Lost Treasures In South Dakota

Lost Treasures In South Dakota

While South Dakota is not the richest state in treasure and lost mine sites, neither is it the poorest. While several of the known treasures and lost mines of South Dakota are told here, there are doubtless many more that have yet to come to light.

But for the searchers of artifacts and relics, the State of South Dakota is unbelievably rich. These sites emerge from three primary sources, the Indians native to the area, the soldiers who tried to protect the settlers from their attacks, and the pioneer farmers, ranchers, and prospectors who moved in to settle the land or roam its hills and canyons in search of gold.

They left behind many sites that are still being discovered, Indian villages, pioneer campgrounds, long-forgotten forts, battlefields, and ghost towns that once flourished.

There are two stories concerning lost military caches left by General Custer when he made his exploratory trip into the Black Hills in 1874 to verify the reports that gold had been discovered several years before. This command consisted of two prospectors, a newspaper reporter, one geologist, some 1500 troops, one three-inch howitzer, and 200 wagons, four of which were carrying 45-70 Spencer carbines still packed in cosmoline, rust preventive.

One story is that somewhere along Castle Creek, one of the wagons loaded with new carbines broke down. Custer left a detail to repair the wagon and catch up with the main body of troops later. While the repair job was being done, the soldiers were attacked by Indians. After driving the Indians off, fearing another attack, the detail buried the carbines and then burned the wagon. The guns would be worth a small fortune to gun collectors today.

When they joined the main expedition and explained to Custer what had happened, he decided to retrieve the carbines on his return trip to Fort Lincoln, near present-day Bismarck, North Dakota. A few weeks later, the two prospectors and the geologist confirmed the report of gold being on French Creek.

Custer, not wanting to antagonize the Indians further, returned to Fort Lincoln by a different route since this was a fact-finding mission. He planned to return or send a detail to retrieve the carbines later. The Sioux rising of 1875-76 made a minor incident like a wagon of carbines seem insignificant, and history tells us what happened to Custer and the 7th Cavalry on the Little Big Horn in 1876.

The second story is that Custer and his command camped on Bogus Him Creek near the little town of Nemo, northeast of Rapid City. When the expedition moved out, a cache of whiskey, money, ammunition, and arms was left. Just why this was done has never been learned.

But it is known that Custer did not return to Fort Lincoln by the route he followed. This is where local research could pay. By obtaining Custer’s field report of his expedition in 1864, from the War Department, it would be possible to find these two caches or at least confirm whether they are the same.

The book, “Handbook of Wyoming and Guide to the Black Hills” by R. E. Strahorn is a good source of information for the treasure hunter interested in searching for gold in both South and North Dakota. The book contains a wealth of information on the gold rush that swept the Black Hills after gold was discovered by General George A. Custer’s exploratory expedition in 1874.

However, some prospectors, including G. T. Lee, had found gold in the Black Hills much earlier. In 1863, Lee and twelve companions set out from Missouri on the long trek to the gold fields of Montana Territory. Traveling to the north of Fort Laramie Road, the party came to within sight of the Black Hills in what is now South Dakota. The men decided to pause briefly and explore the hills before moving on.

In a stream of a deep ravine, well beyond sight of the plains below, they found gold in such large amounts that they delayed their plans to go to the Montana Territory. Over the following months, they steadily worked the gold-laden stream by simply panning it. Then, as they found more gold, they built sluice boxes to speed the recovery.

The first winter snows forced the men to abandon their claim reluctantly, but they swore to return the following spring. Moving back down to the plains, they pushed on to Montana Territory, reaching Alder Gulch in December 1863. They soon forgot their vow to return to the Black Hills, for they found the Montana gold fields so rich that they worked them for several years.

In 1876, Lee moved to Central City; rather than seek gold in the fields; he opened a small shop in town. However, he had not forgotten the rich placer deposit he and his companions had worked years before. In his spare time, he traveled through the gold fields and was convinced that none resembled the deep ravine.

Moses K. Armstrong, in his book “Early Empire Builders of the Great West,” refers to an incident that may substantiate Lee’s story. It also could be a clue to the general location of the deep ravine.

In a note dated April 18, 1863, Armstrong, speaking of the gold fever, which was spreading through Missouri as a result of the Montana Territory gold strike, said that a company of miners intended to start for the mines about the middle of May, by the overland route from the mouth of the Running Water.

This may have been Lee’s party, which traveled north of Laramie Road. What Lee called the Fort Laramie Road could have been the old Oregon Trail, which followed the Platte River westward past Fort Laramie after leaving Independence, Kansas.

North of the Oregon Trail, running from west to east, is the Niobrara River, which on some maps is called the Running Water River. A group traveling this route, then leaving the Niobrara River to cut overland to

Montana Territory would have come within sight of the southern or southeastern edge of the Black Hills.
In 1875, Walter P. Jenny, a government geologist, indicated there was gold in this area. Lee’s deep ravine and rich placer deposit remain lost, probably somewhere in the southern or southeastern Black Hills.

In 1877, a young doctor hung out his shingle in Deadwood, South Dakota. Although this boisterous and wild town was dangerous, young Henry F. Hoyt liked it. After several months of patching up bullet holes and setting broken limbs, however, Hoyt decided he had had enough. Gold was in the hills near the town if one could find it.

Teaming up with a mining engineer named Bailey, the two headed out into the Black Hills. After several weeks of fruitless searching, the two started back to Deadwood. They climbed to the top of Custer’s Peak for a last look at the surrounding area.

As they later started down the mountain, Bailey found a piece of float the size of a highly mineralized egg. They took the tree bark and wrote their claim notice on the exposed wood. The next day at the assay office in Deadwood, the two partners learned that the ore sample would run $15,000 to the ton, as it was almost pure silver.

Since the news leaked out of the assay office, Hoyt and Bailey were followed by a group of miners who hoped to be able to shadow the two men back to their rich diggings. At last, the two could duck this crowd and find their way back alone to the basin where they’d blazed the tree.

Once there, however, they found that this basin was quite rugged and not as symmetrical as it had appeared from Custer’s Peak. They searched tediously up and down its broken slopes and all around its craggy rim without discovering the slightest trace of where they had found the float or the blazing tree. It was there, somewhere, but in that vast area, they could not find it. Puzzled and disheartened, they returned to Deadwood and gave up prospecting.

Somewhere in the hills within a few miles of Deadwood, South Dakota, near Custer’s Peak, a rich vein of silver waits for a persevering treasure hunter.

After General Custer made his fact-finding expedition to the Black Hills in 1874 and proved that gold existed there, the United States Government sent in a geological team. Walter P. Jenny led this Black Hills Scientific Expedition.

In his report, Jenny states: “Gold was found on Red Canyon, Minnesota, Amphibious, Castle, and French Creeks.” Almost everywhere he looked, he found gold. The recorder for the group was named John Allen. His August 30, 1875 report states, “After prospecting a short time, we moved to Spring Creek or Jenny’s Gulch and found gold in quantity from 10 cents to $1.00 to the pan. We prospected Standoff Bar. This is about one mile up Jenny’s Gulch.”

Allen and his party would have stayed, but the entire expedition had to leave because of the treaty the government had with the Sioux Indians that no whites could come into the Black Hills.

The military forces were withdrawn the following year, and Allen and his party were back at Standoff Bar. Again I quote Allen, “Our bar pays $1.00 in gold per pan per man employed. One had 26 ounces of bankable gold dust taken out inside three weeks.”

When Allen left the bar the first time, he caved it in. Did he do this when he left the second time because of the Indians? The Sioux uprising was in full swing, and miners and settlers were leaving the area in large numbers. Whatever happened to John Allen?

Where did the men who were with him go? Where is the Standoff Bar? It almost had to be covered somehow, or it would have been found again. All known mines and placers from 1876 to 1954 were mentioned in the Bureau of Mines Mineral Atlas, printed in 1954. It makes no mention of Standoff Bar. Did John Allen deliberately keep the location a secret?

These questions can be answered with research and modern equipment. A lucky treasure hunter might find the sandbar that, with current gold prices, could make him rich.

To find Jenny’s Gulch, follow Highway 385 to a sign directing you to Silver City, west of Rapid City. Pactola Dam has covered the original mouth of Jenny’s Gulch, but Allen’s report says that Standoff Bar was at least a mile up the gulch.

The dam probably does not hide the bar, not the slopes leading down to it, or the almost five-mile-long valley above the original “strike.” This is a good location for a modern-day prospector.

In 1836, two fur trappers chased up Bear Butte, northeast of present-day Sturgis, South Dakota, by Cree Indians. During the flight, one of the trappers located a quartz lode with a vein of gold visible to the naked eye that had never been relocated.

These two trappers, James Bordeaux and a man known only as Peter, were taking a packet of mail from Ft. Union, in western North Dakota, to the stockade of the American Fur Company, located where Ft. Laramie, Wyoming, is today.

As the two men were making their way near Mato Paha, the Indian name for Bear Butte, they were seen by a band of Aricaras Indians, known to the trappers as Crees, who attacked them. Running for the Butte, the two trappers climbed and reached several rocky overhangs. It was there that Bordeaux noticed the vein of gold. But in their predicament, it was not necessary at the time.

Peter fired his muzzleloader and killed an Indian just as another Indian shot a poisoned arrow that hit him in the back. By crawling and climbing, the two men made it almost to the top of Bear Butte, where they found a spring and cave.

The Indians disappeared, and the two stayed in the cave all day. Knowing he would die, Peter wrote a note to the American Fur Company, giving his wages and personal belongings to Bordeaux. His last words were, “bury me so the animals can’t get my body, and with the arrow that killed me in my hand, then notify my father.”

Bordeaux did as Peter asked, then, under cover of darkness, made his way down the Butte and onto the stockade. It wasn’t until two years later that Bordeaux finally located Peter’s father and took him to Bear Butte, where they removed the remains of Peter and took them back to the stockade for burial.

For years, people had wondered why Bordeaux never returned to the gold vein. Remember, he was a trapper, not a miner, and gold was not as important to the fur trappers of the 1830s as it is to us today. Their fort’s concern was supplying, keeping their scalps, and having the Indians remain friendly where possible.

Before his death in 1878, Bordeaux told his family that because of the Indian threat and the dangers of mining, he had never searched for the vein of gold which he remembered was near a cave and spring on Big Butte and was visible to the naked eye.

During the last 140 years, there have been several forest fires and other changes in the terrain of Big Butte, but considering all the gold found in nearby areas, it could pay to check this location further.

Near Rochford, in Pennington County, South Dakota, the old mines and homesteaders’ buildings are still to be found by the side of the road or hidden in the backcountry, preserved mainly through neglect. Of interest to the treasure hunter is a long abandoned gold mining operation that took place east of Rochford, off a back road in Bloody Gulch.

Perhaps a dozen men worked here in the 1880s. The cabins these men lived in were standing in 1980 beside a small mine, whose shaft was almost filled with debris. This mine was abandoned because it did not pay enough to work during the 1880s. With the price of gold today, it could very well pay for an interested person to check it out.

Another mine, called the Standby Mine, is close to Rochford, and remains of it can still be seen. This mine at one time, in 1904, was well enough developed that a photograph was made showing the mill and water trace. There was even talk at that time of a board of directors for the Standby Mine and others in the area.

The vicinity of Rochford would be of interest to relic hunters since there are dozens of old buildings and miners’ shacks to be searched. Any streams would pay, at today’s gold prices, to be checked. Several stores of buried caches of valuables are told in the area. However, these will have to be investigated by the individual interested in searching for them.

It had long been known as a gold camp by the time Jerry Hardy drifted into the town of Pactola, situated on Rapid Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Placer gold was first washed from the stream bed in July 1875, even before it was legal for white prospectors to be in the region.

Hardy, a prospector from Wyoming, was lured into the Black Hills by the fresh placer finds. He was a loner, so rather than living in the town, he built a small stone cabin in Rainbow Canyon.

One day in May 1877, Hardy rode excitedly into town clutching a leather bag full of rich ore. However, it wasn’t gold but high-grade silver.

A silver rush quickly gripped Pactola, nearly every miner taking off into the hills, searching for the fabulous silver mine.

Through it all, Hardy kept the location of his mine a secret. For three months, he showed up in town every Wednesday with freshly dug ore, buying provisions and tools. Then two weeks passed without a single sign of the lucky prospector. A group of concerned miners rode to his cabin to see if anything was wrong. They found Hardy inside, shot three times in the head. The killer or killers were never found, and no more silver was ever brought into Pactola.

Somewhere within Rainbow Canyon is a rich lost lode of Black Hills silver.

In 1887, the Sidney-Deadwood stage was held up about four miles south of Battle Creek, in Custer County, and a few miles south of the present town of Hermosa. The strong box was taken, as well as money and jewels from the passengers.

It is said that the bandits fled to their headquarters along Hat Creek, where the treasure was concealed until all the gang members were present so that it could be divided. Shortly after the holdup, several bandits, including the one entrusted to hide the treasure, were killed. The exact site of the gang’s old hideout along Hat Creek in Custer County is no longer known.

Avast, ye treasure-hunting land lubbers! Here is a tale of a whole boatload of gold that even you may seek, for it is located in a Pierre, South Dakota, city park.

According to the March 24, 1937, issue of the Sioux Falls “Argus Leader” newspaper, a ship loaded with gold voyaged from the mines in Montana down the Missouri River to Pierre sometime in the 1860s. Thinking it would be secure, the crew tied her up for the night near three tall cottonwood trees.

After the weary crew had dozed off, a violent storm suddenly arose, and the boat was sunk in the turbulent waters. Only one survivor somehow made his way through the wilderness to Sioux City, where he related the story of the sunken boatload of gold to some friends.

They set out at once to find the treasure, but so far as it is known, they never recovered it. The river bed had changed now, and the area where the boat sank was not inside a city park.

The gold camp of Rochford, South Dakota, was located on Little Rapid Creek, almost in the middle of the Black Hills. To provide protection against the Sioux Indians and to extend government control in the Dakota Territory, troops were often stationed in various Black Hills towns. Rochford was no exception. One of the men garrisoned there was Corporal Stanley Swickert.

Corporal Swickert had received some training in mineralogy before his enlistment, so he often spent his leaves prospecting in the hills and canyons outside town, sometimes working alongside civilian miners. One day in June 1879, Swickert was hiking alone at one end of Strawman Gulch when he came upon a broad quartz cliff facing about six feet across.

The quartz was heavily impregnated with gold near the center, and the excited Swickert chipped out several fist-sized chunks to take back to down with him.

Swickert told his commanding officer of the find and requested an extended leave to work the mine. The officer demanded the mine’s exact location, but the corporal refused to tell him. Swickert was never granted extended leave, so he didn’t file a claim, which would have required him to pinpoint the gold’s location.

For the next six months, whenever he received his usual leave, Swickert secretly journeyed to his hidden find and pulled out more gold, which he usually banked.

In January 1880, Corporal Swickert was transferred to Fort Meade, over 200 miles away. Three months later, he was promoted to sergeant and transferred to Washington, D. C., and the secret of the gold mine in Strawman Gulch went with him. After leaving the army in 1885, Swickert became a successful investor in New York City. Much of his initial front money came from the gold he had banked from the Strawman Mine.

Before Swickert left Rochford, many prospectors and soldiers searched the gulch for the Strawman Mine. However, no one has ever found it.

In 1883, Louis Thoen, building a house a the foot of Lookout Mountain near Spearfish, South Dakota, found a flat piece of sandstone on which had been scratched this message:

“Came to these hills in 1833, seven of us, DeLacompte, Ezra Kind, G. W. Wood, T. Brown, R. Kent, Indian Crow. All dead but me, Ezra Kind, killed by Indians beyond the high hill our gold in June 1834.”
On the reverse side of the stone was carved: “Got all gold we could carry out. Pony’s all got by Indians. I have lost my gun and nothing to eat and Indians hunting me.”

This historic stone is preserved in the Adams Memorial Museum in Deadwood, South Dakota. Since they found the stone, considerable other evidence has been discovered. The gun lost by Ezra Kind, the only survivor, was found near the stone, and the skeleton of a man believed to have been a part of Ezra Kind’s hoard.

In 1876, hunters found two skeletons in the hills northwest of Spearfish. They were lying beside crude breastworks of stone. They are believed to have been with the mining party.

There have been many searches for the gold indicated by the Thoen Stone, and many have searched for the gold believed to have been buried with Ezra Kind, but all without success.

In 1875, Joseph Metz left Mankato, Minnesota, and headed west. Settling in Custer, South Dakota, he opened a small but prosperous bakery.

In April of 1876, Metz decided to move again. The fact that the Sioux resented the white man’s intrusion, and had recently been attacking mining camps and an occasional ox train, did not deter Metz.

Going against the advice given him by local freighters to wait for an organized wagon train, he sold his bakery for $2,000 in gold dust. Some sources say the amount was $3,000 and headed for Cheyenne, 200 miles away.

It was April 24, 1876, when Metz, his wife Rachael Briggs, and a teamster named Simpson left for Cheyenne. Meeting a party traveling to Custer, they were told it was safe to travel on this side of the Cheyenne River.

Three days after, a party, which included a man named Voorhees, who was superintendent of the stagecoach line, was passing through Red Canyon. The canyon, 15 miles south of Custer, harbored the remains of the Metz family and their last campsite. Joseph Metz was found near the wagon, shot through the head. Mrs. Metz’s body was discovered near a creek, and the driver was a mile away. Both eventually were shot.

One theory was that Persimmon Bill and his gang were responsible for the killings. Persimmon Bill was a local outlaw who frequented Red Canyon and was known to work with the Indians. The fact that the victims had all been shot seemed to substantiate the theory, as the Indians were not very good at shots and had very few guns.

Then in May, the servant’s body, full of arrows, was found. The gold was never found. As we all know, it was a common practice in those days to bury valuables when camped.

Years later, a tin can was dug up near the site, which contained a single gold nugget. Perhaps with a gold metal detector, someone might come out of Red Canyon $2,000 or $3,000 richer.

The rock collector’s dream is the Fairburn agate. This agate, found in sections of South Dakota, is fortification agate in bright colors of reds, oranges, yellows, whites, blues, and pinks. These beautiful gems, called “ribbon agates,” can bring a fancy price.

A large colorful Fairburn, about three inches in diameter, can bring $100 or more in the gem markets. The Fairburn with the “wrap-around” pattern covering the whole stone is a special prize.

Any adventuresome collector visiting the Black Hills of South Dakota would find a treasure in the agate forests, ridges of agate, and alluvial deposits of gem material that enrich the whole region.

Fairburn’s have been found from Scenic to Hermosa to Orell, Nebraska, just across the South Dakota line. These agates are scattered over an area about 20 miles wide and 100 miles long.

If you want to see some Fairburn’s, go to Hermosa, South Dakota, about 14 miles north of the town of Fairburn. Anyone in the area can direct you to the best places to look for stones. Other rock collectors have also found petrified wood, jasper, carnelian, or red agate.

In 1878, “Mexican Ed” Sanchez drifted into the town of Grindstone, South Dakota, a small, thriving community on the Ft. Pierre to the Deadwood stage route. Being an enterprising man, Mexican Ed soon saw the need for a roadhouse where weary travelers could eat, rest, and enjoy a friendly game of poker, so he did just that and built one.

After several years, Mexican Ed had acquired a substantial amount of cash from his roadhouse and his poker-playing abilities. He once confided in Rubin J. Ebright, who passed away in 1946 at the age of 96, that he kept his money in fruit jars, which he buried for fear of being robbed by the rough clientele that frequented his roadhouse.

Other old-timers told the same story about Mexican Ed. They said that every two weeks or so, he would be seen leaving his roadhouse carrying a fruit jar and a shovel. He would walk toward Dirty Woman Creek, just west of Grindstone, and follow the creek in a northeasterly direction, checking at intervals to ensure he wasn’t followed. He would return with the shovel but without the fruit jar within an hour.

On March 16, 1902, two drifters named Robert “Bob” Adams and Alex Meader rode into Grindstone from Ft. Pierre. Before long, the two men were engaged in a poker game with Mexican Ed. After an hour’s play, a violent argument broke out between Bob Adams and Mexican Ed. Both men jumped up from the card table and grabbed their guns.

The roar of Adams’ pistol thundered through the roadhouse. Mexican Ed toppled to the floor with a bullet through his head. Adams fled the area and was never arrested for the crime.

By 1903, the town of Wall, South Dakota, located 23 miles southwest of Grindstone, had become the trade center for the area. Grindstone faded into oblivion. Once a thriving community, Grindstone had a dance hall, barber shop, general store, and Mexican Ed’s place.

The bottles and relics that might be found in the old ghost town would be worth a treasure hunter’s efforts, but the bottles buried by Mexican Ed Sanchez along Dirty Woman Creek would be worth a lot more. They would be filled with cash!

During the Minnesota Massacre of 1862, a detail of Santee Sioux Indians was delegated to wipe out the agency near Morton, Minnesota. They found stacks of gold coins on an agency table during the attack. The Santee Indians seized the money.

Gray Foot, a young warrior, filled a flour sack with as much gold as he could tie on his saddle. He then fled to Long Lake in Marshall County, east of Lake City. The army warned the Sioux that they would be hanged if they were caught with the newly-minted coins in their possession.

Upon hearing this, Gray Foot buried the flour sack of gold coins on the east end of Long Lake in a grove of willows. He told about the cache near his death in 1910. His survivors spent years searching for the cache but could not find it.

South Dakota, third among the gold-producing states, produced a total of about 31,208,000 ounces through 1965, mostly from the Homestake Mine. The first documented discovery was made in 1874 during General George A. Custer’s expedition to reconnoiter the Black Hills. Two miners attached to the expedition found gold in gravel bars along French Creek.

By 1880, from seven to eight million dollars worth of gold had been mined, about half of which came from Deadwood Gulch. The first lode claims were located in December 1875 in the Lead district. These were later purchased to form the original holdings of the Homestake Mining Company.

As the placers depleted, the Homestake Company became the leading operator in the Black Hills and the largest gold producer in the United States.

Gold was so plentiful in the Black Hills that nearly 3,000 miners crowded into a group of gulches before they founded the town of Central City in January 1877.

In 1884, a group of enterprising businessmen established the Dakota Bullion Exchange. It handled assaying, exchanged currency for the miners and storekeepers, and transported gold bullion from Central City through Deadwood to the Army’s Fort Meade.

On March 5, 1884, a shipment of gold bars was scheduled to leave the exchange in the usual manner. The gold would be loaded in the flatbed of a wagon and then covered with canvas. In addition to the driver and a guard riding on the wagon, there would be an escort of 15 to 20 Army soldiers.

Since no attempts at robbery had been made since the exchange opened, there were few precautions during the transfer of gold from the building to the wagon. The soldiers were in a saloon down the street, and only the drivers watched the wagon while employees loaded the gold.

Harry Woode, Elmer Maxwell, and Clark Simmons, three miners who had been down on their luck for months, decided to hijack the gold wagon and make themselves rich.

After the gold was loaded on the wagon, the canvas was lashed down. The driver waited patiently while a messenger went to fetch the soldiers. Woode walked over and stuck up a conversation with the driver. Without warning, Woode swung an iron slat against the driver’s head, knocking him unconscious.

Maxwell and Simmons ran from a nearby alleyway and helped Woode carry the driver to one side of the exchange building. Then they climbed onto the wagon and drove out of town toward Deadwood as if nothing had happened.

The three robbers drove the wagon to a spot between Central City and Deadwood, where they turned up a wide, wood gulch. They had hidden three horses here earlier for their escape. They unloaded the gold, tossed 4 bars into a shallow pit they had dug previously, and then filled it with dirt, completely covering their stolen loot.

The empty wagon was abandoned on the outskirts of Deadwood. Each man took one of the three remaining gold bars and rode off. They planned to meet later in Rapid City and then head for California. They would return to recover the buried gold after the robbery had been forgotten.

Meanwhile, the Army troops gathered in front of the Bullion Exchange in Central City only to discover that the wagon was gone. After the driver revived, the soldiers learned what had happened. Townspeople told of seeing the three miners driving the wagon out of town, and soon a posse and platoons of Army troops were scouring the countryside. They found the empty wagon the same day.

Within two weeks, all three robbers had been arrested by the army. Their three gold bars were recovered. The three men were held in the Fort Meade stockade pending transfer to a territorial prison. They refused to tell where they had buried the gold, hoping to serve their sentences, be released, and recover their stolen fortune.

None was that lucky, however. Woode was shot and killed four months later while trying to escape from jail. Simmons contracted tuberculosis and died before his sentence was up. Maxwell was eventually moved to a prison in the east, where a fellow inmate murdered him.

None of the 47 gold bars has ever been found. They still lie buried in a gulch somewhere outside Central City.

During the fall of 1878, an old miner named Norman McGully drifted into Sheridan, South Dakota. McGully was strictly a loner and did not frequent the handy gambling saloons or casinos. It didn’t take McGully long to amass a small fortune in gold dust and nuggets. One day he set out on foot for Rapid City, where he planned to deposit his gold in a more secure place.

About halfway there, McGully was attacked by a drunken soldier from a nearby army camp and killed. The soldier hurriedly buried the dead miner’s gold and returned to camp, content with the knowledge that he would be a very wealthy man when discharged. On arriving at the post, still in a drunken stupor, the soldier told a buddy what he had done.

The buddy immediately informed superior officers, and subsequently, the murderer was imprisoned at Fort Benton, Montana. He was put to work in the prison’s sawmill. One day a fellow inmate began chiding the soldier about killing the old crippled miner. The enraged soldier grabbed the man and threw him to his death in a whirring circular saw.

Three days later, several of the dead man’s friends hanged the luckless, murdering soldier from the prison rafters.

The gold would have been buried somewhere along the north side of Spring Creek. McGully was killed about halfway between present-day Sheridan Lake and the town of Rapid City. As far as is known, the cache is where McGully’s murderer buried it while still drunk.

Big Nose George Parrot and two other outlaws robbed a stage at Hager’s Ranch Station of $106,000. They cached $100,000 in gold dust about ten miles down the Deadwood road. In boisterous Deadwood, Parrot was recognized almost instantly. The gang was forced to flee to Wyoming, leaving their buried loot behind.

Six bandits robbed a Black Hills Stage Company express near Sage Creek Crossing. A few days later, a man drew suspicion by displaying a large amount of gold, although he was dressed in rags. He was fatally shot by a Marshall when he objected to questioning.

With his last mumbled words, he confessed to being implicated in the Sage Creek robbery and that he had buried $24000 within sight of the Sage Creek Crossing. Postal Service Special Agent John S. Furay identified the dead bandit as a Colorado desperado, Jack Bishop.

Tucked away in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a fabulous lost gold mine that the ghost of a headless horseman guards legend claims. That ghost may be a product of hyperactive imaginations down through the years, but the mine certainly is real. And so, once, was the man on horseback.

The unfortunate horseman was a man named Brebner Scott. He settled in South Dakota and made windfall profits selling his tools and replenishing the miners’ spent cartridges with powder and bullets. With these profits, he ordered more tools, powder, and such and erected his false-front store.

Bit by bit, Scott’s urge to hunt gold grew, and it wasn’t too long before he grabbed a pan and pick and joined his fellow men in Central City’s placer beds.

In the summer of 1879, Scott galloped into town one day and headed directly for his store. He hauled a bulky leather bag through the door, and it was obvious that it contained something heavy. Scott had discovered a rich bonanza hidden in a narrow box canyon to the southwest. All he and his partner would admit to was the find, consisting of three terraced quartz shelves, each riddled with gold. He left the next day to go back to the shelves.

It was an August Sunday when Scott was spotted riding into town. He wasn’t expected back for another week. Clopping into town up the street was Scott’s horse, and mounted on its back was a headless body, ugly brown stains of dried blood caking his shirt and jacket.

When two sturdier men grabbed the horse and pulled the body down, it was clear what had happened. Scott had been savagely murdered and mutilated by Indians for trespassing on their sacred ground.

In 1883, a French doctor named Claude LaFrenz exhibited gold-filled quartz in Central City and claimed to have found the Brebner Scott mine. His body was discovered a month later in his campfire ashes, dead and minus his head. The mine then developed a new name, the Headless Horseman Mine. The superstitious prospectors in the area refused to look for the mine any further.

A fabulous gold mine is tucked away in Dakota’s Black Hills outside Central City, and its only sentry is a headless ghost.

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