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California's Hidden Troves

Lost Gold and Buried Loot


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Lost Gold and Buried Treasure
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Missing Caches and Buried Treasure


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cowboy guide
oro y plata


Joaquín Murieta


three feet from

Lost Gold and Buried Loot

the "el Dorado" of
northern California

BURIED TREASURES
and lost mines of California
Fact, Folklore and Fantasy
concerning 110 Sites of Hidden Wealth
by R. A. Pierce
Berkeley CA 1964
[first ed 1959]

Legends of treasure are often vague; some started out that way, and others have become so in the course of time. Various problems lie behind this, such as the frailty of human memory, the fact that on occasion the individual who knows the location best has died, and finally there is the problem that in the Old West, many mountains and valleys and natural features looked like very similar such features in the surrounding terrain, making rediscovery difficult, even with the best directions. Settlements sometimes lasted, often did not. Even boom towns in the heyday of the gold stampede have sometimes vanished with their only memory etched on Old West maps of the area -- veritable ghost towns! What traces still exist of the today, for the hardy hiker and back-packer?

Northern California and southern Oregon abound with tales of treasure lost and found, buried or hastily cached, or secreted only to be vainly sought at a later time. Itching ears of gold-hungry miners round campfires were regaled by the half-drunk weavers of tantalizing accounts of lost loot, hidden hoards, and dreams of wealth beyond imagining.

Looting the looters, where's the harm in that?

Equally tantalizing, and often no less obscure, are the vague inscriptions and hints which echo from relics of Spanish era artifacts.

suadeo tibi emere a me aurum ignitum probatum

From time immemorial, gold could be improved through the heating and smelting. This was ancient metallurgical practice. Gold, over time, not only kept its value, either for barter or resale, or as often happened, as "specie." (Along with other precious metals.) Fire (of course) was involved in the heating process. Thus the classic phrase, gold tried in the fire.

La leyenda española

In early California history, the mad rush for gold was scarcely over when sheer larceny in the heart of man attracted the lowest passions of greed and gold lust. The lure of gold is as old as human lust and cupidity, but the specific California legends were fairly recent. By the time of Hernán Cortés they were rife. The seductions of the Californias were shrouded in the veils of the unknown, what the Spanish called, the Northern Mystery.

There were various tales of magnificent wealth and gold. Some of these derived from Marco Polo's accounts of Cathay. Spaniards of his time also put their trust in the ancient and medieval legends of the Terrestrial Paradise and the Amazon Island, and in such American Indian tales as those of the Seven Cities, and of El Dorado, "the Gilded Man," a king whose subjects covered him with gold dust every morning and washed it off every night.

These were largely the same tales that led to the discovery of the vast treasures of Montezuma. As applied to the "Northern Mystery" -- the lands of [the Californias] north of Mexico, such stories for Hernán Cortés led to bitter disillusionment, as well as for many who came after, his rivals and successors in pursuit of the elusive hoards. [In the case of Cortés, his fruitless explorations were compounded with political hassles in Spain.]

Spanish dreams of treasure in the North might have languished if they had not been promptly revived by the appearance in northern Mexico of Álvar Núñez de Vaca and his companion, the Christianized Negro (Moorish), Estevánico. These two were survivors of a disastrous Spanish expedition to Florida. After making their way around the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico they heard from the Indians of the Southwest a new version of the Seven Cities, now identified as the Seven Cities of Cibola. This became the core of the collection of legends known in New Spain as "the northern mystery," which periodically raised hopes of "another Mexico" or "new Mexico" of fabulous riches.

But what about those seven cities (siete ciudades marvillosas)? In 1539, the (Italian Franciscan) Fray Marcos de Niza claimed to have seen The Seven Cities of Gold -- Las siete ciudades de Cibola y Quivira. His report to the viceroy, "Relación del descubrimiento de los siete Ciudades y Reino de Cibola al Norte de Mexico y 400 leguas distante de la Capital," in manuscript, is in the archives of Simancas [Archivo General de Simancas] in Valladolid.

Eventually searches launched northern expeditions in pursuit of "Quivirans" -- or of the Seven Cities of Cibola. He did not find gold, but reportedly did find Quivira in [perhaps Oklahoma or Kansas]. Francisco Coronado found Quivira "well settled .... The land itself being very fat and black and being very well watered by the rivulets and springs and rivers. I found prunes like those of Spain, and nuts and very good sweet grapes and mulberries." It was, he said, the best land he had seen in his long trek.

secrets of lost gold

Zorro of Old California

The banditto Joaquín Murieta was the real Zorro, but a gold-addicted one. His obsession was unquenchable. No, he was hardly the glorified Robin Hood that some made him, but he truly seemed to have had a good heart, despite his viciousness to his enemies. Plundering and looting became a way of life, fueled by his own greed, and even though his reputation for giving away silver and gold and gems to those whose hardship happened to touch his heart, he was also a remorseless robber and bandit, and a very successful one. Born on the Stanislaus River (unless he was actually born in Sonora Mexico), he did not begin his life of crime till [1850], in 1851 Joaquín Murieta (or Joaquín Botilleras or Joaquín Carrillo) and his gang settled about three miles north of Marysville. Later, with vigilantes closing in on them, they slipped away and hid in the wildlands near Mount Shasta (present Siskiyou County). But their lust for gold and glory got the best of them, and they soon were back in the thick of looting in the hustle and bustle of gold rush California.

It was 1851 when Joaquín Murieta and his gang raided several camps in the mountains east of Chico, California. It was the heyday of the gold rush, and the "argonauts" or forty-niners had been pouring into both the Mother Lode (ie, the Sierras east of Sacramento) as well as the northern mines. Joaquín Murieta and his gang were often known to hide their stolen loot in the area of their robberies. On one occasion Murieta and his right-hand man, Manual Garcia, known as "Three-Fingered Jack, robbed a stagecoach along the Feather River. The strongbox was said to have contained some 250 pounds of gold nuggets worth $140,000 at the time. Allegedly, the pair buried the strongbox in a on the banks of the Feather River in a canyon a few miles south of Paradise, (present Butte County). According to Wells Fargo officials, the stolen gold has never been recovered.

Other caches of Joaquín Murieta, or one of them, anyway, is said to lie in the Eastern high desert region of the northern mines. One stash of Murieta it is believed that he had to bury somewhere between Burney and Hatcher Pass, close to Highway 299. That treasure has never been found. Another treasure that remains lost to this day is Murrieta's treasure of $200,000 in 1860s dollars, which is believed to be between Susanville and Freedonyer Pass. This is close to what is known today as Highway 36. For more see John Rollin Ridge's accounting of one of the great legends of America. Find aout about the phantom of the Ridge.

And finally, at the end, the reputed trove of Joaquín Murieta's chief henchman, Three-Fingered Jack, which he tossed when Love's Rangers posse were closing in on the gang. We are told that the path followed by the gang was from San Juan southward accross the Salinas Plains, thence to San Bonita Valley, and then into the small valley in the coast range, near to Quien Sabe Rancho. Via the Chico Panoche Pass, and reaching the Bayou Seetas, or Little Prairie, finally to the Grande Panoche Pass, and into Arroyo Cantova, Hornitos, and some other locations nearby. Murieta's gang of "the five Joaquíns" did not surrender peaceably. In fact, though surprised, they turned and fought back feroiously. At one point did Three-Fingered Jack secrete the moneybags? There is a rough and rocky ravine running off from the location. Well, after the first fire-fight, he bounded off through that ravine, pursued by Love himself and a few of his Rangers. They chased him five miles before he fell, pierced by nine balls. The moneybags were not with him.

The story Love told he repeated many times, and finally died never having changed it. Yet questions have always remained. Love and his mercenaries got their reward money, and plenty of fees for his story from magazines and newspapers. But nagging doubts have surfaced. For example, the letter of Din Jose Blanco, 22 July 1947. In one version Murieta returned to Sonora Mexico living in retirement with his beloved Carmen, only to return to California's Diablo Mountain (the buried gold) when his stash ran out in Mexico. It was by angreement with is close compadre, whichever of them should still be living, it was theirs.

Trinity County, April 1862.

Remi Nadeau remarked that if Old California ever had a frontier, it was the lawless, godless region of the northern mines, the rugged lands of the Shastas, Trinities, and Siskiyous (as if these untamed mountains attracted the men nobody else would have). California's uncharted Great Northwest Territories.

The northern diggings, as the gold-seekers called it, was a land of great wealth and no law to interfere. But "the law" -- such as it was -- eventually did try to interfere. Or at least maintain some order on a region not known for very much order. The local native people, Nomlaki and Wailaki, were often the most civilized of all. The gold-diggers came like they owned the universe, and the ground itself owed them its very riches.

While crossing a creek near Weaverville, the County Sheriff lost a saddlebag containing $1000 in gold. He offered a reward of $250 for its recovery, and a large number of miners engaged in the search. They diverted the water from the creek bed, but apparently the saddlebag was never found.

The friction between the '49'ers and the Indians was often bitter, and didn't begin with the Dersch massacre or Major Reading's intervention for the friendly natives. The danger to the newcomers was never more acute than when the covered wagon trains entered the State from the northeast. The Pit River route from Oregon (used until the safer Shasta-Trinity route was opened in 1857) was the scene of numerous attacks, and several smaller groups were wiped out.

Bloody Springs, at the lower end of Spring Gulch, was the scene of several massacres. Some members of one unfortunate company are said to have carried large sums on gold. According to one version, the treasure is located in present Lassen County somewhat south--east of Pittville. According to another version, after the fray the victorious Indians rifled the money-belts of the slain of twenty-dollar gold pieces, and competed to see which man could throw the strange shiny discs across the Pit River Gorge.

At Castle Crags State Park, a spectacular formation a few miles south of Dunsmur, there is reputedly a treasure taken by Indians who attacked an army mule train bearing bags of gold pieces to be used to pay soldiers at the northern forts. The Indians feasted on the mules, then carried all the gold and stored it a cave. Years later, one of the last of the tribe, an old women named Nancy, made periodic excursions of several days duration up Castile Creek and would return bearing 20-dollar gold pieces. She would never tell where she got them, and always eluded those who tried to follow her. The secret died with her in 1912. other info apparently in Bill Cate article.

Sheet Iron Jack

Long before the days of the urbane and suave "Black Bart" there was another gentleman outlaw that harassed the gold country of the north. He was known as "Sheet Iron Jack" - a short man with impeccable habits and a weakness for flaunting himself and boldly showing off, which eventually did him in. His real name was John Allen, and he began his career in the 1870s stealing (and selling) horses, a priceless commodity in those rugged days. The mountains of Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou were dotted with gold camps, and Allen, a dapper New Yorker followed the barber trade thru the gold camps of the area. The men liked him, the ladies raved over him and he was good at playing the guitar. Such women as lived there said he "danced like an angel."

Horses were disappearing from the valleys of the Trinity Alps, Yolla Bally, and Shasta, but few suspected their convivial fun-loving barber. Sheet-Iron Jack continued his other , more lucrative career, and ranged as far as Tehama to the Trinities and points north. He delighted in taunting authorities, and loved to impress the ladies. Once he showed up at a local Saturday night shindig, announced that he was "Sheet Iron Jack," and that he intended to dance with the prettiest girls there. He danced with several of them while their escorts stood back and glared. Then he made his apologies for having to leave, complimented the lovely ladies, mounted his horse and disappeared into the darkness.

Later caught, he managed to escape, but was caught again. This happened on more than one occasion, and even when confederates turned against him, he seemed to retain the sympathies of many law-abiding folk. Governor Perkins commuted his sentence and he was released from San Quentin in 1883. He kept to the straight and narrow only a short time, then with two associates, began hitting stages in the Shasta and Trinity camps. But Sheet-Iron Jack had come to the same conclusion as the notorious Tom Bell; why go for slim pickins when there was big money to be had robbing the gold shipments contracted by the Express Companies, even though they would have an armed guard. In the period of a weeks time, in 1876, they robbed five gold-laden stages. Despite Jack's warning to "lay low" after a heist, his buddies showed up in saloons to drink and carouse. Thus the gang was caught in Shasta County. They did not reveal the whereabouts of the remaining loot, but it is speculated to be stashed near their latest hideout in the hills near Old Shasta.

Old Shasta was the first of the hustling bustling gold cities since the northern mines began competing with the Mother Lode as the lure of gold. Initially known as Reading Springs (pronounced and sometimes spelled REDDING), this "Queen City" of the gold country (the northern diggins, that is) was the head of Whoa navigation (from Red Bluff or Colusa), and Gateway to the Gold. From here the pack mules, or pack trains ferried prospectors and supplies into the riches of the Trinities and Siskiyous.

Perilous Trails

Remi Nadeau writes that it was the Yreka Road (Shasta Valley) which holds the distinction as the scene of the first road banditry in California. By October of 1851, one Charlie Smith was already leading an outlaw gang of "road agents" numbering as many as 30 men. On the 23rd four robbers disguised as Indians surprised two miners a few miles south of Yreka. But the intended victims opened fire, and were reinforced by another party of travelers who drove the bandits off.

The book Gold Dust and Gunsmoke tells the saga of the Tom Bell gang, which had a brief but extremely lucrative gold-grabbing career of banditry in the heydey of the northern mines. Bell's real name was Thomas Hodges, and he was educated and articulate, a debonair southerner with flaming red hair down to his shoulders and long beard. He stood six feet two and had the personality of a leader, forceful, charming and persuasive. During a short stint in San Quentin, he gathered round him a motley crew of crooks and swindlers from half a dozen countries and backgrounds.

Once outside he headed back into his life of crime. The gang had three hide-outs, all in the mother lode. The biggest robbery pulled off by the gang was not in the mother lode but in the northern mines, the Trinity Mountain pack train holdup of March 12, 1856. This holdup, unlike the band's previous heist on the trail to Shasta, was meticulously planned. In the 1850s there were no wagon roads into the rich mining camps of the Trinity River in the Northern Mines. Supplies were packed in, and gold was packed out, sometimes vast sums of it. In this instance, some $13,000 worth of gold dust, in 1856 dollars, was being carried in large leather bags. No one was killed, but the entire load of gold was taken. The drivers described the bandits, and in Chicom one was recognized, followed to Marysville on the way back to the Mother Lode, and there was arrested.

This was the beginning of the gang's undoing. The captured bandit spilled the beans as to the gang, their hideouts, and eventually most of the gang was apprehended, but only a portion of the buried gold recovered. Where is the remaining gold dust?

In the early 1870's a man appeared in Inwood, between Redding and Mount Lassen, with a story of a Lost Water Fall Mine. He said that during the gold rush he and several friends had crossed the Sacramento River at Cow Creek (Fort Reading, pronounced "Redding"), and then went up a creek. About thirty miles from Fort Reading they came to a high water fall, and above the fall they found a rich deposit of gold. Fearing attack by Indians, they hastily took some ore and returned to the Fort. No troops could be spared for their protection, so they decided to return to the East with what they had.

One of the party had become wealthy, and had now returned with his son-in-law so that the later could have a chance at the fortune which had been left behind.

At the settlement where Redding was to grow, he asked about a creek with a waterfall and was told of a high one on Bear Creek, near Inwood. So he and his son-in-law explored the Bear Creek Canyon. However, he could find nothing that looked familiar. After a long search, the pair gave up, left town, and were never seen again. But the scuttle-butt about the lost fortune resurfaced in local haunts for many moons.

Some have pointed out that the country around Inwood is volcanic and hence an unlikely sport for the mine to have been found. A more likely spot, they say, might be at another water fall about 80 feet high, on Clover Creek about three miles from Oak Run, and 25 miles east of Redding (old Reids Ferry).

Years ago the Chinese used to work on Mill Creek (a tributary of Indian Creek in the Happy Camp area), and took out considerable gold. In 1929, one old Chinaman came back. He said in Happy Camp that there was a rich quartz ledge at head of the old diggings.

A man took him up to the old diggings and let him off. Later, when he did not show up again, the Forest Service looked for him. They found his camp, where he had spent the night, but neither he nor the ledge has been found to this day.

In the course of the search, however, they did find a strange thing. Between the forks of the creek there were three acres of ground, covered with trees. About 25 years before, all the young first saplings had been fashioned into perfect totem poles. It must have taken lots of work and time, but no one knew who had done it, or why.

Once there was a man working for a mining outfit in the Humbug Creek area. One day he didn't feel well, so he started for Yreka to see a doctor. When he hit the Deadwood trail he felt sick and lay under a tree. Nearby he found a promising piece of quartz float. He looked around and found an outcrop. He began to feel better. He went three or four miles back to his cabin, got a pan, sack, pick and shovel, and set to work. He took out a sack full of gold ore worth $5,000 to $7,000 and went over the hill to Hawkinsville, where his parents and his two brothers lived. He took out more quartz, then took sick again. He covered the site with brush, but left his pick and shovel. Then he went to the County Hospital, and died a week later. The site has been lost ever since, but is supposed to be on the west side of Humbug Mountain.

Once an old man found a rich lode up on McGee Creek, at the head of Cow Creek, east of Redding. He filled two sacks with ore and took it into Redding and sold it. This gave him enough for a new stake, and he returned to look for his mine, but he could not find it again. He kept looking for it, and finally did not return. People who went to look for him found his two donkeys, but never found hide nor hair of the old man or the mine he was supposed to have.

Peter Lassen, pioneer of before the days of '49, was long believed to have had a private gold supply somewhere in Deer Creek Canyon, to which he may have been led by the fierce Yahi Indians of the area. Lassen's lifetime financial difficulties, and his death far out in Nevada's Black Rock Desert while seeking the Lost Hardin Mine did not dim the legend. On a wintry day almost twenty years after Lassen's death in 1859, a miner named Obe Leininger found a ledge of gold-flecked quartz in the same locality. He marked the spot by burying his pick in the trunk of a nearby tree, then was unable to find it again, though he and others sought the place for years. It is still there forty miles out of Chico, somewhere to the left of State Highway 32, just beyond Deer Creek, between the mouth of Calf Creek and the Potato Patch campground of the U.S. Forest Service.

Black Bart - another gentleman bandit

Black Bart, California's most famous gentleman bandit, was amazingly successful over a period of some eight years in the 1870s and 1880s, amassing a known 28 stage robberies in that time. He was comparatively well educated, a general reader and well informed on current topics. He was cool, self-contained, with humorous tendencies, and after his arrest exhibited genuine wit under most trying circumstances. He was neat and tidy in his dress, highly respectable in appearance, polite in behavior, rather chaste in his language, never used profanity, and was never known to have gambled. He wrote poetic doggeral, often signing his notes "Po8" (poet). A series of his stage robberies occurred in the northstate, and several in 1880 and 1881 took place on the Yreka, Weaverville, Redding and Old Shasta roads.

Black Bart's downfall was an elegant handkerchief he inadvertently dropped, with the laundry mark FX07. Detectives scoured the San Francisco laundries, and eventually zeroed in on one Charles Bolton. (His real name was Boles.) He was tried and convicted, and served a five year sentence. He was released from San Quentin in 1888 and within a year had disappeared from sight, perhaps living off the remainder of the loot previously robbed during his "career" as California's gentleman bandit. Others believed the reports of stage robberies may have actually been Black Bart again, back to his old ways. Wells Fargo finally closed its last stage route in 1895, but eventually gave up its search for Black Bart's unrecovered millions.

Mokelumne Hill, early 1850s

An old Negro named Buster mined successfully and as time went on, quite lucratively, at the hill. Later he moved to San Antone Camp on San Antone Creek, a branch of the South Fork of the Calaveras River. On arrival he brought his gold -- 136 pounds of it, his life savings -- into Cuneo's General Store to be weighed, then took it and the rest of his belongings about a quarter of a mile up the creek. There he built a cabin and worked a claim in a ravine still known as Buster's Gulch. He was known to have good luck, but except for purchases at the store for his basic needs he kept all the gold buried somewhere in a Dutch oven (a covered iron skillet). When Buster died in 1872 the gold was not found, though men tore down the cabin and sluiced the site. Some believed that a man named Charlie Vickers, who nursed Buster through his last illness, may have found the gold by following the old man's dog, who went everywhere his master had been in the habit of going. Vickers, a usually improvident gambler, later displayed unusual affluence. However, the search has gone on ever since. Once a boy walking along the creek caught sight of an old Dutch oven sticking out of the bank. He hastened to dig it out, but found it empty.

Another version of the story uncovered by Brad Williams and Coral Pepper is that while most of the town loved old Buster and his eccentric ways (for example, leading his burro into town by a halter), a certain wicked character named Smokey Hill proceeded to Buster's cabin to rob him. Before the townsmen could get there (someone had overheard Smokey telling his plans), Buster was murdered by the bad guy, who was caught and lynched, frontier style. A search was made of Buster's surroundings, the cabin dismantled, but no sign of the two Dutch Ovens was ever found. Sources who refer to it include Jim Drake, Frank L. Fish, JW Pounds.

Another Negro miner may have left a hoard near one of the creeks flowing into the Mokelumne River. "Jim" came to California from one of the Southern States with his master in 1849. The master was accidentally drowned in the following year and Jim inherited his freedom, as well as the mine, cabin, and personal effects of his deceased master. He remained on the creek until the 1880s, when his mind failed and he was found wandering about Campo Seco one day muttering about some lost gold. Later a San Francisco lawyer came and told how, when a boy, he had frequently visited Jim in his cabin and the latter had once allowed him to play with several large cans of nuggets which he said he would someday leave him. The cabin and area around were searched thoroughly, but nothing was found. Whether Jim was robbed, or whether the gold still lies concealed is unknown to this day.

Rattlesnake Dick

In March 1856 seven men proceeding with a mule train over Trinity Mountain enroute from Yreka to Shasta were held up by a gang of five masked bandits and robbed of $25,000 in gold. The gang buried the gold in several places on the mountainside, then fled. They were rounded up a few days later. The crime was engineered by the notorious "Rattlesnake Dick" Barter, "the Pirate of the Placers," though Barter, nabbed while stealing mules to be used to carry off the loot, was unable to take part. About $15,000 of the gold was recovered in a ravine 12 miles from Mountain House, on the headwaters of Clear Creek. The melting of the snow and the coming of spring so changed the look of the terrain that attempts to find the rest of the loot failed, and $10,000 (now several times in value by today's gold price) still lies somewhere on the mountain. [another citation is in Remi Nadeau]

Rattlesnake Dick was another of the highwaymen who alternated between the southern mines of the [Sierra] Mother Lode and the northern mines of Shasta and Trinity. Legend has that false accusation had caused him to turn to crime. It was 1954 that he began his crime in the northern gold country of Shasta, and 1856 that he began operating with a gang of bandits, using the alias Richard Woods (real name Dick Barter). He was shot down near Auburn in 1859, without ever having revealed the whereabouts of his treasure.

About 1900 early in the Spring, a man went hunting somewhere between Kelsey and Kidder Creek in Scott Valley. There was a storm and he spent the night on a hillside, in the partial shelter of a big White Pine log. In the morning at daylight he saw at the butt of the log a two foot ledge of extremely rich rock. He cut three notches on a fir sapling and stuck a hatchet in the sapling to mark the place, but was never able to find the spot again.

The final heist occurred when Rattlesname Dick hooked up with the Skinner boys. He decided to avoid his old haunts of the Mother Lode and concentrated on the rich spoils of the northern diggins. The robbery was flawless but the Wells Fargo organized posse was hot on their tails. The gang split up. George Skinner was suppose to met Rattlesnake Dick and the rest of the bandits at Folsom, however, the gold was too heavy to bring down the mountain pass and George decided to buy half of the loot in the mountains. (Part of which is in Trinity County and part in present Shasta County. At that time Trinity County had not been formed.)

No one to this day has been able to find the remaining $40,000 worth of gold bullion buried on Trinity Mountain; even Rattlesnake Dick could not find where George had buried the treasure. A short time later, Dick met his doom back in the Placer district, near Auburn. It was not his nemesis, the relentless Marshal John Boggs, but an unlikely bounty hunter (greenhorn) who fired the fatal shot.

Ruggles Brothers

Ruggles Brothers, May 14, 1892 John and Charles Ruggles lynched: gold loot never found

One of the most famous gold heists made the new town of Redding famous throughout the state. It occurred in May 1892. The Ruggles Brothers held up the stage to Weaverville just west of Redding, and made off with the strong box loaded with gold. Just past a sharp bend on what is known as Middle Creek Road today. As soon as the stage headed round the turn the younger brother Charles jumped out of the manzanita chapparal with his shotgun aimed, ordering a halt. The driver complied, but unbeknownst to the Ruggles, the stage had an armed escort, Buck Montgomery of the Hayfork Montgomery clan.

Montgomery began firing, and Charles Ruggles fell. His brother John fired back, while the stage raced away to get help in Old Shasta. John Ruggles thought his brother dead, cached the strong box off the trail and hid is somewhere close by. That loot was never recovered, but the Ruggles Brothers were subsequently lynched by Redding vigilantes.

As the legend goes, both Ruggles boys were young, charming and handsome. Numerous of the local ladies began to pamper them with gifts of food and even marriage proposals. For some reason there was an aura about the boys that girls and women found extremely appealing, perhaps their "bad boy" persona, or their good looks. Redding was still a preponderantly male town in those years. The locals already had it in for the two for the murder of the popular Buck Montgomery and they sure were not going to tolerate pampering of murderers, and secretly concocted a sheme for lynching them. The question exists as to how much help the Redding lawmen gave the "citizens." With no pretence for due process or the rights of the accused, the two boys were lynched in Redding July 24, 1892 --the mob took the two from jail, led them to a tree on the northwest corner (Redding Blacksmith shop at the time) where Shasta Street met the railroad tracks, the 'backyard' of the current Paul Stowers Garage business of today. Even on the improvised gallows, John Ruggles refused to divulge where he stashed the loot.

Authorities went back and scoured the area, and even found the express bag pouch (with letters intact) in the Lower Springs area, but the of $5,000 in gold coins still remains unfound, though over a century of seekers have tried. In recent days, our own local Brad Garbutt has rallied the historical interest, and given pointers to the curious. The place to begin, he says, is along the unpaved section of Middle Creek Road between Iron Mountain Road and the Shasta Transfer Station in Old Shasta.

So there's the challenge: find that hastily-buried gold loot!


from the ashes, we rise

  • Dutch Engle's Lost Mine -- Arbuckle Mountains in Shasta County --- more info in John H. Harrison article

  • Lost Placer at Gold Bluff -- near Red Bluff (now Tehama County?) -- more info Thomas Probert book

  • The Gold of Hall City Cave -- near Weaverville in Trinity County --- more info Evelinn S. Kannenburg article "Indian Gold in a Water-Filled Cave."

  • Hawkins Lost Mine -- near McCloud in Siskiyou County -- more info Thomas Probert book

  • Alvey Boles's Lost Mine north of Shasta City in Shasta County -- more info Thomas Penfield book

  • Anderson's Lost Waterfall gold pocket (Shasta or Siskiyou County) - western slope of Mount Shasta -- info Thos Probert

  • Bear Creek Cave - north of Shasta-Tehama County line --- "Gold Cave" -- more info Thomas Penfield book

  • Brockman's Lost Ledge - southwest of Horse Lake in Lassen County -- more info Thomas Probert book

  • Ruggles Brothers Treasure - refers to the famous stage robbers of Shasta County history, well authenticated. The loot of the hold-up, in which deputy Buck Montgomery was killed, was never recovered, but it is known to be somewhere on Middle Creek about 6 miles west of downtown Redding. Even in the hands of their lynchers, the brothers both refused, as they were being strung up, to tell where they stashed the booty. Sources (among many) include article by Dale Champion.

  • Toby Bierce's Gold Stash - somewhere in Cleveland Meadows (also called Old Bierce Meadows) in Trinity County -- more info Bud Kannenburg article

  • Treasure of Trinity Mountain in Siskiyou County

  • Tub of Coins Treasure at Yankee Hill. Must be present day Butte County

  • Lassen Stage Horde on western slope of Mount Shasta

  • Lemurians Treasure Vault in Cascade Mountains, Big Rock Candy Mountains, or in labyrinth beneath Mount Shasta -- more info Leland Lovelace article

  • Lieutenant Jonas Wilson's Poker Cache in Hoaglin Valley at foot of Haman Ridge in Trinity County - more info Vivienne L. George article

  • Lost Treasure of Mount Shasta in Shasta or Siskiyou County - more info (several sources, incl.) Erie Schaefer, Earl Snipes

  • Old Man Waite's Pocket of Gold on Buckeye Ranch near Redding in Shasta County - more info Ben T. Traywick article

  • Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Horde near Clear Creek in Trinity County -- more info Jack Block (and others)

  • Rifle Barrel Payroll Treasure near French Gulch in Shasta County

  • Gold Cache on Canyon Creek in Trinity County

  • Lost Frenchman's Mine in Bald Hills east of Cottonwood in Shasta County

  • Lost "Donkey" Mine of Cow Creek near Bella Vista east of Redding in Shasta County

  • Lost Mormon Treasure near Horsetown ("One Horse Town') off Clear Creek southwest of Redding in Shasta County -- more info Geo. A. Thompson article

  • Lost Cache of Davenport's Bar in Trinity County -- more info William N. Lawton article

  • Double Cabin Lost Mine on north fork of Trinity River in the Salmon Mountains Trinity or Humboldt County -- more info Vern Hammond article

"Luck of the Irish"
The luck of the Irish is a peculiar phrase that may have multiple meanings. There is little agreement on origins of this idiom. Some suggest it simply means that the Irish are inherently lucky, and seem to be able to land on their feet when bad circumstances occur. Something innate about being Irish makes such folks inherently lucky. Others trace origin of the phrase to the US where especially during the exploration for gold in the west, there were a high number of Irishmen who got lucky, and found their "pot o' gold" in the gold fields of California, or were equally prosperous in silver mining.

There are others who believe that the word 'luck' in this phrase is truly not the right word, especially if it means good luck. A better term might be fortune, which can be either good or bad. Certainly, Irish history attests to plenty of times of ill fortune. See Irish history. For as many struggling young Irishmen of the nineteenth century gold-rush who may have found a few nuggets of gold buried in the legendary gold fields of northern California and the Mother Lode (east of Sacramento), there were many more who fought nativist prejudice and bigotry against "immigrant" Irish and especially against Catholicism in the US and in their homeland. See Nativism-Bigotry. The Irish have lived in an island that was taken from them, occupied successively by the Vikings, the Normans, the English, (all conquerors and colonizers). They've survived famines, war, starvation, and prejudice, and these are not fortunate things. resource



Patrick's Shamrock
Honoring the Irish


Some Links
Maps, finders, resources
Coarsegold biker club
Notable lost caches
"True Tales" unfound stash
Buried treasure
Lost Dutchman
Rock Rollers club
Empire lode mine
Marshall Discovery
California Gold lore
Route 66 gold club
Central Valley club

To Think About
all that glitters
is not gold


Also try

losttreasure.com