In this first article in 3 parts, DPMR member Bob Crowley shares the history of 2 miners, the Grosh Brothers, and plans for an upcoming 100-mile winter expedition. This trek will retrace the last route of one brother from Silver City, NV to Last Chance, CA, and perhaps reveal along the way the rightful claim of the Grosh Brothers to the discovery of the world’s largest concentration of silver. Read on and be inspired!
By Bob Crowley
Imagine the discovery of a new element that increases the life of batteries 100 times. Then before documenting the findings, you and your partner encounter fate, ending your life and vanquishing your dreams prematurely. Meanwhile, the person you entrusted with your information claims it as their own, and their name becomes eternally associated with this key moment in history. Finally, imagine all that knew the truth were silenced by those who would profit from your lifelong effort, and conspired with the media to bury the truth and create a narrative that what you did was fiction, a myth.
In our present times of manipulated information it’s not hard to imagine the above scenario. But what about 165 years ago? Ah, the struggle between good and evil, free will and fate has existed for as long as history has been recorded.
This is a story of two brothers, Ethan Allen and Hosea Ballou Grosh, who made a momentous discovery, encountered fate and were dismissed as a fairytale, and our endeavor to discover new facts, correct the historical narrative and honor these American pioneers.
The Grosh Brothers
In 1849, two twenty-something brothers from Pennsylvania, eldest sons of a preacher, leave familiarity and family behind and head west. Their aspiration was to find prosperity through gold mining, establish a family compound and emigrate their family to a better life.
The going was rough for the brothers as they found gold mining to be physically, emotionally and financially draining. However, they possessed unbound optimism, persistence and curiosity, which set them apart from the majority of their mining compadres. They used any free time to study mineralogy, mining techniques and processing, becoming well informed. After years of toiling in the field, scraping together just enough to sustain themselves, they moved their attention from mining gold in Northern California to Nevada. Just below Virginia City, their hard earned knowledge paid off, discovering what gold miners were discarding as “annoying blue mud” clogging their sluices, was in fact valuable ore; silver.
E. Allen and Hosea B. Grosh went on to discover and claim several “monster veins” rich with silver, which assays confirmed. All they needed now was capital to acquire the mining equipment to extract their discovery. As they prepared to trek across the Sierra to San Francisco to raise the funds, Hosea struck his foot with a pick axe and died suddenly of blood poisoning. Three months later his elder brother E. Allen, during his trek across the Sierra to secure funding, died from frostbite in the remote mining town of Last Chance. Knowing his fate was close, days before, E. Allen buried his maps, claims and samples in the hollow of a pine tree and marked it with a cross. His trekking companion survived the ordeal but claimed to not remember where the valuables were buried.
Back in Silver City, NV, the man who E. Allen left to watch over the Grosh mining cabin and valuables, upon learning of the brother’s death, decided to take possession of all the Grosh Brothers claims, maps and discoveries and make them his own, “jumping” their claim. It turns out the brothers were right about the “monster veins” they’d discovered. Over the next decade over $500 million worth of silver would be extracted from the very area in which the Grosh Brothers had laid their claim. But history would literally bury the narrative and relegate the brothers to “lucky amateurs” who had no idea, or any claim over their purported discovery. And the guy who jumped their claim? We’ll his name was Henry. Henry Comstock, for which the world’s largest concentration of silver discovery is named: The Comstock Lode.
Grosh Brothers Expedition
On February 27th, 2023, we will begin a five-day expedition, retracing the fateful last steps of E. Allen Grosh from Silver City, NV to Last Chance, CA, 100 miles away. We’ll begin at the gravesite of Hosea and then reprise the trek across the Washoe Mountains, around Lake Tahoe, through Tahoe City and Olympic Valley, over Emigrant Peak, along the Western States Trail, across Duncan Canyon and ending at Last Chance, where E. Allen is buried. We will reunite the brothers through our trek.
We’ve been researching the route for some time, including the facts surrounding the Grosh Brother’s discoveries, claims and actions. Beyond honoring the brothers through the expedition, we intend to publish an article substantiating our belief that the Grosh Brothers are the rightful discoverers of the massive silver lode in Nevada and they and their family were intentionally blocked from profiting and relegated to “impostors” whose fame grew to mythical proportions.
Our expedition team consists of myself, Tim Twietmeyer, Jennifer Hemmen and Elke Reimer as well as Hal Hall, legendary 31-time finisher and multiple-time winner of The Tevis Cup and Sierra historian. We will utilize modern equipment as we move across the deep Sierra snow and camp in frigid temperatures.
About History Expeditions
In 2010, I moved back to Northern California after a 15 year hiatus in Boston. Soon thereafter, I became reacquainted with old trail running friends in Auburn and immersed in the tight-knit community. One of the “regulars” on our weekly Saturday morning run was Twiet (Tim Twietmeyer). Although we’d been familiar with each other over the years, he literally ran in a different crowd: the fast one! But as we spent hours together on the dirt, we shared our passion for reading, especially historical novels, with tales of discoveries and heroic acts. Our lives were evolving too, each seeking to do something different with our other passion, trail running.
On one run, we’d both just read The Indifferent Stars Above, by Daniel James Brown, and became consumed discussing the amazing feat of and trail followed by the “Forlorn Hope”, who set out to save the Donner Party trapped back at Truckee (Donner) Lake. That’s when we dreamed up the idea of finding the map of the Forlorn Hope trek and doing a fun reprise of the journey. But, there was no map, their route was lost to history as no one, including the Forlorn Hope members, knew where they’d gone – since they’d become horrifically lost.
Seven years later, after thousands of hours of research, we realized the reprise dream in December, 2020, forming the Forlorn Hope Expedition with two highly talented local endurance athletes, Jennifer Hemmen and Elke Reimer. Over five days we retraced the route of the Forlorn Hope we had discovered, and for a moment, walked in the footsteps of history. It moved us beyond expectations, and inspired us to appreciate the grit, determination and fearlessness of these unsung heroes.
We were hooked. The combination of the mental stimulation of discovery, physical challenge of the endurance reprise and emotional empathy with the protagonists provided us a new outlet for our passions and the possibility of shining a light on heroes emerging from the shadows of history. They intrigue and inspire us to hunt to discover and solve mysteries lost to time and set the historical record straight. Thus was born, History Expeditions.
Next month, in Part 2, Bob will share what goes on behind the scenes to research and prepare for the upcoming expedition. You can read more about the Grosh Brothers, the Grosh Brothers Expedition and History Expeditions at their website.
Awsome information. Looking forward to hearing about your adventure.
Jerry Boyer says
I plan on seeing you guys off on the morning of the 27th at Hosea’s grave site. What time should I be there….Jerry