Greater Ancestors

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Butte Skeletons of Gigantic Stature

montana butte


Exploring Party Makes Strange Discovery Near Butte.

Remains of a Prehistoric People in Underground Abode.

Theory Is Advanced That Some Seismic Disturbance Closed Exits to the Cavern and Imprisoned the Ancients.

Special Dispatch to The Call.

BUTTE, Mont., Dec. 8 – A new cave that gives promise of developing into the most wonderful of its kind in the known world has been discovered in the mountains forty-eight miles east of Butte, in Jefferson Canyon. Its extent is as yet unknown, though it has been explored for a distance of ten miles and to a depth of about 800 feet.

The entrance to the cave, which is near the track of the Northern Pacific Railway and about 1000 feet above the bed of the river, was discovered a few weeks ago by a hunter, and the cave has just been explored by a party headed by J. W. Gilbert, a newspaper writer of Butte. Gilbert returned today after an absence of a week with evidence of his discoveries. Several skeletons were found in one of the many rooms, and many articles and utensils of stone and copper were lying about. Some of these have been brought out. The skeletons are of persons of gigantic stature, and the belief of Gilbert is that the cave was the abode of a prehistoric people and that further exploration will bring to light proof of this fact. A theory is that by a sudden change and disturbance of the earth, the entrance to the ancient home was closed and the inhabitants walled up and left to die.

A large river, with a fall of 100 feet at one place, is one of the wonders of the cave, and a score of apartments, some hundreds of feet in extent, are decorated with the wondrous formations of nature. One room resembles the interior of a cathedral, with a gigantic pipe organ, the pipes being formed of stalactites, tuned by nature to give forth beautiful notes of harmony. A member of the exploring party, by striking the pipes with a stick, played a rude imitation of “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”

Access to the cave is very difficult, as a direct descent of 400 feet is necessary before any footing can be obtained. Another party will soon visit the place fully equipped for a thorough investigation.

  1. The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]), 09 Dec. 1901. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
  2. Bismarck Daily Tribune, 1901

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