Posts Tagged With: silver

Lost Treasure is still out there….


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The Dalton Gang Loot

The famous Dalton Gang made history in 1892 when they attempted to rob two banks at the same time in Coffeyville, Kansas. The result was the death of four of the outlaws and four citizens, and a prison term for the only survivor, Emmett Dalton.

Less well known is the fortune in gold and silver coins allegedly buried by the outlaws on the evening before the Coffeyville attempt. The cache was estimated to be worth between $9,000 and $20,000 in 1892 values.

Before their Coffeyville robbery, the Dalton Gang held up a Missouri-Kansas-Texas train near Wagoner, Oklahoma, and another near Adair. From these robberies, they netted $10,000. A few weeks later, they walked into an El Reno, Oklahoma, bank and took $17,000.

Following these robberies, the gang members purchased new saddles and clothes. The remaining loot was carried in their saddlebags as they made their way toward Coffeyville.

On the evening of October 5, the gang arrived at Onion Creek where it joins with the Verdigris River near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. There, they set up camp. Desiring to travel as unencumbered as possible, they unloaded all of the goods from their horses. The gold and silver coins were placed in a shallow hole they dug adjacent to their campfire.

At dawn the following morning, the outlaws breakfasted, checked their firearms and ammunition, and saddled their mounts. Before leaving, Emmett told the gang members that if they became separated, they were to rendezvous at this site, where they would retrieve the coins and escape deeper into Oklahoma.

The robbery attempt was a disaster and spelled the end of the gang. All were killed, save for Emmett. He served only 15 years in prison when he was pardoned in 1907. Lawmen believed that when freed, Emmett would lead them to the buried cache. They followed him for weeks, but he stayed away from Onion Creek. He once told an interviewer that he believed the coin cache was tainted and he wanted no more to do with it.

The precise location of the Onion Creek campsite has been debated for years, but recently discovered information has narrowed the area of search. On the morning the Dalton Gang departed for Coffeyville, Mary Brown, the young daughter of a nearby rancher, was riding her horse when she heard voices near Onion Creek. Reining up her mount, she listened and heard the sounds of men eating and saddling horses. Moments later, Brown saw five horsemen riding out from under a small wooden bridge that spanned the creek and making their way toward Coffeyville.

Years later, when Brown was an adult, she heard the story of the gold and silver coins buried at the Onion Creek campsite and was determined to find them. During the time that passed since the Coffeyville Raid, however, the old bridge had been torn down, portions of the creek had changed course and the road had been relocated. Though she searched for a full day, Brown was unable to find the location where the Daltons had camped so many years earlier.

As far as anyone knows, the treasure is still there.

Belle Starr’s Lost Iron Door Cache

Belle Starr was arguably the American West’s most famous female outlaw. She was known to deal in stolen horses, and she provided sanctuary in her eastern Oklahoma home to Frank and Jesse James, the Younger Gang and other notorious banditti. Some believed that she helped plan crimes and aided her accomplices in hiding and spending money taken in bank and train robberies.

A tale that has surfaced over the years involves gang members Starr allegedly knew. They stopped a freight train bound for the Denver Mint during the mid-1880s. The train was transporting a cargo of gold ingots destined to be turned into coin.

Though the robbery went as planned, the gang feared immediate pursuit from federal agents. They decided to hide the gold in a cave in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains. Before riding away with the loot, gang members removed one of the iron doors from a railroad car and, using ropes, dragged the door along behind them as they made their escape on horseback.

When they arrived at the cave, the bandits stacked the gold against one wall. The iron door was placed over the entrance, wedged into position, and covered over with rock and brush. Before leaving the area, one of the outlaws hammered a railroad spike into an oak tree located 100 yards from the cave.

A short time after the robbery, railroad detectives learned of the possibility that the gold had been hidden in the Wichita Mountains. Though they hunted for weeks, they were never able to find it.

During a subsequent train robbery attempt a few months later, all of the members of the gang were killed. In 1889, Starr was murdered, a crime that has never been solved. With her death, no one remained alive who knew the exact location of what has come to be called the “Lost Iron Door Cache.”

During the first decade of the 1900s, a rancher and his young son rode into a canyon in the Wichita Mountains near Elk Mountain. Their attention was captured by the reflection of the sun from an object located on the eastern slope. On investigating, they encountered a large, rusted iron door set into a recessed portion of the canyon wall.  The son wanted to see what was on the other side of the door, but the father reminded him they had to reach their destination before nightfall. Later, the father learned the story of the Iron Door Cache. The two returned to the region, but were unsuccessful in relocating the site.

During the ensuing years, a number of ranchers, hunters and hikers have reported spotting the iron door against one wall of a remote canyon in the Wichita Mountains. On learning the story of the gold, they attempted to return to the location, but could never find it.

While traveling through a remote canyon in the Wichitas in the 1950s, a rancher decided to pause and take shade under a large oak tree. He hung his hat on a railroad spike hammered into the trunk. Familiar with the story of the gold cache and the spike, he made plans to return to the canyon and search for the treasure, but was never able to relocate the site. Later, someone cut down the oak tree for firewood.

The latest sighting of the door was in 1996. A middle-aged man making his way on foot from the small town of Cooperton to Lawton, in search of work, took a shortcut through the Wichita Mountains and spotted the iron door. Three weeks after arriving in Lawton, he learned the story of Starr’s Iron Door Cache. He purchased a few tools and set out to recover the gold. On the way, he suffered a heart attack and died.

Bill Doolin’s Gold

In spite of lore that claims Bill Doolin netted over $175,000 in robberies in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas over the two-year period preceding his death, the outlaw lived frugally in a wood frame shack near Burden, Kansas.

In between robberies, Doolin purchased a small plot of land and a shack near Burden, 40 miles southeast of Wichita. To this place he retreated with his loot, and it was here that he buried most of it. He never told anyone about his new residence, preferring to keep it secret.

In December 1895, Doolin traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. An arthritis sufferer, he often bathed in the hot springs to soothe his aches. One afternoon he was arrested by Deputy Marshal Bill Tilghman while soaking in a hot mineral bath. He was placed in the jail in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to await trial for bank robbery. Certain that he would be convicted, Doolin escaped and fled to Burden. He began making plans to move his wife and child to this location.

For days following Doolin’s escape, the Oklahoma countryside was searched for some trace of him, to no avail. One lawman, Heck Thomas, got a tip that Doolin was planning on visiting his wife and son. He learned that Doolin’s family was living in Lawton. Thomas rode to Lawton and, from hiding, watched the house where Mrs. Doolin was living.

Thomas and a posse were hiding out near the house when Doolin came walking up, leading the horse and buggy.  The outlaw spotted the lawman and reached for a rifle under the wagon seat, firing twice. Thomas shot him dead.

Doolin’s friends were aware that he buried his share of the robbery loot, but never knew where. Not until 20 years after the outlaw’s death did anyone discover his secret residence in Burden. By that time, the old shack had tumbled down, and the land was covered in weeds and brush.

Though many have searched the area for Doolin’s cache of gold and silver coins, it remains undiscovered.

Sam Bass Treasure

Following a train robbery outside of Big Springs, Nebraska, Sam Bass and other outlaws got away with 3,000 twenty-dollar gold pieces, along with jewelry and money taken from the passengers. After dividing the loot, the outlaws split up. Bass went to his hideout at Cove Hollow near Denton, Texas. Some believe he buried his booty at Cove Hollow, although others believe he just as easily could have spent the money. He soon formed a gang, robbed more stages and added to his caches.

Bass made plans to rob the Williamson County Bank in Round Rock, Texas. When the outlaws stopped at the store first to buy some tobacco, a couple of local lawmen noticed they were armed and started to talk to them. They didn’t recognize Bass. The outlaws opened fire on them, and a gunfight ensued. Badly wounded, Bass escaped.

Texas Rangers caught up with him in a nearby pasture. The outlaw died more than a day later, and with his death went the knowledge of the location of his treasure caches at Cove Hollow.

Henry Plummer’s Lost Gold

In a short span of time, the Henry Plummer gang amassed an impressive fortune in gold coins, ingots and nuggets from robbing stagecoaches, freight wagons, miners and travelers throughout Washington and Montana…at least, according to legend, since no evidence supports the claim. Some historians have made the argument that Plummer was not an outlaw, nor did he lead an organized gang. But for those who believe that Plummer was a gang leader and who also believe in the legend of his treasure, Plummer’s share has been estimated to exceed $200,000.

For a time, Plummer (and maybe his gang) lived near Sun River, 20 miles from Great Falls, Montana. Plummer apparently buried his portion of the gold near a small creek located 200 yards from the house. He never revealed the location.

On January 10, 1864, vigilantes caught up with Plummer and hanged him. In 1875, a young boy was digging in the soft ground near a stream at Sun River and found one of Plummer’s bags of coins. He returned to the area with his father, but was unable to relocate the spot. Plummer’s buried treasure, at its estimated value, would be worth several million dollars today.

Cy Skinner’s Lost Loot

Cy Skinner was among those named as a member of Henry Plummer’s gang. After Plummer was killed, Skinner loaded up the gold ingots and coins he had accumulated in the same robberies—$200,000 worth—and fled to Hell’s Gate (now Missoula), Montana. After reaching his destination, Skinner carried the gold to one of several small islands in the middle of the Clark Fork. Weeks later, a mob of men stormed Skinner’s cabin, hauled him outside and hanged him.

During the 1930s, a man named Taichert found a portion of Skinner’s gold on one of the islands. When he returned the next day to search for the rest of it, heavy rains had caused the river to rise, barring access to the island. By the time the flow receded, the islands had been altered in size and shape. Taichert was never able to find the precise spot where he had found the gold.  Skinner’s gold still rests beneath a foot or two of river deposit on one of the small islands.

Outlaw Treasure

Mexican Payroll Loot Austin, Texas

A $3 million treasure, allegedly from a Mexican payroll in 1836 stolen by the paymaster and accomplices, the loot could be buried near Shoal Creek in Texas. After burying the loot and, in turn, killing members of the party, the remaining outlaw returned to Mexico. His map to the treasure shows it was buried five feet underground, close to an oak tree with two eagle wings carved on it.

Eight men dug 40 feet of tunnel for eight months along Shoal Creek, saying they were constructing a new bridge or a large house. On April 13, 1927, according to The Rising Star Record, the workers took off with the loot:

“A box was lifted from the square cut chamber between the rocks, for the next day the workmen were gone and the blasting has ceased. Curious throngs soon found the dark tunnel and with lights discovered traces of the large wooden box that had laid beneath the dirt for more than 60 years.”

Butch Cassidy’s Loot Moffat County, Colorado
Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch hid out in Brown’s Hole, Colorado, to escape from lawmen. Many believe the gang’s stolen loot was tucked away here, in an outlaw paradise, for safekeeping, but then abandoned and forgotten.Along what is known as “Outlaw Trail,” Brown’s Hole was also the perfect place to hide rustled cattle and horses.

Josie Bassett, an alleged girlfriend of Cassidy’s, lived on the Bassett Ranch at Brown’s Park. Cassidy had worked there as a ranch hand. Graves along the river, Josie’s cabin and remnants of Doc Parson’s cabin, where Cassidy lived for a while, still stand today.

Lost Treasure

Lost Opata Mine South of Tucson, Arizona

About 45 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, rises what remains of Tumacacori Mission, now a national park. The 18th-century church was built by Spaniards hoping to convert the pagan Opata and Papago Indians. The missionaries hired the Indians to work in their nearby silver mines and store the yield in a giant room.

The Opata kidnapped a woman they believed was the Virgin Mary and wanted her to marry their chief. She refused, so the people sacrificed her to their gods by tying her to the silver, rubbing poison into cuts in her hands, and dancing and singing around her.

The missionaries, so dismayed by the pagan violation of their Christian teachings, had the entrance closed off, presumably sealing in the woman’s skeletal remains—and all of the silver—still waiting to be found.

Lost Dutchman Mine Apache Junction, Arizona

Rich in gold, but—some believe—cursed, the fabled Lost Dutchman gold mine generates endless stories. The treasure hunters who mysteriously go missing while looking for the gold fuel the 120-plus-year legend. Today, some wonder if the Superstition Mountains really harbor the gold or if the stories have piled upon stories to bury the truth.

Sometime after 1868, a German (not Dutch) miner named Jacob Waltz found the Peralta family mine and worked it with an associate, Jacob Weiser. Legend has it that they hid some of the gold near Weaver’s Needle, a local landmark. Details after that are unclear, according to Lost Dutchman State Park information. Either Waltz killed Weiser or Apaches killed him, leaving Waltz as the only person who knew the whereabouts of the mine.

His neighbor in Phoenix, Arizona, who took care of him before his death in 1891, and countless others have searched unsuccessfully for the gold.

Hidden Treasure

Ruggles Brothers Gold Redding, California

In 1892, the charming, young Ruggles brothers held up the stagecoach to Weaverville, California, just west of Redding, making off with the strongbox loaded with gold. Buck Montgomery, of the Hayfork Montgomery clan, was the armed escort on the stage. He shot at Charles Ruggles, who had ordered the driver to halt.

John Ruggles fired back, killing Montgomery. Thinking his brother was dead, he cached the loot somewhere nearby. Charles was alive, but some of the loot was never found. Eventually, local vigilantes lynched the Ruggles.

Jesse James’s Hidden Treasure Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma

Legend says the James Gang, in 1876, buried stolen treasure in a deep ravine east of Cache Creek in Oklahoma. Jesse James made two signs pointing to the gold: He emptied two six-shooters into a cottonwood tree, and he nailed a horseshoe into the trunk of another cottonwood tree. Then he scratched out a contract on the side of a brass bucket to bound everyone to keep the secret. Although this doesn’t seem in his character to do so, since the written oath could have been used as evidence against him, some folks believe the treasure exists.

The words on the bucket read: “This the 5th day of March, 1876, in the year of our Lord, 1876, we the undersigned do this day organize a bounty bank. We will go to the west side of the Keechi Hills which is about fifty yards from [symbol of crossed sabers]. Follow the trail line coming through the mountains just east of the lone hill where we buried the jack [burro]. His grave is east of a rock. This contract made and entered into this V day of March 1876. This gold shall belong to who signs below. Jesse James, Frank Miller, George Overton, Rub Busse, Charlie Jones, Cole Younger, Will Overton, Uncle George Payne, Frank James, Roy Baxter, Bud Dalton, and Zack Smith.”

The gold hasn’t been found, but the engraved brass bucket and simple map have been, as have the markers pointing to the treasure’s hiding spot.

Categories: Ancient Treasure, artifacts, Civil War, gold, gold coins, gold ingots, Legends, Lost gold, Lost Treasure, Old West, Outlaws, silver, silver coins, Texas, treasure, Treasure Legends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some GHOST TOWNS OF ILLINOIS


 

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JO DAVIESS COUNTY

1…Council Hill…near the State line on railroad, 7 miles Northeast of Galena
2…Scales Mound…near State line on railroad, 13 miles West of Warren
3…Law…near State line on railroad, 10 miles West of Warren
4…Apple River…on the State line and railroad, 5 miles West of Warren
5…Winston…on railroad, 5 miles East Southeast of Galena
6…Schapville…4 1/2 miles Northwest of Woodbine
7…Blanding…on railroad and Mississippi River, 5 miles West Northwest of Hanover.
8…Old Hanover…in the far Southwest corner ofthe county on railroad and Mississippi River, 4 1/2 miles South Southwest of present Hanover.
9…Derinda Center…5 miles Southeast of Elizabeth
10…Pleasant Valley…on the South County line and the Plum River, 5 miles South Southwest of Willow.
STEVENSON COUNTY

1…Afolkey…4 miles Northwest of Dakota
2…Damascus…4 miles West of Cedarville
3…Winneshiek…5 miles Northeast of Freeport
4…Dunbar…on the railroad, 2 1/2 miles South of Freeport
5…Stevens…2 miles North of German Valley
WINNEBAGO COUNTY
1…Letham Park…on the railroad, 5 miles South of Rockton
2…Genet..on the railroad, 3 miles West of Loves Park
3…Alworth…on the railroad, 5 miles East of Seward
4…Elida…on the South County line, 4 miles South of Winnebago
BOONE COUNTY
1…Amesville…near Garden Paririe…old stage coach stop on the Old Galena/Chicago Road.
MC HENRY COUNTY
1…Lawrence…on the railroad, 3 miles Northwest of Harvard
2…Armsby…on the railroad and State line, 3 miles West of Richmond
3…Sonon Mills…on the railroad, 2 1/2 miles Southeast of Richmond
4…Johnburg…2 1/2 miles Northeast of McHenry
5…Terra Cotta…on the railroad, 2 1/2 miles South of McHenry
6…North Crystal lake…on the railroad, 2 miles Northeast of Crystal Lake
7…Coral…2 miles Southeast of Marengo
8…Coyne…on the railroad and South county line, 1 1/2 miles West of Huntley.
LAKE COUNTY
1…Hickory…3 miles West of Rosecrans
2…Gilmer…on the railroad, 4 miles Southwest of Mundelein
CARROLL COUNTY
1…Marcus…on the railroad by North County line, 6 miles Northwest of Savanna.
2…Barth…on the North County line, 8 miles North Northwest of Mt. Carroll
3…Palsgrove…on the North County line, 6 miles North of Mt. Carroll
4…Keltner…on the North County line, 7 1/2 miles Northwest of Lanark
5…Hickory Grove…on the railroad, 5 miles East of Savanna
6…Timbuctoo…on the railroad, 5 miles South Southeast of Savanna
7…Big Cut…on the railroad, 3 1/2 miles Southwest of Mt. Carroll
8…Ashdale…on the railroad, 3 miles West of Lanark
9…Nursery…5 miles East of Lanark

Categories: artifacts, Ghost Towns, Haunting, hidden, Metal Detecting, silver, silver coins, treasure, Treasure Hunting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kentucky Treasure Legends…


 

uruguayan_treasure_580x360_1Kentucky

McCraken County

1…Coins dated in the late 1800’s have been found on the South Bank of the Ohio River
near West Paducah, they are believed to be washing from the wreck of a steamboat
that sank somewhere upstream.

2…Late in the Civil War, the Cole brothers sold their tobacco crop for $5,000 in Gold
coins which they hid in the fireplace hearth in their cabin, 20 miles from Paducah.
A few weeks later a robber broke into the cabin and killed them both. He then hid the
cache somewhere near the house and fled pursing lawmen.
Around 1900, dying, he told teh story of the gold coins to a close friend who traveled to
Kentucky to recover the treasure. Upon arrival he fouund out the cabin had been tore
down shortly after the brothers murder and he was unable to locate the treasure.

Crittenden County

1…River pirates and outlaws are said to have hidden some of their stolen property and
loot at different places along the river shore and inland in Crittenden County. Using
Cave-in-Rock, in Illinois, they would go across the river to hid their loot.

2…The Harpe brothers buried treasure in Critenden County. The also used Cave-in
Rock as a hideout.

3…Numerous caches are believed to be buried along the old Ford’s Ferry-Highwater Road
the 12 mile long road that connected Potts Hill with the Ford Ferry Terminus on the Illinois side
of the river.

4…A group of counterfeiters hid a cache of Gold near Dycusburg on the Cumberland River
before they were captured. It has never been found

5…A man named Moore in the 1800’s lived near Dycusburg on the Cumberland River and was
killed by two (2) hired hands for the money he had hidden on his property. The hired hands were
imprisoned for life and admitted they never found the money.

Webster County

1…Outlaw Micajah Harpe (Harpe brothers gang) who murdered and robbed from 1795-1804,
buried $300,000 in the area of Harpe’s Head Road near Dixon. It has never been recovered.

Logan County

1…Jesse James and his gang were force to bury $50,000 in gold coins near Russellville in 1868.
The money was taken from the Russellville Bank. It was hidden on the outskirts of town in a cave to the West of the city.

Categories: Ancient Treasure, artifacts, Civil War, Confederate, gold, gold coins, Kentucky, KGC, Legends, Lost gold, Lost Mines, Lost Treasure, Myths, Outlaws, silver, silver coins, treasure, Treasure Legends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Capt Carl Fismer..Book signing event..21 Feb 2016


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Tomorrow from 3 to 6, (Sunday 21 Feb 2016) Sam Milner and I will be signing our Book, Uncharted Waters,40 years of Treasure Hunting, at the Lor-i-lei Restaurant in Islamorada, MM 82, Florida Keys.

Uncharted Waters can be found at http://www.treasureexpeditions.com (PayPal accepted) or a check for 24.95 plus 4 dollars for shipping to, Spanish Main Treasure Co. P.O. Box 1733, Tavernier Fl. 33070. Outside United States add 17.00 for shipping.

http://www.treasureexpeditions.com/uncharted_waters_carl_fismer.htm

WHO IS CAPT CARL FISMER?

Carl Fismer is a world famous Treasure Diver, Cancer Survivor, World Traveler, Television Star and Dynamic Motivational Keynote Speaker.

With over 30 years of treasure search and salvage experience, Captain Carl Fismer is one of the most respected and knowledgeable diving professionals in the world.  Carl has worked with some of the leaders in treasure hunting. Carl has worked over 30 years with respected Treasure Historian Jack Haskins and worked with Mel Fisher on the Atocha.  His area of expertise is shipwrecks… especially Spanish shipwrecks. During his career, he has worked over 300 shipwrecks in the United States, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Indian Ocean and Central and South America. He has recovered millions of dollars in Spanish gold, silver, jewels and other artifacts. “Fizz”, as he is known to friends, directed part of the salvage diving of the Santa Margarita, sister ship to the Nuestra Senora de Atocha which was discovered by Mel Fisher. Then in 1986, he led an expedition to the Silver Shoals in the Dominican Republic, and there located the famed galleon, Concepcion which sank during a hurricane in 1641. In 1992, he traveled to Sri Lanka and dived with Sir Arthur C. Clarke of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame, in association with the Great Basses Reef Treasures. In May, 2010, Captain Fismer was awarded the Mel Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award for perseverance in following his quest for life, his motivation of mankind in the search for knowledge, discovery and the ambitions of the human spirit and the ability to achieve in life what others might only dare to dream.

SPANISH MAIN TREASURE COMPANY (SMTC) was founded by Captain Carl E. Fismer in 1980. Since its inception, SMTC has salvaged artifacts and sunken treasure from shipwrecks around the world. SMTC maintains a considerable inventory of treasure, coins, artifacts, books and video documentaries for perusal or sale to museums, collectors and history enthusiasts. SMTC specializes in producing treasure-related speeches, treasure-related exhibitions and displays for conventions, theme and entertainment parks, shopping malls, cruise ships and any special occasion. These presentations have proven to increase attendance and interest wherever we go.

 

Carl Fismer lives the life of an adventurer. The type of life that they make books, movies and video games about.  Carl Fismer, affectionately dubbed “Fizz”, is a treasure hunter that has dived on some of the world’s most famous shipwrecks.  He is often described as a real life underwater Indiana Jones.  Carl is an active treasure hunter who travels the world looking for treasure and artifacts.  He has worked with Mel Fisher on the world famous treasure ship, the Atocha.  Carl Fismer is often called in as an expert on shipwrecks and treasures of the Spanish Main when producers and writers want to add realism to their productions.

When Carl Fismer isn’t diving shipwrecks, he tours around the world as a motivational speaker.  Imagine your next conference with an inspirational speaker as electrifying as Carl Fismer as your keynote speaker.  The excitement of the crowd when they hear that a world famous treasure diver is is going to be featured.  Carl’s story is fascinating and will motivate and inspire the room.  Carl Fismer delights his audience with stories of shipwrecks, lost treasure, the Spanish Main, and treasure hunting. Carl is a motivational speaker like no other.  Unlike usual speakers who are business people or politicians, your audience will be intrigued and inspired by Carl’s unique story.

Carl Fismer is a motivational speaker who left an ordinary job to lead the life of a treasure hunter.  Carl has weathered hurricanes, starred in his own television series “Treasure Divers”,  looked for lost treasure and  found millions of dollars of sunken treasure.

Categories: Ancient Treasure, Archaeology, artifacts, emeralds, gold, gold chains, gold coins, gold crosses, gold ingots, Lost Treasure, Mel Fisher, silver, silver coins, Spanish gold, treasure, treasure diver, Treasure Hunters, Treasure Hunting, Treasure Legends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stunning treasures – and macabre slaughter – in Siberia’s Valley of the Kings


By Olga Gertcyk
11 February 2016

Pictured: the gleaming riches no-one was meant to see belonging to an ancient nomad potentate, and his queen…or was she his concubine?

In all, some 9,300 decorative gold pieces were found here, not including the ‘uncountable golden beads’. Picture: Vera Salnitskaya

The royal tomb known as Arzhan 2 in the modern-day Republic of Tuva – to many, the most mysterious region in all Russia – is some 2,600 years old but its valuables match any trove from any era anywhere in the world.

Here inside a mound 80 metres wide was buried a warrior tsar with a sway that plainly reached over a vast territory of mountains and steppes, and whose magnificent possessions indicated close contacts with other civilisations.

Forget the notion of barbaric Siberian nomadic tribes in this epoch: well, don’t quite forget. These ancient warriors used the skulls of their vanquished foes as drinking cups, according to no less an authority than Greek historian Herodotus.

And this queen or concubine was almost certainly sacrificed to that she could be buried beside the dead ruler. And yet, as the pictures show, their exceptional artwork predates the influence of the Greeks, and displays a high degree of sophistication.

Arzhan 2 excavations site


Arzhan 2 excavations site


Arzhan 2 modern look

Unknown warrior was found literally covered in gold alongside with his woman. Pictures: Konstantin Chugunov, Anatoli Nagler and Hermann Parzinger; Vera Salnitskaya

The unknown monarch – a Siberian Tutankhamun – was entombed in this ancient necropolis with 14 horses, a defining symbol of wealth in these Scythian times; each animal was from a different herd.

Alongside him lay the woman in his life, his queen or, as is suspected, his favourite concubine, but in any event a woman held in great esteem who was ethnically distinct from this monarch’s retinue also buried alongside him which included 33 others, including five children. She was in all likelihood not alone in being sacrificed  to accompany him to the afterlife…

The most breathtaking aspect of this Tuvan find are the contents of the burial chamber of this royal couple – pictured here – located by archeologists some two or three metres beneath the surface.

In all, some 9,300 decorative gold pieces were found here, not including the ‘uncountable golden beads’. Put in another way, there was more than 20 kilograms of gold, including earrings, pendants and beads, adorning the bodies of the royal couple all made in what is known as Animal Art style.

King's golden necklace


King's golden necklace


Gorit - Quiver

The ancient ruler was buried with a heavy necklace made of pure gold and gold quiver with fish scale decoration. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

Ancient robbers had sought to raid vast burial mound, just as they had successfully looted the neighbouring Arzhan 1 site, which was perhaps 150 years older. It could be that specially built ‘decoy’ graves threw these ancient looters’ off the scent.

Here in Arzhan 2, thieves had left a trail which archeologists unearthed but fortunately the raiders gave up shortly before reaching these treasures, which are made from iron, turquoise, amber and wood as well as gold.

So valuable are they that it is rumoured these wondrous objects – now held mainly in local capital Kyzyl but also in St Petersburg – cannot be exhibited abroad because of the cost of insurance.

The find has been described by Dr Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum as ‘an encyclopedia of Scythian Animal Art because you have all the animals which roamed the region, such as panther, lions, camels, deer…’ It includes ‘many great works of art – figures of animals, necklaces, pins with animals carved into a golden surface’, he told The New York Times.

‘This is the original Scythian style, from the Altai region, which eventually came to the Black Sea region and finally in contact with ancient Greece. And it resembles almost an Art Nouveau style.’

Reconstruction of clothes

The reconstruction of the costumes made by the experts from Hermitage Museum. Picture: Hermitage Museum

Covered with two layers of larch logs, the royal burial chamber was carefully constructed like a blockhouse and stood inside a second, outer burial chamber of the same construction.

The four walls were presumably adorned by some kind of curtain. Long wooden sticks were found along the walls, which could have been used like curtain rails. The curtains themselves, as well as any other textile remains, were not preserved. On a carefully made boarded wooden floor – likely softened by felt – were the bodies of this sovereign and his companion.

The skulls had dislocated from the bodies because they had probably been placed on a kind of pillow, now decayed. The ancient ruler was buried with a heavy necklace made of pure gold and decorated all over with the carvings of animals.

His outer clothes, probably a kind of kaftan, had been decorated with thousands of small panther figures, each 2-to-3 centimetres in length, attached in vertical rows, also forming motifs such as wings on his back.

Queen's necklace


Queen's cup


Queen's cup

A gold pectoral in Animal Style decoration, golden earring with turquoise and a miniature gold cup. Picture: Vera Salnitskaya

On his boots, maybe originally of felt or leather, thousands of mini-beads – in diameter only about 1 millimetre – had been stitched; on the upper part they ended in golden turndowns. Alongside and under the skull were gold plaques with animal-shaped inlays: four winged horses and one deer originally attached to the headgear.

The total weight of his jewellery – including minute glass beads on his trousers – was 2 kilograms. The man’s weaponry consisted of an iron dagger, poorly preserved, on his right hip. This was connected to the belt by a strap, and both had been decorated with numerous golden adornments.

Beside the dagger was a miniature gold cup. On the left side of the deceased was a gold quiver with fish scale decoration. The wooden arrow shafts were painted in black and red. His arrow heads were made of iron, but also showed the remains of golden encrustation. The golden adornment on the belt – used for carrying his quiver into the afterlife – was extremely rich.

Below the quiver lay the wooden bow itself, studded with pieces of golden decoration. Between the quiver and the north-eastern wall of the burial chamber were two picks, one of iron with golden encrustation. To the left of the man’s head lay a bronze mirror.

Abudance


Close view

His outer clothes, probably a kind of kaftan, had been decorated with thousands of small panther figures, each 2-to-3 centimetres in length. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

A second, slightly larger bronze mirror was located to the left of the woman’s head, a little bigger and with a gold handle. Below the woman’s head were three gold plaques in the shape of animals – two horses and a mystical winged creature – associated with the woman’s headdress.

Beside her head was a pair of gold pins, decorated with carvings in Animal Art style. The decoration of the woman’s dress corresponded to the man’s kaftan: thousands of golden panthers form different motifs, again, notably, wings on her back. Around her breasts, archeologists found golden earrings and many small beads of gold, amber, garnet, malachite and other precious materials.

Near her feet were thousands of mini-beads made of gold, which must have been fixed onto felt or leather boots which had been inlaid with golden ribbons and granulation.

On her right hip hung an iron knife, poorly preserved but with numerous excellent gold belt adornments. Her wrists were adorned with gold bracelets. Here, too, lay two bronze kettles, seen as exceptionally valuable for these times.

In the western corner of the burial chamber were three large amber beads, a wooden cup with a golden handle, a gold comb with wooden teeth, and a heap of various seeds. Within the heap of seeds was a gold pectoral in Animal Style decoration and a small bronze cup, still inside a small leather bag.

Tiny details


Tiny details


Tiny details

‘It’s hard to imagine that these fine pieces were made by nomads living in tents.’ Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

In other burials, which surrounded the prominent couple,  bronze knives, an axe-type weapon, known as a Raven’s beak, arrowheads, bronze mirrors, belts, and much jewellery – beads made of glass, stone, amber, and golden earrings – were found. So too were fragments of  cloth – felt, fur, and fabric.

Here too were discovered bridle sets made of bronze, mane ornaments and tail decorations cut from gold sheet.

What can we discern of the personal stories behind these ancient royals and their entourage found in Uyuk hollow, northern Tuva, and excavated by a joint Russian-German team between 2001 and 2004?

Professor Konstantin Chugunov, highly respected senior researcher at the world famous Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, who headed the project, said DNA analysis of the group indicated those buried here were from the Iranian ethno-linguistic group.

According to the analysis of strontium isotopes in the bones, all those buried were locals except for one person – the ‘queen’, and it gives reason to think about  dynastic marriage,’ he said.

Weapon


Arrow heads

Weapon: an iron dagger and iron arrowheads with golden encrustation. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

Totally 35 people – 16 men, 13 women, five children along with bones which cannot be identified by gender, were buried here, as were 14 horses.

The ‘king’ was between 40 and 50 years old and analysis of his remains revealed that he died of prostate cancer. ‘This is the earliest documentation of the disease,’ said Michael Schultz, a paleopathologist at the University of Gottingen. It is believed that in the last years of his life, this potentate could not have walked.

His female partner, accorded pride of place alongside him, was around 30 years old. Who was she?

We don’t know if the woman was a queen or a concubine,’ said Professor Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, and a joint leader of the excavations, ‘but since their ornaments were similar, both must have had high status.’

No cause of death can be detected for her, leading to a theory that she could have been poisoned or strangled, to be buried beside her liege, and to travel with him into the next world: willingly or not, she was a human sacrifice, according to this version.

‘Maybe she was poisoned,’ said Chugunov, ‘or maybe she chose to die to be with her husband.’ We may never know how she died, by natural causes around the same time as her master or in more sinister fashion, but others in the tsar’s entourage certainly had gruesome demises.

Animals


Animals


Fish


Animals

Early Scythians were people who knew good artwork when they saw it, and used contacts to obtain, or commission, jewellery and decorations. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

The scene archeologists uncovered here appears to match with remarkable accuracy a description by Herodotus of the macabre Scythian burial rite.

‘Based on accompanying burials, we also found evidence of phenomena described by Herodotus when the living would follow the deceased,’ Parzinger has explained. ‘Herodotus wrote that when a military leader died, his close circle – wife (or concubine), bodyguards, advisers, servants – were killed. As they were the property of the leader, they had to follow him to the tomb. And we identified particular evidence of their murder.’

Herodotus, who lived later, from 484 BC to 425 BC, wrote: ‘The body of the king is laid in the grave, stretched upon a mattress. Spears are fixed in the ground on either side of the corpse and beams stretched above it to form a roof.

‘In the open space around the body of the king they bury one of his concubines, first killing her by strangling, and also his cup-bearer, his cook, his groom, his lackey, his messenger, some of his horses… and some golden cups, for they use neither silver nor brass.’

It is believed that when the king died, he was mummified and his body travelled for 40 days across all his lands. And all expressed their sorrow. Then at some sacred place a burial mound was constructed and his entire entourage were slaughtered and buried there.

Bowl


Bowl

Cups: wooden cup with a golden handle and small golden cup. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

Herodotus did not describe how the ruler’s entourage were killed. While the queen or concubine shows no sign of a violent death – the assumption is that she was poisoned – one woman’s skull in Arzhan 2 was pierced four times with a war pick.

A man’s skull still retains the splinters from a wooden club used to kill him. In some cases archaeologists see evidence of blows to the head with kind of poleaxe: in other case, they suppose strangulation or poison.

Separately, on these human remains was found evidence of ‘battlefield surgery’ conducted on these warriors during earlier conflicts. Next to the burial mound, to the north, was found a separate burial where ‘chipped’ human and horse bones were mixed.

A ‘guess’ is that this fits another Herodotus description of the burial mound being guarded by dead horses pulling wagons with their wheels removed on which were placed dead horsemen.

The Greek historian described 50 young men, who were set around the mound. Those, who made the burial, went away and the mound remained. The corpses of the horses and riders were pecked by birds, eaten by animals, and all this decayed.

'Chinese' style


'Chinese' style


'Chinese' style

Decorations on the akinak – or short sword – show similarities to patterns used in Eastern Zhou (Eastern China). Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

More can be understood about these nomads from the riches lying beside this noble couple, although these ancient people left no written records, and hardly any sign of settlements that – some archeologists suspect – must have existed.

A royal burial such as this gives the ‘quintessence of information’ because the achievements of the culture at the time were laid to rest with the dead king, it has been said. As Parzinger has said: ‘It’s hard to imagine that these fine pieces were made by nomads living in tents.’ Chugunov concurs: ‘In Arzhan 2, the gold jewellery was clearly not made by nomadic artists.’

They fought and pillaged but as Dr Anatoil Nagler, from the German Archeological Institute, told National Geographic: ‘The people were excellent craftsmen. This puts the Scythian quality of life in a new light. It rejects the stereotype that Scythians were just wild horsemen and warriors, migrating and destroying other people. They had a high level of cultural development.’

Or so it seemed at the time when the discoveries were first made. Now it is seen as more likely that these early Scythians were people who knew good artwork when they saw it, and used contacts to obtain, or commission, jewellery and decorations that matched their needs and tastes. Not that anyone was meant to see these treasures encased in the burial tomb.

Golden details


Golden details


Beads


Golden beads


Golden deer

The gleaming riches no-one was meant to see. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

Some probably originated on the territory of what is now present-day China; others owe their origins to the Near East, with more seemingly made by Scythians in non-nomadic settlements. Some treasures came from a distance of between 4,000 and 5,000 kilometres from this burial mound, yet at this point there were no contacts with the Ancient Greeks.

Even so, the treasures suggest the lost civilisation of Scythians were culturally more advanced that was once supposed. The experts surmise that it was Scythian craftsmen who cast the daggers, arrowheads, and gold plaques found at this site.

Decorations on the akinak – or short sword – show similarities to patterns used in Eastern Zhou (Eastern China) at around the same period. Bronze jars found in Inner Mongolia are compatible to a small bowl with horizontal a loop-like handle from the main burial in Arzhan 2.

The same applies to methods used in embroidery and the manufacture of earrings, the latter resembling a technique used close to the Aral Sea, some 3,600 km distant. Remains of fruit and seeds of plants found at Arzhan 2 had also come from far afield.

Categories: Ancient Treasure, Archaeology, artifacts, gold, gold chains, gold coins, gold crosses, gold ingots, hidden, Lost gold, Lost Treasure, treasure, Treasure Hunters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trove of antique Roman coins found in Swiss orchard…


  • .

Geneva (AFP) – A Swiss fruit-and-vegetable farmer stumbled across more than tree roots when inspecting his cherry orchard recently, uncovering a massive trove of coins buried some 1,700 years ago, archeologists said Thursday.

The trove of more than 4,000 bronze and silver coins dating back to Ancient Rome and weighing 15 kilos (33 pounds) was discovered in Ueken, in the northern canton of Aargau, the regional archeological service said, describing it as one of the biggest such treasures ever found in Switzerland.

A farmer had made the spectacular discovery back in July, when he spotted a molehill with some shimmering green coins.

A few months earlier, remains of an early Roman settlement were discovered in a dig in the nearby town of Frick, so the farmer suspected he may have found Roman coins.

He contacted the regional archeological service and his suspicions were confirmed.

The service announced Thursday that after months of discreet excavations, a total of 4,166 coins had been found in excellent condition.

Their imprints remain legible, allowing an expert to determine they date back to Ancient Rome, stretching from the rein of Emperor Aurelian (year 270-275) to that of Maximilian (286-305), with the most recent coins dated to year 294.

“The orchard where the coins were found was never built on. It is land that has always been farmed,” archeologist Georg Matter told AFP, explaining how the treasure could have laid dormant for so long.

The coins’ excellent condition indicates that their owner systematically stashed them away shortly after they were made, the archeologists said.

For some reason, the owner had buried them shortly after 294 and never retrieved them, the archeologists said.

Some of the coins, made mainly of bronze but with an unusually high silver content of five percent, were buried in small leather pouches.

The archeologists said it was impossible to determine their original value due to rampant inflation at the time, but said they clearly must have been worth at least a year or two of wages.

How much the coins are worth today is beside the point, Matter said, pointing out that the farmer would not be allowed to keep his treasure.

“He will likely get a finders fee,” he said, “but the objects found belong to the public, in accordance with Swiss law.”

The Ueken treasure is set to go on display at the Vindonissa de Brugg Museum in Aargau

Categories: Ancient Treasure, artifacts, gold, gold chains, gold coins, gold crosses, gold ingots, Lost Treasure, roman coins, silver, silver coins, treasure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vermont…Treasure Legends and Ghost Towns


 

Addison County

Treasure Legends

1. In the rocky area known as Hell’s Half Acre at the foot of South Mountain, a cache of between $200,000 and $1 Million in silver bars are buried. The father of a Spaniard named DeGrau worked a rich vein of Silver near Bristol with a group of other prospectors. They amassed such a large quanity of silver ingots that they had to leave a huge amount behind when they left the area. The mining equipment and silver bars were sealed in a cave, but they were never able to return and retrive it.

2. Four Spanish deserters in 1752, left the ship San Jose with 80,000 gold doubloons when the vessle was laid up for repairs at New London. While trying to make their way to Quebec, Canada, they were attacked by Indians, their pack horses were killed, and they had to bury the gold in a space between 2 giant boulders in the area known as Hell’s Half Acre. They fled the indians but never returned.

3. During the Revolutionary War, British Soldiers were seen carrying a heavy payroll chest off of Long Point on Gardiner’s Island. They did not have the chest when they left and it is persumed that they buried it somewhere on the Island.

Ghost Towns

1. Chimney Point…on Lake Champlain near Hwy 17. It was a French trading center in 1690, was attacked and burned in 1759 by Indians.

2. Beldens…on the railroad, 3 miles North of Middlebury

3. South Lincoln…2 miles South Southeast of Lincoln

4. Cream Hill…3 miles North Northwest of Shoreham

5. Richville…1 1/2 miles North of Shoreham Center

6. North Orwell…3 1/2 miles North of Orwell

Categories: artifacts, Ghost Towns, gold, gold coins, Gold Mine, Legends, Lost gold, Lost Mines, Lost Treasure, silver, silver coins, treasure, Treasure Hunting, Treasure Legends, Uncategorized, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Toenail Hoard’ of 500 coin clippings found in Forest of Dean


  • 18 November 2015
Toenail Hoard, Forest of Dean. GloucestershireImage copyrightGavin Warren
Image captionThe 500 silver clippings were unearthed in the Forest of Dean by metal detector enthusiast Gavin Warren

Hundreds of 16th Century coin clippings have been discovered in a Gloucestershire field.

The 500 silver clippings, dubbed the Toenail Hoard, were unearthed by Gavin Warren using a metal detector in the Forest of Dean.

Shaved from the edges of coins dating back to 1560, the precious metal would have been melted down and sold.

Finds liaison officer Kurt Adams said: “Forty to 60 clippings is normal – one of this size is very, very rare.”

Mr Warren – who unearthed the Yorkley Roman coin hoard in 2012 – said he was testing out a “beginner’s metal detector” in a field, when he made the discovery.

“It was about four inches down, all in a big ball – we thought it was pieces of fencing until I spotted the words James I and Elizabeth I,” he said.

“There were about 500 clippings – like pig tails – ranging from half crowns right down to pennies, all silver.”

Toenail Hoard, Forest of Dean. Gloucestershire
Image captionThe earliest clippings date from the 1560s to 1570s and the latest from 1645

With hanging literally too good for those caught clipping the edges off silver coins in the 17th Century, Mr Warren said whoever buried the hoard had been risking their life.

“For women the punishment was being burnt at the stake, for a bloke it was being hung, drawn and quartered,” he said.

“It would have been a lot to have been caught with.”

Mr Adams, from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said the hoard, currently being catalogued at the British Museum, was not only “one of the biggest” but a “fantastic bit of social history”.

“The earliest clippings date from the reign of Elizabeth I, so 1560s to 1570s, and the latest from 1645,” he said.

“It showed people were defrauding the Mint when it was enormously important that coins weren’t tampered with in any way – so it’s an incredibly rare find.”

Categories: Ancient Treasure, artifacts, England, gold, gold chains, gold coins, gold crosses, gold ingots, hidden, Lost Treasure, Metal Detecting, silver, silver coins, treasure, Treasure Hunting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Louisiana Treasure….Ghost Towns and Legends. Franklin, Madison and Richland Parishes…


Ghost-Town-ciudades-dejan-tener_MDSIMA20130322_0664_37

Franklin Parish…Louisiana
Ghost Towns.
1. Durham, North County Line, 10 miles due North of Crowville
2. Warsay, on the Bayou Macon, 5 miles NorthEast of Crowville
3. Cordill, 6 miles NorthEast of Chase
4. Como, 5 miles NorthEast of Gilbert
5. Liddieville, 7 miles West of Winnsboro by West County Line
6. Mason, 5 miles West of Fort Neccessity by West County Line
7. Hollygrove, 2 miles West of Peck
Treasure legend.
1. A man named Evans buried his life savings around the 1900’s in 2 half gallon fruit jars. It was all in $10 and $20 gold pieces. The location is somewhere on his farm, 3 miles East of Baskin.

MADISON PARISH…Louisiana
Ghost Towns
1. Reynolds, on railroad spur and North County line, 2 miles Southwest of Sondheimer.
2. Katz, on railroad spur, 4 miles Southwest of Sondheimer
3. Omega, on the Mississippi River, 6 miles North Northeast of Tallulah
4. Mulikens Bend, on the Mississippi River, 2 miles South Southeast of Omega.
5. Tendal, on railroad, 2 1/2 miles East of Waverly
6. Quebec, on railroad, 5 miles East of Waverly, old steamboat landing on the Tensas River
7. Lake One, on railroad, 7 miles East of Waverly
8. Richmond, 2 1/2 miles South of Tallulah on the junction of Brushy and Round Away Bayous. Was a prosperous trading center, burned down twice, accidently in 1859 and by Federal Troops in 1863. Only foundations remain.
9. Barnes, on railroad, 5 miles East Southeast of Tallulah
10. Thomastown, on railroad, 8 miles East Southeast of Tallulah
11. Duckport, on the Mississippi River, 2 1/2 miles North of Mound
12. Ashwood, on bank of Lake Palmyra, old river landing.
13. Old Delta, located several miles East of present day Delta, town was move when the river changed course in 1876, the old townsite later became a haven for bootleggers and robbers.
14. Coleman, 3 1/2 miles Southwest of Mound
15. Alligator Bayou, on railroad, 3 1/2 miles North Northwest of Afton
16. Quimby, on railroad and South County line, 2 miles West Southwest of Afton.
17. Trinidad, 5 miles East Northeast of Afton
18. King, on the South County line, 5 miles due East of Afton
19. Griffin, on the Mississippi River, 13 miles due East of Afton.
Treasure Legends
1. Legend puts an early 1800’s outlaw and robber in the area of the Mason Hills for hidden loot. It is a stretch of Highlands across the Mississippi River from Vicksburg, Mississippi.
2. Indian Gold and treasure was supposed to have been found by Sieur de La Salle in 1682 at the great Indian town of Taensas. The town was located somewhere below Grand Gulf and Vicksburg on the West bank of he Mississippi River.

RICHLAND PARISH…Louisiana

GHOST TOWNS
1. Tonesburg, on railroad, 3 1/2 miles North of Rayville
2. Dunn, on railroad, 3 1/2 miles West of Delhi
3. Lucknow, 5 miles South of Start
4. Burke, on railroad, 4 miles North of Archibald
5. Buckner, 4 miles West of Alto
6. Charlieville, 5 miles Southwest of Alto
7. Boughton, 8 miles South of Alto
TREASURE LEGENDS
1. The mouth of the Bayou Amulet was a trading rendezvous location. Artifacts should be found at this location.
2. A man named Bullen lived West of Delhi on Eudora Road during the Civil War, later named McLaurin farm, fearing the Federal Troops he took his life savings in gold coins and dropped them into a well. He died a few days later and the gold has yet to be recovered.
3. A famous local outlaw named Samuel Mason buried his loot and treasure near Delhi, but non has been recovered yet.
4. Frank and Jesse James had a hideout near Delhi, on the outskirts of town. Locals believe they may have buried treasure in the area. (Note: they would have left KGC symbols to help in relocating any treasure buried)

Categories: Ghost Towns, Louisiana, Treasure Legends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Utah…Lost Treasure….The Lost House Range Placers..


The explorers and surveyors of the American West are an august company that includes the great Lewis and Clark as well as a host of other renowned pathfinders. Men like Fremont, Long, Stansbury, Pike, Abert, and Beale opened up the west as surely as the mountain men who preceded them and the sutlers and traders who followed them. One of the most promising of these early explorers and surveyors was an Army engineer and West Point graduate named John W. Gunnison.

The idea of an intercontinental railroad stretching from coast to coast was not new in 1853. Fremont’s expeditions during the 1840’s were focused on finding the best route through the mountains for a railroad. In 1853, when an expedition was mounted to survey the west-central portion of Utah, John Gunnison was a natural choice to lead the party. His credentials were impeccable. He had cut his teeth as a surveyor for the Stansbury Expedition in 1849 and he knew the central Utah area well. Gunnison assumed command of the party, which included two survivors from Fremont’s disastrous fourth expedition of 1848, Richard Kern and Frederick Creutzfeldt. Kern was the expedition’s artist and topographer while Creutzfeldt served as botanist. The Gunnison expedition entered Utah Territory in the fall of 1853, passing through the town of Manti on its way to Fillmore. From Fillmore, the party traveled west, reaching the Gunnison Bend of the Sevier River, southwest of present-day Delta. To the west, Gunnison could see the wrinkled peaks of the House Range rising up from the Sevier Valley. To the southwest, he could see the meandering course of the Sevier River as it disappeared toward Sevier Lake. This was a good place. They made camp.

The following morning, the Gunnison Expedition awoke to the sounds of war cries and rifle shots. The end had come. A band of 30 or so Pahvant Indians descended upon the hapless explorers, killing all but four of the party. The dead included the leader, John Gunnison, and the two veterans from Fremont’s expedition, Kern and Creutzfeldt.

As he gazed westward the evening before the massacre, Gunnison may have been contemplating a route through the House Range into the Tule Valley beyond. The House Range stretches some 60 miles in a north-south direction and forms the western boundary of Sevier Valley. It extends from Sand Pass southward to the Wah-Wah Valley. Along its entire length the range is no more than 10 miles wide. House Range is transected by three major passes. Dome Canyon Pass is the northernmost pass, Marjum Canyon lies eight miles to the south, and Skull Rock Pass, south of Sawtooth Mountain, forms the southernmost and main portal through the range.

The House Range still holds many secrets. Prospectors have roamed these mountains for over two centuries. Evidence of early Spanish mining activity still occasionally surfaces. Caches of old Spanish tools and mining equipment have been discovered in the central part of the range, near the only major gold-producing area in the entire county.

Millard County has never been a major producer of gold. Only 500 ounces are officially recorded for the county. Most of this production hails from the small placer deposits of the House Range. Located in North Canyon and Miller Canyon, the gold placers were worked extensively during the 1930’s. Surely more than 500 ounces of gold were taken from the two canyons during the depression years, not to mention the efforts of the early Spaniards in the area. One story in particular has come down to us regarding an incredibly rich placer deposit somewhere in the House Range. In a single transaction, the discoverer of this placer sold more than 300 ounces of gold – 60% of the total recorded production for the entire county! The discovery occurred sometime during the late 1930’s. A Mexican sheepherder working in the House Range stumbled upon a glory hole of placer gold somewhere on the slopes of the mountains. The deposit must have been rich for the Mexican turned up in the nearby town of Delta with several sacks of fine gold dust. On one of his visits, the sheepherder sold more than 20 pounds of gold to a local doctor. Of course, the Mexican never revealed the location of his find and soon dropped out of sight. He was never seen again. Prospectors have searched the House Range for many years but the Mexican’s lost placer remains hidden to this day.

Categories: gold, Lost Treasure, Utah | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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