by Pettus Read
Having grown up in rural Tennessee, I have seen my share of sink holes. In fact, on our farm, I have seen them appear overnight in places that you would least expect their appearance. Many times you would find them the next day with the front wheel of your tractor disappearing into a never-never land.
Sink holes are caused by underground water, soil and limestone rock movement that occur over a period of time. The water wears away the limestone rock causing a hole to appear in the landscape. Sometimes they can be just a small hole, but they also can be quite large and deep. We have one on our farm that people say has no bottom, but I think that story is just a little too far fetched. However, I have thrown several rocks in it over the years and listened a long time for them to hit bottom. Usually, all I would hear was a distant splash of water. I do agree it is a really deep hole and probably one that kids should not have been around chunking rocks into.
My cousins Jimmy and Dave found a sink hole one day that seemed to appear out of nowhere. The hole fell in on a path they usually traveled to go to Mr. Earl's pond where they would fish for sun perch and brim. In the summertime they traveled that path often and the day they found the hole, they knew it was a new one because it was right in the middle of the path.
Being typical boys, their first instinct was to look in the hole and see just how deep it really was. It was too deep and dark for them to see anything, but if they yelled real loud they would get an echo that was better than those you would hear out west at the Grand Canyon.
The fun after hollering into a hole for several minutes soon began to wane, and the two began throwing rocks, tree limbs and anything they could put their hands on laying nearby. They would throw something and wait for the sound to come back to the surface from the object hitting below. The only problem was they never could hear the object hit bottom.
With the discovery of a bottomless pit, the two boys began throwing objects of all sizes into the bottomless sink hole. Every stump, rock and tree limb within dragging distance went into that hole that day. However, the boys did a great job of cleaning up the woods, but they never seemed to hear anything make it to the bottom.
Almost reaching total exhaustion, both boys were ready to give up when Jimmy spotted a railroad timber sticking from the fence row nearby. Getting his cousin's attention, they both immediately headed for the timber to throw it in the hole.
Struggling with a last ditch effort, they drug the timber to the hole and pushed it. The timber went out of sight and both cousins just knew that at any minute they would soon here a tremendous crash.
But, from the same fence row that the timber had come from, the boys were shocked to see a large white goat come charging out of the woody growth running full speed. Not knowing what to expect next, they stepped back and were shocked to see the goat jump head-first right into the sink hole. The goat immediately went out of sight as the boys just stood there in total amazement.
As they slowly walked to the sink hole, they heard Mr. Earl coming up the path to where they were standing. When he saw the two pale face boys looking over in the hole, he hollered at them with a question, "Hey boys, have you seen a big white goat up this way?"
Both cousins looked at each other trying to see who would say something first. Dave being the oldest took the cue from Jimmy to answer Mr. Earl and he said, "You won't believe this Mr. Earl, but a white goat just ran out of those woods over there and jumped right off into this hole here!"
Mr. Earl walked on over to the hole and looked in wondering what in the world the boys were talking about. After looking into the hole he looked around at the boys and said, " Boys, that couldn't be my goat. My goat was tied to a railroad timber."