|Eagle Cave and Franks Hill
Caves along the Wisconsin River
Muscoda - Gotham Wisconsin
Exploring the Unknown with
Brad and Mary Sutherland
|Brad and Mary Sutherland
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Winslow, Illinois 61089
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The Mysteries of the Caves along the Wisconsin River
GOTHAM, RICHLAND CENTER AND MUSCODA. WI
Based off her series “In Search of Ancient Man by Mary Sutherland
Nowhere along the magnificent beauty of its course does the Wisconsin River take on an atmosphere so mysterious and legendary
as it does where its broad curves swing in to touch the feet of the northern bluffs near the hamlet of Gotham in Richland County.
It is at that point that the lost town of "Richland City" once prospered from the steamboat traffic from the river. It is said that it was swept
into complete oblivion by the rising waters that took the very ground its houses were built upon. It is there where the fabric of mystery
has been woven by Native American Indian legend. Even today, the curious adventurer in the area find themselves baffled by its
These mysteries surround the numerous caves of the region round about Gotham. Some of these caves have been found to be small,
while others are found to be hundreds of feet long with ceilings far above one's head. Some like Big Eagle Cave, are filled with
beautiful crystalline deposits, containing stalactites and stalagmites in abundance.
At Gotham the Pine River flows down from the north and enters into the Wisconsin River , babbling as it does so, of the curious natural
rock bridge under which it flows well up into Richland County. At one time, at the junction of these two rivers was a rather large village,
home to the Winnebago Indians. Their beginning, according to the native population , dated back to an unknown time.
According to one of their legends, in the far dim past of this tribe, so long ago that the exact time has long since been lost to memory,
three adolescent Indian boys left their village to hunt deer in the hills. After failing to return back to their village for two days and fearing
that they may have been captured by hostile ‘Sac’ Indians, the chief of the tribe Tcaxcepxedega (Great Eagle) sent a band of warriors to
follow their trail.
The trail led to the head of a deep ravine and ended at the mouth of a cave. Two or three of the braves made torches and entered the
dark cavern, leaving the others outside, awaiting their return. With sun beginning to sink, the braves began calling down into the cave
for their return. As the callers strained to listen, they were perplexed and amazed to hear, very faintly, as though it came from the ends
of the earth, the “Death Song of an Indian”. It was strangely beautiful, yet far beyond anything they had ever heard before. Soon,
however, the lure of the song grew into a feeling of uneasiness. Of the remaining eight of their band of warriors, six grasped their
weapons and ventured into the cave. They, too did not return.. The sun was all but gone in the west and to the straining ears of the
waiting pair the only thing heard was the faint Indian Song of Death.
With anxiety and fear, the remaining two hurried their way back to their village. The next day Great Eagle, led 100 braves to the cave.
The main body stayed outside, while 30 warriors and five torch bearers cautiously slid into the great black hole. Soon thereafter their
lights disappeared as did all sound from them. There was no answer back to those calling for them outside the cave, except echoes
of their own voices and the distinctive lull of the Indian Song of Death. .
In desperation Great Eagle formed his men in a human chain, hand clutching hand. The first man led them courageously into the
cavern. He had gone but a short distance when the second man suddenly realized that his hand, which but a moment before had held
that of the leader, was clutching nothing! Quickly he reached forward, but just as quickly the hand of the third man was lost to the hand
of the second. There had not been the sound of a fall or of any violence; in terror the human chain drew back out of the cave.
Great Eagle held a council. Perhaps what a hand could not hold a strong rope could, Great Eagle reasoned, as he tied the end of a
rope most securely around the waist of a volunteer. He was to jerk the rope as he proceeded in, and to be pulled out by the men on
the outside as soon as his jerking ceased.
In he went. He had not gone far when his jerks on the rope ceased. As quickly as lightning the men hauled in the rope. But there came
out of the cave only an empty loop, tied just as it had been when put around the man. The man had vanished. There was not a mark
on the rope.
A ghostly terror settled upon the people in the ravine, and in the stark silence of their fear they heard again the strains of the Song of
Great Eagle forbade anyone from going near the cave, an edict which didn’t need any enforcement. Except for the foolhardy, few led by
too curious a spirit who dared to investigate, never to return.
Now after many moons there came one day from out of the forest a man the like of whom had never been seen before. His skin was
pale and soft, his hair white and silken, and a great white beard reached to his waist. He was utterly blind and understood not the
tongue of the Winnebago nor was he understood by them. He was led by an Indian boy of 10 summers, with a longing, faraway look in
his eyes too old for his years. This Indian boy looked identically like one of those who had first gone into the cave even the mother
thought him to be her own child. But the boy maintained he came from a tribe far to the northwest. This boy acted also as the old
It was soon evident that the strange man with the long beard was a great healer with powers far beyond those of any medicine man of
the tribe. In a comparatively short time, because of his unusual skill, power and kindness, he was called The Great Healer; by the
Winnebago and revered by everyone.
One day Great Eagle told the Great Healer, through the boy, his interpreter, of the cave of the Indian Song of Death.
Lead me to this cave, said the blind healer.
And Great Eagle led him to the ravine, with all the people following and forming a great semi-circle about the mouth of the cave. Not a
sound disturbed the forest as all eyes watched the Great Healer and his youthful guide walk slowly and deliberately down into the
Again there came the Song of Death, but louder now and closer it seemed, so that the leaves of the trees stirred to and fro to its
rhythm. All the warriors in the assembly nervously fingered their weapons. The footsteps of the two going into the cave finally died out
and with a suddenness that filled the ravine with an alarming silence, the Song of Death stopped.
Then, faintly at first, but gradually louder, the sound of footsteps came from the cave, until, after an endless minute, the lone figure of
the Great Healer issued from the cave. His eyes were closed and a beautiful, calm and serene smile delicately touched his lips.
He stopped, lifted his face and arms towards the sun whose slanting evening rays filtered down through the leaves and in an
unknown tongue he sang the Song of Death; while he walked slowly and deliberately toward the river, with the people following him.
At the river's edge he stepped into a canoe, and without a paddle the canoe swung into the river and carried the Great Healer, to where
no one knew, never to be seen again.
Several days later, a brave, bolder than his companions, ventured into the silent cave. To the amazement of his comrades who had
tried to prevent his entrance, he came out again saying that he had followed the cavern until it became so low that he would have been
forced to crawl had he gone farther.
With another companion he again entered and this time the two crawled on hands and knees until they reached a gigantic room. After
lighting a torch their light revealed the skeletons of hundreds of Indians, lying face downward with arms outstretched toward a gigantic
throne formed in the far wall. The great throne was empty.
In terror the two Indians returned to the outer light and told their story. Great Eagle and his council surmised that the cave was sacred
to some great spirit and he decreed that the cavern entrance be closed with dirt and rocks.
After a few generations knowledge of its location perished among the Indians and after a few more generations even the story of the
cave was lost, save by a certain few story loving warriors of the forest.
When Brad and I were investigating this area, the owner of the property told us behind the hill site was reported a
cave filled with artifacts and bones of the ancient ones. For years we have been trying to get more information on
this. Tonight I was sent some literature on burial sites of bigfoot. As I was going through it I realized that there was
an article in there confirming that this cave really does exist and it can only be a few miles from Frank's Hill. Now we
have a name for the hill site the cave is on...yet apparently the entrance has been deliberately caved in and
knowing that area I am sure it is inhabited by rattle snakes... But here is the story of the cave near Frank's Hill.
The story of Paul Seifert's Cave, in which he claimed to have found remains of extinct animals, large human bones, ancient tools,
weapons, and other artifacts in 1891, has been a topic of local talk around Gotham and Muscoda for over 90 years. But what is not
generally known is the discovery of huge human bones in other areas of Wisconsin, which lend credence to Paul Seifert's claim that
he had found a large cavern with the remains of a giant race, which predated the American Indian.
Seifert's cave, which is supposedly in a high bluff on the Wisconsin River between Gotham and Muscoda, first came to public
attention as the result of a letter printed in a Viennese paper by S. Lon Wolfgang. In the letter he described how his friend, Paul Seifert,
had sent him relics of great antiquity from the United States. Included among the articles were spear and arrow points of copper,
quartzite, flint, and obsidian, all of giant size, along with numerous ceremonial objects. Seifert offered that if his friend would visit him
he would disclose the secret of where they were found.
The German did so and upon his arrival in Gotham, Wisconsin, was met at the train by Seifert. When the matter of the cave was
brought up, Seifert led his friend to it. This was accomplished by climbing to the top of a hill called Bogus Bluff.
After the climb, the two men proceeded some distance back from the face of the hill and then lowered themselves by rope into a
crevice indicated by Seifert. They then found themselves on a narrow ledge, which led back into a cave, the floor of which was covered
with sand and indicated the possibility on an ancient river bed. Numerous passages led off from the cave and, upon entering one of
them, Von Wolfgang was amazed to see a great number of human bones and skulls. Intermingled with them were a large number of
battle axes, spears, and arrow points and pottery fragments, all huge in size. Seifert then indicated that although the cave was known
to the local Indians, it was not one of their burial grounds, and that it had been there as long as they could recall.
Upon his return to Europe, Von Wolfgang printed another letter in the Vienna Courier relating his experiences. He described the cave
as being the final resting place of a lost race.'
The area in and around Gotham has a multitude of caves, with the area in question being one of the only well-protected ones from
both the weather and enemy attack in the immediate vicinity.
Because he was ridiculed by the local people when he told of his find, Seifert blasted the entrance shut, and all attempts to locate the
cave since then have been unsuccessful. If this cavern does indeed hold the remains of a hitherto-unknown race of people, it could be
one of the most important finds of the century and well worth further investigation
Centuries later, in 1848, the town of Richland City, now no longer extant, was founded on the site of the ancient Winnebago city.
Then in 1891, by accident , a citizen of Milwaukee while reading the Courier, a newspaper of Vienna, Austria, came upon an
article written by an Austrian scientist. [The following is that article.]
One morning in the spring of 1887 I received in my mail a letter postmarked Richland City, Wis., U. S. A. It was from Paul Seifert, whom
I had known at school. He wrote that he had gone to America, landed in New York, drifted to northern Wisconsin, floated down the
Wisconsin river on a raft and become acquainted with a German living at Richland City. He had married this man's beautiful daughter,
was living very happily and had four daughters. So we renewed our friendship by letter.
I asked Paul in one of my letters whether he could send me some relics of the American aborigines. In a very short time I received a
package. It contained most magnificent relics of American prehistoric times.
In 1891 (?) I paid him a visit. Finally the last day of my visit came. It was a beautiful moonlight night. I spoke to Paul about his promise
to show me the place where he had found the relics. He said, 'Will you promise to follow me where I lead?' My reply was, 'I shall be
... Darkness and damp air surrounded us. Paul lit another torch. I cannot describe the horror I felt. The bottom of the cave was covered
with skeletons of a vanished race. Skulls were everywhere. Here perished a tribe; very near I could say, a nation.
Their belongings were scattered among the bones; Battle axes of stone, ancient pottery, whole and in fragments, flint arrows and
spears, whole and broken, everywhere.
'Here,' said Paul 'is the mine of the relics I have sent you.' Now I understand his remark, 'The chills ran down my back.' How true. Here
on a shelf of stone I found a beautiful quartzite spear beside the bones of a human hand.
So we went along the cave until we entered another passageway, beginning to hear a curious noise. As we went farther it sounded
louder, more and more so, until it sounded like the howling of a lot of maniacs and the moaning of the dying under torture. I asked
Paul to tell me, for the love of heaven, what it was making that terrible noise. He said that it was the falling waters and the rushing of
the wind through the crevices above.
All at once I saw a blue light flicker here and there. It came nearer and nearer. I could not stand it any longer. 'Oh, how horrible, oh,
Paul let us get out of here.'
So we retraced our steps through the cave of the dead, passed on back to the long rope, climbed up, passed through cave and
passage, till we stood once more in the open air.
Conjecture if you will whether this be the cave of the legend. Seifert admitted to representatives of the state historical society that there
was such a cave but he refused consistently to tell its location, saying that 'No one will ever find the cave. I have planted grass and
bushes to grow over its mouth.'
A neighbor of Seifert, hearing a loud blast on the bluff many years ago, climbed the hill and found Seifert blasting. On inquiry Seifert
said 'There was a hole in the rocks here and I was afraid boys might fall into it sometime, so I have closed it up.'
Dr. John Booher, jr., Richland Center, and Tom Lewis, Watertown, hoping that this may have been the entrance to the mystery cave,
sank a shaft on the spot in September, 1929, but found no possible opening to a cave.
A newspaper picture of a room in a cave is said to come from the Big Eagle cave near Muscoda, Wisconsin. The caption adds, The
large stalagmite is ten feet high and every inch of wall and ceiling is covered with crystaline deposits. Unfortunately I do not have this
picture to share with you.
In investigating the effigy mounds of Frank’s Hill near Muscoda which is not far from Gotham, I have heard the local legends of caves
with buried treasures of the Ancient Ones . Many have looked for this lost cave but none have found it.
More stories coming from my ‘In Search of Urban Legends continue… with photos.
The Hooked X is the sign of the
Knights Templars - Found at Frank's Hill,
documented by Mary Sutherland
Frank's Hill - Muscoda, Wisconsin Effigy Mounds
Yellow Hair was the Chief of the tribe that created the
Mound Sites at Frank's Hill. According to the stories of
Chief Yellow Hair, in the Plains (photo) a great battle
took place between them and the Red-Haired Giants of
Aztalan. Along the blue hills in the background runs the
On the top of this hill, running in line are conical mounds. They
seem to me that they were some sort of calendar or keeper of
time . I have shown this to a few archaeologists but none seem
to have a clue as to what these conical mounds are
This is Frank who owned the property. He took care of its
upkeep until his death. In his will , he had requested that the
land be passed on to local Native American Indians to be
forever cared for as sacred land. Photo by Mary Sutherland
Before we left, Frank took us to this large boulder that had
rolled off one of the hills. He showed us a strange marking on
the rock and told us he had shown several archeologists the
mark and no one seemed to know what it was. It was obvious
that someone just didn't want him to know because there is no
other mark of its kind out there like it. It is the mark of the
Knights Templar. Where ever they found a sacred site area or
place of power, they always marked the spot with what is
known as the 'hooked x'.
|A creek that runs through the sacred area of Frank's Hill. It comes
off the hills , down through the base of Frank's Hill and winds its
way to the Wisconsin River. It is back in these hills that Seiforts
Cave is thought to be.
|Mary Sutherland giving prayer and reverence to the Land.
|Frank told us that a Native Canadian Indian had come to Frank's Hill in search of his ancient
ancestors. He told Frank the story that his ancestors originally came from Canada and made their
way down to the sacred place then owned by Frank.
According to my writings in the 'RED HAIRED GIANTS' and the 'RED RECORDS' this would have
been correct, except that prior to the Anishinabe migration, there were those already living here,
known as the T-legwi and described as mound builders .
Waasekom Niin references this as the Anishnaabe Migration and reports that their stories were
documented in oral form , before the written word.
Every solstice and equinox, an observance ceremony is held on a small Native American Effigy Mound known as Frank’s Hill in southwestern
Wisconsin. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places, and considered sacred by many. The hill – part of the Shadewald Group –
is owned by a local farmer named Frank Shadewald, who bought it in order to preserve it. On an adjacent mound, a series of what are known
as ‘calendar mounds’ mark the rise and set of the sun at these key times of the year. If the weather is clear this winter solstice, visitors will be
treated to seeing the sun align with the series of little bumps along the hilltop.
|I found a site quite similar to Frank's Hill in Wisconsin's
neighboring state, Iowa. In the following photo you see the
conical lined mounds along with the effigies. But in the Harper
Ferry, Iowa case, all the effigies are bear, unlike the Wisconsin
Unlike the Wisconsin site, the Iowa mounds were photographed
using LiDAR (Light and radar), a surveying technology that
measures distance using light. A plane fitted with LiDAR
equipment is flown over the landscape and emits pulses of light
which bounce off different feature trees, rocks, and the ground.
LiDAR measures the time it takes for the light to bounce and
return to the equipment. This is a great tool because it can give
an accurate image of the ground surface. The light waves can go
through the small gaps in the vegetation, showing what the actual
ground surface looks like.
|Get Your Book Autographed by Mary Sutherland by ordering
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|After reading the following
pages on this Amazing Race
of Mound Builders- your life
and perception of the past will
never be the same!
|Mounds near Frank's Hill - Muscoda Mound Group
|Tim Jacobson Photography-
|Mounds near Frank's Hill - Muscoda Mound Group