Challenging Devil’s Hole

March 5, 2010

On Saturday, September 26, 2009, my wife Diana and I—intrepid pair that we are—challenged the “cursed” Devil’s Hole, an awesome site near Niagara Falls.

According to one writer “Those ghost hunters who wish to explore Devil’s Hole must do so at tremendous personal risk. Only those blessed with extremely good luck or who feel that they have nothing left to lose should even attempt to study this site. The forces at work in this area are so strong and unpredictable that even experienced ghost hunters with extraordinary climbing, survival, and caving skills are likely to fall victim to the cave’s intense aura” (W. Haden Blackman, The Field Guide to North American Hauntings , New York: Three Rivers, 1988, pp. 92–94).

In fact, I had visited the cave ten years earlier, on May 20, 1999, and lived to tell about it. However, the cave at the site is not the real Devil’s Hole. That is a much larger geological formation, a great vertical channel in the side of Niagara Gorge where a waterfall once existed. (It resulted from an outlet of an ancient glacial lake that spilled into the Niagara River.)

Although Devil’s Hole was the site in 1763 of the massacre of a British convoy by 300 Seneca and other Native Americans, its fearsome reputation is otherwise undeserved. According to park officials, despite heavy pedestrian traffic, the area does not have a high incidence of injury. In fact, the occasional accident is typically caused by risky behavior. (See my Real-Life X-Files , Lexington, Ky.: Univ. Press of Ky., 2001, pp. 62–63.)

So it was that Diana and I climbed down the winding, stone-stepped trail from the top of the Niagara Escarpment to the waters of Niagara River, speeding away from their recent plunge over the mighty Niagara Falls. On our return up the 300-foot cliff, we stopped to rest at the cave which looked much as I remembered—a scenic site. Like the rest of Devil’s Hole, it is dangerous only in the hyperbole of mystery mongers.