The Miner of Dogtown

My dad, myself, and a couple of friends were sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories one night. My dad took a long drink of his beer, and asked us “Want to hear a real one?” Of course my friends and I laughed and said oh sure, but I’ll never forget the seriousness of his face. He began to tell us a story that to this day gives me chills and nightmares. He swears its true, and personally I believe him. I’ve never seen my dad so terrified before, and he was just recalling the events. It’s up to you whether or not you believe. I will tell the story as my dad told me.

“I was a senior in high school, and grandpa used to take me, your uncle, and two of our friends up to an old family campsite. It’s near an abandoned mining town called dogtown. Old stories say that there was a small mine with a huge vein of gold, but it ran dry and the town just kind of disappeared. The mine and town lost and forgotten. We went up one weekend and after we set up camp decided to try to find the mine. Something to remember, the hills in eastern California are covered with Manzanita bushes, brush, and low trees making it impossible to see more than a foot in front of you.

So it wasn’t a huge surprise to us that we found the mine about 100 feet off the main path across from our campsite. When we found it, it was completely caved in, with no possible entry. I looked at your grandpa and said ” Dad lets open it up! Who knows what we could find in there!” I’ll never forget the look your grandpa gave me. He said “Son, mines are caved in for one of two reasons; its unstable, or they didn’t want something to get out”. Of course I was a teenager and ignored him, so he stopped coming up with us.

We would go up every weekend for about 2 months trying to clear it out. And finally the four of us got it open. I will never forget the feeling of the stale air rushing out, it didn’t smell bad or anything something just…didn’t feel right. We left one of our friends outside, Chris, so that your uncle, our friend and I could explore. That way if it caved we had someone who could get help.

We started walking around and there wasnt much to it, just one small path that eventually forked. We went down the left side first and it was kinda cool, it winded around and then at the end went straight up and just stopped. There was a string vein of gold but nothing significant. We headed back to the start of the fork and went off to the right side. That side was open much wider than the left and was significantly shorter. And at the end, a two foot wide vein of gold ran all along the wall, almost completely untouched.

We all just stared at it, and your uncle said out loud ” This…this is insane! This mine is still active! Why did they close it? Dogtown should still be around with this much gold!” As soon as he finished talking, we heard gun shots and a lot of them. We ran out of the mine thinking Chris was being attacked. Once we got out Chris has unloaded both of his pistols into the brush, and still had his guns pointed at the bushes. He was shaking. Your uncle went up to him slowly “Chris…what were you shooting at?” “Nothing” “Chris come on man you don’t shoot at nothing” “There was a coyote” “What? You don’t unload your guns on a coyote man, what was it doing?” “It was doing something weird” “What was it doing?” “I don’t wanna talk about it” and with that Chris walked off back to camp.

I was a little freaked out, but I didn’t want my friend or my brother to know that. We all headed back to camp and started up a fire, making plans on what to do with the gold. Later that night, we were all sitting around the camp fire and your uncle was telling one of his navy stories. This is where everything went south FAST. I remember staring at the fire, just entranced. I wasnt really listening to the story, just staring.

I suddenly felt like I needed to look up. I looked across the fire at Chris and my friend and they were white. All the color was drained from their face and they were staring up at something between me and your uncle. I felt my heart freeze, and my stomach drop. Now im 6’2″ and granted I was sitting down but im still pretty tall. When I turned to look over my shoulder, all I could see is someones knees. My blood turned to ice. I looked up and there was a miner standing at least 7 feet tall. You could see the dirt on his face and clothes, his hands and face battered from work, but his eyes dead.

I turned back around and realized your uncle still did not know what was going on so I smacked him. He looked up at me and our friends, then slowly turned around to see what we were staring at. Your uncle did not see a miner. All he would say to me was that what he saw was the very essence of evil itself. Me and your uncle jumped across the fire, and all four of us pulled our pistols and unloaded our guns into this things chest. And the scream…it was like it was in my head it was so loud. And it was layered and high-pitched, like something out of a movie.

It turned around and ran into the brush toward the main road. Me and your uncle ran after it with a shotgun, while Chris and my buddy went down the main path to try to cut it off at the main road. I could hear the thing no more than a foot in front of us as we were chasing it, but all of a sudden we burst onto the main road and all we saw were Chris and my buddy. No miner. Then we heard running on the other side of the road, as if he had never stopped running.

Now call us crazy but we would still go back. Once your uncle went to meet Chris up there after work, and when he got there he didn’t see Chris’ car. He figured Chris just parked somewhere else and got his bag and started up the trail to the campsite. It was already pretty dark when he got there, but he had his shotgun and pistol on him so he wasnt too worried.

As he started up the trail, he heard footsteps to his right. He dismissed it thinking it was Chris messing with him. Then he heard footsteps on his left. Well maybe he brought their friend. Then footsteps behind him. He stopped. “Chris, you had better not be messing with me”. He continued, and the footsteps began again. He stopped ” If any thing comes out of those bushes…I. WILL. SHOOT.” He drew his pistol and kept walking. The footsteps continued, but this time they sounded less like human footsteps and more like some kind of animal. “Chris, I am not f*cking around! That’s enough!”

The footsteps followed him all the way up to the campsite. Where he was alone. Chris had never shown up, and had tried to get ahold of him but the call didn’t go through. My uncle turned around to go back down and stopped. He could hear something breathing, and eyes burning into his back. He pulled out his shotgun and made his way down the path as fast as he could, remembering the thing he saw at the campsite that night. He could hear the footsteps coming closer to him, just outside of his line of sight.

It was playing with him, and he knew if he couldn’t make it back to his truck he wouldn’t make it home. Just when it seemed like it was about to grab him he broke out into the main road. He jumped in his car and left. Looking in his review mirror, he saw it. Standing where his car was, with a twisted smile on its face. There is more that I would tell you kids, but I don’t want you to know the things ive seen, what I see when I close my eyes. The absolute terror that lives in that ghost town. We closed the mine, but it was already free. I havent been back since.”

My dad took me there once, during the day with my sister and step mom to show us the old campsite. The moment we pulled up, I could feel it watching. I let my family walk ahead of me and took in the scenery. The moment my family was out of earshot, all sound stopped. No birds. No wind. No rustling of animals. Absolutely nothing.

That’s when I heard a crack behind me, a branch breaking. And something put its hand on my back, it felt like burning coals. I could feel its face right behind my ear, like it wanted to tell me something. Frozen with fear, I stood there. “I’m not afraid of you”, im not sure why I said it, and I know it knew I lied. It made a noise like a purr and pushed me and I ran to catch up with my family. Careful to not wander anymore.

That was 10 years ago and I still feel its hand on my back, its eyes burning into me, and its face looking at me. Take my word, NEVER go to Dogtown California. The miner may not be so forgiving, and you might not ever leave.

  • Trish Ashley

    This reminds of the scooby-Doo Where are you episode with the Miner 49er if it was for adults.