Oregon Wild West Story is one of several in our series of the Oregon Trail, Outlaws, Western History and Tall Tales.
Legends of Buried treasure in the Oregon Back Country
Legends, myths, tall tales and historic facts abound about treasure just waiting to be found in the back country of the Oregon Wild West. Missing gold mines and stashes of gold round out the numerous Oregon Wild West adventures that are legendary and each year attract treasure hunters.
The Cultural Oregon Wild West series has selected some of the most mysterious of these legends to share with you. Remember, most legends have some basis in facts – it might be fun to go on a treasure hunt, your chances of striking it rich are at least as good as winning the lottery.
Oregon Wild West Story #1 Blue Bucket Mine
This Oregon adventure begins with the mystery of Blue Bucket Mine is difficult to solve. Actually, there never has been a Blue Bucket Mine, so if it never existed it cannot be missing . But, the legend is that three years before gold was discovered, a wagon train got lost in Oregon attempting a new route through the Cascade Mountains.
They got lost for a few months in those mountains and were nervous that they would never get to their goal of the Willamette Valley. Three boys from the wagon train found some funny looking “yellow rocks” in a stream bed. No one knew what these rocks were – they were plentiful in the mud along the stream bed, easy to remove and heavy.
The boys filled a blue bucket with the rocks and brought it back to camp. The blacksmith on the wagon train put a few on his anvil and struck them while they were hot – they flattened easily. Of course, the rocks were likely to have been gold . But, gold had not been discovered yet in the west and no one figured out that the funny yellow rocks were valuable.
According to legend the gold nuggets were used as “sinkers” for fishing – quite successfully. Eventually the wagon train moved on and the boys were told to leave the rocks behind as the extra weight was unnecessary.
The group finally settled in the Willamette Valley and four years later the farming emigrants heard about the gold strikes in California. It was only moments until some of them realized that the “funny” yellow rocks were likely to have been gold , but not a sole knew where they had camped and the gold strike, their true Oregon adventure, has never been found.
Oregon Wild West Story #3 Fort Grant Paymaster Perishes
A little while after gold was discovered in southern Oregon and California the mining town of Fort Grant sprang up in Oregon. Too small for a bank, an unnamed paymaster from one of the businesses in town took the responsibility for safely storing gold found by prospectors and also gold coins they received for their gold. He hid the gold in a cast iron pot and then hid the pot – only he knew the location.
One day, the paymaster keeled over – he had suffered a stroke. Not being able to speak, he gestured wildly for someone to bring him a pencil and paper. By the time they figured out what the paymaster wanted it was too late, he perished from the effects of the stroke. It is thought that no one has ever recovered the missing pot and its treasure.
Oregon Wild West Story #4 The Robbing of the Louse Creek Stage
Another Oregon Wild West Story concerns a stage robbery. The year was 1890 and a stage coach was rattling though Oregon near Louse Creek, close to Josephine, Oregon. The robbers made off with a wealth of cash and gold. A posse quickly formed and caught the gang – quickly providing western justice as was often dispensed to Oregon outlaws, they were killed. No one thought to ask where the proceeds of the robbery had been hidden.
One outlaw tried with his dying breath to tell , all he managed before he dies was that the loot was within a few hundred yards from where the stage was robbed and buried in a hole. For years hordes of treasure hunters searched the area to no avail.
In 1933 C. l. Eubanks, a prospector, was hunting for gold along Louse Creek. He stumbled across an old manzanita tree that had carvings on it – it was the date 1890, 2 sets of initials and the words-go to, with the rest of the message completely faded out. Eubanks spent the entire summer of 1933 searching the area for robbery proceeds. He was not successful.
Cultural Oregon believes that “Treasure Hunting” Oregon wild West Stories, the Oregon Trail history etc. deserves to be added to the never ending list of outdoor recreational activities available in Oregon. It’s a free and fun adventure that could make you rich.
Topics on this page: Oregon Wild West, Oregon Wild West Story, Oregon Trail, Oregon Adventure