Sawtooth City is a ghost town hidden in the mountains several hours from where I live. I stumbled on it many, many years ago while camping with my family and it has held my imagination ever since.
Dilapidated houses, really little more than one room cabins with potbelly stoves, spread across the mountainside in a haphazard pattern. None of them have rooftops anymore and walking through them is hazardous due to rotting wood. It’s a rarity to find one with all its walls up.
You have to walk because the pathway is too narrow in places for any sort of vehicle, even the off-road sort. I imagine you could get there in the winter with snow shoes and the like but that would be rather pointless as several of the houses would be buried in snow to the point you couldn’t see them.
I’ve always gone in the summer, when the trees are full and green and the full extent of nature’s power can be seen overtaking where man once lived. There’s a wide, open glen higher up the mountain that is full of yellow flowers and I can imagine children used to play there. And there’s a spot on the stream that cuts between mountains perfect for romance; a cool, shaded place hidden from prying eyes.
And then there is the mine.
I’m not sure what sort of mine it is, but it dives deep into the mountain. There are signs warning people from going inside but … Well, I’m an adventurous spirit.
The wood is rotted here, too. Moisture and time has eaten through it, making the act of climbing inside quite dangerous. Once inside there is a distinct chill that catches you, like the core of the mountain is leaking out and clashing against the summer air. Uneven walls are held up by unsteady beams and the very real risk of collapse becomes an ever-present itch just between your shoulders.
And that’s when I start to see them, the people who once worked here.
I’m not crazy. I don’t actually see them. But I do imagine them, and they fascinate me.
The nonchalance with which they enter the mine, each knowing that there is a chance there might be a cave-in today and still they go. They’re men, of course, so they can’t reveal their fears to anyone else, but each of them has to have it. Each of them has to have that same itch between their shoulders, the one that tells them how many tons of earth and rock are leaning into those beams every second of every day.
I love that mine. I love the questions it gives me, the characters that populate my mind every time I go there. I’ve always intended to write a western novel based around a mine and I’m happy to say that this year, starting in November, I’ll be doing just that. I’ll be using Idaho City instead of Sawtooth City, for historical purposes, but I’m definitely bringing that mine.
Check out what my fellow authors have to say about Abandoned Places for September’s Round Robin Blog Tour!
“http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_at_the_beach” Skye Taylor
“http://www.helenafairfax.com/” Helena Fairfax
“http://connievines.blogspot.com/” Connie Vines
“http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/” Rachael Kosnski
“http://www.marcibaun.com/” Marci Baun
“http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com” Anne Stenhouse
“http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/” Judith Copek
“https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/” A.J. Maguire (You are HERE)
“http://mizging.blogspot.com” Ginger Simpson
“http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/” Beverley Bateman
“http://rhobinleecourtright.com” Rhobin Courtright
8 thoughts on “September Round Robin – Abandoned Places”
How fascinating! I wonder if this feeling/curiosity/interest is what drives archeologists?
You know, I thought about going to school for archaeology once … Maybe it is the driving factor there.
I enjoyed your post. It makes me want to find Sawtooth City and see it for my self. I’m glad you’re finally writing the story you see there.
It’s gorgeous! If you ever do find it, let me know!
Yes, I’m excited to start work on that story too. It’s been on the back-burner for several years now.
I bet the mine is haunted as well as the town. You paint such a wonderful picture of Sawtooth City. I imagine your western will be rich and full of interesting characters.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it was haunted. It’s certainly got the history and the feel of being occupied.
I certainly hope the western turns out alright! The story in my mind is really quite large. It’s probably going to take me some time.
I’ve once or twice been underground to visit caves and abandoned mines, but only once to visit an operational one. Didn’t enjoy that at all. the feeling of weight was oppressive. Good luck with the new ms. anne stenhouse
Yeah, it’s pretty creepy. You can get claustrophobic really quick. But I’ve been spelunking through lava tubes and those are infinitely worse just cause … you know … lava made them, so my creative mind was constantly worried there might be another eruption while I was down there.