Long time residents of Henderson may remember him, but many of us new arrivals who’ve recently moved to this quiet, pleasant suburban neighbor of big, noisy Las Vegas may have never heard his story.
Called the “hermit of Henderson swamp”, this colorful character resided for two decades in a part shack-part cave home on a small mountain in the Calico hills area of Henderson. Kids visited with him, prospectors socialized with him, he even hosted friends from out of state. He regularly took his old jalopy into town for supplies. But mostly he kept to himself, comfortably at home up on a mountain from which he could see a large swath of uninhabited Henderson in all directions. He became such a fixture in the area that, to this day, some people claim his ghost still wanders the hills near Henderson swamp.
In the 1950’s, Henderson was a young town, relatively undeveloped, a gateway to Boulder City and the Hoover Dam. It was the industrial home to the World War II era Basic Magnesium plant and others like it. While it was a growing and active community, the resident population was still sparse. Prospectors from out of town came and went, wandering the hills and staking small claims, looking for gold and silver. An ideal out of the way place for a recluse to take up residence.
Born in 1883, according to the 1959 Henderson Home News article about him, his name was Carl Mortonson. He was a jack of all trades who, he claimed, had worked in all 50 states at one time or another. Why did he decide to live out his retirement years in a cave in Henderson? Well, perhaps, as he told the Henderson Home News (HHN), “I believe in taking it easy.” From telling stories about mining in Alaska to reliving his last venture, a short-lived construction company in Las Vegas during the WWII building boom, he spun yarns, philosophized and shared his wisdom with locals from his hilltop for 24 years, like this, offered to the HHN journalist: “One thing about living on a mountain, you don’t get your yard cluttered up with cans.”
Some say he always had a dog by his side. Some may have confused him at times with the dusty but eager prospectors who shared the hills with him. But those local residents who do remember him, remember him fondly. It’s the ghost stories we’re not so sure about, but drive out there some night and see if you can spot the hermit of Henderson for yourself.
At Move 4 Less we will admit we’ve never moved anyone into or out of a cave (at least not a real one, this is Vegas after all), but we are proud to be your local Henderson residential movers and Henderson office moving company serving Henderson, Las Vegas and all of Southern Nevada with affordable and reliable moving services, delivered with a smile.