13 Lost Treasures of Minnesota

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Cory Haasnoot

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Minnesota has its share of lost treasures that have eluded treasure hunters for a hundred or more years. Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858, and before that time it was considered the Minnesota Territory. A fact that not many people realize is that Minnesota was part of the huge Louisiana Purchase that the United States bought from the French in 1803.

There are many fascinating lost treasure stories that come out of Minnesota. From lost Civil War gold to buried gangster treasure from the prohibition era there is treasure just waiting for some lucky metal detectorist to find and dig up. Will you be one of those lucky few that find a hidden treasure in Minnesota?

If you are ready then keep reading as we dig into the 13 lost treasures of Minnesota. I know you will be left amazed at what’s been hiding underfoot in the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’!

13 Lost Treasures of Minnesota

Ma Barker and Alvin Karpis Gang’s Buried Cash$150,000 in cashUnder an old fence post between Chatfield and Rochester Minnesota
Buried Civil War GoldAn unknown amount of goldOn property previously owned by William J Colvill. The property is in Grand Marais, Minnesota overlooking Lake Superior.
Buried Treasure in La Crescent, Minnesota$60,000La Crescent, Minnesota
Joseph Winther’s Buried GoldA large number of gold coinsOn a farm that’s located along the Blue Earth River about half a mile west of Winnebago, Minnesota.
Thomas Fontaine’s Buried CashAn unknown amount of cashOn a farmstead is located east of Mentor Minnesota.
Old Sherburne’s Buried Gold CoinsUp to $40,000 in gold coinsSomewhere near the Blue Hill glacial deposit mound in Blue Hill Township of Sherburne County Minnesota.
Lost Civil War PayrollTwo saddlebags full of gold coinsEither in Sherburne County near Blue Hill Township or Baldwin County near Elk Lake
James-Younger Gang Buried Gold$60,000Near Pipestone County close to what is now Pipestone National Monument
Bootleggers Buried CashAn unknown amount of cashNear Lake City Minnesota in Wabasha County along the banks of the Mississippi River
Charles Ney’s Lost Brewery FortuneUnknownSomewhere in Henderson, Minnesota
Buried Outlaw Bank Loot$40,000The north end of Mud Lake, near Green Isle, Minnesota.
Red River TreasureGold and Silver CoinsShores of Red River near the town of Noyes, Minnesota.
Buried Coins Near WadenaA large number of gold and silver coinsIn the woods west of Wadena, Minnesota

Ma Barker and Alvin Karpis Gang’s Buried Cash

Photo of Ma Barker
Ma Barker – By [1] [dead link], Fair use, Link

Kate Barker aka ‘Ma Barker’ was the leader of the Barker-Kapris gang which consisted of her sons. The gang operated in Wisconsin and Minnesota with a short stint in Chicago in the 1930s. They left Chicago because they didn’t want to work under Al Capone.

The Barker-Kapris gang committed many bank robberies and even kidnapping for ransom. The kidnapping for ransom is where this story of buried cash comes in. St.Pauls police chief Thomas Brown at the time was helping the gang get away with the robberies and kidnappings.

This story starts out on a cold day of January 17, 1934, when Edward Bremer, a prominent banker was dropping his daughter off at school. He was approached by two of the Barker-Kapris gang members one of them being Arthur “Doc” Barker who was Ma Barker’s son. They proceeded to hit Bremer and then blindfolded him and put him in his car. They drove off and later dumped Bremer’s car for another one.

The gang took Bremer to Bensenville Illinois and kept him there, demanding a ransom for his return of $200,000. The ransom was ultimately paid and they released Bremer on February 7, 1934, leaving him along the side of a road.

Knowing the FBI was on their trail they decided to bury $150,000 of the ransom along highway 52 that stretched between Chatfield and Rochester Minnesota. The story states that the money was put in a metal box and buried under a fence post. The roads have changed since the 1930s and if the money is still there it’s along highway 42 now.

So if you happen to be traveling in that area you might want to keep an eye out for an old fence post because there might be $150,000 buried nearby!.

Buried Civil War Gold

Photo of William J. Colvill circa 1861.
William J. Colvill

William J. Colvill was a Union Colonel during the Civil War and also the 3rd Attorney General of Minnesota. He was the leader of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in the Battle of Gettysburg. Colvill later in life acquired a stately manor of 167 acres that overlooked Lake Superior close to Grand Marais, Minnesota. Like many from his time he distrusted the banking system and kept his wealth close by.

Rumor has it that Colvill used a sled dog to carry his gold to his home on Lake Superior and buried it on the grounds there. It’s rumored that the gold is still buried on the property.

Colville lived on the property for six years before selling it and moving back to Red Wing Minnesota. So the obvious question is why would he have left the gold behind when he moved? I don’t know the answer to that but whoever owns the home now could be sitting on a pile of gold.

Buried Treasure in La Crescent, Minnesota

In La Crescent Minnesota it’s rumored that there is $60,000 in buried treasure on property once owned by H. Lilly.  La Crescent is located in Houston and Winona Counties in the far southeast corner of Minnesota. That is all the information I could find on this lost treasure. If anyone has more information on this lost treasure please comment below this article.

Joseph Winther’s Buried Gold

Blue Earth River
Blue Earth River – By Tim Kiser, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Joseph Winther was a Minnesota Farmer during the late 1800s early 1900s. Before his death in 1903 it is reported that Winther buried a large number of gold coins on his farm that’s located along the Blue Earth River about half a mile west of Winnebago, Minnesota.

Is it still there? Who knows but armed with a good gold metal detector like the Garrett AT Gold detector you just might find yourself a fortune near the town of Winnebago Minnesota!

Thomas Fontaine’s Buried Cash

A wealthy farmer by the name of Thomas Fontaine is said to have buried an enormous sum of cash on his farmstead that is located east of Mentor Minnesota. He was murdered in 1904 and he didn’t tell anyone where he buried his wealth.

Old Sherburne’s Buried Gold Coins

Old Sherburne was a wealthy hermit who lived in Sherburne County Minnesota in the mid-1800s. He was known to share his wealth and loan people money when needed. He lived in what is now Blue Hill Township.

Old Sherburne lived by himself in an earthen home. Other than loaning people money from time to time he never really spent a lot on himself and he made his own clothing out of animal skins. Sherburne died in 1882 and was buried in the Galbraith Cemetery which is now called Blue Hill Cemetery.

After his death, his brother came calling and explained that Old Sherburne got his money from a business that he sold out East before traveling to Minnesota to live. His brother said that Old Sherburne’s business sold for $40,000 which he had in gold coins.

It is believed that Old Sherburne buried his gold stash somewhere near the Blue Hill glacial deposit mound in Blue Hill Township. His brother searched for the gold for over a month before giving up and leaving the area. The gold coins have never been located and could still be buried near the Blue Hill glacial deposit mound in Sherburne County Minnesota!

Lost Civil War Payroll

This lost treasure story has two angles to it. The first is that in 1862 Union soldiers were carrying a payroll from Fort Snelling to Fort Ripley when they were informed of an Indian uprising. They were told by a dispatch agent to bury the payroll and then go straight to Mankato Minnesota.

At the time they were in the Blue Hill Township area of Sherburne County Minnesota. They proceeded to bury the payroll and continue on to safety. The only two soldiers that knew where the payroll was buried were later killed so the payroll was never recovered by the United States Army.

The other story states that Union soldiers came across some Indians near Elk Lake in Baldwin County Minnesota. The story goes on that the soldiers buried two saddlebags of gold coins under an oak tree. They then sent their packhorse running and they went and hid. The Indians thought the soldiers were escaping on the horse and they went after them.

The soldiers came out from hiding and made their way back to Fort Snelling unharmed. Sometime later a fire swept through the area where they had buried the payroll and the soldiers were unable to locate where they had buried it.

It is believed that payroll is still buried in either Sherburne County near Blue Hill Township or Baldwin County near Elk Lake. What a cool find that would be, to say the least!

James-Younger Gang Buried Gold

First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota.
First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota. CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Jesse James and the James Gang are world-famous outlaws of the West. But they did do some dastardly deeds in Minnesota. This one took place on September 7, 1876, when the James gang robbed the Northfield Bank in Minnesota. They got away with $60,000 in cash and bonds and killed a bystander on the street named George Wymore.

With posse hot in pursuit, the gang took off out of town. It is said that they buried the loot near Pipestone County near what is now Pipestone National Monument. This would be their last bank robbery because 3 of the members were killed after this and the rest were sent to prison.

Is the treasure still there? If it was cash that they buried it would no longer exist but if it was gold coins and bullion like some people suggests it could still be buried awaiting discovery by some lucky treasure seeker!

Digging Deeper: Lost Treasures of Oklahoma

Bootleggers Buried Cash

During the Prohibition era, it is said that a bootlegger buried a large pile of cash near Lake City, Minnesota in Wabasha County along the banks of the Mississippi River. It is said that he later died in a car accident before he could recover his money. If he did bury it along the Mississippi River I sure hope that he put it in some kind of water-tight metal container. Otherwise, I don’t think it would still be there today!

Charles Ney’s Lost Brewery Fortune

Old brewery in historic town Virginia City, Montana

Charles Ney owned a brewery in Henderson Minnesota in the 1920s. It is said that Ney didn’t trust banks and kept his fortune on his property. But when he died his wealth was nowhere to be found. Rumor has it that Ney kept his wealth in a vault underneath the brewery. So in 1924, the brewery was razed up and a 30-foot shaft was dug underneath the brewery in an attempt to find the vault. The vault and subsequently Charles Ney’s fortune has never been found!

Buried Outlaw Bank Loot

The Curran brothers who were outlaws in Minnesota are said to have buried $40,000 in loot that they stole from a bank. It is said that they buried the loot on the north end of Mud Lake near Green Isle, Minnesota.

Red River Treasure

Red River -, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In the Northwestern part of Minnesota close to the town of Noyes on the Red River, it is said that treasure hunters have been finding gold and silver coins that have been washing ashore there. It is believed these coins are washing ashore from shipwrecks that are located in the Red River.

It would be well worth your time to head up to Noyes Minnesota and do some snooping with a metal detector on the beaches there. You might come away with some interesting finds.

Buried Coins Near Wadena

It is said that in 1890 a pair of bandits who were trying to escape from a posse that was on their tale buried a large number of gold and silver coins in the woods west of Wadena, Minnesota. Shortly after they were killed by the posse and the loot has never recovered and could still be buried in the woods there.

Lost Treasures of Minnesota Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it the 13 lost treasures of Minnesota. Like many lost treasure stories, there is sometimes very little information on them but they are interesting nonetheless. I hope you enjoyed the article and if you have any experience metal detecting or treasure hunting in Minnesota I would love to hear from you. You can leave your stories in the comments section below. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!

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Author: Cory Haasnoot

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.

3 thoughts on “13 Lost Treasures of Minnesota”

  1. Any other interesting treasure places in minnesota like old car bodies trash dumps that are abandoned or brewery stuff like that interested me.

  2. Hey Corey,

    In your opinion what is the most viable story of these 13 options that has the highest probability of being true?


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