The most northwestern state in this country offers all types of treasure for the interested person; lost gold mines, bandit, Indian, pioneer, and miner caches, plus deposits of minerals that geologists believe have not been discovered.
Also, for the underwater treasure hunter, Washington’s coastline is second only to North Carolina’s in the number of boat wrecks. The Evergreen State ranks high in the number of treasure sites worth investigating.
Victor Smith was a debt-ridden newspaperman from Cincinnati, Ohio, who came to Port Angeles, Washington, in 1860. He moved there to work as a Special Agent for the Treasury Department, an appointment given to him by the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, in payment for a political debt. In time he became Customs Collector for the Puget Sound District and built a home in Port Angeles and a building he rented to the government to house the customs activities.
After a fairly severe flood in Port Angeles, it was reported that a strongbox from Smith’s home was missing not long after Smith had settled here. It contained, among other things, $1,500 in legal tender notes and $7,500 in $20 gold pieces.
In February 1861, Smith’s brother Henry appointed a lighthousekeeper nearby, appeared in justice court in Port Angeles, and testified that his brother’s strongbox was concealed in a nearby Indian village. Shortly afterward, eight Indians were arrested, and one was convicted, but no trace of the strong box or its contents was discovered. It has long been believed that the Indians who stole the strongbox buried its contents very close to Port Angeles.
$50,000 to $60,000 worth of gold nuggets in a small barrel was buried in or near the Fort Columbia Military Reservation in Pacific County by Captain James Scarborough, a Scottish sea captain and trader.
In the 1830s, Captain Scarborough sailed his ship into the Columbia River, then decided to return and settle permanently.
In 1840, he took out a donation land claim of approximately 640 acres, which included the family home of the ancient Chinook Indian chief, Comcamally, who had died in 1831 during an influenza epidemic. The home’s site is near Battery Two of the Fort Columbia Military Reservation.
Shortly after settling, Captain Scarborough established a lucrative fishing trade, purchasing salted salmon from the Indians and shipping it to the eastern United States and Europe. Most of the money he received for the fish was in the form of gold nuggets, and according to legend, the captain was buried near his home.
Scarborough died in 1853, and although his Indian wife supposedly knew the location of his buried wealth, she never revealed it to Scarborough’s son, Ned, who conducted several hunts for the cache before dying at the age of eighty at his home in Cathlamet.
Washington is one of the few states in which gold production has increased in recent years, mainly because of the output of the Knob Hill Mine in the Republic district and the Gold King mine in the Wenatchee district. The state’s total output from 1860 to 1965 was about 3,671,000 ounces.
In the Yakima River Valley, gold was first discovered in Washington in 1853. Placers worked along most of the state’s major streams through the 1880s, but most were depleted by the early 1900s. Lode deposits were found in the 1870s and eventually supplanted placers as the chief source of gold.
There is a well-documented and undiscovered cache of gold coins on Vashon Island in Puget Sound, between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. The treasure is thought to be buried on the banks of Judd Creek near the community of Barton.
This lost treasure centers around Lars Hanson, a lumberman who worked in this region in the 1870s. Settling in the community, he married a young Indian girl who was soon assisting him in this business. The girl, suspicious of thieves, buried several gold coins from the sale of lumber in a hiding place known only to her. She was killed shortly afterward in an accident, and Lars Hanson could not recover his money.
The town of Regensburg, at the junction of the Snake and Grande Ronde Rivers, was born due to frequent mining booms and experienced regular stampedes throughout its existence.
One gold rush occurred in 1865 due to a lost mine story that originated in 1860. According to the unconfirmed story, three men had beached their canoes on a sandbar where the Shovel River joins the Snake River. They spent the night there and, in the morning, found a place so rich that they quickly picked up a pail full of nuggets.
Since they were short of supplies, the men headed for Walla Walla to outfit themselves, but first, they buried the pail of gold. While in town, one man was killed, and another died of natural causes. The third man mysteriously disappeared.
Prospectors made trips into the area from time to time, but in 1865, when the story became more widely known, a stampede resulted. Nothing was found, but searches are still being done for the lost pail of gold and the rich placer deposit on Shovel Creek.
The district around Fruitland was once called Spring Valley in the southwestern corner of Stevens County. It was also called Robbers’ Roost and is said to have been one of the state’s toughest hell-holes in the early days, a rendezvous for outlaws and cattle thieves.
An outlaw named Slim Watson is said to have buried a considerable fortune at Robbers’ Roost before making an easy trip. He told some pals the approximate location of his cache, and when he failed to return when expected, they searched for it but did not find the buried fortune.
Harry L. Sutton was the son of a wealthy Boston owner of a fleet of clipper ships. Involved in a fight where two men were killed, Sutton fled Boston aboard one of his father’s ships and arrived in Port Townsend, Washington, in 1862. He opened the Blue Light Saloon on Union Dock and immediately attracted a following of thugs and toughs.
One of the many enemies made by Sutton was Charles W. Howard. When Howard ignored their friends’ warnings and went to the Blue Light to settle a matter with its owner, Sutton met him at the door with a gun and killed him.
Sutton immediately fled but was later arrested in Port Angeles. Tried for the murder of Howard, he was sentenced to five years in prison, but with the aid of outside friends, he soon escaped and was never known to be seen in Washington again. He is believed to have been killed in a shooting scrape later in California.
It was common knowledge in Port Townsend that Harry Sutton had profited handsomely in the saloon business. It was also known that there were no banks. He took long weekly walks into a forest back of Ben Pettygrove’s orchard to bury his money. As far as is known, none of Sutton’s money has ever been recovered.
The lost gold mine of the Klickitat tribe, on the Little Klickitat River in southern Washington, was reported to be the richest gold mine on the Pacific coast. Lewis and Clark saw the gold from the mine being prepared for shipment to England by a Hudson’s Bay factor in 1806. Traders working for the Northwest Fur Company were next to buy gold from the Klickitat Indians.
The gold was in the form of wire stringers, nuggets, and uneven slugs. By 1875, only one aged Klickitat Indian knew of the secret mine’s location. Trying to trail him to the mine and failing, disgruntled white renegades killed him in anger.
In November 1894, a hard rain fell for several days and weakened the earth on the hillsides overlooking Commencement Bay. Suddenly, the whole mass gave way. Two million cubic yards of dirt and mud crashed into the Bay, carrying all before it, including 1,200 feet of dock.
When the townspeople took the stock, they found an area 250 to 300 yards long had dropped into the Bay, causing a small streamer, the ORION, to sink.
A 7,000-pound safe owned by the Northern Pacific Railway was also lost in the debris. It contained $2,400 in cash and $1,200 in gold coins. Experts say the treasure would be worth over $24,000 today.
The safe should lie southeast of the present stevedoring docks at the mouth of the City Waterway.
A little-known treasure of $20,000 in Okanogan County, Washington, is still waiting for some resourceful treasure hunter to find it. From 1900 to 1918, a Coville Indian, Chief Smitkin, lived between Omak and Coville. He was a successful cattleman; sometimes, his roundup would reach 600 to 700 head of cattle. This livestock was usually sold in Omak for a good price, always in gold coins.
Chief Smitkin was a stingy old Indian who did not trust the white man or his banks, so he left his money on his ranch. The chief could not count very well, so he had his brother-in-law add up his money for him. At one time, shortly before Smitkin’s death, he had over $20,000 in coins, mostly gold.
Smitkin always went to church at Saint Mary’s Indian Mission at Omak. He would come alone at night and look at the church building. After he died in 1918, his neighbors theorized that Smitkin visited the church so much because he had his money buried nearby.
Perhaps the chief thought the white man’s god would protect his cache. In any event, the $20,000 was not found after Chief Smitkin died. It is believed that around the small Indian mission, $20,000 is still buried.
The following locations could prove profitable for anyone wanting to research and hunt for smugglers’ loot.
Caves on the east side of the San Juan Islands, in Puget Sound, north of Seattle, are locally said to have been used by smugglers in the 1800s. The traffic consisted of Chinese men, opium, diamonds, and rum. There are numerous caves to investigate with a detector, and the area is accessible from Anacortes.
The caves were used for smuggling the Chinese because they could come into Canada freely, then after dark, smugglers would be taken to the San Juan Islands, and others would pick them up. The traffic would have been at night, and because of the ever-present possibility of capture by the authorities, caches of different items had to be made by the smugglers.
Point Robert, at the American-owned tip of the Canadian peninsula, was another major point for smuggling between the United States and Canada. Several towns, Blaine, Marietta, Friday Harbor, and Anacortes, along the Washington coast, were also used by smugglers in the early days of statehood.
For a diver who wants to search for it, the sunken Schooner SUNSHINE offers two enticements. He might be able to clear up the 107-year-old mystery of what happened to her crew and find the gold coins worth $10,000 in 1875 aboard.
The SUNSHINE was built at Coos bay, Oregon, and completed in September of 1875 at $32,000. Captain George Bennett commanded the ship on her maiden voyage, and they arrived at San Francisco with a cargo of lumber on October 8th and left from Bay City on November 3rd.
On November 18th, she was seen floating bottom side up near the southwestern Washington shore just north of Cape Disappointment. No clue could be found about the fate of the ten crew members and fifteen passengers. Neither the bodies nor the schooner’s lifeboats were recovered.
Being new, the SUNSHINE was thought to have been caught in a gale and capsized, throwing off her lifeboats, crew, and passengers.
The wreck of the schooner was forgotten until the spring of 1876, when the owners, E. B. Deane and Mrs. J. E. Hausted of San Francisco, revealed that along with the partial cargo of merchandise worth $18,000, a keg of freshly minted twenty-dollar gold pieces totaling $10,000, was placed aboard the SUNSHINE to help pay the vessel’s construction costs.
This news caused a small gold rush to the beach, but the battered hulk was nowhere in sight. The hull of the SUNSHINE, buffeted by subsiding high tides, had changed position and disappeared.
If the keg containing the 500 twenty-dollar gold pieces had been broken, its contents would have been scattered, and some of them would almost certainly have washed up on the shore during later storms. But there is no record of these coins being found on the beach. The keg must, therefore, still lie beneath the sand with the rusty hull of the schooner.
By checking the records and learning the wreck’s position, an interested person with an underwater metal detector might find this valuable ship.
Although there are different versions of the lost gold cache made by John Welsh, I believe this one gives all of the facts.
The story begins in the spring of 1876. Welsh, a prominent, early-day Willamette Valley settler, guided a party of prospectors into the raw wilderness that was the Western Canadian gold fields of the time. After five months of highly successful mining, winter was close, and they decided to head south.
After days of weary travel, the party crossed the United States border and later arrived at the small village on the Columbia River called Wenatchee. They paused here long enough to buy needed supplies, then pushed on, fearful they would be stranded by heavy snow while still more than two hundred miles from home. Some twenty-odd miles southeast of Wenatchee, they arrived at a point on the east side of the Columbia River rim now called Babcock Ridge, a few miles south of present-day Trinidad.
The men had to camp by a spring so their tired horses could rest, but when they did, they were attacked by Indians who had left their tribe. Two of the men were wounded, and several others were killed. All but two of their horses were destroyed or stolen by the Indians. It was during the three days that Indians surrounded the miners that the Welsh slipped away and buried the gold.
There is considerable agreement about the nature of the cache site. It is generally agreed that Welsh cached the gold, two saddles, and some personal belongings in spots known to him alone, somewhere along the basalt cliffs that form the western edge of Babcock Ridge; that when standing on the rimrock above the cache site, the Columbia River can be seen both upstream and downstream; and that the cache-site is a short distance up a small arroyo or “U”-shaped cul-de-sac in the face of the rimrock.
And that a small stream trickled through the arroyo, and the gold was buried in one hole, with the saddles and personal effects in another nearby.
It is also generally agreed that the caches were made in or near a small, shallow cave located partway up the wall of the arroyo or cul-de-sac, high above the floor.
After the fight and caching of the gold, the white men escaped from the area and traveled down the Columbia, eventually reaching Portland. They then went across the river to Fort Vancouver to request an Army escort for a return trip and retrieval of their gold.
A Lieutenant Pierce is said to have refused their request, suggesting they wait out the end of the Indian troubles, then return to claim it. Since nothing else could be done about the matter, the party split up, each member going his own way. It was agreeable to all that the Welsh would someday return to reclaim the gold and forward to each his fair share.
For whatever reasons, it was not until 1905 that Welsh returned to the site of the long-buried gold. He searched for many weeks for it, but time and the elements had brought about so many changes that he could find no recognizable landmarks. He decided to come back the next summer and hire a guide from the area.
So, as the story goes, in 1906, Welsh arrived in Trinidad, where he registered at William D. Van Slyke’s hotel. He asked for a place to stay for three weeks and a guide who knew the east bank rimrock of the Columbia River from Trinidad to Venture, a town about 20 miles to the south.
Van Slyke told Welsh that he should hire his young son Loyal, saying he knew the area better than anyone else in the country.
Welsh told the boy that he would like to visit the area where his party had been attacked so many years before and, if possible, to dig up some relics and lost personal effects. He described the location as a large, saucer-like dip in the rock cliff, some two or three miles from some water springs. Loyal knew of several different springs but had no recollection of ever seeing the “U”-shaped depression. In three weeks, they searched the whole rimrock from Babcock Ridge to Venture, but they didn’t find any familiar landmarks.
Time by now, had also taken its effect upon John Welsh. The daily failures to find recognizable landmarks utterly frustrated and discouraged him. So, when the three-week period ended, he regretted giving up and returned to his home in Oregon City, Oregon, never to return to the Trinidad area again.
Sometime during that winter or spring of 1907, Welsh told his daughter, Anna Elizabeth Tuttle, about his failure to find the cache. She wrote to the Wenatchee news, asking them to recommend a good, trustworthy guide, and was referred to Ben Webley, a government trapper.
After writing back and forth, Webley agreed to be her guide, and they made plans to meet in Wenatchee, Washington. Mrs. Tuttle made her first trip to the Trinidad area in the summer of 1908. She went, not once, but at least five times. Each trip met with complete failure. Finally, in 1915, she gave up the search. As far as Webley was concerned, the treasure didn’t exist, so he promptly forgot it.
Suppose it hadn’t been for a coyote caught in one of Webley’s traps in 1921. this story would probably have faded away after Mrs. Tuttle’s last trip. But the trapped animal unearthed a leather strap and part of an old saddle. Right in the middle of the area where Welsh had claimed the cache should be located.
Remembering what Mrs. Tuttle had said, that the buried saddles were the line-up markers to the cached gold, Webley and his partner, Ted Williams, excitedly dug further. They soon found both saddles and a small rosewood box containing Welsh’s belongings. The two trappers now realized that the story was true after all!
The significance of their find was not lost upon them; they kept their mouths shut and stayed busy digging for many months, but without success. Later, they tried to find Mrs. Tuttle in the hopes that she might be able to solve the mystery and help them find the gold, but they couldn’t find her.
With local research and a good deep-search transmitter-receiver detector, I think the best way to find this cache would be to be persistent and use a good deep-search transmitter-receiver detector.
W. F. Bryan was a strong-willed, independent old man who died in Centralia, Washington, in the 1890s. Because he had little respect for his “lazy kinfolk,” some seeker may be the lucky finder of a gallon jug of gold coins, maybe two!
Bryan buried two jugs of gold coins before his death. The terms of his will, dated October 2nd, 1888, instructed that the finder of his will was to receive half the gold in one jug and the other half was to go to the person finding the jug.
According to the will, this jug was buried five feet deep and 30 feet east of the section corner of the old homestead. Almost as an afterthought, Bryan gives clues to the second jug of gold coins. “Another jug buried a few rods west of the old dwelling hours. However, I can’t locate it, as the mark is lost.”
If either jug was ever found, it has been kept quiet. Three important points suggest that neither jug was ever located, especially the one lost by Bryan himself.
More than 20 years elapsed between Bryan’s death and the discovery of the will.
Metal detectors were not available at the time. Perhaps the treasure is still there awaiting a present-day treasure hunter.
In the mid-1950s, Howard Hanford bought some open-range land about a mile from the town of Brewster in central Washington. Only later did he discover he had also acquired a lost cave containing a sizeable fortune in gold that Chinese miners hid there during the 1880s.
Almost from the day he moved to his new acreage, Hanford noticed a neighbor, Emery Crandall, walking back and forth over a particular section, apparently looking for something. Hanford knew Crandall, to be honest, and never inquired about what he was looking for.
In time, more people moved into the area. Hanford found it necessary to put up fences and no trespassing signs. This didn’t stop Crandall. He began by parking outside the fence and climbing over it to roam a hillside where his apparent search was focused.
Then one day, Crandall came over to the Hanford place. “Well, Howard, I might as well tell you what I am looking for, as I guess I’ll never find it,” he said.
“When I was 10, I went exploring on a Sunday school picnic. There was this small cave, and I went inside. There lay a pile of rotted sacks. I kicked them and watched a grainy dust spill out. I even rubbed the dust between my fingers to feel it.”
Years after the experience, Crandall saw and felt some gold dust and knew immediately what had been in those rotten sacks. Only then did he tell about visiting the cave years before. The two men searched in vain for the cave.
Crandall believes the sacks of gold dust were placed there by Chinese miners who Indians massacred near Chelan, Washington, in the late 1880s.
He says the cave is on the road to Paradise Hill, running several miles north of Brewster. It’s at the bottom of a cliff from which rocks fall periodically, and they may have covered the entrance.
Hanford and Crandall never found the cave, which is still hidden in Washington near Brewster.
Somewhere around the Grand Round River, near the confluence in South Eastern Washington, there lies buried a board of gold coins totaling $43,000, long since forgotten, and only once in a while will one find anyone who knows of the treasure.
According to several of the people interviewed, the story goes like this. During the early 1900s, there were several small farms along the Grand Round River and the town of Regensburg, which is now gone along with small farms. A man by the name of Parsley lived on his small farm overlooking the river, raising what he could, selling what he could, and saving up whatever was possible in gold coins.
As the years went on, he had accumulated quite a sum of money, and like many of the farmers in the country, he did not believe in putting this cash in the bank. He believed in burying it where he could keep an eye on it and know it was safe.
According to many people, Parsley died one night from a heart attack, leaving no clues to his wife or sons as to the location of his cash. His sons searched for a long time and could not locate the cash site, so they soon left the farm, sold out, and went to other types of work and forgot about their father’s hidden cash, which was hidden on the Grand Round River.
If one is to believe that the old-timers of Stevens County, Washington, buried treasure worth about $30,000 near Colville, the county seat, and more specifically, on the golf course, how the matte, a crude mixture of sulfur compounds formed in certain smelting metals, came to be buried is quite a story. In this case, the matte was mostly gold with silver and copper.
In the early days of mining, the shady business of “glomming” was productive so long as one didn’t get caught. Glomming was another word for “high-grading” or “pure stealing” of rich ore.
The LeRoy Smelter (later the Day Smelter) went into operation at Northport, Washington, in 1898. Most of the ores treated came from the LeRoy and Silver Star mines near Rossland, British Columbia.
Smelter and mine owners knew some glomming was unavoidable and usually preferred to let things ride so long as the thefts remained small. As long as a worker thought there was a chance to pick up a little cash on the side, he would work, and workers, even if they were a bit sticky-fingered, were needed.
There was a gang operating in the Northport area whose members were much smarter than the run-of-the-mill miners and not as easily apprehended. Instead of stealing the ore, they acted as middlemen and bought it from any worker who wanted to leave the smelter with money in their pockets.
Business was good, and the gang soon had eight or ten sacks of matte worth about $20,000. Then the smelter owners reviewed their books and decided it was time to tighten security measures. As a result, the gang hid their sacks of matte in a culvert under the railroad track now called Marble Siding near China Bend on the Columbia River just south of Northport and decided to close shop.
Eventually, the mines closed, and the land became first a poor farm and now part of the golf course. As far as is known, the gold, or at least part of it, is still there.
When Eiler and Silas Jester first arrived in the isolated gold camp of Monte Cristo in Washington Territory late in 1892, they found a flourishing town already overflowing with miners, merchants, and their families. The camp was located north of the Skykomish River in the Cascade Range, amid dense forests and steep ridges.
The Jester brothers were identical twins born to common parents in New York City. When they were teens, their father brought them to the California gold fields to help him hunt for the elusive yellow mineral. As they grew older, the two grew restless and decided to strike out on their own. Together they boarded a ship in San Francisco and sailed north to Tacoma. They took a barge downriver to the city of Snohomish, then drifted from camp to camp overland until they came to Monte Cristo.
They stayed together, living in the same cabin and working in the syndicate’s Justice Mine. After a few months, the brothers became disenchanted, working for the syndicate for a meager wage with no real hope of ever getting rich. They built the mine and began their prospecting forays into the twisted, timbered ravines northeast of the camp.
In August 1893, the twins came back to town. They were tired, hurt, dirty, and out of food, but they didn’t come back empty-handed. With their pack mules in tow, they walked to the syndicate’s assay office and showed off a dozen big chunks of gold-flecked rock.
The samples were tested and then left the office for safekeeping. When word of the discovery spread, miners and syndicate officials surrounded the twins and demanded to know their story. The brothers were glad to oblige; their tale was short and sweet.
They said they had hiked through the heavily-timbered reaches north of town for nearly three weeks until their provisions began to dwindle. Finally, they came to a gently sweeping slope overgrown with grass and briar. Halfway down the slope, Eiler found a long, overhanging bench of rock that jutted out some five feet.
Exposed and suspended there through the years as erosion had scooped the dirt from beneath it, the outcropping formed a perfect shelter. The brothers tethered their mules to a nearby tree, removed the packs, and crawled underneath the ledge.
As they lay back, one of the twins, which is unknown, gazed at the rock ceiling and started in surprise. Above him, the facing glinted in the flickering firelight with hundreds of golden speckles. It was by chance, but they had stumbled upon a richly mineralized ledge.
At this point in their narrative, the brothers’ story began to take the shape of a heated argument about who had done the work and which one had seen the gold first. The shouts turned to screams, and before the horrified eyes of the bystanders, Silas drew a long knife and leaped on his brother. Again and again, he plunged the blade into Eiler’s stomach until three burly miners pulled him away.
A blanched and bleeding Eiler almost simultaneously drew his revolver and fired two shots at point-blank range into his brother before another man grabbed the gun. Silas’ death was instantaneous, and he collapsed to the floor.
For many moments the other miners stood dazed by the sudden brutality and death, finally turning their attention to the still-living brother. Eiler stayed alive for almost 15 minutes, but he gasped his last breath without knowing where the gold-filled ledge was.
For months afterward, dozens of prospectors trekked through the forbidding Cascade wilds north of Monte Cristo, hunting for the Jester twins’ lost gold lode. When no one found the rich outcropping, the camp returned to business. If the analysis of the twins’ few rocks was accurate, the lost bench might easily be worth $2 million to today’s treasure hunter.
Captain John Ingalls led a surveying party into Washington’s Stuart Mountain region in 1859. He separated from the group and camped, where one stream formed three lakes. One of the lakes had a sandy beach heavily flecked with placer gold.
The captain staked several claims and then set about mapping the area. He wrote down exact distances and landmarks. Satisfied that he could find his way back, Ingalls followed the small stream to its confluence with Peshastin Creek in the Blewett district. Along the way, he staked other placer claims.
Ingalls never mentioned the side trip in his report or talked about it to the rest of the party other than to say he had become lost.
Gold strikes in Canada drew men from all areas in the spring of 1861. One group of gold seekers left Portland, Oregon, and made their way west along the Columbia River, then north into Washington. Captain Ingalls, his son, a close friend named John Hansel, and one Jack Knot were among the group.
To avoid arousing the suspicion of other party members, Ingalls suggested a side trip to see what the country looked like. Ingalls, his son, Hansel, and Knot carried two days’ food, picks, shovels, and gold pans. Captain Ingalls had waited years for the opportunity to return to his gold. So far, the secret was his alone.
Just beyond the town of Cashmere, or Mission, as it was called, Captain Ingalls walked under the low branches of a willow tree. His shout, “Look out, Jack!” was too late. A branch had caught on his pick and then snapped back to hit the hammer of Knot’s muzzle-loading gun. It roared, sending a slug into Ingalls’s back.
The stunned men made a crude stretcher and carried the wounded Ingalls back to the camp on the Columbia. Ingalls told his friend John Hansel about his gold for the first time. The captain directed Hansel to the sample in his pack as proof of the story. Ingalls told Hansel exactly how to find the claims.
Ingalls also told of a boulder at the mouth of Peshastin Creek, where he had secreted a map when he had made his way out of the mountains so long ago. He talked about the landmarks again and guessed how far it was from the peaks to the creek. He told Hansel that the placer claims were a day’s ride from the quartz claims.
Captain Ingalls lived for three days and was buried at the campsite. The party returned to Portland. It was several years before Hansel returned to Wenatchee country. He homesteaded the land around the mouth of Peshastin Creek and spent years searching for the treasure map. Many trips were made up the creek, which now bears Ingalls’ name, but nothing was ever found.
It is believed that the 1872 earthquake changed the area and that now the three lakes are one.
South of Chehalis, Washington, on the old Jackson Highway, lies a cache of gold coins. Hidden by a pioneer widow, the coins remain buried.
She was migrating west for more fertile farmland, as many others did in the late 1800s, the A. E. Young’s family settled on what is now called Jackson Prairie. Upon the death of her husband, Mrs. Young was faced with the responsibility of raising her several children.
An old country background had made her distrustful of banks. Their money was kept at home in the form of gold coins. Farming, logging, carpenter work, and well-digging provided a living for the frugal family and considerable savings for future needs. Mrs. Young secretly buried the savings in several fruit jars behind the barn.
Before her death, her grandson spent the summer vacation with her on the farm. On one occasion, the grandmother brought some gold to show him. Later, she gathered the gold coins in a small jar, left the house, cautiously walked to the barn, and disappeared. Before the boy left for home, his grandmother made one more trip behind the barn and returned with two twenty-dollar gold pieces, which she handed him as a gift.
In 1934, the grandmother became ill and passed away, taking the secret of the hiding place of the gold with her. Search for the coins by relatives proved fruitless and was finally discontinued. The house and barn have since been destroyed by fire. The land lies undisturbed, with only the weeds and prairie grass guarding the gold.
The vacant farmland lies one mile north of Mary’s Corner, on the north side of the Jackson Prairie Highway. Good luck in hunting.
In November 1875, the steamer PACIFIC was accidentally rammed and sunk by the ship ORPHEUS. Two hundred and seventy passengers drowned. This has been called the worst maritime accident on the Pacific Coast of the United States. Several reasons were given for the accident.
But the fact of the tragedy remains, and so does the PACIFIC’s strongbox. It lies in fifty fathoms of water, not far off the point of Cape Flattery. The bottom is firm and sandy, and though the waves of over a hundred years have ebbed and flowed above it, the treasure it holds still awaits the finder. The cache is known to hold $79,000.
The Index was one of many bustling and burgeoning gold camps in the Pacific Northwest’s Washington Territory in the early 1890s. Urho Immonen, a Finn who emigrated to America in the mid-1870s, was among the more popular residents.
In the late summer of 1892, Immonen went on a five-day solo mountain climb, which was his hobby. He had no idea what he would find. For food, his backpack was well stocked with dried meats and fruit. He carried only two canteens for water, confident he could find a fresh-water spring along his way.
He began the first day before dawn, crossing the low foothills and ridges, heading in a direction he had never taken before. He reached the tumble of stone rubble that littered the base of some unnamed mountain shortly after mid-day. After resting awhile, he made his way gingerly over the broken screen, cautious of his footholds on the easily shifted rocky debris. He arrived at the rock-face proper well before dusk and began his ascent.
Reaching the terminus of the scarp the next day, he was surprised to find that it opened onto the floor of a deep cut into the mountainside. Open to the sky, the ravine widened to about thirty feet and entered the slope a little over twice that distance. The floor swept upward gradually, ending at the bottom of another sheer drop. Almost at once, he saw a half-dozen veins of rich gold, which he later estimated were six to eight inches wide.
He took his pick-axe and chopped out a few rough chunks of the pure gold, storing it in his partially empty pack. He was anxious to return to Index with news of his great find, but he forced himself to contain his excitement.
On the third day, he descended the scarp with caution but easily and arrived back in Index the evening of the fourth day. He spread the word about the find, which most folks called the Finn Mine.
Immonen, himself, was no professional miner, nor was he selfish. He needed someone with experience to help him develop the claim, and he was willing to share his good fortune without reservation. He asked his good friend Simon Perry to check out the claim and help it grow.
With Immonen in the lead, they made their way to the gold-ridden ravine hidden high in the mountain. They took more gold samples and brought them back for assay. The nuggets were of remarkable purity, and there were no doubts about the existence of the mine.
Immonen and Perry organized a syndicate of eight men to finance and dig the mine, and it wasn’t an elaborate hoax. They demanded to see the strike before putting up any hard cash for equipment and survey. Both Immonen and Perry agreed to the condition. Within the week, the expedition had been formed. Perry and the other six men in the syndicate left Index and went to the mountain, led by the friendly Finn.
By the time they reached the scarp, the winds were, at times, intense. Clutching the rock face, the men inched their way along in a fragile human chain. At the first corner, the last three men in the team refused to go further, crouching against the frigid face in near panic. The others pressed on for about fifty feet when they reached the first gap in the ledge.
Suddenly and without warning, a fierce gust lifted Immonen, Perry, and the third man in the line-up and away from the scarp, plunging all three to their deaths. Two more stumbled and pitched headlong hundreds of feet down the facing.
Somehow the remaining three prospectors managed to make their way back from the scarp and back down the mountain to Index, where they told their lurid tale of panic and death on the mountain. All three vowed never to return to those cliffs, saying the gold mine must be cursed.
The three prospectors, lucky to be alive, moved on to the city of Sultan and were never heard from again. They took the secret of the gold-laced lost Finn Mine when they left.