Caroline Fyffe: Eureka!

There’s gold in them thar hills…somewhere!  Throughout the history of the West, stories are told of lost, forgotten and misplaced mines.  Many have been sitting undisturbed for years, shrouding their boundless wealth, just waiting to be re-discovered.  Gold and silver-bearing regions are awash with stories of miners losing their way; Indians killing off the miners and then hiding the markings; flash floods destroying the lay of the land; earthquakes changing the rock formations that helped a miner find his way.  
Some of these accounts, of course, are surely yarns, just like the “fish-stories” told by sailors.  But many are the true tale of mines “gone missing” to the poor fools that lost them.  In Arizona alone, there are thought to be at least twenty such sites.  Can you imagine how many the vast American West could be hiding?  

The naysayers can scoff, but in 1959 the Burro Mountains gave up their treasure of the long-lost Spanish mines, twenty-five miles northwest of Lordsburg, New Mexico. And in 1965, Arizona’s “Lost Coconimo” mine was found in the state’s Sycamore Canyon.  

If you’re feeling lucky and have been bitten by wanderlust, you might want to check out a few of the accountings I’ve listed of some of the most famous or colorful lost mines:

—Lost Blue Bucket at the Malheur River in eastern Oregon.  The date was 1846 when a wagon train pulled into camp on the middle fork of the Malheur.  Some pioneers, finding some stones in a creek bed, filled a hand-made blue papier-mâché bucket. Later they learned their finding was gold. Status: still lost.

—Lost Rhoades in the Uintah Mountains, northeastern Utah.  This mine was said to be owned and strictly guarded by the Mormons.  Only Brigham Young and a handful of elders and two other members of the Rhoades family knew of its location.  In 1877 the Indians placed a ban on visits to the ledge where the mine was located, because it was on the Uintah Reservation.  In 1905, Caleb Rhoads, the last living person to know its whereabouts, took the secret to his grave and the “bank” of the Mormon Church was lost, so to speak.  He left a crude map with only Rock Creek and Moon Lake as landmarks, but others have been unable to find its location. Status: still lost.

—Lost Padre, somewhere in the 113,809 square miles of Arizona.   This mine, originally owned by Indians, was taken over by Spanish missionaries.  After the California gold strike of 1849, the Southwest had a surge of hopeful miners looking for their Eureka.  To keep their mine secret, the padres sealed it off. It’s been re-discovered several times, but with all the lucky finders ending in a violent death. Status: still lost.

—Lost Gunsight in California’s Death Valley.  No date is given for the first discovery of a reef that was said to be heavily laden with silver.   It was discovered by a single man who was part of a Mormon migrant party.  He fashioned a gun sight for his rifle with the silver from the reef.  Stories of this silver reef in Death Valley have circulated for years, and it’s been found and lost several times.  It’s believed that the cause of its elusiveness is the shifting sands.  Status: still lost.

—Lost Adams, south of the Little Colorado River in northeast-central Arizona.  In 1864, this gold-bearing dry wash was discovered by a man known only as Adams, along with a party of prospectors.  They were led by an Apache half-breed.  Soon after the colorful discovery, a war party descended and killed many of the men and ran the others off.  For ten frustrating years, Adams tried to get back to the findings, but was always held off by the Indians.  Finally, after the Apache Indians had been moved, Adams went back in search but was never able to find the correct spot.            This discovery is also known as the “Lost Adams Diggins” and has been made into a movie called Mackenna’s Gold. Status: still lost.
As you now see, there is still gold in them thar hills! You just have to be lucky enough to find and keep it.  Have you ever been gold panning?

Have you visited a haunted mine or discovered something special?  We’d love to hear about it…
Today, in celebration of the release of MONTANA DAWN, I’m offering a signed copy to a commenter.  Also, if you go to my website ( and sign up for my News Letter on the contact page, you will be entered in the drawing for a basket filled with candies, chocolates, muffin mix,  a handsome coffee mug (filled with even more chocolate!) and a jar of scrumptious jam, all made from the Big Sky State’s coveted huckleberry.  

Also included is an autographed copy of both MONTANA DAWN and WHERE THE WIND BLOWS.  It’s as easy as pie. The winner will be drawn on December 10th, 2010–just in time for Christmas.
 It’s wonderful to be here again at Petticoats & Pistols.  

Thank you to all the Fillies for having me.  It seems like only yesterday when we were talking about Pioneer Teachers and how they helped shape the West.  Don’t know about the rest of you, but time seems to have jumped its bank…and there’s no holding it back.


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47 thoughts on “Caroline Fyffe: Eureka!”

  1. The power of gold is an amazing thing, the stories around it and what it makes seekers do. I can just imagine what it was like. Mainly because my husband is searching for a 39th anniversary piece of jewelry for me and is looking high and low for YELLOW gold because apparently it isn’t in fashion any more. White gold is the thing. It has turned into a quest for him!

    Can’t wait to read your book whether I win it or buy it!

    Thanks for being here.

    Peace, Julie

  2. I’ve never been to an old mine, but I did visit a ghost town once up in the mountains of Colorado. Unfortunately I didn’t get to get out and discover anything due to the fact I was suffering from a BAD case of altitude sickness. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that bad.

  3. I just wanted to say I loved your first book!! have you second one already so please don’t enter me for a copy:)

  4. Good morning, everyone! Thanks for dropping in on an early Thursday morning. I’m still adjusting to the time change from East to West coast. I’ve come home to California from Kentucky for a whole month for the launch of MONTANA DAWN and to do as many book signings as I can squeeze in. LOL It’s so wonderful to see family and friends again! 🙂

    Julie, what a sweet husband you have. He’s on a mission to please your heart. I had heard that white gold had usurped yellow gold, but I didn’t know yellow gold was getting difficult to find. I do still love it as my wedding set is made of it. Do you have a preference you’re hoping for…earrings, ring, pendent or tennis bracelet?? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Linda, so sorry your altitude sickness kept you from exploring. That is NOT fun…..That said, I LOVE Colorado! Anytime I can get there, I always feel thrown back in time. It just has an allure of wild and wooly. Do you remember the name of the ghost town you visited?

    Hi, Anon! Thank you for loving WHERE THE WIND BLOWS! And you already have a copy of MONTANA DAWN—woo hoo! I can’t thank you enough and really appreciate your support. Being a new author hearing positive feedback from readers is such a wonderful thing! Please let me know when you finish MD and how you liked it….

  5. Hello Caroline, isn’t lost treasure the most alluring thing? What a fascinating post. Your books sound like they’ll be just my cup of tea. I’m going to have to treat myself very soon. I enjoy stories with wholesome, strong heroes. Hope your month home is wonderful.

  6. Hi Caroline. What a great post. I have never been to a mine or found any treasure but I think it would fun to hunt for it. I love the covers to your books. They are so pretty. 🙂

  7. Hi Caroline! Welcome to the Junction. We’re so happy to have you. And what a wonderful blog subject. I’ve always dreamed of stumbling across a gold or silver mine. Or even a lost treasure that someone buried long ago. I think it’s the child in me that longs for adventure. 🙂 I once visited a gold mine in Cripple Creek, Colorado and it was something really special.

    Love the cover to your new release. Great colors and graphics. I’ve got it on my to-buy list.

  8. Caroline, thanks for stopping by the Junction and giving us such great information on gold mines. What a fantastic subject and blog. I learned so much, and have added a couple of these places on my to visit list.

  9. Hi, Jennie, good morning!

    We had a young foreign exchange student from Japan once who we took to Columbia, CA. Well, the old mining town set in the Sierra Nevada foothills has a booth set up like a mining shack and you can pan for gold. They salt the dirt promising everyone a FIND! Once she got going, she was bitten by the gold bug and wanted to stay all day. LOL She had a pretty good amount in her cylinder when my 18 month old son toddled up and dumped it out unintentionally back into the water. Oy!! Oy!! Oy!! We were all so upset. ((:^< When it was time for her to go home we bought her a little 14K gold bracelet to make up for her loss.…

    And, thanks for your interest in my books. Chase and Luke are indeed the strong, silent type…I hope you’ll enjoy them. Have a great day!

  10. hi caroline!
    thanks for the interesting post! i can see how people would lose their lives in the search of such treasure….not me however 🙂
    i’m terrible at hunting for morel mushrooms…so i would guess i’d be even worse at gold or silver….seems like i might miss it totally even if i did find it, lol
    i need fast payoffs to keep my interest

    i have added both your books to my “to buy” list…they look wonderful and Where the Wind Blows has some amazing reviews
    must feel wonderful for your first book 🙂

    very cool that you are equine photographer! i bet you have some beautiful shots!
    i also love that you are walking across america–i think i’d like to do that…i didn’t sign up for that yahoo group (seemed like it was for writers) is there a program i use to do it?
    i did however sign up for your newsletter 🙂

  11. When I was in college, we were in the Sierra Nevada Mountains over the summer for a training course. We hiked a few times and there were entrances to old mines on every trail. We never more than peaked our heads in. Living in Colorado, it seemed no matter where we went, there was evidence of old mines and diggings. Never went on the mine tour in Cripple Creek (I don’t do closed, dark places) but we did take the kids panning. We didn’t find anything, but it was fun.
    Interesting post. I knew there were “lost” mines, but didn’t realize there were so many large ones. If you have ever been out West, it isn’t hard to understand how a mine can get lost. It is a wide open, unforgiving place as you know I’m sure. Many areas look similar.
    Best of luck with the release of MONTANA DAWN. WHERE THE WIND BLOWS is still on my wish list. By the way, I loved the video for it. I am in a western mood right now, so I may just take a trip to the book store and sock up : )

  12. Fun post! My hubby and I panned for gold in a stream high in the Rockies of Colorado just to say we had. Found some color and have it in a small jar. Be it real or fool’s gold, we had fun!

    Looking forward to reading your books!

  13. Crystal—you should try it some time. My mother actually taught me how to pan. We never found much, and it’s exhausting—but there is just something very exciting about it. I’ve never been on a hunt for a hidden mine, but I think it would make great research for a story.

    Thanks for the flowers about my covers~~~<3

  14. Hi Caroline, It was so much fun to read your post and imagine treasure hunting! I would be scared to death to actually go hunting for lost mines. Dealing with the heat, the snakes, the cave-ins would not be my cup of tea, plus it seems like the original finders always met with tragic ends. But it sure makes for some great day dreams!
    Loved the cover of Montana Dawn. It led me to look up your books on Amazon. You have great reviews. and the story lines have me hooked. I’m adding you to my must read list.

  15. I’ve only visited a coal mine – not as much fun lol. I would love to pan for gold but I live in the east and no gold mines here – just that coal and oil. As a child I spent endless hours just digging in the dirt – too bad we didn’t live out west lol.

  16. Hi, Linda.

    Thanks for having me back at the Junction! It’s a welcoming place to be and I’m very happy to be here. Isn’t Cripple Creek such a great name for a gold mine? Hearing it makes me want to go there. Keep looking and someday you’ll stumble across a treasure. I always think I will too.

    One can only dream….

  17. I have not panned for gold, but it would be interesting to try one day… the most interesting discovery I ever made was when I was under 10 years old… visiting my uncle, I was looking at a pile of rocks… among them was a rock that had broken open to reveal fossils… wish I had kept it.

  18. Caroline, thanks for asking about what my preference is. I showed him all sorts of stuff but we realized in the end that he has great taste on his own…so we will just see what I get next Monday.

    Peace, Julie

  19. Tabitha, hi! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. You’re a mushroom collector? That’s neat. How, when and where does one do that?

    Thanks for looking up WTWBs reviews. I’ve been amazed at the response I’ve gotten. It does feel wonderful and a big surprise! I’m happy you signed up for my newsletter—good luck in winning the chocolate!!

  20. Caroline, I so enjoyed reading WTWB. It was a very heartwarming story. I can’t wait to read Montana Dawn!

  21. Enjoyed reading the comments.
    I live in Arizona so am familiar with a lot of those you mentioned. I once visited the Vulture Mine outside of Wickenburg. It was very interesting and got it’s name according to legend= a vulture was shot and fell close to a large gold nugget. That is where they started digging. Some gold was found but not a bonanza strike.
    In Alaska, I visited a gold mine and panned for a tiny amount of the stuff. Very hard work.

  22. Hi, Patricia, thanks for stopping by and sharing…

    I’m like you about the closed, dark places. They never used to bother me much but as I’ve aged a little, just a little mind you I find those places easy to avoid. When I was little I visited Carlsbad Caverens in New Mexico with my family, going deep into the darkness. Couldn’t do it now!

    Thanks for you good wishes on MONTANA DAWN. I appreciate them very much. I hope if you do read both books you’ll let me know how you liked them.

    Take care!

  23. Hi Carolyn,

    I really enjoyed reading your post on gold mines!
    Unfortunately I have never had an experience in a mine, other than stories that I’ve read!

    Best wishes!

  24. Hi Connie, sounds like you and hubby had a great time. Very nice. What a great memento of your gold panning adventure. Cool.

    Thanks for sharing!

  25. I have visited Jerome, AZ an old mining town. What I think is intersting is that over the period of 70 years they got 1 billion dollars worth of copper, gold and silver from the United Verde Mine. It is an intersting little town to visit since it actually sits on the side of Catheredral Hill and the street winds down the hill and you have to walk to get anywhere. I’ve also been to Virginia City, NEV another old mining town.

  26. Wow, thank you so much, Judy! I appreciate that very much.

    I know what you mean about snakes. I’m ALWAYS on the look-out! I grew up in El Dorado, CA (a very gold mining sounding name too) and every summer we were sure to get one or two BIG rattlers in our yard. With like 8 to 9 buttons on their tails. They grow a button for each year so you can imagine how big they were. Anyway, my mom was a very brave woman and if my father was not home she’d get out there with a shovel and cut its head off. I’m not kidding. With all her little girls running around she didn’t want to chance one of us getting bitten. I don’t think I could be that brave.

    Take care!

  27. Hi Catslady—

    Cole mines can be dirty–but interesting too. The only one I’ve seen is the huge one up in Eastern Oregon. Can’t remember the name of it but the size of the earth moving equipment is mind-boggling!! The tires alone can reach up to the roof on a house. I’m not kidding. I always imagined that if they transformed into some kind of super-being I would hope that they would be on the good guys side. LOL

    Thanks so much for stopping in and commenting!

  28. Colleen, that is really neat! Do you remember what it was? Plant or animal?

    When I was little and living in Roswell, New Mexico (did I mention my father was in the air force and we moved a lot) I found a real Indian tomahawk rock head. It had the middle worn smooth from where the leather thong attached it to the piece of wood. It was so cool and moved with us from place to place but somewhere along the way it was lost, too. I guess at least we both still have our memories of them…

  29. Julie, in my opinion surprises are always the best. CONGRATULATIONS on 30 years together. That is a wonderful accomplishment and you and your hubby should be very proud! I’ll be thinking about you on Monday.


  30. Hello, Joye, thanks for joining in….

    Vulture Mine sounds interesting. I have not heard of it before and have to smile at the name and story behind it. America is truly so colorful and we have a wealth of interesting things right under our noses if we choose to investigate. Loved the story – thanks for sharing it.

    And, what you say about panning being hard work is sosososo true. I’m sure the early miners had their eyes opened on their first day out.

  31. Hi Chris,

    Since you’ve never experienced any of the mining things we’ve been talking about I’m even more happy you stopped in, read my blog and even left a comment. Thanks so much!


  32. Hi Jackie,

    I’ve been to Jerome, too. It’s such an interesting place. Thanks for reminding me of it. It is amazing to think that such a remote place can produce one billion dollars! Wow! I’ve not been to Virginia City although I’ve passed it many times but have never had the opportunity of stopping.

  33. Hi Caroline! Welcome to Petticoats & Pistols today! Your post took me back to the San Emidgio mountains near Bakersfield. There’s a legend of a lost gold mine in the area, but I don’t know the details.

    I haven’t been inside a mine, but my husband and I once visited Luray Caverns in Virginia. Awesome place! Scary, too. The lights went out for a few minutes. I’ve never seen such darkness, but in about 10 seconds everyone had their cells phone out and were using them for flashlights. It worked. We all made it to the next cavern.

  34. Hi there, Estella. Thanks for stopping in. I agree about the looking part. The dark and closed in part not so much. LOL

    Have a great rest of the day! 😉

  35. Bakersfield, California? I have not heard of that one, Victoria! I’ll have to do some more research. That’s a few hours to where I lived for 28 years.

    And regarding the ‘lights out’ I would have died. OY!!! Thanks for giving me nightmares.

  36. Thanks Caroline for the great post!
    My husband and I just got back from the UP of Michigan, where we were mining for copper. You could say we have ‘the fever’ LOL!!
    I would LOVE to mine for gold and silver out west. Maybe the next trip. 🙂

  37. Such a wonderful interesting post, thank you. I also never knew that McKenna’s Gold was based on a true story.

    Cindy W.


  38. You’re welcome, Tammy! Glad you enjoyed it. And, wow, you’re a real miner. Let me know if you ever find a nugget or a lost mine! I’ll be waiting to hear…..

  39. Hi Cindy, Well, thank you. I didn’t know that McKenna’s Gold was based on a true story either until I started researching. Quite interesting..

    BTW; I think your little Peppi is too cute. Reminds me of a little guy my grandmother had. His name was Sam.

  40. Woo Hoo! Congratulations to Colleen. You’ve won the copy of MONTANA DAWN! I hope you like it and it touches your heart~~~<3.

    Thank you all for stopping by and chatting with me today. It was a MOTHERLODE of fun! Take care and stay alert…one never knows where she’ll find a lost treasure. 🙂 😉 🙂

    Until next time…Happy trails and reading!

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