Mysterious pumpkins keep on appearing in Fryingpan Valley
October 23, 2014
Each October, pumpkins appear mysteriously along Frying Pan Road between Basalt and Ruedi Reservoir.
They range from tiny decorative gourds all the way up to uncarved jack-o'-lanterns, and you can find them perched on rocks in the middle of the river, nestled in the bookcase like rock walls along the road or adorning road signs and fence posts.
"It's just kind of one of those mystery things," said Pam Schilling, Basalt town clerk. "Nobody knows for sure who puts them out or when it started."
No one has yet volunteered to spend the night in a local pumpkin patch, waiting for someone to reveal themselves, but "pumpkin spotting" has become a popular tradition.
"As you become aware of it, you look closer to see if you're missing them," said Basalt resident Leroy Duroux. "It's kind of a unique thing, and it's great that they keep doing it every year."
Residents differ on whether the biodegradable decor is the work of a single bandit or a group. The variety seems to indicate the latter, but locals and tourists alike may simply be emulating the original artist.
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Wally Dallenbach, who rents out several cabins on his ranch a few miles up the river, has watched the tradition slowly build over the past five years or so.
"I remember one year there was just one or two, and now they're all over the place," said Janet, an employee at the ranch.
"We got a half a mile of the Fryingpan, so we get a lot of pumpkins," Dallenbach said. "We've never caught anybody in the act. They just appear the next morning."
This year, he gave in and put a couple of pumpkins of his own out on a pair of cottonwood stumps, but he doesn't know who tucked one into the old farm machinery out in front of the property.
Tourists and hunters have stopped into the ranch to ask about the pumpkins, but most locals seem to think the mystery lends the tradition a certain magic.