Am not related. May be of interest to someone who is or cavers. More newspaper extracts may be found at URL:
Transcribed by Dee Sardoc
>>FRIDAY, 24 APR 1863<<
‘PLUTO’S CAVE’ Near Shasta Butte --
[signed] Geo. W. TYLER, Stockton, April 22d, 1863
Editors ‘Independent’ -- While at Yreka a few days since, I learned that a man by the name of (Ed Note: Nelson) CASH, while hunting stock in the vicinity of Shasta Butte, had discovered the entrance to a large cave, and in company with Elijah HEARD, Esq., who lives in Shasta Valley, I went out and partially explored it; and with your permission I will give you a very plain statement of what I saw:
The entrance to the cave is about 3 miles up on the rise towards the Butte, on the north side, and probably 500 feet above the valley. The cave runs from the Butte, towards the valley, and varies but little in its course from a straight line. The opening is about 8 or 10 feet high, and 20 or more in width, and immediately at the entrance inclines downward at an angle of 45 degrees. 30 or 40 feet from the entrance you come to where the floor is level, and the roof 24 feet high. You pass through this arch for 60 feet or more, and come to a space of perhaps a hundred feet, where the earth has fallen in from below. After passing over this space you enter another cavern, larger than the 1st, and a hundred feet in length, when you come to another open space, 40 or 50 feet in extent and formed in the same way. Passing over this space you enter another cavern, 2 or 300 feet in length, 40 feet wide and the same in height, the walls perpendicular and beautifully arched overhead. Passing through this you come to another open space about 40 feet across, after passing which you enter what we will call *the cave proper.* The entrance to this is at least 30 feet high and as many wide, and the size and arch as far as the daylight extended was about the size and height of the arch last described. Near the entrance of the cave proper, we found a number of heads of the mountain sheep, tracks of the California lion, and many other animals; and just inside the cave we found the nests of a number of large owls, the sticks and excrement under which gave proof of their having used them perhaps for centuries. Lighting our candles we started into this dark abyss on an exploring expedition. We soon lost all glimmer of daylight, and groped our way onward by the aid of our candles only.
In some places the arch overhead was so high that we could hardly distinguish its outlines with our 2 candles and would so continue for hundreds of feet; and at other times the arch would not be over 15 or 20 feet high. After we had been in there about 15 minutes my companion complained of faintness and declared if he could not get fresh air he should suffocate. I experienced no inconvenience myself and after waiting a few minutes, he having recovered somewhat from his faintness, we started on. Up to this point the air had been perfectly calm inside, but soon after starting on the wind commenced blowing into the cave so hard as to threaten the extinguishment of our candles. We stopped and rested for some little time at this point, and refreshed ourselves with a lunch prepared for the occasion. At this place the arch is very high, and huge masses of rock filled the cavern almost to the ceiling. I crawled through under the rock and my companion over it, and when I was down underneath I had to put my candle in the lantern to keep it from being extinguished. When we arrived on the other side, say 40 or 50 yards further on, the wind blew from the cave outward, and seemed to suck down under the rocks. My opinion is that there is another cavern, the entrance to which is under these rocks and into which the air sucks, causing the wind we experienced. Just at this point we found a flat rock about 10 feet across, with stones piled by hand around the edges, and upon which several pieces of wood were lying, and in the centre a heap of ashes. It was perfectly evident that a fire had been built there by some one, but from the appearance I should judge that it might have been centuries ago. The air inside the cave is dry, and we did not find a drop of water anywhere on the sides of the cave, to indicate that the air was ever damp. After leaving this spot we passed on and on, how far I had no means of knowing, until at last we came to a place where the cave pitched downward on an angle of about 30 degrees and the falling rock from above had completely filled the arch. Our candles by this time had begun to burn low, and as we could get no further without crawling or perhaps breaking away the rock, we concluded to get back to daylight as quick as possible. We started out and walked as fast as we could from the nature of the pavement we had to walk over, which a great portion of the way was rocky and rough, and we were just 35 minutes in walking from there to the entrance of the cave proper, and 45 to the place where we had first entered.
We estimated the distance explored by us to be from a mile and a half to 2 miles, including the openings. I judge that we did not come to the end of the cave, from the looks of the rocks when we turned back, and from the further fact that in going into the cave we saw the tracks of thousands of little animals, about the size of squirrels, which were running on ahead of us, none of which we saw, and which I think we should have seen if we had come to the end of the cavern. I will not attempt to describe the cave in a geological point of view, as I do not feel myself competent to do so intelligibly; and as I know Professor WHITNEY is going to visit Shasta Butte and vicinity during the coming summer, and will undoubtedly visit this cave and give the result of his observations to the public, I deem it unnecessary to make the attempt. As we were the 1st explorers, of course we had the right to give the cave a name, and we christened it ‘Pluto’s Cave.’ The reasons why, with a description of the country, and some directions as to the best route in visiting the cave and other objects of interest in the vicinity, I reserve for a future communication.