I made important updates and corrections to this article on March 26, 2010. I’ve also learned that full details will be presented on May 24 at 6:30 in the Holmes County Public Library in Millersburg, Ohio.
In the fall of 1981, the bulldozer of an oil well drilling company cut into and partially destroyed an ancient stone tunnel less than an hour’s drive from our store. Experts have dated the tunnel to as far back as 4000 years old.
Bob Murray, who owned the site when the tunnel was found, buried it to prevent children from falling into it. And, the strange stone tunnel was lost to memory for the last 25 years.
The original tunnel was 50 feet long. (However, about half of it was destroyed by the oil company’s bulldozers.) The 25 feet of tunnel that remains is just two feet wide and three feet high. Some was cut from virgin bedrock. Most was constructed from huge stone blocks. It ends in a round chamber that is a little over four feet in diameter and eight feet tall.
Water runs through the chamber, carried in by a 10 foot long tube that appears to be part of the original design.
“My observation of the tunnel as soon as I got there and saw the construction was it was a 19th or, possibly 20th century, construction method,” said Brent Eberhard, archaeology survey and data manager for the Ohio Historic Preservation Office according to an article in The Daily Record, our local newspaper. Eberhard said the use of large sandstone block fits that time period. There appear to be drill holes in some of the blocks, which would indicate steel tools like European settlers used during that time.
A representative of the tunnel land owners and Jim Leslie, past President of the Midwestern Epigraphic Society, said they believe the chamber predates Columbus. The work amount of work that it took to build seem to indicate ceremonial or religious importance.
Victory Mosely, one of the original explorers who visited the chamber, had a complex set of theories that chart movement of the earth’s axis to date the chamber to 2352 BC.
UPDATE: Since posting this article, I’ve heard from several people familiar with the tunnel. Although it’s only recently come to light, the investigation into the origins of the tunnel has been going on for three years. Experts from all over the country have visited. Samples were taken from the tunnel for carbon dating, and investigators are waiting for the results. A documentary film crew has visited. (Maybe some day you can see it on Discovery channel or PBS!) New theories about the tunnel are circulating, including the possibility that it was built as a stop along the Underground Railroad. The precise location of the tunnel remains a secret, and will stay that way at least until the investigation is complete.
In the end, no one has anything more than wild theories and scant evidence. There’s only two things we all know for sure.
First, the purpose of the tunnel and its origins are hidden by history.
Second, you never know quite what you’ll find in northeastern Ohio…or in Lehman’s. Within an hour’s drive of our store, we have an ancient tunnel, a giant chair built for Jesus, the world’s largest population of Amish, African wildlife, hand-carved miniature trains and a Bible wax museum. At Lehman’s, you’ll find waterless toilets, non-electric toilets, an amazing selection of oil lamps, homemade soap and toys like grandpa played with.
It’s worth the trip!
I wrote this article based on information provided by The Daily Record and the Midwestern Epigraphic Society. The Murray tunnel is located on private land, and (at the time of this writing) was not open to the public.