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Cave of the Evil Spirit

Devil's Hole State Park, Lewiston, New York USA

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“Home a legendary curse..”

Niagara Falls is one of North America's most popular vacation destinations, but just down the road from the hustle and bustle of happy tourists lies a hidden cave with a dark secret that dates back well over three centuries, and legend says it's curse endures to this day. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the small limestone cave carved into the side of the Niagara Gorge, was just a semi-popular spot for kids to come and smoke cigarettes they'd stole from their parents (which, to be fair, it is), but The Cave of Evil Spirits was given it's name by the Seneca Indians for a reason. On July 7, 1936, city historian Edward T. Williams recounted the legend of the Cave of Evil Spirits in an effort to preserve the story for future generations.. and as a warning to those who would dare seek it out. "In 1669, there came to the Niagara river Robert Cavalier de LaSalle who in the succeeding 18 years was to be Niagara's most frequent visitor," he wrote. "He was the fifth white man to set foot on Niagara County soil." The Canadian explorer and his Native American guide Garonkouthie passed by the cave, and when he inquired about its contents, his guide related the following story, warning LaSalle not to enter: Ages and ages of prosperity and happiness to the red men had passed from the time of his first creation. The Great Spirit loved his red children, and gave them this country for the sole use and enjoyment. So it would have continued forever, if the Great Falls of Onguiaahra, whose thunder, we now hear so plainly, had continued near the spot where your canoe landed. But the red men became bad, and vexed the Great Spirit with their war parties. The rocks began to fall off amid thunders and storms, and scarcely a moon passed that was not marked by some change. Moons and moons passed and the falls were above this "Devil's Hole" which then became open to the rapids, and the Evil Spirit could get out. Noise of thunder, shrieks and groans were often heard from his darkened den, which greatly excited the curiosity of a fine young brave who insisted upon examining the secrets of this dark prison house. Armed for battle, he descended with much difficulty, and we never saw him more. Then came the word that the pale faces, in the vast canoes which could each carry an army, had come out of the great sea, and landed under the midday sun. The evil was distant, and we thought little of it. Time passed on, and another of our young men descended into the cavern; he returned in a few hours, a raving maniac, and his hair, which had been black and glossy as a Raven had become white as snow.  "Such is the tradition of our race," said his guide. "Judge then, my white brother, whether you could disturb the Evil Spirit of this abode and not suffer the penalty.'" Despite the warning, LaSalle couldn't stop thinking about the cave, and just a few days later he descended the path and crept inside. It was a decision that he would very soon come to regret, as the Evil Spirit began to whisper in his ear. "Return to your home in Canada and wealth, honors, a long life of usefulness shall be yours and when death comes, generations of your descendants shall follow you to your grave, history shall transmit your name to posterity as the successful founder of a great empire," it said. "Proceed to the west and although gleams of hope may, at times, shine in your path, ingratitude and disappointment will be sure to meet and follow you until treacherous murder shall end your days remote from human habitation without the shelter of even a wigwam of a friendly red man. The eagles of the desert shall strip the flesh from your bones which shall lay bleaching under the tropical sun, unburied and unprotected by the cross you now so devotedly cherish." LaSalle, sufficiently freaked out by what he had experienced, ran from the cave, only to find that the chain of unfortunate events had already begun. Many of his men had deserted him, returning to Montreal. Within a decade, all of his fortune had dwindled, and in an effort to regain his lost wealth, he did exactly as the Evil Spirit advised against: he set out West in an effort to start a colony in Luisiana. LaSalle was murdered by his own men, his body abandoned and left to decay in the woods near the Mississippi river. To this day, the legend of the cave endures, though judging from the graffiti and the plethora of empty beer cans, not everyone takes it very seriously anymore. Of course, who can say what becomes of the partying teens.. after all, LaSalle's downfall took nearly 20 years to come to fruition. Perhaps the teens who dare party in the Evil Spirit's lair are destined to become video editors for Toddlers in Tiaras, a fate far worse than death. If you're looking for the most un-touristy thing you can do at Niagara Falls and feel like tempting fate, you can visit the Cave of Evil Spirits yourself. Just be warned... if you hear any whispering in the dark recesses of the cave, you'd do well to listen. To get to the cave, you'll need to descend about 1/3 of the way into the gorge from Devil's Hole State Park. A sign on the way down will lead you partially back up to the cave. It is very apparent it is a hangout for parties as evidence by the trash, fire pit and graffiti.

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
June 27, 2017

Trail is closed right now due to removal of falling rocks.

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Reviewed by

  • 5 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
August 01, 2016
Rated 2.0

Well, tried to find and even asked the park service. It's a very step climb down. Takes close to an hour. Never found the cave. The next person would need to give exact directions of they find. Bummer. Pretty hike though!

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Reviewed by
Cary Underwood

  • 20 Reviews
  • 7 Helpful
January 25, 2015

I'm tempted to go...

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Reviewed by
Greg Newkirk

  • Expert
  • 314 Reviews
  • 375 Helpful
September 16, 2014
Rated 4.0

It's a cave. Don't expect too much. Unless, of course, you believe all the weird legends about the bad luck that follows people when they enter the cave... but those are just legends. Right?


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Cave of the Evil Spirit

Devil's Hole State Park
Lewiston, New York
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