Fikes Generations

Curly’s Gold – The Mouse House

Curly’s Gold

by Don Burke on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 11:29am
It all started with brother George and his barber Curly. I suppose barbers
hear a lot of interesting stories and according to Curly, an old timer
sitting in his barber chair told him of finding a gold nugget in the stream
bed of one of the creeks that fed down into Russian Gulch on the rugged North
Sonoma Coast. When George told my brother Bill and I, it sparked a vision of
adventure and riches; perhaps a vein of gold in a rocky bank of quartz. We
gathered our camping gear, bought a topo map of the area and set off to find
the gold. We drove to the nearest point along Hwy. 1, locked the car and
shouldered our backpacks.

We hiked up and down two of the steep rugged canyons, finding a beautiful
5-tiered waterfall with huge ferns and moss covered cliffs, but no gold. I
remember we were panning for color in the stream of the third canyon and
finding only the shimmer of mica flakes, when a sudden rain storm started
pouring down on us. We grabbed our gear and sought shelter under the nearby
trees. The rain lessened, but was not going away soon. We checked our topo
map and saw that there was some kind of building up the mountain to the north
of us. Unoccupied cabins were common in the hills around here, so we set off
to find shelter from the rain, and a place to spend the night.
After climbing for a mile or two we came around a corner to see a large old

house with an orchard and shed nearby. We needed to dry our clothes and get
warm, so we checked the door and found it unlocked. As I recall we entered
into a sun porch room with what appeared to be numerous doll houses along the
inside wall. The large living room had a big stuffed chair and sofa in front
of a rock fireplace. We went from room to room to be sure no one was
currently living there. As we backtracked our way toward the living room, we
re-entered one room that had been empty moments before to find an raccoon
carcass blocking the door as it opened.

It was getting dark and we needed to start a fire, so we lit some candles,
unpacked a flashlight and went outside in search of wood. The best way to
spot animals at night is by holding the flashlight up at eye level. That’s
what Bill did when we saw the eyes of a large cat in an apple tree about
thirty yards away. We knew it was large because of the wide set eyes that
flashed back at us as it jumped to the ground. It was most likely a bobcat or
small mountain lion. We took the wood we had found and retreated to the
safety of the house. We had a pistol at the ready if we had needed it. With a
warm fire burning we ate the food we had brought and unrolled our sleeping
bags. I remember we discussed how strange it was that someone had placed
mouse traps in the doll houses, as we went to sleep listening for the sound
of the large cat outside.
The next morning was clear and sunny as we hiked back out to the road, richer
and wiser by our adventure.

    • Don Burke I just thought someone might find this little story interesting. Brother Bill can probably fill in a lot of details I might have overlooked. P.S. The waterfall was spectacular!

      April 27 at 12:03pm ·
    • Helen Hegener Wonderful tale… I can just see you two hiking around out there having a grand old time! But so many questions! Dollhouses? With mousetraps in them? Did you ever find out anything about the place? And did you ever find any gold in them thar hills?

      April 27 at 12:15pm ·
    • Don Burke I learned that sometimes the treasure is in the quest.
      Bill will have to fill in the blanks and write chapter two.

      April 27 at 12:45pm ·
    • William A. Burke The Mouse House, Great story I`ll post part 2 later tonight….

      April 27 at 1:47pm ·
    • Helen Hegener Awesome! Just totally awesome, looking forward to part three from Billy!

Curlys Gold… part 2

by William A. Burke on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 3:38pm
Brother George was a Forest Ranger, stationed at Cazadero. Curly “The Barber” and brother
George were both avid trout fishermen and good friends. One day George and Curly were talking
and he told brothe rGeorge of a gold discovery he found in the area while trout fishing. He pulled out a
piece of Jasper which was heavily laced with gold. He told Brother George he had discovered it while
digging for worms on a hill next to the creek. Curly said he had seen a vein about two inches wide
running up the hill. Unfortunately, he died a week after telling my brother about it. Curly never got
a chance to show the vein to my brother.
All we knew was that it had to be near Cazadero. I heard about it while at home on leave .

When I went back to Germany I started taking extension courses in Mineralogy and Geology from
the University of Maryland. When I got home from Europe after my tour of duty, I was prepared to
find Curly’s lost gold mine. Brother Don and I panned in the area where we thought it might be and
found some color but it wasn’t significant. I had brought some topo maps of the area with me and in
reviewing them discovered that there was some sort of old structure nearby. We wanted to camp in the
area anyway and figured that this might be a good place to do so. We did find it and much to our
surprise, it was a beautiful old abandoned hunting lodge. It was really a neat old place but kind of
strange too. We went in and it seemed that the people who lived there had just disappeared. The
kitchen table was set for breakfast and there was a calender on the wall from 1939.

I looked at Don and said, “I know where we’re spending the night”. There was a big beautiful rock
fireplace there and we went out to get some firewood. By this time it was dark. We had a flashlight
and a Colt 45 with only two rounds in it. We were outside gathering wood and I got a funny feeling.
I turned around and saw two green eyes about twenty feet away in the darkness. It appeared that
the eyes turned away and when they turned back they were bright red. It was really spooky.

I had a gun, as I said before, but I just told Don to head for the lodge, pronto. I did the same and
actually passed him up scrambling back to the house. We could hear the weird noises which kinda
sounded like a deep growling all night. We went around the house and made sure all the
windows were closed up. I thought there was some kind of red-eyed monster out there. While making
sure the place was buttoned up, I opened the interior flap of the wood box and there was a mounted
buck’s head staring at me. Talk about a scare. It took me years to figure out what the “growling” was.
It was actually the sound of the ocean crashing on the beach about five miles down the canyon from
the lodge. The eyes I saw, I believe were those of a mountain lion but at the time it was really weird.

Another strange thing was that in every corner of the lodge were these doll houses that were set up
for mice. There were little food troughs in them where we found bits of grain and a bunch of dead
mice. We got out of there the next morning highly spooked. About ten or twelve years later, my
longtime friend Dave Beech told me about a guy that was raising Silver Salmon in rearing ponds. Dave
said the location of this fish farm sounded like the story I told him about the Mouse House. The guys’
name was Tom Finn. Dave introduced us. Tom describes this place where he planed to set up this fish
farm “an old abandoned mountain lodge”. Well, what a funny co-incidence. I asked him if I could see it
and he agreed saying, “I’m going there tomorrow”. Sure enough, when we went out the next morning,
he took us to the same place brother Don and I had discovered years before. I told Tom about my
experience there. Tom and I became friends and I ended up running the fish farm for him. I moved up
there and lived in the old lodge. Never did find any Gold…. And when I needed help on the project..

Lets let “Billy L. Fikes Jr” go on to part 3

    • Don Burke This is great! I had forgotten many of the details. I knew you could help this story get rolling. Now you say that Billy was also involved??? Jump in here Billy!

      April 27 at 3:21pm ·
    • William A. Burke And guess what we burnt when we ran out of firewood,,,?
      The little mouse house`s kept us warm all night…..

      April 27 at 6:08pm ·
    • Helen Hegener Wow… I’ve been hearing references to this “mouse house” for as long as I can remember, and always wondered about the backstory… And now the tale jumps to… Billy? Whoa…

      April 28 at 10:51am ·
    • Don Burke One of my favorite mysteries in this story is “why did the owners go to such care to house the mice then kill them off?” Was it the old adage “build a better mouse trap”? If so they should get the award. Perhaps a spouse died and the remaining spouse did not share the same obsession.

      April 28 at 12:36pm ·
    • Don Burke Perhaps the remaining spouse had a suicide pact with the mice and shared a last meal of “tainted” corn flakes.

      April 28 at 12:43pm ·

Curlys Gold. part 3

by Billy L. Fikes Jr on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 2:29pm
I arrived at the “Mouse House” in the summer of 1977 and about the only thing I can add to the story is that one night Uncle Bill and I were deeply engaged in a Chess match when suddenly the board and all the chess men erupted off the table between us. While my head was not in what one would call a normal place at the time I was there, I tend to remember the place in an “Amityville” sort of way.
  • Lee Smith and Helen Hegener like this.
    • Don Burke When I first entered the house I felt it held a mystery. I think we can all agree on that.

      April 28 at 2:40pm ·
    • William A. Burke

      Oh Yeah, I always felt the presence of a lonely old lady there,– She had made pets of the mice and the sad part was that the grain she had fed them was alike the rat
      poison I found in the cupboard — The Place Was Haunted
      But beautiful an…d the waterfall only a short stroll away was
      Awesome ice cold drinking water….See More
      April 28 at 3:38pm ·
    • Don Burke So did Tom Finn know any history of the house?

      April 28 at 5:17pm ·
    • William A. Burke The Mouse House was built as a hunting lodge around the turn of the century, it had gas lights and sat vacant after the 30s until Anita and I lived there in the late 70s allot of weird things happened late at night after we blew the candles out….Wooooooooooo….

      April 28 at 6:08pm ·
    • Don Burke You said it had gas lights. I think I recall seeing gas light fixtures on the walls. Did it ever get electricity? What about water and plumbing? And did it ever get operating as a fish hatchery?

    • William A. Burke I never connected the Gas light system..I rigged up a 12 volt system and used kerosene lamps and candles, there was a spring on the hill in back of the house and a huge holding tank which required a bit of work to get functioning.. We got the project up and operating but soon after that Finn and I had a falling out, the guy who replaced me as project director used gasoline to start a fire in the fireplace…Today all thats left is a rock fireplace and a pile of charcoal remains.

      April 29 at 9:20am ·
    • Don Burke Perhaps the spirits there were finally able to rest peacefully.

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