A Nice Essay, and easy read: THE HISTORY OF THE HOLLOW EARTH


This was posted on the list in 2003. Nobody knew who wrote it back then, and nobody knows now, either. And there was no discussion on it.


           Our ancestors sheltered themselves in caves for many

more generations
than they have lived in houses. Haunting cave drawings
from the dawn
of time stay as mute testimony that early humans
probed and
speculated about the deep recesses of the earth. Small
wonder that the
idea of life underground has tugged for so long at the
back of the mind.

           It has never been an entirely comfortable thought.

Cave dwellers
sometimes had to wrest their homes from ferocious
animals, and the fear
that was yet one more creature in the dark at the back
of the cave, or
just beyond must have been wide spread. Perhaps that
is why the
neither world came closely associated with death and
dragons, with
Satan and the supernatural.

           As the human mind developed and took up its endless

speculation about
the universe, the underground beckoned with as much
allure as stars.
While some myths populated the heavens and the remote
mountain tops
with gods, others saw a hollow earth below, a realm of
potent-though frequently less benevolent-deities. When
the globe was
slowly yield its secrets to far-flung explorations,
travelers who reported
finding portals to underground worlds had no less
claim to credibility
than did those who spoke of new worlds beyond the
seas. In time
astonishing claims would made for a mysterious inner
earth peopled with
benign giants or Eskimo evil dwarfs or prehistoric
reptiles. Even today,
with the world explored, photographed, and plumbed by
electronic instruments, an element of uncertainty
remains. The darkness
at the back of the cave has not yet been entirely

           Hidden worlds beneath the surface of the earth figured

ancient beliefs. Central Asian Buddhists told of the
kingdom of Agartha,
made up of a worldwide labyrinth of subterranean
passages. A haven for
the population of vanished continents. Agartha was a
center of
intellectual progress and enlightenment. Its holy
leader became the King
of the World, who, according to one devotee, "knows
all the forces of
the world and reads all the souls humankind and the
great book of their

           The legendary Assyro-Babylonian King Gilgamesh was

reported to have
had a long conversation about the underworld with the
ghost of a devil
companion. The Greeks were constantly speculating
about the depths of
the earth; one myth tells how the musician Orpheus
tried in vain to
rescue his wife Eurydice from Hades. The poet Homer
imagined an
underworld waiting to be explored, and the philosopher
Plato wrote that
there were "tunnels both broad and narrow in the
interior" and in the
center a god who sits "on the navel of the earth".
Egyptians believed in
an infernal underground kingdom, and later, Christians
had their hell.
According to certain tails, the Incas eluded marauding
conquistadors and carried their treasure into deep
tunnels that remain

           (Photo of seventeenth-century astronomer Edmond

Halley. He holds a
diagram of his world theory-a "hypothesis which after
Ages may
examine, amend or refute.)

           And when science took the place of legend in

explaining the world, the
underground was not forgotten. One pioneer whose
deductions led him
below was the brilliant English Astronomer Edmond
Halley, discoverer of
the comet that bears his name. In 1672, while still a
schoolboy, Halley
became interested in the earth's magnetism.

           Halley found that magnetic north was not always in the

same place.
Studying compass readings taken by himself and others
over most of the
world, he discerned several patterns of error. For
one, local
conditions-such as magnetic mineral deposits-might
cause a compass
needle to deviate, for another, needles were deflected
downward, away
from horizontal, to a degree that corresponded to
latitude. And at
various longitudes, compass readings varied laterally
from actual
magnetic north. in predictable ways that navigators
charted and took
into account. But the real enigma emerged when Halley
readings that had been recorded in past times: They
showed that
variation-the lateral deflection that changed
according to longitude-was
slowly changing. The only way that Halley could
explain this
phenomenon was to posit the existence of more than one
field. He suggested that the earth is a twin-an outer
shell with a
separate, inner nucleus. Each of the globes, he
proposed, his its own
axis, with north and south magnetic poles, and the
axes are somewhat
inclined to each other. That, along with slight
difference in the velocity
of rotation, could cause magnetized needles to seek
one or another of
the poles-hence the slow shift in the position of
magnetic north. Later
when Halley came across readings that could not be
accounted for by
one interior earth, he added two more, each nestled
inside the other like
a set of Chinese boxes. "They are, "Halley told the
Royal Society of
London in 1692, approximately the size of Mars, Venus
and Mercury."

           Like many other trail blazers of science, Halley felt

he had to square his
ingenious theory with his religious belief. He
speculated that since God
had stocked every part of the earth's surface with
living things, he
would have done likewise with the inner world. But
this raised another
problem, for it seemed self-evident that life requires
light. Halley
suggested that the interior atmosphere itself is
luminous and that the
aurora borealis, or northern lights, is caused by the
escape of this
glowing essence through the thin crust at the north
pole. During the
eighteenth century, as other investigators pushed back
the frontiers of
knowledge, Halley's were modified but not refuted. The
mathematician Leonhard Euler rejected the idea of
multiple planets
within, replacing them with a single sun-which he
thought provided
warmth and light to an advanced inner-earth
civilization. Later, the
Scots mathematician Sir John Leslie determined that
there are really two
interior suns, which he christened Pluto and

           But it would not be a European scientist who first

brought international
attention to the idea of a world within the earth.
That distinction would
go instead to a hot tempered American, a career
soldier and man of
action from the state of New Jersey.

           The son of a judge, John Cleeves Symmes was born in

1780 and named
for an uncle who had served in the American
Revolution. His was hardly
the cloistered life of a scholar, although he enjoyed
a solid early
education and was intensely interested in the natural
sciences. In 1802,
at the age of twenty-two, he entered the United States
Army as an

           >From then on, Symmes life was nomadic and turbulent.

In 1807, he
insisted on fighting a duel with a fellow officer who
had suggested that
Symmes was not a gentleman. Both men were shot-Symmes
in the wrist
and his opponent in the thigh-and suffered from their
wounds for the
rest of their lives, during which they became good
friends. Symmes
fought courageously against the British in the war of
1812, once leading
his troops in storming a British artillery battery and
spiking an enemy
cannon with his own hands.

           Symmes left the army in 1816 and established a trading

post at St.
Louis. There, with little else on his hands to do, he
indulged in his
lifelong passion for reading about the natural
sciences. Symmes was
especially fascinated by speculation about the
information of the earth,
and he began to elaborate with growing enthusiasts and
conviction on a
theory that may have occurred to him years before. By
the year 1818
Symmes was ready to share his ideas on an
international lecture. He did
so in a most spectacular manner. In a letter
addressed "To All the
World" and sent politicians, publications, learned
societies, and heads of
state throughout Europe and America, he wrote: "I
declare the earth is
hollow, and inhabital within; containing a number of
solid concentric
spheres, one within the other, and that it is open at
the poles or 16
degrees; I pledge my life, he continued, "in support
of this truth, and am
ready to explore the hollow, if the world will support
and aid me in the

           Symmes assured his readers that he would prove his

case in greater
detail with a subsequent publication. For skeptics, he
included a
character reference and a testimonial to his sanity
signed by local
physicians and businessman. That Symmes asked for "one
hundred brave
men companions, well equipped, to start from Siberia
in the fall season,
with reindeer, and sleighs, on the ice of the frozen
sea; I engage we
find warm and rich land, stocked with thrifty
vegetables and animals if
not men, on reaching one degree northward of latitude
82; we will
return in the succeeding spring."

           But instead of the support and aid Symmes had

requested, the public
responded with hoots of derisive laughter. He told his
theory, and his
audacity were ridiculed in newspapers and scientific
journals the world

           Undeterred, Symmes launched a vigorous campaign

newspaper articles,
more open letters, and countless lectures around the
country. Over and
over her argued that a mass of spinning, unformed
matter-such as the
earth once was-could not have organized itself into a
solid sphere.
Centrifugal force throws rotating matter away from the
axis of rotation;
gravity pulls it inward. When the forces balance, he
said, the result is a
belt of material with the densest matter outermost and
the axis open. In
this way, Symmes claimed, the materials of the earth
were organized as
concentric, hollow spheres open at the poles.

           Symmes marshaled all kinds of evidence, from the

astronomical to the
common place, to support his scheme. Look at the
concentric rings of
Saturn, the polar caps of Mars, he said; look how a
cup of said, rotated,
will sort itself into concentric circles according to
its density. He
appealed to religion: Nature, he pointed out, was a
great economist of
matter, having opted wherever feasible for hollow
bones, stalks, quills and hairs. Furthermore, he said,
God would not have
created a vast inner world only to have it barren and
empty. Some how
Symmes reasoned from the general to the particular and
specific dimensions for the multiple earths he
envisioned. The known
world, the outermost of five, he said, has an opening
4,000 miles across
at the north pole and another, 6,000 miles in
diameter, at the South.
One could walk into these openings, for they are
inclined into the earth's
thousand-mile-thick crust at a gentle angle. Anyone
who did so would
find within a gentle, sheltered land warmed by the
indirect rays of the
sun shining in at the polar portholes.

           Symmes spoke relentlessly to all who would listen to

him, poring out
great, disorganized jumbles of his thought. His
fervent speeches drew
large crowds of the curious but, for the most part,
elicited only
amusement or mild interest instead of cash for his
arctic expedition. He
did make a few converts, however-among whom the most
were an Ohio newspaper editor named Jeremiah N.
Reynolds, who began
giving his own lectures in support of Symmes's
theories, and a wealthy
Ohioan named James McBride. It may well have been
McBride who
requested Kentucky Senator Richard M. Johnson-who
later served as
vice president in the administration of Martin Van
Buren-to introduce in
Congress a petition for funding the proposed
expedition. It was tabled.
McBride then compiled a book summarizing, in a more
concise and logical
fashion than Symmes ever did, the theory of concentric
spheres (which
was more popularly and rudely referred to as Theory of
Symmes's Hole).
But it was all for nothing. The strain of ten years of
proselytizing broke Symmes's health, and he died in
1829 without seeing
his theory accepted or his expedition mounted.

           Symmes had clearly hoped that his quest would bring

him monumental
renown. Indeed using the pen name of Captain Adam
Seaborn, he
published in 1820 a fictional account of a voyage to
the earth's interior,
entitled Symzonia; Voyage of Discovery, in which he
spelled out the
class of glory he hoped would be his. As Captain
Seaborn prepares to
land at a subterranean utopia peopled with gentle,
fair skin beings, he
muses: "I was about to secure to my name a conspicuous
imperishable place on the tablets of History, and a
niche of the first
order in the temple of fame....The voyage of Columbus
was but an
excursion on a fish pond, and his discoveries,
compared with mine, were
but trifles."

           That of course was not the way the world saw it, and

after his death
Symmes's vision of a hollow earth was nearly
forgotten. The polar
expedition he had so long espoused, however was
another matter.

           In fact, Congress authorized such a voyage in 1828,

the year before
Symmes died. This was impart the result of vigorous
lobbying by
Jeremiah Reynolds, who instead of appealing to
scientific curiosity
stressed the trade to be opened and territory to be
claimed. The idea
gained support of president John Quincy Adams but not
of Andrew
Jackson, who succeeded Adams as president in 1829. The
would not sail for another decade.

           Meanwhile, the impatient Reynolds joined a sealing and

expedition to the South Seas aboard the Annawan. (A
magazine story
that he wrote on his return-Mocha Dick, or The White
Whale of the
Pacific-may have been the inspiration for Herman
Melville's masterpiece
Moby Dick, published twelve years later.) On his
return, Renewed earlier
calls to sealers and whalers to add their voices to
the clamor for an
expedition, now proposed to Antarctica.

           In an 1836 speech given in the U.S. Capitol's Hall of

Reynold's conjured a stirring vision of American ships
casting anchor at
the South Pole-"that point where all the meridians
terminate where our
eagle and star spangled banner may be unfurled and
planted, and left to
wave our axis of the earth itself!" If he still
believed in Symmes held that
point, Reynolds kept it to himself.

           Swayed by such patriotic fervor appeals to the whalers

and other
commercial interests. Congress then approved the
expedition and
provided $300,000.00 for it. However, two years
dragged by before it
actually departed. By that time, the impassioned
Reynolds had so
roundly denounced the Secretary of Navy for dawdling
that Reynolds's
be immediately struck from the expedition roster when
the ship finally
sailed in 1838.

           Named for its commander, Navy Lieutenant Charles

Wilkes, the four-year
Wilkes expedition-the first to team civil engineers
and scientists with
naval crews-did make important discoveries, but not
those that Symmes
had so fondly hoped, no charting of a polar opening,
the voyagers
returned maps of thousands of miles of antarctic
coastline, having that
this little known landmass is in fact big enough to be
the earth's seventh

           (Photo-In Poe's "MS. Found in a Bottle," a whirlwind

drags a ship into
the earth through the South Pole)

           Like Symmes before him, Reynold's found that the

tangible rewards for
his devotion were slim. An expedition botanist who
discovered a new
genus of ivy in Samoa on the southward journey named
it Reynoldsia in
honor of Reynolds's "unflagging zeal." And Reynolds
apparently wielded
considerable influence over the fevered mind of one of
greatest authors, Edger Allan Poe. In the short
story "MS Found in a
Bottle" and his novel The Narrative of Arthur Gorden
Pym of Nantucket,
Poe describes doomed voyages that end with ships being
sucked into a
watery abyss at the South Pole-ideas founded on the
writings of Reynolds. Although the two probably never
met, Poe was
calling Reynold's name when he died in a Baltimore
hospital in 1849.

           Such stimulation of fiction writers by scientific

speculations was a
hallmark of the nineteenth century, and many
novelistic excursions were
so plausibly presented that readers were sometimes
hard pressed to
separate the real from the imaginary. Nowhere did
flights of literary
fancy seem so credible-or foretell the future more
accurately-than in
the writings of Jules Verne. With remarkable
prescience, he envisioned
submarines prowling the ocean depths, aeronauts
circumnavigating the
globe, and astronauts traveling to the moon. One of
his first ventures
into his special world, where fact and fantasy were
indistinguishable, was his Journey to the Center of
the Earth.

           The story begins in 1863 in Hamburg, Germany, where

Otto Lidenbrock,
an eccentric professor of mineralogy, has deciphered a
coded, runic
document from Iceland. It turns out to be directions
for reaching the
center of the earth. Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel
immediately go to
Iceland, hire a guide, and descend the chimney of an
extinct volcano
into the depths of the earth. They make their way
through hazardous
passages and survive the tortures of thirst to
discover, eighty-eight
miles down, a vast sea. What amazes them the most,
after their long
ordeal in a series of labyrinthine tunnels, is the
brightness of the
underground world. Declares Axel: "It was like an
aurora borealis, a
continuous cosmic phenomenon, filling a cavern big
enough to contain
an ocean."

           They construct a raft and sail across this mysterious

ocean, discovering
a lost world of giant plants and prehistoric reptiles.
Throughout, the
professor remains the model of a rational nineteenth-
century scientist.
He speculates that the ocean had flowed down from the
through the fissure, closed, and that some of the
vapor had evaporated
to cause clouds and storms. Reflects the Nephew: "This
theory about
the phenomenon we had witnessed structured as
satisfactory, for
however goes the wonders of nature may they can always
be explained
physical laws." Eventually they are lofted by a
volcanic eruption to the
island of Stromboli, off the coast of Italy-having
traveled under the
whole of Europe-and return to a hero's welcome to
Hamburg. As a touch
of verisimilitude, Verne's story included a reference
to Sir John Leslie,
the eighteenth-century mathematician who proposed the
theory of a
hollow earth that has twin suns, Pluto and Proserina.
And at one point,
young wonders aloud about Leslie's theory: "Could he
have been telling
the truth?"

           The same question was often asked of The Coming Race,

a novel by
Lord Lytton, published following his death in 1873.
Bulwer-Lytton, as this English peer was known, was the
author of a
celebrated historical novel, The Last Days of Pompeii,
and a member of
several mystical societies. His story, like Jules
Verne begins with the
chance of discovery of an opening into an underground
world. But what
Lytton's narrator finds there is more ominous than
Verne's imaginings.

           He enters a mine shaft, penetrates a fissure on a

landscaped road, and
finds himself amid a race of superman. He lends that
in the world of the
Vril-ya, as these handsome giants themselves, all
human dreams have
been realized. War and social conflict have been
abolished. Machines
perform the chores; people are free to do what they
prefer and a street
keeper is as highly regarded as the chief magistrate.
Drunkenness, and
all such vices are unknown, and everyone lives past a
hundreds of years
in vigorous health.

           (Photo-Explorers follow a tunnel underground in this

engraving from
Journey to the Center of the Earth)

           All of these blessings derive from "vril," a versatile

fluid that gives these
people absolute master ship over all forms of matter.
It allows them to
fly on artificial wings, to heal and preserve, to
protect their cities, and
to blast away rocks for the creation of settlements.
Its destructive
manner is so awesome that war has been outlawed. In
this interior world
is a vril society that lives its motto: No happiness
without order, no
order without authority, no authority without unity."
But Lytton's
narrator soon realizes that all is not well. "If you
were to take a
thousand of the best and most philosophical human
beings you could
find," he muses, and place them as citizens in this
beautified community,
I believe in less than one year they would either die
of boredom or
attempt some revolution." It begins of dreaming of a
glass of whiskey
and a juicy steak, with a cigar to follow.

           The Vril-ya realize that this imperfect earthling is a

destructive force.
But he must not be allowed to leave; the Vril-ya
intend to return to the
upper world, where they originated, to supplant the
inferior races that
now live there. They refuse to return to kill Lytton's
narrator, but he is
rescued by the Vril-ya the man who loves him, and he
ascends into the
mine shaft supported on her wings.

           He ends his account with a chilling message: "Being

frankly told by my
physician that I am affected by a complaint which,
though it gives little
pain and no perceptible notice of its encroachments,
may at any
moment be fatal, I have thought it the duty to my
fellow-men to place
on record these forewarning of THE COMING RACE."

           Its about the same time that Lytton was writing his

curious book-which
would later become entrenched as a part of occultist
lore-an American
herbalist was upending the whole idea of the hollow
earth. This
mysterious realm is not to be found below us, proposed
Cyrus Read
Teed, but above us; we are not on the globe, but in it.

           Born on a New York farm in 1839, Teed served as a

corporal in the Union
Army during the Civil War before setting up his
practice of herbal cures.
He read widely and found that scientifically accepted
theories of an
infinite universe were a threat and an affront to his
devout sensibilities.
Teed dreamed instead of a more compact and
comprehensible cosmos.
When he finally conceived of his own theory, he
considered it not only a
scientific revelation but a religious one as well.

           Teed expounded on his notions in a book entitled, The

Cosmogony, or, the Earth a Concave Sphere, which he
wrote under the
pseudonym of Koresh, the Hebrew name for Cyrus. The
known world is
on the concave, inner surface of a sphere, he
explained, outside of
which there is only void. At the center of the sphere,
the rotating sun,
half dark and half light, gives the illusion of rising
and setting. The moon
is a reflection of the earth's surface; the stars and
planets reflect from
metallic planes on the earth's concave surface. The
vast internal cavity
is filled with a dense atmosphere that makes it
impossible to see across
the globe to the lands and peoples on other sides.

           Odd as this vision was, it turned out that it could

not be disproved
mathematically. Indeed, Teed-who took Koresh as his
permanent name
offered a $10,000.00 reward to anyone who could
confute his theory,
but he found no takers. When a scientists would use
geometric inversion
to turn a sphere inside out and map external points in
corresponding internal position, the result would be a
universe that looks
like the one described by Teed, or Koresh. But Teed
did not need the
validation of mathematics; "To know of the earth's
concavity,"he wrote,
"is to know God, while to believe in the earth's
convexity is to deny Him
and all His works."

           Captivated by his vision, Teed abandoned medicine-as

well as his wife
and child-and proclaimed himself the messiah of a new
religion called
Koreshanity. To help spread his gospel, he formed a
church, established
the World's College of Life in Chicago, and began
publishing the Flaming
Sword-a magazine that continued to appear until 1949.
With disciples
and donations attracted by his impassioned lectures-
and spurred by
threats from irate husbands whose wives had abandoned
them to join
the Koreshans-he bought a 300 acre tract in Florida in
1894 and
founded a community he called the Koreshan Unity, Inc.
It was meant to
be a home for 10 million converts but only 250
actually settled there.
They were fiercely loyal, however, and when Teed died
in 1908, they
mounted a vigil, waiting for him to rise again and
carry them with him to
heaven, as he had prophesied. The hoped-for ascension
did not come to
pass; after four days, the local health officer
ordered a conventional

           True to form, Teed's internment was anything but

conventional. He was
laid to rest in an immense mausoleum with a twenty-
four hour
guard-until his tomb was washed away by a hurricane in
1921. Forty
years later, his tract was turned into the Koreshan
State Historic Site,
and Koresh's disciples offered guided tours until the
last one died in

           (two photos) A bisected globe demonstrates the

theories of Cyrus Teed,
whose calculations were intended to prove that
humanity lives inside
the earth, warmed by a central sun.

           As the twentieth century began, it might have seemed

that the idea of
a hollow earth would become more and more difficult to
Explorers, after all, were combing the world's surface
at an ever-faster
clip. But the new information that they brought back
did not put and
end to hollow-earth speculations. Indeed, two
proponents-William Reed
and Marshall B. Gardner-weighed in with major
contributions to the field.

           The two theorists were stimulated by some anomalous

discoveries by
polar explorers. For one thing, according to many
accounts, water and
air temperatures grew warmer with proximity to the
North Pole. Fridtjof
Nansen, the Norwegian explorer and statesman, reported
from far inside
the Arctic Circle that it was almost too warm to
sleep. He observed that
winds from the north seemed to raise the temperature
whereas south
winds lowered it.

           Other travelers reported similar warming trends and

described seeing
abundant wildlife-birds, mammals, and plagues of
mosquitos-encountered at high latitudes. Many of these
appeared to be migrating north, rather than south, and
were seen to be
returning from sojourns in where should have been
barren regions looking
sleek and well fed. There were accounts, too, of
travelers who saw
multicolored snow-red,green,yellow and black.

           An even more arresting mystery had been created in

1846 by the
discovery of a long-extinct woolly mammoth frozen in
the ice of Siberia.
So well had the creature been preserved in the arctic
cold that its
stomach still contained identifiable traces of its
last meal of pine cones
and fir branches. Scientists wondered hoe the enormous
animal could
have been frozen quickly enough to arrest its
digestive processes which
normally would continue even after death. Some
theorized that the
mammoth had lived near the pole when the climate was
much warmer
and had succumbed to a sudden freeze. Marshall
Gardner, among
others, claimed no climate change could have been that

           In his book A Journey to the Earth's Interior, or,

Have the Poles Really
been discovered., Published in 1913, Gardener devoted
a full chapter to
the mammoth mystery. The explanation, he said, was
simple: Mammoths
had not become extinct at all but are "wandering today
in the interior of
the earth." When he ventures too near the polar
orifice..., he becomes
stranded on a breaking ice floe and carried over from
the interior
regions, to the other regions or perhaps falls in a
crevasse in ice, which
afterwards begins to move in some great glacier
movement. In these
ways the bodies are carried over to Siberia and left
where we have seen
them discovered."

           Reed, in his book The Phantom of the Poles, had an

examination for the
colored snow reported by travelers. The red, green,
and yellow must be
pollen, he said; the black would be soot from
volcanoes. And all must
have come from the earth's interior, the closest
possible source.
Accounting for the polar warming was more complex, but
Gardner and
Reed both attributed it to Symmes-like openings into
the inner earth.
Reed described the earth's crust as 800 miles think,
with gravity acting
toward the deepest part of the shell. In other words,
the same gravity
that pulled objects on the outside of the sphere
inward would thrust
objects inside the globe outward. Voyages could thus
sail over the edge
of the polar openings without being aware that they
had left one world
for another, Indeed, Reed insisted that "all, or
nearly all, the explorers
have spent much of their time past the turning-point,
and have had look
at the interior of the earth."

           Gardener believed that the interior was lite by a

central sun, possibly
600 miles in diameter, left over from the spinning
nebula from which the
earth was formed. Mars had been formed in similar
fashion, he wrote,
and its interior sun could sometimes be seen glinting
through its polar
openings. Reflected light from the earth's interior
sun, according to
Gardner, creates the startling brilliance of the
aurora borealis at the
North Pole and the aurora australis at the South Pole.

           On this subject, Gardner parted company with Reed, who

that the inner world got its light from the outer sun
shining in at the
poles. As for the auroras, Reed had an ingenious
explanation. The
northern lights, he said, are the reflected images of
interior prairie fires
of volcanoes. They obviously are not caused by
electricity, as orthodox
scientists had proposed. This theory Reed disposed of
with a scornful,
rhetorical question: Does electricity ever move
through the heavens as
if driven slowly along by some unseen agency?" To
explain why the
aurora is most brilliant during the arctic winter,
Reed pointed out that
the sun shines directly into the south polar opening
at that time of year.
The ice and snow at the rim reflect and intensify the
light that emerges
from the North Pole to create the aurora. Presumably,
the situation is
reversed in summer.

           Reed was eager to see the inner earth, with its "vast

oceans, mountains and rivers, vegetable and animal
life," put to use.
And by his reckoning, the interior "can be made
accessible to mankind
with one-forth the outlay of treasure, time, and life
that it cost to build
the subway in New York City. The number of people that
can find
comfortable homes (if it not already be occupied) will
be billions."

           For his part, Gardner thought that at least some of

the interior was
already peopled by Eskimos, who must have originate
there. As
evidence, he cited Eskimo myths about a warm homeland
to the north of
the arctic. He reasoned that the Eskimos must have
migrated to the
ice-bound region where they now live because it was
easier to hunt
whales and seals there than it was in open water.

           What really fired Gardner's imagination was the

prospect of mining the
interior, where he expected to find bountiful lodes of
gold, platinum, and
diamonds. "Our country has the men, the aeroplane, the
enterprise, and
the capital, "he declared, to appropriate these
treasures. But he was
not suggesting that the exploration be done out of
greed; rather, it was
the duty of America, Gardner believed, "with her high
civilization, her
free institutions,, her humanity-for there may be
native population to
deal with-her generosity," to move more quickly. "Do
we want one of
the autocratic countries of Europe to perpetuate in
this new world all
the old evils of colonial oppression and
exploitation?" he asked.

           While Reed and Gardner were content o theorize about

the inner earth,
Olaf Jansen claimed actually to have been there.
Jansen was a
Norwegian sailor who retired to Glendale, California,
in the early 1900's.
Just before he died, at the age of ninety-five, he
told writer Willis
George Emerson, one of his few friends, an incredible
story, which
Emerson published in 1908 under the title The Smoky
God, or, a Voyage
to the Inner World. Jensen had waited to reveal the
truth, he explained,
because when he first tried to tell his story, he was
locked in an asylum
for twenty-eight years.

           As a teen-age boy in 1829, Jensen related, he sailed

with his father to
Franz Joseph Land, a group of islands high above the
Arctic Circle, in
search of ivory tusks. Finding open seas and fair
weather, they resolved
to explore unknown waters to the north. A storm drove
them through a
barrier of fog and snow, nearly capsizing their frail
sloop, and delivered
them to a cloudless calm beyond. They sailed on in
fine weather and
spied a smoky God that was worshipped as a deity by
the inhabitants of
the inner world they had entered.

           There the Jensens met with a race of good-humored

giants, ten to
twelve feet tall. They visited a seaport city that was
surrounded by
vineyards and richly ornamented with Gold; they saw a
forest of trees
that would make the California redwoods seem like
underbrush, and they
ate grapes as large as oranges. They were whisked by
monorail to the
city of Eden, where they met the great high priest in
a palace paved
with gold and jewels.

           After two and a half years in this paradise, the

homesick father and son
were allowed to leave. Carrying bags of gold nuggets,
they sailed
through the south polar opening. The elder Jensen was
drowned when
an iceberg crushed their sloop, but Olaf was rescued
by a Scottish

           In support of this fantastic tale, Jensen called on

some of the same
evidence that Reed and Gardner had used in their
theorizing. He
mentioned magnetic irregularities at the poles, wind-
blown pollen, and
mammoth bones in Siberia. And he believed a party of a
Swedish polar
explorers, lost in a balloon after leaving Spitsbergen
in 1897, "are now in
the 'within' world, and doubtless are being
entertained, as my father and
myself were entertained, by the kind-hearted giant
race inhabiting the
inner Atlantic Continent."

           All of these inner-earth visionaries suffered for

their beliefs. Jensen was
locked up; Reed and Gardner were ridiculed. But
Gardner, for one, was
equally intolerant of fellow enthusiasts. He dismissed
Symmes's theory
as merely "supposition" and declared: "Of course it is
very easy for
anyone to deny all the facts of science and get up
some purely private
explanation of the formation of the earth. The man who
does that is a
crank. Unfortunately the man in the street does not
always discriminate
between a crank and a scientist."

           Gardner was enraged to discover that some scientists

had the same
difficulty and relegated his own work to the crank
category. For an
example, the director of the Lick Observatory of Santa
Cruz, California,
wrote to him: "It may be a disappointment to you to
learn that we are
placing your book in the class which contains
pamphlets which we
perennially receive on such subjects as 'The earth is
Flat,' etc. It is
surprising how many of these contributions there are
which ignore, with
apparent deliberation, the great body of modern
scientific knowledge."

           "Sheer misrepresentation," fulminated Gardner, who

preferred to quote
more favorable opinions from a Professor A. Schmidt of
Stuttgart ("a
very weighty physical hypothesis") and Professor H.
Sjogren of
Stockholm ("originality and audacity"). Gardner
remained unshaken in his
beliefs despite the increasing number of explorers-
such as Cook, Peary,
Scott, and Admundsen. The future would prove him
correct: "We shall
see all when we explore the arctic in earnest, as we
shall easily be able
to do with the aid of airships."

           (Photo of Adolf Hitler. It is rumored that he had

dispatched several
expeditions to search for proof of a hollow earth)

           Before full-scale aerial surveys of the poles could

shed much light on the
polar regions, a kind of dark age intervened, during
which exploration
and scientific progress were overshadowed by war and
tyranny. In
1933, Adolf Hitler proclaimed himself the leader of a
Thousand Year
Reich, a civilization of superman that would rule the
world. The Nazi
philosophy was based on a belief in the supremacy of
the Aryan race,
and strenuous efforts were made to buttress this claim
with evidence
dredged from history, folklore, and science. In this
atmosphere of myth,
hollow earth theories thrived.

           Peter Bender, a German aviator who was seriously

wounded in World
War I, attracted favorable attention in Germany during
the 1930's with
his elaborations on Koreshanity. Top Nazi leaders,
including Hitler,
reportedly took seriously the concept of a concave
world that was first
proposed by Cyrus "Koresh" Teed. And it appeared that
these leaders
sometimes translated theirs beliefs into concrete
actions. In April 1942,
for an example, at the height of the war, Dr. Heinz
Fischer, an expert on
infrared radiation, purportedly led a group of
technicians on a secret
expedition to the Baltic island of Rugen. The men
aimed a powerful
camera loaded with infrared film into the sky at a
forty-five degree angle
and left it in the position for several days. The goal
which proved
elusive, was to take a picture of the British fleet
across the hollow
interior of the concave earth.

           Other beliefs about inner worlds gained currency among

enthusiasts. There was, for an example, a VRIL
Society, also known as
the Luminous Lodge, which held that Lord Lytton's book
The Coming
Race was true and that it offered a blueprint for the
future. Members of
this occultists body no doubt thrilled to the Vril-ya
slogan-"No happiness
without order, nor order without authority, no
authority without unity."
But developing a race of superman was difficult and
took time. The
Luminous Lodge wanted to make contact with any
existing race of
superior beings, in hope of establishing peaceful
relations and learning
their secrets.

           Other organizations followed similar urges. The anti-

Semitic Thule
Society of Bavaria, whose adherents included Nazi
philosopher Alfred
Rosenburg and deputy fuhrer Rudolf Hess, sometimes
claimed to
represent survivors of Atlantis who lived in the
Himalayas-the legendary
secret chiefs of Tibet. Some of the society's more
enthusiastic members
believed that they could contact their master, the
King of Fear, by use
of tarot cards.

           According to some accounts, Hitler may have even

believed that he had
seen a member of a super race from the inner earth. He
reportedly told
Hermann Rauschning, the Nazi Governor of Danzig: "The
new man is
living amongst us now! He is here!...I will tell you a
secret. I have seen
the new man. He is intrepid and cruel. I was afraid of
him. "The fuhrer
was also rumored to have dispatched expeditions to
Tibet and Mongolia
in search of Underground wisdom. In further pursuit of
such knowledge,
special units are said to have scoured the mines and
cavern of occupied
Europe for passages leading to a subterranean world.
And then there is
the recurring legend that senior Nazis took refuge in
the bowels of the
earth as Germany collapsed in ruins.

           (Photo of Amiral Richard Byrd using a nonmagnetic sun

compass to find
his position over Antarctica. Byrd's reports from the
pole convinced
some hollow earth enthusiasts that he had located a
hidden world)

           By then, the airborne explorations of the poles

envisioned by Gardner
were well under way. In 1926, United States Navy
aviator Richard E.
Byrd had become the first to fly over the North Pole;
three years later,
he made the first flight over the South Pole. He would
cross the South
Pole by air twice more, in 1947 and 1955.

           His findings were hardly calculated to bring cheer to

hollow-earthers. Byrd reported that he flew an
enormous triangle around
the South Pole, "surveyed nearly 10,000 square miles
of the country
around beyond the pole." and found nothing. Although
it is somewhat
disappointing to report, "he wrote, "there was no
observable feature of
any significance beyond the pole. There was only the
rolling white
desert from horizon to horizon."

           Elsewhere on the continent, the landscape appeared

more varied. Byrd
found jagged mountains of coal black and brick red,
where ice-covered
rocks reflected the sun "in an indescribable complex
of colors, blends of
blues, purple, and greens such as man seldom has seen
before." Greatly
impressed by this natural beauty, Byrd became almost
lyrical: "At the
bottom of this planet lies an enchanted continent in
the sky. Sinister
and beautiful she lies in her frozen slumber, her
billowy white robes of
snow weirdly luminous with amethysts and emeralds of

           Byrd's discoveries did little to end speculations

about a hollow earth,
open at the poles; on the contrary, believers were
stimulated to new
heights of endeavor-and confusion over dates and
places-to discredit
Byrd's reports. In 1959, two years after the polar
explorer's death, a
writer named F. Amadeo Giannini insisted, in a book
entitled Worlds
Beyond the Poles, that Byrd had in fact flown into the
inner earth-
1,700 miles beyond the South Pole in 1956.

           Others, including pulp magazine editor Ray Palmer and

the highly
imaginative author Raymond Bernard, shared a belief
that someone was
conspiring to keep Byrd's real findings secret. They
found confirming
evidence in Byrd's phrases about "the country beyond"
and "the
enchanted continent in the sky." And they claimed to
have discovered
other radio messages that told of iceless land and
lakes, mountains
covered with trees, and even a monstrous animal
resembling the
mammoth of antiquity moving through allegedly polar

           Palmer, for one, had a considerable professional

interest in keeping alive
the notion of habitable regions beneath the earth. As
editor of the
magazine Amazing Stories, he started publishing in the
mid-1940s a long
running series of articles by Richard S. Shaver, a
Pennsylvania welder
who claimed to have stumbled upon a race of
underground creatures
called deros were survivors of the lost land of
Lumeria and used
mysterious rays to influence events on the earth's

           As Shaver had it, deros were to blame for all the

evils that plagued
humankind. Every mishap, from airplane crashes to
sprained ankles,
could be traced to machinations of the deros. Once,
after Shaver had
visited with Palmer, the editor experienced an amazing
infestation of
fleas. Queried about the sudden appearance of the
vermin, Shaver
insisted that he had never been troubled with fleas.
Surely he said it
was the work of the deros.

           Palmer cheerfully billed the Shaver tales

as "something NEW in science
fiction." But as sales of the magazine soared on the
strength of
disclosures about the deros, he was deluged with
earnest letters from
readers who reported that they, too, had encountered
the subterranean
beings. Some told of harrowing adventures. One
correspondent warned
that Palmer was "playing with dynamite" in exposing
the deros. He and a
companion, he wrote, once fought their way out of a
cave with a
submachine guns, and still bore the scars of wounds
inflicted by vicious
creatures. "Don't print our names, "he pleaded. "We
are not cowards,
but we are not crazy." Contemplating Shaver's Mystery-
Palmer could
only conclude: "If it is a delusion, many people have

           Others shared with Palmer and Bernard the Belief that

there was more to
the Byrd story than had been revealed. A woman wrote
to Palmer
claiming that, in 1929 in White Plains, New York, she
had been able to
see a newsreel of Byrd's 1926 flight over the North
Pole, in which Byrd
"exclaimed in wonder as he approached a warm-water
lake surrounded
by conifers, with a large animal moving about among
the trees. "No such
newsreel was ever found, and the reported radio
broadcasts found no
place in Byrd's detailed accounts of his antarctic
expedition. Bernard
suggested darkly that they may have been suppressed by
secret forces.
The truth of Admiral Byrd's discoveries, he declared,
remains "a leading
international top secret." But the diehards soon had
more difficult
evidence to deal with. In March of 1959, the U.S.
nuclear submarine
Skate, having sailed under the arctic ice pack,
surfaced at the North
Pole. The crew used inertial navigation equipment to
calculate the speed
of the earth's rotation and thus to conform arrival at
the pole, where
the rotation settles to a single point. The skipper,
Commander James F.
Calvert, wrote later: We took exhaustively careful
soundings, gravity
measurements, and navigation readings to ensure that
we had attained
the precise navigational Pole, and had as much data as
possible from
the famous spot."

           Palmer had little to say about the Skate expedition,

but he returned
triumphantly to the fray in 1970. "THE WHOLE!...NOW WE
PHOTO!" he proclaimed in Flying Saucers magazine,
which he launched in
1957. And indeed he did have a picture, courtesy of
the Environmental
Science Service Administration of the U.S. Department
of Commerce. It
was one of a series of about 40,000 satellite photos
of the earth and
showed what looked to be a gaping, circular black spot
or void around
the North Pole?" "how many more photos will we require
to establish a
fact?" demanded Palmer, claiming that the supposed
opening was
concealed by clouds on all the other satellite

           Sadly for Palmer the photograph turned out to be not a

photo at all, but a mosaic of television images
transmitted by an orbiting
satellite. The images, taken during a twenty-four-hour
period from many
points along the satellite's orbit, were processed by
a computer and
reassembled to form a composite view of Earth as if
seen from a single
point directly over the North Pole. During this time,
regions near the Pole
were shrouded by the continuous darkness of the
northern winter.
Hence an unlighted area occupies the center of the

           But the hardy believers in the existence of a world

within persist despite
daunting accumulations of evidence to the contrary.
They point out
that no one has penetrated very ar beneath the earth's
crust, and they
take heart from the fact that despite technological
advances, modern
science holds different theories about what is to be
found there.

           Indeed, earth scientists continue to encounter the

Soundings of the planet's depths, taken with
instruments that analyze
shock waves from earthquakes and manmade explosions,
have turned up
considerable surprises. The technique, called seismic
tomography, uses
the analysis of thousands of earthquakes over a
multiyear period to
create a computer-generated image of the earth's
interior. It has long
been generally agreed that the earth has three
principal layers: a solid
crust of granite and basalt that averages twenty-five
miles in thickness;
a 2,000-mile thick mantle of viscous rock: and a
central core of molten
iron and nickel, 4,000 miles in diameter. Scientists
have assumed that
the inner core is a smooth sphere, but images examined
in the
mid-1980's show instead a lumpy blob, with mountains
several miles high
and canyons six times deeper than the Grand Canyon.
speculate that the mountains were caused by ponderous
currents in the
molten mantle, where hotter, less dense areas rise
from the core like hot
air from a radiator; cooler regions closer to the
crust sink toward the
core. Such movements could well push up some areas of
the core and
depress others. But the belief in the world within the
earth is far too
durable to yield even to reams of computer printouts
or acres of satellite
images. There are always contradictions in the data or
obscure areas in
the images, always for a dedicated believer to wedge
in doubt and cling
to a contrary notion.

           Thus the dark at the back of the cave persists, along

with a
deep-seated need to know for sure what is there-not by
calculation or inference, but for certain. Beyond
that, there is the
compulsion to envision better worlds, where
intractable human problems
have been solved, where the future is under benevolent
control. There
is an almost instinctive human eagerness to follow the
path of any dim
trail of anomalous clues when there is a possibility
that it will lead to
shining or secret place, whether it be Agartha under
the earth, Atlantis
beneath the sea, or a ring of stones pulsing with
primeval energies.
Proving that such places or things do not exist is not
enough. It is
hardly relevant. The mysteries will remain as long as
there are those to
ponder it them.

Exceptionally well written, @deandddd - thanks for sharing...whoever wrote this - thanks so much for compiling these many threads into one single text !