The History Channel H2 aired a fun episode of America Unearthed last night as Scott Wolter investigated the Great Wall of Texas. In 1852, three farmers were digging a well when they came across a strange formation of rocks that appeared to be man-made. As more folks started digging, they discovered that the wall was nearly 20 miles long, forming a rectangle. The city and county of Rockwall, Texas was named for this phenomenon. Wolter journey′s to Texas to seek answers to the questions, is it man-made and if so, who built it? Legends range from the early Caddo Indian tribe to a prehistoric civilization. Some even say that the 7-story high rock wall was built by a race of 1,000-pound giants!
Scott arrives in Rockwall and first meets with Adam Nix, who shows Wolter some samples from the wall. Many of the older buildings in town have rocks from it as part of their construction. The county court house also has examples on display, though these have been re-mortared. Nix also shows Scott some photos taken from an excavation done in the 1950s (one seen above) and tells him that there may be a conspiracy of silence. If the wall is a true archeological site, then property owners may not be able to build or dig on their land.
Nix arranges for Wolter to meet with Kevin Richeson, who recently spent $80,000 digging around the wall. Kevin owns heavy equipment for his company and got as far down as 42 feet before a three-day long rain storm ruined the dig. At one area, Kevin found what he believes are steps which are some 32-inches apart, giving credence to the theory that the wall may have been built by giants. Kevin also shows Scott a map giving an overall outline of the wall, which encloses an area of about 19 square miles. The longest portion of the wall runs Eat to West in accordance with the summer solstice alignment, perhaps another example of archeo-astronomy. Kevin agrees to start a fresh dig tomorrow for Scott.
Wolter next visits Sherri Fowler of the Rockwall County Museum. The earliest knonw settlers of the region, the Caddo Indians, who arrived around 820 A.D. And named the region Tehas, were not known for building anything like the rock wall. She is more inclined to believe that if it is man-made, it was done by some earlier, unknown civilization. Oddly, nobody is asking if there were any structures found beneath the surface which the wall would have enclosed. One would think that if you were going to build such a massive wall, it would be to protect something, like a city. She takes Scott to her family′s property and shows him some more samples of the rocks, which he determines to be limestone, an easy rock to cut and shape.
The next morning Scott and Kevin begin their dig. Two heavy shovels and a front-loader, which Scott is taught to operate, get to work. They quickly uncover the rock wall. By the next morning, the hole is large and deep enough to show a sizable section of the wall. Scott invites Professor John Geissman, a geologist from the University of Texas Dallas campus, to take geomagnetic samples. The science of paleomagnetism can determine if the rocks are magnetically aligned, showing whether they are still in their original positions or have been moved. If they have been moved, the results will be very random and proof that the wall is indeed man-made.
With a batch of samples, Scott and John head to John′s laboratory at the Dallas campus of the University of Texas. The test results are conclusive and Scott returns to Rockwall to inform Kevin and Adam of the findings. All of the samples taken have the same magnetic alignment, proving that the Great Wall of Texas is a naturally formed structure. It was built from a massive sand dike some 85 million years ago. Though the mystery is solved and the wall was not man-made, Wolter tells them that it is still an extremely unique formation, perhaps the largest of such in North America. Still something special for the locals to be proud of.