The 13th Floor

This 117-Year-Old Diary Documents a Miner’s Final Days… and Maybe the Thing That Killed Him

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While a large number of infamous creepypasta tales are born in social media, online journals and discussion groups, they still maintain their roots in urban legends, unexplained mysteries and regional folklore, often dating back several decades — or in some cases, even prior centuries.

One such tale dates back to May 6, 1899, when a pocket-size bound notebook was discovered deep inside a horizontal drift in the long-abandoned Bon Air Silver Mine near Leadville, Colorado — two months after a massive cave-in left several miners trapped inside. Oddly, this particular drift was not documented on any charts kept by the Bon Air Mining Company.


The notebook has been identified as the impromptu diary of 28-year-old pump operator Ashland Parr, whose remains were never found despite a lengthy rescue operation which saved the lives of every other trapped miner. Over a century later, no trace of his body has been located, and the diary is the only item among Parr’s possessions ever to be recovered.

For 117 years, that notebook was kept under lock and key by Parr’s family. But just last year, it was finally revealed by the Parr estate to a handful of historians, who transcribed the brief but chilling account of Parr’s final days following the cave-in. The details of this diary have been the subject of controversy ever since their disclosure — as they seem to describe the miner’s horrific encounter with an unknown but threatening presence.


The transcripts of the journal, in which Parr documents his final 13 days (beginning with the cave-in, and ending on March 21), were later posted to the web, and the controversy has escalated ever since.

While several independent experts have confirmed the age of the journal and verified Parr’s handwriting as authentic, there is much dispute as to whether the horrors described on those pages are real, or the hallucinations of a sense-deprived mind after nearly two weeks trapped in near or total darkness.

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The following text includes excerpts from the transcripts of Parr’s daily entries.

March 9, 1899

Damned rocks caved us in today. Chas, Bert and I were lucky to be in this drift and not in the shaft like poor Shep was. Shep was screaming something when the rocks came down on him. I think he hurt his leg but I think he’ll be all right because he was able to get out of the mines. Bert found a steam pipe and began rapping on it to try to get in touch with any rescuers. Fortunately we found a few and they’re able to send supplies down to us such as food. I think we’ll be fine down here. They wrote to us that we should be rescued by tomorrow.

The first few pages describe the efforts of Parr and his two crewmates — Charles “Chas” Reuss and Albert “Bert” Frey — to remain safe and secure while rationing out emergency provisions, as well as messages from topside about progress on a bypass tunnel being drilled by the rescue team in order to reach the main shaft and rescue the three men.

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Two days later, Parr reveals the first hint that something may be amiss — even if he doesn’t know it yet:

Bert was pacing around in the drift when he found some weird grooves in the wall. I think Chas made them because he’s getting really bored down here.

Boredom seems to be the chief concern among the men, but the strange grooves in the tunnel walls, which Parr assumes are being made by Chas, are starting to pique Parr’s curiosity. The marks are increasing quickly in number — despite Parr not actually witnessing anyone carving them — and they appear to be deeper and more regular than any of the crew’s tools could accomplish.

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That’s when Parr began hearing the sounds.

March 13

We’re starting to hear some sounds so I guess progress has been real quick. None of us expected to hear these sounds though because we’re pretty deep in the mine — I think we’re 400 feet down. I got really scared when the sounds started because I could have sworn the sounds were coming from below us. Bert and Chas told me that I was just being silly, that it was all in my head. Shoot I don’t even know. We haven’t heard any word from the men above besides our meals. I hope we get out of here soon; we’re all really lonely and it’s rather dark down here.

More days pass, and the men are becoming understandably restless, and in addition to the ever-growing marks on the walls, Parr now reports a strange smell in the tunnel — the faint odor of something burning — and later mentions glimpsing a faint glow coming from the far end of the drift. The flicker apparently disappeared as quickly as it arrived.

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On March 15, Parr finally confronts Chas about the marks in the walls:

Today I saw [Chas] by those grooves and he was simply fingering them. He turned around and asked me how the hell they got there. I told him that I thought he made them. I don’t know what’s going on but I really hope they hurry up.

A few days later, the men receive good news: despite some technical problems, the rescue tunnel to the main shaft is nearly complete… but according to a note Bert received, a massive debris collapse on March 19 seems to have aborted that plan entirely, and Parr confronts their likely fate in a brief but heartbreaking entry:

Chas didn’t even cry, he just glared at me like its my fault. i want to go home i want to seem my family but no, we’re going to die in this blackness. I’m not going to sleep tonight, it’s not like it matters anyways

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On the second-to-last day, panic has clearly taken hold, and a fight breaks out when Parr discovers Bert had been concealing updates from the rescue team — which was, in fact, still making an effort to reach them. Despite renewed hope, Parr clearly distrusts his crewmates now, and begins to isolate himself from them. That’s when he makes another chilling discovery.

we hadn’t seen much of this drift so it was a little weird — there were a lot of these grooves on the wall, and the ground sounds like it’s shaking a bit. there’s actually a shaft down here that i hadn’t known of, but it only leads down and it’s really poorly made.

The final day’s entries suggest Parr may be delusional, but he is completely focused on this previously unseen shaft… and as he investigates further, his renewed hope for rescue seems to have been forgotten.

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March 21

I’m leaving them now because they’re trying to take my food. I don’t know why but i think they’re mad at me. maybe its my diary. maybe its because they’re really lonely. but I like being lonely, this darkness is good. I headed down that shaft I talked about — it went for about a hundred feet and had a latter leading down here, I entered here in this large room now. this is my home and my grave, but I’m okay because there are a lot of really pretty diamonds in this cave. how none of us ever came here, i don’t know but it’s really nice. a fitting grave I guess.

At this point, the narrative becomes increasingly unreliable as he investigates the “diamonds” he found in the cave.

they aren’t diamonds they’re living creatures I’ve never seen them before but they simply move through the rock leaving small grooves in them and they make a rumble rumble as they move I have never seen these things before but I see a couple of them head up and down the shaft I walked through how did I get out of there alive even

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The final entry is barely legible, but experts were able to piece it together based on Parr’s previous handwriting:

they see me now and they are pretty big I can hide here but not for long. they are all going up that shaft and I hear some screams and I think they killed chas and Bert… I try talking to them but they keep going and going. I forget I’m hiding but now diary I don’t care. in fact they’re the good guys because they’re killing Chas and Bert which is nice. maybe they’ll even rescue me or kill me. maybe its better if they kill me so now I’m calling them over… i think one of them complemented you diary. one of them said nice book to me, i know it. its coming over to s——————-

The final few words are nothing more than a wavering scrawl.

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According to the papers, Charles Reuss and Albert Frey were rescued on March 22, 1899, and the mine was sealed and decommissioned in May of that year. When questioned about Ashland Parr’s whereabouts, Chas and Bert claimed never to have seen him during the entire two-week ordeal. They also denied seeing any of the strange grooves in the shaft walls described in Parr’s diary, and did not hear or see anything out of the ordinary after the collapse that trapped them.