which I am willing to pledge and put up as security to guarantee that the statements herein are true.

"5. My purpose of exploring the caverns was to study the mineralogy in order to ascertain the mineral possibilities and actualities of the caves, making such examination in person with my engineer necessary to determine by expert examination the character and quantity of mineral values of the caverns, rocks and sands.

"6. I carried out about 10 lbs. of the black sand and 'panned' it, receiving more than $7 in gold. I sold it to a gold buyer who offered me at the rate of $18 per ounce. 2 1/2 lbs. of this black sand I sent to John Herman, assayer, whose assay certificate shows a value of $2145.47 per [cubic] yard, with gold at $20.67 per ounce.

"7. From engineering measurements and observations we made, I estimated that it would require a tunnel about 350 feet long to penetrate to the caverns, one thousand feet or more below the present entrance, which are some 3 miles distant from my property.

"8. I make no estimate of even the approximate tonnage of the black sand, but some estimate of the cubical contents may be made for more than 8 miles and the minimum depth is never less than 3 feet. They are of varying depth -- what their maximum depth may be we do not know. -- Sworn by E. P. Dorr., 309 Adena St., Pasadena, Calif., November 16, 1934."

It is interesting that the "source" of this river would be some- where within or beneath the great western desert of Utah-Nevada- California where little surface water escapes by way of streams and rivers. Halliday in his book also refers to a water-filled cave annexed to Death Valley, known as "Devil's Hole", which according to some sources rises and falls slightly with the tides! This may indicate that certain underground water-courses below the Mojave Desert might ultimately connect with extensive underground lakes or small underground fresh-water seas. Whether this theory proves accurate or not remains to be seen... after future adventurous 'Speleonauts' make their way once again into Dorr's secret caverns and toward the SOURCE of the 'alleged' underground river.

"Devil's Hole" itself contains a rare species of cave-fish found no-where else in the world (at least nowhere that marine biologists are aware of). It is reported that at least two divers disappeared in this apparently 'bottomless' aqua-cave some years ago, leading officials to put the cave under government protection by making it an extension of Death Valley National Monument -- much of which lies well BELOW sea level. The existence of, or the possibility of the existence of, such underground 'seas' beneath the California- Nevada regions seems to be supported by other accounts. During the 'Shaver Mystery' years Ray Palmer received a letter from a reader describing Earl Dorr's cave. This letter stated that three Paiute Indian boys had, with the help of a 'treasure map', extracted $50,000 worth of gold from these caverns, which they kept in the bank at Needle's, California. Their project was halted when one of the boys slipped from one of the lowest 'rock tiers' and died.

We will now quote from William R. Halliday's professional observations of the claims made in Dorr's affidavit, as they appear in his book 'ADVENTURE IS UNDERGROUND':

"...What is the gimmick?

"This was probably the question in the mind of every reader of the CALIFORNIA MINING JOURNAL when this affidavit appeared in it's November, 1940, issue. The question still arises whenever a caver first hears the remarkable story of this still more remarkable cave. Furthermore, the answers to the other obvious questions are not those which might be anticipated.

"'Is this just an imaginary cave?' No, the cave certainly exists. I have been in it.

"'Did Dorr keep it's location secret?' No. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people know it's exact location, high on the side of Kokoweef Peak in the Mojave Desert.

"'Has anyone tried to find this river of gold?' Yes, indeed. The prosperous Crystal Cave Mining Corporation owns the property. "'Then what is the gimmick?' That's quite a tale.

"The beginnings of the story of the cave of gold are shrouded in the mists of the minds of old-timers. For a long time, prowling prospectors have known of the existence of the wide mouth of a deep cavern on the limestone flank of a peak which forms part of the east face of IVANPAH VALLEY -- Kokoweef Peak. Even though only four miles by dirt road from the highway between LOS ANGELES and LAS VEGAS, the area was so desolate that, in the 1920's, weeks might elapse without the passing of more than an occasional prospector and his burro. The opening of the cavern was several feet in diameter and the cave was obviously much larger farther down. There were local stories that it was bottomless, although it took 'only a few seconds' for a rock to strike 'bottom'.

"Then someone found a narrow crack leading to ANOTHER cave, high on the east face of the peak. Maybe it was Dorr. The stories vary. One version repeats the common story of two Indians with a treasure map, which in this case was supposed to have showed the entrance to the cave. Dorr was well known in the area, having a claim across the valley, several miles southwest of Kokoweef Peak. Like any experienced prospector, he certainly prowled every ledge of the area. In any event, the new cave seemed even deeper than Kokoweef Cave. Like at least seven other caves in California, it eventually became known as Crystal Cave.

"Later, in 1934, another old prospector, Pete Ressler, was resting near the bottom of the southwest slope of the barren peak. He idly tossed a rock into a crack. To his surprise it rattled back and forth for a long time until the sound died away into the depths. He strapped his load on his burro and headed for Mountain Pass Station for dynamite.

"'What do you think it is, Pete?' the men at the station asked him.

"'Quien sabe?' he shrugged.

"Pete's Spanish, however, was horrible. It sounded like 'Kin Savvy' or 'Kin Sabe,' and this name stuck to the cave he dynamited open. It wasn't much of a cave. It slanted downward, but was filled with rubble (rubble from the dynamite blasts? - Branton) to a level not far below the entrance. Old Pete dropped out of the story. Dorr is the main character.

"Dorr must have been a strange person. No one else was particularly interested in the caves, but soon he was telling of an enormous cavern into which he was gradually making his way, trip after trip. The main part of the cave was a series of vertical drops from one small chamber to another. In several areas there were small, dry pools which contained sharp little crystals. From one of the small rooms a tight tunnel led a relatively short distance to a huge cavern containing a chasm 3,000 feet deep. He told of a stalactite 1,500 feet long (Note: Both Kokoweef and Door peaks are near the SW flank of the Ivanpah Mts., just south of Highway 91. Dorr alleged that he and his engineer, following the upper rock 'tiers', discovered a huge cataract or waterfall cascading down the side of the 'canyon' below what they judged to be Dorr Peak. They allegedly followed the upper 'shelves' for 8 miles. According to a map of the caves drawn by Herman Wallace Jr., under the personal instruction and supervision of Earl Dorr, the length of the 'stalactite' was given at only 500 feet long -- although this would still make it the largest "known" stalactite in the world at this writing -- and was located adjacent to the underground waterfall which flowed into the underground river at the bottom of the canyon as one of its many tributaries. - Branton).

"The cavern went on for miles. He had walked to the brink of the chasm, but had not found a way to it's bottom. There were places where air came into the cavern, so other caves on the peak must open into it. And there ought to be an entrance somewhere on his claim, too. That was the direction the cave headed.

"Before long Dorr was claiming to have found a way down the wall of the subterranean canyon. Down below the wonders were even greater. He had found great deposits of placer gold. By this time he had the other old-timers half convinced. Still, THEY weren't going into that awful-looking hole for all the gold in the U.S. Mint.

"One day in 1928 Dorr again told his friends that he was going into the cave for another trip. Two days passed, three, four. His friends became worried. Gold would not tempt them to go into the cave, but they were his friends and the code of the desert is stern. Dorr might be trapped there, hurt, dying. A rescue party climbed to the mouth of the cave, where Dorr's ropes were still fixed.

"Hardly had they all entered the cave when they met a raging Dorr they hardly know. Although disheveled and wild-eyed, he was obviously in no need of rescuing. Nervously they shrank away from his needless fury. Had he gone mad from his long stay underground? (More likely it was the dreaded 'gold fever' which has affected the minds of men throughout the centuries and has often motivated them to acts of irrational cruelty - Branton) They were trying to help him, yet he was accusing them of trying to steal his gold.

"Before they quite understood, they felt the dull impact of a HEAVY charge of dynamite. Then Dorr calmed down. 'You'll never get it now,' he smirked.

"'That blast finished the tunnel to the river of gold.' (Interesting Note: Halliday himself claims to have seen within this cave, along with several National Speleological Society or NSS members, the name of DORR written in black miner's lamp soot near what appeared to be a black line left by a dynamite fuse, below which was a plugged area of shattered rock - Branton)

"We do not know whether Dorr was ever convinced that his friends were only trying to rescue him. For several years he was a familiar figure in the Mojave Desert. Continually he attempted to persuade people to run a tunnel into the cave of gold from the lower slopes of Kokoweef Peak. He would go shares with them. If they were willing to pay for the tunnel, they could have part of the profits.

"On this basis few investors were willing to consider the project. Finally, however, a small group headed by a Los Angeles capitalist was willing to speculate on Dorr's proposition. First, they tried the easy expedients. Kin Sabe Cave was the most accessible. Dorr thought it connected with the great chasm.

"They installed an inclined railway track and began to remove the rubble which filled it. Before long they had quite a respectable cave, 125 feet deep, but the air in it was completely stagnant. Over Dorr's protests, they abandoned the attempt. If there was an entrance to the great cavern from Kin Sabe, it was too deep to bother with, at least until all easier possibilities had been investigated.

"Next they turned their attention to Kokoweef Cave, the first cavern discovered on the peak. A road was built to a nearby ledge and a short tunnel was drilled, connecting the bottom of the cavern to the surface of the peak. Again, much rubble was removed without encountering the true bottom. Operations were in full swing when someone discovered a mineral vein in the wall of the peak a few dozen yards from the tunnel. It was zinc, and high- grade ore. Because of the war zinc was at a premium. The Crystal Cave Mining Company promptly went into the zinc business. Dorr was disgusted. He abandoned the project. Occasionally someone would hear of him, still telling his story of prowling the hills near his old claim, still seeking another entrance to the cave of gold..."

According to 'Sasquatch Researcher' Virginia Louis Swanson, 'Devil's Hole,' in Death Valley National Monument, NE of Death Valley Junction, CA., has been the scene of at least one disappearance. According to Swanson, two boys entered the cave several years ago and were never seen again. Navy scuba diver's were lowered on cables and reported seeing a large river which roared up from below, flowing across a wide expanse. They could not estimate it's depth because of a myriad of colonnades of black rock through which the river flowed before plunging once again down an abyss. The cave is somewhere NEAR 'Devil's Hole' (which is still open to public view, although 'fenced in'), and was allegedly sealed shortly after the disappearance.

It is interesting that Vincent Bugliosi, in his book HELTER SKELTER (pp. 232-233, 246) refers to Charles Manson, who believed that his 'mission' was to start a race war called 'Helter Skelter', then hide with his so-called 'family' in an underground area near the Mojave Desert called the 'Bottomless Pit', and then emerge after the 'war' was over and rule the world. Once version states that the Manson "family" had met with "strange people" out in the Mojave desert. Was he "programmed"? Manson was also convinced that he was Adolph Hitler's illegitimate son.

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