Alfred Regency, Esquire

Archaeological Investigator,
Cambridge University

4th November 1874

On this day, I met Sven Olson. It was to be a fateful meeting.

Sven was manager of the Denver office of the Backland Mining Company. I had been recommended to him for my 'extensive' knowledge of mining and geology, of all things.

This is typical of the New World. They are so starved of well-educated men of noble bearing that I find myself thrust into any and every breach.

It did me little good to point out that archaeology is a far cry from mining, and that my skills would be better used elsewhere.

'No, no,' protested Mr Olson, 'you come highly recommended.' Mr Olson thought so highly of me that I overheard him telling my work mates to "watch me carefully" as I would make a fine example.

As it turned out I wasn't required for my mining "expertise" after all. Several Backland Mining employees had gone missing and I was to lead a rescue mission into the Wilds to find them.

Art Buckin, Smokey Dawson, Jack McGraw, Pierre Alvaire & Neil Erskine were all over two weeks late reporting in from a surveying expedition to Black Bear Canyon.

"Black Bear Canyon" - long will that name haunt my sleepless nights.

In addition, a young man by the name of Lionel Wolmsley had been sent after them and had not returned.

We set out at once, of course. Men's lives were at stake. Who knew what terrible fate might have befallen them?

My erstwhile companions in this desperate endevour: Dwaine Coburn, a gambling man down on his luck; Lu Lu Belle Star, a hard bitten range riding woman; and the noble Tom Tom Two Hawks, a Sioux Indian savage. I was a long way from the hallowed halls of my Alma Mater.

7th November 1874

After three days hard riding, we reached Quigley's Station, on the edge of the Wilderness. Three generations of Quigleys have run Quigley's Station and while, logically, it must therefore have experienced a women's blessed touch, no evidence of it remained when we arrived.

The place was so dirty and smelt so badly that it would have rated a mention even without the strange events of that night.

Old Quigley who ran the place told us that he had lately been much troubled by a grizzly bear.

This bear was of the habit of approaching the door of the station in the middle of the night and scratching to get in. Sure enough, in the middle of that night, a tremendous racket woke us, as the bear attacked the door.

We moved quickly up to the second floor, where the Indian savage threw a small hand axe, a tomahawk, and struck the bear. At that point, it ceased it attack and silently withdrew.

8th November 1874

On the morrow, we continued. Up we climbed, up into the mighty Rocky Mountain range.

I have heard tell of, but never seen, the majestic Himalayias. Scarce can I credit that they tower over these Rocky Mountains. Of all that I have seen so far, these mighty mountains symbolise the raw wilderness of the New World.

As we led our horses up paths too steep for even I to ride, we found the first traces of that ill-fated expedition. Just to one side of the path lay three rough unmarked graves. At the time, we surmised that some calamity had befallen the survey party. How right we were.

Finally, we reached the entrance to Black Bear Canyon.

Unfortunately, members of a rival mining company, the Silver Creek Mining Company, had beaten us to the hut. They had set up a small campsite at the entrance to the Canyon.

It will give you some idea of the ferocity of the place when I tell you that the employees of the Silver Creek Mining Company, without provocation, began shooting at us as soon as they became aware of our presence.

I am horrified to relate that a fierce gun battle ensued, and that Tom Tom Two Hawks massacred two white men with his tomahawk. I am sure that it was only the fact that he himself was wounded which prevented him from claiming scalp in his pagan way.

One of the employees of the Silver Creek Mining Company, Elroy MacRae, survived the battle and, though half crazed with fear, was able to answer some of our questions.

These men had been sent to attack our company's party. This they had done, killing several men. However they were not responsible for the graves that we had seen. This man claimed that those deaths were the work of the rogue Grizzly. Apparently, they too had been terrorised by the grizzly bear that we had heard at Quigley's Station. Traces of blood on the floor testified to the truth of his claim that it had killed several men in this very hut.

Quickly, as night fell, we brought the horses inside and barricaded the door. I offered to keep watch from the roof, which I saw as an excellent hunting perch. However, the earnest entreaties of Mr Coburn and his assurances that Grizzlys could indeed climb tall trees and such like, convinced me that I would be better off inside.

And this is where I sit now, keeping watch out for a huge bear and penning my notes on my new life in the New World.

9th November 1874

No attack last night, probably due to the torrential downpour.

The next day, we explored the area around the cabin. Under the eaves, there was a clear footprint - a man had been near the cabin, possibly spying on us. Elroy MacRae had mentioned that some of the Silver Creek Mining Company employees had tried to escape. Perhaps this is one of the murderous brigands returning to finish us off.

We also saw the graves of the Backland men. They bore mute testimony to the savagery of the Silver Creek Mining Company, who would condone murder for the sake of a rich claim. Elroy MacRae swore that he had no part in the murders, but that will be for the courts to decide. Near these graves, we came across one partially dug grave, which appeared older. It almost looked as though it had been filled in and then excavated again.

In the late morning, we set out for the top of the canyon to investigate the remains of the Silver Creek Mining Company camp. We wanted to be back in the hut by nightfall.

On our way to the campsite, we made a happy discovery. Miss Star spotted a man hiding in a shallow cave. It turned out to be Lionel Wolmsley, the man who had been sent ahead of us. He was near to death when we found him and had obviously been lying here, unconscious for some time. Thanks, however, to Dr Johnson's excellent tutorials in anatomy and surgery, I was able, by the narrowest of margins, to preserve his life.

He had obviously been attacked by the bear some days previously and had escaped to this hidey-hole. Were it not for the sharp eyes of Miss Star, he might have lain there still.

After cleaning and binding Mr Wolmsley's grievous wounds, we continued on. I protested at this wanton disregard for human life, to no avail. My companions rationalised their actions in the following way: we could do no more for Mr Wolmsley at the moment; he had been safe from the bear up to this point; we, however, were not safe and should therefore 'stick together', as they say.

The Silver Creek Mining Company camp was in tatters. Tents had been torn to pieces, stores and equipment destroyed and men partially eaten and left to rot. Mr MacRae was so affected he could not approach the camp.

As quickly as we could, we investigated the camp. Clearly, the bear had not inflicted all this carnage. In several instances, the men's bodies had been cut rather than slashed or bitten. I could not understand it.

Some pieces of equipment could be salvaged, including enough canvas to make a rough stretcher for Mr Wolmsley. We located the ore samples, which Mr Olson had been particularly concerned about.

After giving these men as decent a burial as possible, we returned our steps to Mr Wolmsley's position. We carried him down to the hut, cleaned it out as best we could and prepared for the night.

10th November 1874

Around midnight the great bear attacked. Before we could even gather our wits, it broached our defences and invaded the hut.

The beast was huge. Thankfully, the hut was too small for it to use its full size. Still it did fearsome damage, lashing out with its terrible claws and gnashing its monstrous teeth. What with the roars of the beast, people firing guns, the savage yelling his war cry and the horses screaming behind us, it was like a biblical scene of Hell.

At that point, I committed what can only be described as an act of insane heroism. Realising that my shotgun blast would wound my companions, I marched directly up to the beast, stuck my barrel against its gut and fired. It did not fall! This ferocious creature had received a tomahawk to the skull, a shotgun blast to the gut and been peppered with handgun bullets. Yet it kept moving, for what seemed like an eternity, before it fell.

And still the carnage continued. The beast was not alone. Its evil human master, whose footprints we had seen here, at the Silver Creek Mining Company camp, and before that at Quigley's Station, was trying to murder us.

Thankfully, the Indian finished him quickly enough. This time, I noticed with revulsion the savage did claim scalp. From the description that we had and the clothing that he wore, I believe that he was Smokey Dawson, the guide for the original group. It would seem that he would gain the trust of his victims, lead them into the wilderness and then murder them with the help of his trained Grizzly.

I do not want to even speculate on the purpose of the butchery that he performed on their corpses. Suffice to say that I did not speak as beautifully for Mr Dawson's eulogy as I have been known to do on other occasions.

11th November 1874

After consigning the evil Mr Dawson and the remains of his 'pet' to the same grave, we set out for Denver.

Quigley, who seems to have much experience in such things, declared that he had never seen claws or teeth that big. I sincerely hope that I never see anything that big again.

14th November 1874

Three days later, we at last reached the comparative civilisation of Denver.

For my services, Backland Mining Company paid each of us $150 Bank of Denver dollars: $50 for services rendered and $100 bonus for retrieving their precious mining samples. Mute testimony of the worth of human lives here.

Personally, I was thankful to have my skin still. This is, indeed, a rough country. How I long for the green, green fields of home.