On December 28, 1872, around 75 Yavapai men, women, and children were massacred while trapped in a cave north of Salt River Canyon now known as Canyon Lake. It was General George Crooks who lead the charge against the Kwevkepaya, southeastern Yavapai people, who were attacking white settlers. He used an Apache scout named Nantaje and the union of Captain Burns and Major Brown’s 5th Calvary. Collectively there were 100 Pima scouts, and around 120 of General Crooks’ men.
It was the morning of the 28th when they open fired on approximately 110 Kwevkepaya people confined inside the cave. They shot at the cave’s roof, causing an avalanche of rocks to tumble down on the unsuspecting families. They panicked and ran to the mouth of the cave where they were met by gun fire and huge boulders being pushed on top of them. By mid-morning when the dust finally settled, there were only a few survivors. These scattered few were taken to Camp Grant as prisoners. The dead bodies were just left there to rot.
In 1906, Jeff Adams came across the cave and told several valley newspapers of his discovery. Two years later, Walter Lubken, using a guide, took photographs of the bones and artifacts inside the cave. In 1925, a group of Yavapai and the Maricopa County Sheriff, gathered all the bones and relocated them to the Fort McDowell cemetery.
Is this cave haunted? With all the lives that were lost, death, and bloodshed, I would think some of the tormented spirits are still hanging around the rock walls. I know that my POE team wants to get permission to do a ghost hunt there. If we get the awesome opportunity to investigate Skeleton Cave, we will share our findings.
To read a more in-depth story of the massacre at Skeleton Cave, click on this link: