Monday, March 9, 2009

MONTE WOLFE, THE LEGEND





After Monte's disappearance, the stories began to flow. His exploits as a hunter; his quirky ways; his feats of strength. They came from so many sources, they are collectively a picture of the real Monte Wolfe regardless of his origins or what his real name may have been.
He spelled his name Wolfe with the English e on the end. He used expressions like thar and by gar, and made some "Canuck" bunk beds for friends of his. He served some time in jail as Ed Mc Graff for relieving Constable Billy Schmidt of his gun while trying to arrest him for stealing a gun from Alexander Chauncey. He was prosecuted as Ed Mc Graff in Tuolumne County and sent to State Prison. He also supposedly served in War War I as Ed Mc Graff, but he once corrected someone and told them his name was Monte Rice, and another time Ed Wright? He wanted to be unfound and his inconsistencies made everyone more curious. For instance, he had a barely accessible cabin on the Ned McGrath ranch on Little Humbug Creek. Ned McGrath, Ed McGraff? The names so similar? He claimed to be Catholic and his mother had a proper upbringing. He canned venison, never dried fish or meat as the Indian's did. His cabin building skills and handiness with an ax suggest a Canadian background. No one knows for sure who he was, but his feats of strength were legendary and indisputable. He would easily ski to Nevada to get his mail since the rangers took his mailbox away in Calaveras County. He'd pack people into the woods and carry their stuff plus his own. He'd catch fish for them if they didn't get their limit. His main cabin was two rooms, 14 by 20 with a loft. It had guest beds made of metal with real mattresses. He had a cement mixer, a wheel barrow and a heavy cast iron cook stove that he carried into the canyons by himself along with a victrola, steel cookware and other heavy items.
One man recalls meeting Monte carrying a keg of heavy nails on his shoulder. He stopped to talk for several minutes and never set his burden down, but continued on as though it was nothing.
He made a log ramp and hoisted 600 to 800 pound logs up the ramp he made while building his main cabin. After working all day on his "new" cabin, he still had energy enough to hike five hours out to escort people to their cars as the day dwindled, making it back alone at night.
The Lewis family recall that he offered to build them a cabin on the Moke River if they would supply the windows. He showed them a couple catfish lakes so full of fish they'd practically jump in the pan. "His legs were like fence posts and we couldn't keep up with him. Monte explained that he wore several pairs of stockings to protect himself from rattlesnakes," said Earl Lewis.
Monte loved to be social and readily sought company on his terms. Yet, he gave the impression that he was hiding from justice.
All the little contacts people had with him through the years verify his unusual personality, his strength, his sense of fun. He would ski into Tamarack and chase the giggling cook around the bar (a skit they planned for the entertainment of patrons) and through the kitchen, jump up on the bar and emote with relish. He loved talking about his encounters with cougars and bears.
Slim Hinton remembers he started a forest fire once and was embarrassed by it. He burned around his cabin every year and it got away from him. The burn exposed a cast iron stove he had tried to move to his lower cabin. It even defeated Monte. Hinton said he couldn't even budge a corner of the thing. Another time he used his shoulder to lift and nudge a cabin into position that he helped another guy build. He liked women and had a number of women visitors. He worked for others when he could find work, but he always left himself an out. He had many a cache stored around a four county area to give him a wide range and an "out" if he needed it.
The above pictures show Monte's smaller cabin, one of the log bridges and a cache wired into a hollow of an oak tree. He kept his food in water tight, vermin proof containers. He grew 500 pounds of potatoes a year and kept them buried in oak leaves near his cabin.He would have enjoyed knowing people are still talking and reading about him today.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some time this month, November 2009, agents of the US Forest Service, Amador Ranger district removed the door and chimney of the Monte Wolfe Cabin on the Mokelumne River. They did this in an attempt to hasten the deterioration of the cabin. This action is illegal and unwarranted. Please notify anyone you know that cares about the cabin that the Forest Service has broken the law in their attempts to destroy this valuable resource.

Ralph said...

thank you for letting people know about the damage inflicted by USFS. the effort is being made to bring justice to these misguided employees & a selfish philosophy which keeps all people out of the wilderness we pay for???
Ralph Emerson

Ralph said...

Thank you for sharing the info about the mis guided USFS employees that inflicted damage on the cabin, We are trying to bring all involved to justice & preserve the cabin

Daphne said...

I was just at the cabin and the "door" in which the USFS repaired is a barricade that cannot be opened. The stovepipe is on the ground in what appears to be a junk pile that the USFS has made of what was the real door and the hole in the roof which was created by the removal of the pipe still remains. How can they get away with this? I'm doing some research by reading as many newspaper articles as I can as well as an out of print copy of "Monte, Lone Wolf of the Mokelumne." I'm not sure what to do exactly but I'm considering getting in touch with the Sioux Indian Tribe to see if they can help shake things up (as he is said to be half Sioux). I have pictures of what they've done and it's heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you all for the Information. I have never been to the cabin however,I have an extreme interest in the cabins restoration. My late great grandfather started camping in the area we call Hermits Valley in the late 1940s. He took My grand father as a young boy who took my unkle, who later, took me as a young boy. Great Grandpa allways told the tales of the "Hermit" around the camp fire and such. My unkle would beg my grandfather (the least adventurous of the three) to take hime to see the cabin and grandpa would tell him it wasn't there any more, that he had seen the remains of it and there was almost nothing left. My unkle later in life started backpacking in the area with his cousin and explored vast distances( one time taking me up over an extreme peak in the marshall canyon area covering 14 friggin miles in one day because he got us lost!) allways wanting to see the remains of the cabin. I'm not kidding when I say we just searched for the remains like 3 weeks ago, wich led me on a search finding this web sight. I called him earlier and told him every thing I found. I couldnt even finish talking before he said "Come over right now and get the gear ready. We're goin up there Saturday!" So the gear's ready, and I can tell you 2 things for sure. #1 If he hadn't just started a new job after a long term unemployment, I wouldn't be posting this comment. We'd be in a car, on the way up Hwy 4 instead. #2 If I know my unkle, something Will get done. My unkle(who's nickname is Alpine for his love of the mountains) said, for now, to at least fix the hole and move the stove into some kind of cover, and preserve it as much as possible before winter sets in. If any one has any feedback or information that would help us, please post a comment on this web sight asap. We don't have much time!!!! I will be checking back before we go. We've never been there and dont know how to even find it. Heck we didn't even know it still existed till today. He looked for it the first time last year and took me up to look this year.

Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me where this cabin is. My boyfriend and I are extremely interested in on what is going on with this cabin and we definitely want to help preserve it.

Anonymous said...

Can you help myself and a few of my friends to locate this cabin????? We live in Arnold and would love to Visit it !!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey , Can you help Myself and a Few find this Cabin????? I know Ralph has been there but they Flew in . Is there some resemblense of a Trail??

Anonymous said...

Please send any pictures I can show the Amador Co. Supervisors. Thankyou

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