Stone Doors, Forts, and Flutes

On the Beersheba Springs side of Savage Gulf, there is a huge gap in the ridge of the Cumberland Plateau known as Stone Door. Before they were called Native Americans :), the Indians carved out steps through this breach. It is quite impressive.

I read somewhere—and I can’t find it now—that the Indians who crossed the Stone Door used it as a migratory route every year. This is what piqued my interest. For two years, I searched online for pictures of this Stone Door. I couldn’t find any that comprehensively depicted it, and now I know why. The gap is just twisty enough that you can’t get it all in one shot.

Stone Door at Savage Gulf
Stone Door at Savage Gulf

There are pictures of the gap from the sky. There are pictures at the entrance of the Stone Door and at the bottom. But seeing the whole thing is something you can’t experience through a photo.

Obviously, there are many things you can’t experience about this place from looking at a photo. There’s a cave-like coolness between the walls of stone, only you’re in an open corridor with rock on both sides of you reaching high, high above. There are places where the steps take you beside a flat slab of stone where you can rest; and, if you’re lucky like me, you’ll find a few friendly creepy crawlies that have come to rest there, too.

That ledge under my hand is Creepy-Crawly Central.
That ledge under my hand is Creepy-Crawly Central.

Miles southwest of Beersheba Springs is a place called Old Stone Fort, where the Indians created mounds that surround a 50-acre plot of land situated in the fork of two rivers. It was an excellent place in terms of defense, but there isn’t any evidence that it was used that way. At the opening, the mounds are narrowed and parallel, so that the sun’s position could be utilized at sunrise during the summer solstice. We hiked the one-and-a-quarter-mile diameter of the mounds; and when we came back to the entrance, Zeke from the museum was giving a small talk about some of the pastimes of the Indians. I wasn’t really interested, and would’ve walked on, but he picked up something that looked like a wooden recorder and began to play.

“Oh, let’s listen!” I said, and we walked over. That’s when I recorded this:

After he finished playing, he told a story of a young Indian warrior who excelled in the hunt. He liked a girl in the camp, but she never seemed to notice him. For her, he learned to run the fastest, outrunning all the other warriors. No one could outshine him. But she was not impressed. He was heartbroken and went to the stream to soothe his sorrows with the music of the waters. While he sat there, he heard a strange and beautiful melody he had never heard before. He listened and searched, and, finally, he found the source of the music. The sticks of cane growing in the water had been broken, and the birds had pecked holes along them to get to the bugs that were living inside the wooden tubes. The wind was blowing through their hollow centers, creating the notes he’d been hearing! He learned to make his own flute from the cane and practiced for many days. One morning, he sat outside the girl’s tent and played a song for her. She came out of her tent, for she was impressed. And that was how she came to love him, and how we got the flute!

I just love legends like that! Don’t you?

So, what do stone doors, Indian mounds, and legends have to do with my book? Sorry; that would be giving away too much.