Tag Archives: Native American

The Monster Lizard of Shangri-La Cave

The mouth of Shangri-La Cave near Marianna, Florida.

One of my favorite old legends about Jackson County is the story of the Monster Lizard of Shangri-La Cave.

Early white settlers learned the story from the Lower Creek Indians who still lived in the county after the transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States in 1821. It tells of a monstrous lizard that guarded Shangri-La Caves at today’s Blue Springs Recreational Area near Marianna.

Econchattimico’s town on the Chattahoochee River as drawn by Francis, comte de Castelnau, in 1838.

The source for the legend was Econchattimico (Red Ground King). He was the leader of Eckanachatte (Red Ground), a Lower Creek village at today’s Neals Landing Park, prior to the First Seminole War. The town was destroyed in 1818, however, and its residents moved down the Chattahoochee River to rebuild.

Their new town, Tocktoethla (River Junction), stood on the river near today’s Arnold Landing north of Sneads. The site is now inundated by Lake Seminole, a 37,500 acre reservoir that forms much of Jackson County’s eastern border.

Shangri-La Spring in Jackson County near Marianna, Florida.

The town’s chief attracted considerable interest and was often visited by those curious about Native American culture and history. One of these preserved his story of the Monster Lizard:

…A hunter of the old days would seek deer at the Big Spring. He camped there many times and the water and the game were good. On this day he went down from the Big Spring to the rocky place and it was there that he heard the sound of the monster lizard. (1)

Looking down into Shangri-La Spring through crystal clear water.

The Big Spring, of course, was today’s Blue Springs (or Jackson Blue Spring as the state prefers to call it). The “rocky place” was the face of the limestone bluff at Shangri-La Spring, which is on the north bank of Merritt’s Mill Pond just downstream from Blue Springs.

The old chief continued his story:

Shangri-La Spring as seen from the limestone bluff. The legendary attack of the Monster Lizard took place here.

…It sounded like a tired dog. The hunter took shelter behind a rock so he could see the cave in which the monster lizard made his home. It slowly came out into the light. It was large. Larger than the largest alligator. Its teeth were like my knife. (2)

The Monster Lizard looked around, searching for the Native American hunter who had dared to disturb its lair. Its tongue flickered in and out:

Deep inside Shangri-La Cave. Econchattimico said that this was the lair of the Lizard Monster.

…The hunter was a brave warrior. Now he shook like dry leaves in the wind. He lay flat on the dirt, hoping he would not be seen. The Monster Lizard found him and picked him up in his mouth to take him back into the cave. The hunter knew he would be eaten but suddenly there was a sound. The Monster Lizard threw him down and went to find what had made the sound. It was a tiger. The hunter did not know what to do so he lay still as if he was dead. (3)

The word “tiger” was often used in historic times to refer to a panther. These beautiful big cats were once common in all parts of Florida:

The mouth of Shangri-La Cave as seen from the interior. The Lizard Monster entered here after being badly injured in its battle with the panther.

…The tiger battled the Monster Lizard. It was a big fight. The Monster Lizard tried to grab the tiger but the tiger slashed him with his claws. The Monster Lizard was badly hurt and finally gave up the fight and went into his cave. The hunter now was afraid that the tiger would eat him. He lay still and pretended to be dead. He then heard words, “Are you dead?” He opened his eyes and saw that the tiger had spoken to him. The hunter said, “no.” The tiger then said to him, “Get on my back then and I will carry you to your camp.” And he did. (4)

The story as told by Econchattimico was a version of an old legend told by the Creeks. There are different variations but all involve a hunter being attacked by a monstrous lizard and then being saved by a panther.

The legend was commonly told around fires in Creek towns and migrated with them to what is now Oklahoma when they were forced west on the Trail of Tears. Versions of it still survive there to this day.

The cave at Shangri-La is not open to the public at this time.

Dale Cox
September 14, 2017

References:

(1)  “A Tale of Conchatimico,” May 21, 1838, Carswell Collection.
(2)  Ibid.
(3)  Ibid.
(4)  Ibid.




Mysterious Structure on the bottom of Lake Seminole

The mysterious stone structure is now on the bottom of the Spring Creek arm of Lake Seminole.

Who built a mysterious stone structure that now rests on the bottom of Lake Seminole?

No one has seen the strange building in nearly 60 years, but speculation about it has focused on everyone from the ancient Mayans or Irish to General Andrew Jackson!

Two Egg TV has launched an expedition to find the structure. Rachael Conrad has Parts 1, 2 & 3 of our special series:

Jackson’s Oven stood near Rhodes’ Ferry Landing on Spring Creek prior to the completion of the Jim Woodruff Dam in 1958. We go beneath the waters of the lake in Part Two of this series as our search gets underway. We will post a link to that part as soon as it is available.

To read an architect’s theory on the origin of the structure, please follow this link: Who built this mysterious stone structure on the Flint River?

Click here to learn more about the Spring Creek Watershed Partnership.

Click here to learn more about 37,500 acre Lake Seminole.

 

Indian mound restoration nears completion in Chattahoochee, Florida

Restoration of the more than 1,000 year old mound is nearing completion.

Restoration of a destroyed prehistoric Indian mound is nearing completion at River Landing Park in Chattahoochee, Florida.

The original mound was built by prehistoric Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago. Unfortunately, it was all but destroyed  when a previous owner of the property used a bulldozer to level it. The site is now owned by the City of Chattahoochee, which has been highly supportive of the effort to restore the earthwork.

A load of earth arrives for use in restoring the mound.

Work on the project began in early June and is expected to be completed by the end of this week if the weather cooperates.

The restoration is a true community project. The idea was conceived by author/historian Dale Cox who has written two books about events that took place at River Landing Park:

Nicolls’ Outpost: A War of 1812 Fort at Chattahoochee, Florida

The Scott Massacre of 1817: A Seminole War Battle in Gadsden County, Florida.

Two Egg TV has documented the restoration of the prehistoric mound and will soon release a documentary on the project.

Proceeds from the books have helped fund the placement of two historical markers at the park. One commemorates a War of 1812 British fort that once stood there and a second tells the story of the Chattahoochee Landing Mound group. A third, which details the Scott Massacre of 1817, is currently on order and will be dedicated on December 2, 2017.

Chattahoochee Main Street approved the project, which is located in the Main Street district, and helped raise funds for its completion.

The project took a massive amount of clay. It was donated by Gadsden County.

The City of Chattahoochee unanimously approved the restoration of the mound, placed a water line to the site and provided other logistical help.

Plans for the mound were prepared for free as a community service by employees of David H. Melvin, Inc. Consulting Engineers of Marianna.

Chattahoochee Councilman L.B. “Bernie” Howell has volunteered scores of hours to assist with the project and has provided enormous help in coordinating the various individuals and entities involved. He is also donating from his own pocket.

L.B. “Bernie” Howell (L) and Sean Neal (R) examine the mound at the completion of the building and compaction phase. The mound is expected to be sodded this week.

Sean Neel and his employees at Neal Contracting, LLC (850-693-0541) have donated many hours of construction work and heavy equipment use while charging only for essentials.

Robert Presnell and Gadsden County donated the clay used in restoring the main bulk of the mound.

Two Egg TV has documented the entire restoration process on video and will soon release a documentary about how the project was accomplished.

Rachael Conrad of Two Egg TV assisted in flagging the area where the reconstructed mound was built.

Original construction of the archaeologically significant Chattahoochee Landing Mound Group is believed to have begun during the Swift Creek cultural era (100-800 A.D.) and continued into the Fort Walton era (900-1500 A.D.).

The complex is thought to have included at least seven mounds, all of which served as the platforms for prehistoric structures. An eighth mound, where burials were located, once stood on the opposite side of the Apalachicola River in Jackson County but was destroyed by erosion.

To learn more about River Landing Park and its prehistoric mounds, please enjoy this free guided tour courtesy of Chattahoochee Main Street, Visit Florida and Two Egg TV:

Chattahoochee kicks off 200th anniversary of Scott Massacre of 1817

Chattahoochee and community leaders gather to announce plans for a 200th anniversary commemoration of the Scott Massacre of 1817.
Chattahoochee and community leaders gather to announce plans for a 200th anniversary commemoration of the Scott Massacre of 1817.

Chattahoochee Main Street and the City of Chattahoochee have officially kicked off the 200th anniversary commemoration of the Scott Massacre of 1817.

This battle was the first U.S. defeat of the Seminole Wars and took place at what is now River Landing Park in Chattahoochee. A large force of Red Stick Creek, Seminole, Miccosukee and maroon (Black Seminole) warriors captured a U.S. Army supply boat commanded by Lt. Richard W. Scott of the 7th Infantry Regiment.

The attack ended with the deaths of 34 U.S. soldiers, 6 women and 4 children. A seventh woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Stewart, was taken prisoner and later freed by Brig. Gen. William McIntosh’s U.S. Creek Brigade at the Battle of Econfina.

The kickoff press conference formally announced plans for a commemorative event that will be held at River Landing Park in Chattahoochee on December 1 & 2, 2017:

Plans for the event include living history encampments and demonstrations, memorial services, exhibits, vendors, a marker unveiling, music and entertainment, a chance to meet Florida authors, a military parade and more. The event has been named an official event for the 7th Infantry Living History Association, which portrays the regiment of Lt. Scott and many of his men.

Additional reenactors, vendors, exhibitors and entertainers are needed. If you are interested in the era of the First Seminole War (1817-1818) and would like to participate, please email Chattahoochee Main Street at info@chattahoocheemainstreet.org or call (850) 663-2323/(623) 249-0076.

Here are some additional photos from this week’s press conference:

Dale Cox, author of "The Scott Massacre of 1817," speaks at the press conference.
Dale Cox, author of “The Scott Massacre of 1817,” speaks at the press conference.
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Discussion about the history of River Landing Park and the Scott Massacre of 1817 continued long after the end of the press conference.
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“Lizzie got a gun!” Elizabeth Stewart (portrayed by Two Egg TV’s Rachael Conrad) shows off her weaponry skills.
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Elizabeth Stewart (L), the sole female survivor of the battle, talks with Creek reenactors.
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Living history was on display at the announcement press conference.

To learn more about River Landing Park, site of the Scott Massacre of 1817, please enjoy this video from Chattahoochee Main Street, Visit Florida and Two Egg TV:

          

 

 

Chattahoochee begins restoration of lost Indian mound

Dirt for the restoration next to the last remnant of a destroyed mound at River Landing Park in Chattahoochee, Florida.
Dirt for the restoration next to the last remnant of a destroyed mound at River Landing Park in Chattahoochee, Florida.

The Florida city of Chattahoochee is bringing back a lost part of its culture and landscape.

The first loads of dirt have been brought in to begin the restoration of a prehistoric Native American mound that was destroyed more than 30 years ago.

Restoration of the lost mound was recommended by Dr. Nancy White, PhD, of the University of South Florida in her archaeological survey of the note Chattahoochee Landing Mound Group. The site once included seven prehistoric platform mounds but only three remain today. The restoration project will bring back one of the destroyed mounds to create a fourth.

Work is now underway to restore one of the lost mounds at River Landing Park.
Work is now underway to restore one of the lost mounds at River Landing Park.

The project was organized by Chattahoochee Main Street, the City of Chattahochee and Old Kitchen Media (parent company of Two Egg TV). Design work for the project was donated by David H. Melvin, Inc. Consulting Engineers of Marianna.

The site of the lost mound was relocated and its design was determined from the descriptions of local residents who remember seeing it prior to its destruction. The mound was on private property when it was destroyed, but the site is now on public lands.

The purpose of the project is to restore one of the mounds to its original shape so it can be used as a display and interpretive station where visitors can learn about the mounds, their purpose and their configuration.

A wider view of the restoration site. The mound will be used as an interpretive exhibit.
A wider view of the restoration site. The mound will be used as an interpretive exhibit.

The only surviving part of the original mound is a section held in place by the roots of a tree. That section will be surrounded by a special fabric so future researchers can distinguish the original from the restoration. The rest of the mound will then be restored around it.

Researchers believe that the construction of the mounds began during the Swift Creek era. This culture dates back to the around the 100 A.D. in the area.  Georgia’s  Kolomoki Mounds and Florida’s Crystal River site also date from this time period.

The Chattahoochee Landing Mound Group remained in use through the middle Fort Walton time period before being abandoned somewhere around 1,000-1,200 A.D.

One of the three surviving mounds at River Landing Park in Chattahoochee, Florida.
One of the three surviving mounds at River Landing Park in Chattahoochee, Florida.

The seven mounds are believed to have been platform mounds, meaning they were used as bases or platforms for important homes or ceremonial structures. Associated village areas were located north and south of the mounds, as well as across the river.

The restoration project will take several months to complete and most of its cost is being funded through donations. If you would like to help with a donation, please contact Chattahoochee Main Street at (850) 663-2323 or (623) 249-0076. You can also reach them by email at info@chattahoocheemainstreet.org.

The City of Chattahoochee and Gadsden County are providing labor, dirt and other assistance.

To learn more about River Landing Park, site of the Chattahoochee Landing Mound Group, please enjoy this video from Chattahoochee Main Street, Visit Florida and Two Egg TV:

          

 

 

New Video Tours of River Landing Park in Chattahoochee, Florida

Two Egg TV is pleased to have worked with Chattahoochee Main Street and Visit Florida to produce two new walking tours of historic River Landing Park.

The first of these is the short version, which runs a little over six minutes:

The second is the long version of the tour, which gives you a chance to experience a full walking tour of River Landing Park and its many historic, natural and archaeological sites. It runs around 24 minutes:

Please click here to learn more about the prehistoric Chattahoochee Landing Indian Mounds.

 

1842 Creek Indian attack at Orange Hill near Chipley, Florida

The Perkins attack or massacre took place somewhere on the top of Orange Hill in Washington County, Florida.
The Perkins attack or massacre took place somewhere on the top of Orange Hill in Washington County, Florida.

Orange Hill near Chipley is one of the highest hills in the State of Florida.

It was settled in the early 1800s and by 1842 was a thriving little community of farmers and planters. Among these was Stephen Perkins, a farmer and the head of a growing family that included his wife and four children.

Their dreams ended in disaster on August 31, 1842 when they were attacked by a party of Creek Indian warriors. Here is the full story:

The story of how and why the small band of Muscogee (Creek) Indians wound up in the area is equally tragic. They escaped into Florida from a concentration camp in Alabama after being attacked there by white outlaws.

From that time until 1844 they carried out occasional raids against frontier homes to obtain food, ammunition and other necessities.

When attacked in Alabama they had seen unarmed members of their group killed and assaulted and once in Florida they often took revenge during raids against frontier homes and farms.

Learn more about one such band of Creeks in this video:

Weeping Ridge Falls at Torreya State Park in Liberty County, Florida

WeepingRidge304x237Florida may not be known for waterfalls but some real jewels are tucked away in the northern part of the state.

Weeping Ridge Falls are often overlooked by visitors to stunning Torreya State Park, but the small waterfall was very pretty when we stopped by for a look today!

Enjoy this video visit to the falls then be sure to scroll down for photos and more information about the Weeping Ridge Trail and Falls:

Trailhead sign for the Weeping Ridge Trail at Torreya State Park in LIberty County, Florida.
Trailhead sign for the Weeping Ridge Trail at Torreya State Park in LIberty County, Florida.
Weeping Ridge Trail begins high atop the bluffs that overlook the Apalachicola River at Torreya State Park.
Weeping Ridge Trail begins high atop the bluffs that overlook the Apalachicola River at Torreya State Park.
A broken millstone alongside the trail.
A broken millstone alongside the trail.
The trail passes the Rock Bluff Indian Mound, which dates back 1,500-2,000 years.
The trail passes the Rock Bluff Indian Mound, which dates back 1,500-2,000 years.
Ravine into which the waterfall flows.
Ravine into which the waterfall flows.
Weeping Ridge Falls.
Weeping Ridge Falls.
Wildflower in bloom.
Wildflower in bloom.
A small Florida torreya tree can be seen near the waterfall overlook.
A small Florida torreya tree can be seen near the waterfall overlook.

If you enjoyed our visit to Weeping Ridge Falls, you might also enjoy this look at a rare Florida Yew tree growing at Torreya State Park:

More flood photos from Chattahoochee, Florida

Here are some additional photos of the January 2017 flooding on the Chipola and Apalachicola Rivers as well as Lake Seminole:

Water pours through the historic Jim Woodruff Dam at Chattahoochee. The dam will turn 59 years old this year.
Water pours through the historic Jim Woodruff Dam at Chattahoochee. The dam will turn 59 years old this year.
The Jim Woodruff Dam was completed in 1958 and has dramatically enhanced flood control efforts upstream on the lower Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.
The Jim Woodruff Dam was completed in 1958 and has dramatically enhanced flood control efforts upstream on the lower Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.
A closer view of the water pouring through Jim Woodruff Dam at the head of the Apalachicola River.
A closer view of the water pouring through Jim Woodruff Dam at the head of the Apalachicola River.
Another view of the Apalachicola River below Jim Woodruff Dam.
Another view of the Apalachicola River below Jim Woodruff Dam.
A view of River Landing Park from the U.S. 90 bridge shows the floating dock and Great Platform Mound with water flowing over the banks.
A view of River Landing Park from the U.S. 90 bridge shows the floating dock and Great Platform Mound with water flowing over the banks.
Water almost completely surrounds the Great Platform Mound. More than 1,000 years old, this ancient platform mound once provided the base for a Native American home or structure.
Water almost completely surrounds the Great Platform Mound. More than 1,000 years old, this ancient platform mound once provided the base for a Native American home or structure.
A series of small prehistoric Indian mounds can be found along this low ridge at River Landing Park. Normally it is not even noticeable but in minor floods it remains above water level.
A series of small prehistoric Indian mounds can be found along this low ridge at River Landing Park. Normally it is barely noticeable but during minor floods it remains above water level. Whether it is natural or was built by prehistoric Native Americans is not known.

 
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Chattahoochee Park in Gordon, Alabama

Chattahoochee Park, often called Chattahoochee State Park, is near the town of Gordon in the very Southeast corner of Alabama. Two Egg TV’s Rachael Conrad takes you there:

The park is open 365 days per year and charges an admission fee of $2 per person. For more information please visit www.facebook.com/ChattPark.