City Found 360 Feet Below Missouri City, Giant Human Skeleton Found Coal miners in the city of Moberly

Missouri mining a shaft 360 feet deep, broke into a cavern revealing “a wonderful buried city,” multiple sources reported in 1885. Incredible rude style masonry and artefacts have been identified.

Masonry and artefacts in extraordinary rude design have been found. Like stone tables, bronze and flint knives, stone and granite hammers, metal statues, metallic saws and a stone fountain that flowed with “perfectly pure water”, which was found to be impregnated with lime.

“Lying beside the fountain where portions of a human being and from the measurement of the bones, it concluded that when alive the figure was three times the size of an ordinary man and possessed of wonderful muscular power and quickness. “, according to the St Paul Daily Globe.

The Semi-Weekly South Kentuckian published the measurements of the giant’s leg, “The bones of the leg were measured, the femur measuring 4 and 1/2 feet, the tibia four feet and three inches. The head bones had separated in two pieces, the sagittal and cornal suturis having been destroyed”

The city was arched in by a hard and thick stratum of lava. The civilization used a regularly laid out road system enclosed by walls to travel around. A hall was discovered wherein were stone benches, tools of all descriptions for mechanical service.

The searching party spent twelve hours in the depths and only gave up explorations because of the oil in their lamps being low. No end to the wonderful discovery was reached.

The statues were not accurately made as those made by the mechanics in the year 1885, however, they demonstrated much skill and evidence of an advanced civilization.

The facts above are vouched for by Mr David Coates, the recorder of the city of Moberly, and Mr George Kealing, City Marshall, who were of the exploring party.

I could find no record of the 2nd exploration. Perhaps in the historic papers on film, in the town of Moberly, information may still exist.

In order to find 8 newspaper stories, I needed to search “stratum of lava” 1884-1886.

In an odd coincidence the terms “cave + Missouri”, “Missouri + cave + coal mine”, “Missouri cave fountain”, “Missouri gaint” and countless other rational terms would not locate these articles on the library of congress website.

It seems you need to be clever in your search terms in order to locate historical articles that are relevant.

Some Retractions

Logansport, Indiana, Daily Pharos, April 11, 1885

Chicago, April 11 – The press dispatch from St. Louis Wednesday last, purported to give an account of the discovery of a subterranean city in Moberly, Mo., created great excitement in historical circles of this city, and many inquiries were made as to its authenticity. A dispatch was sent to Mr. Kelly, editor of The Monitor at Moberly, as to the whether the alleged discovery was true or false. In reply Mr. Kelly wires the United Press as follows:

“The story is an April hoax. Not a word of truth in it.”

The True Story of Mr. Tim Collins’ Coal Mine.

Daily Evening Bulletin, April 13, 1885

SEDALIA, MO., April 13.—Mr. Tim Collins, of Moberly, Mo., who was in the city, states that the sensational story of a buried city being discovered under his coal shaft is a sheer fabrication designed to do him great injury.  No such discovery, or anything like it, he says, has been made. The names of parties as given are fictitious.

He has not himself been in Moberly this week. His shaft is not 360 feet, but only 265 feet deep, and terminates in a six-foot coal vein, which is being successfully worked. He has not, and never has had, any business connection with Britton A. Hill, or any other St. Louis party, and no Sedalia parties are assisting him financially.  He expects to return home, and says he is going east in a few days to secure funds for enlarging his mining facilities, and claims his mine is the best ever opened in the state.

Chariton Courier, April 24, 1885

The St. Louis Evening Chronicle published a sensational account last week concerning the finding of a lost city 360 feet underground in Moberly.  In last Saturday’s issue of the same paper is published an apology for the publication of the hoax, in which the editor would make its readers believe that he was the victim of a misplaced confidence in one J. W. Estes, his correspondent and who is also on the editorial staff of the Moderly Headlight, and that in order to atone to his readers and punish his untruthful correspondent had sent a special correspondent to Moberly, who proceeded to horsewhip the aforesaid Estes in the most approved style of the art.  Query: Who told the biggest lie, Estes or the special reporter?

A Base Fabrication.
Rockingham Register, April 30, 1885

In our last week’s issue we published quite a lengthy article taken from the Saint Louis, Mo., Chronicle, giving what purported to be an account of a most marvelous discovery at Moberly, in that State, in the shape of a buried city, surpassing, the wonders of Pompeii. We published the article because the paper containing it was sent us by H. A. Paul, one of Harrisonburg’s boys, now a resident of Moberly. We have since found out that it was a miserable fabrication, the only truth connected with it being that there is a hole in the ground at that point made by a shaft’s having been sunk in search of coal, which is now filled with two hundred feet of water. It was interesting reading, however, if for no other reason than to show how thoroughly the art of lying has been mastered in these latter times. We will settle the matter with Al. the next time we see him.

The Real Story

Moberly Daily Monitor, July 22, 1905


The death of Col. John G. Provines recalls a story which will be of interest to old timers and new as well.

Col. Provines was editor of the Moberly Daily Monitor when the well known Buck Kelly was shoving this paper to the front by his indomitable energy. Provines, however, was the only man connected with it who had a finished education. In the Monitor office he was not only authority on literature, history, religion and politics, but the printers would consult him on the spelling, definition and division of words, because there didn’t happen to be an Unabridged in the shop in the early ’80s.

Johnnie Estes, a young man of 22, was “city editor” of the Monitor. He was also correspondent for a St. Louis afternoon newspaper. Estes was a bright boy as was ever thrown upon the world to make his own way, but he knew his educational limitations and took Provines as his tutor. Although many years separated them, the two became warm friends – almost chums.

One day Estes came in with an unusual “story.”

“Colonel,” he said, “I’ve got something good. They’ve been blasting in the south entry in Tim Collins’ coal mine, and run into a buried city!” (Collins’ mine is on what is known as Kerry Patch Hill on north Ault street.)

“A buried city?”

“You bet! Stone houses, theatres, mosques and all that. Found some stone coffins, burial vaults and a car load of mummies.”


“That’s a fact. Tim said so. Now I want you to ….”

Estes outlined his plan. The editor-in-chief acquiesced. The St. Louis paper agreed to take 10,000 words by mail. Col. Provines wrote the story of the buried city, with Estes setting on his elbow, handing out the “facts.” It made “good stuff”. The colonel had studied the history and discoveries at Pompeii, and other towns that had been obliterated by volcanoes and earthquakes. The job was one to his liking and he did the subject justice. He created dazzling stalactites, peristyle, imposing statuary, fountains and gorgeous thrones. In fact nothing was omitted peculiar to the luxurious life of Pagan nobility.

Estes took the precaution to have two citizens sign their attesting marks to the thriller. The St. Louis paper took the whole thing without a grunt. It made a page. It was not until newspapers of the Mississippi Valley and some as far out as New York began telegraphing for pictures and sending out staff correspondence that the little subterfuge of the enterprising reporter was discovered.

Then his St. Louis paper sent up a man to look into the matter. Estes was out of town that day.

The tale of the buried city went across the water. A German professor wrote to the Mayor of Moberly for further details. Every train brought in sight seers, and for a few days the railroads generously made excursion rates to Moberly’s Pompeii.

The incident hurt neither Provines nor Estes. In fact the people of Moberly congratulated them many times over the handsome manner in which they fixed up the story and because of the fine advertisement it had proven for the town. Tim Collins was about the only man who was pestered by the joke. He had to put up a sign on his property which read as follows:

“No burryied sity lunaticks aloud on these premises.”