SUNDAY, DECEMBER 04, 2005
This article was in the Daily Chronicles, Centralia, Washington
March 10, 1976
By Glen Dickason
Chronicle Staff Writer
H.F. Forrest kept the town of Chehalis buzzing for two weeks near the turn of the century with an incredible story about a huge cave on the south side of Chehalis.
His story was so unbelievable that almost everyone believed it, feeling Forrest could not possibly have made it up. Although some townspeople waited for him to try to make money off the tale, he left town mysteriously two weeks after he arrived, never getting any of the Chehalins' money. Nor did he ask any.
He received front page attention two straight weeks in the Chehalis Bee-Nugget, the editor of the newspaper so caught up in the story that when The Oregonian, having read the first week's fantastic account, published an article casting doubt upon Forrest's observations, the Bee-Nuggett chided the Oregonian for having no trust.
On March 10, 1901 Forrest spoke to the "children at the reform school." (There is a reform school in Chehalis.)
He said he had began prospecting when he came upon a large flat rock, "which had been hewn by human hands." He removed it to find the cave entrance on the south side of Mt. Rainier.
He entered to find huge caves, and a mine of vast wealth. The cave was reported to be 12 feet high and eight to 60 feet wide.
The walls were "polished," and contained "hieroglyphics and figures made by human hands."
He explored the main passage five miles deep. Side passages contained ice caves, and other side passages contained boiling water, according to his tale. He said that at one place a sulphur spring, a hot water spring and a cold water spring came up side by side, and human-size tubs had been carved into the rock floor for bathing in these various waters.
Forrest said he then came upon an immense underground lake. Where the main passage came to the lake, a large canoe was chained with silver links to the wall. Removing the canoe, he explored the lake, for a mile and a half in each direction without reaching the shore.
He came upon a row of vaults in a side passage. One of the vault lids was slightly askew, and Forrest went into investigate.
He discovered the bodies of two people, a woman who he said was seven feet tall, and a man, who Forrest claimed was 7-10.
Both were laid out on slabs of ice, and were perfectly preserved in a completely frozen state. They wore gold jewelry with engravings of antelope and other characters.
Near the bodies were the dismembered remains of two children. Other bones were scattered around the vault, according to Forrest.
Forrest reported tremendous amounts of white gold-bearing quartz and copper in the huge caves.
Forrest disappeared March 16 leaving his outfit at the hotel. He was not mentioned again in the Chehalis Bee-Nuggett.
Forrest's caves have been elusive as well. They have never been rediscovered. But there are famous ice caves, near Paradise Point State Park on the south side of Mt. Rainier. The ice caves are huge, and fantastic to see, but have few of the special features Forrest described to his entralled Chehalis audience.
Since this article was published the ice caves have collapsed but the ones in the article have never been rediscovered.