Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs You know it as Echo Park, but the grassy park where the Green and Yampa rivers reach their confluence in Dinosaur National Monument once was known to settlers and cattle rustlers as Pat’s Hole.
Pat Lynch was a recluse who fought in the Civil War and ultimately spent 48 lonely years in the steep sandstone canyons of western Moffat County. Legend has it that Lynch managed to befriend a mountain lion that brought him choice pieces of game meat.
In an article by Edgar C. McMechen entitled “The Hermit of Pat’s Hole,” which originally was published in The Colorado Magazine in 1942, Lynch was described as a “real old timer” who was hanging around Brown’s Park and Yampa Canyon in the 1870s. The article was collected in the book “Western Voices,” which can be found at Bud Werner Memorial Library. I heartily recommend the volume edited by Steve Grinstead and Ben Fogelberg.
McMechen cites a 1919 letter penned by Ada Jones, of Craig, as the source for some fascinating details about Lynch’s lifestyle.
“He had beaver and deer as tame as cattle and hogs,” Jones wrote. “He never killed any of them. He lived just like a coyote. If he found a dead horse, he would take a quarter or a half and make jerky out of it.”
But that’s not all.
McMechen relates a tale told by a member of a railroad surveying party that ventured into Yampa Canyon in winter 1904 and encountered Lynch. The hermit told the railroad party he had tamed a lion that delivered dead deer to the door of his cabin.
McMechen also reported that a Maybell resident named Carey Barber told a similar story and added that the lion would step out onto a cliff and scream in answer to a yell from Lynch.
The hermit would say, “That sound is sweeter than any song Jenny Lind ever sang,” Barber is quoted as saying.
You might not recall that Lind was an opera singer known as the Swedish Nightingale.
McMechen wrote in the 1940s that old-time residents of Brown’s Park still called that cliff Jenny Lind Rock.
If you hike out on Jenny Lind Rock today, you’ll find yourself overlooking Echo Park and Steamboat Rock.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com