By Chef Daltsch
On May 6th, 1899, miners in the Bonair Mine in Leadville, Colorado, found a diary in a small, seldom-used drift about 500 feet deep within the mine. The diary was turned over to the police, since it had been linked with the disappearance of a 28-year-old pumpman working in the mine: Ashland Parr, who had been missing since March 9th (the same date as a cave-in that had occurred in the mine). The diary was never seen again until a policeman released its contents to Ashland Parr’s family this year. The family has been kind enough to give me access to this diary.
Here is a transcription of the diary entries on and after March 9th, 1899 – the date of Ashland Parr’s disappearance.
Damned rocks caved us in today. Chas, Burt and I were lucky to be in this drift and not in the shaft like poor Shep was. Shep was screaming something when the rocks came down on him. I think he hurt his leg but I think he’ll be all right because he was able to get out of the mines. Bert found a steam pipe and began rapping on it to try to get in touch with any rescuers. Fortunately we found a few and they’re able to send supplies down to us such as food. I think we’ll be fine down here. They wrote to us that we should be rescued by tomorrow.
Caves are really dark at night. I’ve never appreciated just how dark they are until today. Anyways the rescuers told us some bad news – they’re trying to dig a rescue shaft and connect it to the main shaft that had been caved in, but the part of the main shaft they dug to is full of debris. This means that it will be a few more days until they rescue us. We’re still receiving meals as well as gas for our lantern so it’s not all bad. Chas and Burt are worried about their families and I don’t blame them, but right now we have to focus on getting out of this mine.
The new shaft is getting deeper and deeper but I guess there still isn’t any luck because there is so much debris in the main shaft. However we’re still getting our meals and the gas for our lamps so I guess we’ll be fine. Burt was pacing around in the drift when he found some weird grooves in the wall. I think Chas made them because he’s getting really bored down here. At least none of us are worried. I hope our families are okay.
It’s our fourth day down here and we’re bored. We haven’t talked much to each other actually so we’re all pretty lonely too. At least I have a journal to keep my thoughts in – poor Chas and Burt don’t have anything to pass the time. Actually, I think Chas is passing the time by making those grooves in the wall but I’m not sure because I haven’t seen him do it even though there’s even more grooves in the wall. There’s more than four so it’s definitely not the number of days we’ve been stuck here. And I don’t even know what he’s using to make those grooves because they’re pretty big and they’re smooth too. Maybe he’s using a knife.
We’re starting to hear some sounds so I guess progress has been real quick. None of us expected to hear these sounds though because we’re pretty deep in the mine – I think we’re 400 feet down. I got really scared when the sounds started because I could have sworn the sounds were coming from below us. Burt and Chas told me that I was just being silly, that it was all in my head. Shoot I don’t even know. We haven’t heard any word from the men above besides our meals. I hope we get out of here soon; we’re all really lonely and it’s rather dark down here.
We still haven’t heard any word from above besides our meals. It’s a shame because their notes have kept us all sane. Poor Burt is hardly touching his meal; Chas is forcing him to eat some food. We really don’t need Burt to die because honestly this drift is really beginning to smell bad. I think its from all the human sweat and piss that has been here since day one but there’s a burning smell too. Burt thinks it’s from our feces. More and more grooves are appearing on the walls – Chas really has to stop this because honestly it’s freaking me out.
We finally got word from our rescuers but it’s bad news: they tried digging a shaft 73 feet down to connect with the main shaft to get us back up, but the main shaft is still clogged with litter. We’ve told them through that steam pipe that we’re doing fine, when honestly we’re not. Burt’s hardly eating and Chas is really scaring me. Today I saw him by those grooves and he was simply fingering them. He turned around and asked me how the hell they got there. I told him that I thought he made them. I don’t know what’s going on but I really hope they hurry up. They said it would only take a couple more days, but we’ve been down here almost a week and frankly we want to get the hell out of here. Burt said that miners who are trapped in mines get put in newspapers – I wonder if I’m famous right now.
Those noises are starting up again, and this time all three of us can tell that they are indeed coming below us. We haven’t even eaten because we’re so scared. There are more grooves on the wall and Burt starting yelling at Charles to stop it but I don’t think Charles did anything. I’m too scared to write anything else today but I don’t simply want to sleep: the darkness must be when those grooves are made. I think I’ll be staying awake all night.
I stayed up all night. I’d have expected the cavern to be pitch black but there was a really, really, really faint glow coming from down the drift. I don’t think I could have gotten any sleep even if I had tried. Today must be the day, but honestly we only know that because of our breakfast. Night and day don’t mean anything down here.
I’ve been sleeping through the entire night. I think sleep is better than seeing this faint glow overnight. Today was a good day too. The men gave us word that they expect to get us out tomorrow. We’re all excited because the new shaft should be deep enough in the mine where they don’t need to worry about debris. We still haven’t talked much to each other but at least we’re eating some more and the noises have stopped. There have also been less grooves on the wall so at least Burt isn’t mad at Chas even though this isn’t Chas’s fault.
today was awful. we got word that they could not connect the rescue shaft to the main shaft because it was too dangerous. However Burt told me that another miner had scrawled on it that they would have to cancel the rescue. they’ll stop sending us meals and supplies too. Chas didn’t even cry, he just glared at me like its my fault. i want to go home i want to seem my family but no, we’re going to die in this blackness. I’m not going to sleep tonight, it’s not like it matters anyways
the faint glow was back overnight but it allowed me to re-read the note that Burt got yesterday. it turns out Burt is lying to me because they are still trying to rescue us. i kicked Burt and started to get mad. i think i yelled at him. I think I punched his face because he started to bleed and he says he’s sorry. I think I hit Chas too. I asked them why they lied to me and they only gave me these sad looks. when our meals came I just took my food and walked away from them down this drift. we hadn’t seen much of this drift so it was a little weird – there were a lot of these grooves on the wall, and the ground sounds like it’s shaking a bit. there’s actually a shaft down here that i hadn’t known of, but it only leads down and it’s really poorly made. I still hate Burt and Chas but now I know that we will survive.
I’m leaving them now because they’re trying to take my food. I don’t know why but i think they’re mad at me. maybe its my diary. maybe its because they’re really lonely. but I like being lonely, this darkness is good. I headed down that shaft I talked about – it went for about a hundred feet and had a latter leading down here, I entered here in this large room now. this is my home and my grave, but I’m okay because there are a lot of really pretty diamonds in this cave. how none of us ever came here, i don’t know but it’s really nice. a fitting grave I guess.
they aren’t diamonds they’re living creatures I’ve never seen them before but they simply move through the rock leaving small grooves in them and they make a rumble rumble as they move I have never seen these things before but I see a couple of them head up and down the shaft I walked through how did I get out of there alive even
they see me now and they are pretty big I can hide here but not for long. they are all going up that shaft and I hear some screams and I think they killed chas and burt. good.
I try talking to them but they keep going and going. I forget I’m hiding but now diary I don’t care. in fact they’re the good guys because they’re killing Chas and Burt which is nice. maybe they’ll even rescue me or kill me. maybe its better if they kill me so now I’m calling them over.
i think one of them complemented you diary. one of them said nice book to me, i know it. its coming over to see us n~-~~-~–
The diary ended with a line scrawled away from the paper. While this does provide some insight for the disappearance of Ashland Parr, it does leave a few questions. For one, why did those miners go into this shaft to begin with? The shaft was not on any maps and was not commissioned by Bonair Mine. Also, the other two miners: Charles Reuss (Chas) and Albert Frey (Burt) were rescued on March 22nd at 11:00PM. They had no recollection of ever seeing Ashland Parr while they were trapped down there, and had no recollection of hearing any strange sounds or seeing any unusual grooves. Both men left the mine in good health and spirits.
The shaft was sealed off on May 7th and has never been re-opened, so little is known about the mine Ashland Parr went down. Any other information would be greatly appreciated, because quite frankly I don’t even know what to make of this.