Awesome or Off-Putting is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, aliens, medical marvels, scientific wonders, secret societies, government conspiracies, cults, ghosts, EVPs, myths, ancient artifacts, religion, strange facts, odd sightings or just the plain unexplainable.
On April 5th, 1909 The Phoenix Gazette ran a front page story that was pretty different from the one it printed the day before. It was also very different from any printed ever since it. It's about an explorer named G.E. Kinkaid, who happened upon an enormous cavern while boating solo down the Colorado River. In it lay the remains of an underground civilisation long since dead.
The article goes on to state that the Smithsonian – the museum-iest museum in all the world – was funding further exploration of it. And what did it find? Well, let us tell you…
G.E. Kinkaid is said to have been the first white man ever born in Idaho. He didn't waste his time working-away in a dusty potato field though – he became a big-time explorer. On one particular day he was floating down the Colorado River looking for minerals when he saw a cliff-side cave gaping there before him. He explains things far better than we could:
"I was journeying down the Colorado River in a boat, alone, looking for minerals. Some forty-two miles up the river from the El Tovar Crystal canyon, I saw on the east wall, stains in the sedimentary formation about 2,000 feet above the river bed. There was no trail to this point, but I finally reached it with great difficulty. Above a shelf, which hid it from view from the river, was the mouth of the cave. There are steps leading from this entrance some thirty yards to what was, at the time the cavern was inhabited, the level of the river. When I saw the chisel marks on the wall inside the entrance, I became interested, securing my gun and went in."
Now one might think upon entering the cave, Kinkaid might have found the city of crystal skulls – and you'd be almost right. He pretty much did find an old city – but the crystal skulls (which we told you about long before ol' G. Lucas) were being saved for Indiana Jones.
Instead, Kinkaid's city had mummies…:
"…I went back several hundred feet along the main passage till I came to the crypt, in which I discovered the mummies. One of these I stood up and photographed by flashlight."
"On all the urns, walls over doorways, and tablets of stone which were found by the image are the mysterious hieroglyphics, the key to which the Smithsonian Institute hopes yet to discover. The engraving on the tables probably has something to do with the religion of the people. Similar hieroglyphics have been found in southern Arizona. Among the pictorial writings, only two animals are found. One is of prehistoric type."
…weaponry not typical of ancient America…:
"Several hundred rooms have been discovered, reached by passageways running from the main passage, one of them having been explored for 854 feet and another 634 feet. The recent finds include articles which have never been known as native to this country, and doubtless they had their origin in the orient. War weapons, copper instruments, sharp-edged and hard as steel, indicate the high state of civilisation reached by these strange people."
…and a religious shrine:
"Over a hundred feet from the entrance is the cross-hall, several hundred feet long, in which are found the idol, or image, of the people's god, sitting cross-legged, with a lotus flower or lily in each hand. The cast of the face is oriental, and the carving this cavern. The idol almost resembles Buddha, though the scientists are not certain as to what religious worship it represents. Taking into consideration everything found thus far, it is possible that this worship most resembles the ancient people of Tibet."
Finding mummies and hieroglyphs may seem pretty strange – but it's far from the first time anything hinting of eastern origins has come to light in the States. Why, our first Awesome or Off-Putting ever talked about the Los Lunas stone – a multi-ton rock with the Ten Commandments etched in it. In Hebrew. Did we mention it was in Hebrew?
As far as the authenticity of Mr. Kinkaid's adventures – all that's really known is it was printed in the Phoenix Gazette. What appears to be an almost identical story ran on March 12, 1909. This story is said to be from the Arizona Gazette. There are actual photos of this article floating around the net today.
It may also be of interest to note that the Smithsonian denies any claims of their having funded a study of this nature. They have no documentation of it whatsoever. And the archaeologists' names which are associated with the search in the original articles – the museum also claims to have no record of their employ.
So it could all be a hoax. The exact location is unknown. Although Kinkaid gives an adequate location to one of the papers – "Some forty-two miles up [Colorado] river from the El Tovar Crystal canyon," no one seems able to find it today.
Though they may want to try using Google Earth. It's a fantastic tool, you know.