Alameda County – With a posse on their tails in 1893, two bandits allegedly buried a cache of stolen loot near a brick kiln at Adams Point on Lake Merritt. When the lawmen caught up with the outlaws, one was killed and the other immediately arrested. The surviving outlaw died later died in prison. The ill-gotten treasure has never been found.
Contra Costa County – Dr. John Marsh, a California pioneer who was sometimes referred to as California’s first American doctor, was allegedly known to bury his money near his home nestled in the foothills of Mt. Diablo.
Marsh was murdered in 1856 while on his way home from Martinez, without ever telling anyone of the exact location of his hidden riches. The treasure tale today alleges that Marsh had hidden a cache of some $40,000 gold coins near his home or Marsh Creek, that bears his name. Currently, plans are underway to develop the location into a California State Park.
Another, even larger treasure is said to be buried along the beaches of the county. In 1901, the Selby Smelter at Vallejo Junction was busy refining ores that were shipped from a number of neighboring mining districts. But, one employee by the name of John Winters, was “busy” at a different task — that of removing gold bars, one at a time from the vault, and burying them on the beach near the water’s edge. Taking an estimated $283,000 in gold, Winters was finally caught and about $130,000 of the bars were recovered. However, more than $150,000 remained lost.
Humboldt County – In July of 1928, the small post office at Willow Creek was robbed by two outlaws that escaped with some $2,800. According to the story, the bandits buried the loot in one of two places and never returned to retrieve it. The first version of its location tells of the stolen cache being buried near the Cedar Flat Bridge that crosses Trinity River about four miles upriver from Burnt Ranch. The second location has the loot hidden at some point up New River Canyon on the first ranch above the mouth of New River.
Another stolen cache, taken by an employee of the San Francisco Mint in 1894, is said to be buried in Humbolt County. The thief was later captured and sent to prison for his crime but refused to reveal the exact location of the loot. The treasure, containing some 290 pounds of gold ingots, is thought to be buried at Shelter Cove near Point Delgado.
Inyo County – Near Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley, some say that a hidden cache of gold coins, amounting to as much as $200,000, was buried by Walter Scott. “Scotty,” as he was more familiarly known, was a flamboyant and outrageous character, and a known swindler and prospector. Though he did not build or own the castle that bears his name, he was closely associated with the man that did.
Kings County – In 1873, the small town of Kingston, California was a stopping place on the Overland Stage route between Stockton and Visalia, California. In December of 1873, Tiburcio Vasquez and his outlaw band made a bold raid, robbing the entire village and holding 39 men hostage. When an alarm was raised, the bandits dashed to their horses and began to flee. However, in the ensuing melee, three of the outlaws were shot and killed and the man carrying the stolen loot was wounded.
Unable to reach a horse, the injured bandit escaped on foot and made his way across the Kings River. Though the outlaw was pursued, neither he nor the loot could be found. Years later, a skeleton was discovered in the area and was thought to have been the injured bandit, but again the ill-gotten cache remained un-recovered.
By the 1890s the town of Kingston had totally been abandoned and is completely gone today. The site of the town is now a California Historical Landmark (#270), which can be found in Kingston Park in the city of Hanford.
Marin County – Not all lost treasures of California are related to the Gold Rush. During the wild and wooly days of Prohibition, a German whiskey smuggler named Carl Hause was doing a brisk business. Hause’s operations were located on Point Reyes Peninsula at the edge of Drake’s Inlet just south of Inverness. The whiskey smuggler was said to have buried approximately $500,000 in gold-backed currency somewhere between Inverness and the old Heims Ranch. However, the liquor entrepreneur would not live to retrieve his ill-gotten gains as he was found shot to death in his car. The currency has never been found.
Modoc County – Though Modoc County was never known as prime mining country, a few treasure tales continue to be told in this region that is most known for its Indian lore and unparalleled scenic beauty.
In the last years of the 19th century, a sheepherder picked up a heavy rock on the west slope of the South Warner Mountains. Forgetting about it for months, he finally retrieved the stone and took it to an assayer. Imagine his shock when he was told that the heavy rock was almost pure gold. He soon found an Alturas banker, who grubstaked him and the sheepherder returned to the Warner Mountains. However, try though he might, he searched relentlessly and was never able to find the source of ore again.
Another fairly well-authenticated story tells of an Oregon emigrant who picked up a similar piece of rock in the 1850s in the area of Devil’s Garden. Though no mineral deposits of any amount were ever found in the area, the legend of hidden ore persists.
In the lava beds of northwest Modoc County, a family was seeking refuge from a snowstorm some sixty years ago. While there, they said they found a rich copper vein in a crater of the rugged volcanic formations. Though Mr. Courtright and other prospectors returned to the area to search for the rich ore, it was never found.
During the 1860s an army scout by the name of Daniel Hoag was stationed at Fort Bidwell. While on a scouting trip into the Warner Mountains, in the area of Fandango Peak, he reportedly found a rich gold ledge. However, it was at this time that the area was in the midst of what is referred to as the Modoc Indian War. Hoag was killed in one of the battles before he was able to return to the site and the location of the ledge remains lost. Fort Bidwell, used from 1864 to 1892, is located on the Fort Bidwell Indian Reservation, where the officer’s quarters continue to stand near the old post cemetery.
Nevada County – Several tales continue about the Donner Party having buried their money during the time they were trapped during that terrible winter in 1846. One story tells that George Donner allegedly buried about $10,000 in gold somewhere near Alder Creek northeast of Truckee, California. Though the cache has never been “officially” located, many believe that it was dug up and stolen after Donner’s death. Other members of the party are also said to have buried their savings in the area. This was supported when in May 1891, a man named Edward Reynolds found a five-franc silver piece while fishing on the northeast corner of Donner Lake. A few days later, he and a friend returned to the site and found an entire sack of coins. The horde was believed to have been hidden by Elizabeth Graves.