How We Escaped – By Elmer Shelhamer

Chapter 5

How I Escaped The Precipice

In hot August it was great sport in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, to hunt raccoons. They ruin valuable corn. A dozen or more men and boys quietly drew near a deep timber or cliff, adjacent to a cornfield. Here we lay down about 9:00 p. m. and waited until the dogs struck a “hot trail,” and finally treed the coon. There would be a mad rush and a certain brave fellow climbed the tree with a torch, to shake down the coon. Now we saw a fierce fight, with the result — a dead coon.

On one of these occasions while waiting for the dogs to start something, I fell asleep and when I awoke my crowd was gone. I yelled and ran and stumbled, not knowing which direction to pursue. In my haste I did not realize how near I came to that hundred foot precipice with ten feet of water beneath. To this day I shudder when I see that perpendicular cliff and how nearly I took the fatal step. I never would have been found and my poor soul would have been lost forever! I escaped by the “skin of my teeth!”