The Wakulla Volcano Archive

"The Wakulla Volcano - A Major Mystery"

Tallahassee Democrat "Vista"

(March 15, 1964)

Page 36
(continued from page 33)
there were piles of rock that appeared to have
been blown out of the ground.
"The rocks were different. The edges were
rounded off as as though they had been subjected
to great heat. Some looked like they had been
melted and blown or pushed out of the earth.
"There was something eerie about the place
because there were no trees as in the surround-
ing land, yet it had never been logged because
there were no stumps. Some great change had
come over that part of the earth—I think some-
thing happened that raised or lowered it."
Hungry, exhausted and wary of snakes, the two
young explorers slept on top of a huge rock that
night and left for home the next morning.
Dodging sinks, fighting insects and hacking at
tangled undergrowth, they were ready to agree with
the oldtimer in Wacissa, about 10 miles northeast
of the "volcano" who had told them as they
passed through there, "You're a couple of dam-
Wyatt said he wouldn't mind making another
trip there provided he was with a sizable
search party armed with walkie-talkies, guns,
modern jungle equipment and plenty of food.
Wyatt said he conferred before making the trip
with Dr. Raymond Bellamy and Dr. Leland Lewis,
respective heads of the Sociology and Chemistry
Departments at Florida State University, now re-
tired, and the late W. T. Cash, state librarian.
"They were real interested in the mystery of
the volcano," he said, "but if they had known
the danger we faced they would not have encour-
aged us to go."
It had long been considered sport in Tallahassee
to go "volcano hunting."
Reportedly, it was in the 1870's that the New
York Herald Tribune sent a reporter to Tallahas-
see to get to the bottom of the volcano story.
He formed a search party and hired the best
guides but had to turn back exhausted. As the
story goes, he died on the way back.
Clarence Simpson of the State Geological
Survey made several trips to the area and re-
ported finding rocks of various sizes and shapes,
some as big as houses, which appeared to have
been thrown up out of the earth. He said they
were flint and limestone and not of volcanic
It was reported that during exploration for oil in
1949 in the area, geologists reported finding material
of volcanic origin at a depth of 7,500 feet.
Judge Porter several years ago reported details of
his accidental discovery of the "volcano."
He recalled that arguments had gone on pro and
con as long as he could remember about whether
the strange column of smoke had come from a
real volcano.
After finding the place from which the smoke had
risen for centuries he said he was ready to con-
cede that a "fiery eruption" may have occurred
Here is the story of Judge Porter's adventure as
he told it:
"I believe James N. Kirkland and I are pos-
sibly the only two living people who have seen the
crater of the extinct Wakulla Volcano.
"Jim and I were deer hunting in the Gum Swamp
of the Pinhook area. The hounds struck a trail in
the north end of the swamp and trailed out east. I
flanked north and Jim south.
"After following the dogs for possibly a mile
I came to a small rocky knoll and in the very
top of the knoll was a small crater about the
size of a dishpan. The rock extended as deep
as I could see and appeared to be burned.
"I called Jim and we agreed then and there that
we had found the 'volcano' of which we had heard
and read for so many years.
"I know very little about geology but in my lay-
man's opinion the rock forming the crater was not
igneous but appeared to be sedimentary rock
where natural gas found its way to the surface and
was set afire by lightning or a woods fire and con-
tinued to burn for many years until the gas pocket
was exhausted.
"In 1943 and 1944 when the major oil companies
were making geophysical tests in this area, I noted
by their flags that they made very close shots from
Camp Parker (a hunting camp) to Double Sinks.
"I am told that these close shots indicate that
interesting formations are being encountered by the
exploration crew. I hope that some day this whole
Gulf area is going to produce oil and gas like the
coast of Texas and Louisiana.
"It is not unusual that the smoke seen for
years was not traced to the point of origin. In
those days the Pinhook was wild. When I first
came to Wakulla County I and most other peo-
ple were afraid of getting lost anywhere be-
tween East River and the Aucilla. There were
few roads and at times you could walk for
half a day and not see another hunter.
"Away back before I came, most hunters went
into the area by boat and never got as far north
as the spot where we found the crater.
"In those days it took two men to go to the spring
for a bucket of water after dark — one to carry
the bucket and the flambeau and the other to carry
a gun to keep off the panthers.
"At the present time the country is cut up by
three highways, truck trails and wire fences so that
anybody can navigate it without getting lost.
"However, since the area has been under fire
protection, a dense growth of jack pines, wire grass
and other vegetation has covered the entire area
and it would be difficult for Jim and me to find
our crater again.
"I am strongly opposed to giving away any-
thing that Wakulla County has, by reapportionment
or otherwise, but honesty demands that I state that
the Wakulla Volcano is either in Section 5 or 6,
Township 1 South, Range 3 East, in Jefferson County.
"It should be about a mile east of the Wa-
kulla County line. Jefferson County people are
good neighbors with whom I have spent many
happy days deer hunting and I don't want to
take anything that belongs to them."
Kirkland at that time agreed with all the details
related by Judge Porter about finding the crater.
He said he believed he could find it again but the
forest was so thick that only two or three men
armed with machetes could chop their way in even
though there were trails and creekbeds to follow.
Kirkland said the rock around the crater appeared
to be flint and that the fissure went down into the
rock "at a slant."
<= Page 33
Close this window