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The Town that Vanished

In the summer of 1851 the remains of the Patterson Party were found in an obscure part of the Great Basin Desert by a couple of trackers who buried the eight bodies found and collected the meagre possessions found nearby
They did not hand these over to the authorities until early 1852 and after considerable research it was determined that the remains that the trackers had found were those of the Patterson Party who had been drawn to into the area by reports of sightings of the Virgin Mary the previous year
Quite how they died was debatable but it was assumed that they died from a combination of exposure and the lack of food and water,
The items that the trackers brought back were few and mostly consisted of diaries kept by a William Patterson who had been the leader of the party
Investigators were able to piece together the last weeks of the Patterson Party but these entries ceased on the 1st of May 1851
Yet on further investigation it was noted that on the 27th of April 1851 the party had visited a nearby town called Roberts
Patterson wrote at length about the town and at his astonishment that it contained a number of hotels and various other establishments that were very unlikely to be found in such a hostile environment
He further recorded  that when his party left Roberts on the 29th of April 1851 that they were well provided for and had been given fresh horses by the church
There were no further entries until the final one on the 1st of May which noted that one of the wagons needed some unspecified repairs
It was then that a group of adventurers decided to try to find the mysterious town of Roberts
They returned in 1853 having not located the town or its inhabitants
After this interest slowly faded and the diary entries were said to be those of a mad man driven crazy by the toil of the journey
That was until 1861 when another tracker called Bill Kemp reported that he too had visited Roberts but his findings were supressed due to the civil war
In 1870 a newspaper picked up on the story of the Patterson Party and Bill Kemp and sent a well organised party to find the town
Nothing was found and although the area was visited on and off and on for the next ten years the story slowly faded from view
It was not until 1973 when the pilot of a light aircraft reported seeing the town after he had crash landed in the area
Interest was revived and the area was thoroughly searched again and again with no definite results
I have researched this case for over twenty years and have visited the area many times finding nothing new
But I am sure that the Patterson diaries were not the rantings of a mad man and that Bill Kemp and others had actually seen something
However until the story of this mysterious town is fully known any explanations should be treated with the caution they deserve
From Great American Mysteries by Gillian White Jones