Lost Treasures In Michigan


At the end of the French and Indian War, France ceded the Great Lakes and the Northwest Territories to England. Twenty years later, in September 1783, England granted the Northwest Territory to the United States under the Treaty of Paris. A part of that grant became the state of Michigan, which was admitted to the Union in 1837.

Before the British began to offer competition, the French monopolized the fur trade for over a hundred years, from about 1620 to 1725. Thousands of dollars worth of furs were shipped to France. Most fur traders spent their earnings on whiskey and supplies, but a few thrifty trappers and government agents buried or hid their savings.

Sometimes, during raids into New York, Pennsylvania, and the Illinois-Ohio country, Indians would carry gold and silver with other loot back to their villages around the Lakes. Since money had no value to them, it was lost, buried, hidden, or thrown away.

Sixty-eight out of the eighty-six counties in Michigan have shown evidence that free gold and silver have appeared in several places. Also, the state has numerous ghost towns.


During Pontiac’s Uprising in 1763, Alexander Henry, an English trader, was captured by the Indians. Henry had made friends with Hippewa Chief Wawatam before the uprising. After the Indians fortified Mackinac Island, Wawatam helped Henry escape the stockade, where all the English prisoners were being kept before being killed.

Wawatam took Henry to a cave on a sandstone cliff. While spending the first night in the cave, Henry discovered a large pile of human bones, skulls, and curious objects.

The next day, Wawatam managed to ransom Henry from the other Indians so that he would not be recaptured and killed. When Henry told about the cave, a band of curious Indians went to see the place themselves. It was a discovery for these people, who had often camped on the island. Even the oldest tribe members could not account for the cave or its contents.

Some Indians remembered their tribal story of a great flood and supposed those island dwellers had taken refuge in that high cavern, where they were caught by the rising water and drowned.

Alexander Henry left Mackinac Island with Chief Wawatam and never returned. It is a certainty that the superstitious Indians never bothered the cave. From a treasure hunter’s point of view, several questions are unanswered.

What were the curious objects Henry saw? The skeletons were not Indian, or the Indians with Henry would have known about them. Who were these people? Since the bones were in a dry cave, they could have been there for centuries.

Were they the remnant of a race that predated the Indians? I can learn of no mention of this cave or its contents since Alexander Henry visited it in 1763. If nothing more, an interested treasure hunter could uncover something of an essential historical nature in this cave on the sandstone cliffs of Mackinac Island.


From the 1880s until 1902, a man named Porter Pritchard lived on a small 30-acre island in Higgins Lake in Roscommon County. Pritchard became known as the Hermit of Higgins Lake. No one knew why Porter isolated himself all those years. Although no authorities ever checked on him, it was assumed that he had murdered his wife and was hiding out.

The most widely accepted story is that Pritchard was a bounty hunter during the Civil War. Men were paid from $300 to $500 to take the place of any man who did not want to serve in the Union army. It is believed Pritchard used this method for three years to collect bounties in seven different states. If this is true, he came to the island with considerable money.

No one ever saw him spend any money except for food and tobacco. The money that Pritchard is believed to have has to still be on the island because his body was found in 1902 in the dugout he used for a home.

The money believed to be buried with his body was not found. Since this is a small island, it would be a good place for a treasure hunter to spend a vacation searching for this missing cache.


One of the bloodthirsty Indians in American history was an Ottawa named Chief Pontiac. He always returned to Cole Island in Orchard Lake, in what is now Oakland County, Michigan, after a raid or forayed into English territory.

For years, local legend has held that Pontiac buried a fortune in booty obtained during raids against white settlers in Pennsylvania and Virginia on this island. This is highly possible since Pontiac learned early in the life of the white man’s greed for gold and silver.


His orders to his warriors were always the same during a raid, “Take what you want, burn everything else and kill the prisoners.” Since Pontiac made dozens of raids during his war on the whites, called Pontiac’s Uprising, he probably buried a large quantity of loot on Cole Island.


Near Dowagiac in Cass County, it is a good area to search for glacial diamonds. Several have been found here within the last few years.


In 1874, Michigan’s biggest industry was logging. In August of that year, a gang of desperados laid to wait for the stagecoach carrying $74,000 in gold to a large lumber camp near Benton Lake. The robbery came off as planned, and the thieves made good their escape.

Knowing that the lumberjacks would soon be on their trail, the bandits buried the gold until the news of the robbery died. They selected a site between two tree stumps on the north shore of Benton Lake. There they put the money into an old cast iron stove, dug a deep hole, and buried the whole thing.

Historians say the gold is still in the iron stove, waiting for someone to find it. Experts estimate the value of the gold cache to be almost a half-million dollars today.

The general location is easy enough to find, but some difficulties are involved. Benton Lake is still on the left side of Highway 37, driving north. The lake is also south of Baldwin and west of the hamlet of Brohman. The problems are mainly due to the time-lapse. The two stumps have no doubt rotted away, and the lake’s shoreline may have changed.


This came from the magazine “Inside Michigan” in July 1953.

“In the early autumn of an unknown year, the Chippewas decided to fortify themselves in a lakeside position where they thought the Menominees, with whom they had trouble, would be most likely to attack. This was in the northern part of Benzie County, at the mouth of the Platte River.”

“By spring, the Menominees had not come across Lake Michigan from what is now Wisconsin to fight, so the Chippewas decided to cross the lake in canoes and take the Menominees by surprise.”

“Before they embarked, however, the chief took all the money that the tribe owned, two copper kettles full, carried it alone over the brow of a nearby hill, and buried it in a spot that only he knew.”

“The Chippewa warriors then launched their flotilla of canoes and crossed to the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. In Green Bay, however, a sudden storm capsized their small craft, and all of the warriors drowned.”

This is an authentic story you could very well pay someone to investigate.


In 1823, Nicholas Biddle, who ran a bank in the East, convinced a group of investors to build cities in Michigan near good harbors. One of the planned cities was Port Sheldon, in Ottawa County. The plan was to create a city the size of Chicago at the cost of $200,000,000. A railroad spur started the town, along with a large hotel with gambling halls, but the project went bankrupt in 1837.

In 1839, a mob of investors planned a raid on the hotel to collect their money from Biddle. He learned of the plan and is said to have buried a quarter million dollars in a well near the hotel. The raid didn’t happen, but Biddle was afraid to touch the money he buried and is said to have died without telling anyone where it was. I have investigated this location thoroughly and can find no record of this cache having been found.


Michigan’s most notable train robber was John Smalley, the Whiskered Train Robber. Most of his train holdups and other crimes were committed outside Michigan, but he made his home in Clare County.

It wasn’t until after his death, at the hands of a sheriff’s posse, that his true identity was learned. We don’t know how many robberies Smalley and the other people in his gang committed over a few years, but they were likely a lot.

Smalley was visiting his girlfriend, Cora Brown, in McBain, Missaukee County, on August 25, 1895, when a posse surrounded the house. When asked to surrender, Smalley refused. After his girlfriend and her mother fled out a rear door, the posse began shooting into the cabin. Smalley was hit several times and died with a gun in each hand. He was buried in the McBain Cemetery.

The question has been asked many times, where was the estimated $1,000,000 that Smalley accumulated during the several years of train robberies and other robberies? I believe that local research could pay off on this one.


Shortly after the Chicago fire, a part of the vast plunder taken during the three-day tragedy was brought in boxes to Leelanau County in a small schooner and buried by a group of five men. In 1871, that part of Michigan was sparsely settled, and the region offered an ideal spot for such an undertaking.

It is a recorded fact that during the great Chicago fire, October 8–10, 1871, looters made off with an estimated five to twenty million dollars worth of goods and valuables. Most authorities believe that most of the stolen property was taken away by boat rather than overland.

If the stories are true, none of the Chicago treasure has ever been found and should still be hidden where it was hidden. Some of this loot is thought to be buried on the peninsula in Leelanau County near Northport.


Gold has been found in 68 of the counties in Michigan.

For those interested in searching, some of the best areas are:

Near Allegan in Allegan County; on the Antrim River in Charlevoix County; on the Boyne River in Emmett County; near the town of Walton and on the Rapid River in Kalkaska County; on the Little Sable and Manistee Rivers in Manistee County; near Howard City and Greenville in Montcalm County; on the Muskegon River in Newaygo County; near the town of Whitehall and on the White River in Oceana County; near Grand Haven in Ottawa County; near the towns of Burr Oak and Marcellus in St. Joseph County; near West Summitt in Wexford County; on Ada Creek in Kent County; on the Maple River in Ionia County; in the area of Birmingham in Oakland County; around Iron Mountain in Dickenson County; and near Harrisville in Alcona County.

It could pay to pan any stream in these counties.


Here is information on a mystery ship in Lake Michigan carrying over $30,000,000 in gold. One of the most common stories about lost treasure is that a ship carrying $4.5 million in gold bullion sank near Poverty Island, off the coast of Escanaba.

The ship was not known to anyone. If Lake Michigan does hold this ship, it has the richest treasure in the Great Lakes. This nameless vessel was sailing from or to Escanaba if the legend is true. Its gold was being transported in five chests sent by a foreign power to help finance the outcome of the Civil War, in whose favor, however, nobody knows.

One theory is that the gold came from England by way of Canada and was to be shipped across Lake Michigan, taken by land to the Mississippi River, and then sent south to aid the Confederate cause.
The opposition learned of the cargo and attacked the ship. The guards chained the chests together and threw them overboard so they could get the gold later.

No one had yet identified the gold-laden ship, though it has been referred to on several of the Great Lakes shipwreck lists. The missing cargo could be worth as much as $35 to $40 million today.


The French built Fort Michilimackinac in about 1715 in Emmet County, Michigan. British troops captured the fort in 1761. During Pontiac’s uprising on June 2, 1763, Chippewa Indians overran the fort.

They killed most British soldiers and held the fort for over a year. During the battle, the British soldiers are supposed to have buried, inside the fort, a large amount of gold and silver they had accumulated in back pay.

This fort was abandoned after 1781 and soon reverted to wilderness. As far as can be learned, the gold and silver were never recovered.


This little-known cache of $1,300 may not seem like a large treasure to search for until it is remembered that $400 of that money was in gold coins and the rest in silver, all dated 1920 or earlier.

This money was never recovered after six men robbed the Farmers State Bank of Grass Lake, Michigan, on July 29, 1920, and buried the money on, or in the vicinity of, Mack Island.

On the evening of that day, four men entered the bank and tied up two officials and two bank customers with fishing lines. The bandits then proceeded to stuff over $69,000 into cloth bags. Making a clean getaway with their driver and lookout man, the gang headed for Mack Island, about five miles south.

The robbery was reported soon after it occurred, and the word was sent to Laragee in Jackson, the county seat. After arriving at the bank, a deputy sheriff named Worden noticed the fishing line used to tie up the captives.

He knew that some out-of-town fishermen were staying at Wolf Lakes, which formed Mack Island. Playing a hunch, Worden took several men and headed for the island to check on the fishermen.

Ted Harris, known to be a criminal, was on the second floor of the tenant’s house when Worden got to the island. When Worden wanted to enter Harris’ room, he was refused permission. Becoming suspicious, Worden insisted, and Harris, standing to one side, jerked the door open.

A hail of bullets came through the opening. Worden was killed instantly, and a deputy named Verl Kutt was seriously wounded.

Two of the gangsters dropped from the rear second-story window of the building and escaped into a swamp. Harris broke loose and fled into another swamp nearby. Two other gang members gave up, and the sixth bandit had been shot several times during the hail of lead from the room and was unable to move.

A few weeks later, when all of the gangsters had been captured and taken for trial, the judge, because of their reputation and the murder of the two deputy sheriffs, gave two of the gang double life sentences and the rest ten to twenty years for bank robbery and murder.

A bank audit showed that $69,851 in bonds, gold and silver coins, currency, and ad securities had been taken during the bank robbery. All of this was recovered except for $1,300.00 in gold and silver coins, which had to be hidden near the tenant’s house on Mack Island because the gangsters had not left the island. It isn’t likely that any of the gang returned, after long prison terms, for only $1,300.00.

Mack Island is five miles south of Grass Lake, between Big and Little Wolf Lakes. The tenant’s house and original buildings are gone now, and there are new homes in the area, but with the price of gold coins today, this cache would still be worth investigating.


At half past eight on the night of August 28, 1875, the 774-ton steamer COMET was carefully working through Lake Superior’s ever-dangerous Whitefish Bay. She had just rounded White Fist Point and had settled on a course for Point Iroquois, 25 miles to the east, and the entrance to the Soo Canal.

The gray fog was thick but patchy, and extra lookouts were on watch since Whitefish Bay was an area of major shipping congestion and, therefore, dangerous in clear weather, let alone fog. Through a clear area, a lookout spotted the pale running lights of another steamer heading directly toward the COMET.

Captain Francis Dugot kept the COMET on its course and tried to figure out where the other ship was going before he changed his own. However, because of the fog, he could never do so.

Without warning, the mysterious steamer nosed out of a fog bank, her sharp prow aimed directly at the COMET. With a splintering of wood, the strange bow stuck the COMET on the port side, 20 feet forward of the stern.

The COMET was an old ship, and only careful handling and management had kept her rotten, decayed hull afloat. The force of the collision was too much for the heavily loaded COMET to bear. The old wooden steamer sank within ten minutes, taking eleven of her twenty-one-man crew.

Part of the explanation for the rapid sinking of the steamer was her heavy cargo of 200 tons of pig iron and 300 tons of high-grade Montana silver ore. The silver ore was considered a loss of 50,000 dollars from 1875. What it’s worth today would be astronomical.

The remains of the COMET have never been located. Due to the fog at the time of the disaster, no accurate location sights were taken by the COMET crew. The best estimate by the captain of the COMET placed the wreck 10 miles east of Whitefish Point in a minimum of 90 feet of water.

After the ship sank, people tried to save what they could but could not find the wreck. Searches by monger divers have been equally unrewarding, but it’s out there somewhere, and records prove it. After over a century, $50,000 in silver ore remains unaccounted for.


Drummond Island, off Chippewa County, is at the northern end of Lake Huron. This island extends about 12 miles east to west at its widest point. Of importance to us is that it is the source of at least four treasure tales.

One reads about a French fur trader who established a post on Drummond Island in the 1750s, which is not very well known. As time went on, the fur trader became mentally unbalanced. During one of his more disturbed days, he lugged a pot of gold coins into the woods and secreted it.

When his family discovered that the trader’s fortune was missing, they questioned him at length about it, but the old fellow refused to reveal the location of his cache, going to his grave with the secret.

The island was a hub of British military activity in 1813 when the Redcoats built another fort. General Monk was in charge of the army funds, which were kept in an iron chest. As was the custom in those early days, Monk buried the pay chest for safekeeping. Perhaps the rigors of military life on the frontier were too much for General Monk, for he eventually became hopelessly insane and would not, or could not, tell where the chest was hidden.

The British abandoned the fort in 1828 and were forced to leave without their pay chest. It is still where Monk stashed it. Old Fort Drummond had 14 buildings and was two miles from the channel landing on the island’s southwestern tip. You can still see foundation walls, chimneys, and fireplaces by the natural parade ground and the old fort’s cemetery.

In the 1760s, the British lived on Drummond Island. There is an old story about two enlisted men who stole the payroll from the garrison then. Old stories say the soldiers planned to hide on the heavily forested island until the search stopped.

This seemed like a good plan until the fort’s commandant announced a reward of $20 in gold for the heads of the thieves. Two Indians decided to find the thieves because of this. A few days later, they returned to the fort with the thieves’ heads cut off, but not the payroll. The two thieves had buried it before the Indians killed them. A further search was fruitless.

Potagannissing Bay, on the west side of Drummond Island, is also the reported site of another treasure, $55,000 in gold coins, but little is known about this treasure other than the amount.


Old Francois Fontenoy, an Indian trader, supposedly buried a brass kettle full of coins on Wayne County’s Presque Isle in the Detroit River. The old Frenchman had amassed a fortune in the fur trade many years before the burial date.

Like so many wealthy men of his time, he buried his fortune in the ground for safekeeping. Old records of the Northwest Territory mention this treasure, but little is known about it.


The first shipwreck recorded in Michigan’s wild waters is that of Nicolet’s Griffin, near the northern end of Lake Michigan. In the following centuries, more than four hundred ships were known to have taken a final voyage straight down.

Here are a few of the most famous:

In 1847, the Phoenix sank off Sheboygan, Wisconsin, losing 250 lives. Most of them were Dutch immigrants whose trunks were full of gold they had saved up from their lives. At least one family is known to have had more than $100,000 worth.

In 1854, the Westmoreland took to the bottom $100,000 in gold, $95,000 worth of whiskey, and other cargo.

In 1860, the LADY ELGIN sank off Winnetka, Illinois, with 297 lives lost, many of which were wealthy residents of Chicago’s North Shore out on a day’s outing.

In 1868, the SEABIRD went down off Lake Forest, Illinois, with about 100 passengers, 66 barrels of fine whiskey, and an unknown quantity of gold and silver.

In 1905, the ship ARGO sank off the coast of Holland, Michigan. It was carrying more than $100,000 worth of “miscellaneous cargo,” a term that divers and salvagers find interesting.

In 1929, the car ferry Milwaukee, which contained 27 railroad boxcars of general freight, sank.

In 1956, the PRINS WILLEM V sank off Milwaukee with a multi-million dollar cargo. Despite its proximity to the shore, this vessel has so far resisted all efforts to retrieve her cargo.


One of the early settlers in central Michigan was a man named William Van Sickle. In the summer of 1838, he settled in the southern quarter of section 31, near the town of Ovid, 35 miles northeast of Lansing.
Van Sickle, a bachelor, cleared a small area and built a fairly comfortable cabin, but all efforts at improvement stopped there.

Several strangers seemed to be Van Sickle’s constant companions. None of the men were particularly neighborly, but this wasn’t unusual, for neighbors were few and far between. When a neighbor stopped by, he was always invited in for coffee or a meal. However, Van Sickle and his friends never returned their neighbors’ visits.

The men made frequent trips, always one or two at a time. Whether they went by horse or buggy, they usually returned in a few days, frequently with provisions. For a time, it was assumed they were hunting deer and wild turkeys since the men neither farmed nor made any efforts to clear the land.

Even so, Van Sickle always had an adequate larder supplied with wild game and other goodies not usually found in early settler’s homes.

Soon the local settlers and merchants noticed an increasing number of newly minted Mexican silver dollars in circulation. Also, they remembered Van Sickle always had cash for supplies, though cash was rather scarce.

Before long, the nosy neighbors decided van Sickle’s place was a hideout for counterfeiters.

Henry Leach of Scioto told the authorities in Detroit about Van Sickle’s group, and they sent an expedition to catch them. For years afterward, Van Sickle’s old place was Bogus Settlement.

Now comes an important question for modern-day treasure hunters, where did Van Sickle acquire his raw silver? Did it come from the Indians? He might have hidden some silver near his cabin, but it was missed when he was caught. Were any counterfeit cousins buried nearby? If so, the silver or the coins could be found even later.

The cabin is long gone, but a determined treasure hunter might find traces of it. Further research and work with a metal detector could pay off.


Guesses about the value of ships and cargo that have disappeared into the Great Lakes begin at $50,000,000. The disappearance of many of these vessels is shrouded in mystery, but none more so than the Chicora.

On the stormy winter night of January 21, 1895, the large passenger steamer CHICORA left St. Joseph, Michigan, for the short trip across the southern end of Lake Michigan to Chicago, Illinois. Still, she sailed out into Lake Michigan and oblivion.

The Chicora was last reported off Benton Harbor, Michigan, but was seen no more after that. There was no distress signal, no known survivors, and no sign that the Chicora ever existed. On one board, when she vanished, were 120 barrels of whiskey and over $50,000 in gold, silver, and currency.

In the late 1960s, a fisherman’s net snared bits of wreckage in the southwestern part of the lake, which was thought to be from the Chicora. Other sources believe she never got more than 10 miles southwest of St. Joseph, where she lies in 10 fathoms of water.

The U.S. Coast Guard has recorded no efforts to recover the Chicora. The U.S. Weather Bureau, which includes the Chicora on its official list of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, does not know any part of the vessel ever being located or salvaged.


The Detroit area, which includes Inkster, has produced at least one prime coin shooting area, Sugar Island. This is a deserted piece of land in the Detroit River between Michigan and Canada, just south of the city of Detroit.

Sugar Island was the site of a big amusement park in the early 1900s. Now only a few battered foundations and docks remain, along with dozens of coins lost by careless pleasure seekers.

Most coins date from the late 1860s to the early 1900s, making them worth many times their face value. You’ll need a small boat to reach the island, but the trip could be well worth the trouble.


Somewhere off the coast of Michigan’s rugged Keweenaw Peninsula, covered by Lake Superior’s cold, clear water, rests the steamer SUNBEAM, with $10,000 in hard currency, at yesteryear’s prices, in her safe and a small fortune in heavy copper ingots stored in her hold.

The 400-ton wooden steamer flourished in the Great Lakes trade in 1861. Since she was built at the cost of $50,000, Midwest newspapers hailed the SUNBEAM as the finest and most expensive steamer on the lakes. With ports of call at Chicago, Superior City, Wisconsin, Mackinaw Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Copper Harbour, Eagle Harbor, and Ontonagon, the SUNBEAM, did a very profitable business until Thursday, August 28, 1863.

At 6:00 p.m. on that fateful day, Captain William Dougall was easing the SUNBEAM out of Ontonagon Harbor into the open reaches of Lake Superior. Her next stop was Copper Harbor, 80 miles away at the tip of Keweenaw Peninsula. Tucked away in the ship’s safe, as previously mentioned, was an estimated $10,000, while deep in her hold were many tons of pure copper.

At first, the SUNBEAM steamed into a moderate easterly breeze, but the wind suddenly shifted to the north-northeast and increased to gale force. Until Friday morning, the ship successfully rode out of the storm, but her luck changed.

With increasing regularity, waves swept over the SUNBEAM’s deck, washing away everything that wasn’t properly secured and much of what was. The constant pounding of the waves had opened her seams, and water poured into her hold.

Finally, 24 miles short of her destination at Copper Harbor, Captain Dougall attempted to turn the SUNBEAM away from the teeth of the gale and run with the storm until it moderated. It seemed the only way he could save his ship, passengers, and crew.

But the SUNBEAM could not complete the turn. The ship became caught in the trough of the waves. Try as she might, the wooden steamer couldn’t escape her dangerous predicament, and the inevitable happened. The increasing violence of the storm forced the SUNBEAM over on her beam ends, and her fate was sealed.

At 8 p.m. that Friday evening, Captain Dougall reluctantly ordered them to abandon ship. In the heaving seas, it was a difficult order to carry out. However, within minutes, one lifeboat and the ship’s yawl were filled with passengers and crew, the other having been washed overboard by the waves.

Because of the loss of a lifeboat earlier in the gale, the remaining lifeboat and yawl were dangerously overloaded.

All told, 26 passengers and crew lost their lives. Divers have not ignored a potential bonanza like the SUNBEAM. The steamer has been the object of many searches, all fruitless. She is still hidden by the icy depths of Lake Superior and still carries a fortune in currency and copper that is all yours if you can find her.


Silas was called Sile in local communities, and Doty was almost a legendary figure in Branch and Hilldale Counties, Michigan. He is described as being no less than a Robin Hood, though in real life, he was quite the contrary, as he was the West’s first notable outlaw.

At the beginning of Doty’s career in the early 1800s, Indiana was considered the West. Doty was mean, cunning as a fox, and a murderously inclined thief. He later spent more than half his life in penitentiaries in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Doty died in 1876 at the age of 76.

When law enforcement officers were after him, Doty hid on a friend’s fertile farm near Hilldale. Also, in times of need, he scurried o to his son’s and married daughter’s farms near Coldwater. When Silas wanted to disappear without a trace, he vanished into the swampy lakes in Steuben County near Fremont and Angola.

Doty made scores of little caches, from $100 to more than a thousand dollars in gold and silver. Several caches were on his friend’s farm or the property of his son or daughter. But most of his secret caches were on little wooded isles hidden in the boggy swamps. He had several cabins on the island and moved from one to the other whenever strangers searched the country.

Doty’s rakes sold stolen horses, cattle, swine, butchered meat, loads of sacked grain, new harnesses, and farming machinery. He also pulled a few country store burglaries. When not sojourning in jail, he especially cleaned up during the Civil War as the leader of a gang of thieves. When men returned home from the Union Army, they were forced to become more cautious.

Accused of five or six cold-blooded murders, he was convicted only once of second-degree murder early in his life. Jails failed to hold him, and he repeatedly escaped, once into Mexico, to allow things to cool off.

The law enforcement officers never found more than a couple of silver dollars on Doty. The rest of his plunder was safe on the ground. Three of Doty’s caches were accidentally found years ago. There were a couple hundred dollars in one cache, $500 in another, and about $1,000 in the third.

Trace down the sites of the old farms where Dota hid out and the Fremont and Angola regions where he once prowled. You may find a small cache of either gold or silver minted coins that, long ago, would bring a nice chunk of money. Most swampy lakes have been drained, but the islands are still recognizable.


The story is that Silver Jack Driscoll made many secret trips into the Huron Mountains and came back with his packs full of huge gold and silver nuggets, backed up by many facts.

It was in the late 1880s that the close-mouthed old lumberjack and prospector first came to L’Anse for supplies. The unusual thing about the old prospector’s visits was that he paid for his purchases with pure gold and silver nuggets.

The lumberjack was forgotten until his second visit, and his supplies were paid for in the same manner as the first. This now began to excite some of the citizens. But, no matter how hard several of them tried to persuade him to talk about his find, the cunning old lumberjack cheerfully avoided all questions about the source of his nuggets or the location where they were discovered.

Silver Jack would say that after his logging days were over, he would stake a claim and retire with a fortune from his mine.

Jack was followed several times but always returned to his regular job at one of the many lumber camps on the Yellowdog River. There he would remain until his followers gave up in disgust and returned to L’Anse.

This little game between Jack and his pursuers continued for several years until, unfortunately, on April Fools Day in 1895, Jack caught a cold after returning from the spring log drive and contracted pneumonia from working several weeks in the icy cold waters of the river.

Jack died too soon in a boarding house on the outskirts of L’Anse. He never told anyone how rich he was or had a chance to file a claim.

The remote area where Jack found his gold and silver probably lies near the headwaters of the Yellowdog River, which rises in the foothills of the Huron Mountains, some twenty-five miles east of L’Anse.


Somewhere off Grand Island in Lake Superior lies a golden hoard of $30,000 in double eagles, just waiting for some lucky treasure hunter. The gold and 216 barrels of good-drinking whiskey were the cargo of the steamer SUPERIOR, which sank during a savage storm on October 29, 1856.

The SUPERIOR left Sault Ste. Marie, on October 29, bound for the mining towns on Michigan’s rugged Keweenaw Peninsula. The gold she carried was the payroll for men working in the copper mines.
By 11 p.m., the SUPERIOR was caught in a vicious northwest gale.

Gold, gray swells swept her decks and carried away the stack and part of her deck cabins. The steamer continued pushing her blunt bow into the onrushing seas, sending a spray wave into the darkness. About a half hour later, a wave of demonic fury carried away her rudder, leaving the steamer completely at the story’s mercy. It was only a matter of time before the SUPERIOR sank.

Early the next morning, a crewman shouted, “Rocks!” The rolling waves pushed the steamer inexorable toward them. Before striking the rocks, the captain dropped anchor so the ship would swing into the rocks stern first. He hoped she would hold together long enough for the passengers and crew to scramble to safety, but it was not.

A towering wave snapped the anchor chain, and the SUPERIOR was blown broadside onto the sharpened granite rocks. Within 15 minutes, she was destroyed. Of 46 passengers and crew, only 11 reached the shore alive.

After wandering over the desolate island for two days, they were rescued. When questioned, the shocked survivors could not indicate where the ship had run aground.

Near Grand Island, under the icy water of Lake Superior, there is a safe with 15 canvas bags full of $20 gold pieces.


About 75 miles north of Michigan’s northernmost point, a fantastic treasure trove of silver lies beneath a square chunk of rock. One of the richest silver mines in the world has a ton of ore assayed at $17,000. This is Silver Island, located off the north shore of Lake Superior, one of the stormiest waters on the globe.

The secret of this 1870 find would be to curtail the high waves that almost completely cover the island during heavy storms.

After several failures with logs and piling, a huge dam of rocks temporarily licked the raging sea. During the following 13 years, some $4,000,000 in silver was mined. The shaft, 100 feet deep and extending out under Lake Superior, was worked year around.

However, the mine stopped in the fall of 1884 when the boat hauling the coal to fuel the boilers failed to beat the winter freeze-up. The pumps that kept the shaft dry depended on this coal. So, on November 13, 1884, Lake Superior did seal the mine for good.

Speculation is that there may be a million dollars in the massive pillars supporting the mine shaft. So, until someone devises a system of recovery, the rich silver vein of Silver Island will stay there.


A reported treasure of several thousand dollars lies buried along the banks f Swan Creek in Saginaw County. The treasure is a logging payroll for one of the early-day lumber camps. From the company’s headquarters in the south, the money was sent by water to the Saginaw area.

An Indian uprising caused the two men transporting the money to bury it in haste along the creek bank. The exact location could not be found later as it was in the darkness of night.

One of the landmarks given at the time was an old bridge. Remains of an old bridge are still in the area and are located about one mile south of the Crooked Creek Gold Course.


Big Beaver Island, in Charlevoix County, was known in 1847 as the Kingdom of King James Strang. From 1847 to 1856, he was the leader of a group of Mormons. He was killed by members of his sect in July 1856 when a disagreement arose.

That same month, a mob raided the settlement and forced all the Mormons off the island. The thrifty Mormons had accumulated several thousand dollars in gold, which it is believed they hid on the island and neighboring islands before leaving.

King James had two outlaw brothers whom he had appointed as leaders of a band of robbers to plunder the mainland, waylay visitors to the island, and rob the mail. During King James’ reign, these brothers were supposed to have buried loot at the lower end of Big Beaver Island at a spot called Rock Mountain Point.


In the 1870s, about one mile south of Fayette, in Delta County, a saloon was owned and operated by a man named Jim Summers. He also kept several women almost as slaves inside what was called the stockade.

Eventually, a vigilante group raided the place, beat the owner almost to death, and burned the buildings. The mob left Summer’s body on the beach, but the next morning it was gone. It was assumed he had revived, tried to get away by swimming, and drowned.

Rumors have persisted for years that Summers had buried a bag of fold coins near his tavern. This is highly possible because the Jackson Iron Company paid its employees between $5,000 and $6,000 in gold every month, and a large part of it was spent in Summers’ saloon. As far as is known, the rumored gold was never found.


Douglas Houghton was Michigan’s first geologist. Between 1837 and 1845, he found gold on many of his surveys in the Upper Peninsula. On one of his trips with an Indian guide, he discovered a rich gold vein between L’Ance and Marquette.

Several months later, while on another trip, his boat overturned, and Houghton drowned. His body was found the next spring. Since he kept no records or notes of his surveys, the gold deposits were lost. All efforts to find his Indian guide failed.

Without a doubt, this story contains some truth. More than $600,000 in gold was taken from the Ropes Mine in Marquette County when Houghton found his gold lode. A spectacular specimen of gold ore from the Michigan mine in the same area was exhibited at the Worlds Fair in Chicago in 1893.


In Section 6 of Bloomer Township, Ionia County, on a hill between Vickersville and Butternut, the proceeds from several robberies are believed to be buried. Two brothers committed several robberies in the area. In 1910, they were killed during one of their forays. Before he died, one of them told the police the location of a large part of the money they had accumulated, but it had never been recovered.

Jason Smith

I am a Marine who now works as a Web Developer. I have five US States left to visit. I like whiskey, wine, and coffee, soaking in hot springs or in my hot tub.

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