Vol. 12, No. 35

September 24, 1883

Page 595

The "Florida Volcano"

  I noticed in THE HERALD, a few
days since, an article in regard to
the "Florida Volcano" (so-called).
Having lived in Wakulla couunty for
18 years, and since that time visited
the section near the location of the
supposed volcano, with hunting parties,
for 18 years or more, I am quite famil-
iar with the whole county. I have
witnessed with my own eyes, perhaps
a hundred times, this singular and
mysterious column of smoke, which
has given rise to so much speculation
as to its reality and whereabouts.
  Several years since, three or four
old hunting companions and woods-
men and myself determined to find
its origin. Our party (on horse-
back, left Newport at 1 o'clock a. m.,
and by daylight was fifteen or twenty
miles away, south-east from any house
or habitation. At 12 o'clock a. m.,
after traveling through the lower flat-
woods, we penetrated "Palmetto
Swamp," or hammock, and suddenly
came out on the Gulf beach, away
east of the St. Mark's light-house, at a
point, we have ever been confident, is
not five miles from the location of this
  Just at that time there arose in the
west one of the darkest thunder-clouds
and storms I have ever witnessed,
which poured ???? in floods upon us
for eight ???????? hours, completely
drenching ??? ???? flooding the flat-
woods ??? swamps so as to render it
impossible to get about without bog-
ging our horses in the mud, so we had
to beat a retreat to the high lands for
safety. Since then I have been very
anxious to have three or four deter-
mined men to join me, with a good
engineer, or surveyor, and two good
axe-men, and make another effor, feel-
ing confident of success. This "column
of smoke" has existed and been seen
by the oldest inhabitants of the county
for the past fifty years. Indeed, it was so
constantly visible, that during the war
the "blockading vessels became suspi-
cious of its being a Rebel camp for
the manufacture of arms and ammu-
nition, and on several occasions threw
shells at it." Any clear, calm morn-
ing the smoke can be seen from the
tower of the St. Mark's light-house, or
from the hill tops around Wakena.
As to the existence of this smoke that's
a settled fact. Its location is in the
"jungles" of where Acilla, Warcissa,
Ecomphena, Pin-holaway, and Pin-
hook-rivers intercept each other; and
I am quite sure that nowhere in the
Everglades of Okeechobee, or in the dis-
mal swamps of Okafanoka can there
be found such unexplored an impene-
trable "jungles" as are to be found at
the junction of these rivers. I have
no idea that any human foot-print was
ever made at some points we went
over. (Not even that of an Indian.)
For the country seems as wild and un-
explored as the worst jungles of
Africa. At the point we reached there
is a changed appearance of vegetable
growth and location of land. There are
rocky mounds with large mineral for-
mation. Any "sailor" who is familiar
with the coast around the mouth of
these rivers will tell you that there is a
mineral formation peculiar to that
locality which is noticeable in the
number of large rocks setting above
tide water with considerable iron and
other ore in them. There is one huge
rock rising away above high tide
water between the St. Mark's
light-house and this smoke. This rock
is known as the "Old Gray Mare;"
presenting as it does the shape of a
horse, and having been bleached
white by birds roosting on it. From
this rock can be had the last view of
the smoke on approaching the swamp
as the immense cypress. Gum and
other timber shuts out all view of the
smoke on landing at the mouth of these
rivers. The supposed distance of the
smoke is between five and ten miles
from the "Gulf Coast."
  In the jungles of these rivers, and
near this smoke, there are seemingly
bottomless sinks, which ebb and flow
with the tide. Then there are subterra-
nean passages of water bursting out in
places, running only a few hundred
feet and disappearing; then others
bursting out, and running in entire
different directions. There can be
seen large whirl-pools of water, pass-
ing beneath, in some subterranean
stream to mother ocean. It is very
difficult to get a compass to work in
this locality, such is the extreme of
mineral formation. This, together
with the great confusion of water
courses, sinks, whirl-pools, jungles, &c.,
has discouraged nearly every explor-
ing party, who have for years, and
years past attempted to solve this
hidden, yet (at a distance), plain to be
seen, mystery.
  Cannot a reward be gotten up for the
discoverer of this column of smoke. I,
for one, will subscribe a reasonable
amount, and I will be one of five white
men, with one good surveyor, and two
negro axe-men, to go in search of it. If
money can be raised to pay expenses,
I will go (provided I be allowed to select
a starting point from which to set a
compass), for such now, is my familiar-
ity with the location, and, as I think,
unmistakable evidences pointing to the
place in question, I am sanguine of
success. Had I time, I could give
other and stronger evidences of its
location, but for the present will with-
hold; for when the country around
Tallahassee becomes uncomfortably
warm, and the smell of sulfur is
unmistakable, perhaps Gov. Bloxham,
or uncle Sam will a big reward, and
I'll take the contract. Can't we work
it up; millions in it, and a chance to
be immortalized. ---P.M.O. in Florida

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