It wasn’t just gold and silver miners who flooded Nevada in the late 1800s searching for their fortunes. Like other states of the Wild West, Nevada attracted its share of outlaws and bandits. One such man, Andrew Jackson “Jack” Davis, led a gang of thieves robbing stage stops, bullion wagons, and trains in Western Nevada.
First arriving in the area in 1859, Davis led two different lives. He looked like a legitimate businessman to the outside world when he set up a livery stable in Gold Hill. However, in his “spare” time, Davis and his gang took to the bandit road, taking gold and bullion from any source they could find.
Davis built a small bullion mill in Six Mile Canyon east of Virginia City, Nevada, and melted down his stolen gold, selling it as legitimate gold bars. He then buried his proceeds so people would not notice or catch on to how wealthy he really was.
On November 4, 1870, the gang robbed the Central Pacific Railroad express car near Verdi, Nevada, taking some $40,000 in gold coins and bullion. Pursued by lawmen, they were said to have buried the stolen cache along the north bank of the Truckee River, between Reno and Laughton’s Hot Springs west of town, near the site of the long-abandoned River Inn.
The entire gang was apprehended, and all were sent to the Nevada State Prison, but would not tell where they had hidden their stolen loot.
In 1875, Davis was paroled, but two years later, he was shot in the back during a Wells Fargo stagecoach robbery near Warm Springs, Nevada. If Davis ever returned for his cache is unknown, but many believe it is still hidden in Six-Mile Canyon or the vicinity of the Truckee River. Treasure hunters have long searched these two locations without success.
Another legend is that Jack Davis’s ghost protects his treasure in the canyon. Many who have looked for the treasure have been frightened away by the white screaming phantom that is sometimes said to sprout wings and rise into the air.
© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated December 2022.
Big Jack Davis – Nevada Outlaw