The Mystery of the Catfaces

-- Page 1--

For the most current information about catfaces and what I've learned also see: Catfaces page 2.

This strange cat face like symbol is found throughout the Uinta Mountains.
It's origin wasn't known to me until March of 08. I thought it might be a sign left by those of Spanish
descent while checking on their family mines like the example we observed at Moon Lake.

Over the years a rumor lingered that a cousin of mine named Shirl Atwood had been cutting these symbols
into the rocks and trees. To solve the puzzle once and for all I made a phone call and chatted with him on
March 26th, 2008. He was very receptive and as we talked I finally asked him if he knew where the
catface symbol came from and he said he made it. Shirl passed away in July of 2009 but in his younger
years he traveled from Alaska to California to Colorado and throughout Utah looking for gold.
Along the way he has left his sign. This symbol and his Indian name were given to him by his
Native American friends. He stated that he has left catfaces wherever he has traveled. He said
I'm correct in my book that most of the time the symbol is near a mine, but he also said that
he sometimes just simply carved it where he camped. Here are some examples of his sign.

If one looks closely at the symbol it's easy to see how it could be Shirl's symbol.
There is an S at the top while the lower half of the cross forms an A.

The catface above is indicating a mine at the far end of this meadow.
It's at the side of the road, near the meadow, in Blind Stream Canyon.

My cousin also said he altered the symbol slightly from time to time to
change it's exact meaning such as adding or leaving off a whisker.

In this case there is an arrow by the symbol leading you around the hill to the left.
Maybe that means there's a mine to the left of this symbol.


This catface on Mosby Mountain is very old and is within a
few feet of the hole Bob Fair and I dug and which I called the crack mine.
(See Mosby for more details about this location.)

Occasionally the catfaces are found etched in stone.
Is this one indicating a mine is nearby or is this another campsite?
It looks like a mystery that's only partially solved...


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(page created 4-4-08)

(updated 3-30-10)