Saturday, October 9, 2010

Atbash Cipher

The Atbash Cipher is one of the oldest and simplest ciphers. It was originally used with the Hebrew alphabet. You simply wrap the alphabet around on itself, so A = Z, and Z = A, B = Y and Y = B, and so on.

Transposition ciphers

Transposition ciphers keep all of the original letters intact, but mix up their order. Since both the sender and receiver of a transposed ciphertext must agree on and remember the method for enciphering and deciphering, something easy would be nice. Since geometrical figures are easy to remember, they serve as the basis for a whole class of transposition ciphers. Our secret message for this example will be “x marks the spot to dig for the loot”. Let's put our message into the shape of a box. Since there are 28 characters, we'll add two dummy characters ("N and O") to make 30 and write the message in a six by five box. (In this configuration you read the message moving across)

We can now transcribe the message by moving down the columns instead of across the rows. Once again we'll break the characters into groups of five to give no clues about word sizes. The result looks like this :


For one to be able to read the ciphered text, they simply need to write the first five letter group as one column, the second five letter group as the second column, and so on; then read the message across in rows.

The real variety begins when you realize that you don't have to write your plaintext into the box row by row. Instead, you can follow a pattern that zig-zags horizontally, vertically or diagonally, or one that spirals in or spirals out (clockwise or counterclockwise), or many other variations.

Once you've put the text in the chosen form using one route, you can then encipher it by choosing a different route through the text. You and your partner just have to agree on the reading route, the transcription (enciphering) route, and the starting point to have yourselves a system. These systems are called route transcriptions.
Here's our message again. The reading route spirals counterclockwise inward, starting at the lower right corner.

The transcription route will just be columns again The ciphertext becomes:


To decipher, you fill the in box following the column route and read the message using the spiral route.

Another type of transposition cipher uses a key word or phrase to mix up the columns. This is called columnar transposition. It works like this: First, think of a secret key word. Ours will be the word SECRET. Next, write it above the columns of letters in the square, and number the letters of the key word as they would fall if we placed them in alphabetical order. (If there are duplicate letters, like the "E", they are numbered from left to right.)

Now write the columns down in the order indicated by the numbers. The resulting ciphertext looking like this:


As you can see, this is just a different arrangement of the previous ciphertext, but at least it isn't in some regular pattern. We could have easily made it a little more difficult by filling the square following a more complicated path. We could also use a geometric shape other than a rectangle and combine substitution and transposition. The only problem that might occur is that the deciphering may become so complicated that it will remain a secret at the receiving end forever!

The Bacon Cipher

Francis Bacon created one of the more interesting substitution ciphers. He used two different type faces slightly differing in weight (boldness). He broke up his ciphertext into groups of 5 letters, each of which would represent one letter in his plaintext. Depending on which letters of the group were bold, one could determine the plaintext letter using the following table (* stands for a plain “non-bold” letters and B for a bold letter)


A secret message of “x marks the spot” would appear as follows (I’ve added color to the bolded letters as well so that the cipher would be more obvious. Bacon did not use color and his bold and plain characters were less obvious than those below):

Seek ye first the good things of the mind,
and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt.

To decipher, we just break the characters into groups of 5 and use the key above to find the plaintext message.

Seeky efirs ttheg oodth ingso fthem

indan dther estwi lleit herbe suppl

iedor itslo sswil lnotb efelt

Pigpen Cipher

The pigpen cipher is a geometric substitution cipher in which symbols are substituted for letters. The symbols are derived from fragments of two tic-tac-toe boards and two X’s as shown below.

Using the pigpen cipher, the phrase “x marks the spot” would look like the following:

Variation on the cipher can easily be made by writing the letters in different places. Here are some examples:

The exact origin of the cipher is uncertain, but records of this system have been found which go back to at least the 18th century. Variations of this cipher were used by both the Rosicrucian brotherhood and the Freemasons, though the latter used it so often that the system is frequently called the Freemason's cipher.

QWERTY cipher

A QWERTY cipher is a substitution cipher in which the ciphertext is the order of the letters on a standard keyboard. The cipher would look like the following:

If our message was
“x marks the spot”
The cipher would be

Key Word Substitution Cipher

A key word cipher is created by taking a key word or phrase and put the letters in order at the start of the Ciphertext (eliminating any redundant letters) and then complete the cipher by writing down the remaining letters of the alphabet in alphabetical order (leaving out the letters you’be already used in your key word or phrase).
For example: Let’s make our key word KEY

Now let’s use a key where there are redundant letters (letters that are repeated)

For example: Let’s make our key word CROCODILE
If there are any redundant letters (letters that are repeated) write the word without them. CROCODILE has two repeated letters, C and O, so writing CROCODILE without the repeated letters we get CRODILE. This begins our cipher after which we put the rest of the letters of the alphabet in alphabetical order (leaving out the letters you’ve already used in your key word or phrase).

A key word substitution cipher is much like a Caesar shift cipher, but instead of knowing the number of the shift, one needs to know the key word or phrase in order to decipher it.

Caesar Substitution Cipher

In a Caesar substitution cipher each letter of the message is shifted forward 3 places in the alphabet. The cipher looks like this:

So if our message was:“tell me your secrets”
The cipher would be
whoo ph brxu vhfuwv (in the word “tell”, t is replaced by w, e is replaced by h, l is replaced by o, and so on)

by removing the spaces you can make the cipher a bit more difficult to crack

Caesar chose to shift his letters by 3, but any shift could be made up to 25 (if you shift by 26 you are back to where you started, also anything over 26 will be the same as those between 1 and 25)

The key to a Caesar cipher is knowing what the shift is.

Another version of the Caesar cipher is to make the shift by substituting the letters at the end of the alphabet to make the shift. Let’s say that we wanted to make a shift of 5. In my ciphertext I would first write the last 5 letters of the alphabet then follow them with the remaining letters in the alphabet.

Telephone Keypad Cipher

If you’ve every noticed closely on you telephone keypad, each number 2-9 matches up with a letter.
2 = A, B, or C
3 = D, E, or F
4 = G, H, or I
5 = J, K, or L
6 = M, N, or O
7 = P, Q, R, or S
8 = T, U, or V
9 = W, X, Y, or Z

Here is an example of a telephone keypad cipher
Message: “x marks the spot”
Cipher: 9627578437768

Telephone keypad ciphers can be a bit tricky as each number could still represent up to 3 different letters. For example in the above cipher, if someone was trying to decipher it, they may think the first letter in the message was “W” instead of “X” since 9 could represent “W”, “X”, “Y” or “Z”

Another way to use the Telephone Keypad Cipher is to use it to encipher a number message. A problem here is that the numbers 1 and 0 are not represented so characters would have to be created to represent those numbers.

An example of using a telephone keypad cipher to encipher your locker combination
Combination: 23-45-37
Cipher: ADHLER

Keyword Number Ciphers

Sometimes ciphers are used to conceal numbers, especially telephone numbers, addresses, weights, and money amounts. Keyword number ciphers are the most common system for encrypting numbers and are used in the same manner as keyword alphabet ciphers. Normally these keywords are ten-letter words with no repeat letters.

For example if the number we were trying to conceal was a locker combination

The cipher would be


To decipher the recipient one must know the keyword.

Polybius Square Cipher

In the polybius square cipher each letter is put in a 5x5 grid (doubling up I and J) and then each letter is represented by its coordinates in the grid.

If our message was
“x marks the spot”

The cipher would be
53 32 11 42 25 43 44 23 15 43 35 34 44

Some variation could be added to this cipher by putting the alphabet in a different order on the grid, perhaps backward or diagonally.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Letter Number Cipher

One of the first ciphers that kids learn is a letter number cipher. It is a simple substitution cipher where you replace letters with a number: A=1, B=2, C=3, etc. The complete cipher looks like this

So for example if our message was “x marks the spot”

The cipher would be
24 13 1 18 11 19 20 8 5 19 16 15 20

Codes and Ciphers

Codes and ciphers are forms of secret communication. A code replaces words, phrases, or sentences with groups of letters or numbers, while a cipher rearranges letters or uses substitutes to disguise the message. The technology of such secret communication is called cryptology.

Secret writing has been employed about as long as writing has existed. Cryptology has long been employed by governments, military, businesses, and organizations to protect their messages. Today, encryption is used to protect storage of data and transactions between computers.

Ciphers are broken into two main categories; substitution ciphers and transposition ciphers. Substitution ciphers replace letters in the plaintext with other letters or symbols, keeping the order in which the symbols fall the same. Transposition ciphers keep all of the original letters intact, but mix up their order. The resulting text of either enciphering method is called the ciphertext. Of course, you can use both methods, one after the other, to further confuse an unintended receiver as well.

Here are some more popular ciphers. They are links so you can click on them to learn more.

Letter Number Cipher
Caesar Substitution Cipher
Key Word Substitution Cipher
Keyword Number Ciphers
Transposition ciphers
The Bacon Cipher
Pigpen Cipher
QWERTY cipher
Telephone Keypad Cipher
Polybius Square Cipher
Atbash Cipher

Lost Mine Of The Henry Mountains

A section of the Old Spanish Trail went from Monument Valley, over the Bears Ears Pass in the Abajo Mountains, and down to the Colorado River at Spanish Bottoms. From there it climbed the steep sandstone walls on a series of hand cut steps, to allow the passage of pack animals, and continued on to the rich mines of the Henry Mountains. Old names and dates can still be seen carved in the sandstone along this trail. Between the Abajo's and Spanish Bottoms is the name and date "de Julio 1661" and between the Colorado and the Henry's there is an inscription that reads "1642 Ano Dom". Near the north end of the range is the site of a battle between the Spaniards and the Indians. A Latin cross and the date 1777 marks the site of the graves.

In 1853, John Fremont explored this remote area of Utah. He discovered the steps cut into the walls at Spanish Bottoms. One of his journal entries tells that near the Henry Mountains he found "...the very old bones of a pack mule and on either side of them, a pile of gold ore from pack sacks that had long rotted away". In January of 1853, a fierce snowstorm forced Fremont and his expedition to the town of Parawan where they were treated for frostbite and frozen limbs. Some of the men were greatly excited about the gold
ore they had discovered and several years later one of them returned to seek his fortune. He had only been gone a few weeks when he returned half crazed and exhausted. He told of how Indians had stolen all of his gear, including his food and rifle.

In 1868, a man named John Burke rode into Ben Bowen's stage station at Desert Springs. He claimed that he alone knew the location of the Spanish mine of the Henry Mountains. Bowen and Burke decided to team up to find the mine. They also joined up with a man named Blackburn who would act as camp tender and wrangler.

En route to the mountains, they stopped at a ranch in Blue Valley to purchase some supplies. They were warned by the rancher against going into the Henry's. The rancher told them of an Indian that used to work for him whose grandfather was forced to work in the mine by the Spaniards. He claimed that the Indians had placed a curse on the mine and it would bring nothing but bad luck.

Despite the warning the men continued on, entering the mountains from the north side of Mt. Ellen and eventually crossing the headwaters of Crescent Creek and making camp somewhere between Crescent and Copper Creek. They climbed to a place that was already known to Burke, where there was an outcropping of gold ore into which a shaft had been sunk many years before. They had no way of entering the shaft, but they did manage to get enough gold ore from the surface to fill their sacks.

To save some time, the party decided to take a shortcut across an unknown desert to the town of Pleasant Dale. From the mountains the terrain below appeared flat, but as they crossed it, they discovered it was riddled with deep canyons. At one point the party was suffering greatly from thirst and, against the advice of Blackburn, both Bowen and Burke drank deeply from a pool of stagnant water. By the time they had reached Pleasant Dale, both men were deathly ill. After a few days of recovering at Pleasant Dale, Bowen and Burke went to Salt Lake City to sell their ore. On the return trip, Burke died while crossing Rabbit Valley and Bowen died just a few days after arriving at Desert Springs. Some would say that the old Indian was right!

For several years the old mine in the Henry's lay undisturbed, but in 1885 placer gold was discovered on lower Crescent Creek. Soon the Bromide mine was located in the head of the canyon at what is now known as Bromide Basin. The following year the Oro mine was located. These mines were rich gold producers and soon each boasted it's own stamp mill. Some of the ore that was processed had values as high as $30,000 to the ton in today’s prices. Many smaller claims were also made in Bromide Basin and the canyon soon had a
town named Eagle City.

About the turn of the century, a man named Edgar T. Wolverton built a water powered ore crusher to service some of the smaller mines on Crescent Creek. Wolverton was also aware of the lost Spanish mine that was once worked by Burke and Bowen. In 1911, the mines hit water and were flooded out, leaving Wolverton with plenty of time to search for it.

Wolverton spent 10 years searching for the old mine and he kept a detailed journal of his discoveries. His diary mentions finding old Spanish arrastras and smelter sites where ancient trees were growing among the slag piles. He estimated one site to be over 175 years old. On July 21st, 1921, Mr. Wolverton may have found what he was looking for. His journal entry reads; "Found the old Mexican mill today while panning on the hill south of camp. Sack of ore brought down.......a very hard day, tired and thirsty." This would be his last entry, for the very next day his horse fell, Wolverton was thrown across the saddle horn and suffered a severe bladder injury. He was found several days later by a sheepherder who took him to a hospital in Fruita, Colorado where he died. Edgar T. Wolverton is now buried in the ghost town cemetery of Elgin. His tombstone is made from the drag stone of a Spanish arrastra that he had discovered. The Henry Mountains are reluctant to reveal their secrets.

Lost Silver Strike

Oft told tales of old-timers and the hard facts of history, fitted together, provide us with this story of the virgin silver of White Mountain.

The first settlers of the Black Rock Desert in west central Utah were the Mormons. They established Fillmore as their territorial capitol in 1851, but they followed a trail that was old even then. Indians, conquistadors, mountain men and fur trappers had blazed this territory long before the Mormons came on the scene. And for many years after the rock-solid territorial capitol was completed, emigrant parties, en route to the gold fields of California, followed the old trail southward.

It was such a party, lost and wandering in the wilderness, that found the white crystal mountain -- then lost it forever! The unmerciful desert had claimed all of their livestock and property, but spared them to tell their tale which became known as the story of the "wonder bearing White Mountain."

Accounts of the White Mountain silver strike found today in rare books or in pioneer diaries, written by different people at different times, and with each unaware of the other, give an unquestioned degree of authenticity to what some have called legend.

Sir Richard Burton, the world famed British explorer, wrote a brief account of the strike as follows: "An emigrant company had lately followed this new trail, but was obliged by the death of their cattle and livestock to abandon their kit and everything owned. On their forced tramp, they discovered virgin silver, samples of which they carried to California with them. The company later sent back an exploring party to locate the silver, but they failed to find the lead."

This was written in 1859 while Burton was en route to Salt Lake City.

No one, today knows who was in the emigrant party described by Burton, nor what became of the "exploring party” they sent back to search for the White Mountain silver. "They failed to find the lead" is the only known fact.

But a clue to the lost ledge might be the "kit and everything owned," which they abandoned, for surely parts of wagons, or pieces of mining equipment or camping gear remain somewhere in the shimmering wastes of the dread Black Rock Desert. If settlers found any part of the emigrant party's property, no record remains to tell of it.

It isn't likely that any of the Mormon settlers searched for the lost silver, for Brigham Young discouraged his followers from prospecting. The Mormon Prophet liked to tell the following story to Saints who dreamed of becoming millionaires by mining.
"Whenever I see an old man going along with a worn-out mule that can hardly stand up, with only a frying pan and a threadbare quilt, I say to myself, 'there goes a millionaire in prospect.' These millionaires are all over the country. They are in the mountains and deserts, on our roads and in the streets, and they haven't got a six-pence between them!"

In his now rare book, "The City of the Saints", Burton gave another clue to the lost native silver when he wrote, "At the western extremity of the White Mountains there is a mammoth cave of which one mile has been explored. It is said to end in a precipice, and the enterprising Major Egan (Howard Egan, a well known trail-blazer of that period) is eager to trace its course."

It wouldn't seem difficult today to locate a "mammoth cave" a mile or more deep, except for one thing. There are no White Mountains shown on today's maps of Utah! Apparently the name was one used by the pioneers, but which is unknown today. There are many unexplored caves in the still seldom visited Black Rock Desert country of west central Utah, but none answering Burton's description has been found.

Fortunately, there are other references to the same silver strike and the mysterious mountains where it was made. One of the most famous of all pioneer Utah frontiersmen was Porter Rockwell. He served as bodyguard for Brigham Young and was the first Marshall of the Utah Territory.

Brother Port, as he was usually known, trailed many a horse-thief and murderer, and few men knew the back trails of the desert as he did. Because of his knowledge of the territory, Rockwell was often asked to guide overland travelers or to advise them of which trails to take. He often warned them to watch for "White Indians, the worst of their kind!", or to avoid Major Egan's trail across the great salt desert, which Rockwell claimed "was about as fit for travel as Hell is for a powder magazine."

When Sir Richard Burton was preparing to leave the Salt Lake Valley en route to California, Rockwell cautioned him against the White Indians too, and told him not to attempt to cross the salt desert, but instead, "to go by way of Fillmore and the wonder bearing White Mountains."

But if he told Burton exactly where the mountains were located, Burton never mentioned it in his book.

Rockwell did try to reassure the famed explorer, in his own rough way, for Burton wrote, "Finally he comforted me with an assurance that either the Indians would not attempt to attack us, or else they would assault us in force and wipe us out!"

Fortunately for Burton, but unfortunate for today's treasure hunter, Burton chose to follow the salt desert route favored by Major Eagan, so he mentions nothing further of the White Mountains. Since Burton did make it to California, and became famous for his explorations in Africa and the Far East, we know that the "White Indians, the worst of -their kind" never got him.

It takes patience, but the pieces of a puzzle can be fitted together, and if one is persistent enough he may find a missing clue to the location of the mysterious White Mountains. No common state road or schoolroom map will reveal the clue. Even the detailed geological survey maps fail to give a hint about the missing range. But there may be a map that does.

Obtain a copy of Froiseth's New Sectional & Mineral Map of Utah, published by B. A. M. Froiseth at Salt Lake City in 1878. First, locate Fillmore in Millard County and then the Black Rock Desert to the west, remembering that on Froiseth's map, it is shown as the "Sandy Desert".

Today's highway goes south from Fillmore, but Froiseth's 1878 map shows a stagecoach road called the Devil's Gate & Mountain Valley Road going west, then turning southwest toward a mountain range which is called the Confusion Range to the north, the Beaver River Range west of Fillmore, and the Mineral Range further south. Approximately 11 miles southwest of Fillmore along the old stage road, a mail station is shown -- and its name is the White Mountain Stage Station!

The old mail station is shown situated near the base of a nameless mountain located among many other similar peaks, but most of the others are shown as volcanic cones. From the present highway one can see many black volcanic cones rising from the lava crust of the Black Rock Desert, but nowhere can a white crystal mountain be seen. However, if Froiseth's map of 1878 is compared with a modern Richfield Quadrangle 1:250,000 Geological Survey Map, and one measures about 11 miles southwest of Fillmore, there is a mountain shown as Tabernacle Hill. Is it the "wonder bearing" White Mountain of a century
ago? Is there really a white crystal mountain out there somewhere among the black volcanic cones?

Before you begin your search, there is one other reference which indicates that White Mountain and Tabernacle Hill may be one and the same, During the depression years of the 1930's, the Works Projects Administration (WPA to you old timers) employed a lot of fine but unemployed writers to prepare a now little-known manuscript which was published under the title "Utah, A Guide to The State".

It describes in detail the mineralized desert ranges of the Black Rock Desert country, and then in describing Meadows, a tiny livestock raising community some 8 miles south of Fillmore, it states in part, "Far to the west of town rises the crystal white cone of White Mountain, a volcanic dike located between lime hills."

It all sounds quite easy. just follow the old stage road 11 miles southwest from Fillmore to the ruins of the White Mountain Stage Station, or hike west into the desert from Meadow to the White Mountain itself, But there's one thing you should know first. There isn't any stage roads from Fillmore any more, and if any trace of the old mail station remains, it is only a pile of stone in the foothills near the desert's edge. But no one remembers today, so the old stone ruins might be just a cabin or a corral built by some pioneer a century or more ago. And if you plan on hiking west from Meadow, remember, the Black Rock Desert is waiting out there!

If you go, go well prepared, for it will take a well prepared and equipped party to find the lost silver lead that the California emigrants couldn't find, and remember, they had already been there once. The Black Rock Desert is a dangerous place and not too unlike the moon surface shown in photos brought back by the astronauts. If you get lost out there, you'll be just as lost as though you were on the moon.

Mysteries Of Recapture Creek Gold

In the Canyons along Recapture Creek is a pack train of buried gold along with the Spaniards and the mules who were taking it south. Or was the gold found actually part of Montezuma's Treasure?
Slowly the heavily loaded burros picked their way casually down the rocky trail as the muleteers were urging and prodding them on. The Spaniards were in a state of exhilaration and didn't want to waste any time, for this was the final part of their adventure that had lasted years. Each knowing that with each league traveled south meant that they were closer to making their dreams come true. Returning to Mexico City or Spain as a Hidalgo and rich to boot!

In the late 1750's and early 1760's the Spanish were mining gold in the southern end of the Abajo Mountains of southeast Utah. After many years of working the mine the Spaniards were closing down the mine and returning south. Some of the miners left with the treasure train, while others remained behind to finish closing and hiding all evidence of their mine. The Indian slaves were turned loose to fend for themselves.

Some time after the treasure train left the mine the remaining Spaniards were suddenly attacked by Indians, and all were killed. The Indians, after the fight, concealed all remaining traces of the mine. After their work was done they started out in pursuit of the treasure train.

The Indians caught up with the treasure train in the area between the modern towns of Bluff and Blanding Utah, near the small creek known today as Recapture Creek. The Spaniards were caught completely unaware and during the ensuing battle all the Spaniards were killed. The dead Spaniards and the gold laden dead burros were buried where they had fallen. The Indians having no use for the gold, buried it along with the dead.

Many years later the explorer John C. Fremont reported finding some gold bars and of seeing the skeletal remains of burros in this general area in the years between 1842-44.

When settlers first arrived in the San Juan River area, they were befriended by some Indians. After a period of time the Indians told them about an old Spanish mine in the Abajo Mountains and even showed some how to get to it. Evidently, a few of the settlers found the concealed mine. Near the mine they found signs and words cut into the sandstone, but the ravages of time had worn them thin and most were unreadable. It was believed that they were names and dates, and the only date that could be read was 1760. The enterance to the mine had been covered by a large rockslide that was many feet through. The settlers were hard pressed to even survive in this harsh land, and most of their time was spent in trying to survive, not chasing a rainbow. Eventually, the mine was a thing of the past, and just a story to be told around the fire on a cold winter evening.

The Indians also related to the settlers that during their grandfather's time, stories abounded throughout their peoples about the Spaniards who carried gold from the mountains to the south. Even about attacking the mine and eventually killing the members of a pack train and burying the treasure. When trading at the general store the Indians used gold to pay for supplies. It was said that the Indians never denied that their gold came from a treasure train. Through time many a white man tried to trick them into showing them the cache, but none were clever enough.

It wasn't long after this that the legend of the Snake Indian woman started to circulate in the area. Evidently, she was seen with small buckskin bags filled with gold nuggets, which she used to trade for supplies at the local trading post. Most believed that she secured her gold from potholes around the Abajo Mountains. According to Mr. Penfield, (noted treasure author), there was also a story about a law student from the east who also found gold in pot holes near the Abajo Mountains. Mr. Penfield notes that, as far as could be determined, the story was unconfirmed. Could this have been the source of the gold at Recapture Creek? Or, could the Lost John Howard Mine of more modern times be the source, could the John
Howard have been the Lost Spanish mine in the Abajo Mountains?
Another interesting theory put forth by different authors is that the gold at Recapture Creek actually came from the famous lost mine called The Lost Josephine. Some suggest that the Lost Josephine is in the Henry Mountains northwest of the Abajo Mountains and Recapture Creek, and others suggest that it's in the La Sal Mountains east of Moab, Utah.
There is a trail that runs over Bears Ears Pass that has seen such adventurers as Father Posada in the 1630's and Edgar Wolverton who traced the trail in the 1920's. Wolverton states that the trails main purpose was to service the Lost Josephine Mine. This trail runs west of Blanding to the Henry Mountains and east of Blanding is the Old Spanish Trail and Recapture Creek. One Author notes that, allegedly, the Indians buried great amounts of gold along this trail.

Another story, about the origination of the gold, is that when the first Anglo settlers arrived in the area they ran into a man who had lived in the country for a long time. There are stories of how this old man would cut gold from a small ingot in order to pay for supplies that he purchased. After a short time the settlers and the old man became more friendly toward each other and he related a story to them about how people from the Emperor Montezuma had hidden part of the treasure of Tenochtitlan here about, and that the Indians who concealed the treasure were captured at a small creek near here and hence the name Recapture Creek. The story was hard to believe, and most didn't believe it, but the fact he used roughly cast gold ingots for payment is hard to put aside. The traders who saw some of the ingots noted that the ingots looked as thought they had some sort of Spanish writing on them. Could these have been from the ambush at Recapture Creek that happened many years before?

There, as noted, have been many stories and sources concerning how the gold got there, but, one thing we do know is that there is gold buried somewhere along Recapture Creek.

In the first part of the 20th century, new interest in the story of the gold started to circulate around the area when a gold ingot was found at Recapture Creek by a cowboy. In 1905, a cowboy named Andy Laney, who was working for one of the local ranches, stopped to water his horse at Recapture Creek after rounding up some strays. As he was filling his canteen, he noticed something shining under the water. When he retrieved it, he found that it was a small gold bar. The bar was crudely cast and about eight inches long. As the story was told, Laney recognized a Catholic cross on it, but the other symbols were strange to him. Evidently, Laney wasted no time in selling the gold for around $1800 and headed for the nearest saloon in Monticello, Utah, which was the Blue Goose.

After the money was gone, Laney hooked up with a partner named Blaine and they traveled to the site where Laney had found the gold. For many weeks they looked for more gold, but to no avail. About ready to give up and go back to ranch work, as luck would have it, Blaine stumbled upon a bar that was barely covered, this was a hundred feet or so from the creek. As both men started to dig they uncovered a few more bars and a large chunk of gold. With the added wealth they headed for the nearest saloon, but this time they headed for Dolores, Colorado. At this point, as the story goes, Blaine was killed during a card game where he was allegedly cheating. Laney spent all the remaining money and when broke returned to
being a cowboy. Sometime later, near Navajo Mountain, it was reported that he was killed by some outlaws.

Some new interest resurfaced in 1964. After two relic hunters who were searching along Recapture Creek found two more gold bars, however, whether these hunters returned and found more gold is unknown.

In 1979, it was reported that, a couple who camped on the creek were also relic hunting but this time the couple was using a metal detector, and evidently, they found another gold bar.

A group from New Mexico, who were in Utah doing research for a book about the Old Spanish Trail that leads from Santa Fe into Utah, found a small cache of crudely smelted gold bars. The group reported that the bars had stamped on the date 1761 or just 61, however, there were no crown or church markings on the bars. They did note that there was some kind of two letter code of some sort. The finders believe that they have good reason to suspect that the gold was mined in Utah and was being illegally smuggled back to Mexico City. This all occurred in 1994! And Recapture Creek is on the Spanish Trail!

It seems that all information dries up after it became public that some people have found gold. Questions: Did these people go back and search for more? did they find more and just keep it quiet? Was what they found all there was? Could Recapture Creek flood strong enough to bring these small amounts of reported finds down from a larger cache? Over the last few hundred years how much has the creek course changed? All interesting questions and there are probably more, but is the nature of the quest. Finding the questions and trying to answer them.
The Treasure: Gold Bars, buried along Recapture Creek with the mules which were carrying the gold, and
the Spaniards to whom it belonged. Today's value $500,000 to $1,000,000 plus.

How To Find It:
Travel south along Highway 191 from Moab, Utah to the town of Blanding, Utah. At this point Recapture Creek runs north and south, and east of Highway 191. Between Blanding and Bluff, Utah, Highway 262 runs west to east and crosses Recapture Creek. This would be a fair starting place either to work north or south. The treasure train is buried between the two cities.

Additional research from local sources and interviews with the local people should help in reducing the search area, and a good metal detector would be a must!

The Josephine Mine

In 1939 a man named John Wesley Young jr., a great grandson of Brigham Young, was herding cattle on Hoyt Peak with his 12 year old son Keith. While watching over their herd they were overcome by a sudden and violent thunderstorm which forced them to seek shelter. The two found themselves under a small tree against a ledge of rock.

Some time had passed when John turned to say something to his son and was surprised to find that he was gone! John called for the boy several times. Keith soon stuck his head out of a nearby hole at the base of the ledge. "Dad! There's a house down here!" Being somewhat of a prospector, and also being thoroughly wet and cold, John joined his son in the chamber.

When the storm had lifted a little and some light came into the shaft, they found themselves in a chamber approximately 25 by 40 feet and about 9 feet tall. The pair then rode back to their camp to obtain a good light. When they returned and were able to inspect the shaft more thoroughly, they discovered ancient tools and an old forge and anvil. The debris on the floor indicated that many animals had been sheltered there in the long ago and it was obvious that the room was used as some kind of a work area.

At the south-west corner of the room was a steep inclined shaft which descended about 35 feet to a lower tunnel. This tunnel was blocked by a slab of rock that was caving in over a large wooden door. He did not dare pry the door open for fear of caving in the roof! John and his son packed up their camp and returned home to share his find with his wife Irene and eldest son Marion. In his excitement he told them "I believe I have found one of the old Rhoades mines!"

John returned with Irene and Marion to inspect the mine. Marion was soon fighting in World War II and in his absence John was unable to do much work on his old mine. He did however, spend much time with his wife in the surrounding area on Hoyt Peak prospecting for other deposits. They discovered some very rich ore on the south slope of Hoyt Peak. Several independent assayers examined the ore and all came back with high values.
The urge to explore his mystery mine beyond the door eventually became to great for him to resist. He purchased some blasting powder and drove to Kamas. From here he transferred the supplies to Hoyt Peak by wagon and team with the help of his younger son. While he was planting charges in the lower tunnel near the door he noticed that the foot wall of the shaft was completely lined with small, black slabs of rock. He casually put a couple of these in his pocket and continued to set his charges.

After the blast went off, John entered the shaft and was making his way toward the lower tunnel when his son yelled to him that the roof was shifting. He barely made it out before a large portion of the ceiling fell in, completely burying the lower shaft. It was about this time that John broke one of the strange slabs with a hammer. He could hardly believe his own eyes. They were nearly pure virgin silver!

It was now apparent that if the mine were to be re-opened they would need to enlist the help of professional engineers. The cache of silver that lined the wall would offset the costs, but to excavate the rubble even that far seemed out of reach. John would end up working on Hoyt Peak on and off for the next 30 years. He became victim to failing health and bad partnerships. His dream would never be realized.

During the 1980's further attempts to open the old shaft were made by the late Gale Rhoades and Stephen Shaffer. It was during this time that an exciting discovery was made. While researching old documents in the special collections of BYU University, Rhoades came across an interesting document in the collection of a professor Russell Roger Rich. It was titled "Old Spanish Waybill" and pertained to an old mine west of the headwaters of the Provo River. Rhoades made a copy of the document and had it translated. It reads as

"Waybill - Year 1782 - 1814. This waybill pertains to the Mine of the Ute's. Called later the Josephine
de Martinique, for the Empress. This mine can be found, west twelve leagues from the river Timpanogos headland and two leagues from the mouth of the river Santa Anna to the southeast. To travel one league to the south through native land of valley grass to a canyon which enters the valley from the east. Follow this canyon east to a peak round and bare of growth, and from the peak measure 1600 varas to the northeast. At the mouth of the mine there are some small rocks and brush coverage at the base of a small dark ledge.
The Mine of Josephine de Martinique has three tunnels and one shaft - two tunnels of 400 varas run to the west and one tunnel of 350 varas runs to the southeast. Tunnels and shaft be one mine. The shaft runs 73 varas vertical and has four room and six tunnels. These rooms to be used as workshops for the transfer of the mineral silver and gold. Twenty nine varas apart to the sun at mid-day are these rooms. To the percent of metal - is yellow metal which is half silver and one fifth part of gold at one hundred varas. In this mine we encountered slabs of virgin silver from one pound to five pounds.
At this place in the mine there is the treasure of our comrades. Forty six varas from the porthole of the mine in the center of the tunnel, and eight varas beyond one door of thick wood there is the treasure: there are many slabs of virgin silver, 650 cargoes of bar silver and 240 cargoes of bar gold that are six millions. Their treasure abandoned for fear of death by hostile natives - of forty two comrades eight survived.

This mine we worked from the year 1782 and covered in 1814, as so written in the journal of work of
the expedition by me - Jose Joaquin Garcia, Captain - Mexico City, November 1814."

Needless to say, Gale was very excited and he knew he had to get the document authenticated as soon as possible. He located a Mr. Jonathon Stowers in the Department of Language at the University of Utah and made an appointment to have the document examined. When Rhoades arrived at Mr. Stower's office he was met by Stowers and two of his assistants. They were joined later by a professor Handcock who was from Mexico City and knew a great deal on this subject matter. The document was examined by each person
then it was openly discussed as a group. Their finding was as follows:

The document appears to be genuine and authentic. It could only have been written by a Spanish speaking person of that era who was aquainted with the phraseology and use of the language. It's author was of normal education and not a scholar, as were most clergymen or priests of that time, but he was well schooled in the language, typical of men of his position with the military who most probably worked his way up through the ranks to become that of an officer. The use of singulars in conjunction with plurals, as in this document, was very typical of many documents obtained from that period. Several words used in the document are also no longer used but were commonly used at that time.

Mr. Stowers later signed a statement concerning the authenticity of this document. Rhoades and Shaffer it seemed had a bonanza on their hands. They lost no time in getting to work. Following the exciting discovery of this document, the two men spent a lot of time on Hoyt Peak trying to clean out the old shaft and prospecting other areas of Hoyt Peak.
The mountain was not yet ready to reveal her secrets however, Gale Rhoades died on that mountain working on the Josephine. The claims have been maintained by Mr. Shaffer and work will continue on the mine. Opening this old shaft has proved to be slow and dangerous work but with perseverance Mr. Shaffer may be rewarded for his efforts.

There are many other old mine shafts on and around Hoyt Peak and some fabulous ore has been taken from that mountain. There are about a half dozen graves perched atop a cliff. I wondered to myself if they perhaps belonged to the slain members of Garcia's expedition. Another mystery in the mountains!

The Mine Of Lost Souls

On the eastern end of the Uinta Mountains, there is a place where treasure hunters and prospectors have spent years searching for a presumably rich silver mine. It is the Dry Fork of Ashley Creek. The details pertaining to this lode are sketchy at best, but the fact that its location is right in the middle of one of the only areas in the Uintas to have ever produced commercial ore, make it one that is definitely worth looking for!

The story goes that sometime before the Indian revolt of 1844, there was a rich silver mine that was worked by Spaniards, or Mexicans depending on who is telling the story. A time came when the miners where attacked and killed by the Indians and nearly all of the miners were killed and their bodies were thrown in the mine shaft. The ones who weren't killed had managed to keep themselves hidden long enough to go unnoticed and eventually made their way back to the settlements in New Mexico.

Among them was a small girl who, many years later recalled her story to others. She called this place The Mine Of Lost Souls and still remembered the landmarks nearby. She stated that the mine is on a high point of land near the conjunction of two streams. One of the streams disappeared into a sinkhole only to resurface several miles down canyon. There was a natural stone bridge that spanned a side canyon and not far from the bridge was a cave where some of the miners had lived.

If you drive up the Dry Fork of Ashley Creek you will come to a place where two forks come together. Take the left fork and you will see a natural bridge that spans a side canyon on your right. About a half a mile from the stone bridge is a cave that is hidden in the brush. Further still you will find the sinkhole where the creek disappears. The mine has to be close by here somewhere. Just waiting for the lucky prospector........ .......maybe you!

In the 1930's a man by the name of Sam Reynolds of Vernal, Utah, was approached by an older gentleman of Mexican descent. He had a map that led to a mine worked by his family in the long ago. Being unfamiliar with the territory, this man asked Mr. Reynolds to help him locate the mine. According to Mr. Reynolds, the map led them directly to the canyon where the stone arch is. The two were unable however, to find the mine. It had probably been carefully concealed when the Indians revolted.

There have been other mineral strikes in this area in more recent times. The Carbonate Mining District was formed in June of 1880 and one month later surveys were made for the townsite of Bullionville. Gold strikes were made on nearby Gilbert Peak in 1894. The early mines at Bullionville were less than spectacular and given it's proximity to Brown's Hole, Bullionville soon became better known for outlaws than for miners.
In 1887 the famous Dyer Mine was discovered and things changed. The Dyer was a rich copper mine with ore running about 20% copper. Some of the richer bodies of ore ran higher than 50% copper. The Dyer also produced enough silver and gold to cover expenses. Gold was discovered on Marsh Peak in 1897 and the town had another boom. This particular deposit was fairly rich but extremely shallow and the ore soon gave out. The Dyer Mine soon played out as well and eventually shut down in 1900. Bullionville was no
more. The Dyer had been in production for 13 years and produced over $3,000,000 in copper alone.

So, we know that the Ashley and Brush Creek areas are mineralized. All of the landmarks are right there in Dry Fork, the Mine of Lost Souls shouldn't be too hard to find....but it is!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Golden Rhoades" - the Historical Hunt for the Legendary Lost Rhoades Mines.

The story of the Rhodes mines begins with Brigham Young baptizing Chief Wakara, of the Ute Indians, as a member of the Mormon Church. Wakara made an agreement with Brigham, that he could designate one man as his representative and Wakara would show him where a fabulous gold mine was located. Brigham designated Thomas Rhoads as his representative. Chief Wakara showed Rhodes the location of the mine. Rhodes made many trips over the years bringing back much gold. For a while during a period of illness his son Caleb took over. It is thought that these are the only two men, aside from the Indians that ever knew where the mine was located. Chief Wakara and his successors were worried that many of the younger generation were becoming interested in money and whiskey and so they did not pass the location on to the younger generation of the tribe, concerned they would use the gold for whiskey. Because of this the location of the mine has been lost.

"Golden Rhoades" - the Historical Hunt for the Legendary Lost Rhoades Mines. This film superbly documents the epic search and potential discovery of one of the largest hidden treasures in America. A secret cache believed by many to contain a wealth of gold and natural resources; it has been suggested that the mines may contain an abundance of riches that could cover the national debt. The Rhoades Mines' protected location is believed (speculated) to have been provided to the Mormon church by the Ute Indians in order for the church to survive its difficult pioneering into Utah. The film delves into the myth, fact, and fiction surrounding an amazing tale of adventure, treasure maps, mysterious deaths, and intriguing characters. It provides details and clues to the mines that have eluded thousands of prospectors for over one hundred and fifty years. The film was shot (much in confidential locations) throughout the vast Ute Indian Territory and surrounding Utah Rocky Mountains. (watch all 10 consecutive clips of this exclusive special full length feature documentary release).

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 1 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 2 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 3 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 4 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 5 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 6 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 7 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 8 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 9 of 10

Golden Rhoades - Lost Utah Treasure - Part 10 of 10

Friday, October 1, 2010


One of the most exciting stories of lost treasure comes from the early days of the Mormon settlers in Utah. If you have ever been to Salt Lake City, the most impressive site is the Mormon Temple. On the very top of the temple is a 12 foot tall statue of the angel, Moroni. The statue is covered with solid gold. According to Mormon legend the gold was provided by Thomas Rhoads, from mines known only to him. This is the story of those mines.

Thomas Foster Rhoads (1796-1869), known as "The Mormon Pathfinder," was born in Green River, Kentucky, and was a descendent of Palatinate German ancestors. He fought in the War of 1812. He later moved to Illinois and there joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1835. One of the earlier converts to Mormonism, Thomas Rhoads led the first expedition of Mormon settlers to northern California in May of 1846, a year before Brigham Young and his band of pioneers were ready for the trek. Their wagon train was just ahead of the unfortunate Donner party, which suffered terrible hardships in the Sierra Nevada Mountains after a late-season start. One account of Rhoads says members of his family were among those who went to the Donners' rescue.

Upon arrival in October of that same year he settled near Sutter's Fort along the Consumnes River. Thomas Rhoads then went to work for, and became a close friend of, John Augustus Sutter, famous for the discovery of gold at his mill site. The Rhoads’ reportedly were paid in gold dust while they worked for Sutter, and they also took gold themselves from placer mines in the area. Much of Rhoads' early fortune came from mining the gold-rich fields along the Sacramento valley.

Rhoads and other Saints who had gone to California, including members of the Mormon Battalion, had begun to settle comfortably into their new lives when President Young determined that Salt Lake Valley was "The Place” for the recently disenfranchised Mormons to settle in as their "Zion." He sent letters to Rhoads and other church members advising them to return to Zion to aid in the building of the new Mormon community. Some did, some preferred to remain in California. In August 1849, Rhoads and Samuel Brannan organized a wagon train to make the journey back to Utah. It is estimated that Rhoads returned to the Salt Lake Valley with approximately $17,000 in gold.

In order to finance the prospering community, Brigham Young ordered that a mint be built and that currency in the form of gold coins be issued as a means of payment for goods and services within the community. Many Mormon pioneers who had originally settled in California and were returning at the behest of the Church presidency brought back with them gold that they gave to the mint in lieu of their regular tithing. From this gold were struck four denominations of distinctive Mormon coins in two-and-one-half, five, ten, and twenty dollar amounts. On Oct. 9, 1849, according to church records, Thomas Rhoads deposited $10,826 in the mint's account, a sizable fortune for the time., and it is from this gold that a majority of the gold coins were struck.

His adventures with gold were not behind him, family records indicate. In 1852, Rhoads, then Treasurer of Salt Lake County, was asked by President Young to acquire gold from a number of hidden mines whose location had been made known to him by the Ute Chief Wakara (also "Yah-Keera" or "Keeper of the Yellow Metal"), who had recently been converted to the Mormon faith and had taken the Anglicized name of Walker. The mines made known to President Young by Chief Walker were known to the local Ute community as "carre-shin-ob," or "there dwells the spirit." In an agreement between Chief Walker and President Young, the gold was only to be used for Church purposes, and only one man would ever know their location besides the Ute Chief. Indian surveillance would be constant and that only as much gold be brought out each trip as the individual could carry. The death penalty was to be executed immediately if the secret got beyond the chosen person. President Young demanded in turn that Walker, whose loyalties were known to be chancy, take an oath upon the Book of Mormon to hold up his end of the bargain. Thomas Rhoads was appointed the guardian and custodian of the mines, which were supposedly mines abandoned by the Spanish who were in the territory before the 1776 Domin-guez/Escalante explorations.

According to the family account of Gale R. Rhoads, a grandson, Thomas made a number of trips into the mountains with an Indian guide. Each of Rhoads' trips took about two weeks, and the first load of gold, the family records say, weighed about 62 pounds. The Deseret News frequently reported his comings and goings, without details regarding gold, if any.

During the next few years, Rhoads made several trips into the Uintah Mountains, often returning with loads of gold in excess of 60 pounds. During the summer of 1855, Thomas Rhoads became ill to such a degree that his son Caleb, signed the oath and took over the job of recovering the Indian gold. After regaining his health, Thomas and his son Caleb continued to transport gold from the hidden mines. That same year, Chief Walker passed away and his successor, Arapeen, became Chief of the Ute tribe and renewed the gold pact with Caleb Rhoads. During this time, Caleb Rhoads was known as a generous alms giver and became one of the wealthiest Mormons of the time, as attested by the size of his tithing (Mormon tithing is one-tenth of income). Rumors surrounding the wealth of Caleb Roads indicate that there were additional mines not associated with the Carre-Shinob mines from which he personally amassed his wealth without breaking the covenant with the Utes.

After Walker's death, his brother, Arapeen, took over Ute leadership and continued to allow Caleb Rhoads to harvest gold from the tribe's secret store. After the death of Chief Arapeen, his successor Chief Tabby refused to renew the gold pact. According to the legend the location was also not passed on to the next generation of Indians either as the elders were concerned because the younger braves were learning about white man's whiskey and worried that they would sell the secret of the treasure for whiskey.

Family records say that Caleb made several covert trips to the site after this. He also petitioned the U.S. Congress for a land lease and agreed to pay the national debt in exchange. He was frustrated in part by a Utah representative to Congress, George Q. Cannon, who said Rhoads was "only an ignorant prospector and not capable of handling a $100 million deal." In the end, the petition was denied, and the federal government eventually chartered other companies to mine in the Uintas. Government-paid geologists scouted the area and reportedly found many Spanish artifacts, smelter ruins and other signs of ancient mining. But they never found the fabled Rhoads Mine.

As an estimation of the value of the gold mines in the area, Caleb Rhoads petitioned the U.S. Federal Government for a mining lease on the land thought to contain the mines in exchange for paying off the United States national debt. The U.S. government denied the lease in part due to political maneuvering by George Q. Cannon, a Utah representative to Congress, and mining leases on the land were given to other private companies. Geologists hired by the U.S. government surveyed the area in question and found evidence of Spanish exploration and mining, but no trace of the Carre-Shinob mines was ever found.

Caleb claimed the deposits were in unique formations not usually associated with gold. He said the geologists were looking in the wrong place. Thomas was called in the late 1850s to settle Minersville and help develop silver mines in that area. He died there in 1869.

Legendary stories about Spanish gold and speculation about Rhoads family successes in Uinta mines have inspired many gold-seekers to scour the area for clues. In some cases the ventures have led to disastrous results, leading to claims of a lingering curse. There are many stories about people who have found pieces of the Spanish treasure in this area. One story tells about a doctor that was fishing along Rock Creek. As he worked his way along the river he found an iron door set into the hillside, under some weeds. As he was trying to get the door open he heard a sound. He turned to find two Indians behind him. They grabbed him and cut off his hand. They told him, if he ever came there again, it would be his head. There have been a number of people that have died in these mountains while looking for this treasures. So if you go looking, be sure to watch your back.
At the lodge at Moon Lake they have an old Spanish cannon that was found in the area. There have been Spanish gold pans found in the area and also Spanish armor. All of the mines were originally worked by the Spanish, they worked the Indians as slaves until the Indians, finally rebelled and drove them out. Years later a group of 10 Spaniards tried to sneak back and recover some of the gold they had hidden. The Indians caught them and slaughtered them all. They say they buried the whole wagon full of gold somewhere near Rock Creek

The location of the Carre-Shinob mines have remained a mystery. Speculators and historians suggest that the mines are located along a 70-mile stretch of the Uintah Mountains between Hanna, Utah and the Whiterocks area of the Ashley National Forest. This is a stunningly beautiful and rugged area, and home to Utah's tallest mountain, King's Peak, which rises to nearly 14,000 feet.

To this day, no one knows exactly where the fabled mines of Carre-Shinob lie, but according to the personal statement of Kerry Ross Boren, a distant relative to Chief Walker, he has become the current custodian of the Carre-Shinob mines:

"Knowing that I could walk right to the sacred mine of Carre-Shinob, instead I approached the Elders of the Ute Tribe by way of family inter-marriage with the Reeds. After a great deal of deliberation and discussion, I entered into the same blood-oath that my 3rd great grandfather and both Thomas and Caleb Rhoades swore to. Upon that promise never to reveal the location of Carre-Shinob, never to return there, and not to remove or disturb anything - I entered into one of the most fabulous and probably richest mines in the world. My time spent in Carre-Shinob consisted of 6 hours - not enough but certainly more than enough to change my life forever. While hundreds of people have searched for the Rhoades Mines and the rumored fabulous wealth that the Utes and the Uintah Mountains keep secret, I can honestly say that it does exist. Within the caverns of Carre-Shinob reposes the semi-mummified bodies of great Utes such as Old Chief Sanpete and Chief Wakara, as well as many others. It is an eerie feeling when your flashlight goes out momentarily and you feel the walls come alive - as though all of those Great Ones were watching every move you make. Carre-Shinob is composed of a series of caverns with connecting tunnels formed through a series of active volcanoes, thereby forming lava-tubes that honeycomb the Uintah range.

"My own eyewitness to the astounding secrets that Carre-Shinob revealed sounds to the laymen to be too fantastic to be true. However, the Sun Chamber (as I dubbed it) was an Aztec Temple. In the center of this immense room were nine great stone pillars, too large in circumference for a man to encircle his arms. This entire chamber - walls, ceiling, floor, and pillars - were plated with what appeared to be pure gold! In fact, as I have since thought, it might not have been plated with gold so much as the interior was solid natural gold, from which the center had been excavated, leaving a certain amount of thickness around the exterior walls. If so, the amount of gold once filling this chamber staggers the imagination. On the other hand, the amount of gold still in this chamber surpasses anything ever yet discovered, enhanced by the additional number of gold artifacts stored therein. For instance, there were two gigantic solar disks, each taller than a man and several inches thick, they were apparently of pure gold and must have weighed tons each. The disks represented the sun, with rays emanating from the center outward, and between the rays were intricate carvings of signs and symbols of a peculiar nature. In the very center of each disk was a carved cross, very much like the Celtic cross of Ireland (or Wales), with ivy vines woven around the design. Furthermore, there were golden masks and statuettes, and many stone boxes filled with treasure of another kind: gold plates with hieroglyphic writing on them! There were smaller stone boxes, too, and these contained an assortment of precious stones - emeralds, rubies, turquoise, sapphires, and strangely, sea shells - and others contained gold bracelets, circlets, rings, earrings, and other ceremonial jewelry. Together with the masks, disks, statuettes and other artifacts, the caverns were a treasure trove like something out of A Thousand and One Arabian Nights."

Many people still actively search for the Lost Rhoads Gold Mines, and several books about the mystery have been written, both by descendants of Thomas Rhoads and independent historians. Some have surmised that the ancient Seven Cities of Cibola refer to the mines of Carre-Shinob. Mormon historians suggest that the mines are repositories of the weatlh of the Lamanites referred to in the Book of Mormon. Regardless of what may be fact and what may be fiction, the legend of the Lost Rhoads Gold Mines is an exciting tale replete with mystery, myth, and tales of fabulous wealth.

Winter Quarters - Hidden Loot in a Ghost Town

In the spring of 1875 the first coal mine in Utah was opened by George Matson at Winter Quarters. The high mountain town in extreme northwestern Carbon County, became known as Winter Quarters because some of the first prospectors wintered there in 1875 to hold the claim they had filed.

Two years later a group of men from Sanpete County came over the mountain to begin the town and continually work the mine. They intended to leave before winter, but an early snowstorm trapped the men. When their supplies ran out in February 1878, they the walked out to the north, eventually reaching the town of Tucker (now a ghost town and rest stop) in Spanish Fork Canyon.

When the great tonnage of coal in the mountain was known, more people began moving into the burgeoning town. As more and more coal was mined, the need for a railroad became apparent. Some of the residents got together and bought out a dry goods firm in the east and paid railroad workers with clothing and fabrics.

That old railroad bed is now a dirt road leading from the Tucker rest area on US-6 up the mountain onto what is known today as Skyline Drive and then down into Pleasant Valley. The railroad became known as the Calico Line.

May Day, 1900, started out with a clear sun shinning up the valley into the town as 303 miners headed up to the mine portal. This mine was considered one of the safest in the country and had been inspected by Gomer Thomas, state mine inspector, on March 8.

But at 10:15 a.m. everyone in the mountain town felt the ground shake. Some people thought someone had fired off an explosion to celebrate Dewey Day. Soon, the horrible truth spread through the town like wildfire. A giant explosion had occurred in the mine.

Mothers and daughters were seen hurrying toward the mine portal, "faces blanched with fear, hoping against hope that their loved ones in some way had escaped. Soon the realization came that the miners were caught – caught like rats in a trap with no chance of escape,” reported Charles Madsen in his account of the disaster.

When rescue and recovery teams were finally able to enter the horizontal shafts, they found "men piled in heaps, burned beyond recognition. The bodies were removed as fast as possible and the school, the church and other available buildings were requisitioned as morgues.

When the accounting was done, 104 had escaped, seven of them seriously injured, and 199 killed in the mine blast. The town was 28 years from being a total ghost town.

When Pleasant Valley Coal Company opened mines at Castle Gate, far below Pleasant Valley, it spelled the end of the long-haul operations at Winter Quarters. Production decreased steadily and in 1928 the mine was closed and the town abandoned.

For many years the buildings stood mute in that mountain valley: windows boarded shut, roof shingles slowly slipping and walls rotting into dust. The school no longer heard the sounds of children laughing and there was no need for a janitor to clean the spring-time mud from the floors.

Eventually the buildings collapsed or were torn down by scavengers and today only grass-covered foundations remain of what was Utah's first coal camp. No industrial sounds in the quiet valley today, only a bubbling stream and the clicking of mule deer hooves on the rocks. But is that all that remains?

Speculation over the years about buried gold has frequently come into conversations about the mining town.

There is no question about the miners being paid in gold and silver coins. Just three years earlier, Butch Cassidy and Elza Lay had robbed the Pleasant Valley payroll when the money arrived by train. Their loot was $7,000 in gold double eagles. They dropped $700 in silver.

Couple that payroll with the fact that there was no bank at Winter Quarters and it is easy to see how many believe some of those miners had cached gold coins among the rocks or under fence posts behind their homes on the valley side. If they had not told wives of the cache, knowledge of it died with the miners that May Day in 1900.

Some have looked over the years for lost gold in the old town site. None has ever reported finding some.

Can it be that the ghosts of those miners stand watch over buried gold double eagles?

White Cliffs Lost Gold Ledge

The tale of the White Cliffs Lost Gold Ledge begins with an old prospector named George Brankerhoff telling a man named John Lorenzo Hubbell about a cavern in the White Cliffs of Southern Utah that was laced with white quartz stalactites, caked with gold. Brankerhoff shared the story with Hubbell in 1870, while Hubble was a young man working as a clerk at Fort Wingate, Arizona.

A few years later, Hubbell set out on an adventure to Utah, following the old prospector’s directions, in search of the Gold Ledge. He first traveled to Kanab, Utah, then to Johnson Creek before turning eastward to the White Cliffs. According to Brankerhoff, he should follow the base of the White Cliffs to within three miles of Deer Springs Wash, where he would see a V-shaped cleft pointing downward. Brankerhoff had told him that the cleft would appear to be closed off from fallen sandstone; however, there would be a narrow space that could be squeezed through. Through the gap could be found a small stream of spring water that would disappear into the rocks beneath the V-shaped entrance. Once through the crevice, the space would open wider and deeper into a cavernous space, from the ceiling of which, would be hanging icicle-like quartz stringers laden with gold.

Although Hubbell was familiar with the desert landscape, he searched for weeks but was never able to find the V-shaped opening described to him by Brankerhoff. Finally, he decided to travel to Panguitch, Utah, about 65 miles north of Kanab to see if he could find out more information from the locals. He took a job in a general store, but was not accepted by the locals due to his Mexican heritage. To make matters worse, he was making friendly with a local girl who also had the attention of a Christian bishop. The next thing you know he found himself in a gunfight, and later was attacked by a dozen local men. Though Hubbell was wounded in the attack, he killed two of his attackers defending himself. He then stole a horse and fled to Lee’s Ferry, Arizona. Obviously, he had received no help from the locals regarding the terrain of the White Cliffs.

After his recovery, he returned to his birthplace in Parajito, New Mexico. A couple of years later, he would begin building his Indian Trading Post empire. Still, he wouldn’t let go of the Lost Ledge Tale. Over the next several decades, he enticed several prospectors into looking for the ledge in exchange for grubstaking them. However, none were able to find it.

Then a man named Warren Peters came along in 1891. Peters, a 61 year-old seasoned prospector, had just sold two silver claims in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado before making his way into New Mexico. With plans to prospect in the gold camps of the Mogollon Mountains in the southwest part of the state, Peters stopped in Gallup along the way. There he met John Lorenzo Hubbell. Once again, Hubbell saw opportunity and shared the tale with Peters, who was so interested that he traveled with Hubbell to his home in Ganado, Arizona. While there, Hubbell provided Peters with all of the details as well as drawing a map of the White Cliffs. Peters agreed to look for the Lost Ledge and in May, 1891, he set out to see if he could find it.

Peters was successful and able to find the V-shaped cleft in the White Cliffs. He made his way through the narrow passage to behold the icicle-like formations. With excitement he knocked down several 20-inch long stalactites, scattering chunks of gold as they fell.

Peters filled several pouches with the gold, loaded them onto two burrows and headed to nearest railhead at Marysvale, some 80 miles to the north. He then traveled to Salt Lake City to sell his gold. The gold needed to be shipped to Denver, however, and he spent about a month waiting to receive his payment. Thrilled at how his adventure had turned out, he decided to make another trip back to the White Cliffs in August, 1891.

Re-supplied, he headed back, confident that he could find the cleft again. However, when he found himself at Deer Springs Wash, he knew he had gone too far. Surprised that he had missed it, he backtracked and began to search again. Back and forth he went, searching for the V in the cliffs, but his searching was in vain. He was not able to find it a second time.

Finally just before winter set in he gave up his search and made his way back to Hubbell in Arizona. The two theorized throughout the winter wondering why it had been so easy for Peters to find the ledge the first time and impossible the second. They planned to return to Utah in the spring. However, when the time came Hubbell did not go, but rather sent a friend of his named Henry "Wild Hank” Sharp, and two Navajo Indians by the names of Little Chanter and Black Horse.

As the four prepared to leave on April 5, 1892, Hubbell warned them of dangerous men who inhabited that portion of southern Utah. However, the four prospectors were armed and set out on their way, along with 20 pack mules and plenty of supplies.

When they arrived at the White Cliffs, they found cattle grazing on the range, but paying no mind, set up camp at the base of the cliffs near a spring. The next day they split up into two pairs and began searching for the opening. When Peters and Sharp returned to camp they found six men there. Eyeing them warily, they slowly approached the camp. They could see that their belongings had been gone through.

When Peters inquired as to what was going on, the "leader” of the bunch indicated that the area was rife with cattle thieves and it was his cattle that were grazing the range. Though Peters replied that they were prospectors, had no interest in the cattle, and the land was public domain, the cowboy adamantly insisted that they leave.

With a last threatening warning to vacate, the cowboys rode off. The four prospectors remained in camp for the evening but decided that the next day they would not split up and would carry their arms with them as they continued to search for the crevice. However, when they examined their pistols and rifles, they found every one of them had been tampered with. They decided to move their camp some four miles east to Deer Springs Wash. Moving slowly over the next four days, they searched for the lost ledge along the way before finally making a second camp near Deer Springs Wash.

Over the next several days, they continued their thorough search of the White Cliffs, while at night they worried about the dangerous cowboys. One evening when they returned to camp after a day of searching, the Navajos found unknown tracks around the camp. Someone had obviously been there. They decided they would spend just one more day searching and then leave. In the meantime, they split up the camp, moving their pack animals and most of their supplies to the east side of the wash, while leaving their food and utensils at the original camp. After supper, the four moved to the east side of the wash to bed down for the night. However, as Peters and Sharp were discussing the situation, they spied 15 riders coming in from the west. Halting at the abandoned camp, one of them yelled that they were county officers and the prospectors were under arrest.

The four prospectors took cover and Peters responded, "What are the charges?"

The leader of the cowboys accused them of cattle rustling, but Peters responded that they were nothing more than a mob of cowboys and they would shoot if the cowboys advanced. After about a minute, bullets began to reign in Peter’s direction and the prospectors fired back. Hidden by cover, they were able to force back the cowboys, but in the meantime, Peters had taken a bullet in the leg.

Sharp and the Indians immediately began to pack up. They bandaged Peters wound, and then rode out back in the direction of Arizona. Fearful of being trailed, they moved as fast as they could throughout the night, not making camp until they were well into Arizona.

After allowing Peters some time to recover, they made their way back to Hubbell, who quickly made the decision that the gold was not worth pursuing if someone might die. Peters returned to his home in Kansas, and the other three to their respective homes and businesses. Hubbell never tried again to send prospectors into southern Utah.

Later, rumors circulated that a cowboy, maybe the same one who had threatened the prospectors, had blown shut the entrance to the crevice because he hadn’t wanted a bunch of prospectors on "his range.”

The legend says that the lost ledge of gold is still hidden somewhere in the White Cliffs. However, these lands are now part of the National Park System, which does not allow treasure hunting.

Spring Canyon Treasure

Located in Spring Canyon, about five miles west of the present day Utah town of Helper, was a mining camp of considerable size known as Standardville. It was started in 1912 when F.A. Sweet opened a coal mine just a quarter of a mile north of the main canyon. The town was designed and built exceptionally well and because of this became a “standard” for other mining towns. This is where it got its name, Standardville. The town had a nice general store, a fine billiard hall, and even a steam-heated swimming pool.

One day a small girl living in one of the company houses found a cigar box in her daddy’s dresser drawer. It was very heavy and the curious girl took it outside to play with. She pried open the lid which was held in place by a small nail and found that the wooden cigar box contained newly minted silver dollars.

The story goes that the girl played with them for awhile, then walked over to a two-inch pipe that was sticking out of the ground and dropped them in one by one. It was not uncommon in those days, before safety regulations and such, to have uncapped pipes protruding from the ground in mining camp towns such as this. After the coins were gone, she took the cigar box back to her home.

When the girl’s father found the coins had gone missing, he questioned the family and the truth came out. Her father asked her to show him where she had put them and she walked back to the area just east of the billiard hall. But to the dismay of both the father and the girl, there was not just one pipe sticking out of the ground, but several in the area, and the girl could not tell which pipe she had dropped them in.

Today, little remains of the once-bustling town. In the mid-1970s most of it was bulldozed down, but there remain a few remnants of the town, including a few pipes protruding from the ground. Maybe a small treasure still remains inside one of them!

Castle Gate Lost Treasure

The town of Castle Gate, Utah, started in 1886 when the Pleasant Valley Coal Company began to do some mining in the area. The area is surrounded by rock formations, cliffs, mountains and valleys that provided perfect hideouts for outlaws, cattle rustlers and train robbers. One of the Old West’s most famous characters, Butch Cassidy, left his mark on the area

On April 21, 1897, the train from Salt Lake City coasted into Castle Gate carrying the payroll for the Pleasant Valley Coal Company. In front of the saloon a horse was hitched to a pole belonging to a cowboy named Butch Cassidy waiting inside. When the cowboy heard the train whistle announcing the arrival of the payroll train, he left the saloon and made his way toward the train station. As he made his way down to the train, another cowboy, Elza Lay, stood unnoticed near the stairway of the company office.

The Pleasant Valley Coal Company paymaster and two guards unloaded the company’s payroll which was in three bags and estimated at $8,800 dollars. They were to carry it to the Company office about 75 yards away, but the money never made it. The cowboy from the saloon surprised the three men and held them at gunpoint, taking the largest of the payroll bags. The second cowboy, the one that had been loitering around near the stairway of the company office approached the scene and took a second bag from the group.

In broad daylight, Butch Cassidy and Elza Lay had successfully stolen the Pleasant Valley Coal Company’s payroll. The two cowboys jumped on their horses and rode hard out of town heading south. As they rode they cut telegraph lines along the way to prevent the news of the robbery from spreading to lawmen along their escape route. Cassidy and Lay continued to ride to Robbers Roost, as attempts to reach the Sheriff were unsuccessful. The stolen money was never recovered and many believe it was hidden somewhere near Robbers Roost located along the Outlaw Trail, in southeastern Utah.

1974 marked the end of the town of Castle Gate. All that's left today is a historic marker along the highway north of Helper, Utah.