Ghost of Cave Creek Cave
Ruby Valley, Nevada (1887)

Six soldiers from Fort Ruby tried to explore the cave but found they needed a boat to do the job. They returned to the fort and built a boat in sections, one they could take through the narrow opening and then assemble inside the cave. Back they went to the cave. Helped by the booze they were consuming, the soldiers happily paddled about 500 yards. They were stopped by a wall. The soldiers noticed water was roiling out across the bottom. They tapped the rock and it sounded hollow. One decided he was going to swim under to see what was on the other side. His companions tried to stop him but he climbed over the side of the boat and sank below the surface. They waited an anxious five minutes. The water brought him back dead. 

Local ranchers Gay Dawley, Nucky Smith and Tom Short later explored the cave. They built a boat inside the narrow entrance then paddled until they, too, were stopped by the wall.

In 1887, John T. Baker wrote a letter to the Eureka Sentinel about his adventures in the cave. Baker said he found the ranchers' boat when he went into the cave the previous winter. As he reached the wall a soldier, dressed in regulation uniform, appeared. Shivers ran over Baker's body. The soldier commanded, "Get out of here! Go!" Baker went. He told of his encounter to a few of his friends back in Eureka. Thinking him a bit daft, they didn't believe him.

Wanting a longer conversation with the soldier, Baker decided to go back to the cave a couple of weeks later. When the soldier appeared, Baker reached out to touch to touch his arm. He could feel nothing. This time the soldier was talkative, wanting to tell his side of the story.

Some ghosts speak by rapping, others by writing, this one could speak. He said he was deeply in love with a valley girl. The commander of Fort Ruby, Colonel J.B. Moore also adored her. In fact, the officer refused to allow the soldier off base for a long period and told the girl the soldier had either been killed by Indians or had deserted. Then, the fatal blow. The girl and her family moved from Ruby Valley.

He went wild and didn't care whether he lived or died. He came to the cave with his friends to end his life. This desire was hidden from his friends and he wanted make his death look like an accident. He drank some whiskey then climbed out of the boat. Sinking into the water, he swam under the wall and surfaced. There was no air and he quickly suffocated. His body was pushed out of the chamber by the water. The spirit added that he had since found out that the girl moved to Colorado with her family where she eventually married a trapper.

He finished, saying that he was doomed to stay in the cavern for ages yet to come as punishment for taking his own life.

Baker quoted from the Old Testament, Job IV - 15, 16.. "Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up; It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice..." This was probably a ploy to make his story more plausible.

In 1960, with permission from Ruby Lake National Wildlife Preserve officials, three men went into the cave. They were Arlen Cuthbertson, DVM; Ruby Valley rancher Bob Connolly: and Dick Strong with the U.S. Department of Soil Conservation. There was nothing serious about their adventure, it was just for fun.

Doc Cuthbertson wore scuba diving equipment. Strong had on a wet suit and Connolly had on a swim suit.  The water was extremely cold. Using a canvas wrapped canoe loaned to them by Slim Saxton, they paddled through the first chamber to the wall. They pushed the canoe under the wall. He said there was an island in the second cavern. On the island was nothing mysterious - just a sheep skeleton. About the only excitement was when their canoe sank in the second chamber. They found the canoe, about fifteen feet under water, by seeing their light which was still in the craft. Doc tried to dive down to get the rope but his weights were also in the canoe. He climbed down a wall to get to the canoe. They raised it and emptied out the water before continuing.

Dale Porter suggested this story. I told him the only things found in the cave were sheep bones. He said he once drank water from the pipe that carried cave water down the hill and it wasn't baaaad at all.

Cave Creek Cave is no longer accessible to the public. Located above Gallagher Fish Hatchery and Ruby Lake National Wildlife Reserve headquarters, a visitor can look between the steel bars but can only see the entrance.

Sources: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cultural Program (Internet) Ruby Lake NWR "The Legend of Cave Creek Cave"; Nevada's Northeast Frontier, Edna Patterson, Louise Ulp, Victor Goodwin, Reprint, University of Nevada Press and Northeastern Nevada Historical Society, 1991; Dale Porter, Elko, Nevada, September 2005; and Arlen Cuthbertson, DVM, Lamoille, Nevada, September 2005..

©Copyright 2005 by Howard Hickson