Deep within Joshua Tree National Park you will find a curious walled-up “cave” (actually a enclosure built around a large boulder) that has an interesting legend attached to it.
Some think it was where a local rancher kept his dynamite, others think it was where rustlers or gold thieves (there are lots of old gold claims in the area) kept their loot. It is one of Joshua Tree’s most enduring urban legends.
But as I detailed in my book, Mojave Mysteries, there is an odd tale also told of the strange place:
“Now there is another story about the door, and it is one I have heard more than a few times surrounding other such odd constructions all over the west, but it contains all the ingredients for a good mystery and I share it here. The tale goes that a local family had a horribly disfigured and mentally impaired son, huge and monstrous who they hid away from sight and society by locking him up in this rock and iron dungeon. The father would bring him food and sustenance but the poor creature spent his days and nights a virtual prisoner in this lonely cell.
Until one day when the father came to the place and found the door open and his deformed son gone!
In some versions of the story the son then goes on a Frankenstein-like rampage across the countryside, but in others he is never seen again and like all good monster stories told around a desert campfire “might still be out there waiting for an unwary traveler”. I myself used the theme of this campfire myth as the seed for one of my western horror novellas entitled The Charred Man (available on Amazon) but as far as I know, nobody was ever kept in the Joshua Tree iron door cave. At least, I hope not! Being out in that searing heat locked in a cave would truly be a vision of hell…”
If you enjoy true Mojave desert mysteries, this is one you won’t want to miss!
If you’ve read my book, Mojave Mysteries , you know that there are many stories of strange and bizarre animals in the desert. Some of the most sensational came from the 1800’s when explorers (read: white men) first started penetrating and documenting the great Mojave. And even then people were posting photographic “proof” that things as crazy as living dinosaurs and giant flying reptiles still survived.
Many times these would be posted on a saloon wall and the lore of the Mojave is rife with stories by old cowboys who’ve claimed to have seen “the varmint” with their own eyes. But could the vast desert still hold cryptids and unknown animals? Most certainly – but I would realistically expect them to be of the insect and small reptile variety. But who knows? I’ve gathered stories of everything from living sauropods to giant tarantulas in my book from people in all walks of life – right up to the present.
Another reason I find the Mojave Desert such a fascinating place!
Many people have claimed a sighting, yet other than a few photographs of large unidentified footprints, not much has been seen lately from the giant hairy hominid said to inhabit the more remote portions of the vast Mojave Desert.
That is unless you talk to some of the rock climbing guides that work the boulders and peaks of Joshua Tree National Park. Reports have reached us that recently two climbers saw the large beast while prepping for a climb in the Wonderland of Rocks section of the park, an area already known for previous sightings. There is also a long history of Native American lore about the “giant hairy man” said to dwell deep within the boulder strewn wilderness, along with several pieces of original rock art reputed to show his shaggy form and figure.
The “Yucca Man” as he is known locally, is also said to be endowed with the power to read minds and “throw his voice” so that anyone pursuing him will become lost or disoriented. A talent that no doubt has allowed him (or her) to remain undiscovered in such a rapidly narrowing and technologically advanced world.
In my book, Mojave Mysteries, I cover several people’s personal accounts of encountering the beast throughout the Mojave from Joshua Tree to the end of Death Valley. If you would like to read more and in depth about the desert apeman, I invite you to grab a copy. What lives (and lurks) in the great desert might just surprise you!
With the coming of the white man, there also began a lore of actual giants being found in Death Valley, and though not too plentiful or well-documented, are among the accounts that interest me the most as they contain some of the most colorful and frankly, bizarre details imaginable. To get the ball rolling I have an article published on August 5th, 1947 in the Madera Tribune:
“AGE OF GIANTS EVIDENCE FOUND
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 5. A band of amateur archeologists announced today that they have discovered a lost civilization of men nine feet tall in California caverns. Howard E. Hill, spokesman for the expedition, said the civilization may be “the fabled lost continent of Atlantis.” The caves contain mummies of men and animals and implements of a culture 80,000 years old but “in some respects more advanced than ours,” Hill said. He said the 32 caves covered a 180-square-mile area in California’s Death Valley and southern Nevada. Professional archaeologists were skeptical of Hill’s story. Los Angeles county museum scientists pointed out that dinosaurs and tigers, which Hill said lay side by side in the caves, appeared on earth 10,000,000 to 15,000,000 years apart…..”
There is more of this story and many others in my book if you are interested
UPDATE – Video episode out on this story!
While the idea of giants living in Death Valley is viewed by many as just another Mojave desert mystery and exotic urban legend, just as many people will swear to it being true. But is it verifiable? Some have claimed that in the basement of various museums, the proof of giant bodies, Native American or otherwise, is being covered up. But to what purpose? Would the idea of giants living in Death Valley really upset modern science and archeology?
Missing cigarettes and burns on the couch can be a pretty good indicator your pet has taken up smoking. It could be due to stress, wanting to imitate the owner or just wanting to “look cool.” Be alert to any changes in behavior – staying out late, being disruptive or listening to loud and abrasive music. It might be time to take a firm stand!