Shapes from the Dream Mine

[Image: Tunnel House, Dream Mine, Johnson Creek, Abajo Mountains, San Juan County, Utah (1915); courtesy of the USGS].

I don’t have much to say about this image, other than it depicts the architectural workings of something called the Dream Mine, located in the Abajo Mountains of Utah and photographed back in 1915.

But it’s such a great name—the Dream Mine—perhaps suggesting that, somewhere out there in the American desert, there is a reserve surplus or underground stockpile of unconscious aspiration stored inside the earth, a kind of geological harddrive where the dreams of the whole nation have been frozen like holographs in mineral glass.

[Image: An otherwise unrelated photo of an ice-harvesting operation in Minnesota—but perhaps this is what it would look like to mine dreams. Courtesy of Wikipedia].

Using red and blue lasers, subterranean excavators trained in neurology cut slow sequences from flowstone and ship televisual crystals out along the interstate, rare dreams distributed direct from this underground site in Utah. We’ll simply mine our dreams from the earth and ship them out in perfect, white cubes from the dark roots of distant mountains to the rest of the world. It’s logistics.

[Images: More ice-harvesting from Minnesota].

Alas, the actual Dream Mine worked the other way around: that is, it was inspired by a dream experienced by John H. Koyle, a Mormon pioneer.

In August 1894 [Koyle] experienced a dream in which he was visited by a figure from another world. The visitor carried him to a high mountain east of Koyle’s house and into the mountain, showing him the various strata and explaining the meaning of the minerals. The visitor showed Koyle an ancient “Nephite” mine with large rooms of mined-out ore bodies. The rooms contained treasure and artifacts of an extinct civilization. Koyle was instructed that he was to open a mine and extract gold for the welfare of “his” people. Specific instructions were given for the mine development leading to rich ore bodies.

“Koyle’s dreams continued,” the University of Utah explains. “He especially received instruction on how to develop the mine. Plans included air shafts, escape ways and drainage tunnels. Instructions came to build a processing mill and storage bins for grain.” In other words, Koyle claimed to have received technical plans for the mine in his sleep, down to the precise construction of ventilation shafts.

It would be interesting, in this context, to learn that the entire New York City subway system had been built according to plans seen in a dream by some tweed-bound engineer of the 19th-century—rolling in his sleep at night with visions of stairs coiling into the earth and tunnels connected cellar to cellar across the island like a circuit board—and whether knowing that would affect how millions of commuters look at their daily train trips, as if passing through a 3D model of the mind of a stranger.

[Images: From La Jetée, directed by Chris Marker].

Of course, it was all for naught: the gold was never discovered. However, some apparently still hold out for a Tea Party-like moment of mineralogical revealing on some future day in which the global economy has collapsed and the only thing left with value is gold… all the many, many thousand tons of it stored somewhere in the mountains of Utah and dreamt of decades ago by John Koyle, an incalculable stash as yet unreachable by today’s technologies.

Salt Lake City’s City Weekly jokes (under the headline “prophet sharing”) about “the mine’s ancient and fabled promise: wealth beyond imagination, where rivers of precious gold and platinum course beneath the docile farm community. What’s more, nine vaults are said to lie deep within the mine, filled with the treasures left by an ancient race from the Book of Mormon known as the Nephites. As legend goes, the Nephites’ wealth was set aside for God’s chosen people during a time of uncertainty as a blessing to fortify the faithful against the ensuing chaos of the apocalypse.”

One thought on “Shapes from the Dream Mine”

  1. "All the modern things
    Like cars and such
    Have always existed
    They've just been waiting in a mountain
    For the right moment"

    – Bjork, from Post

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