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The Lost Treasures of Nevada - 7 Stories That Will Make You Want to Start Searching Now!

The State of Nevada has a long history of lost or forgotten treasure. The great many lost mines are the most common lore but did you know that there are dozens of stories of treasure that was hidden or lost all throughout the state? In this article we chose the seven most intriguing and potentially recoverable treasure stories we could find.  Hope you enjoy

1. Lost Mormon Wagon Train Treasure

Mormon Trail Wagon Train Re-enactments — Utah Crossroads Chapter

A Mormon Wagon Train Moving Its Goods

Most people are not familiar with the Utah War between the federal government and Utah between 1857 and 1858.  It caused great tension between the feds and the Mormon Church.  In 1856 as trouble was mounting, time Brigham Young was so wary that he ordered the church to liquidate much of its material wealth and find a place to stash its treasures.  

Initially they commandeered a cave located between Pioche and Ely to hide the approximately $1.5 million in loot they were believed to have mustered.  Initially they felt this was a suitable site to hold the treasure.  However, in 1857 a massacre of over 120 members of a Mormon wagon train further heightened Young's fears.  After the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the loot was ordered to be moved once again by church leaders.  The plan was to ship the cache to San Bernardino, California where it would later be shipped to another country for safe keeping.

The caravan of twenty-two wagons created a train with armed guards attempted to avoid roads and trails commonly used to avoid detection.  This, however, may have been their undoing.  Perhaps not familiar with the route, the caravan quickly ran out of water and were forced to split up so one group could go back to its last known water whole obtain water for the whole group.  The group that went for water was the soldiers leaving only teamsters to care for the livestock.  This proved to be a huge error.  It took the soldiers days to return with the water and when they did, all but one man had been slaughtered.  The soldiers searched high and low but found no trace of the treasure but never recovered any of the wagons' load.  Later searches by the Mormon Church also failed to recover the cargo.  It was later reported that the Paiutes had stashes of coins but this story has never been verified.   

Although actual site of the massacre is still in questions, it is expected to be somewhere west of Las Vegas in the Red Rock Canyon.  Since the church admitted it has never recovered any of the treasure, it could potentially be out there scattered or buried in caches by Native Americans.

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2. Mormon Station and a Stolen Nail Keg Full of Gold Coins

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The Original Mormon Station Trading Post

In 1860 there was a silver stampede in Washoe County, Nevada.  So much metal was extracted the miners had a hard time keeping up with payroll.  The road from what is now Placerville to Mormon Station (now known as Genoa) was the main route for miners, teamsters, and pioneering adventurers.  This was the same road that was used to ship payroll used to compensate miners.  This was well known and stage coach robberies skyrocketed.  One clever shipper whipped up a plan to ship coins in a standard nail keg so it appeared to be rather worthless and burdensome for a henchman to steal if the load was stopped.  This plan, however, did not play out as expected.  Thieves got word of the shipment and stopped the coach only a few miles outside of Genoa.  The only thing taken was the nail keg full of $20,000 in $20 gold coins.  Two masked men were seen taking the keg into the nearby nearby woods.

A search was immediately launched for the stolen loot but neither the masked men nor the keg or loot was recovered by this effort.  Several years later an old miner confessed to stealing the loot as he laid on his death bead in Montana.  He stated that he and a friend had robbed the coach, took it into the woods, broke it open and each took $1,000 of gold coins and fled after burying the remaining coins beneath a tall pine tree nearby where the robbery had taken place.  The fervor from the original robbery had all but died since then as none of the loot was found.  This news, however reignited the burning fire of treasure hunters once the news was released in Carson Valley.  Treasure hunters dug holes around all of the tall pine trees and feverishly searched near the stage route, each one ending without success.  Over 20 years later an avalanche leveled Mormon Station and most of the pine trees were taken out.  The buried treasure could quite possibly be scattered throughout the area as earth was moved with the avalanche.  

Even more interested is the fact that several coins have been found in the area since then. In 1916 a blacksmith found $2,000 dollars in gold coins while searching for treasure around trees. 1948 while a basement was being dug, another cash with an unknown value was found.  Then, again, in 1961 about one hundred $20 gold coins were found on a hillside nearby where the robbery took place.  All of these discoveries point to the potential there still could be around $18,000 in lost treasure just waiting to be found by lucky treasure hunters.

The Tybo Kilns & Their Treasures

Tybo Charcoal Furnaces

Tybo, is a ghost town in South-Central Nevada that lies approximately 8 miles northwest of U.S. Route 6 and 10 miles northeast of Warm Springs. The community was established in the 1870s as a silver mining town. Its name came from the Shoshone word tybbabo or tai-vu, meaning "white man's district".  Mining was the main industry and the resources that were pulled from the ground helped fuel an economy and jobs that supported the locals way of life.  During the mining boom the town's population was estimated at around 1,000 people offering area residents access to all the essentials including a post office, a school, a templars lodge and of course saloons and gambling halls. And where you find saloons and gambling in the old west, mischief was also certain to be found.

3. The Tybo Gambler Treasure

There are two particularly interesting treasure stories tied to Tybo.  The first is the tale of a gambler from Belmont who had planned to take as much of the miner's hard earned money as he could at the poker table.  Apparently he did so quite well too.  Within a couple days the gambler had amassed nearly $3,000 in winnings.  At this point he began feeling the heat from the miners and decided it was time to part ways along with his money rather than parting ways with is life.  The next day the nervous but armed gambler jumped a stage coach with his money in a canvas bag.  At McCann's Summit, only a few miles west of Tybo, the stage coach typically made a stop to let the horses rest.  At this point the Gambler handed the driver a $5 gold coin and asked him to go down the road near the well-known Tybo bee-hive style charcoal kilns that were used to create charcoal for smelters and await his return near the kilns.  .  

The stage coach driver did as he was asked and didn't have to wait long for the gambler to return and, when he did, he no longer had the satchel.  The gambler told the driver that he would return once the heat from the locals was off him.  However, the gambler never returned as he was killed a short time later while gambling in his home town.  There have been no reports of this cache ever being found.  The driver stated that the loot couldn't have been too far from the road where he dropped off the gambler as he had returned rather quickly.  It could certainly still be out there just waiting to be found.

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4.  The Tybo Portuguese Payroll Stash 

The aforementioned Tybo Charcoal Kilns are associated with another hidden treasure story. As there were several contractors that operated the charcoal mines to provide charcoal to smelt the lead-silver ore, there was money flowing constantly.  On day a particular Portuguese contractor collected a large sum of money owed for his work.  He needed to hire more wood cutters and traveled quite a distance into Tybo to do so.  He was trying to be clever always chose not to carry all of his money with him to limit his chances of losing it all to a bandit.  So, he typically buried a portion of it prior to making the trip into town.  Word is he was trying to raise funds in order to get his entire family the the States and it is estimated he had, over time, buried quite a substantial amount of money.

Not long after leaving for Tybo, the ma was said to have been found lying dead with a broken neck having been thrown by his steed.  One of the man's laborers later recalled that the contractor always walked northwest from the dugout across from the charcoal kilns and walked for quite some time (approximately 45 minutes) and out of sight. Last I heard, in 2019 there was still one remaining kiln standing and the others still had remnants of the structures. Using this laborers description the loot could possibly still be found over the a ridge just out of sight.

 5. Mountain Springs Treasure

In 1897 a small group of men loaded with supplies and two chests with around $20,000 in coins were headed to Potosi with the delivery for Colorado Mining Company.  They were attacked by Indians near Mountain Springs west of Las Vegas.  One man was killed during the skirmish and the other two were left for dead.  They were discovered a few days later in pretty bad shape.  The men were taken to the mining camp for care but succumbed to their wounds.  But before one of the men died, he told the Paiute Indian woman who had cared for him that he stashed the two chests full of silver behind a rock in a shallow depression.  In secret, the Paiute woman tried to locate the chests but couldn't.  Later she told others what she had learned.  They too tried, unsuccessfully, to locate the treasure. 

The pass used on this route is still there but much different today.  Currently Mountain Springs is an unincorporated community located in Mountain Springs Summit, the pass over the Spring Mountains through which Highway 160 connects Las Vegas and Pahrump. Public buildings include a fire house and a saloon.  This pass was also used by early Spanish explorers and has history even beyond that.  As a route that has served as a thoroughfare for so long, for so many people, who knows what treasures might be found in this area.

 

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6. The Donner Party Treasure

7 Facts You Didn't Know About The Donner-Reed Party | California Trail  Interpretive Center

The Donner Party's Trail Spread Far and Wide

Most people have heard the horrendous story of the Donner party passing through Sierras - or rather attempting to.  Although the party's story tragically ended in what is now named Donner Pass in California, it began much further east in Springfield, Illinois with several stops along the way.  The entire journey was rife with struggle.  Along the way the wary migrants faced death, murder, Indian attacks, and lack of food.  What many people don't know is that along the way the party had stashed away nearly all their personal belongings—except for food, clothing, and the absolute essentials needed for survival—in order to lighten the burden on their tired animals.  They were so desperate that they discarded any items that were not essential for travel or survival and especially heavier items.  

When the party came upon the confluence of the  Reese and Humboldt River, party member Frazier Reed's group decided that the best way to lighten their load was to hide a large $15,000 cache of gold coins they had brought along with them.  Gold is heavy and, at that junction of their journey, worth far less than water and food.  Supposedly Reed buried the hoard next to a rock outcropping near where the rivers joined.

Frazier Reed made it through the pass in poor shape but not eaten unlike some members of the party.  It was many years later that he and his son returned to recover their hoard of coins.  Much time had passed and landscapes had changed and perhaps memories faded.  Either way according to the Reed family the treasure had never been found.   This outcrop is reported to be directly north of the present town of Battle Mountain, Nevada.

7. The Nixon Gold Coin Treasure

 

The town of Nixon, Nevada has a couple very interesting lost treasure stories.  Both involving Pyramid Lake. 

The first is a story of a Paiute Indian doctor named Johnny Calico who had reportedly buried a sack of gold coins on the lakeshore underneath a large rock.

The second story involves a camp of Chinese miners who were known to go into abandoned gold mines and scrape out left over gold. Over the years they were able to accumulate enough gold to create two chests worth of gold coins.  One day when the Chinese miners were making camp, they were attacked by a group of Paiute warriors and slaughtered.   The Paiutes took all of the miner's possessions.  Gold coins at the time were worthless to them and it is reported they abandoned the heavy chest of gold coins near the base of a cliff near the lake.

These stories may be hard to believe if not for the report of a large number of gold coins along with fragments of cloth being found in a vacant lot across from a store in the present town of Nixon in 1969. 

 

Credits:

This blog article was written as a summary of several stories found in the book Nevada Lost Mines & Buried Treasures by Douglas McDonald.  There are many more interesting stories of lost treasure and gold mines.  The book can be purchased by clicking the image below.

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