Monday, October 31, 2011


Look at it! You can practically smell the ghosts! I don't have time to go through all the steps that it would take you to draw that with the same precision that I have have, but feel free to give it a go anyway. Perhaps you can improve on it (doubtfully). Also, I don't know what that thing to the left of the pumpkin is. Some sort of haunted bike pump maybe. All we can know for sure is that it is haunted and it is totally in your mind now.


Also, Geology and stuff.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spooky Stories That Aren't Actually All That Scary!!

Being out in the wilderness by yourself is scary. Not like "Oh no! An alien is popping out of my gizzards and my insurance just lapsed!" scary, but more like "If my tire popped, I would be coyote a buffet in an hour" scary. It's a different type of scary. Alien parasitic attacks are a sudden, shocking event, but coyote buffets are a constant concern, ceaselessly peeking in at you from the corners of your sub-conscience. That's what being outdoors by yourself is like. Sure it's entertaining, but there's something there in your head reminding you that humans invented the concept of indoors because most outdoor accidents happen....well, outdoors.

So why are we covering the concept of what basically amounts to paranoia? I'll tell you why. It's because when you are outdoors you are typically more aware of your surroundings than when you are lounging on the couch covered in string cheese wrappers. I think this means that you are more likely to think you've seen a ghost (or felt a ghostly presence) when you are outdoors by yourself. Maybe that's not what you think it means. Perhaps you no longer have any idea what I'm rambling on about. Let's move on.

My ghost story takes place here.

That is the Centennial Eureka Mine. Well, it was. Now it's a big pile of boards and metal and some bushes. But maybe......ALSO GHOSTS???!!!! Or possibly just more bushes. We'll see.

Now, I have wonderful plans to cover this mine in depth (I know, you can't wait!), but for now let's just get a little background. The Centennial Eureka is located in the Tintic Mining District, which in turn is reached by following the wolf's cry for 5 nights, traveling only on foot. Or you can just take Highway 6. Either way will get you there. Actually that first one won't get you there. I don't know where that will get you. Possibly near some wolves.

The Centennial Eureka began doing mining things way back in the good ol' year 1876. Now, that was a long time ago. People born in that year would be 135 years old. People who are 135 years old look gross. Like raisins. Or so I would imagine.

But enough of this people who look like food madness! What about ghosts? Well, we aren't to the ghosts yet. Soon.....

Over its lifetime, the mine produced more money than any other mine in the district. Rich jewels worthy of divas and royalty were used as paper weights! Gold leaf was used as toilet paper! And regular toilet paper was used by dogs! And dog toilet paper wasn't used at all. Ahhhh, how would it be to be that rich?

Now, it didn't always used to look like this...

At one point, it used to look like this....

Look at all that! All of that is gone now. All that remains is the head frame (look at the last picture dude). In that picture, our friendly little head frame is located inside that tall building near the center of the picture. All of the other buildings do other things, like making timber supports and housing gnome eradication crews. Here's the thing; mines don't get to be that big unless things are really going well. And things were booming for the Centennial Eureka until that fateful day when things went wrong.

The crews arriving for work on September 17, 1914 were planning to work in the Oklahoma Stope, a big cavern that formed when the miners were working an ore body. Now here's the problem; the rock around the ore was shattered and crumbly. The miners had recognized this danger and double the number of timbers to stabilize the roof. It wasn't enough, however, and without any warning the roof of the cavern collapsed. Thirteen men were trapped in the cave-in, and only two survived to meet the rescue party. One miner felt the sudden increase in pressure from the collapsing roof and dove down a nearby tunnel. The other survivor was lucky enough to get buried in timbers that shielded him from the much less pleasant rock debris. The bodies of the remaining miners were found in the exact areas where they had been working.

Details are sketchy concerning how many bodies were found (or if all of them had been found). I know that several are now located in the Eureka Cemetery, which is where most dead people tend to end up. Mining continued in the mine for several years after that, but as we have learned from watching reality ghost-hunting TV shows, anywhere people die there is likely to be a good ol' fashioned ghost problem.

Now, I feel like I should point out that I've never seen a ghost at the Centennial Eureka mine. I've never seen a shovel mysteriously fly up and start....shoveling. I've never even heard a cheery tune being whistled from the void. In fact, it is a great place to go hunt all sorts of green and blue rocks. But I have always felt uneasy there. This is where I must redirect you to the first paragraph of this post. Remember how I said that I always feel uneasy when I'm outdoors? I brought that up so you could consider for yourself whether or not my uneasiness is caused by some sort of anxiety problem or if it is caused by something more ghostly. Or possibly by this owl who lives in the mine nowadays.

That owl is a jerk, by the way. Let's get a close-up.

But allow me to get scary here for a moment. While it is true that I tend to be nervous whenever I'm outdoors (owls are spooky), the Centennial Eureka feels off for a different reason. It almost feels claustrophobic, even though you are very much outdoors and in the middle of nothing. Also, it's not uncommon to get goosebumps even on the warmest day. Is it possible that the spirits of the crushed miners still occupy the site?

Are they still mining away, not knowing that their shift ended nearly a century ago? Or am I freaking myself out whenever I go there? You will have to visit the site yourself to see, but I don't think that it is outside the realm of possibility that a few miner's spirits still can be found at the site. Also an easily pissed-off owl.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mines, and the Ghosts that love them. Part III

Today's ghost is a fairly rare creature. If fact, I've never seen one. But I've seen a lot of movies, and that's even better than real-life experience.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Usually this first paragraph is reserved for my prattling on about something or another in order to try to set the mood of the post. But in this case I'm just going to post this.....

I think that creates the mood I'm going for. For you see, the ghost town of Hiawatha isn't completely abandoned after all. There are a few residents left.......THE GHOSTS!!!

Also the polygamists. But the ghosts are the ones to worry about.

The tale of Hiawatha is much like the other towns we have already looked at. Mining was discovered, mining occurred, mining died out, mines become homes to bears, bears are scary. But what is different about Hiawatha is what the brave miners were looking for. Instead of shiny golds, proud silvers, and inept copper, the goal here was coal. Lots of coal. Here it is now...

Coal is good. Well, not if you are the environment. But it's good for humans. We use it to make all sorts of things happen. Without coal, you wouldn't be able to see old fashioned trains work. We probably use it for other things, but I'm not here to educate you about coal. I'm not here to do anything other than burn away the work hours. You should already know this.

The story of Hiawatha begins with the story of Carbon County (Utah, duh). Carbon County Utah produces a huge amount of coal. If fact, let's take a gander at the name "Carbon County". Carbon is coal! Well, sort of. Mostly. Sometimes there's other stuff in there, but it's mostly carbon. That is the reason that Carbon County isn't named....something other than Carbon County. Commercial quantities of coal are easy to find 'round those parts, that's what I'm saying. Carbon County is here....

The coal reserves of Carbon County have been known since the early settlers moved into the place. It sticks out of the ground here and there, and sometimes you can find old leaf impressions in the coal! That's pretty cool. Or should I say...that's pretty COAL!!! HAHAHAHAhahaaaa! I've stolen a few seconds of your life. Anyway, if you're going to be a huge coal producing community, it stands to reason that you would have a huge coal miner statue. And lo, it was so....

Hiawatha was a town established in the foothills of Gentry Mountain. In 1909, some grizzled ol' prospector was poking around an abandoned ranch and found a nice big bunch of coal that we could dig out of the hill and do various things with. Coal was a hot commodity back in the day, so it didn't take long for the mine to really take off.

I put that picture in there just to make sure you were still awake. By 1911, the town had tricked nearly 500 people into believing that it was a good place to live. What's more, like two amoebas locked in eternal battle, the town of Hiawatha took over another nearby village named Blackhawk and consumed it in 1915.

The whole operation was owned by the United States Fuel Company. I took a cool picture of the company sign, still located on what used to be the main office building. Here it is!

I should point out that I went to Hiawatha at night, so that actually is a picture of the company sign. Nature hates when we take pictures of it at night. So here's a picture of the sign I found on the internet.

Look how confident that monarch is! He knows you will buy his coal. What choice do you have? Anyway, that picture should let you know that the town is still largely intact. Many of the buildings are still there, and a few folks still call the place home.

The town swelled to nearly 1,500 brave souls by the early 1940's, and the mine was really pumping out the black chunky goodness that is coal. The company built a good number of concrete apartment houses, a church, a school, stores, bathhouse and other such things.

Here's a couple of the gents now, standing next to one of those coal-less automobiles.

The town started to putter out in the 1950's when coal prices dropped. By 1960 the population was down to 440, and by 1990 a mere 43 people called it home. Once a town drops below 50 people, nobody really counts anymore. When I was out there I would place the population at about, oh, 12. And several cats. Dozens of cats. An unnerving number of cats.

Now, let's get to the halloween part of this madness. As we've seen, I was out there at night. Night is when the ghosts are out and about, and I was looking for ghosts. My first stop was the old company warehouse and store.

Here it is in Spookovision!

What is that mysterious black spot hovering above the building??? A ghost? A wraith? A skeleton pirate? Nope, just the moon. This building was supposed to be home to at least 5 different wandering souls (according to this kid who was wearing a robe and wandering nearby) who showed up the night before and were scary and stuff. He also told me that taking pictures in negative form would show me more ghosts (so I did that a lot). Would we be as lucky/unlucky to see a ghost? The presence of this highly animated skeleton puppet seems to be a good sign...

Here's the thing. The building is very much the way it was back when it was filled coal-motivated folks. Work benches were still in place, oil stains still occupied the floor, and the door was still a huge novelty clown face.

Upon entering, you encounter this delightful little critter.

It popped out of this equally delightful box.

While both those things are terrifying, both objects are not likely ghosts. Boxes rarely leave behind ghosts, regardless of how terrifyingly they left this world. This is the only picture I took that had any sort of....unexplained mysteryness.

See it? What the devil is that???? I actually don't know. But let's look at some of my earlier posts. It almost seems to match the Charlie Brown Type of ghost...

Spooky. As geologists, we must always keep our minds open to the possibility of ghosts. I'm not sure why though. Either way, let's get out of there. That place be haunted.

Our next stop was one of the old boarding houses a litter further to the west (behind the washing machine)...

(here's another picture in spookyovision)

The most striking feature of this probably haunted house (other than the clothes washer), is the presence of an abandoned minivan in the front yard. Or is it abandoned?

Nope. There's a kitty cat in the back seat. Ah well. Moving along, we find ourselves outside the old mine bath house.

Those baskets would hold all the old miner's toiletry items. In fact, most of them still hold the miner's old toiletry items. But here's the thing about hanging a bunch of metal baskets from the ceiling. It's really really scary looking. Take a picture of it in the negative, and look out, you've got a haunted (not really) house on your hands.

Enough of the bath house. Let's get on with the main attraction. The main boarding house.

Again, it was nighttime. But if you expand that picture you can actually see the place! I say you go ahead and do it! There are quite a few stories about this place, so I'm going to add another picture. Here we go...

One story tells that they used to bring orphans in to work in the mines (this would obviously be before child labor laws), and that several died while under the employment of the company. When an orphan dies, you better believe that something's going to be haunted because of it. There have been several reported sightings of a little girl ghost running around in this place, particularly looking out the upper windows...

and standing on the main stairway...

I didn't see any ghost. Should we switch to ghost cam? !

Nothing. Well, a couple of weird black streaks. I don't think they are ghosts though. But who knows? Maybe this place is haunted by a bunch of snake ghosts. So many questions, so little interest in answering them. Let's poke around a little more...

If you like debris, then this place is for you. No ghosts though. Or at least none that my high-tech ghost cam could pick up (phone camera).

Well, nothing more to report. The place is probably haunted, but what isn't nowadays? Ghosts are everywhere. They are in your cereal, in your toilets, in your laundry, everywhere. Are there ghosts watching you right now???? Probably not. You're not that interesting.