top of page
Lost Rhoades Gold Header.jpg

Bear Wallow

Strange things have happened at Bear Wallow, north of Pigeon Water and east of the long ridge separating it from Dry Canyon and Miner's Gulch. Several hikers have seen a well hidden mine portal there. The late John Sprecker of Duchesne was hunting deer when he noticed a peculiar slab of rock, obviously not native to that area. That rock was quite large and triangular in shape, but what set it apart from the common red sandstone was its white color. Sprecker wasn't aware that Spanish miners often placed such stones as trail markers or to draw attention to a particular area. He tried to lift that rock and in so doing discovered that it was balanced so that it could easily be turned sideways. When that white stone was rotated to the side a small vertical shaft below it was uncovered. That stone had been purposely placed to conceal the entry to that shaft. A rotted chicken pole ladder proved that men had once descended into that pit. Sprecker planned to have someone help him investigate that shaft, but unfortunately, he died not long after his discovery, so that its location was lost.

Curiosity sometimes tempts fate, for just last summer that same out-of-place white marker stone was found again. Mark Mason was hiking in the Bear Wallow area when he stopped to look more closely at a symbol cut into a tree; a triangle with a dot in its center. Looking beyond that tree, he was surprised to see a triangular shaped white stone shaped just like the triangle on the tree. He said that he wouldn't have seen the stone if he hadn't sighted past that sign tree. Mason wondered why there should be a large white stone where all of the rock was red sandstone, but like Sprecker before him, he too was unaware of Spanish marker stones and continued on his way. It wasn't until I told him of John Sprecker's discovery of a shaft beneath that stone that he decided to return to Bear Wallow and check out that marker rock, that is if he can find that Spanish tree sign again!

Stan Brennan, a gray-bearded Mountain Man type, has spent a lot of time at Bear Wallow. About four miles north of Mountain Sheep Pass, Brennan discovered a place where there are many old Spanish signs cut into large and obviously very old trees. By following those signs he came to an old log cabin. In the pine forest close to that rotted old cabin he found the remains of a corral, so dilapidated that it was hardly recognizable. That corral and cabin are not very far away from the 1856 Pine Mine. Wayne Nelson also found that old corral many years ago, but at that time there were still some old-fashioned leather ore sacks there, what Spanish miners called "zurrons" or "cueros." According to Nelson, the Jeep road through Bear Wallow and to the 1856 Pine Mine and Monument Knoll beyond was built by Les and Dan Pope. Cecil Dalton had been working an old diggings near there and he told the Popes about his claim. When Dalton returned several weeks later he found the Popes in possession of his diggings. Angry words erupted into a brief shoot-out, with gun shots being exchanged by both parties, but with no one being hit or injured.

Nelson and his Indian partner, Alonzo Jim, prospected well beyond Monument Knoll, into the cliffs and ledges near the headwaters of Brown Duck Creek. Along an old pack train trail they picked up several pieces of black colored rock, heavy with visible gold. Alonzo Jim told Nelson that ore came from the Red Man Mine, and was probably dropped from pack animals carrying gold ore from that fabulous diggings. He never told Nelson exactly where the Red Man Mine was located, other than that it was further around the head of the canyon, well hidden along a line of dangerous vertical cliffs. In later years Nelson made a few attempts to locate that fabled digging without any luck, and he thinks it would be harder to find now, more than forty years later.

Old-timers around the Duchesne area tell of a Spanish mine at Bear Wallow and a small cabin close to it. The portal of that mine is concealed by stones piled over it, but even though it is well concealed, it is still guarded by an Indian whose only job is to keep "white-eyes" away from the hoard of gold said to be cached there. Two prospectors told of accidentally stumbling onto that old cabin site, and they said that although its roof is sagging, its walls are still standing. Their tale of seeing a human skeleton sitting on a chair inside that cabin might be attributed to too active an imagination, or perhaps too many drinks of Old Blabber Mouth; that is if their story wasn't corroborated by others who claim to have seen the same thing, when they were perfectly sober. A man of some stature and civic responsibility at Roosevelt City, a man who is a teetotaler, told of seeing that same cabin while deer hunting with his father-in-law, who is a Ute Indian. He said the body inside that cabin is still dressed in leather boots and shreds of what were once trousers, but his shirt has completely rotted and fallen away. But most un-nerving to look at is that skeleton's long, stringy red hair, all covered with dust and cobwebs! But steer clear of Bear Wallow, he cautions, for it is certain death to be caught near that old cabin and mine tunnel!--Faded Footprints, pg. 122

bottom of page