From childhood, I have always been fascinated by caves. In Northern Missouri there are but a few small caves. The exception is the large Mark Twain Cave near Hannibal. But in Southern Missouri and Northwest Arkansas there are many. I've visited all that I know of in Missouri. There are unexplored ones still today and that's what my story is about.
My wife and I along with her sister and her husband (also my cousin) took a trip to Pea Ridge, Arkansas. My birth mother had married a man from California and they had moved just outside of Pea Ridge to his family's homestead. The farm was at the end of a country road and consisted of an old house with barns. This homestead was well back into the hills. You would not know it was there.
They had moved a trailer onto the property next to a small creek that ran clear and very cold. When they plowed their fields in the low land, they would turn up arrow heads every year. They told us that after a good rain you would find even more. For those of you who don't know, this property was near the site of the Battle of Pea Ridge that was fought during the Civil War.
During our search for arrow heads, my cousin and I stumbled across a small cave. Outside the mouth of the cave were bones, large and small; we thought there might be a wolf or a mountain lion inside. There were fresh bones along with old ones. We talked ourself into believing it was just dogs. You could see into it about fifteen feet. It didn't look like anything was home, so we ventured in.
It was kind of scary; I was afraid of snakes and my cousin was afraid of spiders. We didn't see either so we decided to go a bit further. By this time we had to "duck walk" as the ceiling got lower and lower. I brought out my flashlight. The further we went into it , the more the ceiling and walls narrowed around us.
We're on our hands and knees and we hear water running. I'm in front with the light and my cousin says that this was a "living cave.” I said "What's that?" and he replied "Living caves are dangerous, you could drop off at any time." Well, that statement didn't go over very well with me because I was in front!
But we kept going until we were crawling. This was getting a bit scary now, but the sound of the water was getting louder and louder. I really wanted to see the source. All at once, I stopped and shined the light straight out in front of me. My first thought was that the battery was dead. I turned the light back to the wall beside me. It was clearly working. The flashlight simply would not reflect any wall, any ceiling, or any floor in front of me. My adrenalin was rushing. We had reached a place where we did not want to be!
It was time to back out of that place; and let me tell you this. It was harder to back out of that tight spot than you might think. Later, I talked to the old grandpa in the farm house. From his recollection, no one had ever gone into the cave that far. I told him I was never going that far again!