Treasure at Pawnee Rock
Lost Treasure at Pawnee Rock
Jutting out above the
prairie near Larned,
Kansas is a
where dozens of gold and silver caches are said to have been buried. For
was a site where the
held councils of war and peace.
battles were fought here and arrowheads can often be found bearing witness
to these bloody conflicts. The sandstone citadel was also used by
as a vantage point to spot buffalo herds, and later -- approaching wagon
Rising up out of the
Pawnee Rock was a
landmark for explorers and a popular campsite for travelers crossing
the prairie. The large rock formation later became a popular stop upon
for the white settlers heading west in search of adventure and
fortune. The Rock was considered the mid-point of the long road
lying between long stretches of dry plains. Water, provided by the
and fresh meat, obtained by plentiful game, was vital to the survival
of the wagon trains.
Explorers Zebulon Pike, Webb,
Gregg, Doniphan and other travelers mentioned
Pawnee Rock in
their journals. In 1826, when
just 17 years old, the wagon train he was working for camped near the
Rock. Drawing guard duty that night, he shot his own mule,
thinking it was an attacking
As the hundreds of
thousands of trappers, soldiers, gold seekers and emigrants passed by,
they carved their names into every conceivable place upon the
sandstone face of the bluff. In 1848, James Birch, a soldier on
his way to the Mexican War, wrote: "Pawnee Rock was
covered with names carved by the men who had passed it. It was so full
that I could find no place for mine."
Although the rock was
one of the most famous landmarks along the 750-mile trail, it also
became known as one of the most dangerous points, as the angry Pawnee
began ambushing the caravans. Word of the attacks spread from
one end of the trail to the other, but the wagon trains still stopped
at the vital campsite needing fresh provisions for the rest of their
quickly became a common practice for the travelers to bury their valuables
before bedding down for the night. Hidden, the money would be safe
if they were attacked by
or robbers. The massacres continued, and many of the travelers were slain
before they were able to dig up their caches. Today, the number of
treasures is estimated at well over a hundred, ranging from small
caches of the lone traveler, to very large belonging to Spanish
expeditions, or rich
freighters returning east carrying gold or silver from the sale of their
the railroads began making their way across the plains in 1872, the town
was founded, which lies at the foot of the sandstone cliff. These
settlers quarried the bluff for building materials reducing its elevation
by at least one-half its original height.
In 1908, the remaining
portion was acquired by the Woman’s
Club and the next year it was turned over to the State of
an historic site. On May 24, 1912, a stone monument was dedicated with
great celebration before a crowd of some eight thousand onlookers.
The state park today
provides a road leads to a shelter house and monument on the summit. An overlook, monument and historical signs now grace its reduced summit,
where visitors can stand, witnessing the view that so many throughout
history have shared. The site is open from sunrise to sunset.
State Historic Site is located one-half mile north of
the southwest corner of Barton County.
Starting out from any direction, a
hunter might look within two miles of the Rock for the hidden
treasures. The area is also rich in relics from
early Spanish explorers, and
being said, please note that treasure hunting, metal detecting, digging or
removal of objects is not permitted at Kansas State Historic Sites.
of America, updated October, 2012.
Attacks at Pawnee Rock
From Legends' General Store
America Kansas DVD -
Kansas Wheat Tour, Cessna Aircraft, Dodge City, Smoky Hill
Bison Co, Monument Rocks., Fossil detectives at Keystone Gallery, Kansas
Wheat House. Brass Artist Tracy Hett, M.T. Liggett's roadside art, Kansas
Underground Salt Museum, OZ Museum, Sedan's yellow brick road, Rawhide
artist Jay Adcock, Profile of Proto-Kaw, reformed version of band
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