Usually, when someone thinks of the “Great Wall,” instantly China comes to mind. But, Texas holds a “Great Wall” of its own, roughly 3.5 miles wide by 5.6 mile long. It’s quite small compared to the length of the Great Wall of China. However, resting at least 40 feet high, it was quite an achievement for whoever built it—if it is indeed man-made.
Discovered in 1852 by three farmers who were digging a well, the Great Wall of Texas has received little attention over the years from the scientific and archaeological community. Harvard-trained architect John Lindsey and geologist James Shelton have been among the scientists calling for further investigation into the anomalies of this structure.
A historic photo of the “wall” found in Rockwall, Texas.
If it is man-made (rather than a natural formation), it could require a reevaluation of history. The nearby Caddo Native American tribe has no history of building such structures, and it’s commonly accepted that they were also incapable of building the structure.
“After compiling past records, data, and documents, including recent studies and research, evidence of a prehistoric structure built by man is mounting,” said Architect John Lindsey in 1996, according to the Rockwall County Historical Foundation.
A home video filmed during an excavation at the site in 1998:
While some geologists have dismissed it as a natural formation, Shelton and Lindsey have noted elements that seem to be of architectural design, including an archway, buttresses, areas that may have been repaired at some point, and even a piece of stone with ancient writing on it.
In 2013, forensic geologist Scott Wolter analyzed the formation, along with Dr. John Geissman at the University of Texas in Dallas, as part of a History Channel documentary. He’d never seen anything like it.
After some investigation, however, he thought of a way it could have formed naturally, as explained in his blog: “The geological setting that resulted in fluid sand at depth rising up through fractures in the overlying hardened clay was unique to say the least. The sand eventually was hardened by calcite into a dense and hard rock. What was truly amazing is how the fractures that formed within sandstone ‘wall’ made it look just like stone blocks in a masonry wall.”
Dr. Geissman tested the rocks and found they’d all been magnetized the same way, which shows they formed where they are and were not moved to that site from elsewhere. But some remain unconvinced by this single TV-show test and ask for further studies.
What About the Writings on the Wall?
Shelton also constructed a geological case for the natural occurrence of the wall, but he could not dismiss some characteristics. He wrote in a paper titled “An Unsolicited Plea for Assistance in Reevaluation of the Rockwall Co., Texas – Rockwall Anomaly”: “The Rockwall dike system has long been known for its resemblance to construction as opposed to most sand dikes that do not display staggered joint stone masonry features. Various linteled portals and archways complete with arch guiding springer stones have been documented along the wall.
“Many of the openings are in fact square and resemble windows or conduits for water. One lintel that was excavated and brought up from a water well in 1949 had what appeared to be an ancient script on it that is roughly in a straight line across the stone. What is more interesting is that a copper coin-like object … found in cuttings from an augered water well in 1870 in Illinois at a depth of 125 feet had two humans portrayed on it and the exact same script etched around the edge of the object.”
Those copper objects, now at the Smithsonian, date from 200,000 to 400,000 years ago by superposition, Shelton said.
When the wall was discovered, part of it is said to have lined a passageway leading to an underground vaulted chamber now beneath the town square. In 2000, at the time Shelton wrote his paper, Lindsey was negotiating with a property owner to explore this feature, which hadn’t been viewed since the turn of the century.
The historic Rockwall County Courthouse in the town square of Rockwall, Texas.
The site was first discovered by farmers and settlers Benjamin Boydstun, Terry Utley Wade, and William Clay Stevenson, according to the county’s Historical Foundation. In particular, Wade, while digging a well on his property near the western edge of the present town, struck the great wall.
Wade’s granddaughter, Mary Pattie (Wade) Gibson recorded a tale involving the excavation of the wall by two men who discovered halls and passages. One of the halls ran toward the chamber previously mentioned. Another resident of Rockwall who recalled the old excavations of the wall, was the daughter of a Mr. Deweese, an early Rockwall town settler. She remembered a doorway with diagonal stones that were uncovered at the Wade residence. The stone doorway was open to the public from 1936 to the late 1940s. However, the area was filled back in due to fears of structural failure and dangerous conditions.