by Doug Parkin
The following tale is taken from my personal journal.
June 25, 1993: I am not sure how to explain exactly the events that have just taken place in my life.
I consider myself a very religious man and as I contemplate life after death and what it all means, I have discovered that throughout my life I have experienced many things that have shown me that along with the many wonderful blessings I have enjoyed, that there is also a terrible evil side as well, which tries to cause confusion and ultimately destroy us. This experience is one of those.
Two weeks ago, Mike, Eric and myself where exploring the mine site of a forgotten legend, but let me back up.
I love history, and it is my job in our little group of adventurers to do the basic background research and check the validity of the stories that we want to investigate.
We had heard that there was an old recluse that had lived up in the Big Cottonwood area. The story was told that two times a year, he would show up in town, buy all the supplies and food he would need and disappear back up into the mountains for 6 months. The strange thing that caught everyone’s attention though was that every time he would buy his supplies, he paid with raw gold nuggets.
Everyone knew that he had a secret gold mine up there, and several attempts were made to follow him and find his secret. To our knowledge there never was any luck. We didn’t have too many details to work with, but we found out that on one of his trips into town, he purchased all that was necessary, left, and three days later his pack mule was found wandering in the foothills. he was never heard from again. We didn’t know his name, just knew that there was validity to this story. We followed the story to where the events took place and this is where our adventure began.
We had just arrived at the foothills of Dead Man Canyon. A fitting name for what we were looking for. We could not just enter up the canyon as it was land locked by private property. We had to go two canyons farther south and climb up and over. We actually ended up climbing the ridge up above the canyon that I was sure held the old mans mine, as well as his riches.
As the day wore on and further and further up the canyon ridge we ventured, I suddenly looked down into the trees of the bottom of the canyon. I thought I caught a glimpse of what I thought looked like some kind of man made sign. We decided to climb down and investigate.
Eric asked me to carry his handgun which was in a shoulder harness. Anyone that knows me, knows what kind of mistake that was. I strapped it on and hadn’t stepped off the ridge more than 6 feet when I lost my footing and started tumbling down the mountain side. All I could think about was keeping the gun pointed away from my body, so I tumbled, never attempting to catch myself. Bruised me up pretty good, but I was the first one down, and laying there I counted my blessings that the gun had not gone off.
After waiting for the slow pokes, we started looking for the sign that I had seen. The trees were very thick, and finally after some intense searching, we found not a sign, but it was the roof of a cabin.
We searched the cabin, nothing of real importance was found except a tin box on a shelf that contained a stack of papers, hand written receipts to a mister Darwin Bills, and what looked like a catalog of some sort on the floor, but it was mostly decomposed into the rotted floor boards. behind the cabin were rolls and rolls of rotted hosing that was most likely used for pumping fresh air into a mine shaft.
Only about 60 feet away lay the opening of a mine with iron bars blocking the entrance. The mine door was not able to budge as rocks had sealed the bottom shut. However, the boards that were used to seal the top were easily removed and we climbed over the top and ended up inside.
It was a bit of shock that as we entered the mine, the floor was completely covered with fresh green leaves. It was a mystery for only about 10 seconds when Mike picked up a rock and skipped it through the leaves. The entire floor started to move and quickly rats began climbing the walls and running furiously for safety. Mike looked at Eric and yelled. “Nesting time for the rats!”
You’ve never seen 3 guys clear those bars so quickly in all your life and we were out of the mine.
We all felt that it would be better if we waited until we were more prepared before we ventured deeper into the mine.
The more we searched around the area, the more I am convinced that this is the mining camp of the old recluse we were looking for. I need to find evidence that Darwin Bills was his name. We made all the notes we needed to be able to easily find this location once again and decided that there was not much more we could do there that day, so we decided to head out traveling down the canyon.
About 1 mile down the canyon, following the creek bed, we walked right into what seemed to be a mining camp. foundations of company buildings, and pieces of equipment were strewn about everywhere. It was inconceivable to me that something like this was so untouched, being so close to civilization.
As we entered the mine, me being the last one in, (I never entertained the thought of being the bravest of the bunch.) I noticed a movement above our heads. I stepped back and noticed what I thought was an electrical line kind of vibrating or something. Before I could say anything to Mike and Eric it fell from the rafters directly in front of us. It was a huge rattlesnake. I should of at that point taken it as a warning to stay out of the mine, but after we waited for it to slither safely away from us, we proceeded.
We ventured about 600 feet deep into the mine, and that is when our nightmare began.
We had with us two good flashlights. Mike was carrying one out in front. I had the other taking up the rear. I felt really funny in there. Like we weren’t alone. I kept stopping and turning around, searching the walls with the flashlight seeing if anything was following us, but that was obviously a ridiculous notion.
Mike all of sudden swore as I saw his flashlight go out. He shook it, it blinked on and then off again. I reached around Eric to hand Mike my flashlight, but as I did, mine went out also.
Now I know that it was complete coincidence that they both went out almost at the same time, but deep inside a mine you very seldom think about coincidences. We totally freaked out. The blackness was so thick and stifling you could touch it. As I panicked, I quickly experienced something I never had before, “Vertigo”. My brain would not register any bearings for me, I could feel my feet on the floor, but I couldn’t reason whether the surface I was standing on was the floor or the ceiling. At one point I thought I was floating and spinning out into space.
Mike was able to keep his wits and he grabbed hold of Eric’s and my hand. “Don’t let go,” he stated “and follow me, I think this is the way out.” We slowly started moving together praying we would get out alive. I now know how someone so easily could die inside a mine shaft.
Suddenly Mike stopped. So quickly that we all bumped into each other. “STOP!” he shouted. “Don’t anybody move!” “Oh crap!” I thought to myself. “This is the end.” I knew that a cave critter was now going to reach out and tear me apart and have me for dinner. As I waited for my fate, I could hear Mike shaking and playing around with the flashlights. I guess he wanted to see what was going to eat him.
After what seemed an eternity I saw the welcome sight of light flickering off the walls as he got one to turn on.
Suddenly there was a gasp of horror as Mike fell backwards on Eric and I, pushing with all his might to get away from what ever was in front of him. As we all tried to gather our wits about ourselves and piece together what was going on, Mike pointed his flashlight directly in front of us and not more than 6 inches from where he was standing, the floor disappeared into what seemed a bottomless elevator shaft. One step by Mike and all three of us would have gone off the edge.
It took some time to recover from the shock of such a close call, but for the first time since we had entered the mine, I felt that we might survive. At least I felt that a strong spirit was there to help protect us.
After we gained our composure we started our trek out of the mine.
We had backtracked no more than 100 feet when the nightmare continued. Suddenly there was absolutely no air to breathe. I don’t mean that it was hard to breathe. I mean it was as if my throat had been totally closed off, and no air could reach my lungs.
I started running toward the entrance, not realizing that Mike and Eric were having the same experience.
No sooner had we seen the first sign of light, we started coughing and choking as air started flowing once again. I fell to my knees trying desperately to catch my breath. I had never felt anything like it before in my life. It was like drowning but with no water present.
As we approached the entrance, Eric brushed up against something and it fell to the ground. He turned and picked up an old miners jacket that had hung on the wall of the mine for over a hundred years.
As we got out into the light of day, we once again fell to the ground, deeply breathing in the wonderful breath of life.
Eric looked at the jacket he had drug out of the mine and tried it on, started squirming, and quickly peeled it off, as spiders started scurrying out of the pockets and sleeves. his stupidity was pretty amazing to us and Mike and I busted out laughing as we laid on the ground.
Before we left the area, Mike asked Eric and I to stand in front of the mine entrance so he could take a picture. I felt very uneasy standing there, I felt as if something was trying to pull me back in. Mike was taking his sweet time taking the picture. I finally yelled at him. “Snap the Picture!” He did, and I practically ran to get away from the eerie cold feelings that lay at the opening of that mine shaft.
We explored the surrounding area, not saying much about what we had experienced that day. Then we packed up our gear and hiked down the canyon and into the welcome site of civilization.
I was on vacation for the next couple of days and I spent those days researching everything I could find out about the area. The first day I spent at the Historical Society and the second day I spent in the Special Collections area of the city Library.
I found information that connected the mining camp to a mine called the Silver Diamond mine. I then found a newspaper clipping concerning the area in which we had stumbled into.
After my research I am convinced the article is talking about the actual mine that we had entered.
Mike’s father owns a photo studio and after developing the pictures of our adventure he called me on the phone very excited. He was shouting in the phone and mumbling something about a ghost in the mine. he then told me to get over to his place as soon as possible.
Upon arriving he said, “Remember when you were standing at the entrance of the mine and yelling at me to take the picture? Well, every time I looked into the camera I thought I could see something behind you, and then I would look up and nothing was there. He showed me the photograph and nothing was there, but when he showed me the film negative, there was a spot or something over my shoulder.
We took the negative and made a copy of it and transposed it into a positive black and white print and sure enough there was an image of what looks like an old man looking over my shoulder.
Mike packed up the jacket that we had brought down out of the canyon and the prints and handed them to me and said, “There you go, I want nothing to do with them.”
I am convinced that the mine we entered that day is haunted. I am also convinced that what ever it was that was there wanted us dead.
I came in contact with something very evil that day, the day I met the ghost of Darwin Bills.