Ape Canyon Cabin Re-discovered

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on July 9th, 2013

I asked Marc Myrsell of Dark Waters Paranormal Group for some background information regarding their claims of re-discovering the location of the cabin from the 1924 Ape Canyon Attack.

I know that Cliff Barackman of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot recently spent time camping in the area.

Hi Craig. Thanks! The project has entailed countless hours of document research over 5 years or more, with visits to county courthouses, public libraries, state archives and historical societies all over Western Washington and NW Oregon.

“High end” commercial mining claims of the time contracted land surveyors to map and record the exact boundaries of their claims (like commercial quartz operations 7 miles to the North at Spirit Lake). The Venderwhite miners did not do that. So, their mining location claim recorded in Skamania County was pretty vague.

There is even a small piece of information that alluded to the idea that “Ape Canyon” that we know today may not have been Ape Canyon that the miners used. Although, I’m now discarding that, naturally.

So, a “bag of clues” was listed from all the sources and the field work began, about 2 years ago. At first, I just made day trips, by myself. The logistics of getting to the site is a forest service trail of about 6 miles and an elevation gain of around 1500 feet. Then the trip is about an hour off trail. That off trail trip is only about 1/4 mile off the forest service trail, but it’s pretty treacherous, so you have to go slow. I made about 3 trips up there over the past two years.

This last one, July 1st through July 3rd, 4 others went with me and we camped at the timberline. 3 days, two nights. It took us longer to get up there as we were packing in overnight gear and food. On the second day, myself and one other spent about 7 hours in the bottom searching and we hit paydirt.

I’m a private land surveyor. I grew up in a land surveying family, so I’ve done it all my life. So I approached the project the same way. One puts together as much research evidence as you can dream of. This evidence is put in the field, on the ground. And then physical evidence is sought for in order to validate or invalidate your location in the field. Sometimes its a back and forth between gathering field evidence and gathering more record evidence to get to the bottom of things.

No surface evidence was left of the cabin. But the “collateral” evidence seemed to fit well. We started snooping and started to find the evidence we talked about in the Darkwaters site; the wire, nails, spoon and log.


July 2, 2013. On the second day of a three day expedition, 5 members of the DWPG recovered the cabin site of the famed Venderwhite mine.
As most DarkWaters fans know, this Group has been collecting every document lead that we could think of in order to put together a “clue map” that would lead to its location over the past 5 years or so. Honestly, I kinda lost track.
Field visits have been conducted to put those clues on the ground. It’s been a lot of snooping, a lot of sitting down for hours at a time just staring at the trees, a lot of thinking.
This time, we stayed on the mountain for three days, 89 years later, almost to the week when the Smith/Beck group fended off the attack with song, yelling and a lot of ammunition.

All surface evidence of the cabin is gone. A 1936 trail map told us that one could see the cabin from the trail. But that was only 12 years after the incident. In 1968, Fred Beck had heard that the cabin had burnt to the ground. In 1972, hikers told Peter Byrne that they had visited the cabin. Today, it’s rock, steep slope and trees, LIKE REALLY STEEP SLOPE…. LIKE DON’T TELL YOUR WIFE AND MOM WHAT YOU’RE DOING STEEP SLOPE.
The nature of the site carries a high probability of very little human impact. The area has never been commercially logged
as there are so few trees and these are very difficult to get out. The danger of traversing the area makes a high rate of human camp sites unlikely.
When you have this bag of clues, it’s a lot of hunting and pecking. Well, it could be this…. Well, it could be that….
But when you have the site down. It’s just the classic DUH!. Because all the clues start cascading in to place and it all makes sense.
So if one can put the clues on the ground and can solidify your suspected location with physical evidence, you’ve got it.

Due to the sensitive nature of this historic site, I’m really, really, really sorry. But WE CAN’T GO INTO SPECIFIC DETAILS ABOUT THE SITE’S LOCATION. PLEASE DON’T ASK.
But the excitement began with the discovery of the wire, about 16″ long with a coiled loop at one end, like for a bailing or a handle, sticking vertically in the ground. But a raptor could have been building a nest, grabbed it from Woodland and dropped it here.
The excitement grew with a nail, a shank nail about 4 inches long.
But, okay. okay. Keep it together. Someone dropped a nail out of their pocket.
However, jumping up and down and yelling and vigorous hand shaking ensued with the spoon. A single spoon. Just an old spoon. About 6″ underground. Yes someone could have dropped a spoon. Like MARION SMITH!
But this was the clincher. We started finding more and more nails and finally got to a rotten horizontal log, again about 6″ underground WITH THE NAILS DRIVEN IN TO IT.
As best we can tell, we probably found the long, 20 foot side of the cabin, guessing the uphill side. But….

Next trip will entail tracing out the cabin perimeter and trying to locate the mine and spring in the story.

Dang. This has been a long haul.

There’s lots more field work to do. Fantasy wise, this will hopefully shape up in to a documentary; which, if nothing else, I can show my friends over some beer. 🙂

Sorry for the on and on. It’s just that I can go on and on about this.
Thanks a million,
Marc Myrsell

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

12 Responses to “Ape Canyon Cabin Re-discovered”

  1. Mark Jaramillo via Facebook responds:

    I thought Ape Canyon was destroyed in the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

  2. William responds:

    I wonder (at least the greedy side of me does) if the gold vein they claimed they found is still there and a small fortune could be awaiting someone with prospecting skills? This is a great find and would seem to be a great place to also do some wood knocking.

  3. Kopite responds:

    Wow. Would like to see some pics of the site.

    Edit. Just seen more pics on their own site. Very cool!

  4. cryptokellie responds:

    Ape Canyon Cabin rediscovered…80 years too late. I fully applaud their efforts and understand the historic? and intrinsic value of the discovery but, nothing remains above ground – it’s a precarious and dangerous site and what evidence valuable today could be extracted? Probably nothing. Nor does it give any real credence to the “Ape Canyon Cabin Attack” story.
    Did the cabin attack story actually happen? It’s possible. Will the site yield any evidential substance after almost 90 years? Not likely. But again, kudos to the team…expand the search area for possible remains and firearm discharge evidence…the Civil War battle sites yield similar evidence after some 150 years and that might be more important for incident verification.

  5. Dark Waters Paranormal Group via Facebook responds:

    Ape Canyon is actually alive and well. Ape Canyon and the box canyon to the North has Pummice Butte rising between them. When the mountain erupted, lahar flows came from the West, splashed against the West side of the Butte and then drained to the North and South through the canyons. The East side of the Butte was relatively untouched.

  6. Marc Myrsell responds:

    Tracking down the mine location and the cabin perimeter is on the list for the next trip. As for gold, well, the mine is now in the National Volcanic Monument and mining, I think is a big no-no. But it sure would fund the expedition!

  7. bigfootsdad responds:

    I am very happy for these guys. Hope they can go back soon and discover more.

  8. William responds:

    @Marc Myrsell,

    Thanks for the mining clarification. Even so, I also think you can possibly see where Mr. Beck shot at the sasquatch and it toppled over the cliff. That would be neat if you could figure out that location and take a video or picture as well. It would seem not to be very far from the cabin spot. Also, if you spend the night, please have at least an audio recorder and try some wood knocks to see if you get any kind of response!

  9. Ploughboy responds:

    I wish to differ with the opinion that no collaborating evidence of the attack is possible at this late date. IF it happened as the defenders have said, there is going to a whole lot of spent bullets in the surrounding terrain…way beyond what you would expect to see in any backwoods location where men with guns are. Ammo was/is expensive and I don’t expect a bunch of gold miners to be sitting around plinking at cans even if it were cheap. Excavation of bullets has lead to the re-writing of the history of many conflicts, including the Little Big Horn and the culminating firefight of the Hatfield/McCoy feud. Our investigators here obviously have metal detectors and know how to use them. I’ll wait to hear what the find, if anything further.

  10. Kopite responds:

    How about a search (in vain I know) for any possible remains of the sasquatch allegedly shot and which then fell off the cliff?

  11. semillama responds:

    Three questions:
    Is Ape Canyon within Forest Service-managed land?

    If so, did the researchers acquire a permit to excavate or collect artifacts at the site?

    Are any of the researchers archaeologically trained?

    If the answers to the first two questions are “yes” and “No”, then these guys broke the law (Archaeological Resources Protection Act). If the answer to the last question is “no” then they likely caused a lot of damage to the site by digging willy-nilly.

    Archaeological evidence is only relevant if you maintain the context in which it was found. More on this later as I am running out the door to get dinner.

  12. Marc Myrsell responds:

    The Ape Canyon project is not a treasure hunting quest.

    It’s a project to locate the site and any associated physical evidence in order to preserve it as part of our heritage; whether it be mining, forest use, cryptozoology or whatever.

    The Ape Canyon story for years has been on the verge of being canned in to the file of “tall-tale” and “legend”. Regardless of what “really” happened over those 2 and a half years, the fact still exists that Smith and the other Venderwhite miners worked the area, established a mining claim, built a cabin and then abandoned the whole operation only 4-6 weeks after the cabin was built.

    In my work as a land surveyor, researching any and all document resources and locating physical evidence of human activity in the ground is a nearly every day task. I’ve had to resurrect evidence of roads, coffins, outhouses, fence lines and buildings in the middle of what seemed to be just “woods” in order to accurately place property boundaries on the ground, some of which is almost twice as old as the Venderwhite cabin. This evidence is left intact, in place, documented and recorded for the next guy who may need it.

    For the field work of last week, all physical evidence was returned to the ground, where it was found.

    We’re in contact with the head archaeologist for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to discuss the find and come up with a plan for further field work and any necessary permitting.

    Hope this helps,


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