The Legend Of Mel’s Hole, The Magical Bottomless Pit Said To Be Hiding Somewhere In Washington State

Published November 27, 2023
Updated November 28, 2023

In 1997, a mysterious man named Mel Waters called into a radio show, claiming to have discovered a bottomless pit with the ability to resurrect animals from the dead — but no official record of Mel's Hole has ever been found.

Mels Hole

YouTubeMel’s Hole supposedly boasts a wide variety of magical properties, but no one knows where it is — if it even exists.

On February 21, 1997, Art Bell was hosting his popular late-night radio program, Coast to Coast. The show, which had as many as 15 million nightly listeners at its peak, was known for its supernatural subjects and conspiracy theories, so most calls didn’t faze Bell.

But that day, a listener who called himself Mel Waters phoned in with a wild story — and sparked a decades-long search for a paranormal phenomenon that came to be known as Mel’s Hole.

In his report, “Waters” claimed that there was a bottomless pit on his property in Kittitas County, Washington that boasted a range of magical properties, including the ability to bring dead animals back to life. But while the caller seemed very knowledgeable about Kittitas County and was most likely a local, investigations found no record that a “Mel Waters” ever lived in the area. And they found no evidence the hole actually existed.

But Waters continued to call into the show, reporting to Bell a total of five times between 1997 and 2002 to reveal increasingly bizarre stories about Mel’s Hole.

Then, after the fifth call, Mel Waters was never heard from again.

The Secrets Of Mel Waters’ Bottomless Pit

Mel Waters first called in to Art Bell’s show to claim there was a mysterious hole of unknown depth on his property in Kittitas County, a small, rural area in central Washington.

Knye Radio

Wikimedia CommonsBroadcasting from KNYE in Nevada, Art Bell hosted the popular late-night radio show Coast to Coast AM, which covered supernatural occurrences and conspiracy theories.

As reported by KEPR TV, Waters attempted to test the depth of the hole by tying a roll of Lifesavers to a fishing line, believing that if there was water at the bottom of the hole, the Lifesavers would dissolve. But Waters claimed that he still hadn’t hit the bottom after 80,000 feet — and that the Lifesavers remained fully intact.

What’s more, Waters said the hole had a number of peculiar properties. It lacked an echo, for instance, and animals were afraid to approach it.

“I brought the dogs with me.” Waters said. “They wouldn’t go anywhere near the damn thing.”

He also claimed a black beam had been seen emanating from the hole, according to the Seattle Times. Portable radios held near it would play programs and music from years past, and metals held close to the opening would transform into other substances.

At one point, Waters said, his neighbor threw a dead dog into the hole — only for it to later be seen alive and well.

Eventually, Waters claimed that the U.S. government had taken an interest in the hole. According to an archived summary of Mel Waters’ calls, he claimed that government representatives had forced him off his land after he went public with his story, paying him $250,000 a month to lease the property.

The Mel’s Hole Mystery Deepens

Mel Waters called into Bell’s show once more in 1997, once in 2000, and twice in 2002. While he was seen as credible in the beginning due to his well-spoken and cautious nature, his stories became increasingly outlandish.

Waters claimed that once he began speaking out about the hole, his wife disappeared and his land was removed from satellite images.

He also said that while visiting a Basque settlement in Nevada, he encountered a similar hole with supernatural properties. Like the first one, this pit appeared to be bottomless, and animals were afraid to go near it.

While experimenting on the second hole, the Basque people lowered a bucket of ice into it. Allegedly, the hole transformed the ice into a lukewarm, flammable substance that would not melt but could burn for months on end.

In the most shocking claim, Waters also reported that he and the Basque people had lowered a sheep into this second hole to see what might happen to a living thing that entered it. By the time they raised the sheep back up, it had died — but now had a massive, pulsing tumor.

When the Basque people cut the tumor open, Waters claimed, they revealed an 18-inch long creature that resembled a seal, but with shockingly human eyes. As Waters stared at this creature, he said it looked back at him with an expression of the deepest compassion. He said the Basque people then returned the creature to the hole.

Mel Waters made one final report to Coast to Coast in December 2002. In it, he reported that the government has become aware of the second hole, that they took away the burning ice, and that he believed he was being followed. He also claimed the Basque people had informed him that the creature had visited their village a number of times since they’d brought it back to the hole, and tried to warn them about the dangers of the burning ice.

This call was the last anyone ever heard from Mel Waters.

The Quest To Find Mel’s Hole

Mel Waters was not the only one who insisted upon the existence of a supernatural hole in Washington State.

Gerald Osborne, a Kittitas Valley intertribal Shaman who goes by the name Red Elk, claimed to have visited Mel’s Hole many times since 1961, when his father first showed it to him, according to the Daily Record. Red Elk believed the hole led to a secret underground government facility, and that it was also a hub for alien activity.

In 2002, Red Elk led a search expedition for the pit. He was joined by a group of believers who had met on a chat site dedicated to Mel’s Hole. The enthusiasts believed that finding the hole might bring answers to major questions about the universe.

Mel's Hole Discussion Board

University of WashingtonBelievers of Mel’s Hole frequented a chat board dedicated to discussing it.

“Every geologist in the world should be here,” Charlette LeFevre, a search coordinator for the expedition, said in an interview with the Seattle Times. “They need to pay attention to this.”

Unfortunately, the group was unable to find it. But there had been talk of a mysterious hole in Kittitas County long before Mel Waters first went on Bell’s show.

Jay Nickell, who was 34 at the time of the search, grew up in the city of Ellensburg, the largest town in Kittitas County. He said as a teenager, he and his friends came across a hole that sounded a lot like Mel’s Hole. It was too deep to see the bottom, and he claimed no sound came from it when they threw rocks into it.

An employee of a snowmobile dealership said the story of a hole on Manastash Ridge has been common local knowledge for decades.

“Lots of people talk about it,” the employee said. “Could be something out there — but I’ve never seen it.”

Debunking The Legend Of Mel’s Hole

While many have tried to search for Mel’s Hole over the years, experts say the magical pit Mel Waters described is not only unproven — it’s physically impossible.

Jack Powell, a geologist with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said a hole of the depth Waters described “would collapse into itself under the tremendous pressure and heat from the surrounding strata.”

Powell first heard about the hole on Bell’s show, and it intrigued him.

“It got my interest in a funny kind of way,” Powell said. “I knew Art Bell’s stuff is basically Sasquatch and UFOs and the like, but it was sort of entertaining.”

But once he heard Waters’ claim that the hole was 80,000 feet deep, he knew it was a hoax.

He said the hole Waters referenced was likely an abandoned gold mine shaft Powell used to play around as a kid. Powell said that shaft, which went into the ground at an angle, was likely around 90 feet deep, and 300 feet deep at most.

Mels Hole Map

Google Maps / Daily RecordDNR geologist Jack Powell believes an abandoned gold mine shaft was the inspiration for Mel’s Hole.

The shaft is on private property that is fenced with barbed wire, and Powell said it’s close to state DNR lands.

“I suppose this Mel Waters used the real hole as a kind of inspiration for making up his mysterious one on Manastash Ridge,” Powell said.

The Aftermath Of Mel Waters’ Calls

The existence of Mel’s Hole has still never been proven to this day. And for some, it’s caused more headaches than curiosity.

Milton Wagy, a historian with the Ellensburg Public Library, told KEPR in 2012 that after Mel Waters’ first call to Art Bell’s show, the library phone was ringing “off-the-hook” with stories and theories about the hole.

Then, the library’s file on Mel’s Hole went missing.

“It just disappeared, which lends itself to the mysteriousness of Mel’s Hole,” Wagy said. “Did Mel take it? Did it just kind of rise out of the locked file cabinet? You never know, there might be a hole out there.”

Manastash Ridge

Wikimedia CommonsThe location of Mel’s Hole, if it exists, is assumed to be on Manastash Ridge in Kittitas County.

For his part, Red Elk still insists that the hole exists. But he has stopped agreeing to interviews on the subject — and warns that we’re better off not knowing where it is.

“Don’t look for [the hole]. Stay away. I have to say I’ve been burned by you guys, the media and all, many times with this Mel’s Hole. They make me out to be a liar. They say one thing and do something else,” Red Elk said in 2012. “The hole isn’t important. Just stay away from trying to find it. The government has it. It’s totally off limits.”

And Mel Waters himself has not been heard from since his last phone call to Art Bell in 2002. Maybe the government finally got to him — or maybe he simply never existed at all.

After reading about the phenomenon of Mel’s Hole, read about the Russian diamond mine that is so deep it sucks in anything overhead. Or, read about the true stories behind the creepiest urban legends.

Hannah Reilly Holtz
Hannah Reilly is an editorial fellow with All That's Interesting. She holds a B.A. in journalism from Texas Tech University and was named a Texas Press Association Scholar. Previously, she has worked for KCBD NewsChannel 11 and at Texas Tech University as a multimedia specialist.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Holtz, Hannah. "The Legend Of Mel’s Hole, The Magical Bottomless Pit Said To Be Hiding Somewhere In Washington State.", November 27, 2023, Accessed June 16, 2024.