Monday, May 26, 2008


Dubuque From Kelly's Bluff

Our land is filled with legends--oft-repeated tales of happenings of long ago. Some are the truth or at least based on honest-to-gosh truth. Others are half-truths or part truths, often diluted or contaminated. And some are just products of one or more vivid imaginations.

Go to any rocky, hilly area with steep, sharp cliffs and bluffs, and you are almost sure to find one extra-forbidding precipice, colorfully named "Lovers' Leap." Just ask any of the old-timers, and they'll tell you "for sure" that once a beautiful, sorrowful young Indian maiden jumped from the top--either with or without her forbidden lover--to death on the rocks below.

You may also find an unusual rock formation that locals will swear was a sacred place for Native Americans, that they made long pilgrimages, coming together at these very rocks to pray and to talk to their gods.

And then there are always the lost mines and the buried treasure. Mines with names like "The Lost Dutchman's Mine," "The Alamo Mine," "Old Pete's Lost Mine," and "The Lost Padres' Mine." Do you prefer gold or silver ore? Take your pick. There is a lot of either out there just for the finding. Or do you have a hankering for bandit loot? There are leather bags and iron-bound chests filled with gold ingots and gold coin out there just waiting for some lucky person to stumble onto them, or for some bright person to put together all of the known clues. And to solve the puzzle.

We are often cautioned that there is no profit to be gained from dwelling too long on the past. But allowing our minds to pay a visit to those rip-roaring tales and times of the past can sometimes work wonders in helping to brighten up a dull day and a drab life.

Dubuque, with its rocky hills and caves, seems a likely and logical land for a lost-gold legend. And Thomas Kelly was just the man to provide such a legend.


There's a tale that's told today
Down in
Dubuque, Ioway
Of a man whose search for wealth produced enough

Shiny coins of precious gold
To fill a big chest, so old,
That's still buried somewhere up on Kelly's Bluff.

They tell of rich veins of lead,
And at least one man shot dead...
If pushed too hard, the strong miner could play rough!

The law jailed him for awhile;
He escaped, by stealth and guile,
And returned to his "dig" up on Kelly's Bluff.

Some folks heard Tom Kelly boast
That he'd dug more lead than most,
And had built a golden fortune from the stuff.

Any person short on cash
Could come looking for his stash
Buried in that iron chest on Kelly's Bluff.

Time passed by, and Tom grew old,
Tired of counting all his gold;
Years of hard work left him rather dour and gruff,

And before he died, he wrote,
Not a will, but just this note,
"If you want my gold, look here on Kelly's Bluff!"

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