State Treasure - Utah

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 52 of the June, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Missing Territorial Gold Coins
SALT LAKE COUNTY – Between 1848 and 1860, the Mormon Church operated its own mint, which produced gold coins in values of $2.50, $5, $10, and $20 in seven designs. One source claims the mint produced “tens of thousands,” a second states the total contemporary value of the coins was “up to $1,000, 000.” Then, after 20 years in circulation, the coins “almost overnight seemingly disappeared.”
The truth is these coins are so few in number today that the price for a single coin is a small fortune. I found just two for sale on the Internet. Both were Mormon $5 gold pieces; the first was accepting bids, the second had an asking price of $47,500. For any treasure hunter finding just one of these coins would be a jackpot!
After settling in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1847, the Mormons used the Barter system and paper script issued by the church in trade. But, after gold was discovered in California in 1848, the need for a medium of exchange that was accepted beyond the influence of the Mormon Church became clear.
Gold coins were first struck from gold dust brought from California by the Mormon Battalion. Later coins were produced from melted Spanish doubloons and raw gold from the Rhodes Mine. Mormon officials admit that no production records were kept, making it impossible to determine the number of coins minted or their denominations.
Adding to the rarity of these coins is the fact that Territorial gold coins were struck to alleviate critical shortages of currency in regions of the U.S. where pioneer settlers had located and almost no form of currency existed. Since most of these coins were used until worn out or lost, all Territorial gold coins today are rare. But the Mormon coins are particularly rare. Today, just 148 of them are known to exist. Explanations offered are:
Widespread melting occurred in the 19th century after the federal government outlawed privately minted money. Because of their faith in Church-minted gold, Mormon settlers cached much of these coins with the uncertainty caused by the approach of the Civil War.
Many coins were lost in public places, such as stores, saloons, stables, picnic areas and rodeo grounds.
So many of these coins were sent back east that, by 1851, Brigham Young declared that not a single gold coin could be found in Salt Lake City. Regardless of what happened to them, if you’re lucky enough to find one today I’d hang on to it very closely. With a good detector you might want to consider a trip to visit Utah. The last Mormon gold piece found was in 1909 before the advent of the metal detector.

Brigham Young’s Cursed Mine
MORGAN COUNTY – Following harsh religious persecution in the east, Brigham Young led a vanguard party of Mormon pioneers to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, arriving on July 24, 1847.
Facing winter with no shelter, and a food supply scarcely enough to last until a harvest could be reaped, Young ordered farmers to begin planting at once.
Laborers dug irrigation canals and built a dam. Sawyers explored the foothills for timber resources and a sawmill site, while carpenters prepared housing sites. John Rowberry searched for a site to build a sawmill; he settled on Twin Springs (present-day Richville), about 46 miles northeast of Tooele.
Timber was hauled from nearby Settlement and Middle Canyons to the mill, where it was cut into lumber. One day Rowberry was seriously injured in a mill accident and Young replaced him with an English convert named Croslin.
Croslin was no millwright; he was a stockman with a herd of sheep. One morning Croslin realized his herd had wandered off, so he left a man in charge of the mill while he searched. Tracking his sheep through a maze of ravines, he found himself in a canyon where his herd grazed near a rock ledge. The morning sun reflected a soft yellow light off the ledge and, upon further inspection, Croslin realized the rock was heavily laced with wires of pure gold.
He broke samples from the ledge and carefully took note of the location. While herding his sheep back to the mill, he stopped frequently to get his bearings so that he could re-locate the ledge later.
Croslin later traveled to Salt Lake City and showed the sam­ples to Brigham Young. Young agreed the samples were rich in gold, but the prophet forbid him to return to the ledge unless he had Young’s approval first. He was also told not to speak of his find or its location with anyone.
Young explained that at the moment news of Croslin’s discovery would be too much of a distraction for the workers who had more important things to do before winter arrived. Young said he’d let Croslin know when it was time to mine the gold; he then placed a curse on the mine and anyone who tried to locate it. Croslin complied, but later showed the samples to family and close friends.
The following year, Rowberry returned to the mill, having recovered from his accident. Croslin moved to the growing settlements in Tooele Valley, where he was later killed as the result of injuries sustained in an accident. Remaining faithful, he never divulged the mine’s location to anyone, taking the secret to his grave.
Croslin’s discovery was now well known among the Mormons, but in the years that followed the Mormons dedicated themselves to building their communities and had no time for looking for the lost ledge. Then there was the curse to consider.
Beginning in 1861, several attempts were made to locate the lost mine. But every attempt ended in ruin or death for those fortune seekers who ignored Young’s curse. No Mormon wanted anything to do with the lost mine, even after Young’s death in 1877. There is no record that it has ever been found; even today folks around Tooele will tell you that people who’ve ventured too close have all met with some kind of tragic accident.

Lost Sheepherder Mine
MILLARD COUNTY – In 1938, a Mexican sheepherder, remembered only as Pedro, sold a flask of small grain-sized gold nuggets to a Dr. J.E. Stains of Delta. The next time Pedro appeared he sold Dr. Stains 20 pounds of the same grain-sized placer gold as before. This created quite a lot of excitement in Delta, since Millard County is not located in a gold producing region.
After selling his gold, Pedro is said to have disappeared from the Delta area. Locals began to inquire as to Pedro’s movements before he departed. It was learned that the Mexican did most of his sheepherding in the House Mountains west of Delta. One stockman recalled that Pedro had once shown him a very old looking treasure map, which he thought little of at the time.
Further inquiry showed the only area where gold had been found in Millard County was in North Canyon near Marjum Pass. The gravels there were well known, but never produced much gold. It was then recalled that Pedro had been seen in North Canyon with his sheep, so a couple of local prospectors decided to head up into the canyon to see what could be found.
The two men did discover a cache of old Spanish mining tools, but could not locate the source of Pedro’s gold. Other searches of the area produced no better results. Today, Pedro’s rich source of gold still remains a mystery.

Sources:
Conrotto, Eugene L., Lost Gold and Silver Mines of the Southwest, 1963, Toronto, Canada, General Publishing Company, Ltd., p. 99-100
Thompson, George A, “Brigham Young’s Cursed Mine,” September 1969, Treasure World magazine, p. 23
Irons, Angie, “Millions in Mormon Gold Coins Remain Unfound,” April 1991, Lost Treasure magazine, p. 21
Thompson, George A, “Missing Gold Coins Worth Up To $6,500 Each!” May 1972, Treasure World, p. 36.



Comments

PaDirtFisher's picture

The story "Brigham Young's

The story "Brigham Young's Cursed Mine" is almost identical to the true history of the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, save the people's names and the metal in question, right down to Brigham Young discouraging the family from mining the site. Sounds like someone took actual history and wove a "richer" story around it. Though I'm sure some of the locals curse that mine regularly...

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