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The Nahanni Valley of Canada's Northwest Territories has been called one of the last truly unexplored places in the world. Lying above the 60th Parallel, it is accessible only by air, water or a long overland journey from the village of Tungsten. As a result, much of the area remains unexplored, despite being declared a national park in 1976, and a World Heritage Site in 1978.
Native tales tell of an unknown evil lurking within 200 Mile Gorge, and most avoid the area. Local oral history also tells of a mountain-dwelling tribe known as the Naha. The Naha were feared by the region's Dene people, as they often descended to raid nearby villages. These tales end with the rapid, mysterious disappearance of the Naha. No trace of this tribe has ever been found.
The eerie nickname attached to 200 Mile Gorge is the Valley Of The Headless Men. This name comes from a series of unexplained incidents in the Gorge during the Gold Rush of the early 20th century. Two brothers, Willie and Frank McLeod left in 1906 in an attempt to reach the Klondike through Nahanni. Nothing was heard from them for the next two years. Rumours spoke of the two finding the "mother lode" of gold. Despite this, no efforts were made to find them.
In 1908, another prospecting expedition discovered two bodies, later identified as the McLeod brothers. Both had been decapitated. This incident would likely have been marked up as just another macabre tale of North had they been the only headless bodies. In 1917, the body of a Swiss prospector by the name of Martin Jorgenson was found next to his burned cabin. Decapitated. In 1945, the body of a miner from Ontario, whose name seems to be lost to history, was found in his sleeping bag, without a head. A trapper named John O'Brien was found frozen next to his campfire, matches still clutched in his hand. I cannot find any reference to the state of his head.
Yes, to describe it as cold up above the sixtieth parallel would be an understatement. It was damn near inhospitable – the wolves, the snow and the biting chill, the miles and miles of tree-shrouded mountain ranges. But the Valley was something special. All year round it was an oasis for those of the likes of us. It was warm. It was lush. It was said you could bathe naked in the zigzag streams and pools beneath ice-free cavalcades of rock. The hot sulfur springs did it.
They also gave the place an evil smell, Old Jeff swore. That, and the mists.
The Valley, with its hot spring engines beneath it, created some sort of anomalous weather vortex. The hot sulfur-tinged air rose hundreds and hundreds of feet, sparred with the cooler Arctic air blown down south from the pole, curled and curved back down. The process somehow spawned the mysterious mists that kept the Valley out of reach of more common men.
The region in the 1920's was one of the few areas in Canada with blank spots. The maps of the area showed two straight lines to indicate the Nahanni and Flat Rivers, in fact one of which was in the wrong place, along with the lone word Falls.
There were persistent rumours of prehistoric animals that ravaged the region. Bones and tusks of mastodons were found. In addition, the native people of the region were able to accurately draw pictures of mastodons on their raw hide. Combined with rumours of cliff dwelling mountain cannibals and weird uncontrolled noises in the Valley it was only the brave who would venture forth.
This remote section of the Northwest Territories of Canada is a magnificent wilderness with a dark past. Prospectors for gold were found decapitated, and some were never seen again. The fierce Naha tribe had also vanished without trace years before. Rumours of evil forces gained strength, but when one visits this unforgiving environment, as R. M. Patterson did in the 1920s, one might understand the dangers that one might face, notably the perilous ice caves, sinkholes, thundering waterfalls, such as the Virginia Falls and the cold.
Originally posted by yourboycal2
Sounds like a fun road trip to go on one summer with the boys
Although there are no public roads inside Nahanni National Park Reserve, there are several ambitious and demanding overland routes. It is possible to reach the headwaters of the South Nahanni River at the Mooseponds (outside of the park) by travelling overland across the continental divide from the Yukon. Some people also access the South Nahanni River by driving to the former mining town of Tungsten from Watson Lake in the Yukon. The road to Tungsten is not maintained on a regular basis, and is frequently impassable. When it is passable, a four-wheel drive vehicle is required to reach Tungsten. At Tungsten, travellers may choose either the Little Nahanni River or the Flat River to descend to the South Nahanni River. The Little Nahanni and Flat rivers each contain Class IV and Class V rapids. Only expert paddlers should consider travelling on these rivers.