Lone Pine, CA

Visit Lone Pine, CA—the apparent home of a "Mountain Devil"

Evie M.

I spent twenty-four long, amazing years in California, with all but four of them spent in Central California. And yet, daily I am being surprised by all the strange places and things my home state has to offer that I knew nothing about. Lone Pine, CA, known as the gateway to Mt. Whitney and Death Valley, is familiar to me only in flashes as we traveled elsewhere for our camping trip. I'd always wanted to stop and see the snow topped mountains, the desert.

My dad would tell me gently, "unless you have to pee there's nothing to do here," and we'd move along as I watched the breathtaking sunset out the window. At the time, I remember being bummed for all of five seconds before my short kid attention span moved onto something else. But now after learning about the "Lone Pine Mountain Devil", I'm not sure if I'm grateful we didn't stop or even more annoyed because I'm curious.

The Legend of the Lone Pine Mountain Devil

The town of Lone Pine is nestled in the Owens valley, close to the Alabama Hills and Mount Whitney, the Sierra Nevada and Inyo Mountains to the west and east. A few hours drive out from one of the nearest towns (Fresno at 279 miles away), it is a drive, but if you're going on a trip anyway, most likely you'll have to drive through.

Named after the lone pine tree that once stood at the mouth of the Lone Pine Canyon, Lone Pine is a wonderland for explorers who love history, hiking, and amazing scenery. There's even the Alabama Hills National Recreation Area where visitors can go hiking.

In the 1870s, Lone Pine was a bustling supply town that sent out mining materials to multiple different communities such as Kearsarge, Keeler, Swansea, and Darwin. The silver mine in Cerro Gordo was even one of the most successful in California at the time.

But to me, this isn't the interesting part. I want to know about the apparent terrible monster terrorizing the good people of Lone Pine. Known as the "Lone Pine Mountain Devil" and the "California Mountain Devil", the alleged creature stalking the mountain is a "winged carnivore of North American folklore", and fabled cousin of the legendary Jersey Devil. Early priests considered them "winged demons sent from the depths of hell".

What's fascinating about the Lone Pine Mountain Devil is there hasn't been a sighting since 1928 (or at least not "credible" ones), prompting scientists to consider the Devil to be "a combination of folklore and misidentification rather than a real creature."

However, unlike normal wild animals that attack to eat the meat of its prey, the Devil is said to "slaughter its prey by attacking the torso and head of the victim." It then eats the cartilage and leaves the meat for other animals to pick off, suggesting it could be something else entirely.

As a bonus, the entire town of Lone Pine is said to be super haunted. There are talks of phantom battles, the spirit called "Rescue Man", and a bunch of others, but we'll get into that another time.

Personally, I'm up for a roadtrip back home to see for myself. My only question is: Who's coming with me?

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