Long ago a Wells Fargo Stagecoach was held up along the 13-mile trail between Virginia City and Carson City, Nevada. William Manners, the stagecoach driver, and guard, Mike O’Fallon, were nervous, knowing their load included a 300-pound strongbox filled with gold destined for the Carson City Mint. Breathing a sigh of relief when they spied the Mint in the distance, they pulled over at the small town of Empire, about a mile from Carson City.
Giving their passengers a short reprieve from the coach, they soon took off again on the last short leg of their journey. However, no sooner had they hit the dusty trail, four outlaws jumped up and held up the stagecoach.
The four bandits took the strongbox and relieved the coach’s passengers of their jewelry, then fled on foot. The coach headed to Carson City in a mad dash and a posse was on the bandits’ trail within half an hour.
When the posse caught up with the bandits a shootout ensued leaving three of them dead on the ground. The last remaining bandit named Manuel Gonzales was quickly arrested but the gold was missing. Gonzales underwent intense questioning by the Wells Fargo agents and local law enforcement but he steadfastly refused to divulge the location of the missing loot.
Gonzales was sentenced to 20 years at the Nevada Territorial Prison where he often talked of the treasure stating to fellow prisoners that he could see the burial site from his prison cell window. After just eight years, Gonzales was released on good behavior but died shortly thereafter, without having retrieved his cache.
Most treasure hunters believe that the loot is located on a small mound very close to the Nevada State Prison and some of the prison guards are known to spend their time off looking for the loot.
© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated September 2020.