Category Archives: U.S.A

Early 20th-Century Trolley Tracks Found in Washington State

Early 20th-Century Trolley Tracks Found in Washington State

Contractors dug up history last week when rails from Walla Walla’s trolley system dating back to 1906 were removed from Whitman Street between First and Second avenues.

The tracks once connected Walla Walla residents to downtown, Pioneer Park, the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds, cemetery, and many other key stops before automobiles became the common transportation mode.

For 5 cents, Walla Wallan’s could take a trip around the city’s central portion, and as far as Pleasant Street or Prospects Heights. Stops included colleges, local businesses and an opera house.

About 450 linear feet of those trolley tracks were dug up to replace the sewer main underneath them as part of the Third and Maple Infrastructure Repair and Replacement Plan Project, including water, sewer and road improvements expected to be complete in October, city officials said Tuesday.

The removal of trolley tracks is permitted because of measures taken to mitigate the impact of the loss of the tracks. These efforts included hiring Fort Walla Walla Musem to conduct an archeological survey, research and report on the trolley system in 2011 when a different project called for the removal of the tracks.

Other efforts included interpretative signage placed along the former trolley line near Sharpstein School and at modern bus stops on the former trolley line, a Powerpoint presentation on the trolley system used for public education purposes and a publication of an article.

When part of the rail was removed in 2011, archeologists took a piece of it. The rail had a date on it and listed the manufacturer, confirming the research, said Mike Laughery, the city’s capital programs engineer.

That piece is at Fort Walla Walla Museum and if needed, can be curated, made part of the museum, and put on display.

With these steps, the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation continue to grant permission for removal of the tracks for each infrastructure project the city plans, so far, Laughery said.

Another step in honoring the history could be incorporating a segment of railroad tracks into the design, Laughery said. That would mean removing the original tracks, rebuilding the utilities, and then setting the new tracks back in the roadway, so they are still visibly present, he said.

That idea has not yet been required, he said.

According to the 2011 report, exposed trolley tracks create safety hazards for pedestrians and cyclists. Leaving tracks beneath asphalt leads to premature failure of that street surface, and pavement failure associated with the tracks was discovered in various locations where buried rails exist.

Some of the trolley tracks remained much longer than they were in use, and portions can still be seen on Whitman Street between Howard and Division streets, near the intersection of Clinton and Boyer streets and along North Sixth Avenue to Cherry Street. The trolley only operated 20 years before the automobile became so common that the line had to close down in 1926.

“I don’t know what the financial investment was back then but it had to have been substantial,” Laughery said. “I don’t know if they just didn’t foresee the development of the automobile or how that played out.”

Trolley cars would hold 28 to 72 passengers and were equipped with onboard electric motors. Overhead wires supplied electricity to the cars through metal rods extending from the roof, according to an article published by Maury Mule of the Fort Walla Walla Museum.

The trolley cars had two-piece windows allowing for air during hot summer days and maintaining heat in the colder months with an onboard coal-fired stove providing heat to the car, the article stated.

The trolley operated in conjunction with an interurban line, which closed in 1931 and ran about 13 miles south to the Oregon cities of Milton and Freewater, the article stated. Spur lines and connections to national rail networks would appear.

No other discoveries were reported when the contractors removed the tracks, Laughery said. Project contractor Total Site Services now owns the tracks, and if no one wants them, they will probably be scrapped, according to city staff.

For further information, call the city’s Engineering Division at 509-527-4537.

A lost city discovered by Archaeologists when they explore a rural field in Kansas

A lost city discovered by Archaeologists when they explore a rural field in Kansas

In the Great Plains of Kansas, archaeologists have made an innovative and unlikely discovery: a vast town lost centuries ago. Donald Blakeslee discovered a few years ago the lost city of Etzanoa in Arkansas City, Kan, a Wichita State University anthropologist, and an archaeology professor. 

Anthropologist and archaeology professor Donald Blakeslee in one of the pits being excavated in Arkansas City, Kan.
Kacie Larsen of Wichita State University shakes dirt through a screened box to see what artefacts may emerge.

In that small city in south-central Kansas, local residents found the arrowhead and the gold mine underneath their town, pottery, and other ancient artefacts, for decades, in the fields and rivers of the region.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Blakeslee used newly translated documents written by the Spanish conquistadors who came across the land over 400 years ago to determine that these artifacts were once part of the Native American lost city of Etzanoa.

“‘I thought, ‘Wow, their eyewitness descriptions are so clear it’s like you were there,’” Blakeslee told the Times about reading the conquistador’s accounts. “I wanted to see if the archaeology fit their descriptions. Every single detail matched this place.”

The city of Etzanoa is believed to have been around from 1450 to 1700 and was home to approximately 20,000 people. Blakeslee said that the city was the second-largest settlement in the present-day United States at the time and spanned across at least five miles of the space between the Walnut and Arkansas rivers.

The 20,000 inhabitants of Etzanoa were said to have lived in “thatched, beehive-shaped houses.”

In 1541, conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado came to the town hoping to discover its fabled gold but instead found Native Americans in a collection of settlements that he called Quivira.

Sixty years later in 1601, Juan de Oñate led a team of 70 conquistadors from New Mexico to Quivira, also hoping to find its gold but they ran into a tribe called the Escanxaques, who told them of the nearby city of Etzanoa.

Oñate and his team arrived at the city and were greeted peacefully by the inhabitants of Etzanoa. However, things quickly went south when the conquistadors started taking hostages, which then caused the city’s residents to flee in fear.

The group of conquistadors explored the vast area of more than 2,000 houses but feared an attack from the peoples they dislodged and decided to return home.

On their return trip, they were attacked by some 1,000 members of the Escanxaque tribe and a huge battle took place. The conquistadors lost and returned home to New Mexico, never to come back to the area again.

French explorers came nearly a century later to that part of south-central Kansas but did not find any evidence of Etzanoa or its people. It is believed that disease caused the untimely demise of the population.

However, traces of the people and their city would not stay hidden forever. Blakeslee and a team of excavators found the site of the ancient battle in a neighborhood in Arkansas City and found remanents from the battle.

Locals in the area had been uncovering artifacts from the lost city for decades but didn’t understand why until evidence of the city itself was discovered by Blakeslee.

“Lots of artifacts have been taken from here,” Warren “Hap” McLeod, a resident of Arkansas City who lives on the spot where the battle took place, told the Times. “Now we know why. There were 20,000 people living here for over 200 years.” One local resident said that the sheer amount of artifacts that people in the area have is mindblowing.

Russell Bishop, a former Arkansas City resident, shows off the arrowheads he found in the area as a kid.
Professor Donald Blakeslee of Wichita State University shows a black pot unearthed by student Jeremiah Perkins, behind him.

“My boss had an entire basement full of pottery and all kinds of artefacts,” Russell Bishop told the Times. “We’d be out there working and he would recognize a black spot on the ground as an ancient campfire site … I don’t think anyone knew how big this all was. I’m glad they’re finally getting to the bottom of it.”

The Great Plains were long-regarded as huge, empty spaces in ancient times that were populated mainly by nomadic tribes. But Blakeslee’s discovery of Etzanoa could prove that some of the tribes in the area weren’t nomadic and were actually more urban than previously believed.

Blakeslee has also discovered evidence that similar, large-scale lost cities could be located in nearby counties which might have been around during the time of Etzanoa. These latest groundbreaking archaeological finds are helping researchers fill in huge blanks in early American history.

1.8-million-year-old skull gives a glimpse of our evolution

1.8-million-year-old skull gives a glimpse of our evolution

The finding of a 1.8 million-year-old skull from a human ancestor found in a medieval Georgian village is a dramatic example of early evolution and shows that our ancestral tree has fewer branches than some believe, researchers say.

1.8-million-year-old skull gives a glimpse of our evolution
A photo provided by the journal Science shows a pre-human skull found in the ground at the medieval village Dmanisi, Georgia. The discovery of the estimated 1.8-million-year-old skull of a human ancestor captures early human evolution on the move in a vivid snapshot and indicates our family tree may have fewer branches than originally thought, scientists say.

The fossil is the most complete pre-human skull uncovered. With other partial remains previously found at the rural site, it gives researchers the earliest evidence of human ancestors moving out of Africa and spreading north to the rest of the world, according to a study published in the journal Science.

The skull and other remains offer a glimpse of a population of pre-humans of various sizes living at the same time – something that scientists had not seen before for such an ancient era. This diversity bolsters one of two competing theories about the way our early ancestors evolved, spreading out more like a tree than a bush.

Nearly all of the previous pre-human discoveries have been fragmented bones, scattered over time and locations – like a smattering of random tweets of our evolutionary history. The findings at Dmanisi are more complete, weaving more of a short story. Before the site was found, the movement from Africa was put at about 1 million years ago.

When examined with the earlier Georgian finds, the skull “shows that this special immigration out of Africa happened much earlier than we thought and a much more primitive group did it,” said study lead author David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgia National Museum. “This is important to understanding human evolution.”

For years, some scientists have said humans evolved from only one or two species, much like a tree branches out from a trunk, while others say the process was more like a bush with several offshoots that went nowhere.

Even bush-favoring scientists say these findings show one single species nearly 2 million years ago at the former Soviet republic site. But they disagree that the same conclusion can be said for bones found elsewhere, such as Africa.

However, Lordkipanidze and colleagues point out that the skulls found in Georgia are different sizes but are considered to be the same species. So, they reason, it’s likely the various skulls found in different places and times in Africa may not be different species, but variations in one species.

To see how a species can vary, just look in the mirror, they said.

“Danny DeVito, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal are the same species,” Lordkipanidze said.

The adult male skull found wasn’t from our species, Homo sapiens. It was from an ancestral species – in the same genus or class called Homo – that led to modern humans. Scientists say the Dmanisi population is likely an early part of our long-lived primary ancestral species, Homo erectus.

Tim White of the University of California, Berkeley, wasn’t part of the study but praised it as “the first good evidence of what these expanding hominids looked like and what they were doing.”

Fred Spoor at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, a competitor and proponent of a busy family tree with many species disagreed with the study’s overall conclusion, but he lauded the Georgia skull discovery as critical and even beautiful.

“It really shows the process of evolution in action,” he said.

Spoor said it seems to have captured a crucial point in the evolutionary process where our ancestors transitioned from Homo habilis to Homo erectus – although the study authors said that depiction is going a bit too far.

The researchers found the first part of the skull, a large jaw, below a medieval fortress in 2000. Five years later – on Lordkipanidze’s 42nd birthday – they unearthed the well-preserved skull, gingerly extracted it, putting it into a cloth-lined case and popped champagne. It matched the jaw perfectly.

They were probably separated when our ancestor lost a fight with a hungry carnivore, which pulled apart his skull and jaw bones, Lordkipanidze said.

The skull was from an adult male just shy of 5 feet (1.5 meters) with a massive jaw and big teeth, but a small brain, implying limited thinking capability, said study co-author Marcia Ponce de Leon of the University of Zurich. It also seems to be the point where legs are getting longer, for walking upright, and smaller hips, she said.

“This is a strange combination of features that we didn’t know before in early Homo,” Ponce de Leon said.

When the Smithsonian discovered an ancient Egyptian colony in the Grand Canyon

When the Smithsonian discovered an ancient Egyptian colony in the Grand Canyon

At 277 miles (445 kilometers) long, up to 18 miles (28 kilometers) wide, and 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) deep, the Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places in the United States.

The Zoroaster and Brahma Temples are seen in the distance from the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon National Park

The Hopi Indians believe it is the gateway to the afterlife. Its sheer immensity and mystery attracted more than 6 million visitors in 2016.

But what those people probably don’t know is that the Grand Canyon might once have been the home of an entire underground civilization.

But where are they now? And why did they abandon the canyon? Hosts Matt Frederick, Ben Bowlin, and Noel Brown jump straight into the folklore, the legends, and of course, the conspiracies to find out what really happened to the Grand Canyon’s Lost Civilization in this episode of Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know.

In the article, a cross-legged idol resembling Buddha is described along with a large tomb filled with mummified humans: a veritable mash-up of Egyptian and East Asian cultures.

It all started in 1909 when purported Smithsonian Institution explorer G.E. Kincaid discovered strange caverns during an expedition directed by Smithsonian anthropologist S.A. Jordan. The entrance to the cavern was nearly inaccessible, but Kincaid was able to get in to make an incredible discovery.

The enormous caves, which radiated out from a center cavern-like spokes on a wheel, were full of artifacts, including statues, copper weapons, even granaries full of seeds. Its size indicated that 50,000 people could live inside comfortably.

But even more amazingly, the artifacts didn’t match up to anything in the known record. Rather than appearing to be of Native American origin, as one might expect, the objects had distinct Egyptian or Tibetan designs. Could there actually have been an entire civilization of Egyptians living there? If so, how did they get there?

The story caused a huge sensation when it broke in the Arizona Gazette in 1909, but was soon met with skepticism: The Smithsonian has no record of either of the scientists, nor their discoveries, and firmly quells any claims that Egyptian artifacts have been found in either North or South America.

And no one has been able to find these supposedly massive caves since. Was this some elaborate hoax, may be perpetrated by the Gazette to sell papers?

That’s certainly a possibility, but it doesn’t fly for many conspiracy theorists. Some argue that the Smithsonian Institution has purposely wiped Kincaid and Jordan from their records and actively destroyed artifacts that don’t agree with the “status quo story” of human history.

Others think the caves hold a passage to the fourth dimension, where the reptilians (yep!) who have secretly run the world for thousands of years emerge into our world. Still, others believe the area is top-secret and closely guarded, like Area 51.

So is this series of caverns proof of a long-lost, possibly Egyptian civilization that’s simply being covered up by the Smithsonian, or is it a passageway into this dimension for our reptilian overlords? One thing is for sure.

400-year-old underground complex found in the Grand Canyon

400-year-old underground complex found in the Grand Canyon

Courtesy & Full Credit: The National Reporter

A group of hikers who had been exploring a virtually untouched area of the Grand Canyon happened upon an opening in the side of the canyon wall last July. Peter Marlington and his friends had discovered the entrance to an underground complex that has been estimated to be over four hundred years old and built in the late 1500s.

“It was hot as hell out and we were hiking up the side of the cliff to get into a wooded area for the shade.” Peter Marlington explained. “When we reached the shrub line we felt a cool breeze coming from the high weeds that were growing on the side of the cliff.  It seemed very odd that a cool breeze would be coming from nowhere like that,  so we poked around to see why.

When we pushed our way past the shrubbery we came to the entrance of a large brick-lined tunnel. We could tell right away that it was very old, but we had no idea that it would turn out to be as old as they say it is.”

400-year-old underground complex found in the Grand Canyon
The entrance to the complex has been cleared of the shrubbery that kept it hidden for 400 years.

“We were a little hesitant at first to go inside because we didn’t know what it was.  We thought it might be a flood tunnel and we could be drowned in a sudden storm came up.   And it was really kind of creepy too.   I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’ll tell you when you are staring into an old dark musty smelling tunnel like that, it will give anyone the creeps.  After a few minutes of debating whether or not we should go inside,  the spirit of exploration overruled our fears, out came our flashlights, and into the tunnel, we went.

It went for quite a distance all on very level ground. We knew that if it was a flood tunnel that it would be slopped upward, we were relieved when we realized that we weren’t going to be flushed out in a sudden deluge.  After a few hundred feet the tunnel stopped, it was boarded up.”
The National Reporter – Did you turn back?

“Oh, hell no.   We broke through.  We had to.  If we quit just because of some old rotten wood blocking our way and turned around,  we would have spent the rest of our lives going crazy wondering what was on the other side of that door.”

The National Reporter – I can understand that.  As a staff member of   The National Reporter, I would have continued on as well to satisfy my curiosity and to bring yet another award-winning news story to my readers.  So, What was on the other side of the wooden barricade?
“Another tunnel.  It was a lot smaller than the one we were in, it was more like a doorway in the wall.   It was pitch black inside and it smelled kind of funny, like something that has been dead for real long time, you know, like dried up and dusty smelling.   We made our way inside and soon came to another tunnel that went off to the right and another one about twenty feet ahead that went to the left.

We didn’t go down either of them, we just kept going straight.”

The first tunnel was covered with a wooden barricade. Inside were more tunnels that went off to the right and the left.

“We continued down the pitch-black tunnel until we came to a huge chamber.  Our flashlights were barely bright enough to light the entire area up because of its immense size.   Down below the brick floor looked like it had collapsed and there appeared to be some sort of tunnel system that had been exposed.  We had no idea what the tunnels were for, but they were definitely big enough for large groups of people to move through.”

The National Reporter Did you go down to see what was inside of them?
“We did after a while.   The other guys were getting kind of scared, I have to admit it was getting kind of creepy.   Graveyard creepy, know what I mean?”

The National Reporter – I know exactly what you mean. “I went down by myself, the other guys were too scared.   It took a few minutes to get down to the collapsed floor where the tunnels were.  It was pretty dangerous because the morter was all crumbled and powdery and the bricks were loose.    I figured that was why the floor had collapsed.   I entered the tunnel on the far left and walked for about fifty feet,  then it stopped at a bricked-up wall.  There was a loose brick in it, so I pushed on it and jiggled it around until it fell into the room on the other side.”

The floor of the immense chamber appeared to be collapsed revealing several passageways underneath.

The National Reporter – What was inside of the room?

“I don’t know, I couldn’t see.  “The hole wasn’t big enough to stick the flashlight in and look in at the same time, so I just put the camera into the hole and snapped a few pictures.  I had the weirdest feeling while I was doing it like there was something on the other side of the wall watching me the whole time. I’ll tell you this much, it spooked the hell out of me and I ran out of there with the hair standing up on my neck.”

The National Reporter – What did you do then?

“We left.” He said. “When I told my buddy’s that it felt like something was watching me from the other side of that wall, that was it.  We ran out of that place so fast nothing could have stopped us.” The National Reporter – What did you do when you exited the complex, Did you report finding it right away?

“Yeah, pretty much.   We went to the park rangers’ office and told them what we found.  Naturally, they didn’t know what we were talking about.  They checked their map and there were no tunnels or underground facilities in that area.  They thought we were making the whole thing up.”
The National Reporter – What did you do then?

“We took them out to the tunnel so they could see it for themselves.  They didn’t want to go at first because they still thought we were on something.  I guess I would have thought the same thing if I was in their position.  The whole thing sounds so made up.”

The National Reporter – I can understand that most people would think that you made this story up.  It’s a good thing you have photographs to prove it’s all true.  Your photographs coupled with the integrity and reputation of  The National Reporter as being one of the most reliable news sources in the nation is guaranteed to make believers out of many skeptics.

“I know, that’s why I contacted The National Reporter and not one of those silly tabloids who make up ridiculous stories.” The National Reporter – What did you think when you found out that the underground complex that you and your friends discovered was 400 years old?

“It blew our minds.   I mean,..who the hell built it?   The Indians sure as hell didn’t have the know-how to build something like that and there were no European settlers that far west at the time and even if there was, they sure as hell didn’t have the equipment to dig out an underground complex of that size and manufacture the millions of bricks it took to build it.”

The National Reporter – The complex was to be opened to the general public after your discovery, but those plans were quickly cancelled when a government agency closed it down suddenly for some unknown reason. Do you have any ideas on why they did that?

“I have my suspicions.   Remember when I told you about how I stuck my camera into the hole in the wall and snapped a few photo’s and it felt as though something was watching me?”

The National Reporter – Yes, was there something in the photographs?
“Take a look for yourself.” He said, handing it to me. “If this is 400 years old, then something really weird was going on back then that people don’t know about and they sure as hell aren’t going to find out what it was from reading their history books, I’ll tell you that.”

I took the photograph from him and to tell you the truth, I was speechless by what I saw. I could understand what Peter Marlington meant when he said something weird was going on back then. I won’t say anymore, I will just present you, readers, with the image Mr. Marlington captured on film and leave you to ponder on it.

19th-century wagon discovered at Detroit Lake when it was at its lowest level in 46 years

19th-century wagon discovered at Detroit Lake when it was at its lowest level in 46 years

The unprecedented drought on the west coast of the United States that has lasted for over four years now has had a major impact on everything from water supplies to agriculture to fisheries.

Preserved beneath the reservoir’s waves in a low-oxygen environment, the wagon was probably more damaged during its short public appearance than it was underwater for decades.

But in one town in Oregon, the resulting historic low water levels have dredged up history: the remains of a town that was abandoned and sunk beneath a reservoir more than 60 years ago.

Back in 1953, the 200 residents of the tiny town of Old Detroit deserted their homes after Congress approved a nearby dam, which, when finished, would flood the area to create the reservoir now known as the Detroit Lake.

Ever since, when the lake’s water level fell, remnants of the town would sometimes rise out of the water. With the lake’s water level at a record low this year, when a local sheriff’s deputy drove past the lake in late October to take a look, he discovered the perfectly preserved remains of a 19th-century wagon, half-sunk in the mud.

“I went on a treasure hunt down along the river, figuring I’d find foundations or something like that,” Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Zahn tells Christena Brooks for the Statesman Journal. “Then I saw a piece of old history right there.”

The lack of snowfall last winter caused Detroit Lake’s water levels to drop to the lowest they’ve been in almost 50 years, approximately 143 feet below capacity. 

When Zahn decided to poke around in the newly dry lake bed, he discovered the utility wagon alongside an octagonal pit lined with cement that experts still haven’t identified, Brooks reports.

“As far as I know, the wagon’s never been seen until this year,” U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Cara Kelly tells Brooks. “This might not have been its original resting place…It could’ve come from anywhere in the town of Detroit or even up the drainage.”

While Zahn first spotted the wagon on October 29, he and Kelly decided to keep its location a secret, so as not to attract potential looters and vandals.

According to a metal plate attached to the wagon as seen in some of Zahn’s photographs, the wagon was made in 1875 by the Milburn Wagon Company of Toledo, Ohio, which was one of the country’s largest manufacturers of wagons at the time.

As Brooks reports, the lake bottom’s low oxygen levels almost perfectly preserved the wagon – ironically, its brief stint on land probably damaged it more than all the decades it spent underwater.

Old Detroit isn’t the only town briefly revealed by a historic drought: that same month, a drought in the Mexican state of Chiapas uncovered the ruins of a 450-year-old church.

The “Temple of Quechula,” as it is known, was originally built by Dominican monks near a conquistador highway, but was abandoned in the 18th century after a series of plagues struck the region.

This year, lake levels dropped so low that locals were able to take tourists out to see the ruins.

Even though Oregon’s drought may have uncovered a reminder of Detroit’s history, this year’s dry weather had such a bad effect on the town that Zahn hopes his once-in-a-lifetime experience stays that way.

“Hopefully it will be another 40 years before Detroit’s this low again,” Zahn tells Brooks.

Cahokia: The largest and most complex ancient archaeological site you probably didn’t hear of

Cahokia: The largest and most complex ancient archaeological site you probably didn’t hear of

I’m standing at the center of what was once the greatest civilization between the deserts of Mexico and the North American Arctic—America’s first city and arguably American Indians’ finest achievement—and I just can’t get past the four-lane gash that cuts through this historic site.

Instead of imagining the thousands of people who once teemed on the grand plaza here, I keep returning to the fact that Cahokia Mounds in Illinois is one of only eight cultural World Heritage sites in the United States, and it’s got a billboard for Joe’s Carpet King smack in the middle of it.

But I suppose Cahokia is lucky. Less than ten miles to the west, the ancient Indian mounds that gave St. Louis the nickname Mound City in the 1800s were almost completely leveled by the turn of the century.

Today only one survives, along with some photographs and a little dogleg road named Mound Street.

The relentless development of the 20th century took its own toll on Cahokia: Horseradish farmers razed its second-biggest mound for fill-in 1931, and the site has variously been home to a gambling hall, a housing subdivision, an airfield, and (adding insult to injury) a pornographic drive-in.

But most of its central features survived, and nearly all of those survivors are now protected.

Cahokia Mounds may not be aesthetically pristine, but at 4,000 acres (2,200 of which are preserved as a state historic site), it is the largest archaeological site in the United States, and it has changed our picture of what Indian life was like on this continent before Europeans arrived.

Cahokia was the apogee, and perhaps the origin, of what anthropologists call Mississippian culture—a collection of agricultural communities that reached across the American Midwest and Southeast starting before A.D. 1000 and peaking around the 13th century.

The idea that American Indians could have built something resembling a city was so foreign to European settlers, that when they encountered the mounds of Cahokia—the largest of which is a ten-story earthen colossus composed of more than 22 million cubic feet of soil—they commonly thought they must have been the work of a foreign civilization: Phoenicians or Vikings or perhaps a lost tribe of Israel.

Even now, the idea of an Indian city runs so contrary to American notions of Indian life that we can’t seem to absorb it, and perhaps it’s this cognitive dissonance that has led us to collectively ignore Cahokia’s very existence. Have you ever heard of Cahokia? In casual conversation, I’ve found almost no one outside the St. Louis area who has.

Researchers believe that Cahokia was home to around fifteen thousand people although they estimate that the regional population was home to around forty-thousand people; researchers even believe that Cahokia could have been the world’s biggest metropolis of its time.

The center of the ancient city was the Monk’s mound, the home of the city’s ruling priest was located at the top of the mound in a temple that was made of wood.

A ten-story behemoth known as Monks Mound is the centerpiece of the 2,200 acre Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Eighty surviving mounds dot this cultural World Heritage site; some were used as building platforms, some for burials.

The social structure of ancient Cahokia was very similar to the rule of ancient Mayan society and/or the ancient Egyptian culture; a graded aristocracy and a proletariat of slaves.

The decline of Cahokia was very sudden, by 1300 the city was abandoned and the society declined completely; like many ancient cultures such as the Maya in the Yucatan region, archaeologists believe that the prevailing factors that contributed to the fall of Cahokia were overexploitation of their natural resources, the construction of the great mound, droughts and overpopulation.

Very similar to the factors that caused the demise of the great Maya civilization.

Massive 1,100 Year Old Maya Site Discovered In Georgia’s Mountains?

Massive 1,100 Year Old Maya Site Discovered In Georgia’s Mountains?

The Mayans built astonishing temples in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras – but now some believe the ancient peoples fled their dissolving civilization and ended up in Georgia.

Historian and architect Richard Thornton believes a 1,100-year-old archaeological site shows that Mayan refugees fled Central America and ended up in the North Georgian mountains near Blairsville.

His astonishing theory is based on the discovery of 300 to 500 rock terraces and mounds on the side of Brasstown Bald mountain that date to 900AD – around the time the Mayans began to die out.

Massive 1,100 Year Old Maya Site Discovered In Georgia's Mountains?
City Spotting: This 3D virtual reality image was made from the ruins found in the Brasstown Bald mountain

Mr. Thornton’s blockbuster theory revolves around the area near Brasstown Bald potentially being the ‘fabled city of Yupaha, which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto failed to find in 1540’.

He described it as ‘certainly one of the most important archaeological discoveries in recent times’.

The Mayans died out around 900AD for reasons still debated by scholars – although drought, overpopulation, and war are the most popular theories, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The remains were first found by retired engineer Carey Waldrip when he went walking in the area in the 1990s. Archaeologist Johannes Loubser excavated part of the site and wrote a report about it in 2010, but does not believe the rock terraces are Mayan.

‘I think that (Mr. Thornton) selectively presents the evidence,’ Mr. Loubser told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ‘But he’s a better marketer than I and other archaeologists are.’

Look at this: The remains were first found by retired engineer Carey Waldrip, pictured, when he went walking in the area in the 1990s

Mr. Loubser, who excavated a rock wall and small mound, added that claims like this must be backed up with ‘hard evidence’ because of the various conflicting opinions in the archaeological world.’

Mr. Loubser believes the structures could have been built by the Cherokee Indians or an earlier tribe between 800AD and 1100AD.

He stopped digging because he realized the site could be a grave. Still, Mr. Thornton claims early maps of the location named two villages ‘Itsate’, which was how Itza Mayans described themselves.

The terrace structures and date helped him reach his conclusion. It was commonplace for the Itza Maya to sculpt a hill into a pentagonal mound,’ he argues. ‘There are dozens of such structures in Central America.’

But not everyone is impressed by Mr. Thornton’s theory. He cited the University of Georgia archaeology professor Mark Williams in an article on

‘I am the archaeologist Mark Williams mentioned in this article,’ Professor Williams said on Facebook. ‘This is total and complete bunk. There is no evidence of Maya in Georgia. Move along now.’

Theory: The Mayans could have left Central America and ended up in the North Georgian mountains
Theory: The Mayans could have left Central America and ended up in the North Georgian mountains
Fascinating: The Mayans died out around 900AD for reasons still debated by scholars – although drought, overpopulation and war are the most popular theories (file picture)

‘The sites are certainly those of Native Americans of prehistoric Georgia,’ Professor Williams told ABC News. ‘Wild theories are not new, but the web simply spreads them faster than ever.’

Mr. Thornton wasn’t bothered by the ensuing debate, in fact, that’s exactly what he wanted.

‘I’m not an archaeologist. I’m a big picture man,’ said Mr. Thorton to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

‘We’re hoping this article stirs up some interest. I was just trying to get the archaeologists to work some more on the site and they come back snapping like mad dogs.’

He works with a company called History Revealed Media that helps create three-dimensional maps of excavated sites and said that when he compared his map of the Georgia site, it reminded him of other Mayan works.

‘It’s identical to sites in Belize,’ he argued.

The Mayans have been under intense scrutiny over the past few years as rumors abound about their mysterious 5,132-year calendar allegedly predicting the apocalypse on December 21, 2019.

But various experts have spoken out against Doomsday, including Mexico’s ‘Grand Warlock’ Antonio Vazquez, to say that the Mayan calendar instead will just reset and a new time-span will begin.