|Vintage Photo of X Cave, courtesy Joel Carter|
Due to the issues I've been having with my back (which are getting better, but I'm still leery) I thought from a meager description on a website that Cascade Cave, one of just three caves in the system currently open due to White Nose Syndrome, would be the least physically exerting. I was wrong. Although it didn't require the same stooping and tight spaces as X Cave, it was more than twice as long and had almost 4x as many stairs! And much to my chagrin....wasn't haunted!
So in short, I want to go back and see X Cave, which according to the book More Kentucky Ghost Stories by Michael Paul Henson, is the only cave in the multi-cave system that is allegedly haunted. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of good information as to its actual paranormal activity. But, as the story goes:
X Cave is so named because of its shape; four separate entrances meet in the form of an X shape. It was "discovered" by the white man in the 1700s when that area began to be explored and populated by those of European descent. The cave remained in private ownership until July 31, 1946 when the Carter Caves State Park opened as a result of several private citizens throughout the area donating land for use as a state park. One such family that was instrumental in this move was the J.F. Lewis family.
Before white man, however, the area was populated by a Cherokee Indian tribe. Huraken was a warrior with the tribe who had found a silver vein in the area. He kept his discovery a secret, and planned on using his newly found treasure to woo the woman of his dreams....the chief's daughter, Manuita.
Then one day, the warriors of the tribe went off to battle, and many did not return. Huraken was among those who did not return, so fearing the worse, Manuita flung herself off a cliff in mourning for her lover. However, Huraken was not dead. Instead, he had stopped at his secret silver vein in order to create gifts for Manuita, which he planned to present to her and the chief while asking for her hand in marriage.
Devastated upon learning of Manuita's death, Huraken gathered up her body, and hid her away in a cave...now known as X Cave...in order to watch over her body. The Chief, learning of his daughter's death, in turn blamed Huraken and sentenced him to death. Huraken's last dying wish was to see the body of his beloved one last time, and so he walked into the cave. He never came out. It wasn't until years later that the bones of two people were found within the cave, among many silver treasures.
That's the legend....but I have yet to find out any information on HOW these tragic lovers actually manifest themselves paranormally. Sounds like another good reason to go back to visit the caves once again! Perhaps around Halloween when the park hosts a Halloween Trail might be a good time to go!
In 1948, 13 people from a Sunday School class from Huntington's Fifth Avenue Church of God were injured when the suspension bridge to X Cave collapsed right before their tour group entered. The bridge was never rebuilt. Here's a newspaper article and photo from the event: X Cave Accident