Southern Weird: Wakulla Volcano
What’s that smoke rising above the swamp? Has the peat caught fire, or is something very strange going on here?
We’re heading down to Florida with the tale of the Wakulla Volcano.
Florida is a pretty cool place. It contains the oldest city in America, offers a lot of vacation options, and has a climate that allows people to take advantage of those vacations pretty much year-round.
It also has no shortage of swampland.
Swamps are fascinating. They’re deep and dim and mysterious. Swamps capture the imagination, because they are places where interesting things can hide.
And Florida’s swamps may have once hidden something very interesting indeed.
Smoke and what might have been flame were being seen in Wacissa Swamp, but in 1840, it was no new thing. Legend says the Seminole people had seen it for years, this smoke that seemed to have some mysterious source. What could have been burning this much to be visible from Tallahassee and even the Gulf of Mexico? A camp, maybe, inhabited by anyone from pirates to escaped slaves?
It was 1865 before the mysterious sight was called a volcano.
And from what I can tell, it did indeed appear to be one. What else would smoke and a bright glow be, to be seen that far away without being a widespread and deadly fire? And it isn’t as if Florida is a dry part of the country. A little later, in the 1870s, the theory that it might simply be a geyser or hot spring came about, but those would not negate the possibility of a volcano.
A New York Herald expedition sent to find it was unsuccessful, to say the least, because the volcano was never found and the man sent from the paper died.
It probably seemed that this phenomenon would be a part of life in Florida for a while.
Until August 31, 1886, the day an earthquake hit Charleston SC.
An interesting thing about earthquakes on the east coast is that, for geological reasons, the tremors are felt quite far away. In this case, Lake Jackson in Florida drained (which isn’t unusual for that particular lake). After the earthquake, according to the story, the Wakulla Volcano disappeared.
Of course, there are reports at this point that conflict. Other accounts say that the smoke returned in the 1890s.
And then come the later stories, of evidence that could only have been left by a volcano. Of course, there is also the possibility that this was all very simply a peat fire.
But what if it wasn’t something so simple? Why would an earthquake have shut it off, only for it to reappear a few years later? Was a peat fire burning, or was it being maintained?
Could the Wakulla Volcano have a perfectly rational explanation that is still different from the current theories?
I encourage you to look into the Wakulla Volcano. I got this idea from Weird US, but there are plenty of sources out there.
The Wakulla Volcano seems to have been certainly something to see, and the true explanation might be something we never expected.