State Treasure - Wyoming

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 27 of the January, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved


Slade’s Long Lost Loot
PLATTE COUNTY – Joseph “Jack” Alfred Slade, {January 22, 1831 – March 10, 1864} used many aliases, but is perhaps best remembered simply as “Slade.”
The son of a prominent congressman and Illinois businessman, Jack Slade proved time and time again to be a skilled frontiersman and experienced wagon boss.
And as the nation teetered on the brink of Civil War, Slade was hired as superintendent for the Overland Stage Line, which required him to serve as agent-in-charge for the Overland Mail as well.
Slade’s route ran from Julesberg, Colorado, to South Pass, Wyoming, the most violent stretch of the Overland Trail where road agents and hostile Indians presented an omnipresent threat.
Slade would come to single-handedly rule the trail and, with the aid of local lawmen, he hung horse thieves and stage robbers on sight.
Slade held his position as superintendent from 1858 through 1862 in spite of the rumors of the men he’d previously murdered.
But company and government officials were willing to overlook such rumors; the company needed a tough trail boss to tame this violent stretch of the line, and protecting the U.S. Mail and Overland Trail on the eve of the Civil War was critical for the Union cause.
Most considered it a blessing to have found a man with strong organizational skills and good business sense to take the job. So if he happened to possess a certain callous brutality, all the better.
Should the Overland Trail fall under Confederate control it would break the line of communications between Washington and the Pacific at a time when the Knights of the Golden Circle were posed to overthrow California’s state government. More importantly, it would’ve severed shipments of gold from the California Mother Lode as well as silver and gold from Nevada’s Comstock Lode that financed the Union cause.
It was during the height of the Civil War when the company’s stages and emigrant wagon trains started getting hit regularly by a new band of highwaymen along the Overland Trail.
Persistent rumors and evidence gathered by law enforcement more and more pointed to Slade as being behind it all.
The end came when a government shipment of 200 pounds of freshly minted gold coins was hijacked by masked road agents about a mile from the Virginia Dale Station.
The U.S. Cavalry ran the outlaws to ground and killed every one of them in a hot firefight. Troopers did recover the company’s iron strongbox in a nearby creek. It had been broken open, but no money was ever found.
Although no evidence linked Slade to the crime, company officials felt they had no option but to fire him. Everyone thought it unusual for Slade to accept his sudden termination without objection.
He quietly moved to Montana where company agents closely watched him, waiting for the day he’d make his move to recover the treasure. But, on March 10, 1864, Slade was hung by vigilantes in Virginia City, Montana. He died broke and penniless. It is said the gang Slade ran while in the employ of the Overland Stage Company headquartered in Sawmill Canyon 10.2 miles northwest of Guernsey, Wyoming.
This canyon is also known as Slade Canyon. Many buried gang caches are thought to remain there.
By all accounts, the 200 pounds of gold coins taken in the robbery near the Virginia Dale Station remains buried roughly 10 miles north-northwest of the old station near the Wyoming State Line.

Bank Robbery Loot
Lost During Gunfight
BIG HORN COUNTY – I don’t have much in the way of details on this one so local research will be necessary.
The account I have claims that during the late 1800’s two men entered a Salt Lake City bank and, during a daring daylight robbery, relieved the bank manager of $200,000.
Salt Lake officers responding to the alarm were quick to cut the outlaws’ trail and pursued them south into Wyoming.
According to the account I have, the fugitives stuck to the Big Horn River and stopped to rest when they reached the mouth Gypsum Creek.
There lawmen caught up with them and in the ensuing gunfight both outlaws were killed. Only a small amount of the bank loot was recovered. Officers believed they had cached the treasure in the vicinity of the confluence of the Big Horn River at Gypsum Creek. Although lawmen conducted an extensive search following the gunfight, the bulk of the loot was not recovered.
While there is no dispute that the officers involved with running the bad guys to ground believed they’d cached the loot not far from where officers engaged the pair.
I, however, have a problem with the details concerning the pursuit. As the crows fly, Salt Lake City is roughly 345 miles southwest from where the bad guys were ultimately killed.
That said, it would be impossible for officers to have chased them south from the bank job into Wyoming. Again, local research should help provide more details about this cache.

McLaughlin’s Lost Gold Bar
NIOBRARA COUNTY – The story of the Canyon Springs Station robbery is well documented in historic accounts and in legend.
The incident involved the hijacking of a special armored “ironclad” treasure coach belonging to the Cheyenne & Black Hills Stage Company that was named the Monitor.
The company had two armored Concord coaches that had hauled $60 million in treasure without incident. But that all changed on September 26, 1878, at around 4 p.m. soon after the treasure coach pulled into the Canyon Springs Station. (See… “The Taking of the Monitor” in the October 2006 issue of Lost Treasure.)
As the Monitor arrived at the Canyon Springs Station it was laid siege to by a gang of outlaws. In a fierce gun battle, the outlaws did manage to seize the treasure coach and its shipment.
Among the items stolen from the coach that day were three gold ingots. One weighed 115 ounces, the second weighed 183 ounces, and the third weighed 248 ounces. The three gold bars had been smelted at the Homestake Mine in Dakota Territory.
One of the outlaws named Archie McLaughlin received one of the three bars when the outlaws divided up the loot after the robbery. When word of the hold-up reached Deadwood, a posse rode out in pursuit of the gang. Law enforcement throughout the Dakota Territory and Wyoming were alerted.
Within six weeks of the robbery, the Homestake Mine reported 60% of the loot taken had been recovered and returned. Two of the three gold bars, however, remained outstanding.
McLaughlin was arrested with another gang member, Bill Mansfield, in October while trying to sell off some of the stolen loot in Deadwood.
Charged with murder and robbery, the pair was transported to the jail in Cheyenne and held for trial. When it was learned that it would be months before the court could hear their case, the pair was returned to Deadwood on November 2nd.
On November 3rd McLaughlin and Mansfield were forcibly taken off the stage by vigilantes and hung on Little Cottonwood River near Ft. Laramie as officers, who’d been disarmed, were forced to watch.
Before being strung up, McLaughlin admitted that he buried his gold bar along the Cheyenne River near its confluence with Lance Creek. This area is remote and sparsely populated. No known recovery has ever been made.

Sources:
Rocky Mountain Tourism LLC, Jack Slade and the Virginia Dale Stage Robbery,
http://www.learngoldprospecting.com/index.cfm?var_file=jack-slade.htm
Henson, Michael Paul, America’s Lost Treasures, 1984, South Bend, IN, Jayco Publishing Company, p. 130
Terry, Thomas P., United States Treasure Atlas – Volume 10, 1985, La Crosse, WI, Specialty Publishing Company, p. 1111
Belli, Anthony M, “Wyoming – The Taking of the Monitor,” October 2006, Lost Treasure magazine, p. 18
Penfield, Tom, “Questions and Answers,” July 1970, Treasure World magazine, p. 51.