P.O. Box 1942
Provo, Utah 84603
Dear Mr. Wilborn;
The longer I search into the mystery of ETIDORHPA the more I am convinced of its possible truth, and not just a novel of " metaphysical fiction " as many would label it. I have recently come across two different accounts of people who actually undertook their own searches for this cave, and their findings, as well as a few of my own have given me clues which I believe give the exact location of the entrance referred to in ETIDORHPA. I believe that the spring cave mentioned in ETIDORHPA was none other than PUCKETT SPRING southeast of Salem, Kentucky. Salem is not far at all from Lola, where I first suspected the entrance was located ( and where there yet may be some kind of entrance, in the large sink fields there).
The major clue which locates the entrance at Puckett Spring appeared several years ago in the SHAVER MYSTERY LETTERZITNE; it was a short written account of one of the staff members who went to Kentucky in search of the Etidorhpa entrance, where he heard stories of other people ( Masons ) who tried to enter the spring. I am enclosing this account which was written by Eddie Rietz. The account mentions the spring, but does not give it a name. I connected Mr. Rietz's cave to Puckett Spring after receiving the following information from an individual
who I will only refer to as M.D., who happens to be one of the most noted speleologists in the country. I have edited the following from a few of his communications with me:
"...Not all that much has been done in Livingston Co., and undoubtedly there are quite a few caves there we don't know about. I do have a few leads around Lola, which were furnished a few years ago by R.T. and the P.T. ( a caving club in the western Kentucky area- Bruce). The only one I've personally visited is what you would call a " 3-D maze ", near the W. C. Kitchen residence, along Rte. 133, in the Wallace Spring-Jamison Hill neighborhood ( south side of Turkey Creek ). This is quite an interesting cave, which we want to map one of these days. There is also a small " breakdown " cave nearby. The only other semidefinite lead is supposed to be on the Bob
Williams place, a couple kilometers WNW (?) of Lola. According to R.T., there may be another maze cave of some kind here, and possibly one or two small caves. That's about it, as far as we know."
I have intentionally left out the exact identities of M.D. and other individuals and groups who provided this information, as they are professionals in their fields and may not wish to be associated to any " pseudo-speleological " rumors such as those surrounding the Etidorhpa story. M.D. continues:
" If you are at all familiar with the geology of Livingston Co. and surroundings, you probably know that numerous faults cross the region. There's only sketchy evidence to date on how these faults relate to caves, for better or worse. Much more investigation needs to be done.
You may be aware that there are several caves closer to Smithland, notably Moody's (or 'Sweet Potato') Cave, a maze of considerable extent.
There are also a number of known caves around Salem, a few miles south-east of Lola. Not all the "leads" I know have been checked, at least carefully.
Shelby cave, once known as Hodge Cave, appears in the Dycusburg quadrangle just west of Puckett Spring. (Note: Eddie Rietz claimed that there was a large cave called "Hodge" cave very near the Spring which he investigated- Bruce). It (Hodge) certainly does have an impressive entrance and segment of " borehole " passage, although it doesn't seem to go far. The fossil trunk is intersected by a sizable stream; this has little air-space but could perhaps be pushed some distance either way if water levels are low enough. This cave was reportedly surveyed fifteen or so years ago by the grotto ( i.e. caving club ) which was then active at M.S.; their map hasn't been located. I also have vague information about a "Dry Creek Cave" and a "Dry Cave" just West or North of Hodge. Whether there may be two caves or only one is unclear.
There is definitely a cave at Puckett Spring, which I recognized several years ago. The entrance isn't through the spring itself but a small pit behind the spring, by the road fork. It was covered with logs at the time I visited it. The cave contains deep water and inner tubes are desirable. We explored a few rooms but the cave didn't appear to 'go'- at least without scuba gear. (This was in the fall and water must've been quite low.) I'm pretty sure the stream comes from Hodge Cave..."
This appears to tie the two accounts (Eddie Rietz and M.D ) together, and the mention of the " Masons " by Rietz and the entry pit which someone had apparently covered with logs, mentioned by M.D., which he discovered above or behind the spring does seem to tie in very well with the original story which appears in ETIDORHPA. Perhaps further clues will come to light as time, and our search goes on.
The other account describing a search for Etidorhpa was an article which appeared in the Dec. 1963 issue of SEARCH Magazine. Written by John H. Hart, it was titled "I SEARCHED FOR ETIDORHPA" and relates the outcome of his investigations of a cave near Smithland, Kentucky. The cave he visited was most likely "Sweet Potato" cave mentioned above, as the topographs of that area show the existence of a mine (silver) above the cave, which was also mentioned in Hart's account.