The Dugout Dick Caves are an Intriguing Story of Simple Living in Idaho
The story of crazy old Dugout Dick and his hand dug community of caves turned out to be a much cooler story than I anticipated. I expected it to be the story of some old gold prospector who went crazy and started living in caves, but there is so much more in this story than you can generalize in a stereotype. Dugout Dick is his own American dream.
Idaho's Dugout Dick
By the mid to late 40's, Richard Zimmerman (aka, Dugout Dick) had run away from home and traveled across the United States from Indiana to Michigan and Idaho. Dugout Dick served in the Army during World War 2, and after his service he came back to Idaho and never left. He began digging caves in the side of the mountain and lived there until he died back in 2010. To help make money, he rented out the hand dug cave rooms.
He's been the subject of a few documentary videos including one from NBC:
Dugout Dick Memorial
After Dugout Dick passed away, the Idaho BLM came in and reclaimed the land. Due to safety concerns with the construction of the caves and buildings, most were bulldozed, destroyed, or torn down. One small cabin remains as a memorial to the Idaho legend who literally carved out his life on this land near the Salmon River in Elk Bend.
In another documentary style video on YouTube, a group visited Dugout Dick and interviewed him. They were also able to talk with some of the other people living in the caves and spend the night.
As an added bonus, there are stories that the area is haunted by the ghost an ex of Dugout Dick.