State Treasure - North Dakota

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 28 of the December, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

Indian Cache
SLOPE COUNTY – Old timers once told of this legend many years ago around Amidon and Chalky Butte.
The tale goes that four outlaws were hiding out on Chalky Butte after pulling off a series of bank and train robberies in the Minnesota and North Dakota Territories.
While burying their loot, minus enough for expenses, up on the butte a Sioux Indian was watching them closely.
The Indian never revealed himself. Once the outlaws had departed, the Sioux unearthed their treasure said to consist of gold and reburied it.
It is said all the outlaws were later killed and that it was unlikely they ever got the opportunity to return for their Chalky Butte cache.
Even if they had they would’ve found nothing but an empty hole.
The Sioux from that time on always had money and paid for his goods with gold.
Hoping to learn the Indian’s source of the gold, he was followed by a number of white men on more than one occasion and is said to have always given them the slip somewhere near Chalky Butte.
With what few needs the Sioux man had it is highly unlikely that he spent much of the treasure.
The Sioux continued to spend the gold until his death in 1910 and, since there is no report of it having ever been found, many say it’s still buried somewhere on Chalky Butte.
Chalky Butte is located south of Amidon roughly 5 to 6 miles, and just east of highway 85.The Lost Detachment
SLOPE COUNTY – A second cache site is also assumed to be located in Slope County.
According to legend, during the early days of the Dakota Territory a small army detachment departed Fort Meade in the Black Hills of South Dakota destined for Fort Keogh, Montana.
They were transporting the army payroll for the soldiers at Fort Keogh, but the small detachment never arrived.
A search for the missing detachment was conducted, but not a trace of them was ever found.
It was assumed the soldiers were attacked by Indians and killed, but nowhere along the trail did the army find any evidence of an attack; it appeared that the transport had simply vanished.
South of Amidon near Sunset Butte, three revolvers marked “US” along with wagon irons were found around 1900.
It is believed that the remains found were those of the lost detachment, and that, before being killed, the soldiers would’ve buried the payroll nearby to keep it out of the hands of the Indians.
To date is has never been found.Lost Mountain of Gold
STARK COUNTY – Dr. W.D. Dibbs, according to the Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota (Vol. 13, 1922), was the first “pioneer physician of the Dacotahs (Sic) of which we have record.”
He arrived leading a wagon train in 1864 with other settlers who’d come after gold was discovered in Idaho and Montana.
During their difficult journey, the good doctor discovered gold, a lot of gold, in the area of Belfield.
The train stopped and camped on a “mountain” near Belfield. The area showed evidence of prehistoric mining; several abandoned mine shafts were found and, while exploring one of them, Dr. Dibbs stumbled upon gold.
A rich vein of gold from which he and others are reported to have easily extracted several hundred pounds of gold.
Soon after the wagon train continued on its journey, and sometime later, Dr. Dibbs returned to claim his personal fortune. Unfortunately, Dibbs and the others failed to find the site.
There is a second version of this story that claims it was silver, not gold that Dibbs found.
Either way, the mine is reputed to be extremely rich, but its existence is somewhat of a mystery.
First gold and silver have been found in North Dakota, but the state is not a big producer of either.
Second, the Sioux Indians were not miners and no records exist of French or Spanish mining activity in this region.
Who was mining in this area before American settlers arrived is unknown, and why they would’ve walked away from such a huge gold lode remains a mystery, as does the question of the mine itself.
Today, Dr. Dibbs’ mine and the lost mountain of gold discovered nearly 150 years ago remain lost.Hudson’s Bay Payroll Robbery
BURKE COUNTY - The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) of Canada suffered a substantial payroll robbery during the late 1890’s.
Their paymaster carried $40,000 in gold specie with him when he left the HBC for trading outposts in the province of Saskatchewan.
Near Estevan, Canada, the paymaster was robbed of the entire amount, not yet having reached his first stop.
The lone highwayman fled south as the paymaster was alerting authorities in Estevan.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) gave chase and apprehended their man on a large, grassy hill near Big Butte, roughly seven miles south of Lignite, North Dakota. The suspect was taken to Portal where, refusing to give up the hiding spot of the gold, he was killed under torture.
One clue was found among the man’s belongings. On the tanned side of his fur coat, a map was discovered that appeared to have been hastily scratched into place with a rough tool, such as a rock.
The map, it is said, showed the site where the outlaw had buried the company’s treasure.
While the legend does not tell us the location of the cache site, we know that the RCMP searched the area without success. Since then it is reputed that the lone bandit buried the loot in Robber’s Cave on Big Butte.
The cave has been a local attraction of sorts for a long time. No one has ever reported unearthing this gold cache, so it’s likely still there.
Note: Years ago this story got some attention after someone found a stone on Big Butte carved with “1877.” No treasure was found with the stone, however.Ghosts of North Dakota
[5] – Camp Little Cantonment – Little Missouri (Billings County) – This military camp was established in 1879 to protect railroad workers.
The site is unique for treasure and relic hunters alike, as it has two distinct periods of occupation.
First as an army camp, then, second, as the civilian town of Little Missouri.
Less than half-a-mile east of Little Missouri is the ghost town of Medora, a tourist town today.
Medora is located just off Interstate 94 at the Pacific Avenue exit in west central Billings County.
[6] – Belmont – Frog Point (Trail County) – Located on the Missouri River Belmont, once known as Frog Point, was once a bustling river port.
This site was first used as a rendezvous spot for trappers working in the region. Later, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post there.
At its peak, this western boomtown was a collection of hastily constructed wooden buildings.
Drought ultimately caused the town’s booming economy to collapse; fire later destroyed most of the buildings.
A grain-shipping center was later developed there once the drought had ended, but, in 1897, a flood washed all the grain elevators downstream.
The town died and was never re-built.
[7] – Oakdale – (Dunn County) – Not much data exists on Oakdale; most of what I have I picked up from genealogy research.
Oakdale is located at latitude 47.473 and longitude – 102.865, or in Township 146N, Range 96W, Section 25.
The town was in the southeast corner of the southeast quarter of Section 25.
Oakdale was once the trading and social center of the region boasting a store, bank, dance hall, and blacksmith shop.
The Oakdale Cemetery was established in 1907 and still performs burials. The cemetery sits about six miles northwest of Killdeer.
Above the ghost town is the Sioux site of the mysterious enigma known as the Medicine Hole, located in Township 146N, Range 96W, Section 27.
[8] – Havana – (Sargent County) – Founded in 1887, Havana reached its peak during the 1930’s.
My sources say as late as 2008 several abandoned buildings remained.
Its population remains in decline; in 2000 the population was 94; in 2008 it had dropped to 84.
The post office is located inside the store, and one restaurant and bar are what’s left of its business district.
Located about 11 miles south of Forman on Highway 32, Havana is 1.2 miles north of the South Dakota state line.Sources:
Henson, Michael Paul, “Lost Treasures in North Dakota-Indian Gold,” July 1980, Lost Treasure, p. 54
Lost Treasure Staff, “Questions & Answers,” February 1982, Lost Treasure, p. 26
Marx, Robert F, Buried Treasure You Can Find, 1993, Dallas, Texas, Ram Publishing Company,
p. 279
Pallante, Anthony J, “North Dakota – Dr. Dibbs Mine,” June 2001, Lost Treasure, p. 26
Let’s Go Digging,
Author’s North Dakota Ghost Town Files.