Anyone who listens to a lot of radio shows (or is prone to getting lost in a YouTube rabbit hole) knows there’s a glut of programs dedicated to the paranormal and the conspiratorial. Whether or not they believe them, people everywhere just love getting caught up in zany theories. But rarely do stories take off like the one told by a man named Mel Waters.

Mel was a bit of a character. He’d call into a late-night radio show that delved into the spooky, paranormal, and weird stuff going on around the planet. But one night, he relayed a story that seemed insane even for him. Now, two decades later, people are still searching for answers…

One night in 1997, a man named Mel Waters called in to late-night AM radio program Coast to Coast. The show, hosted by Art Bell (pictured), covered everything from the paranormal to the conspiratorial. And boy, did Mel have the perfect story for his fellow listeners!

Mel claimed he once owned some property out in rural Washington, just nine miles west of a town called Ellensburg. There, he found something neither Art nor his listeners could believe.

According to Mel, there was a hole on his property that plunged 80,000 feet into the earth (he’d measured it with fishing wire, apparently). This would make the hole easily as the deepest on the planet—and that wasn’t even the strangest thing he reported.

All of Mel’s neighbors knew about the hole; in fact, they all frequently tossed their trash into it for easy disposal. But Mel knew there was more to it. He’d heard a rumor that, on more than one occasion, a mysterious black beam shot out of it and into the sky.

UWTV / YouTube

The strangest story of all, however, involved a local hunter, whose beloved pet dog passed away one day. Overcome with grief, the hunter threw his dog’s body into the hole. That should have been the last time he’d ever seen his pooch…

But just a few days later, while strolling through the area around the hole, the hunter—who relayed his story to Mel—swore he saw his dog. Same fur pattern. Same collar. Same everything. Had the mysterious chasm resurrected his dog?

Listeners could only speculate as Mel told story after story about this oddity, some ridiculous, others not. His association with the hole—which would come to be known as “Mel’s Hole”—ended when the government, allegedly, paid him off.

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Somehow, strange as his phone call was, others corroborated Mel’s out-of-this-world tales. Red Elk, a Native American from the area, confessed that he, too, had known about Mel’s Hole since his father showed him in 1961.

UWTV / YouTube

“There are people down there,” Red Elk said. “Alien people to us that were here even before man… the planet they come from is a desert planet, so they live underground.” He was alluding to a theory known to some as Hollow Earth.

UWTV / YouTube

As the stories and legends about Mel’s Hole became stranger and stranger, the longer they stayed in the public conscience. Strangest of all, however, was that no matter how unbelievable the legend became, people couldn’t resist its pull.

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Red Elk himself once led an expedition of 30 people to locate Mel’s Hole. Of course, they returned without having found anything of the sort. But, amazingly, other efforts to find the pit turned up more fruitful evidence.

UWTV / YouTube

For instance, when looking at publicly available satellite imagery provided by the government, one YouTuber discovered, well… nothing. Instead, right where the hole should have been, were two enormous white squares. Huh?

Reverie Days / YouTube

That finding, of course, coincided with other rumors about Mel’s Hole. “It has something to do with extra-terrestrials. UFO crafts,” said Ellensburg local Dan Turner as he recalled all that he knew of the legend.

Evan Catlin / YouTube

The story of Mel’s Hole spread further and further, and eventually, serious journalists wanted the truth. But when they sought contact with Mel Waters, they found that no one by that name lived—or had ever lived—in Ellensburg.

UWTV / YouTube

“It’s like a Holy Grail thing,” Dan said jokingly. “If you find it, I guess maybe there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; maybe there’s demons that are gonna assault you in your sleep at night. I don’t know.”

And while few believed every single story, some wondered what, if anything, the legend was based on. Was there truly some seemingly bottomless hole out in rural Washington? In 2017, a few film students tried finding out…

Evan Catlin / YouTube

To begin their search, Evan Catlin, Cory Henderson, and Tyler Templeton brought their film equipment to coordinates they found online—right in those white boxes from the satellite footage. They didn’t expect to find anything, but then…

Evan Catlin / YouTube

They actually stumbled upon a seemingly unending pit! Was this Mel’s Hole? “On every single side, you can’t see the bottom. Anywhere you go, you can’t see it,” Evan said. But was it 80,000 feet deep?

Evan Catlin / YouTube

To test its depth, Evan threw a rock inside and waited for the sound of it hitting the bottom. After what felt like forever, he’d heard… nothing. So he threw another rock. Again, nothing.

Evan Catlin / YouTube

So the team busted out the big equipment. With ropes and a GoPro, they lowered the camera into the hole as deep as it’d go. Eventually, they ran out of rope (and the property owner chased them away). But had they captured anything of note on film?

Evan Catlin / YouTube

Not exactly. However, the hole did, at the very least, look a bit endless. Could this hole have been the basis for the legend, even without a black beam, a dead dog, or aliens? Without Mel to confirm, we may never know, but that begged a question…

Evan Catlin / YouTube

How on earth did ramblings on an AM conspiracy radio program become such a widespread legend? Why did the story of Mel’s Hole persist for more than two decades? Mark Auslander, director of Museum of Culture and Anthropology, took a guess.

Evan Catlin / YouTube

“In a metaphorical sense,” Mark said, “we’re not just looking for a landscape feature, but we’re looking for some mystery in the world.” And he may be right. As for the mystery of the hole the film students discovered…

Bryan Myrick / Daily Record

It turned out to be an old mining shaft! Still, check out the video below for more information on the legend of Mel’s Hole. While it’s unlikely anyone will find a magical pit hiding aliens, you have to wonder: what’s the truth about this mysterious story?

How’s that for a local legend? While it’s unlikely no one stumbled upon an 80,000-foot-deep hole after all these years, you have wonder about Mel Waters and if there was any truth to the stories he told!

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