Seven Wonders of Shannon County: Devil’s Well

Paraphrasing Jerry Vineyard, Missouri’s preeminent geologist-explorer, Devil’s Well is a big stomach. It’s mother nature’s idea of an indoor pool, except that it’s cold and dark and scary as hell, hence the name. It is perhaps the world’s most dramatic peek, a hundred feet straight down, into an underground river, through a hole no wider than a backyard trampoline. Before the Devil relinquished this well to the National Park Service, the previous owner lowered visitors into the stomach, er, sinkhole in a bosun’s chair. It was a ride much like the worm experiences when dangled from a fish hook, although the conclusion is less digestive.

Seven wonders? More like seventy. I hopped in my car and headed straight – sort of – up Highway 19. Four hours later I reached the Massie Mill Cemetery north of Palmyra, where Judge Pegleg Shannon, after a remarkable career as a Kentucky judge and a Missouri legislator – oh, and an explorer – lies in an unmarked grave. I shouted across the graveyard, telling him what I saw. On my way home I got lost.

–from Coastal Missouri, by John Drake Robinson

Photo by Michael Tatlovich, courtesy Jo Schaper.

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