Wonder of Nature Located On Catawba- Explored By Many Persons In Past
From the 1938 centennial edition of The Times-Register
Up in the foothills of the Catawba valley there is one of the largest single caverns to be found in Virginia, but few residents of this county have ever penetrated this deep hole which has been known for ages as Murder Hole. It is but fifteen miles from Salem.
How this cavern got the name of Murder Hole has never been determined beyond dispute, but the supposition is that it was given this name by the early cattlemen. According to stories handed down from generation-to-generation settlers there in the first part of the nineteenth century were frequently missing cattle with no explanation apparent for their disappearance. Finally Murder Hole was found and an exploration of its pits revealed the bones of the missing cattle.
Mystery Is Hinted
This explanation seems to be reliable as to facts but some are of the opinion that the name “Murder Hole” is not appropriate for a place where cattle were lost and many people have wondered if some mysterious murder were not committed years ago with this hole used as a place to dispose of the body. However, no verification of such a tale has ever been made and the only thing that causes such an opinion is the awful sounding name “Murder Hole”.
About twenty years ago Dr. L. G. Pedigo was one of a party of five who explored all three caverns of this deep pit and they had a rather unique experience as few people have ever been to the bottom of the hole which is 250 feet below the surface.
Dr. Pedigo and party descended 130 feet to the bottom of the first chamber. To get down into the second chamber it was necessary to go down a “rat hole” passageway single file. For some reason or another this second chamber is known as the “fishmarket”. To get down into the third or bottom chamber it was necessary to go down the “Devil’s Slide” which is a straight drop of about 90 feet. This was done by using a rope. Here was found a large chamber which was 193 feet long, fifty feet wide and fifty feet high.
When the men got down this far under the earth they felt what appeared to be fresh air and they sought to find another outlet leading from the cavern but none was located.
It is said that since that adventure cave ins have made the descent from the first chamber practically impossible. For that reason the lower chambers have not been entered in recent years. At the bottom of this cavern Dr. Pedigo and his friends found a stalactite which was nine feet in diameter and thirty-six feet in height. A strange place is “Murder Hole”.
-Prepared by Lisa King