TALE OF THE DAY
Dawson's Lost Gold
By B.G. Revis
From Page 51
December, 2001 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2001 Lost Treasure, Inc. All rights reserved.
It was seven long years before Mitchell discovered that the rocks he had tossed onto a shelf in his store were rich in gold, assayed out to $6,000 per ton, and came from a strike worth millions.
Lake City, Colorado (population 100), in the 1930's was home to Emory Mitchell (known as Em and a friend to all), owner and proprietor of a one-man store called the San Juan General Merchandise Company.
In this small village on the northeastern edge of the rugged San Juan range in south-central Colorado, Em was known as an easy touch for credit and a loan if a fellow was really up against it, so it was no surprise when Em sprung for a stake of $20 worth of supplies to a young prospector called Todd Dawson, a total stranger to Em.
Dawson, age 25, one of the millions of unemployed during the Depression, blew into Lake City as many others did - looking for gold. Dawson had impressed Em with his education in geology and had read up on past strikes in the San Juans and was there to try his luck.
Em cut a deal with the young fellow to grubstake him for half of what he found, remembering another fellow who grubstaked a couple of prospectors and wound up $8,000,000 richer, so he and Dawson scratched out the terms of the partnership on a scratchpad in his office and signed it along with a witness named Ben Clatworthy.
Em assisted Dawson in picking out the supplies and stuffed them in his backpack, and then Mitchell and Clatworthy watched the young man evaporate down a gulch. Clatworthy bet Mitchell hed never see this guy again.
Clatworthy so convinced Em that he had been suckered that he gave two boys a buck to follow Dawson and report where he had gone.
About a month later, in August 1932, Dawson showed up at Ems store dirty, stinking, and long overdue for a bath, and he was grinning from ear to ear as he pulled some rocks from his pack and tossed them on the counter. The rocks were veined with gold and Dawson said there was plenty more where that came from and he and Mitchell were going to be millionaires. Gazing intently at the gold-laced rocks, Mitchell agreed with him.
Customers in the store checked the rocks out and congratulated the two on their good fortune, all except Clatworthy, forever envious and a real party pooper, who suggested the rocks be analyzed by a knowledgeable person.
Clatworthy recommended one George Cassidy as a person with such knowledge, as he had prospected for over 40 years and would surely know if the rocks were of value.
Clatsworthy located Cassidy at the barbershop and brought him to the store. Cassidy began to inspect the rocks and everyone gathered around to watch this alleged expert. Shortly, the old prospector began to snicker and turned to Mitchell who had been licking his lips in anticipation and said, Hell, these aint nothing but iron pyrite fools gold.
Further belaboring the point he turned to Dawson and said, Son, if you had the brains of a chipmunk you would have knowed these rocks aint worth snot.
As Dawson stood petrified with embarrassment, the old man stuck the knife in a little deeper by saying, Doggone kid, if youre going to prospect you oughta at least know what you are looking fer.
Mitchell now took his shot at the young man, Darn you kid, you sure fooled me and if I was you Id skeedaddle out of town before I get to thinkin how you suckered me.
Shattered, Dawson walked out of the store and Mitchell tossed the rocks onto a shelf where they remained for seven years as a reminder of this folly.
But the fickle finger of fate was to write a new chapter to this saga and one Sunday in July 1939, Ralph Worley, a mining engineer from Denver, walked into Mitchells store.
Spying the rocks on the shelf he asked if he could take a look at them. Mitchell handed him the stones saying, They aint nothing but fools gold.
Scrutinizing the rocks for a spell Worley spoke, Who was the idiot that told you this was fools gold.
Thoroughly puzzled, Mitchell replied, An old prospector who passed on a few years back.
Well, the old boy didnt have a clue as to what he was talking about, Worley said. If this is fools gold then Im a monkeys uncle. This is the real stuff and some of the richest I have seen.
Clatsworthy, who was still a permanent fixture in the store piped up, What makes you so damned sure? If you ask me...
He aint asking you dummy, Mitchell fired back.
Worley spoke up, Id sure like to have these specimens assayed if its okay with you.
Mitchell replied, You bet its okay with me.
Worley had the assay performed at the U.S. Mint at Denver and the news was exciting. Worley could hardly wait to get back to Lake City with the news.
Worley sprang the good news on Mitchell and informed him that the samples assayed out at better than $6,000 a ton. He said, Mr. Mitchell, Id like to form a syndicate with you and work this incredible strike, and well all be millionaires.
Mitchells chin dropped to the floor as he ambled from behind the counter and bent over, telling Worley, Kick me as hard as you can right in the rump.
Taken aback, Worley said, I dont understand.
Mitchell unfolded the tale of young Dawson and stated that he had no idea where the rocks came from or where Dawson was.
Good lord man, Worley uttered, This represents untold millions of dollars. Isnt there some way to locate this fellow?
After much investigation, they learned that Dawson had drowned in the Ohio River near Cincinnati in 1937 and their dream of millions faded into the sunset.
The San Juans are some of North Americas most rugged mountains with peaks exceeding 14,000 feet. Mitchell and Worley trudged this wilderness for seven years looking for the lost strike before calling it quits.
As Mitchell said, Theres a million places where Todd Dawson could have stumbled upon that strike.
Many searched for the lost mine, but Dawsons incredible find eluded them all.
Before he cashed in his chips in 1953, Mitchell said, Im the poorest rich man in the country. Im half owner in one of the richest strikes ever, but me nor anyone else knows where in the hell it is.
If you think you are lucky and want to take a crack at locating this incredible lost mine with gold worth over $100,000 per ton at todays prices you can go west from Pueblo, Colorado, on U.S. 50 just past Gunnison to Highway 149, then proceed south to Lake City. From there luck will be your guide and your partner, as no one ever bothered to ask Dawson in which direction his strike lay from Lake City.
Treasure Search, June 1979.
Penfield, Thomas, Buried Treasures In The U.S.