The Ghost of Armbruster
The Ruby Mountains of
Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
1846, the infamous
Donner Party crossed the Ruby Mountains via
Overland Pass. Another much smaller party, led by Armbruster Pike, was
following the Donner’s, but they were several weeks behind. The same
blizzard which stranded the
Donner Party in the Sierra’s, likewise hit
the Pike party, who had missed the Overland pass cutoff and were now
in the vicinity of Mooney Basin.
According to a document written about the history of White Pine
County, the same tragedy befell the Pike party. Once all food supplies
disappeared and their livestock were eaten, they started munching on
each other. Whether Armbruster Pike was murdered, and his legs were
cooked up, or he lost both of his legs due to frostbite, is unknown.
What is known, is that ever since that horrible winter, the ghost of
Armbruster Pike has been seen off and on over the years. A ghost that
is always described as being hunchbacked with long scraggly white hair
and beard, and no legs.
activities have been going on in the Bald Mountain region since the
late 1800’s. The remains of two
ghost towns are in these mountains.
One old settlement called "Joy" lies within the upper reaches of Water Canyon and
another -- Bald City, is in
upper Mahoney Canyon. There are tales of miners just disappearing, and
never being found again. One of a miner whose body was found, but his
head was missing. It was later found some distance away.
In 1957 a local
rancher was herding cattle and lost some calves in Mooney Basin. While
rounding them up, near where the Horseshoe pit is now, he saw a figure
hunched over in the bushes. When the cowboy went over to look, he came
upon a hunchbacked man with long stringy white hair and beard. The man
had blood all over him and appeared to be eating a dead calf. As well,
the man had no legs.
During the 1980’s, modern mining
activities began at Bald Mountain and Alligator Ridge. The mechanics who
worked on ‘B’ shift (graveyard) at the shop at Alligator Ridge witnessed
many unexplained events. Haul trucks and dozers in the shop would
mysterious startup all by themselves. Others have seen a lone figure at
night, seemingly walking across Long Valley just east of the Alligator
Ridge. In 1989, while hauling ore from the Top pit to the Alligator Ridge
facilities, a contractor was killed when his truck went out of control and
rolled. This incident occurred on the ‘S’ curve near the Horseshoe pit in
Mooney Basin. Was the driver swerving to miss something, or someone?
n the late 1990’s, the Horseshoe pit was
developed and mined out. During the archeological survey of the area,
a gravesite and human skeleton were discovered. Local Native Americans
argued that this was an ancient burial site and that the remains
should be turned over to them. The County sheriff’s office
investigated the matter and determined that the bones were not that
old, and most likely were from the 1950’s or 60’s.
During the development phase of the Horseshoe pit, many strange incidents
occurred. An exploration drill rig suddenly shut down and all power went
out. When the driller went for help and returned with another miner, the
drill rig was ok and started right up. A dozer operator had the same thing
happen to his equipment. No one was able to explain the cause in either
During a blizzardy winter night, a lubeman was driving back from Mooney
Basin and as he approached the ‘S’ curve, he almost ran over a man in the
road. When the lubeman reached the shop, he asked if anyone had seen
someone walking around in the pit. No one had, and they asked why. The
lubeman told them about the guy he had nearly run over on the haul road.
He had stopped his truck and gotten out to ask the guy in the road if he
needed a ride. The guy in the road then took off into the blizzard and the
sagebrush. When the lubeman was asked to describe the man in the road, he
said, he had a long white beard and white hair, and was hunched over. And
further, "It was blizzarding so bad though that I couldn’t see his legs,
just from the waist up.” The miners in the shop responded, "You just saw
the ghost of Armbruster Pike.” The lubeman was new on the mine site and
had never heard of the stories about Pike. Not only did he swear to what
he had seen, the lubeman saw Pike several more times after that, in the
same area near Horseshoe.
Of course, any ghost story can always use some help. One quiet night, in
the Horseshoe area, a couple of miners left the ‘new guy’ all alone on the
drill rig. Now they had all been recently talking about Armbruster Pike so
even the ‘new guy’ was aware. When the two came back unnoticed, one of
them put on a bright rain coat, just on his upper torso. He ran through
the bushes, just within edges of the light from the drill rig. To this
day, the ‘new guy’ swears he saw the ghost of Armbruster Pike trying to
Another miner was camping in the area one January. He was by himself
except for his two dogs. There was only about 6 inches of fresh snow on
the ground. Late into the night, the dogs started growling and the hair on
their backs stood up. They took off into the darkness and came back 20
minutes later. The rest of the night, both dogs would sniff and growl
occasionally and never completely settled down. The next morning, the
miner followed the dogs tracks to see what they had been barking at and
chasing. After following the tracks around a completed circle through the
trees and back to the camp, no tracks were found - no deer, no mountain
lion, no nothing -.just the dog’s tracks.
Does the ghost of Armbruster Pike really exist? Therein lies the mystery.
- Brian Iverson
compilation of stories and tales that was gathered from the men and women
working at Bald Mountain Mine,
names have been omitted to protect the innocent. No animals were harmed in
the writing of this story. If you know of, or have heard of any incidents
involving Armbruster Pike, please let me know so that they can be added to
this historical document. Thanks to everyone who has helped,
555 Fifth Street