- The year, 1885. In California's great Yosemite Valley
under the misty expanse near Bridal-Veil Falls, a party of silver and wannabee
gold miners discovered what was to become the mystery of the decade. While
having lunch, Mr. G. F. Martindale who was in charge of a party of miners,
noticed a pile of stones that was placed against the wall of a cliff.
- Seasoned miners, they were familiar with the natural
formation of rock, this particular grouping struck Mr. Martindale as being
unusual and seemed not to have been placed naturally. Realizing that if
something in the wild is not placed naturally, he could only conclude human
hands placed it there.
- The miners set about removing the pile of stones. Behind
the pile of stones they found a wall of rock that had been shaped and joined
together with knowledgeable masonry. The joints between the rocks were
all of uniform 1/8 of an inch in thickness and according to the reports
from the men who were there, it was a beautiful job of stone work.
- "As pretty as any wall on any building that I have
ever seen" is the way one miner described it. Thinking that they
had perhaps stumbled upon some lost treasure, the party of miners proceeded
without delay and issuing great haste began tearing down the wall to get
to the incredible riches that surely must lie within. Disappointment fell
a heavy weight upon their heads as, in the end, they found the vault empty
save a very large mummified corpse that lay on the ledge, which was carved
from the natural stone for the express purpose of burial.
- Lighting their carbide headlamps they set about examining
the vault to see if perhaps they had overlooked something perhaps a map
or some other clue to where the inevitable treasure might be hidden. Treasure
of course being far more interesting than the fossil bones of a giant mummy.
- What they found was another vault that had been carved
from natural rock - 9 feet 3 inches high, 18 feet 6 inches deep and 8 feet
4 inches wide - containing a tall mummified corpse that was 6 feet 8 inches
tall. The corpse was wrapped in what appeared to be animal skins and covered
with a layer of fine gray power. The miners removed parts of the animal
skins to view the corpse and found it to be that of a woman holding a child
to her breast.
- The mummy was then taken to Los Angeles where it was
placed before men, considered to be of great science in those days, most
of whom agreed that is was a "relic" from a race that must have
inhabited this country long before the American Indian. Tall people, they
claimed, from a race which preceded the coastal natives?
- All agreed that the height of 6 feet 8 inches tall in
death must have represented an actual height in life of about seven or
more feet. If their height relationship between men and women was approximately
what it is today, then they concluded the males of the species could possibly
have been some eight feet tall. The most popular theory of the day was
that the lady was a relic of some royal family of a lost Stone Age tribe
- Interestingly enough, Captains Cooke and Magellan both
wrote in their ship's logs of a race of giants that inhabited what we now
know as the Pacific coast of South America. Cook was even supposed to
have captured one of the giants reported to be nine feet tall. Unfortunately,
the giant escaped by breaking the ropes that bound him to the mast and
jumped off the ship, overboard into the sea. In an additional excerpt,
Capt. Cooke wrote in his log that he was himself was 6 feet 3 inches tall,
(which was very tall for those days when the average was about 5 feet 4
inches tall and under) and he could easily stand under the arm of the giant.
Cooke's report started a furor that was to last another 100 years and cause
many to seek these giant people.
- In the next century, many reports were filed stating
that various of our major explorers had sighted the giants of what was
then called Patagonia - but none had contact or for that matter even attempted
to capture one of the giant men. Then suddenly, around the year 1650, the
reports of sighting giants stopped abruptly. Perhaps the giants moved
inland, perhaps because they moved far away. They couldn't have just vanished.
They could have simply become unpopular attractions and thus slipped gradually
into oblivion. The fact remains that once up a time, they were there.
- The Yosemite Valley, where the mummy was found has always
been considered to be a place of great mystery by the Indians who lived
there, the Ahwahneechees. The folklore of the Ahwahneechees relates a story
of a giant who came into the valley long before the white man arrived.
The giant's name was Oo-el-en.They were vicious giants for they liked
to eat the meat of the Indians. Oo-el-en would catch the adults and carry
them away to a hiding place near the foot of Cascade Falls. Oo-el-en would
then cut the people into small pieces, hanging their meat in the sun to
dry into jerky.
- The legend says that the Ahwahneechees finally killed
the giants and burned their bodies. This rules out the possibility that
the giant mummy of the Yosemite Valley might have been Oo-el-en. However,
if there was a giant, where did he come from and was there more than one
of her kind. We may never know - sadly, all the Ahwahneechees are dead,
the last having died in 1947.
- The one thing the Ahwahneechees did leave was a written
record of their long and complex burial rites. These Indians usually burned
their dead - as they believed that by doing so they released the spirit
of the deceased more quickly, so as to escape the evil spirits that lie
in wait to grab it. The important part of the ritual in relationship to
the mummy of the Yosemite Valley was that they always wrapped their dead
in skins of animals before they were burned. If you recall, the mummy
of the Yosemite Valley was wrapped in the skins of animals and covered
with a fine gray powder. Ashes, perhaps?
- The learned scientist of that time, July of 1895, all
agreed that the mummy predated the Christian era. It is therefore doubtful
that the mummy was in any way connected with the Indians, as they were
believed to have settled in the Yosemite Valley about 800 to 1000 years
- It is important to note at this point that the Ahwahneechees
were also very small people, most being less than 5 feet 3 inches tall.
However, there have been traces of a much earlier people that have inhabited
- This fact was pointed out dramatically in 1866 by a miner
name Mattison. No real discoveries have been made since that time by anyone
other than qualified archaeologist because it was about that time the advent
of mechanized mining began. Mattison, from Angels Camp, California, found
a skull almost 130 feet underground in the underground shaft of his mine
in Calavaras County, California.
- The discovery shook the foundations of the Genesis itself.
- What intrigued Mr. Mattison was why an Indian would dig
a grave that deep in the ground when most were buried at about 6 feet.
He knew the skull belonged to a very old Indian because it was fossilized
and encrusted with the same kind of gravel distinctive to the earth in
the mine shift. He took it to one of the bars in Angels Camp on his next
trip to town. There, he came across a doctor who told Mattison that if
it was an Indian, it was a deformed one. The doctor pointed out the heavy
to thick brow ridge which ran across the eyes and nose - he pointed several
other differences in the cranium between this and other Indian skulls of
more contemporary period which were occasionally dug up around those mining
camps. The unknown doctor prevailed upon Mattison to report the find to
Mr. J. D. Whitney, a geologist, and when shown the gravel-encrusted skull,
he checked it with the gravel in its burial place and found the two to
match. The skull had been found under four strata of lava and three strata
of gold-bearing gravel. Thus Whitney reported it probably had been buried
near the end of the Pliocene Era - a million years earlier.
- Was it a human skull or was it the skull of some man-like
creature that walked the California soil a million years ago? Indian lore
teaches us that there were creatures that ruled here long before the Indians
came. According to some, they are still here, unseen by all but a few who
have been lucky enough to spot a Bigfoot or a Sasquatch, or in other countries,
a Yeti, a Nguoi Rung, a Chinese Yeh-ren or the Kapre and so forth.
- Was the Ahwahneechee Giant of Yosemite Valley related
to a Sasquatch? If you recall, the mummy found in Yosemite was 6 foot
8 inches tall, which represented a height in life of close to seven feet.
Was the mummy a Sasquatch, or are the Sasquatches the evolved ancestors
or mutated ancestors of the mummy of the Yosemite Valley. Perhaps a hybrid?
Was the skull found in Calavaras County the forerunner of both of these
species, one which vanished completely and the other forced to go back
into the ancient ways of the forest hiding forever from Man? The facts
are there and they are undeniable. The conclusions are and must always
- I am still in the process of researching Calavaras County
files and newspaper archives for a better description of the skull. If
anyone has any information related to these events or newspaper clippings
or other archival resources for the Ahwahneechees or historic Angel's Camp,
California [other than the internet] I would appreciate hearing from you.
- Bobbie Short