A Trip With Doctor Bradbury

Doctor Bradbury was a nuclear scientist. He was the director of the nuclear laboratory at Los Alamos N. M. Readers digest did an article on him back in the war days and called him Mr. Los Alamos. Our cousin Mel Bowman worked with him in Los Alamos and they were good friends. When Doctor Bradbury told Mel of his desire to come to Mexico to explore Indian Ruins and Ancient Cave Dwellings Mel referred him to my brother Claudius.

After some preliminary trips to some Ruins around Janos Doctor Bradbury asked Claudius to arrange a trip into some remote cave dwelling in the Sierra Madre. Claudius came to me and asked that I investigate and find some place to take them that would make an interesting trip.

I went up to Colonia Juarez to talk to the Old Revolutionary General Don Cirilo Perez. I knew him well because he was Emilio Burgos Grandfather. We were dear friends of Emilios family from our Missionary days in Chuhuichupa.

In talking to Don Cirilo he said that he knew of many cave dwellings in different parts of the mountains. He said that there was a very well preserved one over on the "Tabaco".

He then proceeded tell me this story: When he, Don Cirilo, was living in Chuhuichupa some Apache Indians came into the valley at night and stole a bunch of horses. He went to Marion Vance who had also lost some horses and they decided to go after the Apaches and see if they could get back their horses. They saddled up and trailed the Indians Northwest through the Sierra Madre until one evening at dusk they came into a high saddle and could hear the Apaches feasting, dancing and singing down in the canyon. Back out of sight they waited through the night until near dawn all became quiet and the Indians had fallen into an exhausted sleep.               Their plan was to begin shooting into the canyon as fast as they could from different points to give the impression of a big group firing into the camp. Just at daylight they began shooting into the Indians camp. The rapid shots and the resounding echoes awoke the Indians in a panic and they hastily vanished taking only their own mounts that they had kept tied nearby.

When Cirilo and Marion went down to the camp they found that the Indians had camped in the canyon near a big cave dwelling. They had killed a mule and had feasted on the meat and danced and sang most of the night.

They gathered up all of their horses and returned to Chuhuichupa. Don Cirilo said that in the excitement he had left his tobacco pouch in that saddle where they had spent the night so he named it "El Puerto del Tabaco". To this day that region is called "El Tabaco". He said that his son Eliezer knew where the cave dwelling was and that he would ask him to go and guide us there.

I talked to Emilio Burgos and he said that I could go to the ranch on the Gavilan and arrange with Eliezer and Ricardo Orozco to get the animals ready for the trip.

It was in August and the rains had been heavy that year so I went to our ranch out by the Lake and asked Carlos Quintana, our cowboy, to go with me. We saddled up our mule Chihuahua and put him in the back of the truck and got an early start. At that time the best road to the Gavilan was up the Tinaja Wash, up over the Cuesta de  los Botes and along the continental divide to drop into the Gavilancito.

The Tinaja Wash was running a big stream of water and we got stuck at the first crossing because of the shifting sand the water had brought in. Carlos got out and backed Old Chihuahua out of the truck, tightened up the Cinch of the saddle, tied his nylon rope to the front bumper and got on the mule ready to pull. I put the truck in low gear and with the help of the mule we finally got out of the sandy crossing. That process was repeated at every crossing all during the day. Finally at the crossing of the Arroyo de la Loba and the 15th time to unload the mule we were really stuck. It was about ten O'clock at night and there was a big truck of Lumber stuck on the upper side of us. We got out the shovel and moved some of the sand from in front of all of the wheels and with the help of the mule and the two men that were with the truck we finally inched our way out of the wide crossing.

Daylight the next morning found us turning off the main road onto the mesa above the old Indian graveyard where I was to leave the truck and descend to the ranch on the Gavilan. I mounted Chihuahua and enjoyed the early morning descent down the rugged trail to the ranch below. I found the cowboys at breakfast and joined them in a good breakfast of venison and beans. I made the arrangements with Eliezer and Ricardo for the trip and climbed back out. I was thankful for Old Chihuahua to take the work out of the long steep climb back up to the truck.

We had traversed the long, high ridge between the Hole and the Gavilan and had descended the steep grade into the valley when I discovered I didn't have any brakes or any pull. We gently coasted to a stop and got out to see what had happened. The rear wheel bearing had gone out and the axle had come out brake drum and all. When I saw what had happened I felt a rush of fear then overwhelming gratitude that this had not happened a few minutes before on the steep grade we had just come down.

We had just been stopped a few minutes when the old rattle trap truck of a mountain peddler came along. The Peddler was a hunched back man I had seen many times in Casas Grandes. He got out and looked the situation over and said he would take me to the sawmill on the Gavilan where they probably would have a bearing that I could buy. We arrived at the sawmill after dark and found that they did have the bearing that I needed. We spent the night at the sawmill as best we could and early the next morning the good hearted peddler insisted on taking me back to the truck with the tools and the bearing to get it fixed. He would not accept any pay and all I could do was to express my heartfelt gratitude. I was reminded of the parable of the good Samaritan. I was stranded on the road in the mountains and along came this humble good hearted man to give me all of the help that was needed to get me on my way again. He had a hump on his back but a heart full of love and compassion.     

We replaced the bearing and came on home without any further delays or trouble. The trip had taken us three days instead of a day and a half.


Early Monday morning all was in readiness for out trip to the Tabaco to find the cave dwelling. Dr. Bradbury and his son John had arrived Sunday afternoon bringing Marshall Bond, a good friend from California, with them. Claudius had called brother Bryant R. Clark and invited him to go with us. He had been in bad health and felt that he needed to get away to the mountains and relax. We picked him up on the way through Colonia Juarez with his gear and his new movie camera.

We arrived at the mesa above the Campo Santo, where we were to leave the trucks, and found Eliezer and Ricardo waiting for us. We spent the next two hours packing all of the camp equipment, bed rolls and all of the stuff that accumulates for a trip like this. Then it took a while to get everyone mounted and the saddle stirrups adjusted to fit each rider. I noticed Eliezer and Ricardo exchange looks and grins while trying to accommodate all of our stuff and get everyone ready to go down the steep trail to the ranch. They were experienced packers but had never had the experience of packing for a group like ours. At last we were ready to start down. I took our group by way of the Old Indian Graveyard while the cowboys took the pack mules on down to the ranch.

When we arrived at the ranch we found Emilio waiting for us. He said that he had come to meet Gib Graham here at the ranch to put out poison (10-80) to kill the Wolves that had been killing some of his cattle.

Claudius and I prepared supper for the whole camp. We  prepared steaks, potatoes and gravy and Dutch Oven Biscuits and washed it down with a hot herb tea that had become my specialty.

Just as we were ready to eat, Gib Graham came riding in up the river trail from Three Rivers. After Supper Gib took Marshall aside and filled him with tales of wild adventures and offered to set up a business with Marshall. He suggested that Marshall could take care of the receiving and distribution and Gib would take care of the production and transportation of the stuff here on his end. Bryant Clark was really amused because Marshall was swallowing all that Gib was saying and was rather reluctant to accept.

Around the campfire the Cowboy that Emilio had on the ranch was telling us that he had been tracking the Wolves and had found a den where there were four little Wolf Pups. They were very small and he got them all out. Two of them were regular Grey Wolves but the other two were pinto and different colors like dogs. He said that he had killed the two little Grey Wolves but had taken the little pinto Wolves to his home in Three Rivers and was raising them.

Emilio asked me to go with the cowboy, early in the morning, up  to kill a Deer to use for the poisoned bait. Just at daylight the cowboy and I were climbing the long beautiful ridge that stretches up east from the ranch house to the Carrizo. We came around a high rock and the cowboy pointed to three white flags of the Deer that were trotting ahead of up the ridge. I dismounted and shot the nearest Deer. We just tied it behind the cowboy's saddle and went back to the ranch. They had told us that they wanted the insides and all of the Deer.

When we got back Claudius had Breakfast nearly ready and everyone was up and ready to eat. After Breakfast we began the process of  packing up again. We had to use an extra mule to put the cowboys  "Mochila" on. Emilio told Brother Clark to get his Camera ready that the new mule was going to put on a show. They had her blindfolded to enable them to put the pack on. When the pack was done and tied down tightly they took the blindfold off. The mule gave a snort and a braying grunt and jerked away from Ricardo and went bucking furiously down through the ravine toward the trail. When she found that she could not buck off the pack she stopped trembling and sweating.

We climbed out the steep trail in a long line. Eliezer was in front leading the head pack mule with the other two following and   Ricardo followed them leading the new pack mule. The rest of us were strung out behind while I brought up the rear.

We climbed out past the truck and down the road until we came the gate of the steep trail that angled down into the Hole. As we started down the trail Claudius indicated that we needed some camp meat so I started to go around the steep, brushy side hill. I had traveled just a little ways when I saw a big buck moving through the big pine trees on the hillside. I slipped out my 3006 Rifle and dismounted and tied my mule to a tree. I slipped down the hill a little ways until I could see the big white tail and rear end of the buck moving along the little trail. I shot him and he jumped high in the air and when he came down his legs buckled and he went sliding down the steep incline for about 40 feet. I cleaned him and cut off his legs at the knee and the hock, leaving the liver and the heart inside. I brought my mule down and loaded the dear without any trouble and was soon back on the trail down to the Taraises Ranch.

When we rode into the ranch a tranquil domestic scene met our eyes. Two neat Adobe Houses faced each other on opposite sides of the clearing with the Taraises Creek of cold clear water running past it. Down across the creek the big Pole Corrales were situated among the trees. The calves in the Calf Pen were bawling for there mothers. In the center of the clearing between the two houses was a large stone grinder. This grinder was two large grinding stones one on top of the other. The top one had a hole in it to put the wheat in to be ground to flour. A long pole was fastened to the top stone and extended out to where a Burro was hitched to it. The Burro was walking around and around pulling the top stone around and the white ground flour was coming out between the two stones falling onto the canvas that was placed all around the stones to catch the flour.

This ranch belonged to Don Lencho Estrada. He and his sister had been orphaned during the revolution and come to Pacheco . Dad and Mother Haynie had taken them in to live with them for a few years. Lencho decided that he wanted  to establish  a ranch down in the Hole so Dad Haynie gave him some horses and Cattle and he and his sister went down and built their ranch.

They married and had big families and established a good place for all of  their boys to work and grow up.

While Eliezer was talking to Don Lencho I skinned out the Deer and cut off a hind quarter and the tenderloins for camp meat and left the rest of the Deer for them to use at the Ranch.

We continued on for the rest of the day and arrived at the Cave Dwelling about Sundown. We unpacked and put up our camp in that beautiful canyon. My brother Claudius was an excellent cook on camp and we soon were eating hungrily since we had not eaten since we left after and early Breakfast. We had fried liver smothered in Onions, tenderloin of Venison, Beans and hot biscuits. After that we sat around the fire and had hot Herb Tea and Oat Meal Cookies. . Brother Clark commented, "This is what I came for". Dr. Bradbury smiled and said, "I came to get into that Dwelling.

The next morning as we went to explore the Dwelling my Imagination was intrigued  with what was there. The cave was more of an overhang in a high cliff. The rooms were built side by side along the floor of the overhang with the top of the rock being the ceiling of the rooms. On the higher side the room was about 8ft. high and sloped to the smallest room about 5ft. high. Each room had a small Keyhole door but no windows. As  I remember the dwelling consisted of about 15 rooms lined up in the overhang. The flat floor extended out from the rooms about 12ft. then fell away in a gradual slope to the canyon floor.

Dr. Bradbury and John were busily digging around in the trash pile in front of the Dwelling looking for discarded artifacts or broken pottery. I was looking with wonder and curiosity at the front of the biggest room. There on the wall of that room beside the door was a painting of a big Sail Fish. It was done in red paint of some kind. It stood about 7ft. tall standing on it's tail. Why? Why a Sail Fish in this remote canyon far away from the Ocean on the west coast of Mexico? It reminded me of the pictures of the modern day fishermen standing proudly with their big Sail Fish hanging nearby. Had this man gone down to the coast and some how caught this beautiful Fish? He would certainly have had to use a boat of some kind to get out into deep water.

Dr. Bradbury climbed to a promontory on a ridge in front of the Dwelling to find their place of worship. There he found a beautiful "Molcajete" or little grinding bowl and a lot of broken pottery. These he said had been left as offerings in their worship. These people could have left an interesting history of their lives but we will have to be content with imagining their lives and daily activities. Dr. Bradbury told us that from all indications that this culture and People lived there about 900 A.D.

The next morning very early Claudius and I decided to go find some camp meat since ours was all gone. We climbed the high mountain on the south of our camp passing through what we supposed was the Puerto Del Tabaco. From there we went on up higher to the top. When we cam to a promontory Claudius went to the right and I went to the left to go around and meet on the other side. As I was going around I heard boom! boom! boom! from Claudius on the other side. I hurried around and found him sitting watching the opposite side hill across the head of  a canyon. He said that he had jumped some Turkeys and had shot at them but without hitting any of the elusive birds. Then  he had seen a big buck Deer come out the oaks across the little canyon. He shot him and he humped up as if he were hit and went back into the oaks again. I suggested that he walk forward while I watched so that the Deer could not escape without our notice. As he walked forward the Deer started out of the oaks so I shot him. He staggered but went back into the oaks again. Suddenly from down the canyon two big Pinto Wolves came running eagerly straight toward the where the Deer was hiding. As they approached the hiding place the big Buck bounded out and ran down the canyon with the Wolves hot in pursuit and Claudius and I close behind. Down in the bottom of the canyon the Deer had found protection in a deep pool of water in the solid rock of the canyon floor. The Wolves were circling the pool not wanting to get into the water. As I raised my rifle to shoot one of the wolves he began to wag his tail and came over to greet me. We realized that our Wolves were dogs that had heard the shots and had come to participate in the hunt. I don't know where they came from but here they were.

We cleaned the deer and gave the dogs the waste that we discarded. That is what they had come for. We then tied the Deer's legs together over a "Quiote" an Agave Pole, so that we could carry him between us, one on each end of the pole. This worked out fine until we came to the steep descent into our Camp. I was on the front end of the pole consequently going downhill I got most of the weight. With the swinging of the Deer and the steep unsure footing I was constantly slipping to land on the seat of my britches. When we arrived in camp Brother Clark came out to film our  victorious arrival with the Deer on a pole. I had to be careful and keep facing the Camera because the seat of my pants had been torn out.  As we related our tail of the pinto Wolves to all in camp Brother Clark commented, "I would like to have filmed that". Dr. Bradbury was unimpressed and asked me to find a bigger and more remote Cave Dwelling for a trip next year. I really did find it and we did go to the Cueva De Las Ochenta Casas, but that is another story. 

S. Keith Bowman 16 January 2002