It isn’t very often that Shippensburg is referenced on television.
Sure, we make the “local” TV news every now and then when bad things happen like a home invasion, a murder, or one of our citizens has been caught up in a mass shooting.
We may get a national nod every decade or so, such as when Shippensburg’s own Andy Enfield became the darling of the NCAA tournament in 2013, or in 1990 when Shippensburg won the Little League national title.
Years before those pleasant occurrences, there was a professor working at our university and living in our town, who was not who he claimed to be. The memories are faint, but I believe he had jobs at several institutions of higher learning under the guise of someone he wasn’t. When the truth came out, he was national news.
So, when the Travel Channel’s “America Unearthed” promised a full hour about a cave in Shippensburg, I was all in.
As a history buff, I’ve checked out several of these programs that claim to reveal unknown historic facts like “Mysteries at the Museum.” Usually, they have a big build-up then reveal not
much of anything.
But back to the cave in Shippensburg. I knew where the cave is located, but I don’t recall its “discovery” in 1981. So, there’s that. On the TV show, the cave was nearly filled with water.
We’ve had a lot of rain lately, so that makes sense. My immediate thought was that the crew should have delayed the investigation until the water level subsided. No one asked me,
however, so the investigation proceeded, water and all. Back in 1981, it seemed that our area was in a perpetual drought, so the cave was free from water.
The show’s host, Scott Wolter, billed as a “forensic geologist,” seems to take these “mysteries” seriously, suggesting that the Shippensburg cave may have been used for secret society rituals
and/or as a hideout for enslaved people escaping to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
True, it may have been, but Mr. Wolter didn’t find any conclusive evidence to support either.
He also brought up the Whiskey Rebellion, which occurred in western Pennsylvania, suggesting, I suppose, that the cave was used for whiskey production. Seriously, with all the hills, hollows, gaps and forests in the area, I doubt that our enterprising moonshine producers felt the need to use caves. But I could be wrong.
By the end of the program, I didn’t know more than I knew at the beginning. I did, however, appreciate the nice views of our lovely town and I liked that the host seemed to treat everyone
with respect. It was also nice to see the Freemans.
If you didn’t already know that there are numerous caves in and around our area, be assured that there are. If you didn’t already know that there were numerous stops on the Underground
Railroad in our area, you know now.
Do you think Mr. Wolter ever considered that the cave could have been a nesting site for Bigfoot? Perhaps Bigfoot carved those initials on the cave’s walls.
“Cave of Secrets” isn’t the worst TV show I’ve ever watched, and it wasn’t the best.
I’m just glad Shippensburg wasn’t featured on “Buried in the Backyard.”