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Dredging Up the Past-Shawn Allen’s Legacy Lives on at Mountain Village Resort
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Sunday, November 28, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KELLY CAVANAUGH

It was an aneurism that took Shawn Allen’s life. Got him as he was walking his dog, Zippy outside his Thompson Creek home near Stanley.

Anytime you lose a year-round resident in a community with a population of just 63, it’s something that’s felt deeply. Particularly, in a community as tightly knit as Stanley.

Fortunately, Allen’s artistic legacy will be forever engrained in the heart of town through his large wood-burned historic murals lining the walls of Mountain Village.

“None of us knew he had such exquisite talent. For the last few years of his life, we got to be his family, and his art will stand the test of time,” said Gabe Cardoso, marketing & events manager for Mountain Village.

A traveling musician, Vietnam vet, featherweight boxing champion, karaoke champion and one-time owner of a pet bobcat, Allen lived a very colorful and eventful life. But it wasn’t until his 70th year in life that his wood-burning talents awoke.

His works of art were first recognized by Mountain Village owner Russell Clark at the Rod N Gun.  Allen needed full-time work. And, with that, he was commissioned to be the company artist, burning all Village signage including that in the merc, the lodge, the walls of the restaurant, the Velvet Falls Dance Hall bar top and the large detailed Idaho map in the lodge’s front office.

Shawn’s historical murals are so intricately detailed it is hard to believe how quickly he finished this massive undertaking.  Every hand-burned line, wisp of grass, shaded trees and wooden planks of the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge lights the mind on fire with awe-inspiration.

Murals, which are over 20 feet long and four feet tall, showcase the legends of gold panners, the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge, Clydetown, and flora and fauna of Sawtooth landscapes.

The Yankee Fork Gold Dredge in 1940 was commissioned by the Silas Mason Company for a 5.5-mile  claim that was estimated to bring the valley more than 11 million dollars of gold.

This superstructure took months to construct. It’s a massive 988-ton, 112-by-54-foot dredge that’s 64 feet high and powered by two heavy-duty 350-horsepower diesel engines.  The dredge ran for about 12 years, dredged up only about 1.2 million dollars’ worth of mineral and was sold to Fred Baumhoff and J.R. Simplot for $75,000.  After the claim was exhausted, the dredge was closed and today sits along the Yankee Fork River out past Sunbeam, considered one of the best-preserved dredges in the United States.

 “Allen was a man of habit and ritual. He drank equal parts sugar and coffee, took lunch the same time every day and was a true man of his word. He showed up on time every day seven days a week for nine months working on that mural,” said Josh Matthews, lead server and manager of Mountain Village.

Patrons of Mountain Village were often seen chatting it up with Allen, who had steel blue eyes, a ready smile and wavy grey hair and mustache.  He loved telling stories, schmoozing the guests and even teaching them how to wood-burn on occasion.

“Everybody was his family.” recanted Josh. 

To view and even touch Allen’s work, head to Mountain Village Resort in Stanley.

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