30 October 2021

Deadly Hell’s Hollow

Hell’s Canyon, as viewed from Twickerham Drive SLC.
The history of Hell’s Hollow (now Hell’s Canyon) is full of death. The mouth of Hell’s Hollow is located just above Victory Road at what is now the Staker-Parson’s Quarry and extends northeast toward Ensign Peak.

The first recorded human remains found in Hell’s Hollow was in 1854 and was the body of an unidentified Native American covered with stones. It’s not known what happened with the remains but by April of 1902 they had disappeared when the naked and bound body of Samuel Collins was found.

Samuel Collins was the most sensational death to occur in Hell’s Hollow and captivated the attention of Salt Lakers as the mystery of his murder was unraveled. Collins was murdered on Easter Sunday in 1902 by 14-year-old Clyde Felts. The story of Collin’s death is long and complicated and is retold well by both Ben Williams on his blog of the Utah Stonewall Historical Society Archives and QSaltLake Magazine and by Michael McLane on Mapping Salt Lake City. In the end, Felts confessed to killing Collins at Collin’s request, likely as self-punishment (or even blood atonement) for his pedophilia against Felt and others.

In Jan 1906 another body was found in Hell’s Hollow. Two teenage boys discovered a hand reaching out from the deep snow. Further investigation revealed the dead body of an unidentified man, likely that of a Greek or Austrian. A self-inflicted bullet to the head had killed the man and magpies and coyotes had then preyed upon his body for at least 3 weeks. He was never identified.

In Dec 1911, the skeletal remains of 6 Native Americans were found by workers at the SLC gravel pits (now Staker-Parson’s Quarry). The remains were buried at a depth of 7 feet from the surface, laid in pairs with one facing upward and the other facing downward. When the remains were brought out and were thoroughly aerated, about 1 hour after disinterment, the bones crumbled to powder leaving only a few fragments.

In 1946, 19-year-old Betty Jean Ketter died in Hell’s Hollow of a broken neck due to a fall. She had become ill on the hot August day and was in search of water (heat exhaustion?) and fell from Devil’s Rock.
Murder of Samuel Collins, SL Herald 1902-03-31

Sign of Hell’s Canyon along the trail

The mouth of Hell’s Canyon, destroyed by the Staker-Parsons Quarry

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