August 10, 2021 Harrisburg Patriot News
Underground Cave Gains Worldwide Fame in TikTok Video
In the video, a woman falls into a cave below a house in Bellevue Park.
Sue Gleiter firstname.lastname@example.org
A Swatara Township soman’s slippery trip into a 30-foot underground cave has made her famous on Tik-Tok.
Maya Moody, known for her handle “MayaMoodyCakes,” documented a visit to a cave beneath her cousin’s house, known as “Cave Hill” in Harrisburg’s Bellevue Park neighborhood.
The video labeled “That time I fell into the Underground Railroad,” garnered more than 20 million views, Moody’s story also has been picked up by Newsweek and “Inside Edition.” She has fielded interview requests from international media.
“I’m really surprised. It’s not something I intended. I thought it was just a funny thing,” she said.
On July 3, Moody’s cousin’s husband, Stephen Agyeman, gave a tour of the cave during a family cookout to celebrate Juneteenth. The cave, constructed of slate, stone and brick, is believed to be tied to Prohibition and possibly the Underground Railroad.
In the video, Moody, who makes and sells cheesecakes, is heard talking to Stephen as he leads her down the stairs to the cave – which he states lies 30 feet below ground – all set to background music listed as “Horror, suspense, weirdness, ghost, UFO.”
“Is a ghost down here?” she asks, understandably, right before two lights go out on the stairs as they descent. A few moments later she comes to a stop, stating that she’s gone far enough, thank you, before she slips on the stairs and falls.
“I was truly scared after falling like that. That was really traumatizing,” she said.
Her slip up didn’t stop Moody from uploading the video to TikTok, mostly for fun. At the time, she had 13 followers and said she barely knew how to use the social media platform.
“I thought it was funny my phone recorded the whole thing,” Moody said. “I hurled it. It wasn’t just a dropping situation, I literally had a ginger ale and a phone in my hand.”
Within a few hours, the video’s audience exploded, as did Moody’s followers, who now number close to 157,000. She followed it up with two more TikTok videos exploring the cave and a YouTube video. As a result of the popularity, Moody said her inbox is filled with requests for tours and interviews, including some from ghost hunters.
Agyeman said he has been surprised by the attention.
“It just tickled me a little bit,” he said.
Agyeman and his wife, Susan, purchased the two-story Georgian Revival in 2017 after encountering delays on a home they were building in Camp Hill. The family moved here from northern Virginia.
Agyeman said the cave sold him on the house and he has invited nearly everyone who steps into the home, including UPS drivers, handymen and postal carriers to tour.
He said the cave was originally used to keep brewers’ barrels of beer delivered by horse and wagon cold. The original owner of the property built the house above the cave, and expanded it, blasting out enough bedrock to build walls, concrete steps and a brick roof.
Completed in 1938, the idea to use the basement as a sort of natural air conditioning continued, but now applied to a living area.
According to a reference by Rich Wagner about “Early Brewing in Harrisburg,” at least three Harrisburg breweries, including Graupner Brewery, stored beer in vaults in Bellevue Park.
David Morrison, executive director of Historic Harrisburg Association, said there are a lot of caves and secret cellars and underground spaces in homes 100 years and older. While he doesn’t discount the cave could have been used to hide slaves as part of the Underground Railroad, he said it was more likely used to chill beverages.
He noted homes in Bellevue Park were built well after the end of slavery in 1863. Other sections of Harrisburg, including the Eighth Ward behind the state Capitol, were known to be part of the Underground Railroad, Morrison said.
Agyeman, who is an entineer, said he has reached out to the Berks History Center about the authenticity of the Underground Railroad. In the meantime, he said all the TikTok attention has his mind spinning with ideas for the cave, including a reality series and murals.
“If this TikTok thing makes that come to light I would definitely entertain that,” he said.
Woman’s fall ‘into the Underground Railroad’; changed mask policies; more: Good Morning, Pennsylvania (msn.com)
Cave Under Pennsylvania House May Be Part of Underground Railroad (msn.com)
Harrisburg house with underground cave tied to history goes viral on TikTok (msn.com)
Here's a link to my article about early Harrisburg breweries:
And a link to my article on brewery vaults: