Tuesday, May 21, 2019


A cave with evidence of some of the earliest humans in Utah was looted last week by thieves — who, state park officials say, tore security fixtures from the walls and stole all the artifacts inside.

Ron Rood, contracted to work as the site’s steward, said he went to Danger Cave on Saturday to set up for a tour. The spot, which sits in a remote area of the West Desert near Wendover, has no signs directing visitors to its entrance and is closed to tourists who aren’t accompanied by trained archaeologists.

When Rood got to the entrance, he noticed it had been breached, according to a news release about the vandalism. Inside, the installed lighting had been ripped from the walls, the safety equipment was missing and the few remaining relics were gone. That includes tools and rare fragments of baskets woven more than 11,300 years ago that are kept there for educational use.

Danger Cave is a state park heritage site that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Only a few tours are held there every year. There are no signs pointing to its location and few books mention it. That’s because the space was barred shut to prevent damage. Though people have pried those metal bars open before to sneak in, Parsons-Bernstein said, that’s not how the thieves got in this time. She declined to give further information, noting she doesn’t want others to try the same thing.

The cave is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in North America. The couple of artifacts that were inside for tours are from indigenous inhabitants who lived there when the waters of Lake Bonneville first receded to expose the space. They’re kept in a small box and include a piece of leather with stitching, projectile points and “a piece of plant matter that humans chewed to keep their mouths moist.”

Danger Cave was originally called Hands and Knees Cave when it was first visited by researchers because that’s how people had to enter it. When a large rock tumbled off the cliff face and narrowly missed a group of archaeologists, it was renamed to Danger Cave.


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