This is the story of an old Hermit who lived in the Estes Park, Colorado area around the turn of the century that people called "Miner Bill". Bill's real name was William Clyde Currence and he came to the Estes Park area from Trenton, Nebraska in 1883. Whether Bill was insane, eccentric or both most remember him as a person whose life was shrouded in mystery.
Miner Bill's sanity was questioned around December of 1904 when acquaintances took him to the Montezuma County jail after he became uncontrollable. A doctor examined Bill and stated that of all the insane people he had seen in his life, that Bill was the worst that he had ever be exposed to. The doctor ordered that Bill be bound hand and foot. At a commitment hearing later in the month people who knew Bill told of how he would talk of wild things. That most of Bill's conversation would be on astrology and about Divine things......
After about a years confinement in the Colorado State Insane Asylum Bill was released and immediately set to prospecting in the Horseshoe Park area of what is now Rocky Mountain National Park. After several months Bill filed two claims on the West side of Mount Chapin just north of a rock formation now known as Miner Bill's Spire. Local geologists thought that Bill was wasting his time, since they themselves had collected rock samples from the base to the summit of Mount Chapin and had not found any traces of gold or silver.
Heedless of these criticisms, Miner Bill began construction of a trail to access the upper mines. Some might say that it was the product of a deranged mind fixating on a singular task. Non-the-less, great care was taken in building a well planned and skillfully engineered trail. The trail was so well constructed that it has lasted to the year I am telling this tale to you. Certainly, much more time and effort were expended than was warranted to reach the presumably worthless mines.
With the formation of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915 Miner Bill became embroiled in a dispute with the Federal Government. It seems that the Superintendent of RMNP stopped by Bill's mine and asked him to quit cutting trees. Then construction of Fall River road caused Bill to complain that the road interfered with his mining claim. The people Bill complained to told him that the road would benefit his claim not hinder it. Well, Bill did not agree with this so he strung up a barbed wire fence across the road. He was arrested but released after promising not to put up the fence again. Bill continued to fan the flames of the situation by cutting more trees, building an additional cabin and erecting new fences. Bill continued to live in his cabins, which he named "Snowshoe" and "Hackmandy" until about 1930 when he was forced off the mining claim and into Estes Park by an attorney of the United States.
Well, the Town of Estes Park wasn't very comfortable with Miner Bill actually in Town all the time. Bill had the habit of talking to himself in public which frightened many people; a habit that many people who are merely lonely have developed. Bill lived in peoples barns and in make shift lean-tos in the colder weather. The owner of the Stanley Hotel, F.O. Stanley who was also the inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile gave Miner Bill odd jobs to do on occasion to give Bill some spending money.
What bothered people the most was when Bill started talking of "Divine things", especially his personal fear of what Bill referred to as the "Blue Mist". According to Bill, on cloudy nights near his cabin a Being that manifested itself as a glowing Blue Mist would appear in the trees near his cabins on the side of Mount Chapin. This Being would leave three toed claw marks in the snow and on the trunks of the trees around the cabins. Animals were found dead with nothing left but fresh bones on the ground. Bill believed that there was some relationship to his discovery of Rhyolite crystals while digging for gold and silver. He thought that by uncovering the crystals he had released something that had been trapped in the crystals while they were covered with earth.
One day the citizens of Estes Park noticed that Bill had not been around Town for over a week. "Probably gone back to his cabins on the side of Mount Chapin" they said. Even though they were uncomfortable with Miner Bill around they were curious as to what had become of him. Speculation and gossip turned to action and a retired Army officer by the name of Louis O' Riordan took the bull by the horns and went out to Bill's cabins to see what had happened.
O' Riordan came back a day later and told the Town that he had found Bill and his dog dead near the front of the cabin he called "Snowshoe". All that was left of the two of them were the bones held together by fragments of ligament and sinew. Around Bill were tracks of some kind of animal with three toes still visible in the snow.
Most people who come to Rocky Mountain National Park do not know about William Clyde Currence and the Legend of the Blue Mist. And most of those who learn of the tale do not bother to make the arduous hike up the trail that Miner Bill constructed to his mine and cabins. But some of the travelers to the area want to know more about this mysterious man and what he might have seen on the slopes of Mount Chapin. Perhaps you the reader will make the hike up to Miner Bill's Spire and Bill's old cabins and mines some day. And perhaps you will come back to Town and talk of Astrology......and Divine things......and Blue Mists.......
Copyright (c) 1995 By Arthur Vyn Boennighausen