The Unexplained: Mysteries of Ape Canyon

A historical photo of the cabin on Mount St. Helen where miners were attacked by ape-men in 1924. Photo:

In 1924, a group of miners was spending the night in a gorge on Mount St. Helens when their cabin came under attack by a band of ape-men.

Have you ever heard of Ape Canyon?

I certainly don’t remember it.  It has had a very colorful past but seems to have faded into obscurity—for reasons I will explain later.

The vestiges of Ape Canyon are in Washington State.  It is a gorge to the southwest of Mount Saint Helens.  The larger area is called the Plains of Abraham.

The gorge, which can sometimes narrow to only eight feet in width got its more familiar name of Ape Canyon because of a bizarre event in 1924.  The event is other-worldly, but it has never been disproved.

It seems—according to several Oregon newspapers of the time—that a group of miners was spending the night in a small cabin in the gorge on a summer night in 1924.  Five miners who survived the event told the same unsettling tale.  They had been asleep when the cabin came under attack by a band of ape-men.

Sara Marie Hogg

The cabin had been built by the miners during earlier times.  On that night, huge stones were thrown down from above by the ape-men.  The cabin was attacked from all sides.  The miners began to shoot at the strange creatures.  The ape-men would pause their attacks after gunfire, then they would start up again.  One of the ape-men got close enough to reach his arm inside a cabin window.  He tried to grab an ax.  The attempt failed.

The attacks on the cabin continued until dawn.  When they had a little daylight, the miners eased their way out of the cabin and proceeded out of the canyon.  An ape-man was seen silhouetted on the edge of the gorge.  One miner was able to get off a good shot.  The miners watched as the creature in the distance tumbled into the gorge.

The shooter was Fred Beck and he was so impacted by the experience that he later wrote a book:  I Fought the Apemen of Mt. St. Helens

In 1963, another macabre event occurred in that area—again the scary event was reported in Oregon and Washington Newspapers.  It seems a man—a skier—disappeared, almost in front of everyone’s eyes.  The mystery is still unsolved.

An accomplished skier, Jim Carter, was with a group of skiers that had climbed up eight thousand feet on Mount Saint Helens to ski down.  They were at a point on the descent called Dog’s Head where they stopped and grouped together.  Jim Carter volunteered to go ahead of the group and catch some good photos of them as they skied to the timberline.  He then departed.  He never made another appearance.

The next Day, the skiers found a discarded film container where Jim Carter had taken a picture.  From this point, there was evidence that Carter had taken a wild, hair-raising departure on his skis.  It was careless and reckless for someone of his experience on the slopes.

He had skied pall mall, jumping crevasses, as if he were being chased by something evil or dangerous.  Carter was most surely filled with terror.  He would not have taken those chances unless something were gravely wrong.

When the ski tracks got to the edge of Ape Canyon, they continued down the canyon wall.  They combed and search the canyon but could find no trace of Carter anywhere.  Seventy-five people searched for five days straight.

A prominent mountaineer, Bob Lee, and his two friends, Dr. Otto Trott, and Lee Stark all concluded:  “The apes got him.”

One reason the Ape Canyon mysteries have faded with time is that the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980 caused some differences in the landscape.  The topography has been altered or erased, sometimes covered by volcanic matter.

There is another feature on the other side of Mount Saint Helens.  It does not have a mystery to go with it yet.  It is known as Ape Cave.  It is part of the volcano’s vent tube formations.  Why it is called Ape Cave and why there is a mystery I would like to solve.

Please click HERE to find Sara Marie Hogg’s mystery tale, The Scavenger’s Song, on Amazon.

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