Archive for April, 2012

Joe Taylor & I visited Rock Wall, Texas to investigate the phenomenon of an apparent ancient rock wall underground in which the namesake of Rockwall, Texas was named in the 1850’s. Benjamin Boydstun, Terry Utley Wade and William Clay Stevenson began settling that area and are credited with finding the wall. Since the men could not agree on the town name, the settlers agreed on the name of Rockwall. This rock wall is a rectangular structure approximately 3.5 miles wide by 5.6 miles long encompasses an area of up to some 20 square miles.

It was reported on Friday, May 28, 1886, by the Rockwall Success, Rockwall County’s first newspaper that human artifacts were found although this can no longer be substantiated.

Rockwall Success May 28, 1886

“The greatest wonders that we have to record this week is the finding of a petrified human skull. While at work last Saturday, Ben Burton unearthed with his plow, a gigantic skull, fully as large as a halfbushel. The staring sockets wherein the eyeballs once rolled, were as large as a half-gallon cup. Some few of the jaw-teeth still remained; one of them about an inch thick by two inches long. This goes to prove that this county was once inhabited by a race of people that would be wonderful to look at now. Dr. Wiggins thinks it the skull of some ante-deluvian giant, that would have weighed at least 1000 pounds. Any one wishing to see this mammoth skull, can do so by calling at The Success office, as Mr. Burton says he will leave it there for inspection. –– Sam Slick”

Rockwall Success June 4, 1886 No. 19

“Wonders will never cease. Immediately after it was generally known that Mr. J. B. Burton had found the gigantic petrified skull, a large crowd collected and set about making an examination of the surrounding ground. Spades, picks, and axes were plentiful and in use. Mr. W. R. Grier might have been seen pounding the ground with a huge hammer, and intently listening after each successive blow, when he was heard to call out, “This way boys!” There was a general rush to his position. “Listen Boys,” said Grier as he brought the hammer down with a heavy thump on a large flat rock.

To the astonishment of all, the hammer slipped from Grier’s hands, and after a short interval, was heard to strike something below that had the clear distinct ring of metal. Now the wildest excitement prevailed. A lantern and rope were quickly brought, and the earth was rapidly cleared away. The hole in the rock, which proved to be slate, was enlarged and the lantern was let down into the murky darkness. At last Messrs Burton, Grier and J. B. Steger volunteered to descend and explore the mystery. The cavity proved to be a chamber about 60×100 feet square, and 40 feet from the floor to the slate roof through which they had effected an entrance. This roof was supported on pillars of black marble, whose polished sides glittered in the lamplight and made one think of the orient.

According to Mary Pattie (Wade) Gibson, granddaughter of T.U. Wade (who was one of the founders) gives further historical details regarding what her grandfather and other men did. It is reported that there were cubicles or rooms constructed of stone which you could walk into and reach a corridor which seemed to run in a direction into the hill in which the town square now sits above. She told of an incident in 1906 of two unidentified men digging out the corridor which had apparently been filled with erosion. Their intent was to reach a room full of gold according to Indian legend. The ceiling of the corridor had steep slopes (describing a Gothic type arched ceiling, much like the Mayans built), and as the two men excavated further into the corridor, the steeper the slope of the ceiling became, and consequently, the men abandoned the site in fear of structural collapse.

In 1922, men were digging a water well when at about thirty- five feet down they discovered an almost perfect square opening through the wall, which has been referred to as a “window.” The opening was two feet square, in a two foot section of the wall. The total depth of the shaft was forty-two feet, but they did not find the bottom of the structure. (J.Glenn, 1950).

Mrs. Gibson also spoke of her grandfather’s investigation of the wall in which he discovered on the outside that the wall went straight down about forty feet. Additional information was provided by the daughter of the late Mr. Deweese, an early settler of Rockwall, who described a doorway with a diagonal shaped stone in the wall at the Wade residence on Highway 66. This portion of the wall was open to visitors from 1936 until the late 1940’s, but was eventually back filled because of dangerous structural conditions.

In 1949, a Mr. Sanders of Fort Worth, Texas, did an excavation of the wall. From this excavation four large stones were brought up with the largest weighing approximately two tons. It is claimed that other artifacts such as a large stone with possible unknown writing and an animal artifact have been found at the site. These extremely dense stones have been underground, therefore erosion has not been the cause of the designs on them. Moreover, there are no other stones or portions of the wall with inscriptions or diagrams that have been discovered to date. (J. Glenn, 1950)

There are other reports of doorways or windows found in the wall through thepast 100 years such as reported in the Dallas Morning News, 5 November 1967 by Frank X. Tolbert, “Back in the 1920’s, T.H. Meredith said a well was dug on his farm just east of the town of Rockwall, and Mr. Meredith declared that the digging went along side a masonry wall which seemed to have an arch over a doorway or window.”

Could this be that this is remnants of some ancient, long lost civilization? Geologists generally believe that it is simply a geological feature called a clastic sand dike. It is important to understand however that no one knows what this feature is exactly or how it was created. Nevertheless, we should investigate this area more closely with continuing excavations so that we may be able to advance our understanding of the phenomenon at Rockwall.

Update April 29th: FYI – early voting starts tomorrow for the bond election that includes the rock wall prop in it. Actual election day is May 12, so less than 2 weeks and we will know.

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The Rock Wall, Man vs Archaeology with Aaron Judkins (XIndianaJones1), Season 1, Episode 7