Is There a Vast Cavern System of Tunnels and Chambers
The Grand Canyon?
by Jack Andrews
First published at "Lost Civilizations and Hidden Mysteries" web site
- 21 - 2001
The search for answers to the mystery of the alleged 1909 "underground
"citadel" of tunnels and chambers, described by G. E. Kincaid as
existing in the Grand Canyon has lead me to read several books on caves
of the U.S. and the formation of caves, along with other aspects of
caves and caving, in the hope that the research might shed more light on
the possibility of such a massive underground "cavern-like" installation
described by Kincaid, even being possible in the Grand Canyon.
already known that the Grand Canyon area had many caves and tubes,
tunnels through rock and holes, etc., many of them described and first
located by veteran Grand Canyon hiker, Dr. Harvey Butchart.
I was not prepared (although not surprised) for the information I
discovered below, which hints at the possibility of a vast
interconnected system of caverns in the Kaibab and
areas of the Grand canyon. (The north and south rim top geologic
To me, this strengthens the case for
Kincaid's alleged discovery being a
modified cavern system, which is what I have maintained from the start
of my research. - Jack Andrews 2001
"...Those who dream of Butler Cave as potentially the world's largest,
however, must hasten. The explorers of Mammoth Cave and Flint
of Jewel Cave--are not the only teams on the verge of a breakthrough.
Missouri-Tennessee-few of our greatest cave areas today can be denied a
flickering chance at the title. And for those who dream of long shots
indeed, our most magnificent cave area beckons irresistibly: the Grand
"Perhaps in the purple shadows of the incomparable canyon there really
is no chance for a truly great cave system. So believe some experts.
Perhaps our hopes here are gossamer dreams, strung together with wishful
thinking. Here I claim no impartial judgment. My mind is hopelessly
influenced by the long intimacy with the timeless beauty of that
tranquil canyon. I have seen its magic pastels at moonrise over the
mile-high rim, suddenly dramatized by the weirdly luminous flutter of
bat wings. No caver brushed by such a spell is ever the same again.
"In this strange, magnificent country, much remains to be learned.
Sinking streams, an occasional natural shaft, and plateau-top sink-holes
tell of much more water vanishing underground than reappears in
canyon-bottom springs. Miles to the south, enormous sinks and remnants
of a throughway type of cave are evidence of sometime profuse
subterranean water flow. Fanning out from both rims of the mile-deep
canyon are vast plateaus capped with limestone 500 feet thick. Yet caves
seem few and tiny in these vast expanses of plateau-top limestone.
"The other massive limestones of the incomparable canyon lie 2,000
(feet) below. Above them are 1,500 feet of sandstone and shales which
ought to block the downward flow of the water essential for cave
development. Yet at this great depth occur the caves of the Grand
Canyon. In the blazing, rock-tiered canyon, foot travel is difficult and
progress slow. Still, cave after cave is coming to carbide light in the
purple-shadowed depths. Some are merely shallow alcoves, important only
for archeological content. Others are colossal natural sewers, dwarfed
only by their stupendous environs.
"Yet it is this often-scorned limestone of the plateaus which speeds the
pulses of American caverns. Just south of the Grand Canyon, fluorescent
chemicals introduced into a sucking 'earth crack' of the Coconino
Plateau have been traced to a 'breathing well' 24 miles away. Initial
calculations somewhat like those of Jewel Cave suggest a minimum air
volume here of more than 7 BILLION CUBIC FEET. Scientists of the famed
RAND CORPORATION suspect the presence of hundreds of miles of narrow,
interconnected caverns fissuring the vast plateau.
"Many a veteran caver may consider such a cavern system impossible.
Perhaps it is, but Arizona caverns have already performed the
impossible. In Sipapu Cavern, an earth crack near the
study site, they have descended 500 feet toward the massive cavernous
limestone deep below. In this locale the surface limestone is only 248
feet thick. Half of their descent was through supposedly non-cavernous
"If one of the rare dome-pits of the Kaibab Plateau intersects a
washed-out section of a fault zone draining to a North Rim stream cave,
a depth record will be within reach. Geologically such a circumstance is
hardly more than a pipe dream of an irrepressible caver overcome by the
magnificence of the Grand Canyon. But it may happen.
"Perhaps eager caverns plumbing the earth cracks of the
have little more chance than beneath the Kaibab. But if those caverns
can penetrate twice again as deeply as Sipapu Cavern, they will begin to
enter the limestone where great sewer caves may lie. If such do exist,
they may enlarge away from the great canyon rather than toward it. They
may not exist at all. Yet a cavernous network dwarfing that of Mammoth
and Flint ridges may be penetrable here. Some day obsessed caverns may
break through the Coconino sandstone barrier and the
underlie it. If that happens, those who follow in their footsteps may
emerge triumphant from obscure orifices deep in the heart of the Grand
"Even without such a triumph, even without knowledge of the hundreds of
undiscovered caves which must exist hidden in limestone recesses of the
mighty terraced depths, the Grand Canyon must be recognized as one of
America's great cave areas. To some, that recognition alone would be
achievement. Yet sunbaked canyon caverns have much in common with their
Appalachian fellows. Until every crack is penetrated, every hole
plumbed, spelunkers and speleologists alike will remain unsatisfied.
Fragile indeed are the spelean threads which weave together Sipapu
Cavern and Butler Cave, yet such are caverns'