Story Of The Wreck Of The Mitchel Bomber

The story of the Mitchel Bomber can be found on the CD   "Tale Spinners"
Mitchel Engine
Mitchel Crash Site
Gibbard's Packtrain
     Here's an engine and the crash site of the Mitchel Bomber. The story was told to me by Jim Douglas, whose voice you hear at the beginning of the song The Ghost Cat of Plewman Basin. Jim's complete first hand account is on the Tale Spinners CD.
       Jim was on the top of Red Mtn. one day in October of 1947 clearing the first ski run. The first ski lift was still a couple months from being ready. It was the first snow of the year and the visibility in the fog was about zero. The plane came right over top of him and Ken Gresley-Jones, and although they couldn't see it in the fog, it sounded so close that they both hit the ground.
      The plane was headed north when it passed Mount Plewman. Bart Dudley was in the Old Glory Met Station that day, but he never heard a thing over the wind howling outside. The plane likely iced up and lost control because it lost a lot of elevation in a very short distance to end up on the floor of Plewman Basin. It's a small basin enclosed on three sides by a steep horseshoe ridge.
     Nowadays folks call that end of the ridge various names such as "Unnecessary Ridge", "Grizzly Ridge", and "Saddleback Ridge", but back in the day old timers will tell you that it was all called "Record Ridge" right from there south to Cascade Highway (that's where I took the name Ridge Records from). The plane was a WW2 Mitchel Bomber which the RCAF bought from the Americans after the war and converted and used for aerial surveys. On the flight were seven military personel and two civilians, a Mr. and Mrs. F.M.Knight who were on their way home to Penticton (I believe they owned a hotel in Penticton).
      Five years later, in October of 1952 Wilf Gibbard was coming down from Old Glory with his packtrain (the photo on the right). The horses knew the way so he sent them on down the trail and dropped over into Plewman Basin to hunt some grouse on the way down. Something shiny caught his eye and he found the wreck. There weren't many remains left - just the odd bone. What was left was buried and marked originally with a wooden cross, which has since been replaced with a metal cross.
     The Ghost Cat in the song was real - I did see him a few times - but the connection between the cat and the wreck may or may not be only my imagination.
Ridge Records Divider
Lyric: The Ghost Cat of Plewman Basin
©2001 Wayne Krewski (SOCAN)  All rights reserved.

"The Ghost Cat Of Plewman Basin" can be found on the CD   "Stories From Rossland"

The winter wind blew on the ridge north of Plewman 'til rime grew so heavy; the first snow that year.
The 18th of October, 1947; the Red Mountain ski lift was almost complete.
Chick Jones and Jim Douglas cutting the first ski run, still at the top, all alone in the fog.
The old Mitchel Bomber circled three times and came roaring right overhead, lost in the fog.
 
Hugh Urquhart heard it in Squaw Basin, engines still roaring, but he and Dave Keffer were the last.
They must have gone right by the Old Glory Met Station. Bart Dudley was there, but he never heard a thing.
Plewman Peak passed to their right, then they turned east and crossed Record Ridge and went down in the trees.
No trace was found, though a man, name of Tjader, hunting off to the east, said he heard it explode.
 
In nineteen-and-fifty-two Wilf Gibbard walked over Record Ridge down into Plewman Basin.
He followed the Murphy Creek headwaters east, looking for grouse, heading for the Sheep Lake trail.
He found that Mitchel's lonely resting place, but no trace of the nine crew and passengers aboard.
Some say for five years the animals took what was left of the bodies. Well that may be true, but I'm not so sure.
 
Sometimes when the snow's deep and the moon's bright on Plewman a great white cat appears like a ghost in the night.
Some say he's a lynx, but he's much too big for that; some say he's a cougar who's lost his tail.
But maybe he's the ghost of the souls of that plane wreck, wandering the ridge and the trails for 50 years.
The Ghost Cat of Plewman Basin watches over that lonely place, and for 50 years that plane and it's souls have been left in peace.
 
And the times that I've seen him have made me hope
that I might find a final resting place
like the Plewman Basin Cat.
Ridge Records Divider
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