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The Mystery of Devil's Kettle Falls

November 24 2015

We're going to explore the mystery of Devil's Kettle Falls in Northern Minnesota. Located along Lake Superior's North Shore, the falls have been puzzling hikers and geologists for years. No one knows where the water is going. We're going to send in an OpenROV, and see if we can find out. Current Status: Preparing for November 2016 Trip

November 24 2015


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Preparation Stage

It's a race to confirm the new theory!

"Beyond Grand Marais, the Brule River splits at the Devil’s Kettle waterfall. Half of it tumbles down and continues on its way. The rest pours into a dark deep hole in the hill ... and disappears.

For years, people have tried to figure out where that water goes. Logs and Ping-Pong balls tossed into the churning cauldron seemed to simply vanish, fueling speculation that the lost branch of the river might flow for miles underground, carrying bobbing debris down to the distant shores of Lake Superior or off to some underground cavern.

Now, finally, a researcher from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) thinks he’s cracked the riddle of Devil’s Kettle.

“It’s a beautiful optical illusion,” said DNR mapping hydrologist Jeff Green, who first marveled at the wandering waterway during a family trip to Judge C.R. Magney State Park years ago.

The disappearing half of the river, it turns out, reappears pretty quickly downstream."

"What happened with this expedition?"

A number of people have asked me that recently. Quick answer: we missed the weather window last year.

But we're still going! The goal now is to take one of the new OpenROV Tridents later this fall. It will be more robust and better able to deal with the conditions. Also, much easier to hike with.

Expedition Background

Eric Stackpole always tells me:

"If the job is Dirty, Dangerous, Dull or Distant, then it's better to send a robot."

This expedition, searching for an answer to the mystery of Devil's Kettle Falls, is of the dangerous - and maybe just flat out impossible - variety. The picture and video explain more than I could write. Basically, no one knows where the water is going on the second waterfall. Not hikers. Not geologists. No one has been able to figure this out.

We're going to send in an OpenROV. Because it's back-packable (and relatively inexpensive), we're going to hike in and drop the robot down the second hole. We'll see how far we can explore and where all of this water is going.

You can read more about it here:

The plan is to do this in November, but is very weather dependent. It may have to wait until next summer. Also, it's pending approval from the authorities.


Awesome guys! Following! Have fun before the snow gets there.

Very cool! I was just there this summer; impossible not to wonder what's down there. Good luck!

Very exciting! Many cavers in the Northeast were just talking about Devil's Kettle. Though some have been in many difficult and dangerous caves, this one is too dangerous for a person. OpenRov might be able to finally solve the mystery that's fascinated many for so long.. I can't wait to see what you find! Good Luck!

I was so excited to hear about this expedition! Whatever happened with it?