The Pascalite Story
Ray Pendergraft was born in 1905 in a lonely pioneer cabin.
Ray & Peggy Pendergraft, 1935
All three original cabins - from top (lake level), Pascalite storage, bunkhouse and Pascal's cabin, 1940's
Solar drying shed and storage shed, 1985.
"Nature was indulgent toward us; we had the icy pure water from the spring-fed little lake (which we had stocked with cut-throat trout), and we had abundant fuel in the dead pine, quaking aspen, and red spruce within a few yards of us. We had wild raspberries and gooseberries. We had 'uncontaminated' sun... and we had the PASCALITE.
Ray Pendergraft passed over to the other side of life at the age of 92. He died of a "broken heart", as his wife had preceded him just a few month earlier.
The Big Horn Mountains The Big Horns called the Shining Mountains by early explorers, are an isolated range midway between the Black Hills and Yellowstone, with peaks reaching as high as 13,000 feet. The Big Horns were favorites of the Indians, and offer modern explorers of the American Outback many out-of-the-way delights.
Before the coming of Europeans, Native Americans from such tribes as the Crow, Arapahoe, Shoshone, Blackfoot and Sioux were aware of a strange white clay to which they attributed healing power, calling it "Ee-Wah-Kee" -- The Mud That Heals.
The story of Ee-Wah-Kee is fascinating. An old newspaper story describes an event that occurred during the final buffalo hunt of the noted Shoshone Chief, Washakie, about 1888. A white newspaperman accompanied the Shoshones on this hunt, and fell ill. Washakie's medicine man chanted incantations, rubbed the sick man with herbs, and made him drink some water in which a whitish clay was dissolved. The reporter drank the mixture, slept for several hours, and awoke feeling completely well. Testimonies of the clay's mysterious usefulness for a wide variety of uses have spread widely since then.
The clay is now called Pascalite after a French-Canadian trapper and prospector, Emile Pascal, who first began mining it. Pascal, trapping in the Big Horn Mountains about 1930, found his badly chapped hands healed quickly when plastered with Pascalite. He tried it on his face for snow burn, and was amazed at the result. He filed a mining claim and began telling people about the white mud Eventually Pascalite would be used in soap and toothpaste, applied as a poultice to insect bites, sunburns, infections, cold sores and acne, and as a suppository for hemorrhoids. Users found it a potent skin cleanser and conditioner, drank it for heartburn and ulcers and swallowed capsules of Pascalite as a natural mineral and dietary supplement. Ranchers and veterinarians applied it to wounds and infections on livestock. Testimonies of the clay's medical and cosmetic usefulness spread. It has been used locally for sixty years, and, increasingly, world-wide as a natural, homeopathic remedy for what ails you.
PASCALITE is a rare calcium bentonite, formed thirty million years ago as the froth and foam of the firey and convulsive era atop the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. Over the centuries, it captured the calcium from that limestone formation, and many other minerals (now known to be vital to life) in trace amounts migrated into it --manganese, cobalt, copper, etc... Slowly cooling temperatures converted these to oxides, readily absorbed in the human metabolism. It was further enriched by abundant plant life, and tissues, bones, hides, and hair of many prehistoric animals, adding their proteins and amino acids.
The valley near the top of the Big Horn Mountains, South Paint Rock Valley, was for a vast period of time a favorite camping ground and arrow-chipping ground for various Indian tribes - the Crows, Arapahos, Shoshones, Blackfoot and Sioux. They knew about and used PASCALITE, which they called "Ee-Wah-Kee" ("The -Mud-That-Heals").
Some tribes even offered it for bartering purposes at the various rendezvous, such as the Green River Rendezvous, where trappers, traders and Indians all congregated once a year to trade furs.
PASCALITE was unknown to the white man until Emile Pascal, a trapper, found it by accident about 1930. He accidentally got his badly chapped hands coated with PASCALITE. His hands improved, and with continued use of the clay, healed. Pascal filed mining claims on it, and his friends began using it at his urging.
Ray Pendergraft is president of PASCALITE, Inc now and has many interesting stories to tell. He recalls a story he found in an old newspaper: "Chief Washakie of the Shoshone tribe, on his last buffalo hunt, about 1888, had a white newspaperman with him. After the party had hunted over the Owl Creek Mountains in Wyoming, traveling north from the Wind River Reservation to the Greybull River at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains, the newsman got very sick. Chief Washakie ordered his medicine man to cure him. The medicine man muttered some incantations over him, rubbed his abdomen and chest with some herb, then gave him some of the white powder from the mountains in water to drink. After ingesting this decoction (PASCALITE), the man felt soothed and shortly fell into a sleep which lasted several hours. When he awoke, he was completely well."
Ray also recalls "back in the 'golden days' of our mining venture - in the 1930's - we had the entire mountain (that section of it containing PASCALITE) to our-selves. It was our kingdom in which we were for the most part the only subjects. Few people ever came down into that deep valley - it was off the beaten trail; the road was rocky, rough, and on occasion impassable... and this was as close to Shangri La as civilized man could come in the 20th century.
"We had a 50-gallon iron barrel fastened to one of the buildings for an outdoor shower. We would fill it by hose and let the sun warm it; it was always available along with the PASCALITE to make a thick paste to be smeared over our scratched or bruised limbs, then rinsed off with the needle-sharp fingers of water, still cold enough to bring forth a gasp, and a resulting feeling of well-being that bordered on euphoria!"
Ray explains how he came into the picture when, as an unemployed coal miner in the 1930's he sought for and found a job as the mine foreman for Labbe Products, which was the company formed to market this product - then called "Life Mud". The company had acquired a processing plant in Worland and a factory in Casper. It manufactured toothpaste. hair pomade, rectal suppositories, ointment, poultice and soap.
When the company (faced with accumulated debts and public indifference) failed, Ray Pendergraft bought a half interest in the mining claims from Emile Pascal for a nominal sum plus his agreement to do the assessment and other mining work, file labor proofs, etc.
"During the fifties I tried vainly to get large drug and cosmetic companies interested in the material we had renamed PASCALITE (after Pascal). We finally leased it to a mining man, but after one year he was unable to meet the advance royalty payment and we cancelled his lease. "This happened several more times; each time we learned from the previous experiences, obtained a better lease and felt the new company would manage to succeed in marketing PASCALITE. History kept repeating itself, however, and the lessees could not develop enough working capital to do what was necessary to get the product on the market.
"Meanwhile, people who became interested used the product and reported their results. We were gradually building up a file on its uses with sometimes dramatic results being reported."
Finally in 1970 Ray was able to get an article published in a national publication called "Beyond," and he began to get re-quests from all over for the product. It was sent out to them with no claims made and the signed understanding that it was being obtained and used at their own risk and for research purposes only. Other magazines picked up his story, and the demand continued.
"We do not make any claims for PASCALITE," explains Ray, "nor do we prescribe it or offer it as an agent for any treatment. But results of experimental usage of PASCALITE, as done by a testing Company of Hoboken, New Jersey, private testing companies, medical doctors, and users who, acknowledging that no claims were made for it, willingly used it at their own risk, cannot be ignored. I have documentary support of all cases in my files."