Dinosaur National Monument has had its share of mavericks and nonconformists over its history, yet Pat Lynch finds himself in a class all his own. Despite the fact that Pat lived in and around Dinosaur for over 40 years, few of his friends knew many details about his past. Nevertheless, people liked him; they referred to the area we now call Echo Park as “Pat’s Hole.”
Pat was born in Ireland and came to the US in 1853. However, his exact birthdate remains unknown, even to him. In September, 1860, Pat enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The ships he served on traveled to the coast of Africa, the West Indies, Haiti, and participated in the naval blockade of the Confederacy. He participated in the attack on Fernandina on the Florida Coast. During the battle, an unexploded shell landed onboard the ship. When Pat was ordered to push it overboard, the shell exploded, breaking his right leg and fracturing his left. The navy discharged him as medically incapacitated, but Pat reenlisted under the name James Cooper and fought on.
Pat finally got out of the Navy in 1862 and travelled to Chicago, where he served as a watchman for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department. For most of the rest of the war he served in a similar capacity, first in Tennessee and later in Arkansas. In 1867 he would enlist in the U.S. Army, Company K, 37th Infantry under his true name: Patrick H. Lynch. The army transferred him to various posts until his eventual discharge in what was then Colorado Territory in July of 1870.
No one really knows when Pat first arrived in the Dinosaur area, but it is believed to be in the mid 1870s. He settled in a cave about three miles above the mouth of Pool Creek, where he erected a pole bed to sleep on. According to some, he lived in this cave for 19 years. Later on, Pat built a cabin just east of the mouth of the creek. He also had another cabin and at least two other caves around Castle Park, near the mouth of Hells Canyon. Pat had a habit of leaving his signature carved into the sandstone of the areas he frequented. Many of these carvings can still be seen today.
People liked and respected Pat. He helped the Ruple family move to Island Park, going ahead of their wagons to find a pass through the hills where their ox teams could navigate. According to locals, Pat would visit the Ruples in Island Park in the winter by walking down the ice on the Green River; during the summer, he would use a homemade raft. To return home, Pat would borrow a horse, riding up over Blue Mountain, then release the horse to return to the Ruples on its own. He got along well with the Chews who also settled at Pool Creek, sometimes joining them for meals.
A postmaster described Pat as "living like a coyote." He might cache food and supplies to be eaten sometimes years later, using almost anything, including dead horses, to make jerky. Pat told many tall tales that may or may not have been true, such as having a wife given to him by an African chieftain or shooting several rams for the Powell Expedition. He did encounter the Kolb Expedition for sure, which is where one of his more iconic photos was taken. Pat traveled extensively in the region and visited far flung friends until age made this impossible. For the last three years of his life he stayed with W. R. Baker in Lily Park, east of the Monument. Pat died in 1917. Most agreed that he was peculiar but lively and enriched the lives of those he came across.
Last updated: October 9, 2019