Nevada arose from mineral discovery. The first settlers in the state were the Mormons, who came in 1849. In the same year, gold was discovered near Virginia City. In 1859, placer mining in that gulch uncovered the famous Comstock Lode, the richest deposit of precious metals ever found on earth.
Overnight, Virginia City became the new El Dorado, luring fortune hunters from all over the world.
For the treasure hunter, almost any location can be found in Nevada. Lost mines, Indian, bandit, cattleman, and prospector caches are known to be within the state. With research, a metal detector, and a little luck, some of this long-lost treasure can be found.
The French prospector’s eyes widened in surprise. Flickering light from his sagebrush fire glowed dimly on gold nuggets strewn on the floor of the cave he had chosen for shelter. A sudden rainstorm had caused him to stumble upon this unexpected desert bonanza.
At the time of his discovery, the Frenchman was traveling east from Surprise Valley across Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The deposit of gold was substantial. Later, he was to report that he had found a second compartment in the cave’s rear paved with gold.
After the rainstorm, he filled a bag with nuggets and secured it to his saddle. He carefully looked at the places around him, and then he went on his trip again, feeling confident that he could easily return.
As he rode along, the heavy gold wore a hole in the sack, and much of it was lost.
However, he still had enough to fire the imagination of others when he arrived home. After obtaining supplies, he returned with several companions to begin mining operations. He hoped to follow his tracks back to the cave.
But along the way, the temperature dropped drastically. Snow began to fall. The group wasn’t ready for the sudden cold, so a Frenchman caught a cold that quickly became pneumonia and killed him.
The cave was located in a solidified deposit of water-worn pebbles. The only problem was that dozens of such caves in the area fit his description, but none contained gold.
Although they searched for months, his companions could never find the proper cave. Undoubtedly, it is still there in the Black Rock Desert. According to the Frenchman’s story, when you go into a cave and light a fire, you will discover that the cave floor is paved with gold nuggets.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who would later gain fame and fortune as the beloved Mark Twain, was more than just a writer. He also knew a lot about mining and looking for gold because he had spent a lot of time in the California gold camps.
In 1860, young Clemens worked as a newspaper reporter on the “Territorial Enterprise” in Virginia City, Nevada Territory. The fabulous Comstock Mine had been discovered only a year before, and the hustling town was booming. New strikes were being made daily, and millionaires were created overnight. Silver was king.
Naturally, young Clemens spent some of his spare hours prospecting in the gulches and canyons surrounding the town. What he was looking for, however, was gold. Even though the precious metal hadn’t been found yet in the area, he was sure it was there.
While prowling one morning, a dark outcropping caught his eye. He broke off a few pieces with his prospecting pick and delivered them to the assay office.
Three days later, the report was ready. His heart jumped as he read the figures-silver, $80 per ton, gold, $600 per ton! Just as abruptly, his elation died as he read further. “Unfortunately,” the report continued, “the ore is of a type which cannot be processed by any means now available.” The gold was there, all right, but so locked into the rock that it could not be removed.
Twenty years passed, and a rich and famous Sam Clemens read of a revolutionary new process that used cyanide in a water solution to recover gold from any ore. He thought back to the large dark outcropping. But it was too late.
Clemens never mentioned his find to anyone in Virginia City. The records indicate no claim was ever filed in that particular canyon, and no more of that type was ever worked there. So in some canyon near present-day Virginia City, a large, dark outcropping still awaits discovery. At today’s prices, Mark Twain’s lost lode would be worth a staggering $8000 per ton.
One day in 1872, a gold prospector known only as Lawrence arrived at the old O. D. Cass Ranch, now the site of Las Vegas. He left the following morning and traveled southeasterly toward the Colorado River.
In the volcanic formations characteristic of this country, Lawrence’s attention was drawn to a seam of blue “mud,” which ran at right angles to the surrounding formation. He carried away a few samples of the substance, which he later panned out, and recovered a handful of “rocks” or “crystals.”
After carrying the rocks with him for some time, Lawrence asked a jeweler in Los Angeles if they were worth anything. They were, according to the jeweler, three-and-a-half-carat diamonds!
Under the impression that he could return to the seam of blue mud at any time, Lawrence is said to have given the diamonds to friends. But when he went back to wash out more diamonds, the blue seam had vanished. He was never able to locate it again.
In the foothills of the Toquima Range of central Nevada, 15 miles north of Manhattan, lies the deserted mining camp of Round Mountain.
The Round Mountain Mining Company built a mill to process their rich claims after they found placer gold in 1906. By 1912, the mine had produced five million dollars.
This wealth attracted less-desirable folks, and soon the company was looking for Carl Flasch, who was wanted for questioning in the disappearance of a bar of gold bullion from the mill.
The sheriff at Austin, Nevada, deputized a bartender named Lees to go after Flasch, who was headed down Ione Valley in a buckboard. Lees deputized Jack Bryan to help in the chase.
The pair reported they had caught up with Flasch about a mile above Grandpa Bowler’s place and shouted for him to stop. Instead, Flasch whipped his horses into a gallop and began shooting.
Bryan circled in the brush, shot one of Flasch’s horses, and stopped the buckboard. Flasch then jumped off, still hitting, and refused to give up until he was dropped.
Later that day, Herman Albert found Flasch lying face down in the road, just out of reach of his outstretched arm, with his rifle in his hand. The buckboard, loaded with gear, still had one horse in its harness. The second horse was dead.
The missing gold bar was never found. If Flasch cached it, he died with the knowledge of a secret. It could lie hidden somewhere in the vicinity of Round Mountain.
Nearly $32,000 in cash is believed to lie buried somewhere in Six Mile Canyon, a short distance from Virginia City, Nevada. The loot was hidden in 1927 by bank robbers fleeing their crime scene.
They had pulled a holdup in broad daylight at the Virginia City branch of the Bank of California. The holdup had netted them $32,000. With the law close on their heels, they hastily buried most of the money, then were apprehended a short time later.
A search was done, but the money was never recovered. So far as it is known, the cached loot still awaits some lucky treasure hunter in Six Mile Canyon.
In 1877, two unarmed brothers and a mule skinner drove a wagon from Utah to the area where there were still Mormons. They also brought two chests with $20,000 in silver coins to invest in the Colorado Mining Company.
At Mountain Springs, the three men were attacked by Indians. One brother was killed, and the other two men, both of whom were injured, were presumed dead. Some days later, the two survivors were found near death from blood loss and exposure. Taken to the Colorado Mining Company camp, they were placed in the care of the cook, a Paiute Indian woman. The brother told the woman that just before the attack, he and the mule skinner had taken the two chests of silver coins from the wagon and hidden them behind a large rock. After the attack, they dug a shallow hole and buried the chests after they had regained sufficient strength.
The two men died a few days after confiding their secret to the Indian woman. She immediately searched the battle site and found the charred remains of the brothers’ wagon. She dug around the big rocks in the area alone and tried to hide her movements, but she couldn’t find the two chests of coins. After revealing the information to others, she was aided in her search, but no treasure is known to have been found.
A man in the Old West became a legend in his lifetime because he carried the mail. He was “Snowshoe” Thompson, a man who was indeed an athlete, although not in the competitive sense-unless you consider the Sierra Nevada Mountains part of the winter competition.
Thompson lived during the days before the railroads opened up the west. All transportation between California and Nevada was expensive, slow, and uncertain.
During the summer, travelers had little difficulty traveling from Carson Valley over the Sierras to California. The mail flowed back and forth with few problems. But in the winter months, when the high passes were choked with snow, the mail was halted. Those affected resigned to waiting until the United States government decided to do something about the situation.
A Norwegian named John A. Thompson volunteered to carry the mail from Genoa and Placerville during the winter. The miners and their families accepted his offer. On one of his trips, Thompson stopped to rest on the trail a few miles south of Genoa.
As he got to his feet, a glance at an outcrop of quartz sticking through the snow banks stopped him, for he noticed streaks of mineralization in it. The streaks in the white rock carried gold! He gathered a few samples and finished the trip, telling no one except his wife about his find.
On later trips, he brought back more ore samples and sometimes talked with his wife about the gold he had found and what he would do when he retired.
He planned how to develop the property, build the road, and do other things needed to mine the gold when he had time.
Unfortunately for his wife, while plowing and seeding in Diamond Valley one spring, Snowshoe came down with pneumonia and died on May 15, 1876. His wife and son were practically penniless and finally moved away, never having found the one that would have made them rich.
Most people believe that Thompson had indeed stumbled upon a rich gold-bearing ledge. But the only clue was his frequent remark to his wife that he could look up to the mountains from his house and see right where the gold was.
Those who know the story and its facts do not doubt that Thompson’s lost gold ledge is a reality.
When the owners of the Boss Mine, a copper mine near Goodsprings (in Clark County), were notified that a yellow-gray substance in their copper was platinum worth $70 to $90 per refined ounce, it raised an important question. Was there also platinum in the mine dump? A test was made that showed the same values as the sample. Immediate steps were taken to recover the fortune that had been cast aside. It is said that a single carload of this dump material yielded $135,000.
The vicinity around Goodsprings was thoroughly explored. No other platinum, however, was found. The Boss Mine was methodically investigated and worked, but it showed no further trace of platinum. Mining experts decided that one huge pocket had been struck and its supply exhausted.
Some geologists suggest that the platinum in the Boss Mine was only a part of a vast deposit that formed centuries ago and that the mother lode is still concealed somewhere in the area.
Round Mountain, Nevada, boasted a million dollars recovered to the mile, but that wasn’t counting what was high-grade. Almost all of the miners were either high-graded or carried off whatever they could get away with.
One man sneaked out of town and cached 50 ounces. He used a large rock for a marker and then stepped off 52 steps in a northeasterly direction. Two large sagebrush trees dug a hole, and a peanut butter jar holding 50 ounces was quickly deposited. This happened during the night.
Later, when the miner returned to recover his wealth, he couldn’t find the sagebrush. He eventually moved from Round Mountain but made trips back occasionally to search for his gold. Finally, he revealed his secret to the owner of the only bar in Round Mountain, saying he was giving it up. If the bartender could locate the cache, he was welcome to it.
The bartender related this story to others. He had searched for gold for several years but was unsuccessful.
This gold is believed to be still there, so you can try your luck.
John Easterly fled Utah from the wrath of a Mormon bishop, taking his legal wife and two daughters, Mary, age 18, and another, age 15. Deep in Nevada, they were attacked by Goshute Indians. Easterly fought them off, but when the Indians retreated, they kidnapped the 15-year-old girl. No more was ever heard of her.
Journeying on to the headwaters of the Humboldt River, Easterly and the surviving daughter came down with mountain fever. They had to lay over ten days. Easterly was an experienced prospector, and when he grew stronger, he found a rich vein of gold. He broke off several pieces and planned to stake claims, but Paiute Indians attacked their camp. Easterly, the two women fled under cover of darkness, making their way to Jacob’s Veil.
Mary became ill again and died, and Easterly and his wife went south to Carson City, where the samples were analyzed. It turned out that each chunk was worth $75. Gold was brought into Carson City every day, but the richness of Easterly’s ore created intense excitement.
Several searches for this deposit were done, but it was never found.
Gravelly Ford is located on the Humboldt River, about three miles east of Beowawe, Nevada. Emigrants on the westbound trail couldn’t get through Palisade Canyon, which is west of Carlin, so they detoured over the Tuscarora Range to a broad, shallow place that they named Gravelly Ford.
The Shoshone Indians were also quite fond of Gravelly Ford since it was an ideal spot to ambush tired wagon trains. The Indians have a story about how the money from many ambushes was taken to the Indian camp and buried or hidden to keep it safe. The location of this Indian camp is no longer known.
Even if the camp is never found, a small treasure remains at Gravelly Ford. An old cabin once stood close to the ford. The cabin owner had saved $600 in gold coins, which was attested to by two different people who knew him well. The coins’ owner died suddenly, leaving his $600 worth of coins for the first person who could find them. His friends searched inside the cabin but did not turn up anything. It is possible that the coins were buried nearby.
Travelers between Eureka and Duckwater had to stop at Pogue’s Station. It was the only water source along that hot, dusty fifty-mile stretch of road. Besides, he had contracts with both stage and freight companies to water and feed the horses and passengers.
Pogue was an unpleasant man who cared not a whit about winning friends. He was satisfied if people paid for their food, water, and lodging. Suspicious and bitter, he would jump at any excuse to add an extra charge to his guests’ bills.
No one, of course, could say what had turned Jim Pogue sour on life, for he had no friends in whom he confided. Some speculated that the same event that prompted him to build the way station also gave him a twisted perspective on life. Years ago, he had been robbed by two outlaws who took every cent he had and left him in the scorching desert without water, a horse, or even a gun. Eventually, when he was all but famished, he came upon a little spring.
The spring water saved Pogue’s life and sparked his imagination. Water in the desert was a precious commodity, and the location of this spring made it doubly valuable.
During the next few weeks, Pogue painstakingly widened and deepened the spring. Finally, he had a dependable well, not a mere spring that would likely go dry. Using water from his well, he made an adobe, blending in what straw he could find. Then, still working alone, he built his stage stop, consisting of several buildings, a barn, and a corral. Now the water was making him a fortune. It has been estimated that Pogue took in more than $100 a day during about half the year, and for the other six months, it was not much less.
A frugal man, Pogue spent scarcely any money on himself. He never went anywhere. If he had, he would have hired someone to run the station. That would have cost him money. He did not bank his profits, and he was never robbed. Evidently, he hid his money around the station.
He must have saved a considerable fortune with the estimated $25,000 or more he made from his station each year. But Pogue’s business dwindled as automobiles became more and more popular.
The bitter older man died in 1915, having lived a lonely and friendless life. Naturally, with his death, people began wondering where he had put all that money, and only one answer made any sense. The money was still hidden near his station since he had never left it.
Except for two small finds, one consisting of a few coins and the other of $11, Pogue’s treasure has never been found. Somewhere around the old stage station, corral, and barn is the fortune that Pogue forced from travelers.
On November 4, 1870, five men robbed an east-bound Central-Pacific Railroad passenger train near the small station of Verdi, about eight miles from Reno. A confederate had telegraphed to the bandits from San Francisco that the train’s express car would be carrying $60,000 in gold coins. It was a Wells Fargo shipment consigned to Reno. For his part in the crime, the informant received $2895, which was to be buried at a certain spot for recovery later.
The robbery succeeded. The strongbox was seized, taken into the woods, broken open, and the informant’s fee counted out. The rest of the gold was divided into five parts. As agreed, the informant’s $2,895 was buried near an abandoned mine tunnel overlooking the railroad at the crime scene. Then the bandits fled in separate directions, each hiding his share of the loot as he saw fit.
When Wells Fargo agents caught the criminals, they were sent to prison after telling them where they had hidden their stashes. All of these were recovered, but none of the robbers lived to reclaim the $2895 buried near the little station at Verdi, and Wells Fargo agents never seem to have found it.
A wagon train was returning east from California during the gold rush days. Its members had been successful in the California mines, and their wagons carried quite a load of gold. On the journey, they met an Indian in need and gave him food and clothing. Out of gratitude, the man attached himself to the party as a kind of self-appointed guard and scout. In this country, where a friendly Indian was rare, his services were welcome.
Riding ahead one day in his chosen position, the Indian met some tribesmen on the warpath. Unable to turn them back by persuasion, he eluded them and raced back to warn the white men, whom he found camped at the base of a mountain peak in the northern part of what is now Humboldt County.
When the travelers heard the Indian’s warning, they quickly unloaded their gold, buried it on the slope of the peak, and got ready for the attack. At dawn the following day, they were overwhelmed by screaming Indians. All the wagon train members were killed, and their wagons were rifled and burned.
It is said that a man named Thompson, the first surveyor in that part of the country, found the remains of the wagons years later and named the cliff Disaster Peak. The Disaster Peak Treasure has never been found.
Among the hardy forty-niners who came west for a fresh start in the newly-discovered California gold country was a middle-aged jeweler from Missouri. His wagon was loaded with fine diamonds, emeralds, rubies, ladies’ gold and silver gem-encrusted brooches, gold watches, and six hundred silver dollars.
On the way across southwestern Nevada, the jeweler and his fellow emigrants camped at Indian Springs in the Amargosa Desert, just east of Death Valley. Here they filled their water barrels and made a mistake that was soon to prove fatal.
The travelers took all the corn and melons that the Paiute Indians had grown in the Springs area before they left. This was a cardinal sin for the Paiutes, who depended on these crops for their lives. When they discovered the theft the next day, they set out in hot pursuit of the wagons with murder in their hearts.
The Indians soon caught up with the slow-moving emigrants, and during the heated battle that ensued, the jeweler was fatally wounded, leaving no heir to his hoard of wealth.
Many of the men and oxen were killed in the skirmish. The survivors quickly buried their dead and belongings because they feared the angry Paiutes would bring more people and attack again.
They hid the jeweler’s heavy trunks of money and jewelry in a hole close to his grave. They were only concerned with carrying enough water to escape the vengeful Indians. In a desperate attempt to hide the burials from the Paiutes, the emigrants burned the wagons over the graves.
Sometime later, an old Death Valley pioneer, Dad Fairbanks, learned of this battle from the Indians. He was led to the burned wagons by Ash Meadows Charley, who had taken part in the skirmish, but they couldn’t find the treasure.
Sometime before 1870, George Washington Mardis went to northeastern Nevada and soon became a familiar figure in Charleston and Jarbridge. Mardis preferred the solitude and loneliness of the hills, and, as he often stated, “I was a-skeered o’ nothin’!” He struck out into the canyons of the Bruneau River and was gone from human habitation for many months.
It was late in the spring of 1870 when the old scout came back to civilization with news that he had struck it rich. Several dubious prospectors accompanied him back to his place and authenticated the strike, staking many claims on the Bruneau themselves.
Mardis prospered, and soon after, he married and became a family man. A few years later, he bought a small ranch and raised horses to supply the miners.
Around 1880, while on his way to Elko to deposit his year’s accumulation of gold dust and coins (about $50,000), he was waylaid, robbed, and murdered by a Chinese man near a place known as Penrod Bridge. The murderer was tracked down and hung on the spot.
The gold, which was not found on the Chinese man, was probably buried near Penrod Bridge, but to date, it has never been found.
The murder of a mail coach driver in 1916 set the stage for one of Nevada’s best-authenticated buried treasure stories. The scene of the murder was Jarbridge, now a scenic ghost town. But when the crime occurred, Jarbridge was a prosperous mining community in northern Nevada, near the Idaho border.
In the 1870s, two Mormons who were looking for land to farm found gold in the area. They worked their mine for many years, selling the gold in Elko and Tuscarora.
Jarbridge had no banks in those days. The Rogerson stage brought in payrolls. The stage arrived hours late on December 5, 1916. It was payday, and concern deepened when Mrs. Dexter, who lived a short distance from town, reported that the mail coach had passed her house on schedule.
It was late in the evening, but the postmaster organized a search party. At 8 p.m., the stage was found several hundred feet from the road in the hills to the north of Jarbridge. It had been concealed beneath a clump of trees. The driver was still in his seat, dead.
The motive was apparent; a robbery had taken place. Mail sacks were covered with blood, as was most of the mail. One envelope bore the bloody imprint of a human palm.
Dawn saw every non-disabled man in Jarbridge assembled at the post office. The posse moved to the robbery scene, and the search was on. Within minutes, a trail of blood was discovered in the snow.
The trail led directly to the outskirts of town, where a small bridge crossed the Jarbridge River. Beneath the bridge were found a few postcards. These were distributed to their rightful owners. But more important was the discovery of an overcoat and a blood-stained shirt with a laundry mark at the back of the collar. The laundry mark led the posse to a man named Neb Hulk.
That afternoon, Hulk was arrested and charged with murder and robbery. He protested his innocence and demanded to see a lawyer. During the trial, much was made of the missing payroll, but its hiding place was never revealed. Hulk eventually admitted the crime, but he said that he had taken only a handful of coins from the $3000 payroll before burying the rest. He stubbornly refused to divulge the whereabouts of the cache.
The most reliable records indicate that this treasure is buried somewhere north of Jarbridge and within a few hundred yards of the old Rogerson state road.
The old road from Placerville to Virginia City, Nevada, was nothing but a narrow trail in the silver rush of 1860, yet for years it was the only link between California and Nevada. At the eastern base of the Sierras, it passed through the once-bustling settlement of Genoa.
One day in the summer of 1860, the residents of the little town were shocked to learn of a robbery right in their midst. Just a short distance west of town, two men stopped the regular Placerville stage and stole a shipment of $20,000 in brand-new double eagles. The coins had been hidden in a nail keg, but the robbers found them anyway.
Immediately, law officers and express company detectives began investigating. They searched for months and questioned everyone they could find, but they never found the money or the robbers.
Nearly twenty years later, an older man lay dying in a Montana mining camp. He said he had a confession to make and called for witnesses. Then he told the whole story of how he and a partner had robbed the stage in 1860. They had opened the keg, taken out $1000 apiece, then sealed it and buried it beneath a tall pine tree near Genoa. Since then, neither man has been able to go back for it.
Even if its marking pine tree is long since gone, the bulk of the $18,000 is still believed to be buried on the hill just above Genoa.
This story concerns an incident that took place in 1887. The Indian Agency at Fort Mojave had given Hiram Smith a contract to provide beef cattle. A reservation had been set aside for the Mojave Indians after conflicts between wagon trains crossing Colorado and the Mojaves, who occupied the valley between El Dorado Canyon and Needs. Fort Mojave was turned into a military base, and the Indians were given a place to live.
Between 1861 and 1887, ranchers made a lot of money from government contracts for cattle and feed. Smith was one of the many settlers bidding on seasonal contracts.
On the appointed day, Smith drove his cattle south to Fort Mojave. The payment was made in $20 gold pieces and totaled $16,000 at the 1887 price of $20.00 per ounce of gold.
Smith was seen placing the money into a heavy leather money belt, then was last seen by the Indian agent as he drove his team and wagon toward his ranch.
As an experienced desert traveler, Smith had advised his family when he was to return. Should he be late, they were to notify their neighbors and start a search. He did not arrive by the expected time, and a search was initiated between Cottonwood Cave and Fort Mojave. It was not until the third day that Smith was found.
Barely alive after continued exposure and thirst, Smith told the searchers that he had taken the money belt with him when he left the wagon, which had broken a wheel, but the weight had been too much to carry. He had buried it in a shallow hole and marked the spot with an olla and two horseshoes that were near the spot. After that, the heat got to him, and he walked around aimlessly between passing out.
Smith never recovered from his hardships and died two weeks later. During those two weeks, he related his story several times to family members and visitors. The story never varied.
So somewhere between Cottonwood Cave and Fort Mojave, along the old road, a cache of gold coins worth close to $200,000 today is still buried.
The Wells Fargo stage rocked and swayed over the rough, rutted Old Empire Road between Virginia City and Carson City. Bill Manners and the shotgun guard, Michael O’Fallon, were watchful and alert, for, on this trip, they carried $60,000 in gold bullion that was being shipped to the United States Mint in Carson City. In addition, they carried $2,000 in gold coins.
Still, the driver and guard were caught in a moment of awkwardness as the stage slid around a bend in the road. Four men leaped from the brush onto the road, their guns already covering the men on the stage.
One bandit held the reins of the leadership team, while another climbed up and threw the strong box on the ground. The fourth and last outlaw was efficiently robbing the passengers simultaneously.
The stage and its passengers were looted, and the outlaws fled through the brush. Bill Manners gathered up his frightened, angry passengers, loaded them into the stage, and galloped into Carson City in frantic haste.
Citizens quickly formed a posse and took up the trail of the highwaymen. The surrounding country was flat and open, with very little cover. Consequently, the posse, knowing the country, rode them down quickly.
One outlaw was killed, and another was captured in a running gun battle. The remaining holdup men escaped, but other armed citizens killed both of them the next day, several miles away in the Pine Nut Range.
To the amazement of the posse, there was no evidence to be found of the loot taken from the stagecoach. No amount of talk could make their prisoner, Manuel Gonzales, tell where the gold bullion and coins had been hidden. He did tell law officers that all of the loot had been hidden between the time the stage was robbed and the posse had caught up with the outlaws.
Gonzales, maintaining his silence, was tried and sentenced to 20 years in the Nevada State Penitentiary in Carson City. Eight years later, he was seriously ill with tuberculosis. In the hope that he would lead them to the treasure if released, Wells Fargo brought political pressure to bear and persuaded the governor to pardon him. However, this scheme did not work. Once freed, Gonzales did not lead them to the loot; instead, he became a bum around Carson City. He would never talk of the treasure hidden somewhere within a few miles of Carson City.
A guard at the prison spent years searching for the lost loot because Gonzales had once told him that he could look through the window of his prison cell and see the spot where the gold was buried.
Gonzales’s condition worsened. Realizing that he had little time to live, he promised to take two men who had helped take care of him to the spot where the treasure was buried. Before he could make the trip, the Mexican had a hemorrhage and died. His stolen fortune of $62,000 in gold bullion and coins has never been recovered.
Tybo was started in 1866, 16 miles east of Warm Springs, Nevada. An Indian led a prospector to a deposit of ore that was worth $2,000 per ton.
There are two fairly authenticated stories of buried gold at Tybo. One concerns a stagecoach that was on its way from Tybo to Belmont, which was then the county seat. A gambler went to Tybo to win his paycheck and was on his way back to Belmont with $3000. The general opinion held that there had been a question of dishonesty in the games. Warned that losers might try to get their money back, the gambler seemed nervous, as though expecting an ambush.
At McCann’s Summit, the gambler got off the stage at the edge of town, carrying his money in a canvas sack. He gave the driver a coin and asked him to wait at the charcoal ovens about one mile down the road. Some 30 minutes later, the gambler returned to the stage without his money, saying that he would return when things had cooled off. Three nights later, he was killed in a card game in Belmont, Nevada.
The second story also has to do with the immediate vicinity of the charcoal ovens. It seems that a Portuguese charcoal contractor from the “bury-your-money” school had gone to the smelter to collect a large payment and then to Tybo to recruit woodcutters. When he failed to return, his workers went looking for him. They found him on the ground, thrown from his horse, and died from a broken neck.
One of the Chinese workers stated that the Portuguese went northwest from the houses where he cached his money and were usually gone for about 30 minutes.
For this treasure cache, look over a ridge, possibly near a rock or stump marker. There is no timber near the ovens. The nearest trees were cut first. Perhaps you will be the one to find the $5000 in coins the Portuguese are supposed to have buried. None of the coins would be dated later than 1890, and all would be worth large sums to collectors.
Tybo is easy to reach. After leaving Highway 6, eight miles east of Warm Springs, the road is graded dirt for the last eight miles to the camp. A standard automobile can easily make the trip.
Around the year 1900, at the time the Salt Lake Railroad was being built from Salt Lake City to San Pedro, California, many small mining camps were springing up along the line, and the hills were full of prospectors. One day an older man, mounted on a burro and driving four others, showed up at the little mining camp of Crescent, Nevada, about 14 miles east of Leacock, California (now called Ivanpah). He watered his burros, pulled off to one side, and made camp. Winfield Sherman, Ike Reynolds, Bert Cavanaugh, Jim Wilson, and John Mitchell had gathered around to pass the time of day with the newcomer.
The old prospector volunteered the information that his name was Riley Hatfield and that he had come out west on the family doctor’s advice. He said he was headed for Searchlight, Nevada, to purchase provisions.
The following day, by sunup, the older man had breakfast, broke camp, and then headed out over the trail toward Searchlight. Two days later, John Mitchell was in Searchlight for provisions and to pick up his mail. He ran into the older man at Jack Wheatley’s boarding house.
During a conversation, the older man told Mitchell that he had some placer gold for sale and would like to sell it. Later that day, he told Mitchell that he had sold it at the Duplex assay office. He then took several large gold nuggets from his pocket for Mitchell to gaze on. Mitchell saw the old prospector several times the following day. Late in the afternoon, he purchased his supplies and told Mitchell he would pull out the next day. He asked Mitchell to accompany him to Crescent, where Mitchell had his own camp.
After breakfast the following day, they both set out in their two-pack outfits for Crescent Park, 14 miles west. At noon, they stopped, and the older man told Mitchell that he had discovered four pounds of gold nuggets in a black sand deposit near the Clark Mountains, northeast of Nippeno (now called Nipton). He invited Mitchell to go with him, as he would rather not be in the desert alone.
The old prospector said that one day, while camped just below Clark Peak, he climbed a short way up the mountainside and saw off to the east a dry lake bed. The route he followed to Crescent and Searchlight was in the general direction, so he decided to investigate the lake. He had plenty of water with him, and noon found him skirting the western edge of the dry lake bed. By chance, he saw what seemed to be the entrance to a cave on the east side of a small limestone hill about 50 feet above the level of the dry lake bed.
This cave looked good to the older man, who decided to explore it. The entrance was a long tunnel. A few feet in, he could hear the sound of running water. The floor was shaped like a large basin with bench-like terraces. These terraces were piled high with black sand.
The center of the basin was filled with black sand also, and so on the way out, he gathered several handfuls of the sand, which was found to be sprinkled with yellow nuggets.
He invited Mitchell to go along with him to his cave and work with him. Mitchell agreed to do this as soon as he could sell him mining claims in the Crescent camp. The older man promised to return in three weeks with more gold, at which time Mitchell hoped to be able to accompany him.
Mitchell sold his claims, but the old prospector never returned. No word has ever come out of the desert as to his fate to this date. Later, Mitchell did learn that an older man was found dead on the dry lake bed near Ivanpah.
John Mitchell never did find out the exact location of the million-dollar cave, but it is still somewhere near the dry lake bed.