Along the Black Dog Trail in north-central Oklahoma, there is said to be hidden, several pouches of gold from the California Gold Rush. In 1850, after having struck it rich in California, eight men from Virginia were making the long trek home when they camped near the Black Dog Trail Crossing on the Arkansas River. Black Dog Trail, engineered by Osage Chief Black Dog, extended from east of present Baxter Springs, Kansas, to the Great Salt Plains in Alfalfa County, Oklahoma. Under Black Dog’s substantial proportion of the Osage hunted west to the Salt Plains and the upper Arkansas River. It was not uncommon for members of his band to raid, hunt, and trade as far away as Mexico and Santa Fe. This area was also widely known to be guarded by Osage warriors with war-like ferocity.
For those unwary Virginians, that night was no different as they witnessed the advance of an oncoming Osage War party. Seeing no chance of escape, the men quickly buried the bags of gold near the riverbank, wedging a broken rifle in the fork of a nearby tree to mark the spot. After the attack, seven of the men lay dead, but one, though severely wounded, managed to survive.
After several weeks the weary and injured traveler made his way home to Virginia where he eventually died as a result of his wounds. However, before he took his last breath, he told his family of the hidden gold and where to find it.
The family was unable to travel to Oklahoma for several years to look for the hidden cache. When they did make it, they spent several weeks searching for the crossing. The rifle was long gone from its place within the fork of the tree and the terrain bore no trace of the battle that had been fought there. Disappointed, they returned home to Virginia, empty-handed.
Old records support the story of the miner who had survived the Indian attack to return home to Virginia. To this day the gold has never been found. The Black Dog Trail Crossing is located northeast of Newkirk, Oklahoma in Kay County.
©Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated December 2019.