The book is the definitive source for Murder Hole.
Say you were out looking at rural property in the Catawba Valley just west of Salem one day, and while your husband was talking to the realtor about a deal, you suddenly came across a giant hole – say 150 feet across, 100 feet wide and more than 100 feet deep.
You could turn and run, grateful you’d found the “problem” with the 34 acres you were considering.
Or, as Marian McConnell describes she did one day in 1993: “I waited impatiently for Dan to walk down the road and join me. We smiled at each other. Not only did we know we were ‘home,’ but that we had been chosen to be the stewards of this miraculous place.”
That miraculous place is the subject of McConnell’s book “Murder Hole,” the Botetourt County cave that is the site of such legends as disappearing cows, a murdered Civil War deserter, the death of a peddler and his horse, and even that the famed Beale Treasure – most often associated with eastern Bedford County, – is actually down in the cave.
McConnell’s love letter to this place takes the form of a 150-page book chock full of facts, stories, more legends, history, stewardship and pretty much anything else related to the hole in her land. Scores of photos – black-and-white and color – add to the mix of what is as definitive a guide to any one place as you’re likely to find.
Even the appendices enrich, primary among them a chronicle of all 80 trips Dan and Marian McConnell had made into the cave as of the publication date.
Haven’t been? Tempted to go again? Please seek permission and presence of the owners: 540-309-4707, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The book is available in hardback ($35) or softback ($24), from Marian McConnell or at the Salem and Botetourt history museums.
Where’s Curt Baker When You Need Him?
Some of us never get over the fence Roanoke City Schools put up around the Patrick Henry High School track for the reported reason of keeping out bicycles, strollers, skateboards and other track-destroying entities. Over the years since, worn spots have inevitably appeared in the tiny entryways through the cattle-catcher fencing, resulting in – for, say, a pre-dawn runner on a morning after rain – totally soaked shoes before the “speed work” begins. Y’all put up a giant fence; can you put up a few little boardwalks so we can get onto the track without wading?