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Frank revisited

I’m going to revisit an old post about Frank Hammitt.  In my previous post I told the story of how old Frank really died.  Frank Hammitt worked for the Forest Service even before there were rangers around here.  There’s a nice stone memorial with a plaque by Antelope butte.  Stories abound.  He was in a snowstorm with his horse and couldn’t see.  They fell over the side.  He committed suicide.  On and on.  It’s great, classic folklore around here.

But the real story is that they found old Frank’s body not over Antelope butte, but much further down, on the side of the Clark’s Fork.  “He was pretty ripe” my neighbor said.  No one really knows how it happened.  They just found his horse wandering around and went looking for Frank.

Is this where he fell from? Ledge near the burial site

Well my old neighbor who grew up in the valley told me there was a box, Frank’s coffin, near the cliff.  The box was an old wagon box and they brought Frank up and buried him near the top of the cliff where they found him.  Some years later, some of his friends thought that wasn’t a proper burial so they brought a wagon down to the coffin, collected his bones, and brought him up to where the present memorial is.  The CCC then built the plaque.

Last fall I heard this story and guess what?  A few days ago I found that box, just as my friend Jack said.  I was lucky to run into it.  Although its not hidden, its obscure and I just happened to wander over to a nearby elk skull to inspect when I noticed the box.  The box is about 6’6″.  I thought it was an awfully nice place to be laid to rest; actually much nicer than right by the highway, even though you get signage, a special turnaround, and a plaque of your own.  Frankly, I’d prefer the rock and the ephemeral pond.

Hammitt's coffin next to the boulder

Another view of the wagon box coffin

View of the area. Ephemeral pond in this meadow

Plus, as a bonus, the mountain goats hang around you.  Up by the highway, its too exposed for the wildlife to browse near your gravesite.

Goats near coffin

Goat track

Yes, I’ll take that rock any day.

One Response

  1. Its so cool that you get to see goats up your way. Thanks for the revisit, how interesting to actually find the box!


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