There are several stories floating around about lost
wagons in the west
The following example is one of several and very well
may be accurate unlike other versions which seem to have a little fluff added…
Posted Dec 24
2017 In the Treasures of
By Ken Weinman
The Mormon Mint Robbery
(Originally appeared in Treasure Search/Found, November, 1990)
The Mormon settlers in frontier
The Baldwin brothers were traveling with one such caravan when it stopped overnight in
The night before their wagon train was scheduled to depart from
The mint workers didn't discover the theft until a few days later when they were conducting an inventory of the coins. They were shocked to learn that over 200 [another version says 250] of the $10 gold pieces were missing. Several of the employees recalled the unusual interest that the
later when they caught up with the wagon train, they were informed that the
Baldwin brothers had separated from the group and headed south on their own
into the arid desert The posse backtracked but was unable to find any sign of
the Baldwin's wagon in the windswept sand. Disappointed, they gave up and
Reg and Dave Baldwin were never seen again, nor did any of the $10 gold pieces ever show up. The direction they had gone in would take them through the middle of an arid, salt-like desert where the highest natural air temperatures in the world have been recorded and rainfall and natural water are extremely scarce. Traveling a region such as this, a person would require at least a gallon of water per day to survive. They would also require water for the animals that were pulling their wagon. It is strongly believed, and with good reason, that the
More current value
But this is the positive side of the possibilities of the wagon that I am about to tell you about…. This story is not embellished in the slightest an is just as it happened.
About 23 years ago I stopped to visit a friend in a professional manner, the same friend mentioned in another personal story I have told recently… As usual he greeted me with the usual DAN! What ya been up to… after taking care of business he said, hey, I have a story to tell you…. He said, “One of my clients just a week ago relayed a story to me that happened to him in the early 70’s. He was civilian contractor with the military and worked at one of the west desert facilities. He was given a job to do in searching for a site to serve as a gravel pit, and one day while digging test holes to find the right consistency of sand and gravel, he moved from one hole he just dug to another location just a few yards away and on his first scoop from the backhoe, he revealed the top of a large wagon wheel. [6 to 8 inches in width if I recall] From the size of the wheel and the width of it, it was obvious it was a freight wagon wheel. He took another scoop of sand and gravel and exposed more of the wheel standing erect… then a third scoop causing the sand and gravel to fall even more so into the hole and exposing a buck board of a seeming large, intact well preserved wagon. Seeing the whole wagon was likely there and buried, his imagination ran with him as he hurried and covered it up again wanting no one to see what he had uncovered. He decided he would return someday to finish the job at a time where in he could do it in privacy. Well that day likely came and went a time or two, but life always kept him from returning… He told my friend just look for the test holes, he would take 3 scoops then move to another location with out covering the former excavation...
After my friend had relayed the story I ask him how often this now 70 plus year old man came in to see him and he said about every 2 to 3 weeks. We decided to ask him when he returned if he wouldn’t mind deviating from his usual route home and drive to the suspect site and draw us a map of which when he returned, agreed to do so.
A couple of weeks later when I stopped in to see my friend again, he handed me the map drawn by the man who found the wagon. Not many days later... I and a couple of friends visited the site and spent hours with a good metal detector and a couple of 4 foot copper ground rods shoving them down into the sand and gravel… we found nothing… and no remnant of test holes. One strange thing that happened when we were going over the sight, we noticed a blue military car coming from the main road towards us on the dirt road, he pulled up next to our rig which was a couple hundred yards away, and a full bird colonel steps out and hollered, Hey! What are you guys doing out here! We yelled back, were camping exploring and prospecting!... looking puzzled on what to say next he just said, well… you just remember the antiquities laws! And he got back in his car and drove away back where he came from.
I recall telling my BLM friend about this incident (Not about the suspect wagon) and he told me, If that’s son of a bitch shows up again you tell him to get his ass over on the other side of the fence! You dig all the dam holes you want… but cover em up when yer done would ya? Since this time and several years later, I took another hard look at the project and had an epiphany… it might have just been gas but… It would seem 40 years was just enough time to confuse the man of exactly where it was… on my return trip, we found the test holes right where I thought I would… There is a lot of metal scrap in the area and it makes it difficult… This wagon which was obviously intentionally buried and was intact, there is 4 different stories that it could be from and it may be an empty wagon by now, no one knows… Was it the Donner Party Wagon? Munitions buried by Johnsons army to keep the guns and ammo from the Mormons? a Mint robbery or a mint related robbery?
Also as a side note there is a location nearby which is rumored that Johnsons army unloaded 3 cannons into a pond, these ponds are usually dried up...