Author interview with Keith McCloskey. Exploring the mysteries of the lighthouse keepers of Eilean Mor and Dyatlov Pass.

I was lucky enough to interview Keith McCloskey, who writes books exploring some of history’s most unexplained mysteries, such as the mysterious disappearance of the Eilean Mor Lighthouse Keepers and the unexplained and horrific deaths at Dyatlov Pass.

The Lighthouse Of Eilean Mor story captivated me when I saw the movie The Vanishing loosely based on the story starring Gerard Butler. Have you seen the movie and if so, do you think anything untoward could have happened out there on the island, even though the facts don’t necessarily point this way?

Yes it was not a bad film and it is, of course, possible that something untoward may have happened but from what can be deduced two of the three were outside in their outdoor gear with MacArthur inside at the beginning. Any number of scenarios can be worked out from there. The wave theory is what many will say is what happened. However two things of note 

Underrated film in my opinion!

1. Former NLB Keepers have told me that outside jobs were always done in the mornings. Afternoons were for rest in preparation for getting ready for the night as well as catching up on indoor jobs. When they went out it was after lunch so say after 2pm – at that time and at that time of the year, daylight is very short and there probably was only an hour left of good daylight. Add to that the time taken to get down to either landing (10 to 15 minutes each way and it leaves not much more than 30/40 minutes to do what they were supposed to do before it started getting dark and it is dangerous on the landings and rocks. 

2. Muirhead tries to point the tragedy as happening on the West landing. However, at that time of year, it is the East landing that would have been used because it was on the other side from the prevailing westerly winds. A former Keeper has told me that on a station with three keepers, given the size of the landings there was simply not the manpower to keep two landings cleaned and clear available for use so one would be used and when the prevailing winds shifted, the other landing would be brought into use – Muirhead talks about a box of ropes at the top of the West landing but it is an odd time to be going out to check it.

Uncover the unexplained mystery of the disappearance of the lighthouse keepers of Eilean Mor.
Buy The Lighthouse from Booktopia for 25% discount and Qantas points!

The Dyatlov Pass incident is also shrouded in mystery and darkness. Were you nervous about making the trek out to the physical locations? Did you feel it necessary as part of your investigations to see the site?

Yes I must be honest I was a little nervous, many people said to me to be careful which increased my worry. I have to say I don’t see how anyone can write about something like Dyatlov Pass without going there to see it and get a feel for the place. It also showed me that the avalanche theory is (in my view) nonsense because the tent was pitched not that far from the ridgeline and also it was quite amazing how close the shelter was down at the tree line to the spot by the Cedar tree where the first two bodies were found. I have also been out to the Flannans when we were filming the story for the Unexplained Files on the Discovery Channel. Next year I am planning on going to stay in a Mansi village (Not Ushma) as I want to explore the Mansi side of the Dyatlov story. 

An interesting take on the Dyatlov Pass incident

When you approach such mysteries for your books, do you try and keep an open mind? How do you stop yourself falling down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and gossip?

It is hard not to be drawn into conspiracy theories. What people do (and I am just as guilty of it) is they have their pet theory and then they ‘shoehorn’ all the inconvenient facts which don’t fit their theory to make it all fit. The way it should be approached and I’m sure you agree, is to pull your own pet theory to pieces before doing the same to other theories.

Is there one unsolved mystery which still gets to you? If there was one mystery you could solve from history, which one would you choose?

It has to be Dyatlov – it is such a weird story with no obvious answers.

The unsolved mystery of Dyatlov Pass, investigated by author Keith McCloskey
Available now at Booktopia

Which mystery will you tackle in your next book? 

I don’t want to give too much away as I have not got going yet but two sets of missing girls. In one set, the girls were found dead but in the other set, they have never been found. I also found the Keddie Case (The Cabin 28 Murders) in California very interesting although there is a book out on it as well as a Coffee Table type book of photos. I did approach my publisher but they weren’t interested, unfortunately.

Thanks so much Keith, can’t wait for the next book, whatever mystery that may cover!

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