Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Claim Jumper

Monday May 6 2013

There's a whiff of ore in the air up this Owyhee canyon: gold, silver. There's a hint of wildness: rugged mountains, wild animals - cougars and bighorn sheep, hunters and prey. There's the taint of scandal: death, sex, foul play.

In the early 1900's, a man named Walken discovered a mine up this gulch. He recruited a partner, Finken. When the mine was half excavated, a dispute erupted over distribution of the loot. Finken died in an explosion inside the mine. Foul play was suspected. Walken later married Finken's wife. Walken later drowned at a time when Finken's father was in the area. Foul play was again suspected.

Back then, the mine may have produced today's equivalent of nearly $3 million in gold and possibly over $1 million in silver. The amounts are disputed, of course, as are the details of the legend.

Our way into the canyon is guarded by a cow carcass, perhaps a warning for those who trespass lightly.

A well-constructed old dug-out remains up the canyon, remnants of early homesteaders, or perhaps rich miners.

The castle-like walls of this canyon keep the secrets beneath.

We come upon the re-claimed mining claim. The mine may still hold secrets: traces of gold, silver, a body. Way out here in the Owyhees, far from watchful eyes, we could jump the claim; but claim jumpin' called for hangin' in the old days, or an old-fashioned shootin'.

We decide to let the ghosts of dead men lie in their mine and river tombs, and leave behind the gold and silver for those more bold than we are.


  1. That was a very well told tale! And the photography was stunning as usual. I really prefer that you don't go digging around in creepy places that hide snakes and bugs. Stay safe and keep your boots on!

  2. Good idea to let sleeping ghosts lie. Interesting story sounds like a modern day soap opera. Great pics as usual.

  3. I hope Adam goes with you when you ride up there!!!

  4. I LOVE the history of this whole area! makes for good imaginative imaginations when you're riding!

  5. such great views from the saddle!

  6. I done finds this while lokin fer a haus. You pole cats best not be messing around on my claom er I'll hafta fill ya full of lead fur stealing my GOLD. NO Tresspissing !!

    1. whoa now easy there old timer! we aint there to steal your gold. and if'n we are you better have a bullet faster'n my horse!