The Dye Clan
  • Overview
  • History
  • TR: Jun 2011
  • TR: Mar 2015

Batty Pass Caves

Zac "driving" an old car in front of Batty Pass Caves.

Batty Pass Caves were carved out of the rock by two brothers, Bill and Cliff Lichtenhahn in the 1950s and 1960s. The brothers created table tops checkerboards, and other articles out of petrified wood, jasper and other stone. Of the three caves, two were used as workshops and one as living quarters. Today, the caves contain the remains of old beds, a boat, shelves, and machinery. An old, rusted out car sits in front.

History of Batty Pass Caves

From Trail Guide to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument by David Urmann:

"These caves were blasted out of sheer sandstone cliffs and were lived in by two local rock hounds/craftsmen during the 1950s for four or five years. The caves are reached by driving 21 miles down Hole-in-the-Rock Road to the four-way junction marked on the left side of the road going to Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch Trailhead. Take a right at this four-way junction, even though a sign indicates this is a dead-end road, and drive two and a half miles to the caves. The road crosses a number of washes that require a high-clearance vehicle, At the caves, the road all but ends, leaving only a faint track. Just before you reach the caves, you will see a rusted-out car on the left side of the road.

"Bill and Cliff Lichtenhahn ? who cut and polished petrified wood and jasper to build tabletops, checkerboards, and such ? were the craftsmen who lived in the Batty Pass Caves. These men explored the desert canyons and the Straight Cliffs, looking for suitable rocks. A number of power tools were employed by the men to aid in their building efforts and in their work as craftsmen. Referred to by locals as “the cavemen,” they visited the town of Escalante about once a week to gather supplies and sell their goods. Of the three caves, two were used as workshops and one as living quarters. Today, the caves contain the remains of old beds and shelves."

 

From a 1960s new article from Escalante, via cedarandsand.blogspot.com:

"MODERN CAVE DWELLERS

"Among the interesting craftsmen of Escalante are Bill and Cliff Lichtenhahn who do exquisite rock cutting, polishing, and mosaic work. Using petrified wood, jasper and other stone, they have fashioned very beautiful table tops, checkerboards and other articles. They also build machines, boats, and other equipment. Their two work shops and one living room are in three caves that they have chiseled out of a yellow sandrock hill in a canyon on the west rim of the desert about 34 miles from town.

"The Lichtenhahns came from Colorado ten years ago prospecting for uranium. Choosing a likely site they started an excavation into the sandrock hill above a ledge in the canyon. When they had a sizable hole made, it started to rain, and their tent leaked. So they dug faster and farther to gain shelter for themselves.

"In ten years time they have made three caves each measuring approximately 20 by 30 feet and 12 feet high. They used a power-driven half-ton wheelbarrow to haul out the rock as they blasted it. They have widened the shelf to make a neat roadway and front yard before the row of caves. Floors of the caves are cemented.

"Their machine shop is equipped with power drill press, lathes, and saws. They used gasoline and propane gas for fuel. In their living quarters they have a wood stove with a pipe that enters the thirty-foot flue they carved to the top of the hill. The brothers, Bill, 68, and Cliff, 58, spend some time exploring the desert and canyons. Bill says he has walked through the maze of canyons and ledges to Burr Trail which he claims is only fifteen miles from their place. Cliff has a boat ready to cover with fiber glass they they will use on Lake Powell.

"These cavemen come to town once a week for supplies. They also go to visit their mother for a few months each winter in Kit Carson, Colorado."

Trip Report: June 18, 2011

Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves
Batty Pass Caves

Trip Report: Mar 28, 2015