When I wrote about the Lost Plane a few months ago, I was writing the story for my grandchildren to read. My information came mostly from newspaper accounts, my grandmother's scrapbook and stories Grandpa Mel told me. My father, Thomas A. Devey (TAD) was only a toddler at the time of the crash. A few years ago, he sat down and began writing his personal history which included a chapter on the Lost Plane. We had never talked about the crash...I would have liked to have heard his version of what happened. Here are some excerpts from his account:
"...like a Hollywood drama..."
Tad writes, "...After several weeks and still no sightings, the crash was beginning to play out like a Hollywood drama, complete with romance, suspense and mystery. The stewardess had recently been involved in a romantic triangle, some of the passengers were socialites and the plane was rumored to have carried a very valuable package in its cargo of mail. And on top of all of this, the plane seemed to vanish into thin air.
Sounds in the night...
My family was living at the top of Fort Canyon above Alpine [Utah]. In those days most rural houses were not equipped with indoor plumbing and ours was no exception. My father, Albert Melvin Devey, was making his nightly trip to the outhouse when he heard a plane fly over. It was overcast and he could see no lights. It was not unusual for a plane to fly directly over what we called the North Mountain [Lone Peak], however in those days it usually happened during the day. Dad had noticed that when a plane flew over the top of the mountain, the sound of the engines gradually faded. In this case, the noise ended abruptly...[it appeared]to be coming from slightly east of the house in Fort Canyon.
The picture, from Zetta's scrapbook, is of Will Healey and Frank Bateman who found some mail from the plane.
"...With the arrival of early spring, searchers made their way up Dry Creek Canyon to an area where many springs surfaced forming a bog. Traces of oil were found floating on the water in the bog, [bringing] renewed interest in the area. [Unfortunately] the traces of oil proved to be naturally occurring vegetable oil which is found on the water in swamps every where. The increased interest did pay off however. Two men from Alpine were searching in Dry Creek Canyon when they came upon letters which obviously had been carried aboard the plane...[proving] the wreck was in the general area.
Now the search began in earnest. The airline set up camp in upper Dry Creek. They hired men and horses to carry supplies and to conduct a complete search, even going to the extent of having lines of men armed with long metal poles probing the snow banks of the area.
Dad and his friend Emery Andrews were both farming on their respective properties in Fort Canyon. As the trail got hotter, their interest grew. They decided they would pool their knowlege of the area and of the circumstances surrounding the crash. They would each go on the mountain on opposite days, reporting where they had been and what they had seen...After a few weeks of looking into all the nooks and crannies of the lower elevation...they came to the conclusion that the wreck had occurred high on the mountain.
Dad went over the published reports of the accounts of witnesses and he talked to several local people who claimed to have heard the plane...and came to the conclusion that the crash mush have occurred somewhere around Lake Hardy.
"Now $1000 does not sound like much, but in 1937 it was a fortune! Dad decided that he would split the reward four ways...equal amounts to the two men who had found the letters, to Emery Andrews, and to himself. This may have sounded like a good plan, but someone else had other ideas. The other man who had found the piece of wreckage the same day, claimed to have be the first one to find the plane. It took a court hearing to determine that the other man was employed by the airline and that employees of the airline were specifically excluded from sharing in the reward."
To be continued...
My father's account continues with recovery efforts and life after the discovery of the wreckage. I will continue his story in another chapter. I'm so glad my father took the time to write down his stories. I can't wait to share more of them with you. I was prompted to post this today because two bloggers I follow, A Vintage Chic and 521 Lake Street have inspired me this week with their family stories.