SunsetCities > Valley of Fire State Park >> Mouse's Tank
The Mouse's Tank is located near the terminus of a box canyon known officially as Petroglyph Canyon. It is located in a rather unique position between two canyons of different elevations. Thus one side faces a sheer cliff of about 50 feet and the other side is a half mile long box canyon. Because of its unique location as sort of a set of pockets in the side of a canyon, rainwater collects here. Since the spot is almost always shaded, the water stays in the small basins for months.

It is named 'The Mouse's Tank' because an alleged Southern Paiute Indian renegade named 'Little Mouse' hid out there in the 1890's. He was accused of gunning down two prospectors and many other crimes in the area. He apparently went wild on a few occasions when he got drunk.

The one-time ferryman who work along the Colorado was finally trapped by a posse in July 1897 but not in the Mouse's' Tank. He was caught a few miles away by the spring at what is today called the Muddy River. The official story is that he was surrounded, refused to give up and he was shot.

After some time, most legends become exaggerated in some way and with more time truth and exaggeration become more difficult to sort out. In 1972 I questioned 'Chick Perkins' of Moapa about this story. He was in his seventies at the time and probably heard it from parents or relatives who are likely to have heard the story first hand.

Mr. Perkins noted that the Indian was only a local nuisance who stole from farmers and prospectors things that he needed to survive. The times and the area was particularly lawless then and robbery and theft was common. While Little Mouse no doubt was guilty of theft and even murder parts of the story hint at different interpretations.

For example, he was known to have worked as a ferryman on the Colorado. He was apparently let go due to bad behavior and drunkenness. The fact that he sought and for a while maintained employment contradicts the nature of someone who would rather steal for a living.

As for the two prospectors, that information has been difficult to find so far. However, there were numerous other opportunities for Little Mouse to kill people and he was only accused of murder for that crime. The evidence would no doubt tell the real story - if it could be found.

What is evident is that The Mouse's Tank could not have been used as a source of water as many stories suggest. The fact is that the Muddy River is only a few miles away. The water in these natural cisterns is not potable. There are several places like this that I am aware of. The Paiute no doubt knew of many more.
More Valley Of Fire Information
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Preparing To Visit Valley Of Fire
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The Valley of Fires Climate
The Beehives
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Petroglyph Canyon
Mouse's Tank
Atl Atl Rock
The Navajo Sandstone
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What Are Petroglyphs?
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In the photos that you see here. We note that The Mouse's Tank is actually dry (photo taken June 1, 2004). This is in contrast to a pool located in Arrow Canyon, just a few miles away. The water which collects in these 'tanks' has collected there for millennia and residues, bacteria and animal feces make these waters unsuitable even for bathing.

The trick to the Mouse's Tank was that it was a very tricky escape route. As anyone who has actually gone there would note, Petroglyph Canyon splits in two directions at its source. Petroglyph Canyon actually continues for a few hundred feet and the Mouse's Tank is located in a side canyon. Knowing how to climb down the sides of these steep canyons would no doubt leave behind pursuers who did not and were not even sure if that is the way he went in the first place.

The evidence tells us that The Mouse's Tank was more of a Mouse's Trap for less knowledgeable pursuers.

This water hole is in Arrow Canyon about 30-40 miles north of The Mouse's Tank. While not exactly alike and the surface and substrate being different, this does illustrate how the water in these places really is.

It does not seem to be a great leap to consider that anyone knowledgeable enough to know about these places would also be smart enough to know better than to drink the water in them.
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