Beekeeper of McElvoy Canyon

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Posted by maddog_bill on November 30, 2002 at 22:18:05:

Harol Ericsson, I finally found the info on the Beekeeper of McElvoy Canyon. It was written by Wendell Moyer for the Winter 1994 edition of the SURVIVOR. I will try to summarize the article. Three climbers, Moyer, Doug McLean and Mike Riley decided to climb the canyon to investigate the mysterious ladders in the canyon.The first falls is 50 feet in height, the second is not described and the third is “close to 150 feet in height”. It took them one day to climb to the base of the 4th waterfall. ”On the second day, we located a Class 4 route around the otherwise impassible waterfalls # 4 and # 5 without resorting to installing a bolt ladder.” After 3 more easy ladder falls they broke out of the narrow canyon. After another mile they found some miners cabins and the Beekeepers cabin with wooden beehive boxes and magazines dated in the mid 60’s. Another mile above that they found the old McElvoy mine and mill site. In one of the tunnels they found another cache of the beekeeper.

After several years of searching, Mr. Moyer found the Beekeeper of McElvoy Canyon, Marion Howard, c/o General Delivery, Lone Pine, Ca. At that time Marion Howard was 84 years old, described as a “free spirit” and lived in a funky small old round shaped trailer. His home was relocated to various sites around the Owens Valley as necessitated by BLM regulations.

Other cogent details listed by Mr. Moyer are

Born and raised in NW Pa about 20 miles from Lake Erie.

Drafted into the army in WWII and served in Iran.

Moved west several years after the war and resided more or less in the Lone Pine area ever since.

First went up and over the Inyo mountains in the mid 60’s. He climbed “overland”, meaning that he did not follow any established trails.

Was active in McElvoy canyon until about 1980. Originally unaware of the road in Saline Valley until he saw car lights one night.

The ladders were fabricated over a period of years and constructed from the top down –“just lowering them until they finally hit bottom”.

The ladders were constructed of two strands of heavy baling wire with 1 1/2 inch diameter log rungs.

Traveled back and forth across the Inyos “about once a week” throughout the winter months crossing the ridge at the highest saddle between Mt. Inyo and Keynot Peak.

Spent summers in Oregon as a seasonal farm laborer

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