One of the most enduring and pervasive tropes to ever capture the human imagination is the concept of a "bottomless pit." On Friday, February 22, 1997, a man calling himself "Mel Waters" had faxed Art Bell, the much-beloved and sadly now-passed host of the highly-rated, paranormal-themed radio talk show, Coast to Coast AM, claiming to have one on his property. Mel said his property is about nine miles west of Ellensburg, Washington, adjacent to Manastash Ridge. He and his neighbors and the property's previous owners had thrown their trash into the hole for decades. The 9' 9" in diameter hole had received everything from household waste and furniture to building debris to dead cows for as long as anyone could remember, yet it never seemed to fill up. Mel became self-admittedly obsessed with determining the depth of this curiosity. Being a former semi-pro shark fisherman, Mel had lowered three reels of 20 lb. fishing line with a one-pound weight at the end. After 1500 yards of monofilament and not hitting bottom, Mel began buying the fishing line in bulk reels to continue his experiment. When he expended 80,000 feet (24,384 m) of line and still not reaching the end as far as he could tell, Mel contacted Art to get explanations from his vast audience or ideas about what to try next. Aside from an undetermined depth, not much else was particularly strange about the pit to Mel except that dogs refused to get within 100 feet of it, and birds wouldn't sit on its stone retaining wall or metal cover. Also unusual was that no echo from the hole could be heard, nor anything crashing on its floor even when objects as unwieldy as refrigerators or television CRT tubes were tossed in. This description of what Mel thought might be the deepest hole on Earth intrigued Art, and he called Mel for an interview that night. During the discussion, Mel also relayed some other fascinating folklore he'd heard, such as a hunter tossing his deceased dog, only for it later to be seen running around but not answering his call. Another neighbor had told Mel that he once saw a "blacker than black" beam shooting up into the sky from the hole on a recent evening. This could just be another puzzling and amusing anecdote from one of the usual characters calling into the show, except Mel contacted Art on February 24 with some startling news. Mel claimed that the day after his first call, the land where the hole was located had been seized by armed military personnel who denied him access with veiled threats while heavy equipment was brought in. Mel Waters would call in for an update interview two more times in April 2000 and January 2002, but for 1997, the mystery of Mel and his hole would pause with a purported offer from the US Government that he couldn't refuse. Join us for Part 1 of this "Best of Art Bell" saga as we dive deep into the legend of "Mel's Hole."
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