Written History of Bert N. Whitney


After what seemed an eternity anticipating that final chug of the engine (in reality some 12 to 15 miles), I saw a car parked near the road in the distance.  It was someone I knew, but we couldn’t figure any way to get gas from his luxury car.  He was very familiar with the area, however, and directed me toward the truck which he said was 12 miles away.  He said he would be going that way later and would help me if I ran out of gas.   (He was waiting for his brother and couldn’t leave until he came.)  I pressed onward, ever wondering when that last gasp would be heard from the engine.

In the meantime Jack arrived at the truck and realized I was lost.  He finally decided to back track and look for me as he figured I was surely out of gas.  He glanced over his shoulder as he headed out and saw a dust cloud moving toward him from the west, so he waited.  Great relief was felt on the part of both of us as I ascended the hill, and we came into sight of each other and knew a possible problem had been averted.

As I unloaded the fourtrax behind the house in Logandale and started to ride it into the garage, it ran out of gas, and I had to refuel to get the hundred feet or so.

According to Jack’s odometer, we had ridden nearly one hundred miles that day, every one of them filled with suspension and excitement.

November 1985 Issue titled “Grand Gulch Jinx” Glimpses

My first trip to the Grand Gulch mine was plagued with a time and fuel shortage and left me with an unquenched feeling which I knew could only be satisfied with another visit.

The first real opportunity to return to the mine was on Labor Day (1985) Jack Nelson and I planned to go together again, he with his cycle and me with my four wheeler.  We had planned to follow a new route which we had plotted on the maps and had discussed with someone who had been that way.  We never did even get a good start that day, however, spending time battling huge boulders, looking for the road and each other, finally giving up late in the day only a dozen or so miles from where we started.

It was discouraging to know we would not have another chance at the Grand Gulch for several more weeks, but we began our planning almost immediately, studying maps and talking to others who knew that area.  When we decided on Oct 5th, I called Kenneth to see if he could come with us, and when we realized he wouldn’t make it, we let Lindsey Dalley come. (He had heard about the trip and asked if he could go.)

We pulled out of the yard about 6:30 a.m. and arrive at our staging area (Burro Springs) a few hours later.  We were about three miles southeast of Pakoon Springs which is about eleven miles southeast of the Nay Ranch.  Enthusiasm was high as we set out on the “real” part of our trip which was to take us to the mine up over the old pioneer freight road as we had done before, except we were starting from the area where I had been lost on the first trip.  (After studying the maps it seemed to be the best approach.)  We had planned to return from the mine over the route we couldn’t find on our Labor Day journey.

About five miles out there was certain rise in the road and when I crested it, at a speed of about forty miles an hour, I knew it was decision time.  The road dropped slightly and took a sharp turn to the right.  I decided to keep a straight forward approach to the problem hoping to find a soft spot to land among the several rows of boulders I had noticed in the wash I was flying off into.  The only other option I could visualize was a sudden hard cut to the right which in my mind had me proceeding in about the same direction, but with the machine in a sideways rolling mode.

I remember landing in an earth-shaking back-flop accompanied by pain of traumatic proportions, then a ride in a whirlpool of blackness.  Concerned hushed voices saying, “Where is the blood coming from?” and “Help me get these rocks from under his back,” when I came to, confirmed my fear that the plans for the day would have to be altered.

The events that followed, particularly in the hour or so afterwards, were nearly flawless in bringing about my rapid evacuation via helicopter to a modern medical facility with minimum discomfort to me.

Note: This typist reports that three weeks after the fact, Dad is still recovering slowly but surely.  As of Monday he said he was mostly off his pain medication except at night.  He also reports that there seems to be no permanent damage.  (Just a slight bowed arm from the early cast removal)

[Addition, June 2005]

I told you I put in too many details, but after re-reading it, I’ve decided that too many details were left out.

I failed to mention that my right arm  and upper back were broken, that I had some deep cuts on my head that required many stitches, that my abdominal muscles were torn, (they can never be repaired), and  that my four wheeler was wrecked. Lindsey Dalley was attending dental school and had some good medical knowledge which he used in my behalf. While Jack rode his cycle for help, Lindsey went back to the pickup for a mattress to put me on.  While they were gone, I remembered how Anne used to sing “I Need Thee Every Hour,” when she was in so much pain.  I was tucked under a catclaw bush in the shade, but was in a lot of pain, so I began singing the magic hymn and it did help considerably.

In the meantime, Jack had ridden top speed toward Mesquite, because I had told him there were no communications at the Nay ranch.  But he was impressed to stop anyway.  Marilyn Nay saw him ride up to the gate, lay his bike over and go over the gate in one giant leap. After he explained what had happened, Keith Nay said they had just got a short wave radio that day but hadn’t had a chance to try it yet. So he called his relative in Meadview, which is near Lake Mead on the Arizona side. When with great surprise, he got an answer, he explained about where the wreck was, and asked his relative to phone a hospital in Las Vegas with a helicopter and send it to rescue me. Keith threw a few old tires in the back of his pickup, which was already loaded with bags of grain, and he and Jack headed back to the wreck site.  Jack told me later that Keith who has only one eye, and consequently poor vision, took out many, many joshua trees on both sides of the road during that speedy trip.  Shortly after they had arrived we could hear the chopper and Keith and the others had already carried the tires to the top of a nearby hill, doused them with gasoline, and set them afire.


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