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.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I often experience the paranoia of being near where people have died when I am near where people have died. Sometimes I feel weird and then I ask if people have died there. Unexpected death is tragic. However, timely deaths can be a marvelous thing leading to joyful reunions.