News Stories

What is Mel's Hole?

John Zebrowski of the Seattle Times reports on Mel?s Hole, which is said to be a bottomless pit. The hole supposedly exists outside of Ellensburg, Washington on land once owned by Mel Waters, who says it was used for years as the neighborhood dump for trash, old appliances and even dead cattle. Dogs and birds avoided it. When the hole never filled up, Waters measured its depth by lowering weighted fishing line into it. After 80,000 feet, he gave up.

The hole is now lost. Waters says he sold the property and won't say where the hole is. Few people know who Waters really is. Investigators believe the hole is about 10 miles west of town on a place called Manastash Ridge.

The search for Mel's Hole is in its sixth year. Mel's Hole, searchers believe, could be a massive lava tube or a Mount Rainier blowhole. But Pat Pringle, a geologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, says the area's landscape, which formed more than 12 million years ago by a volcanic lahar, makes a hole of such depth unlikely. He doubts a hole like Mel?s is possible in the area?s brittle volcanic rock. Even if it is, he?s sure the heat of the Earth would snap a fishing line long before it reached 80,000 feet.

Long before anyone heard of Mel Waters, people in Ellensburg were talking about a hole so deep it wouldn?t fill up. Jay Nickell, 34, who grew up in Ellensburg, remembers a hole about seven miles from Manastash Ridge where, as a teenager, he and his friends rode dirt bikes. On a few occasions, they came across a hole that sounds like Mel's. It was too deep to see the bottom, and rocks thrown down it made no sound.

Rodney (who won't give his last name) says the story of a hole on the ridge has been common knowledge in town for decades. "Lots of people talk about it," he says. "Could be something out there,but I've never seen it."

Kevin Davis grew up across the street from a coal mine. As a kid, he tossed rocks into the mine shaft, often never hearing them hit bottom. "But we didn't drop cows or refrigerators," he says.

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