Jefferson, County·, Wisconsin
By, James P. Scherz Prof. Emeritus Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Surveying and Mapping Section) University of Wisconsin, Madison
This printing: 16 February, 2000
Although any report on Rock Lake must give credit to many people who have been involved in probing its mysteries for generations, this report is primarily dedicated to Robert Johnson. Bob, as he preferred to be called, had been an employee of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). After retirement, he moved to Lake Mills near Rock Lake and became obsessed with the Indian lore, Indian mounds, and the ancient mystery of this lake, its watershed (including the springs of Mud Lake) and Aztalan Park near by–once connected by water routes to Rock Lake. Bob introduced me to features at Mud Lake and Eagle Island and eventually to the legends of the pyramid and “Indian rock teepees” under the lake. He attended my classes in surveying, and learned how to run the transits and theodolites. Together we surveyed features around Rock Lake and elsewhere.
Before retirement, Bob said he had been involved with setting up the Madison School Forest and the highway wayside between Portage and Wisconsin Dells, which preserves a remarkable group of Indian mounds. He had worked with Nick Dodge from the Menominee Indian Reservation, who he referred to as his best friend. Bob became infatuated with the old stories that are still preserved in some of the native chants and ceremonies. Bob was also a Mason and was convinced that there was a connection somehow between the secret medicine lodge ceremonies of the Native Americans and the secret Masonic ceremonies of the Europeans–a belief held by some other Masons, as well. Bob suggested that I become a Mason. But my great grandfather in Germany had been a Templar (their version of the Masons) and I knew that these were secret organizations. I told Bob, “No, I did not want to become a Mason, for if I did, I would not be able to talk about what I have learned, and I wanted to figure out the mysteries myself and not be bound by silence”. Bob laughed heartily and said. “That’s right.”
Bob helped and coaxed me in our analysis of the layout geometry of the Indian mound groups, seeing in them patterns from his Masonic rituals he could not fully share with me. The last time I saw Bob alive, he said “Now if you can just figure out how to square the circle with a rope, you have done something important”. I knew that this riddle (along with trisecting an angle) was considered one of the best kept initiation secrets from the ancient priesthoods of the Old World (which the Masons claim to have been connected to). I also knew that non-initiated Greek mathematicians such as Euclid had unsuccessfully spent their lives using the strict rules of geometry we still teach in school, but could not solve the ancient riddles. Bob indicated he believed that the riddles indeed could be solved and that I should try to solve them. (Squaring the circle involves creating a square with the same area as a given circle using only a drafting compass and straight edge or a rope–the type of geometrical tools used before the invention of trig tables, Pi, logarithmic tables, and calculators.)
I was sorry that Bob was not alive when after our surveys of the Hopewell Great Circle and Octagon mound complex in Newark, Ohio, we learned how to square the circle to the full accuracy of rope geometry. (After surveying an ancient site of large man-modified hills and related rock structures at Wisconsin Rapids, we had previously determined how to trisect an angle with only a rope to the full theoretical accuracy used in calculus courses and computers today.) I could not share our exciting find about squaring the circle with Bob, but I did with Pamita, a Indian lodge member near the Menominee Indian Reservation.
Pamita was not overly impressed when I told him that people who laid out the geometry of the Hopewell mounds could square the circle. “Sure. Oh sure, those Jaguar Priests could do that”, he said. “But, ” I protested, “modern text books say that it is impossible to square the circle with only ropes or a compass and straight edge. ” “Now why would they say that ? “, Pamita asked puzzled, unaware of the accepted mathematical dogma taught in modem calculus courses.
And why indeed? For the answer we must look to the beliefs, myths, and dogmas perpetuated by authorities of our modem culture. There are geometrical harmonies and things that have happened in history that refuse to be limited by what the authorities of our culture say is and is not possible. Like Vatican astronomers in the days of Prof. Galileo, there is still a tendency for those in assumed authority to tell people what to believe and what their eyes can and cannot see. And also as in the days of Galileo (when people looked through telescopes and saw evidence that the earth went around the sun and not the sun around the earth as the religious authorities insisted), there are today people who chafe at being told dogma contrary to what their eyes and logic would indicate is the probable truth.
Such people include those who insist on gathering data on what is on the bottom of Rock Lake, contrary to the general belief by those in academic authority that there can be nothing man-made under that lake. This report is also dedicated to such inquiring minds. In the Scientific Age, it is basic data and not previous beliefs that determine what we know as truth. And in order to use the Scientific Method, we must make sound observations and find and preserve basic data. And only after a fair analysis and sifting and winnowing of the data, can the probable truth be known. This report was written to support such efforts and to serve as an aid to those who insist on sifting and winnowing of the evidence before they make up their minds as to what is on the bottom of Rock Lake.
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