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Jedediah Smith and the bear.

Wax Jedediah Smith Battles Grizzly

Blue Diamond, Nevada

Among the classic Old West charms that visitors could experience at Bonnie Springs Ranch was a somewhat dilapidated wax museum (We say dilapidated with the utmost respect).

Wax Jedediah Smith

One of its historical dioramas recreated the dramatic death match between a grizzly bear and young frontiersman Jedediah Smith (1799-1831). In 1823, Smith was leading a band of trappers to South Dakota's Fort Kiowa. A large grizzly bear stalked the party, and then attacked Smith, breaking ribs, sticking Smith's head in his jaws, and half tearing off his face. The bear abruptly lumbered away, and the mountain men tended to Smith, roughly sewing his scalp and ear back on and binding his wounds.

The diorama presented a mounted bear standing on it hind legs, arms raised and claws outstretched like an entranced zombie. Smith sprawled on a slope clutching his knife, his face freshly clawed. The injury as sculpted was a pale version of the historical accounts, but more realism might have traumatized children. The bear was a little uneven quality-wise, as if it had been made from two rotting hides stitched together by the same mountain man who worked on Jedediah's face.

In real life, after he miraculously healed, Jedediah Smith always wore his hair long on one side to hide his scars.

Bonnie Springs Ranch closed in March 2019, sold to a real estate developer who wanted the land for McMansions. No word on the fate of the Jedediah Smith diorama, but he certainly didn't get his face torn off to have some city slicker toss his wax effigy in the trash -- where it might get eaten by a bear.

Also see: Men Vs. Bears

Bonnie Springs Haunted Ranch, Aging Wax Museum

Bonnie Springs Ranch

Closed March 2019. Sold to real estate developer for McMansions.

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