Searching for the Underworld
After Ziff-Davis gave the heave-ho to the Shaver Mystery, interest in subworld exploration cooled; but not for all. A group of Michigan UFO buffs published a newsletter during the mid -- 1950s with a heavy subworld/UFO bent. They were also cave explorers.
This blend of inner and outer space was not uncommon at the time, but is much less prevalent now. Recall that Albert K. Bender, the man who popularized Men In Black in the book Flying Saucers and the Three Men (with help from Gray Barker), claimed he had stumbled onto the true source of flying saucers, bringing with it the wrath of the MIB.
Bender's source was the inner Earth, but he was not the only 1950s UFO buff who had a working knowledge of hollow Earth concepts. One of the Michigan ufologists was a spelunker named George D. Wight. He wrote a column in a popular mimeographed flying saucer newsletter.
Wight, and the zine's editor (known only as "L" once controversy ensued) denied allegiance to the Shaver Mystery. Nonetheless, he, Wight, and three other friends and spelunkers were very interested in cave exploration, and they regularly organized expeditions to their favorite caverns.
The group had a paramilitary bent and enough equipment to prove they were serious. Two of them had law enforcement backgrounds. One was a schoolteacher.
"I had many contacts with Palmer and Shaver during the '50s and '60s" wrote "L" in a 1982 issue of Shavertron. "It was a frustrating and worthless endeavor. In those years, both Shaver and Palmer were not researching physically. For three years I requested at least a hint of a prospective entrance to the cavern world. Neither of them aided in [our] research."
Another player in this underworld saga, Charles A. Marcoux, was casually associated with the Michigan group, writing a monthly column for the same newsletter, but dealing mostly with Shaver Mystery concepts. Marcoux was a fanatical Shaver believer who gave public lectures on the topic, often with the spelunkers in attendance. They ridiculed his lectures, having never found evidence of this "secret world" of Palmer and Shaver.
"I personally did not believe in the Shaver mystery," "L" later explained, "but as editor of the journal, I printed every aspect of ufology and related subjects."
Although Wight and his caving companions were not Shaver, Palmer, or Marcoux admirers, in 1966, long after the hoopla of the Shaver Mystery had faded, the team wrote to Palmer with an unbelievable discovery, which brought no response.
During a week-long exploration in a deep cavern named Blowing Cave near Cushman, Arkansas the team claimed the discovery of manmade steps nearly two miles beneath the surface of the Earth. As the story goes, the men followed the steps into a long and well-constructed tunnel glowing with luminous green light.
Their experiences were chronicled in a diary written by Wight. It included the astounding claim that the team had encountered living beings in the tunnel, remnants of a civilization that had been existing there for centuries.
"In 1961, I disassociated myself from the UFO field, the subsurface aspect, and related phenomena," wrote "L" in the mid-1980s. "I do not anticipate further involvement. My obligation ended when I forwarded Wight's material to Marcoux."
The Wight Manuscript
The "material" was in the form of Wight's journal, now dubbed "The Wight Manuscript." The diary explained that Wight felt guilty for his many years of doubting Marcoux and wanted him to know that the Underworld did, indeed, exist. It claimed that Wight chose to throw in his lot with the subworlders and never return to the surface, but not before offering homage to both Marcoux and Shaver in the diary.
Once the specifics of the group's alleged discovery were written, Wight gave the manuscript to "L" on a return journey to the surface. "L's" job, then, was to locate Marcoux and hand over the manuscript. The problem was that nearly 13 years had passed, and he had no idea where to find Marcoux. Six more years passed.
Marcoux had not given up on the Shaver Mystery in those 20 years, and finally, in 1980 his name came to the attention of "L," who was more than happy to turn over the manuscript. Marcoux claimed it as his vindication for his years of faithful research and as a mandate to lead one final chapter in (as he now called it) the "Shaver/Marcoux Theories."
By 1980, the Shaver Mystery was nothing more than a memory. Shaver and Palmer had died in 1975 and 1977 respectively, and the mystery died with them. Full of juicy details, the Wight Manuscript, Marcoux thought, was the smoking gun Shaver Mystery believers had hoped for.
"Curiosity made two of us go toward the end of the tunnel and probe around to see if the light was possibly coming from some other source," it said. "As we went toward the light, we noticed a crevice, barely wide enough to get in. I crawled in several feet, where I came upon manmade steps, and I called out to the others to follow me and bring the equipment with them.
"The opening became wide and high enough to walk upright. When we walked down the steps, the green light became more pronounced. Suddenly, we came into a large tunnel/corridor, about 20 feet wide and just as high. All the walls and the floor were smooth, and the ceiling had a curved dome shape. We knew that this was not a freak of nature, but manmade. We had accidentally stumbled into the secret cavern world!"
Wielding the Wight manuscript as his battle standard, Marcoux promoted his self-proclaimed role as sub-world expedition leader through the alternative press. Shavertron was one of those publications.
By telling his story and leaking bits and pieces of the manuscript, Marcoux gathered a handful of seekers (longtime followers of the Shaver Mystery and hollow Earth interests) to join his "Blowing Cavern Expeditionary Unit." In late 1981, Marcoux, now well into his 60s, sold his mobile home in New Mexico to grubstake an expedition to Blowing Cavern.
Assault on Blowing Cavern
Mary Martin, a member of Marcoux's expeditionary unit and editor of a hollow Earth fanzine called The Hollow Hassle, traveled from her home in Aurora, Colorado, to confer with Marcoux on plans for their assault on Blowing Cavern.
"We met him at a motel in Albuquerque," said Martin, who now lives in California. "He had maps all laid out of Blowing Cavern and we were supposed to meet him in Arkansas. I brought my son Bill along, and Bruce Walton and Labron Bynum were there, too. I had already gone out and bought some stuff for caving."
If there had been any doubts in Marcoux's mind about the Wight manuscript, they were washed away by references to Wight's own doubts and his subsequent conversion to the Underworld's existence.
"Yes, Charles, all that you told us is true, and some of the places where you said there were entrances to the hidden cavern world really do exist," Wight said. "I owe you a debt of gratitude, because the Teros healed my crippled leg, instantly. I am grateful for more than just that, and I have left these notes and somewhere a map, so that you, too can... visit with these people. I have no desire to come back up to the surface, so maybe we will meet here some day."
With wife Lorene in tow, Marcoux moved to Cushman in September 1983. He made some tentative forays into the cave, preparing for the final assault once expeditionary unit members arrived. Before the team ever assembled, however, internal disagreements brought accusations from Marcoux that questioned some members' dedication to the project.
A month passed as Marcoux taunted readers in both Shavertron and The Hollow Hassle.
"I allow you to disclose the location and name of this cave, which will give your readers enough information to decide for themselves whether they want to explore it... if they have the guts."
Then, while hiking near the entrance of Blowing Cavern that November, Marcoux was attacked by a swarm of bees, bringing on a fatal heart attack. He died at the scene, leaving the handful of Blowing Cavern team members wondering what to do next.
Rumors fluttered around Marcoux's untimely -- some said mysterious -- death. Shaver had always warned that the cavern world was hidden for good reason, and that cavern dwellers liked to keep it that way.
A troubled Mary Martin conferred with a California psychic who knew nothing of Marcoux or Shaver. Martin wanted to know if Marcoux had any message to impart.
"I told [the psychic] his name and that he had died, and could she make contact with him," Martin said.
"This is the message she received: 'Tell her I am unable to find the way to the underground tunnel at this time. Tell her to look in the Cucamonga wilderness area for what she seeks. She must be very wary for the guardians are quite jealous... They won't let me talk to you anymore. They are forcing me away... help me...'"
The elusive "L" was also contacted. He said evil intent had nothing to do with Marcoux's death, but he would not elucidate. He also threatened to reassemble the old Michigan spelunking group one last time to wall up the Blowing Cavern portal to the Underworld. It had caused too much sorrow and misery already, he said.
The story of Blowing Cavern, the Wight manuscript, and Marcoux's efforts to locate the Underworld of Richard Shaver was the final nail in the Shaver Mystery's coffin.
Most active Shaver Mystery buffs had given up hope of finding proof long before Marcoux's 1983 attempt. They were facing old age and waning interest. Newcomers to the UFO/occult scene became New Agers, with new controversies to contemplate (Roswell, Area 51, Majestic 12) -- enough to distract from the Underworld of Shaver and Palmer.