Of all the explorers and adventurers that have passed through Dinosaur probably none were as intrinsically interesting as Pat Lynch, “the hermit of Pat’s Hole.” Despite the fact that Pat lived in and around dinosaur for over 40 years few of his friends knew many details about his past. Never-the-less he was well liked and the area we now call Echo Park was affectionately referred to as Pat's Hole by the local populace.
Pat was born in Ireland and came to the US in 1853 but his exact birthdate remains unknown. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy under the alias James Cooper in September of 1860. He would serve on various ships through part of the Civil War traveling to the coast of Africa, the West Indies, Haiti and participating 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 on his ship and when he was ordered to push it overboard it exploded breaking his right leg and fracturing his left.
Pat was discharged from the Navy in 1862 and travelled to Chicago where he served as a watchmen for the U.S. Army Quarter Master Department. He served in a similar capacity first in Tennessee and later in Arkansas for most of the rest of the war. Later in 1867 he would enlist in the U.S. Army Company K 37th Infantry under his true name Patrick H. Lynch in Kentucky where he would be transferred to various posts until his eventual discharge in what was then Colorado Territory in July of 1870.
It isn’t precisely known when Pat arrived in the Dinosaur area but it is believe to be in the mid 1870s. He first settled on Pool Creek about three miles above its mouth, living in a cave where he erected a pole bed to sleep on. According to some, he lived in this cave for 19 years. He later built a cabin just east of the mouth of the creek. He also had another cabin and at least one other cave around Castle Park near the mouth of Hells Canyon. Pat had a habit of leaving his signature carved into the areas he frequented many of which can still be seen today.
Pat was well respected and liked by most of the locals in the area. He helped the Ruple family move to Island Park going ahead of their wagons to find a pass in the hills where their ox teams could navigate. According to the locals, Pat would walk down the ice on the Green River or in the summer use a homemade raft to float from his home to visit the Ruples in Island Park. He would borrow a horse to return home, riding up over Blue Mountain releasing the horse to return to the Ruples on its own. He got along well with the Chews who later also settled at Pool Creek, sometimes joining them for meals.
He was described as "living like a coyote" caching food and supplies to be eaten sometimes years later. He was known for using almost anything, including dead horses, to make jerky. He 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 visiting far flung friends until the last years of his life. He stayed with W. R. Baker in Lily Park east of the Monument for the last three years of his life until his death in 1917. Most agreed that he was peculiar but lively and enriched the lives of those he came across.
Last updated: June 23, 2018