Vacation Time Has Turned “Spooky”
by Amy Lignor
Myths and legends, both spooky and surreal, are becoming the subject of many books and newspaper articles lately. And the location of many, oddly enough, happen to be in the Southwest. It used to be that a nice white sandy beach was the one place we yearned to go on vacation to get away from it all. Now, however, people are searching for places to travel where legends still exist, and where these supposed myths may just prove to be a reality.
In Utah, the White Cliffs boast a ledge of gold. Makes sense that entrepreneurs would want to check this one out, in hopes that the ledge could be found rather than go on “Shark Tank” and be turned down. But others are headed there, as well. Part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, this amazing “staircase” is a series of cliffs, terraces and mesas colored white, gray and pink. Rising into the sky, they reveal over 200 million years of geology. From Jurassic dunes to dinosaurs, everything surreal can be found there. But many forgot, or set aside when Spielberg made his record-breaking film starring T-Rex, the actual ledge of gold that once was the focus of this area.
Legend says that back in 1870, a prospector by the name of Brankerhoff told the owner of Hubbell Trading Post that a narrow cleft leading to cave existed, where a ledge of quartz crystal and gold sat undisturbed. Somewhere amidst the White Cliffs, people tried to locate what the prospector – who disappeared after that night – had been talking about. One man actually did stumble across it, finding large chunks of gold. But when he returned to the Cliffs to show others, the cave had mysteriously vanished.
After many searches and even a gun battle that took lives, a legend was born that cowboys had blown up the entrance to the cave in order to prevent anyone else from ever finding it and taking the gold. With the White Cliffs now part of the National Park System, treasure hunting is forbidden. Oddly enough, more and more people are traveling there to “take some time off.” Perhaps someone will stumble across this treasure again.
Yet another mine legend can be found in the state of Colorado. Referred to as the Lost Tenderfoot Mine, the legend came about when the Gold Rush began in 1849. James Marshall discovered gold at the famous Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California and news of his awesome discovery raced across the globe like wildfire. Almost 300,000 people headed west to get in on the windfall, yet more and more found nothing in “them thar’ hills.”
It was only in the Southwest, with the volcanic activity and mountain terrain that offered a huge number of places to hunt for the veins of quartz that are gold-bearing rock. In Breckenridge, Colorado, a “tenderfoot” – new to the harsh southwestern range – somehow fell across a vein and was able to grab approximately twenty pounds of gold, making him an instant millionaire. When he went back, however, with many following after him to get in on the action, this tenderfoot could not for the life of him find it again. In other words, there’s a lost mine just waiting to be rediscovered and the National Park System is not a problem when it comes to this one.
Yet another “must-see” as of late is found on the edge of Cleopatra Hill in the Verde Valley. The town is called Jerome, Arizona, and is literally as close to a ghost town as you can get. Not because it’s sparsely populated or because no one “living” roams the streets. In fact, it is a bustling little tourist attraction with old hotels, bars, a church, a brothel, and more.
A lot like Lincoln, New Mexico – where Billy the Kid walked the street with his gun in hand – Jerome was referred to as the “wickedest town in the west.” But Jerome does not only provide gun slingers to fear; because of its position way up high, many of the buildings crumbled and fell to the bottom of the hill, including the jail. It is said that gold and other things are buried up in Jerome that would be far more valuable than regular antiques or collectibles.
Jerome’s Grand Hotel provides ghostly tours, and legends can be learned while sitting at a table in the hotel’s Asylum restaurant, or the more casual, Haunted Hamburger. Either way, Jerome is one old location that visitors are heading straight to in order to check out the ghosts and stumble across any treasure that might be resting there.
When it comes to New Mexico, aliens are not all that Roswell possesses. Here, visitors can also find The Lost River, a locale where people (and their automobiles) have mysteriously disappeared over the last hundred years…swallowed up by the earth. Haunted cemeteries, gold left behind, treasure maps buried by the outlaws who spent their short lives building a fortune that they would not be alive long enough to spend – New Mexico and the rest of the Southwest has it all.
So jump on the wagon train, so to speak. Head to each state’s Bureau of Tourism and check out the mysteries that, perhaps, are just waiting for you to come solve.
Source: Baret News