For over a hundred years people reported seeing a strange smoke coming up from the Wakulla Swamp in Northwest, Florida. At times the eerie chimney of smoke was seen far out on the Gulf of Mexico. Some early seafarers used the smoke as a navigation marker when sailing into St.Marks. Tales and explanations emerged concerning the origin of the smoke, ranging from a pirates camp, moonshine still, a witches coven, to the possibility of a small fissure, or little volcano. People continued observing the weird smoke until the Charleston earthquake, in the late 1800s, after which the smoke hasn't been seen again. Over the years several attempts have been made to locate the source of the smoke. A few claim to have actually seen a small blackened crater atop a hill deep in the swamp. Others have brought back what appears to be molten rock. However, geologist have disagreed from the start that there ever was a Florida volcano. Although, an oil well company, drilling in the swamp, in the late 1940s, did bring up volcanic material. The Wakulla Swamp is a vast uninhabited subtropical forest, much of it is wet and mucky, with only a few rises called hammocks. Adding to the misery of the swamp are mosquitoes, alligators, and numerous species of snakes, including poisonous ones. Once a person visits the swamp it is easy to understand why no one wanted to venture to far into it, thus allowing the mysterious smoke to keep the secret of its origin. In October 1997, three UNX investigators went into the Wakulla Swamp looking for evidence of Florida's lost volcano. During the Fall of the year the vegetation dies back and makes the jungle a little more easier to navigate. The trip began by boat from the headwaters of the Wakulla River. The three men had obtained a hand-drawn map from a 74 year old Wakulla man who claimed to know the location of the crater. The man said that while hunting, during the 1930s, he had, "come up on rocks scattered all over an area of the swamp, which appeared to have been blown out of the ground."Another man claimed that his uncle had actually seen a,"crater the size of a wash tub that was burnt around the edges."The source of this information has been deceased for several years, therefore we were not able to interview him. The three UNX explorers went ashore near the intersection of two rivers and from that point hiked about two to three miles to a high ridge which seem to run through a hammock. The explorers found a high point, or hill, on this ridge, which was indeed scattered with rocks. Vegetation had grown over most of the rocks, however several were quite large and weighing an estimated hundred pounds. No explanation could be found for these rocks being thrown about the landscape. Searches for a fissure, crater, or hole, proved negative. However, a number of the smaller rocks did appear to have been burned, but not like molten lava. Was this place the site of Florida's lost volcano, or is the real site farther into the swamp? We don't know, and obviously no one else does either. Our researchers brought back eight rocks for examination, none are of volcanic origin, three definetly have been exposed to heat---But was it the heat of a volcano???Florida's Lost Volcano is still keeping its secret. UNX thanks Bill Myers, Todd Myers, and Jimmie Whitman for their exploration and report.
This curious lady has been the subject in several local articles about Spiritualism, but the story originates not from paranormal research, but from genealogical research. Almost everybody has heard about the famous psychics and mediums, of the past; such as Edgar Cayce, the Fox Sisters, and many others; there are great amazing people which have simply been lost in paranormal history. The story of Maggie Bell is one such gifted person. According to census records, Maggie was born sometime in the 1880s, in Ireland. However, she spent most of her life in the small town of Lake Monroe, Fla, not far from the St.John's River in Seminole County. Today, Interstate 4 crosses where the little town once stood, bringing fast moving tourists into the theme parks of congested Orlando. In its heyday, the little town had a "BIG SECRET," at least to all outsiders. That secret was the amazing abilities of a strange pipe smoking, gypsy-looking lady, who wore a red headrag, she was Maggie Bell. Every evening, after the sun went down, residents would gather at Maggie's big ol' house for a seance. It has been told by old timers, who attended those strange gatherings, that Maggie caused apparitions to appear, sounds to come from the walls, that she often spoke in the voices of the deceased, she could cause tables and chairs to waltz around the her parlor to the amazement of her audience. She allowed everyone present to examine these activities with close scrutiny. Yet no one could ever prove trickery, and they swore that Maggie was for real. For many years she served as a visiting medium at the spiritual town of Cassadaga, Fla., where she conducted automatic writings, making chalk float up and scribble spiritual messages on a blackboard. But Maggie's greatest claim to fame, is that she may have proved the existence of the Spirit World. Prior to her death in the 1920s, Maggie promised the residents of the little town that she would return after her death, in a way that each person would know that it was her spirit, and prove that life goes on. All of her friends that she had made this promise to were treated to a visit from Maggie's ghost within two years following her death.Seven of those witnesses were interviewed by UNX, separately, and all gave similar accounts which can only be explained as Maggie Bell returning with evidence of life after death. Maggie Bell may have missed going into the history books about the paranormal, but her spirit certainly lives on in the Secret kept by the folks of Lake Monroe, Florida.