Treasure Hunting by Celia Klassen Time for Tea

Please note the legal disclaimer at the end of this article. This article does not promote treasure hunting on National Park land and is for amusement only.
Early Idaho history records the legend of a $90,000 buried treasure that has never been found in City of Rocks. Huge stone spires and eroded pinnacles of rock towering 200 feet from the nine square mile city, once the meeting place on two pioneer transcontinental trails. Messages, written in axle grease in the early 1860s on the stone walls may still be read by tourists.
Numerous treasures are said to be hidden along the granite spires, sculptured boulders, and canyons of the City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho. Hundreds of thousands passed through on their way west after discovering gold at Sutter’s Mill in California.
Though it is now off the beaten path and relatively isolated today, it was once a busy crossroads of the northern trails from 1840-1890s.
One treasure tale is of the Almo Creek massacre. Although a historical marker depicts the site, it is now thought to be false. As the legend goes, an immigrant caravan of about 60 wagons took the Sublette cutoff for the California road and was attacked by “Indians”. Allegedly, 300 pioneers held off the attack for days, but were all massacred except for five who escaped. Massacre sites are often found to contain numerous relics and hidden caches. But historians today believe the massacre is nothing more than campfire folklore. No military records or newspaper reports mention what would have been the second largest “Indian” massacre in the 19th century. It is now believed that the historical marker, erected in 1938, was done so to attract tourists to the area, along with the story of treasure.
With the arrival of gold-seekers came outlaws who organized themselves in groups for the sole purpose of robbing stages, freight wagons and individuals. The leader was said to have been Henry Plummer, an elected sheriff in Montana in 1863. Vigilantes hung Plummer in January 1864, but he claimed to have hidden more than $100,000 in stolen loot somewhere along the trail from Virginia City through Idaho.
In 1863, Ed Long and a partner stole almost $100,000 in gold dust and nuggets from a stagecoach in Portneuf Canyon in Eastern Idaho. The stage was waylaid between Pocatello and McCammon. Ed Long was killed when a posse pursued him. Long’s partner was wounded and captured. Although thoroughly questioned, he refused to divulge where they hid the gold. He was a wanted man in Texas where he was questioned again but maintained his silence on the location of the gold.
Another stage robbery, the Portneuf Canyon Stage Robbery, occurred in nearly the same place two years later. Many believe the gold from the robbery was also hidden in or near the City of Rocks. It was valued at $86,000 at the time which would be more than $1.6 million today.
Tales of robbery and buried treasure continue. There are so many it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. The Portneuf Canyon area became notorious for hold-ups and described as Robber’s Roost. This area is also called Hells Half Acre because of the way the lava rock cut the shoes and feet of pioneers traveling that way.
A man who claimed to have been a fellow prisoner with Ed Long in Texas, came to Idaho claiming Long told him the location of the treasure before he died. He spent many days in City of Rocks but came away empty-handed.
Please note it is illegal to treasure hunt on National Park and Monument land. It is even illegal to have a metal detector in your vehicle in these lands.

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