The legend of a lone hitchhiker on lonely roads is a prevalent one. Nearly every stretch of highway in the country has a tale of their own. But the hitchhiker that walks on the side of Highway 70 doesn’t want a ride, he wants something a little more substantial: for someone to give him a proper burial. Today we explore the legend of the Miner of Slaughterhouse Gulch.
The area surrounding Slaughterhouse Gulch, near the border between Colorado and Wyoming and a few miles south of Encampment, is the focus of several local legends. A town once existed in the area called Battle, Wyoming, and was a mining camp started due to gold being found in the region. Another popular legend is that of the Lost Cabin Mine, though not as famous as the identically named mine in the Big Horn Mountains.
The Lost Cabin Mine is said to have been part of the Grand Encampment Mining District, and was lost when three miners who guarded the location of the mine with their lives, with one man escaping an attack by Native Americans only to forget how to get back to the gold mine.
The lone miner who haunts Slaughterhouse Gulch, however, had a much most tragic end to his life. The legend says that the man was the victim of a botched dynamite blast to uncover more gold in the mountains.
Dynamite would be set off by a blasting cap or cartridge containing fulminate of mercury. The cartridge itself was set off by a fuse which was crimped to the cartridge. Some miners rather than using a crimping tool, crimped the cartridge to the fuse using a jack knife or with their teeth.
The specter has been reported to be sighted in the area as far back as the early 1900s, when a driver of a stage coach line resigned after seeing the man on the road, spooking the horses and then and watching him disappear before his eyes. Another story from 1917 tells of Forest Rangers enjoying dinner on the side of the road when a lonely miner walked past them. His footsteps didn’t make a sound and he didn’t acknowledge the men. Moments later, he disappeared into thin air.
It’s said that if you are traveling on Highway 70 and stop on the side of the road near Slaughterhouse Gulch, you just might see the wandering miner. Legend says that he is restless because his body never got a proper burial. Unfortunately, due to the secretive nature of miners in the frontier days, his final resting place may never be found.
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.