With gratitude to
for his own efforts at finding
this cave and our combined effort to solve this mystery.
An Analysis on the Probable
Location of an "Underground Citadel"
Alleged to be in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, Arizona,
according to a "Phoenix
(Arizona) Gazette" front page news story dated "April 5, 1909"
First published June 27, 2001 at: "Lost Civilizations and Hidden
Exploration and Imagination with Jack Andrews and
I have known of this location
I have held the secret since
I feel it is the proper time
to reveal the location.
Jack Andrews June 27,
by Jack Andrews
A front page story which ran in the "Phoenix
(Arizona) Gazette", a major Arizona newspaper of the era, dated April 5,
1909, began with the headline, "Explorations in the Grand Canyon"
"Mysteries of the Immense Rich Cavern being brought to Light" "Jordan is
enthused" "Remarkable finds indicate ancient people migrated from the
The story tells of a lone explorer, G. E. Kincaid, described as "an
explorer and hunter all his life" and "thirty years having been in the
service of the Smithsonian Institute", who was traveling
alone, down the Colorado river, in a wooden boat, in search of "mineral".
Mr. Kincaid claimed to have seen "stains in the sediment" on the east
wall of the canyon gorge he was traveling through. He most likely landed his
boat, and made his way up the east side of the canyon, and over a "shelf",
then walked past "steps" to the "mouth of a cave" entrance. He went inside
the entrance and discovered hallways, rooms, "mummies" "copper objects" and
various other "artifacts" along with what appeared to him at the time to be
"hieroglyphics" of an "Egyptian" or "Oriental" type.
This is just a brief
description of what he found and saw. The rest of the story goes on to
relate how the Kincaid carried a few artifacts back to Yuma Arizona
and then sent them off to Washington (presumably to the Smithsonian,
although he did not say that specifically) who then went on to further
investigate the site under the supervision of "S. A. Jordan" and a
group of archaeologists a "group" that eventually was to amount to
30-40 persons. It is important to note here that S. A. Jordan
was NOT named as a Smithsonian employee. The article only
says he "supervised" the explorations.
For the purposes of this analysis, I will try not speculate or go into
reasons I may have to determine whether or not Mr. Kincaid's story is
true or false. That separate subject I have dealt with at: Lost City
of the Dead in the Grand Canyon.
My purpose in this writing is to determine as best as I possibly can, from
Mr. Kincaid's own words, and my own other experience and research,
where the alleged "cave" and subsequent "citadel" might have
been located (or "is" located, if it actually exists or still
exists) in Grand Canyon National Park.
I will determine what I think is the most likely location based on evidence
gained from Mr. Kincaid's own description of the location, my
knowledge of the Grand Canyon from twenty one hikes below it's
rims, my extensive reading and research on the Grand Canyon,
elevation data of the area from USGS topographic maps, mileage
distances on the Colorado river, historical "place names" in the Grand
Canyon, and geological "layers" in the Grand Canyon,
along with various other sources of research, some of which are listed at
the end of this writing in my "References and Notes".
I will attempt to make a case for it's location at a relatively specific
point in the Marble Canyon area of Grand Canyon
National Park, adjacent to and possibly including a portion of the Navajo Indian Reservation, (the underground portion of the caverns)
in north eastern Arizona. I will quote G. E. Kincaid's own words on
the location as published in the "Gazette" story and add my
reasons under each quote for my interpretation of his words and how they
describe what I deduced to be the location back in 1972 and still believe is
the location today.
"First I would impress that the cavern is nearly inaccessible"
G. E. Kincaid, (Phoenix/Arizona Gazette,
This implies that the location is very difficult to reach (at least in 1909
when Kincaid described it). I agree that the location would have been
difficult to reach in 1909, and also, would be difficult (although less
difficult than in 1909) to reach today. The location below the cave itself,
is in a deep river gorge (Marble Canyon) accessible by either
arriving there in a boat or float trip, or on foot from the rim of the
Little Colorado river gorge, on the Navajo reservation. One
could also hike from the Tanner Trail, or down the North Rim Nankoweap
trail, cross the Colorado River (illegally) and walk the east bank
to a point across from Kwagunt Rapids.
The most practical hike
would involve some scrambling down steep areas of the "Hopi
Salt Trail" in the canyon gorge of the Little Colorado River,
then hiking several miles westerly to the confluence of the Colorado and
Little Colorado rivers in the Grand Canyon proper. (Marble Canyon) Then the
trip would necessitate a relatively level hike along the Colorado river in a
northern direction for several more miles. In 1909 these options would have
been considerably more difficult, either boating to the location in a hard
shell boat (as Kincaid did), or hiking there on foot. The rigid boats
of the period around 1909 were much more hazardous in the Grand Canyon's
rapids than their modern equivalents, inflatable rafts.
Also, in 1909 trails
to the site would have been less known and less frequently traveled, making
a hiking trip to the location much more hazardous. One could, in theory
attempt a rim down climb to the area near the cave.
I am strongly against ANY attempt to get to the cave, from the
rim, or below, since such attempts would be EXTREMELY dangerous.
I do not recommend or condone or even suggest any such attempt
by writing this article or by ANY information posted on this
entire web site. All approaches to the "cave" area are very
dangerous and again, I do not condone, support or suggest that
anyone make any such attempt to get to this cave, by writing
this article, and explicitly advise against any such attempts.
Also it is illegal to enter most caves in the Grand Canyon,
unless it is properly sanctioned by Grand Canyon National Park.
I do not support condone or suggest ANY entry of ANY cave in the
Grand Canyon or on the Navajo Reservation. Please respect the
sensitivity of the area and if you travel there, tread lightly
and obtain the proper permits. The Grand Canyon is a sacred
place, please treat it as such. - Jack Andrews June 27,
"The entrance is 1,486 feet down the sheer canyon wall"
G. E. Kincaid, (Phoenix/Arizona Gazette,
This alone shows that the "cave" entrance would be difficult
to get to and would most likely involve rock climbing skills and be very
dangerous. Cliffs such as this are common in Marble Canyon and
vertical cliffs are also common near the river in this area. Kincaid's
1,486 feet is also an important elevation marker in determining the location
of this site. I have been to the area above the three mile stretch of the
canyon, where the cave most likely exists, and as you can see from the photo
below, the cliffs just below the rim are very steep and impassable on foot.
Original Photo Courtesy Steve
Wingate copyright 2000
"I was journeying down the Colorado river
in a boat, alone, looking for mineral. Some forty-two miles up the river
from the El Tovar Crystal canyon..."
G. E. Kincaid, (Phoenix/Arizona Gazette,
Here Kincaid states that he was "journeying "down" the Colorado
river." "Down" a river (any river) is generally, if not nearly
always construed to mean "with the current of the river." This usage of the
word "down" has been confirmed by my conversations and correspondence with
river runners, historians and in particular, Colorado river runners.
Kincaid then goes on to use the term "up the river." "Up" the river is
the opposite of "down" the river and generally construed to mean "against
the current of the river" This has also been confirmed by the above sources.
These terms would not generally be confusing in everyday conversation about
a boat moving along a river, but I clarify them here because they are
critical terms in determining Kincaid's stated location of the cave.
The Colorado river runs from a northeastern location in Marble Canyon, in a south and southwestern direction, down through
the Grand Canyon proper. The current runs from north to south
in the area Kincaid describes.
So I will assume with some accuracy
that Kincaid was traveling "down" the river through the Grand
Canyon, in a south to southwestern direction. I will also assume
that when he stated "up the river", he was referring to a location against
the current, or north to northeast of his given reference point. ("El
Tovar Crystal Canyon")
Kincaid in refers to the location of the "cave" as
being a certain distance from "El Tovar Crystal Canyon". The
name, "El Tovar" originated historically from "Don Pedro Tovar",
one of the Spanish explorer Coronado's captains, who in August of
1541 was sent to explore the Cebolla "country", located in the
province of Tusayan. (north eastern Arizona near the Hopi lands) Tovar found the "Moqui" (Hopi)
villages whose inhabitants informed him that there existed a "great river"
several days journey to the north. (The Colorado of the Grand Canyon)
Tovar reported this back to Coronado who sent Captain Cardenas
to "seek the great river".
Cardenas eventually reached the river and
the great cliffs of the Grand Canyon (yet to be named "Grand").
Some of his party tried to cross the great gap of the canyon and failed,
unable to get down the sheer walls and steep slopes of the canyon.1
Cardenas has thus been granted the historical distinction of
being the first non Native American ("European") to see the Grand
For purposes here I am concerned with Kincaid's use of the term
"El Tovar" in reference to "Crystal Canyon." I highly suspect that
Kincaid is referring to the El Tovar Hotel on the South rim of
the canyon, in Grand Canyon Village. This grand hotel was built on the rim
of the canyon between the years of 1903 and 1905. On January 14, 1905 El
Tovar Hotel opened to the public.
In the Phoenix (Arizona) Gazette article
of April 5, 1909 it is stated that Kincaid "brought the story" of the
"underground citadel" "to the city" (Phoenix and the Gazette)
"yesterday" (April 4, 1909) after having "discovered" the site "several
months ago". This would imply that Kincaid discovered the
citadel in 1908 or 1909. I now know that he most likely
discovered the site in October of 1908. It is possible then that he knew of
the El Tovar Hotel (opened in 1905) and could have been referring to the
hotel's name in reference to "Crystal Canyon".
The mouth of Crystal Canyon (Crystal Creek actually) should be visible
from a window of the hotel, or somewhere near the hotel (a rim viewpoint)
and Kincaid simply used the Hotel as a reference point that readers
of the Gazette could relate to, since the hotel was a brand
new feature and a prominent place to stay at the rim. The middle to upper
reaches of the Crystal Creek canyon area should be visible
from El Tovar Hotel (see map below) .
In any case, the only other modern public
structure currently anywhere near Crystal Creek is Phantom Ranch, and that was built in 1922 several years after
Kincaid's discovery and the appearance of the Phoenix (Arizona) Gazette
article. The El Tovar hotel seems to be be the nearest publicly known
reference point to Crystal Creek (canyon) that the readers of
the Gazette could relate to, and it was probably used in that
regard, by Kincaid as a reference point for the general public.
importance of "El Tovar Crystal Canyon" is that it most likely refers
to Crystal Creek and it's surrounding canyon. In an extensive
search of the Grand Canyon area, referring to historical
journals, several historic and modern maps, hiker's guides, rangers, Grand
Canyon historians, Grand Canyon Place Names and numerous other sources, I am
unable to turn up any reference to "El Tovar" Crystal Canyon.
The only other location that comes near to the
name "Tovar" is "Tobar Terrace" further west in the Grand Canyon,
but "Tobar" Terrace is bordered on the east by "Blacktail Canyon"
and on the west by "One Hundred and Twenty Two Mile Creek". Both names are
not even remotely near the name "Crystal Canyon" referred to
by Kincaid in 1909.
Various sources agree that the reference most
likely refers to the canyon in which Crystal Creek flows, a
side canyon off of the Colorado river in the heart of Grand Canyon. I agree that Kincaid was most likely referring
to "Crystal Creek" and it's associated canyon at mile 98 on the
Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, especially since "Crystal
Creek" is commonly labeled on Grand Canyon maps, and maps
dated to the period when Kincaid traveled the river.
1903 map showing Crystal
This map would have been
available to G. E. Kincaid
Designated points along the Colorado river in
the Grand Canyon are referred to with numbers such as "mile
98" above. These points reference a distance on the Colorado river
from Lee's Ferry, Arizona, a common starting point for many Colorado
river float trips. Crystal Creek. The most likely candidate
for Kincaid's "El Tovar Crystal Canyon", and it is at is at
"Some forty-two miles up the river from the El Tovar Crystal canyon"
G. E. Kincaid,
Subtracting 42 miles from mile 98 leaves mile 56. Remember that "up
the river" is "against the current" and in the Grand Canyon, this
means up toward Lees Ferry. Mile 56 is at Kwagunt Creek
or Kwagunt rapid, in Marble Canyon.
Map of Grand Canyon National
Park showing Kincaid's "42 miles" as a red line on the river.
by Jack Andrews 2000
Marble Canyon got it's name from
Major John Wesley Powell, who in August of 1869, wrote in his journal
about "cliffs of marble" which contained "a great number of caves".
It is important to note here Powell stated that Marble Canyon
contained "a great number of caves". The "citadel"
Kincaid speaks of in his story is in a "cave".
Powell's time many caves have been noted or discovered in the Marble
Canyon area, including Stanton's Cave, a large cave in the
Redwall formation at mile 31.7 and an important archaeological site
Stanton's cave in Marble
Canyon, Grand canyon, Arizona
"Marble Gorge" Canyon or gorge in Colorado river
between mouths of Paria and Little Colorado, so named by
Major Powell 1869. "We have cut through the sand stones and limestones
met in the upper part of the canyon and through one great bed of marble a
thousand feet in thickness. So we call it 'Marble Canyon. It is 651/2
miles long. "Powell". Dellenbaugh writes: "As the formation
was mainly a fine-grained gray marble, Powell concluded to call this
division by a separate name and gave it the title Marble Canyon."
"Some forty-two miles up the river from the El Tovar Crystal
canyon, I saw on the east wall, stains in the sedimentary formation..."
G. E. Kincaid, (Phoenix/Arizona Gazette,
At mile 56 (Kwagunt creek and rapid) the Marble
canyon and Colorado river takes turn from a south eastern direction and
trends almost due south for approximately 3.3 miles. (see USGS
topographic map section of the area below):
The 5.5 mile (or so) stretch
of the Colorado River in Marble Canyon
(Grand Canyon National Park, and Navajo "Dineh" Nation)
that most likely still hides G. E. Kincaid's Lost "Cave"
"Some forty-two miles up the river from
the El Tovar Crystal canyon, I saw on the east wall, stains in the
G. E. Kincaid
Back in 1909 Kincaid has most likely followed the turn in the river
here at mile 56 headed due south. In his search for "mineral" he looked up
and saw on "the east wall, stains in the sedimentary formation about 2,000
feet above the river bed". Several of Kincaid's observations are very
1. Kincaid notices the "stains" on
the east wall. Looking at the topographic map, it is easy to see that he
would have been in a position on the river to be just next to an "east
wall", immediately after passing through Kwagunt rapid.
2. The "stains" according to Kincaid were "in the
sedimentary formation". This is very important. The geology of the
Marble Canyon region is basically a record of altered
sedimentary deposits. From the rim to the river in Marble Canyon
there are successive layers of modified sedimentary deposits. You can
see this in the diagram below, which lists the various formations from
rim to river.
I have delineated the formations present in Marble
Canyon, in the diagram. Most all formations had their origins as
sedimentary deposits. It is important to emphasize here that in this
particular stretch of the Grand Canyon, "Marble
Canyon", modified sediment types reach from rim to river.
Modified image by Jack
Further south and west in the Grand Canyon
the "Inner Gorge" of the Colorado (1200-1900 or so foot high)
cliffs along both sides of the river, are made up of the Vishnu Schist,
a 2 billion (or so) year old formation, dark brown in color of extremely
altered sandstones shales and limestones, intermingled with
lava flows. The dark smooth rock of the Vishnu Schist is the result
of metamorphism, altered (in this case) by the tremendous pressure of lying
(originally) under nearly 12 miles of formations, crushed folded and melted
into it's present highly altered state.
It would take a stretch of the imagination to see Kincaid looking up
at the nearly glassy dark brown surface of the Vishnu Schist and
calling it "sedimentary formation". Also, immediately above the Inner Gorge
(Vishnu Schist), is the "Tonto Platform" a nearly
horizontal platform of gently rolling hills, that extends for some distance
horizontally away from the edge of the Inner Gorge.
It is not a
formation known for caves. Kincaid said he saw "stains in the
sedimentary formation about 2,000 feet above the river bed". In the Inner
Gorge area of the Vishnu Schist, if Kincaid looked up, he
would have see only the edge of the Vishnu Schist at about 1200-1900
feet, and not have been able to see much if anything of the horizontal
Tonto Platform, just above the Inner Gorge, which would
have been out of his line of sight (horizontal). He would not have seen
"stains in the sedimentary formation", since the Vishnu Schist id
hardly "sedimentary". He also would have also been located incorrectly on
the river, since he would not be even near "42 miles up the river from El
Tovar Crystal Canyon" (Crystal Creek and canyon), if in the Vishnu Schist
area of the Inner Gorge.
USGS topo map below, showing the Inner Gorge (Vishnu
Schist) As "Granite Gorge", in the central area of Grand Canyon
National Park. The more horizontal "Tonto Platform" can be seen just
below the 3898 foot elevation marker (lower right) as the area containing
the name "Tonto Trail" If you look north across the river where it
says: "Clear Creek Trail" you will see the "Tonto Platform" again, as
a broad more horizontal formation. (topo lines further apart)
The area shown
as "Granite Gorge" ( says "GORGE") is the "Inner
Gorge" "Vishnu Schist" formation, next to the river.
It is also true that views in Marble
Canyon, at river level are somewhat limited, due to the steep walls
of the redwall formation, just above the river. But at mile 56 on the Colorado River, in Marble Canyon, there is a large gap
in the vertical walls that would allow a clear view up to the 2000 foot
level near where Kincaid said he saw "stains in the sediment".
At the river near "Kwagunt" Rapids the elevation
of the river is near 2,760 feet. The elevation at the rim above
Kwagunt is approximately 6050 feet. (both elevations vary slightly
in the 6 mile stretch I have designated as containing the "cave'.) If we
subtract 2,760 (river at ground level) feet from 6050 feet (rim at top) we
have 3,290 feet as the actual height of the canyon at Kwagunt, from
river to rim.
Remember that Kincaid said,
"I saw on the east wall,
stains in the sedimentary formation about 2000 feet above the river bed"
"The entrance is 1,486 feet down the sheer canyon wall.."
(meaning from the rim down)
If we add Kincaid's two figures, 2000
feet and 1,486 feet we come up with 3,486 feet as Kincaid's height from the
river to the rim. That figure is only 196 feet in variation from the actual
height (river to rim of 3,290 feet) at the present day location!!
Considering that the rim and river elevations vary almost 200 combined feet
in that 6 mile stretch of canyon, it is evident that Kincaid's
measurements are highly accurate in to the area in which he stated that he
saw the cave.
For the reasons detailed above, I think the "cave" described
in the headline story of the Arizona Gazette, April 5, 1909
and its fantastic underground installation was, and still may
be, located above an approximate six mile stretch of the Colorado
River in Marble Canyon, at the border of Marble Canyon
and the Navajo Nation above an area near Kwagunt Rapids.
References and notes:
Will C. Barnes Arizona Place Names (The University of Arizona Press,
Margaret M. Verkamp History of Grand Canyon National Park (A Thesis
Submitted to the Faculty of the Department of History, Graduate College,
University of Arizona, 1940)
3. Michael F.
Anderson Living at the Edge, Explorers, Exploiters and settlers of the
Grand Canyon Region (Grand Canyon Association, 1998)
4. Byrd H. Granger
Grand Canyon Place Names (The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1960)
Robert C. Euler, Editor, The Archaeology, Geology, and Paleobiology of
Stanton's Cave, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (Grand Canyon
Natural History Association Monograph Number 6, 1984)
Halka Chronic, Roadside Geology of Arizona, (Mountain Press Publishing
Co., Missoula, February 1989, 6th Printing), on page 280 the author
describes the Vishnu formation, and it is this discussion I refer to in