Monday, June 6, 2011


 I have been trying for a long time now trying to sell gold prospecting equipment on my own sites and many other social sites and I and have found out the hard way after many hours of hard work on the internet that the old saying is true! You have to have money and spend it to make money. Tis true! Well I'm running out of time and now to old to buy equipment and go out and dig for gold so I’m going to try something different. 
In the next few weeks I will be trying a different approach to getting gold and silver in my pocket and will share that goal with you. 
I have decided to try to make money online with some programs I have signed up for that are starting to give me some reason for hope. I will list a couple here and start blogging my progress with the main idea being to take that money and start buying silver and gold. I will start just buying from prospectors through sites I find like eBay.
Or from prospectors I know. I’ll just keep collecting bits here and there and will blog about it whenever I make a purchase. 
Well more later, hope you will follow me on my adventure. Mike 
 Here are a few programs I'm trying.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Forts Across the American West

The forts of the American West varied in type from military posts, to fortresses established by fur trading companies, to private enterprises built solely to protect the pioneers within.

Most often when we think of Old West forts, we imagine a high stockade type wall of sharpened logs that surround a number of buildings. Inside these walls are hardy pioneers and soldiers, valiantly defending themselves from hostile Indians on the outside. Though western films have perpetuated this idea, and sometimesforts were built in a stockade type manner, the purpose and style offorts varied widely and this "typical" scenario was the exception rather than the rule.

Contrary to the myths perpetuated by western films, most militaryforts of the American West were not established to protect the settlers from Indians; rather, they were built to maintain peaceamong the tribes, as well as between Native Americans and white emigrants.

Alcatraz Island
Many people are not aware that Alcatraz was a fort
 before it became a Penitentiary. Photo by
John Sullivan, March, 2005.
This image available for photographic prints
 and downloads HERE!
U.S. CavalryFurthermore, they were seldom solidly constructed stockades with numerous permanent buildings. Sometimes, they were little more than a couple of blockhouses. Other types of fortifications were constructed by traders to protect their businesses and by settlers to protect their homes.
As more and more settlers moved west in the 19th century Army posts were established on the basis of anticipated use, sometimes to keep the Indian tribes from waging war with each other and at other times, to keep white settlers from encroaching upon native lands.
It was generally only when white settlers insisted on encroaching upon native lands, especially during the many gold and silver rushes, that the Indians retaliated. Only then did the forts’ primary purpose change to protecting the settlers. As westward expansion continued, threatening the Indian's livelihood, war between the whites and Indiansintensified, resulting in the push of Native Americans onto reservations. Once the Indianswere placed on reservations, some forts served as Indian agencies and distribution points for annuities given to tribes under treaty agreements.
When the many trails began to open such, as the Santa Fe Trail in the 1820’s and theOregon Trail in the 1840’s, traders and pioneers often met with not only, opposition from the tribes, but also, by road agents interested in relieving them of their money or their goods. In response, more forts were established to protect commerce along the trails.
When establishing a new fort, the soldiers would sometimes occupy buildings already established, but more often, were required to construct the new fort from materials available in the area. In forested areas, wood was usually used; adobe in the desert, and stone, where available. The typical frontier fort consisted of officers' quarters, barracks, stables, storehouses, and headquarters buildings, grouped around a central parade ground. Mostforts did not have walls surrounding them because attacks were generally unlikely.
Many army posts were referred to as "camps,” when there were only a few people assigned to the location or when the site was temporary. To be considered a "fort,” a full contingent of troops had to be permanently assigned to it. Both forts and camps were utilized by the U.S. Army during the Frontier Campaigns.
Fort El Reno, Oklahoma Commisary and Weapons Magazine, November,
2005, Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints and
 downloads HERE!

Reacting to the quickly changing needs of the vast west, the Army would set up a post and then abandon it when no longer needed.
Though it was not the original intent to establish militaryforts to fight the Indian Wars, this changed when the U.S. government failed to protect tribal territorial rights and uphold treaties. Increasingly upset with treaty violations and travelers, settlers, and railroad crews encroaching on their lands, the Indians were retaliating in full force by the mid-1800s.
As a result the U.S. Government began a series of frontier campaigns to "tame” the Indians, force them on to reservations, and convert them to "civilized” life.

For the soldier, life was difficult and often monotonous at these many frontier outposts. The vast majority of recruits saw little or no combat and spent their time doing manual labor. Many forts were so isolated there were no nearby towns for single enlisted men to relieve the monotony or meet women. The normal "dull existence” of frontier life was too much for many of the troops and desertion rates were high.

Today, many of these Old West forts have been preserved, restored or rebuilt as monuments to our heritage and can still be seen as museums and national or state parks.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated January, 2011.

Also See:

Fort Verde, Arizona

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Treasure Hunting in the Colorado Rockies

Chacuaco Canyon Treasure
In 1858, there was a wagon train traveling through the southeast part of Colorado, in what is now Las Animas County, which was carrying 1,500 pounds of gold Ingots. Suddenly, the wagon train was attacked by a group of outlaws and renegadeIndians. At first, the wagon train prevailed, driving off the would-be thieves and, in an effort to elude their tormentors; the travelers detoured through Chacuaco Canyon.
However, the outlaw gang continued to pursue the wagon train with a vengeance. Three members of the wagon train quickly loaded the gold ingots onto six mules and led the loaded animals to a rock outcropping along a nearby creek. While the three were hiding the gold, the outlaws caught up with the wagon train and, furious, they slaughtered each and every member of the party.

While the massacre was taking place, the three men escaped to a Mexican nearby village. However, when they returned to retrieve the gold, they were killed by Ute Indiansbefore ever reaching their destination.
To this day, the treasure has never been found.
Update! June, 2009 - From one of our reader's, Legends of America has learned that though the facts of our tale are partially incorrect, the legend of the treasure is true. Doing his own research for a number of years, our reader has determined the "real story" and has located the vast majority of the treasure which included small gold bars with Spanish insignias.
Round Mountain
indians imageLong ago, a party of four French Canadians were said to have been trapping on the Snake River near Round Mountain. However, the Canadians were discovered by American trappers who took their furs and traps and ran them off. The four traveled south into western Colorado and one of them found a gold nugget in the headwaters of the Gunnison River.

Here, they spent the next month successfully panning the gravel in the creek beds. Ute Indians discovered the Frenchmen and attacked them. In the running battle, which lasted several days, three Frenchmen were killed. The fourth managed to escape over Cochetopa Pass (just west of Saguache). Sensing that his pursuers were closing in, he buried the gold on Round Mountain with the hopes of later returning for it. The Indians caught and killed the lone French-Canadian near the summit of Poncha Pass.   
The treasure was never found, but the story endures, hundreds of years later.

Irish Canyon
butch cassidyIn the late 1800’s Irish Canyon was a popular hideout of outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Wild BunchMatt Warner, Isom Dart, and many others as they spent time in the Browns Park vicinity in Moffat County. Supposedly, $30,000 in silver coins remains buried somewhere in the canyon. 
While you are looking for the treasure, you can also enjoy many excellent trails, hiking and mountain opportunities. You can also visit the Irish Canyon Rock Art Site, where you can see the Fremont rock art from an elevated platform.

Moffat County is in the extreme northwest part of Colorado. Irish Canyon is northwest of Maybell. From Maybell, take US-40 to Colorado 318. Turn northwest onto 318 and continue to Moffat County Road 10N, which runs through the canyon.

In 1863, a stagecoach along the Overland Trail carrying an army payroll of $60,000 (which would be about $1 million dollars today) in ten and twenty dollar gold coins was destined for Fort Sanders inWyoming Territory. The gold shipment represented several months of back pay for the soldiers at Fort Sanders; however, the unfortunate soldiers never saw the gold.

Only about a mile from the Virginia Dale Station, the stage was robbed by six masked outlaws at Long View Hill. The gang took the strongbox from the stage and headed west towards the wooded foothills, where they blew the lock off of the box, removed the gold coins, and buried the treasure.

However, before they could spend their ill-gained wealth, the bandits were pursued and killed by the U.S. Cavalry. The Cavalry later found the iron strong box in a nearby creek, the sides and bottom gone, riddled with bullet holes – and, obviously, empty.

Overland Trail Stage Team
Stage Coach on the Overland Trail
The Overland Trail stage line was regularly terrorized by outlaws, where the surrounding area provided multiple opportunistic hideouts. One hideout, labeled the Robbers Roost atop Table Mountain, was so popular that the outlaws built a cabin there. Table Mountain, only about a mile northeast of the Virginia Dale Stage Station, was a perfect hideout, as it is difficult to climb with practically perpendicular cliffs and a rim of shale.

At the time, it was rumored that Joseph "Jack" Slade, the Station Master was the leader of the gang. Jack Slade, not as famous as many other outlaw characters, was nevertheless, as notorious as many of them. Slade was said to have had an uncontrollable temper, was a heavy drinker, had murdered in the past, and was eventually hanged in Montana. Though the stage line suspected Slade, they could not prove it, so they just fired him. Uncharacteristically, the bad-tempered Slade, left without any problems.

Later Jack Slade moved on to Virginia CityMontana. A heavy drinker with a bad temper, he wrecked a saloon soon after his arrival. Jack was arrested but he tore up the arrest and threatened the judge. Though he pleaded for his life, he was immediately hanged.
Virginia Dale, his girlfriend (or common law wife) was brought to town by one of Jack'sfriends, took his body home, pickled it in alcohol in a metal casket, and kept it under her bed for several months. She then took it to Salt Lake City, Utah and buried him in the old Mormon Cemetery where his body remains today.
The gold taken by the robbers at Virginia Dale has never been found.
Today, Virginia Dale is nothing more than a ghost town, located in the northern part of Larimer County, about 45 miles northwest of Fort Collins, and just about four miles south of the Wyoming border on US Highway 287. The old Overland Trail Stage Station is listed on the National Register of Historical sites and recently efforts have been made to preserve the old station.

The stage station is situated at the very end of County Road 43F, about 1 mile east of US 287. A monument erected for the station marks the beginning of CR 43F. Follow the county road through a narrow gorge beneath Lover’s Leap, past a ranch, and it will take you right to the door. The station itself is on private property, but the access to the site is on a county road. If you intend to visit the Stage Station, you can take pictures of the grounds and the exterior of the building, but please do not trespass onto the private property.Kathy Weiser/Legends of America

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A change of subject ! STOP I have something I would like to share with you.

Hi STOP I have something I would like to share with you. You see I am like thousands of others I have tried hundreds of programs to help me make a couple hundred bucks a week or even a hundred would help me tremendously. I know that feeling of oh heck another promise broken by another program promoting hundreds monthly and only costing you money that you can't afford to lose. Believe me I have been there and still am in lots of programs that I’m still hoping will come through. So when my friend Sue turned me onto this one I thought oh man another one!!! I was so down on the idea and so broke that I told her thanks but I just don't have two nickels to spend. So Sue as always love to help me out and offered to invest 25.00 dollars for me and she walked me through it and I was still not impressed for several months because although every week they did pay me it was so small of an amount that I just wanted to give up . But Sue keep me hanging in there and all the sudden without any referrals I started getting 5.00 a week then after a few more weeks 10.00 seems like every few weeks that payout started getting bigger and finally I was able to up grade with the money that I was being paid weekly and now I’m making even more my gold is to get were Sue is now she is getting 300 plus a week. Man what a difference that will make for my life when I get there yes it might take me a year but what and investment of 25.00 man I owe Sue so much I hope that you too will give this program a try. I am not at the point where I can help anyone yet but soon I will be and when I do I will. That said go ahead and try it you will be happy you did just like me and if you want contact me and I will walk you through the steps just like Sue did for me. Thanks and here's too your success. Mike hall

Friday, May 6, 2011

CALIFORNIA LEGENDS Lost Chinese Cache Volcanoville

By Anthony Belli

Forgotten now are the thousand or more places where much of El Dorado County’s history was written. In mining camps and towns such as… Hell Roaring Diggings, Loafer’s Hollow, Whiskey Flat, George’s Town, and Poverty Flat. The names of other camps frequently told you much about who was mining there… Chile Bar (Chileans), Kanakatown (Hawaiians), Frenchtown, Alabama Flat, Texas Bar, Cooley Mine (Chinese), Indian Diggings, Mormon Gulch, even Puritan Camp. Forever consigned to the records of time each of these camps had it’s own unique and often colorful history. One such place is the ghost town of Volcanoville where tales of it’s past includes mining, and buried treasures. 

Volcanoville, California
One of a few remaining abandoned buildings left standing in the ghost town of Volcanoville, photo by Anthony Belli.

It was here during the days of the California Gold Rush when the Volcanoville boasted a lively population of thousands, including a large Chinatown. In the cemetery, two headstones remain which speak of the town’s past. The tombstones tell of two 49ers interred here -- both youths had been murdered for their miner’s poke by Gold Rush highwaymen.

Located in northwest El Dorado County, Volcanoville sits just south of the Middle Fork of the American River. Today telephone poles along Volcanoville Road mark the edge of progress - stopping just short of the old town site where few old buildings stand in defiance of encroaching development.

It was during the mid-1870’s when Volcanoville saw a serious decline in mining as many quartz mines played out. With gold more difficult to find, anger and hate for all non-Anglos in the diggings became a hot subject. Most Chinese were now working in the larger cities in Northern
California, for those who remained in the Mother Lode they suffered the most since they represented competition to White miners. Such was the case in 1874 when Chinese miners discovered a 10 oz. pure gold nugget on their claim at the Cooley (Chinese) Mine in Volcanoville ....

One evening a group of miners gathered at a local saloon where their conversation turned towards the dreaded Chinese. With enough liquor, words quickly turned to action leading to the massacre of at least 15 Chinese that night. The Chinese miners were rounded up by the drunks and herded into a cabin. With the Chinese locked inside, the cabin was set a fire. Those who died in the inferno were only spared a bullet; those who ran from the flames and thick smoke were quickly gunned downed in flight. None survived.

While many Chinese were mining along the Middle Fork of the American River one group of 12 from Volcanoville was buried alive in a cave-in during the 1890’s. By the time aid reached the men they had died from suffocation.

Another story from Volcanoville tells of a wealthy Chinese store owner who ran a thriving general store. He sold out to another China man and himself returned to China. For years he remained in his homeland before returning to Volcanoville.

Chinese miners in Calfiornia, mid 1800's.
Chinese miners in California, mid 1800's.

He claimed he returned to retrieve a cache of gold he’d hidden years earlier. A major fire had destroyed much of the town in 1879 which left the older former store owner with no landmarks to guide him to his treasure. He returned several times over the next several years looking for his lost cache but never found it.

For years treasure hunters have sought to answer the question of the lost Chinese caches buried in and around Volcanoville.

Volcanoville was founded as a small trading post in 1851 but grew into a large prospering Gold Rush town by 1855. Other industry in the area included a steam driven sawmill and tannery at Mt. Gregory. Volcanoville became a voting prescient in 1854 and established it own Post Office in 1858.

 Mining became prosperous here again during the 1880’s and remained so through the 1890’s supporting a twenty-stamp mill. At that time the largest working quartz mine was the Josephine. As most of the town’s residents were employees of the Josephine Mine, in 1895 the Post Office changed the name of the town from Volcanoville to Josephine. The Josephine Post Office operated until discontinued in 1917. The town saw two devastating fires, the first in 1879 then again in 1907. All of the remaining original buildings to survive the 1879 fire were destroyed in the 1907 fire. A small community re-established itself here but the town never recovered.

Somewhere I once read that "25% of all the precious metals and gems ever recovered have become lost". It is true during the era when global transportation was provided by the great sailing ships of the day much treasure went down the result of accident, piracy, or violent storms. The next cause has been laid to natural disasters. Finally the remainder is credited to the individual who acquires wealth and buries it for safekeeping. For whatever reason, the owner of the cache is separated from his wealth and is never able to recover it. It is said that a dozen or more of these buried Chinese caches is connected to the history at Volcanoville.

Hope you enjoyed the story get your hunting supplies here -

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lost Mines of California

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Prospector Goldpanning
A prospector gold panning.
This image available for photographic prints
 and downloads HERE!

Once gold was discovered and the California Gold Rush began, more than 500 camps, villages and towns sprang up almost overnight as some 80,000 prospectors poured into the Mother Lode country in 1849 alone. For more than a decade, the flood of people continued to come,arriving overland on the California Trail, by ship around Cape Horn, or through the Panama shortcut. In the beginning, the miners easily gathered the surface gold, scratching more than $10 million from the land in 1849. By 1853 the yield had peaked at more than $81 million before dropping in 1855 to $55 million.

Among these tens of thousands of prospectors and an almost equal amount of claims, tales of "lost mines" began almost immediately as pioneers were killed, sickened, or lost their way back to many of the rich ore finds in the mountains and deserts of the Golden State.
Whether these tales of lost mines are fact or fiction, their legends are still alive for hopeful prospectors of California.
Cement Gold Mine of Mammoth Mountain
In 1857 two German men who had been traveling with a California-bound wagon train, left the rest of the group and headed out on their own. Winding up in the Mono Lake region of northern California, one of the men would later describe the area as "the burnt country." While crossing the Sierra Nevada near the headwaters of the Owens River, they sat down to rest near a stream. Here, they noticed a curious looking rock ledge of red lava filled with what appeared to be pure lumps of gold "cemented" together, hence, the name.

The ledge was so loaded with the ore that one of the men didn't believe it to be real, laughing at the other as he pounded away about ten pounds of the ore to take with him. The believer drew a map to the location and the two continued their journey. Along the way, the disbeliever died and the gold-laden traveler tossed the majority of the samples. After crossing the mountains, he followed the San Joaquin River to the mining camp of Millerton, California. During his journey, the German had become ill and soon went to San Francisco for treatment. He was diagnosed and cared for by a Dr. Randall who told the man he was terminally ill with consumption (tuberculosis). With no money to pay the doctor and too ill to return to the treasure, he paid his caretaker with the ore, the map he had drawn, and provided him with a detailed description.

Mammoth Mountain, California
Mammoth Mountain, courtesy U.S. Geological Survey
Dr. Randall shared this knowledge with a few of his friends and together they arrived at old Monoville in the spring of 1861. Engaging additional men to help, Randall's group began to prospect on a quarter-section of land called Pumice Flat. Thought to have been some eight miles north of Mammoth Canyon, the 120 acres were near what became known as Whiteman's Camp.
Word spread quickly and before long miners flooded the area hunting for the gold laden red "cement." One story tells that two of Dr. Randall's party had in fact found the "Cement Mine," taking several thousand dollars from the ledge. Unfortunately, for those two men, the area was rife with the Owens Valley Indian War which began in 1861.

The Paiute Indians, who had heretofore been generally peaceful, balked at the large numbers of prospectors who had invaded their lands. The two miners who had allegedly found the lost ledge were killed by the Indians before they were able to tell of its location.
Though the "cement" outcropping was never found, the many prospectors who flooded the eastern Sierra region did find gold, resulting in the mining camps of Dogtown, Mammoth City, Lundy Canyon, Bodie, and many others.
The lost lode is said to lie somewhere in the dense woods near the Sierra Mountain headwaters of the San Joaquin River's middle fork.

In 1894, Tom Scofield, a railroad worker, was surveying near the Clipper Mountains northwest of Essex, California when he decided to do a little exploring. When he was about three miles up the side of the mountain, he ran across an old abandoned stone house that appeared to have been built years previously.  Continuing along, he hiked approximately nine more miles when he came upon a spring. There, he followed a trail that led over the hill where he came upon a rock atop the peak that he described as being as big as a house. The large boulder was split in two and the trail continued straight through it. Beyond the passageway he stumbled into what appeared to be an old Spanish camp.

Clipper Mountains northwest of Essex, California
The Clipper Mountains are northwest of Essex, California
Tom found himself standing on a high shelf, surrounded by high walls. Through other openings in the rock walls, he could see that the "shelf” was sitting high above the ground at about 500 feet. The only way in or out of the little flat was through the split rock. Scattered about the long deserted camp, Scofield found rusty mining tools, pots, pans, fragments of a bedroll, and an old iron Dutch oven.
Also on the shelf was a mine shaft, in which he found the skeletons of seven burrows. Next to the shaft was a mine dump that contained numerous stones still containing rich gold quartz. By the time he had finished exploring the campsite, he realized that it was too late to return to his base camp. Cold and hungry, he bedded down on the shelf planning to leave at daybreak. In the morning, as he was leaving, he tripped over the Dutch oven and out tumbled a mound of pure gold nuggets. Shocked, Tom gathered as many nuggets as he could carry and returned to his base camp. From there he caught a train to Los Angeles, where he spent the next two months in a drunken frenzy, gambling and living the high life. After squandering all the money he had received from the sale of the gold nuggets, Scofield found himself sober and completely broke. It would be two years before he was able to make his way back to the Clipper Mountains to search for the "Dutch Oven Mine.”  Try as he might, it seemed to him that everything had changed and he was completely unable to retrace his steps. Disillusioned, he finally gave up the search.
When Scofield was 84, he was interviewed by Walter H. Miller and George Haight in 1936. Living in an abandoned store in the Mojave Desert outside Danby, California, Scofield was at first hesitant to tell his story. After having been hounded for four decades by treasure hunters wanting more information about the mine, he had long tired of the story even though he continued to insist that it was true.
Today, the Dutch Oven Mine continues to be lost, or at least no one has ever claimed to have found it.The Clipper Mountains are located in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California. The range is found just south of Interstate 40 and the Clipper Valley, between the freeway and National Old Trails Highway, northwest of the small community of Essex. The range is home to at least three springs, as well as the Tom Reed Mine.

Goose Egg Mine of El Dorado County - As early as 1848, gold was found in the Mosquito Valley of El Dorado County, California. As more and more people found their way to the Gold Rush country, hundreds of mining camps sprung up all over the region. One that flourished was Newtown, some nine miles southeast of Placerville.

Established in 1852, Newtown was first settled by Swiss immigrants who spoke Italian and called the village "Sunny Italy.” Growing quickly, Newtown boasted a post office, several retail establishments and about 5,000 residents, with some claiming it was bigger than Placerville. Rich with placer gold, theWells Fargo Express began serving Newton three times a week and passenger stage routes were added later.

Gold Mining with a cradle
Using a cradle to find gold in 1883

Tales abounded of the easy gold to be found. On one occasion two large nuggets, one weighting 36 ounces and the other 42, were plucked from the South Fork of Webber Creek, one mile down stream from Newtown, in Pleasant Valley.
Into this midst of easy findings and quick fortunes came a young immigrant from Finland who went by the name of "Sailor Jack.” Though the na├»ve man knew absolutely nothing of gold mining, he was determined to make his fortune in the goldfields. No sooner had he come to town when several experienced miners, as a practical joke, convinced the newcomer to file a claim on a piece of land they knew to be worthless. But as fate will have it sometimes, the joke ended up being on the pranksters when Sailor Jack struck pay dirt on his claim and the mine became one of the richest in El Dorado County. Called theSailor Jack Mine, it was also known as the Pinchgut Mine, the One Spot Mine, and the Pinchemtight Mine. In its early days the placer mine, located about 1 ½ miles north of Newtown, yielded about $40,000 worth of gold.
It was during these frenzied days of working the Sailor Jack Mine that one of the miners employed there found yet another rich discovery. In a location above the Sailor Jack, in an area called Goose Neck Ravine, the miner found several large gold nuggets. Upon returning, he shared his discovery with several other miners who thought that the nuggets might have come from the lead source of the Sailor Jack. Though the prospector, as well as several others, returned to the area time after time, they could never find the spot where the nuggets were picked up. From that time on, the site has been referred to as the Lost Goose Egg Mine.
Today, there is nothing left of Newtown except an old stone building and a cemetery near the intersection of Newtown Road and Fort Jim Road about eight miles southeast of Placerville. The Sailor Jack Mine was located about 1 ½ miles due north of Newtown near today's Webber Reservoir.

Gunsight Mine of Death Valley

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley Sand Dunes.
This image is available for photographic prints HERE.

In 1849, a group of California bound emigrants were headed out of Utah with a 107 wagons led by Captain Jefferson Hunt. However, by November, the group disagreed on the most direct route to the gold fields. Some believed there was a much shorter route across the desert, rather than taking the well known route along  the Old Spanish Trail. Though Hunt warned them that they were "walking into the jaws of hell,” several members of the group parted near Enterprise, Utah, believing the shortcut would save them about 20 days of travel.
They would become known as the "Lost 49’ers,” nearly starve on their journey, discover silver, and give the valley its name.

The splinter group consisted of several smaller parties, who would also disagree on the best way to cross the vast desert. Before reaching White Sage Flat, the party split once again, with one group hiking over the Panamint Mountains and the other traveling along the floor of the valley.
The two parties met up again at White Sage Flat, where one Jim Martin displayed silver ore that he had found while crossing the mountains. Exhausted, starved, and dehydrated, the group had little interest in mineral riches, focusing only on survival. After four months of travel across the vast desert lands, the tattered emigrants finally stumbled into Mariposa happily crying, "Good-bye, Death Valley."
During the terrible journey the pioneers had killed their oxen for meat, burned their wagons, and were forced to walk most of the way on what had become a "shortcut to hell.” In the meantime, the party who had stayed with Captain Hunt’s group had already arrived in California.
After settling in Jim Martin, who had lost the sight off his rifle during the journey, took the silver ore to a gunsmith who made it into a new gun sight. The story quickly spread, touching off one of the west’s great prospecting booms and the legend of the Lost Gunsight Mine.
One of the travelers, a Mr. Turner, who had been with Martin when he discovered the silver, decided to return to the desert in search of the silver. Failing to find it, he soon came upon a ranch belonging to Dr. E. Darwin French near Fort Tejon.  Telling the doctor the tale, French and Turner mounted a second expedition to search for the silver outcropping in September, 1850. They too were unsuccessful.
Though the "Lost Gunsight Mine” was never found, dozens of other prospectors were successful in finding hidden wealth in the Death Valley.

In the mid 1850’s prospectors were roaming the mountains and creeks of Siskiyou County along the northern boundary of California in search of their fortunes. Gold had been found in Humbug Creek as early as May, 1851 but a group of disillusioned miners dubbed the place as "humbug” when they failed to find any of the precious metal. However, that did not stop other prospectors from looking and a few years later when another group hit pay dirt, hundreds of miners flooded into what would be called the Humbug Mining District. Soon, a mining camp was formed  along the banks of Humbug Creek called Humbug City.

Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County, California
Siskiyou County, California, with Mount Shasta in the background, photo courtesy Welcome to California

It is near here that the Legend of the Lost Humbug Creek Mine began. When a man who was working for one of the Humbug District mines began to feel ill, he started to Yreka, some ten miles to the southeast to see a doctor. Shortly after coming upon the Deadwood Trail, he began to feel so ill that he lay down beneath a tree. As he looked around, spied a promising piece of quartz float and exploring further he found an entire outcropping. Suddenly felling better, he traveled some three or four miles back to his cabin, returning with a pick and shovel. He soon took out a sack full of gold that was estimated to have been worth $5,000 to $7,000. Excited to share the news, he soon traveled to Hawkinsville, where his parents and two brothers lived. Afterwards he returned to the site for more gold, when he began to feel sick once again. Leaving his pick and shovel, and covering the site with brush, he went to the county hospital where he died a week later.
Search as they might, his family was never able to find the site of their dead brother’s gold. The outcropping is said to be on the west side of the Humbug Mountains.
Long before the white settlers rushed into El Dorado County duringCalifornia's Gold Rush days, natives of the Hawaiian Islands had arrived here in the early 1800’s. These islanders, known as Kanakas, first worked the ships engaged in the hide and tallow trade before forming permanent settlements at a number of places in the Golden State. In El Dorado County, they lived in Kenao Village, named for their chief, and farmed the surrounding land.

The Hawaiians were one of first settlers to establish a town in El Dorado County, farming the land and living quietly before gold was discovered. However, when gold was discovered, they too joined the many miners flooding the area, as well as selling their produce to miners in Coloma. Before long, the miners began to call the village, Kanaka Town.

One of the Islanders by the name of "Kanaka Jack” soon appeared in the village, working a mine along Irish Creek, not far from town. Known to have brought large amounts of gold out of what became known as the Kanaka Jack Mine, he never told anyone of its exact location. In 1912, the Hawaiian miner died at the county hospital.

Today treasure hunters continue to search for the lost Kanaka Mine in El Dorado County.

Striking it Rich gold panning.
Striking it rich.
This image available for photographic prints and
 downloads HERE!

In the 1850’s several men from "back east” had come to the Golden State in search of their fortunes. While prospecting in Shasta County in northern California, they crossed the Sacramento River at Cow Creek about 2 ½ miles east of Fort Reading. From there, the prospectors followed another creek eastward for about thirty miles when they came upon a high waterfall. There, they found a rich gold deposit sitting above the waterfall. However, this was a dangerous time in the region as Indians, fed up with miners encroaching upon their lands, were often known to attack.  

Taking from the gold deposit what they could carry, the soon fled in fear of the natives. Returning to the Fort Reading, they asked for protection, but no troops could be spared. Soon, the men returned east from whence they came.
Years later, in the 1870’s, one of the men from this original group, along with his son-in-law, returned to the area in hopes of once again locating the waterfall. In Redding, he asked around about a creek with a high waterfall and was told there was one on Bear Creek near Inwood, some 25 miles to the southeast. The pair soon arrived in Inwood, telling their tale of the Lost Water Fall Mine and spending weeks exploring Bear Creek Canyon. However, after a long search, the two finally gave up and headed back east, never to be seen again.
Locals speculated that the country surrounding Inwood in primarily made up of volcanic rock and thought it an unlikely site for gold to have been found. More likely, many believed that the gold might have been found on another waterfall on Clover Creek about three miles from Oak Run and 25 miles east of Redding.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated November, 2009.


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Sacramento River in Shasta County, California

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More California Treasures Just Waiting To Be Found

Alameda County - With a posse on their tails in 1893, two banditsallegedly buried a cache of stolen loot near a brick kiln at Adams Point on Lake Merritt. When the lawmen caught up with the outlaws, one was killed and the other immediately arrested. The surviving outlaw died later died in prison. The ill-gotten treasure has never been found.

Contra Costa County - Dr. John Marsh, a California pioneer who was sometimes referred to as California's first American doctor, was allegedly known to bury his money near his home nestled in the foothills of Mt. Diablo.

Lake Merritt, California, from Adams Point, 1884
Lake Merritt from Adams Point, 1884, photo

Marsh was murdered in 1856 while on his way home from Martinez, without ever telling anyone of the exact location of his hidden riches. The treasure tale today alleges that Marsh had hidden a cache of some $40,000 gold coins near his home or Marsh Creek, that bears his name. Currently plans are under way to develop the location into a CaliforniaState Park.

Another, even larger treasure is said to be buried along the beaches of the county. In 1901, the Selby Smelter at Vallejo Junction was busy refining ores that were shipped from a number of neighboring mining districts.  But, one employee by the name of John Winters, was "busy” at a different task -- that of removing gold bars, one at a time from the vault, and burying them on the beach near the water’s edge. Taking an estimated $283,000 in gold, Winters was finally caught and about $130,000 of the bars were recovered. However, more than $150,000 remained lost.

Humboldt County - In July of 1928, the small post office at Willow Creek was robbed by two outlaws that escaped with some $2,800. According to the story, the bandits buried the loot in one of two places and never returned to retrieve it. The first version of its location tells of the stolen cache being buried near the Cedar Flat Bridge that crosses Trinity River about four miles upriver from Burnt Ranch. The second location has the loot hidden at some point up New River Canyon on the first ranch above the mouth of New River.

Another stolen cache, taken by an employee of the San Francisco Mint in 1894, is said to be buried in Humbolt County. The thief was later captured and sent to prison for his crime but refused to reveal the exact location of the loot. The treasure, containing some 290 pounds of gold ingots, is thought to be buried at Shelter Cove near Point Delgado.

Inyo County - Near Scotty's Castle in Death Valley, some say that a hidden cache of gold coins, amounting to as much as $200,000, was buried by Walter Scott. "Scotty," as he was more familiarly known, was a flamboyant and outrageous character, and a known swindler and prospector. Though he did not build or own the castle that bears his name, he was closely associated with the man that did.

Kings County - In 1873, the small town of Kingston, California was a stopping place on the Overland Stage route between Stockton and Visalia, California. In December of 1873,Tiburcio Vasquez and outlaw band made a bold raid, robbing the entire village and holding 39 men hostage. When an alarm was raised , the bandits dashed to their horses and began to flee. However, in the ensuing melee, three of the outlaws were shot and killed and the man carrying the stolen loot was wounded.

Kingston, California, 1879
Kingston, California is gone today but was thriving in 1870, photo
Unable to reach a horse, the injured bandit escaped on foot and made his way across the Kings River. Though theoutlaw was pursued, neither he nor the loot could be found. Years later, a skeleton was discovered in the area and was thought to have been the injured bandit, but again the ill-gotten cache remained unrecovered.

By the 1890's the town of Kingston had totally been abandoned and is completely gone today. The site of the town is now a California Historical Landmark (#270), which can be found in Kingston Park in the city of Hanford.

Marin County - Not all lost treasures of California are related to the Gold Rush. During the wild and wooly days of Prohibition, a German whiskey smuggler named Carl Hause was doing a brisk business. Hause's operations were located on Point Reyes Peninsula at the edge of Drake's Inlet just south of Inverness. The whiskey smuggler was said to have buried approximately $500,000 in gold-backed currency somewhere between Inverness and the old Heims Ranch. However, the liquor entrepreneur would not live to retrieve his ill-gotten gains as he was found shot to death in his car. The currency has never been found.

Modoc County - Though Modoc County was never known as prime mining country, a few treasure tales continue to be told in this region that is most known for its Indian lore and unparalleled scenic beauty.
In the last years of the 19th century a sheepherder picked up a heavy rock on the west slope of the South Warner Mountains. Forgetting about it for months, he finally retrieved the stone and took it to an assayer. Imagine his shock when he was told that the heavy rock was almost pure gold. He soon found an Alturas banker, who grubstaked him and the sheepherder returned to the Warner Mountains. However, try though he might, he searched relentlessly and was never able to find the source of ore again.

Another fairly well authenticated story tells of an Oregon emigrant who picked up a similar piece of rock in the 1850’s in the area of Devil's Garden. Though no mineral deposits of any amount were ever found in the area, the legend of hidden ore persists.

In the lava beds of northwest Modoc County a family was seeking refuge from a snowstorm some sixty years ago. While there, they said they found a rich copper vein in a crater of the rugged volcanic formations. Though Mr. Courtright and other prospectors returned to the area to search for the rich ore, it was never found.

During the 1860's an army scout by the name of Daniel Hoag was stationed at Fort Bidwell. While on a scouting trip into the Warner Mountains, in the area of Fandango Peak, he reportedly found a rich gold ledge. However, it was at this time that the area was in the midst of what is referred to as the Modoc Indian War. Hoag was killed in one of the battles before he was able to return to the site and the location of the ledge remains lost. Fort Bidwell, used from 1864 to 1892, is located on the Fort Bidwell Indian Reservation, where the officer's quarters continue to stand near the old post cemetery.

Nevada County - Several tales continue about the Donner Partyhaving buried their money during the time they were trapped during that terrible winter in 1846. One story tells that George Donnerallegedly buried about $10,000 in gold somewhere near Alder Creek northeast of Truckee, California. Though the cache has never been "officially" located, many believe that it was dug up and stolen afterDonner's death. Other members of the party are also said to have buried their savings in the area. This was supported when in May, 1891, a man named Edward Reynolds found a five-franc silver piece while fishing on the northeast corner of Donner Lake. A few days later, he and a friend returned to the site and found an entire sack of coins. The horde was believed to have been hidden by Elizabeth Graves.

San Luis Obispo County - There are numerous caves located through San Luis Obispo County that provided great cover for outlawsduring California's Wild West days. Near Avila Beach, a group ofbandits were said to have made one of these caves their hiding place where they hid much of there stolen cache. No additional information is available on the exact location of the cave.

Donner Lake, 1866,
Donner Lake, 1866,
This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!

Shasta County - Long ago, when a detachment of soldiers were transporting an Army payroll along the road between Redding and Weaverville, California, they were attacked by Indians. While the battle ranged, one soldier had the foresight to bury the gold and marked it by burying his rifle straight up in the ground. He then joined the rest of the soldiers in the frenzied battle.   Severely wounded, he was later rescued and taken to French Gulch where he told the story of the attack and buried payroll before he died. Though the army began an immediate search, they were unable to find the rifle or the hidden gold. Many years later, two deer hunters in the vicinity found the rifle and not knowing the story, removed it and took it with them. Today, French Gulch is a sleepy little village located about 10 miles east of Lewiston, California.

Tehama County – Peter Lassen was a pioneer and land owner in California long before its Gold Rush days of 1849. Arriving in 1840, he was able to secure a 26,000-acre land grant in 1843. Located in the upper Sacramento Valley, Lassen hoped to develop his land into an empire and established the Rancho Los Bosquejo, or the "ranch of the wooded places" in 1845. In the years that followed, Lassen developed a trading post, a new settlement, vineyards, and farms to entice people to what he believed would be his new empire. However, when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, his workers and settlers abandoned him for the goldfields. Lassen’s fortunes would rise and fall over the next decade until he was murdered in 1859 while traveling to Virginia City, Nevada to prospect for silver. Afterwards, a legend began to grow that Lassen had buried thousands of dollars in gold near his home on the Rancho Los Bosquejo. Located at the confluence of Deer Creek and the Sacramento River, he was said to have hidden his gold coins in iron pots surrounding his property. Though Lassen had a lifetime of financial difficulties, the legend continues. The buried cache is thought to be in Deer Creek Canyon near Vina,California or somewhere along the Lassen Trail which follows Deer Creek.

Some twenty years after Lassen's death, a miner named Obe Leininger found a gold-flecked ledge of gold in the same area. In order to find it again, he marked the spot by burying his pick in the trunk of a nearby tree. When he returned, however, he was unable to find the tree with the pick, though he searched the area diligently. Though he and others who had heard his tale continued to search the area for years afterwards, the gold ledge was never found again. The location of the ore was said to be to between the mouth of Calf Creek and the Potato Patch campground of the U.S. Forest Service, just beyond Deer Creek.

Trinity County - In the 1862, the sheriff of Trinity County was not only responsible for upholding the law, but was also tasked with collecting taxes. On one occasion as he was traveling through the area, his saddle bag was filled with about $1,000 in gold coins and $50 gold slugs. As the sheriff and his horse were cautiously crossing a stream, the horse stumbled and the saddlebag filled with gold was dropped and washed down the creek. Though the lawman made an immediate search of the area, he was unable to find the bag. Soon, the county offered a reward of $250 for the recovery of the saddle bag, but but despite diligent search efforts, including damming up the creek, it was never found. In those early days of California, gold slugs were often minted by assayers and private mines. Today, in addition to their gold value, they have also become major collectible items, and if the treasure were to be found today, some estimate it could be worth as much as a million dollars. The creek was located near Weaverville, California.

Yuba County - During California's Gold Rush days, a prospector by the name of Bill Snyder was one of the lucky ones. Working a claim along on of the branches of Oregon Creek on a ridge behind Camptonville, he consistently brought out large quantities of gold. Just as the gold was almost exhausted, Snyder became seriously ill and knowing he needed medical attention, he buried his gold, estimated at $30,000, between 2 large pine trees in the flat area below his cabin. He then left his cabin to seek a doctor. Though the type of illness is unknown, it was evidently very serious, as he was unable to return home for over a year. Imagine his distress when he returned to the site to find his cabin and the two large pine trees gone, replaced by a sawmill that now stood in its place. Only stumps of trees remained and though he searched diligently i the area, he was never able to locate his buried gold. He later died in the county home and to this day the hidden cache has never been found.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated September, 2010.
If you enjoy these stories please visit my website for your prospecting needs.

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