Outlaw Loot in Flagstaff
Flagstaff Outlaw Loot
Legend has it that
upon a mountain ledge overhanging the City of
is buried an approximate $125,000 taken from a stage coach in 1881.
Thirty-five miles east of
Canyon Diablo, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad was the end of
the line for those heading to
California. As the
stage coach passengers waited, four canvas mail bags were unloaded
from the train to the westbound coach. Onlookers watched as the
mail bags were transferred from the train to the boot of the coach,
noticing that two of the bags appeared to be particularly heavy.
the baggage was loaded, the coach headed north out of Canyon Diablo
before swinging west onto the
Fe Trail. Headed to
the passengers and baggage would meet the next stage en route to
another railroad at Needles,
The elevation between
is extreme and the team of horses climbed steadily along the San
Francisco Peaks until they reached a flat divide.
Suddenly, five riders surrounded the coach
leveling their six guns at the passengers and the crew. The
bandit leader immediately motioned two of the
outlaws to the back of the coach, where the two lifted out the two
heavy mail sacks, dropping them to the ground.
Without robbing the stage passengers,
the coach was sent on its way and reached
at about 5:00 p.m.
Flagstaff, no more than a
collection of wooden shacks at the time, consisted of only 2 stores
and 5 saloons, one of which served as the local stage station.
terrified passengers disembarked, talking excitedly about the stage
hold-up. Nearby, the station agent visibly paled as he listened to
the account and pulled the stage master aside. Still confused as to
outlaws would be interested in nothing but mailbags, the stage master
quickly learned that the two bags taken contained a shipment of gold and
silver bound from an
Bank to a San Francisco Bank. The Stagecoach Leader could do more
than stare at him in disbelief.
The Station Manager
explained that Wells Fargo, who had been plagued by a rash of recent stage
coach robberies, had attempted to fool any future bandits by packing the
gold and silver into two-five gallon whiskey kegs in each bag.
outlaws had an inside track to Wells-Fargo’s plan.
A posse was immediately
formed but the bandits were far ahead of any pursuers. Wells-Fargo, no doubt embarrassed by their ill-conceived idea, demanded
the help of the U.S. Army and a patrol of the 6th US Cavalry
picked up the bandit trail with the help of two Indian scouts. The
twelve-man cavalry followed the robbers to an elevation of 8,500 feet to
what was later known as Veit Spring. A log cabin was spotted ahead
where five saddled horses were tethered to a pole corral.
As the posse approached,
the bandits prepared to mount when the troopers rushed them. The
outlaws opened fire, which was returned by the cavalry. In the
end, all five
outlaws lay dead. After the gunfight, the bandits’ horses and
equipment were gathered up and the cabin was searched, but no loot was
found. Word, of course quickly spread, and the very next day more
than a dozen men arrived at Veit Spring searching for the hidden loot.
The entire area was searched and dug up, but still nothing was found.
Within a few months the robbery was all but forgotten to most.
Stagecoach Robbery, 1902
However, property owner, George Veit
diligently searched for the stolen
for almost thirty years – digging all over the slopes, the dirt floor of
the cabin, around the spring and in the nearby perpetual ice caves.
But he never found the cache. Family members and other
hunters followed but to date no one has ever claimed to have found the
of America, updated February, 2010.
Arizona Treasure Tales
Two Guns Camp, December, 2004, Kathy
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