Lost Treasures In Oregon

Lost Treasures In Oregon

Like its neighbor Washington, Oregon has almost every kind of treasure, from lost mines to gemstone deposits to the bandit, Indian, pioneer, U.S. Army, and riverboat caches. The largest lost meteor ever to fall, worth over $2,000,000 today, is in Oregon. It could pay interested treasure hunters to visit the state.

The location of $75,000 in gold buried by an outlaw gang in southwest Oregon is scarcely known outside the state.

In 1851, while men were still eagerly going to California for gold, a strike was made in the Illinois River region at Josephine and Canyon Creeks near O’Brien, Oregon. Gold was found in large quantities, and the area became overcrowded.

Several new citizens were not too anxious to dig for gold, so they set up saloons, gambling halls, and other enticements to separate the miner from his gold. Outlaws also preyed on the miners and stagecoaches.

One such bandit gang comprised Jack Triskett, his half-brother Henry, Fred Cooper, Miles Hearn, and Chris Slover. This outfit was probably the meanest in the area.

On August 3, 1852, the Triskett gang rode into Sailor’s Diggins near O’Brien. They were running away from several robberies they had done in California. Because they were unknown in Oregon, they were treated as strangers. The gang visited a saloon, had a few drinks, ate a meal, and then went out into the street.

While they were standing in front of the saloon, Fred Cooper, for no apparent reason, pulled a gun and killed the first man who walked by. At this time, the Triskett gang seemed to go crazy. For the next twenty to thirty minutes, they went from one end of the camp to the other, killing anyone in sight.

They killed seventeen (the number varies, some say twenty men were killed), raped two women, and then stormed into the assaying depot, where they took $75,000 worth of gold dust.

The gang then rode towards the northwest side of town. A heavily armed posse was soon on their trail. Just outside O’Brien, the posse surrounded the bandits on a low hill. All the outlaws but Chris Stover were killed during the following fight. Stover was taken back to Sailor’s Diggins but died a few hours later without revealing where the gold dust had been hidden.

Several questions remain unanswered concerning this incident. Why did the gang shoot up the mining camp? It would have been much easier to have robbed the depot quietly. Why kill so many people? What happened to the $75,000? Was it hurriedly buried at the place where the outlaws were killed? Or did they stop at a pre-arranged spot and hide the gold dust? This is an excellent location to check out.

The Fort Grant paymaster deposited at Phoenix, Oregon, government funds that he handled, as well as money and gold dust that miners and cattlemen had placed in his care. All of the deposits were buried in a large iron kettle at a secret location near the fort until he could make a trip to the bank.

This practice continued until the paymaster suffered a stroke, leaving him unable to talk. He tried to draw a map showing where the money was buried but died before completing it.

After his death, the earth around the fort was prodded with an iron rod, but nothing was found, and the fort was abandoned shortly afterward. The paymaster’s kettle, stuffed with coins and gold dust, may be hard to find, but it would be well worth the effort.

Horse Thief Meadows was named for an outlaw who had built a cabin nearby. In the summer of 1884, a man called himself Phillips came to the Hood River Valley and hired Dave Cooper to aid him in the search for a cabin, under the floor of which, he declared, a cache of $25,000 in gold.

He said the money had been taken in a stagecoach robbery near Walla Walla, Washington, a few years before. The search continued for two years until the cabin in Horse Thief Meadows was found, but if any money was recovered, it was never reported.

The Travel Information Division, located in Salem, Oregon, will provide a little booklet called “Oregon Rocks, Fossils, and Minerals: Where to Find Them.” It can also be obtained from the Oregon State Highway Department in Salem. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries in Salem or Portland can give a rock collector maps of areas with gemstones and old mining sites.

Somewhere in Oregon’s northern Douglas County, some missing saddlebags with $14,000 in gold dust and coins in their rotted interior. This amount is the value placed on the saddlebags’ contents in 1856 when Mr. Abrams of M. Abrams and Company lost them in a freak accident. The contents could be worth ten times as much in today’s runaway gold market.

The saddlebags were on a mule that Abrams was riding. While separated from the animal momentarily just south of Calippia Creek, something frightened the mule, and it bolted. Later, the mule was found sixteen or seventeen miles away, at a place where he was used to being fed, minus the saddlebags.

The missing saddlebags should be between Calippia Creek on the north and Deer Creek on the south, where the mule was found without them. Abrams and others checked many times but were never able to find the saddlebags.

Somewhere near the highway between Scappoose and Portland, Oregon, is a cache of $100,000 worth of gems that could be well worth investigating. The exact day and month of the robbery where the jewelry was taken and the subsequent burying of the loot are unknown, but it was sometime during 1923.

Three men participated in the robbery of a jewelry store in Portland. They were Frank Nash, Bud Maxfield, and C.R. Williams. The “take” was $100,000 in jewelry. The trio fled north along the old Columbia River highway. Knowing they would be pursued, they decided to hide the gems until later.

While Williams remained with the car, Nash and Maxfield buried the loot in two mason fruit jars alongside the road and fled the area. Frank Nash was later killed at the Kansas City Union Station, Kansas City, Missouri, by the F.B.I. during a shootout in which several men were involved.

Bud Maxfield was also later killed by the F.B.I.; C. R. Williams is believed to have lived for a while, but he never recovered the buried jewelry.

This sounds logical since he was one of the Prohibition gangsters and was always on the run. He is known to have visited the area once after the robbery in search of the gems but was unable to locate them.

Williams is supposed to have told one man, with whom he was friendly, that the cache was on the left-hand side of the highway. Williams could not locate the cache because he had stayed with the car while Nash and Maxfield buried the jewels. After telling his friend this, Williams left and was never to be seen again.

It is believed that $40,000 in gold dust and nuggets contained in two tin cans are buried along the old Seven Devils Road, originally called the Randolph Trail and now roughly Highway 101 between Charleston, Oregon, and the mouth of Whiskey Run Creek. This gold dust was hidden by two brothers, Peter and Charles Crorluis, in 1853.

These two brothers first discovered gold on Whiskey Run Creek in 1850. They were from French Prairie, in the Willamette Valley of northern Oregon. They camped one night at the mouth of the Coquille River.

Deciding to prospect the area after noticing banks of black sand along the beaches, the brothers found gold that the action of the water had washed out. After exploring the beaches, they learned the richest deposits were along Whiskey Run Creek’s mouth.

They worked the beaches for three summers, returning to their Willamette Valley home during the winters. It wasn’t until 1853 that the news of their rich strike leaked out. The rush of miners to the area included two other brothers, “Big Mac” and “Little Mac” McNamara, from Port Orford, about 30 miles to the south.

Convincing the Crorluis brothers to sell for $20.00 in gold dust, the McNamaras took over.
After selling their rights to the claim, Charles and Peter figured they had enough gold to last them a lifetime. The brothers were concerned about being robbed on their way home since several robberies of miners in the area had taken place because the location of the claim was now well-known.

Since so many people knew they were leaving and carrying a fortune, the Crorluises decided to go part way, hide most of their gold, and go on home, where they had already taken enough gold there during the last three years to make them rich. Packing up, they headed north along the Randolph Trail.

After traveling several miles, they stopped and put two tin cans containing $40,000 in gold dust and nuggets into a hole beneath the roots of a large spruce tree a few miles from the trail. They made their way safely to French Prairie and then home. The brothers then went to France to visit relatives and later toured Europe. Charles died while they were in England.

It was twenty years before Peter returned to get the cache of gold. The Randolph Trail had changed so much because of rain, underbrush, and forest fires that he could not locate the two tin cans.

The rich gold loot from several stagecoach holdups is said to be buried in what was once a potato patch in the back of the old post office in the village of Swan Lake, then a state station on the line from Klamath Falls to Lakeview.

Many searches have been done for this treasure, but the site of the original post office has never been located. Local research will be necessary on this one.

Somewhere on or near Miller Creek, in Josephine County, Oregon, is a lost cave that contains a vein of gold ore that assayed a fantastic $415,000 per ton in 1878.

The discovery of this underground vein was made because a mule loved huckleberries.

In the summer of 1878, Karl Meyer, a German mineralogist, was prospecting in southern Oregon. When his mule was missing one morning, Karl headed for the nearest huckleberry patch, a few miles from his camp. After trailing the mule along Miller Creek, he found where it had turned off. At this point in his journey, it began to rain heavily, the kind of rain that Oregon is known for.

The downpour quickly obliterated the mule tracks, and Karl was looking for shelter when he spotted a cave under a rock overhand, located up a small ravine from Miller Creek. While waiting for the storm, Karl saw a badger enter the cave and disappear deeper underground.

Lighting some wood, he followed to see where the badger had gone. When he got to the end of the cave, he discovered a gold vein in the side of the wall. Karl later washed it in a stream, filling his hat with the ore he had broken off. He later sold this hatful of gold for $4,984. At this price, the ore would be worth $415,000 per tonne. Meyer realized he had what could be a very rich gold mine.

He was sure he’d have no trouble returning to the cave; consequently, he did not make a map of the area. All he could think of was hurrying back to camp, where he could write out a location notice. Then the cave of gold would be his.

When Karl returned to camp, he found the mule waiting for him. It was mid-afternoon, so Karl decided it would be wise to wait until the following morning to return to the cave. That night, as tired as he was, he had trouble getting to sleep. He was too excited and keyed up.

Finally, he dozed off, only to be awakened sometime during the early hours of the remaining day by a savage blow to his head. It looks like he was walking in his sleep and ran straight into a boulder. Karl guessed he had suffered a concussion from the injury, as it was the next afternoon before he felt well enough to return to the cave.

Saddling the mule, he rode up Miller Creek to the point where he had turned off. Here he tied the mule to a tree and struck out on foot. He found—or thought he found—the ridge he was on when the rain drove him to seek shelter. But after looking around, Karl realized that he was thoroughly confused. The blow to the head had jumbled his sense of direction, and he could not find the cave.

Back in camp, Karl became violently ill. He had a blinding headache that lasted for days. He kept hoping his head would clear, but the realization finally hit him that it wouldn’t. He would have to see a doctor. Karl struck camp and headed for Grant’s Pass, where a doctor hung out his shingle.

Karl was told that he needed to rest completely. Instead of resting in Grant’s Pass, he was foolish enough to return to his mountain camp. In time, Karl’s head cleared to the point where he could search for the fabulous lost cave of gold again, but he could not find it.

He could never trace the route he had taken on that fateful day. Karl kept hunting, however, through what was left of the summer and then into the fall.

Karl built a cabin and prepared to stay and search as long as was necessary to rediscover his lost bonanza, but fate intervened. The prospector came down with tuberculosis and wound up in a rest home in California, where he died.

Over the years, other men have searched for Karl Meyer’s lost cave of gold. So far as is known, no one has ever found it.

The search area is Miller Creek, where the small washes entering the creek could be worked. If an area is rich in color, work up each side of this tributary until the source of the gold is found, which could be the location of Karl Meyer’s cave of gold. At today’s prices, it could very well pay to spend a vacation searching for this lost bonanza.

This lost outcropping that assayed $100,000 per ton in copper, silver, and gold has been found twice and then lost each time. The formation is believed to be near where Milton-Freewater, Oregon, is today.
In the 1880s, a railroad tie-cutting camp was located at Jarbow Meadows, between Tollgate and Troy, Oregon, near the Walla Walla River.

Five men from just across the state line in Washington were on their way there to work for the railroad, and as they were following an old Indian trail along McIntyre Ridge, darkness overtook them. They turned off the trail and went into a canyon to camp. After spending the night, they decided to take a shortcut to the tie camp by traveling up the canyon and across the divide.

On their way out, one of the men noticed a strange-colored outcropping in the canyon wall. The group, all interested in mining, took several samples of the formation with them. The men spent the summer working at the tie camp, then returned to Walla Walla, Washington, for the winter.

While at home, they took the ore samples to an assayer. The report showed an unbelievable 26% copper, 18% silver, and 37% gold. This find was worth about $100,000 to the ton!

Waiting until spring, the men returned and tried to find the canyon where they had camped and found the ore. The elevation at which the formation was located was about 5,500 feet. The men searched for years but were never able to relocate the outcropping.

This same formation was found again in 1900 by a sheepherder who knew nothing of minerals. There were a lot of shepherds in that same area, where a camp tender brought them food and other supplies from time to time.

While they sat around their tents one evening, one of the herders took several rocks from his pockets and tossed them near the fire. Being a prospector at heart, the camp tender picked up the rocks and examined them.

The herder told him he had picked the rocks up near a ledge to throw at a sheepdog he was training. He promised to show the tender the location, but the next morning a snowstorm moved in, and the herders had to get the sheep down to the lower pasture. There wasn’t time for the tender to examine the outcropping.

After getting home, the tender took the samples to an assayer and was given almost the same report the railroad workers had received in Washington years before. The sheepherder who had found the samples died during the winter, and, search as he would, the tender could never locate the rich outcropping.

During the 1930s, two prospectors found gold in the same general area that assayed about $850 per ton. They mined over $1,500 worth of gold from this small mine, but this could not have been the ledge that had been found by the tie-cutters and later by the sheepherder because the copper, silver, and gold content was not high enough.

This is a good location for further prospecting since it is known that gold and other minerals have been found in this locality thrice.

In about 1679, Spanish shipwreck survivors buried a chest of gold and silver somewhere on Neahkohnie Mountain’s slop near Nehalem in Tillamook County, Oregon. Here is the story briefly:

The vessel carried many beeswaxes from the Orient, which was intended to make wax candles and religious figures. After the shipwreck, many tons of this wax were strewn along the beach, some of which are still in existence today and bear the significant date of 1679.

After the shipwreck, local legend says that four roughly thirty crew members left their shipmates and traveled north, supposedly to the Columbia River region, where nothing else was ever heard of them. The rest of the crew decided to build homes and stay in the Neahkahnie Mountains area.

People say that some of the crew took a heavy chest or box high up the slope of Neahkahanie Mountain and buried it either at the time of the shipwreck or soon after. The relations between the crew members who settled in the area and the Indians began to deteriorate, and a battle occurred with all of the new settlers being killed.

Even though the Indians knew about the treasure, it is said that they did not try to find it after the battle because they did not know that gold or silver was valuable, which is what is thought to be in the cache.
Many people have searched for the buried treasure, but none has found the gold, despite various interpretations of the inscriptions on the rocks near the beach, which are believed to relate to the hidden cache.

Oregon, the tenth-most important gold-producing state, produced 5,797,000 ounces of gold from 1872 through 1965. Despite the working of placers as early as 1852, the great rush to Oregon did not occur until 1861, after the placer discovery at Griffin Gulch in Baker County.

After a time when a lot of gold was found in placers, gold lodes were found and developed at a slower pace. By the early 1900s, gold mining had begun a decline that lasted until 1934, when the increase in the price of gold rejuvenated it.

A few districts, notably the Sumpter, were then reactivated, and gold mining was revived in the early 1940s. Still, the demands of World War II diverted mining to commodities other than gold. Since the end of World War II, the amount of gold mined in Oregon has been decreasing steadily.

The Lost Frenchman Mine is perhaps the most famous of the many lost bonanza stories of Oregon’s Bohemia Mining District, located some 35 miles southeast of Cottage Grove, in Lane and Douglas Counties.

In 1863, two French trappers who had turned to mine discovered a very rich placer. The exact location of their find was kept secret, as it yielded an estimated $50,000 in gold for the first summer’s work.

When they returned for the second summer of digging, the Frenchmen carried with them a Klamath Indian woman to serve as cook. Several months later, the woman returned to the Klamath Reservation, claiming the couple had abused her.

Her brother vowed to get even with the miners and got together a group of warriors to help him. The Indians stalked the Frenchmen, found them busily washing gold, and killed them.

The woman’s brother, the leader of the vengeance party, cursed the spot as bad medicine and forbade other warriors from returning to take gold under the death penalty.

The story eventually reached the ears of white men, and though many searches have been done, no white man has rediscovered the Frenchmen’s rich diggings.

Those who seek to solve the riddle of the Lost Frenchmen’s rich diggings may do well to explore the rugged Boulder Creek-Illahee Peak drainage area.

Before the 1850s, people didn’t often bother the Indians who lived in the mountainous area of southwestern Oregon. But gold seekers began to invade their ancestral lands and hinder their quiet lives.
In neighboring California, the practice was to murder the peaceful Indians when they got in the way.

The first whites continued this policy in the Rouge and Illinois Rivers. Seeking first to trade trinkets for gold, the renegades followed a tribe into Buckhorn Mountain, waiting until some 16 mules’ worth of dust and nuggets had been collected before committing their treachery.

But the few Indians who were still alive surprised their white tormentors by lighting signal fires and quickly calling other tribes. This made the renegades give up the gold and run for their lives. The Indians threw the gold into a gully, set the mountain on fire, and continued in a general uprising that lasted many months and caused the loss of innocent lives on both sides.

The gold has never been recovered because those Indians who knew its location refused to divulge the information, even under torture.

Today, the Buckhorn Mountain treasure lies in some forgotten, grass-grown gully of the wild country between the Rouge and Illinois Rivers.

Ed Schieffelin found rich gold that was easy to mill somewhere on or near Coffee Creek in Oregon. He wrote in his journal that the deposit was richer than Tombstone had ever hoped.

On May 12, 1897, when Schieffelin didn’t show up in the little village of Days Creek in Douglas County to get his mail and supplies, a homesteader named Jackson went to the cabin he occupied in Texas Gulch. Schieffelin was dead, and a nearby mortar contained crushed ore rich in gold. His journal detailed how he found the gold but not where it was.

In July 1860, a three-pound chunk of cinnabar, the natural ore of quicksilver, was brought into an assay office in San Francisco. The assayer said it was the best sample of cinnabar he had ever seen, with more quicksilver than even the famous New Almaden Mine. The ore was the property of R.S. Jewett, a ferryman on the Rouge River, a few miles from Jacksonville, Oregon.

In 1858, Jewett had befriended a Rouge River Indian, who had given him the bright red ore rock. Jewett tossed the peculiar gift into a box with other odds and ends and forgot about it until a stranger saw it and suggested that it might be cinnabar. Jewett then had the assay made.

Not knowing the source of the ore, Jewett searched for the old Indian who had given it to him, learning that he had been moved with his tribe to the Grand Ronde Reservation. At Jewett’s request, the red man returned to his ancestral home on the Rouge River, but he stubbornly refused to tell where the cinnabar had come from.

All that is known is that within twenty-five miles of Jacksonville, in Oregon’s Rouge River country, there is a lost quicksilver mine that may be the world’s richest.

In the early 1800s, when the Nez Perce Indians ruled the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon, a trading post was built at Wallowa Lake. The post was the trading center for the Nez Perce. During this time, the Nez Perce would travel to Mount Joseph and return in a few days with enough gold to buy provisions for the winter. As the years went by and the older Indians died, the secret of their hidden gold also died.

Years later, an Indian named John Cash Cash appeared at the trading post. He bought a small ranch in the valley and started raising cattle. When John needed extra cash, he would take his camping gear and go up the Lostine River. After three or four days, he would return with a supply of gold.

An old-timer who mined, trapped, and prospected lived on the Lostine River and was a close friend of John Cash. When John became seriously ill, he tried to tell the old-timers where he had gotten his gold but waited too long. He died before he could give his friend all the information.

The old-timers looked for the John Cash Cash Mine for many years but could never find it.
Since the Lostine River flows along the eastern side of the Wallowa Mountains where Mount Joseph is located, there is considerable speculation as to whether the source of John Cash’s gold was the same as that of the Nex Perce Indians in the early 1800s.

If John Cash Cash and the Nez Perce Indians got their gold from the same place, the John Cash Cash mine is somewhere along the Lostine River.

When one thinks of “treasure,” it is usually a cache of coins, precious stones, nuggets, or gold dust. However, somewhere near Port Orford, Oregon, an exceptionally valuable treasure fell from the sky.
It is the Port Orford meteorite. What makes it so valuable? There are two reasons: one is its pallasite, and two, it’s worth $2,000,000.

The Port Orford story began back in 1856 when Dr. John Evans, a geologist, was looking over a Port Orford hilltop. He found a large rock of unusual appearance lying all by itself. Upon closer examination, he deduced that he had found a meteorite, but it was a kind unknown to him.

With great difficulty, he broke off a piece. He was certain that it was something out of the ordinary, for the sample was both very hard and heavy for its size. But men of science don’t guess, they analyze, so the sample was sent by Dr. Evans to a friend in New York City, Dr. C. T. Jackson, for laboratory tests.

Dr. Jackson ran the tests and found the sample to be made mostly of iron, with 10 percent nickel and crystals of glassy olivine. It was like nothing he had ever seen before, and so Dr. Jackson, in turn, sent the sample to Dr. Haidinger in Vienna. Dr. Haidinger was a recognized authority in this field.

As soon as possible, Dr. Haidinger sent Dr. Jackson his findings. The sample ore was, in fact, pallasite. Because of the size and probable weight of the Port Orford meteorite, this news was electrifying. Dr. Jackson got in touch with Dr. Evans at once. Dr. Evans suggested an expedition to bring out the pallasite, and Dr. Jackson agreed, but before the expedition could get underway, Dr. Evans died.

Dr. Evans, not realizing the enormity of his find at the time, had not bothered to draw a map of the location. Among the papers he left, the only notes that could be found on the subject indicated that the meteorite was about 40 miles from Port Orford.

Dr. Evans had estimated the size of the pallasite at more than five feet in diameter, and he had calculated its weight at more than 22,000 pounds.

He also noted that the pallasite would bring $100 a pound. This placed the meteorite’s value in the delightful neighborhood of $2,200,000. So all we know for certain is that the $2,200,000 meteorite is still somewhere near Port Orford, waiting for a lucky treasure hunter.

In the early 1930s, the Ed Prefontaine family lived on Foots Creek in the rugged Rouge Country of southern Oregon. One cold November day, an old Model A Ford came puffing up the hill and stopped at the house. A tall, very old man with a white beard climbed out of the car.

He asked Mrs. Prefontaine, who came to the door, if he might leave his car there while he did a little prospecting up the gulch. She told him to do so and watched him disappear into the dry wash behind the house.

Late that afternoon, the older man stopped by the house to thank Mrs. Prefontaine. He looked so pale and shaken that the woman felt sorry for him and asked him for a cup of coffee. He accepted gratefully but said nothing about his trip. After thanking her again, he went to the car and drove away.

Several years passed, and Mrs. Prefontaine had nearly forgotten the incident. Then, in 1940, a man and woman came to see her and asked if she remembered the older man’s visit. She told them she remembered it well because he had been such a striking figure.

The couple told Mrs. Prefontaine and her husband that the older man had died recently and that they had cared for him during his last days. Before he died, he told them that many years before, he had hidden a fortune in gold in this gulch and returned in the early 1930s but had not been able to relocate it.

At one time, the white-haired old gentleman had heard the owl hoot along lawless trails. In 1870, with two friends, he held up a stagecoach near what is now the Rouge River but was then called Woodville. The stage, coming over Siskiyou Pass from Jacksonville, was carrying gold to California.

The robbers quickly broke open the express box and transferred the gold and other valuables into bags. They then rode up Foots Creek to an old abandoned mine tunnel they had picked as a hideout and fixed it up with a sturdy door.

But while being held up in the tunnel, the three began to quarrel. The older man killed his partner, and when he believed it to be safe, he came out of the mine shaft, went down the hill below its entrance, and buried the gold at the foot of a madrona tree. To mark the spot, he drove an old saddle horn into the tree where it first branched, and then he left the country.

Ed Prefontaine remembered seeing an old, rusted saddle horn sticking out of a tree somewhere in the gulch many years before and also knew the location of the mine tunnel. He led the way up to the gulch and the old mine tunnel. The door was rotting away, and to their disappointment, they found the tunnel and caved in.

Down the hill from the mine entrance grew a whole forest of madrona trees, and they hurried there. Though they searched in every direction, retracing their steps repeatedly, they didn’t find the tree marked with a saddle horn. The locality isn’t far from Highway 99. The old mine tunnel is still visible.

Jacksonville, Oregon, was a booming town in the gold rush days of the 1850s. Miners and prospectors had gathered here from every part of the world. Most of these men had rugged, strong characters, but one day a leper made his way to this gold town. It didn’t take long for the citizens to find out about him, and they were horrified and alarmed. The question was what to do with him.

A few of the citizens held a secret meeting, and before long, they hit upon a plan. A group of three was selected to escort the leper out of town to the inside bend of the horseshoe formed by the Table Rocks. A basin was built at the base of one of the cliffs and stocked with supplies. The leper promised to live there in isolation. The committee delivered food and other necessities to this spot once a month for over two years.

In the spring of the third year, the bucket was let down, as usual, laden with groceries. The three men could see the leper come out of his cabin far below and slowly make his way to the edge of the cliff where the bucket waited. He acted as though he was sicker than usual and very weak. Finally, he unloaded the bucket and gave the usual tug, the sign to raise the bucket.

The three men at the top noticed the bucket was still heavy and, thinking the leper hadn’t unloaded it yet, waited. Once again, the tug came on the rope, and the men pulled it again, but it was still too heavy. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Finally, they had it over the top, and to their amazement, it was filled four inches deep with gold nuggets and dust. Was this the leper’s way of saying thanks for the help they had given him? Where had the leper gotten the gold?

The men took the gold back to Jacksonville and shared it with the other citizens who knew about the leper and had contributed to his welfare. On the next trip, the committee lowered the bucket as usual, but the leper had died as there was no tug on it this time.

It is still a mystery where the leper obtained the gold. Had he discovered a rich mine at the base of the cliffs, or had he just cleaned out a pocket? The truth has never been learned.

Under the title “John Long Named a Gulch,” Clint Haight wrote in the Blue Mountain Eagle newspaper: “John Long was a placer miner and worked Long Gulch right above Canyon City. From the known richness of this gulch, other miners figured Long had about $100,000 in gold hidden somewhere.

Long died suddenly as a bachelor, and his gold was never found, except for $60 in $20 gold pieces that were found scattered in his barn. Probably a fortune is there somewhere.”

In his book “Gold and Cattle Country,” Herman Oliver wrote: “My father lived with John Long and worked for him for six years. He died when I was a good-sized boy. Father often said that John must have plenty of money buried someplace, and after John’s death, there was considerable speculative digging around his cabin. No cache was ever found, as far as anyone knows.”

As far as it is known, no one has ever found any of John Long’s gold.

David Marion Lowe was a resident of southern Oregon, having moved to the Rogue Valley from Missouri in 1908. Lowe, like many of the valley’s residents, was a farmer.

One day in the 1930s, he received a call from Jackson County Sheriff Syd I. Brown, who stated that an old Indian at the jail was dying and wanted to talk to Lu Lowe. The sheriff knew that Lowe had a brother named Lucian, who was called Lu. However, Lowe explained that Lucian died in 1930 in California.

After receiving this news, the Indian refused to talk further, so Lowe forgot about it. A few days later, the sheriff called again to say the Indian was dying and that he wanted to talk to David this time. When Lowe reached Medford, the Indian insisted on talking to him alone.

After the others left, he told this story:

When he was a young boy, he had been taken along on a war party as a householder. The warriors had attacked a mine at dusk and killed the Frenchman working it. The Frenchman was found to have had quite an accumulation of gold dust. The Indians took a pair of buckskin trousers, tied the ankles, and filled the legs with dust. Then, they tied up the waist and threw the load on a horse. The old Indian said they traveled on a trail all night to the east of Wagner Butte. “Go like hell; go Klamath River,” the Indian had said.

The war party did not stop until sunrise; the braves instructed the boy to hold the horses while they grabbed the golden pants and headed directly into the rising sun. In approximately fifteen minutes, the warriors returned empty-handed, mounted up, and rode south. They rode on a trail past the dead end of McDonald Creek and through Siskiyou Gap, past Split Rock, and then on to Beaver Creek and the Klamath River.

In later years, the Indian met Lu Lowe when Lu was mining in the country north of Sawyer’s Bar. The two became friends, and the dying Indian wanted Ly to know about the lost treasure before it was too late. Somewhere in the rugged Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon lies the gold that was hidden many years ago.

The gold mining town of Sterlingville has long disappeared, but old timers remember and occasionally still search for Jake Roudebush’s lost mine. He was an early settler in Sterlingville.

Jake became ill in 1870, and the doctor diagnosed consumption. The treatment was long walks for exercise with lots of rest in between, so Jake Roudebush wandered the Sterling Creek valley and surrounding hills every day. His illness did not respond, however, and Jake finally became bedridden.

Old Cap Saltmarsh proved a real friend, as he supplied Jake’s family with food and helped.
In gratitude for this assistance, Jake asked Cap to drag out a box from beneath the bed one day. In the box were several exceptionally rich quartz specimens studded with gold. Jake explained that he had found them during his walks in the hills.

Jake grew worse and was taken to a nursing home in Jacksonville, and then, three months later, he was dead.

A new strike had been made. Cap Saltmarsh had seen the ore samples, but where was the ledge? Many men have searched for the lost sterling ledge, but it was never found.

However, a recent find near the head of Sterling Creek consisted of several hundred pounds of rich float, shot through and through with heavy wire gold. This rich ore is assayed at more than $2,000 a ton. Extensive searching in the area failed to reveal its source.

The lost mine that Jack Roudebush found is buried in an old cemetery in Jacksonville, along with the man who found it.

It was about 1890 when a gang of road agents held up a stagecoach and its passengers not far from Merlin in southwest Oregon. Among the passengers was William J. Savage, brother of Josephine County treasurer Lincoln Savage.

The holdup site was thought to be at or near Louse Creek, where the stage would have to slow down to make the crossing. Louse Creek is crossed by the old stagecoach road, which connects the Jacksonville and Myrtle Creek townships.

The robbers were eventually captured and killed, but the loot was never found. The last outlaw confessed on his deathbed that the money was hidden in a hole only a quarter of a mile from the robbery scene.
Despite many searches, the cache remains undiscovered.

Renewed interest in this treasure came about in 1933 when a prospector named C. L. Eubanks noted carvings on a huge manzanita tree near the holdup site. The carvings bore the date 1890, followed by the initials M.L.P. Further down were the words “Go to.”

During the gold mining days of the 1860s, Canyon City had no safe place to put the estimated $26,000,000 worth of gold taken from Canyon Creek and its tributaries.

The only safe way to keep the gold was to ship it to Dallas (a city on the Columbia River) by pony express riders. Their trail followed the John Day River Valley, turning northwest near the village of Kimberly, then across the mountains to Dallas.

Not all riders were successful in reaching their destination. Three men robbed one rider only twenty miles away from Canyon City. The robbery’s site was near Fields Creek, between Dayville and Mount Vernon in Grant County.

The express rider returned to Canyon City and described the three highwaymen, one of whom was a 16-year-old boy. The sheriff’s posse followed the robbers, following the John Day River. They found the robbers at their campsite on Fields Creek, and the boy was killed in an exchange of gunshots, with the two robbers escaping. The posse men found no gold at the campsite.

Years later, on his deathbed, one of the robbers claimed that the gold was still buried at the campsite on Fields Creek. The bandits had buried it and could not retrieve it before the posse arrived. Although several searches have been done for this robber’s cache, the belief is that the gold is still there.

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