Friday, December 14, 2007

Journey To The Center Of Franklin Park

Boston Daily Globe July 14, 1889

Strange Cavern Explored.

Wonderful Discovery in Franklin Park - Great Cave Once Inhabited By Indians Discovered by Laborers.

A sensational report was circulated through the West Roxbury district yesterday that a gang of workmen under William O'Brien, in digging through a hill in Franklin Park, near Williams street had discovered a large cave, which extended many feet into the earth, and which had every appearance of having been inhabited at some remote time.

The entrance to the cave was under about 10 feet of soil, which had been cleared away preparatory to blasting.

Patrick Clark, a bricklayer employed in the park department, was the first man to penetrate the cavern, and he was followed by Thomas Glennon and others. They found several small tools of antique pattern and two small hatchets of crude workmanship, such as were used by the Indians who were located here years ago. The men groped their way along the opening 100 feet, finding several relics left by Indians who probably inhabited the underground cavity.

The opening of the cave is about 18 inches wide and scarcely large enough for one to enter, but once within a person can stand upright and walk around with ease. The opening extends downward 15 or 20 feet, and the passage then takes a turn to the left. The end has not yet been reached.

Yesterday afternoon a Globe reporter, accompanied by Editor John P. Forde of the West Roxbury Advertiser, and M.E. Hennessey, assistant editor, vistied the scene of the discovery, and proceeded to explore the mysteries of the cavern. A rope and a lantern were procured from the tool house in the park, and the rope being fastened to a post near by, The Globe reporter with the lantern in hand slid down into the cave, followed by his companions. The sides of the opening had the appearance of being the work of nature, but within the cave the work of man was plain seen. The walls were smooth as though chiseled out, and there was plenty of room for the three men to stand abreast.

They proceeded along the cave the lantern shedding a ghostly light on the walls, which were dripping with moisture. Every few feet, there were openings in the side of the cave, which looked as though they had been cut out of the solid rock. A nauseous odor pervaded the air, caused by the gas which had accumulated in the passages. The ceiling of the cave presented an odd appearance. A series of small bowlders hanging from the roof seemed to have been fastened by mechanical means and extended the entire length of the cavern.

As the party proceeded the cave grew continually wider and extended downward at a sharp pitch. Along the sides little openings, about the size of a man's hand, were discovered, and seemed to form the outlet of other and smaller caverns. After proceeding about 100 feet along the passage their progress, which was somewhat difficult on account of the small smooth stones, which lined the floor, was suddenly stopped by a barrier of loose stones. The cave did not end here, for through a small opening in the barrier its continuance could be seen and by the flickering rays of the lantern no end of it could be seen. A small piece of iron was picked up by one of the party. It proved to be the head of an arrow.

The reporter and his companions retraced their steps to the entrance and climbed up the rope out into pure air.

The greatest excitement exists over the discovery, and crowds of people visited the spot yesterday, but few had the courage to enter. Monday morning the workmen employed by the park will make further excavations, and it is expected that interesting discoveries will be made.

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