Idaho is known for its abundance of fresh potatoes. I bet you didn’t know that Idaho has an interesting past with many hidden and buried treasure stories to tell. Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890. Before that time many travelers ventured through Idaho in search of gold during the gold rush days.
Gold was discovered in Northern Idaho. The first claim of gold in Idaho was in the Clearwater River in 1860. It was again discovered in 1861 on the Salmon River and then in 1862 more gold was discovered on the Boise River. Hopeful gold prospectors flooded these areas and many camps and towns sprung up in the region. This has left many lost treasure stories for us to explore!
In 13 lost treasures of Idaho, we will explore the stories of the lost treasures that have been passed down through the generations. From stories of lost stolen stagecoach loot to buried prospectors’ gold we will cover them all and leave you wondering if these treasures can be found.
So, without further adieu, let us explore the lost treasures of Idaho!
13 Lost Treasures of Idaho
|Isaac Swim’s Lost Gold Mine||Gold Mine||Near the mouth of the Yankee Fork River and close to Robinsons Bar in the Salmon River Mountains in Custer County Idaho|
|Portneuf Canyon Lost Stagecoach Gold||$86,000 worth of gold||Portneuf River Canyon that’s just a few miles south of Pocatello, Idaho|
|Jack Breen’s Lost Gold Claim||Gold Mine||Coeur D’Alene in Idaho close to Hayden Lake.|
|Ed Long’s Stolen Lost Gold||$100,000 in gold nuggets||Near the City of Rocks along the Idaho Utah border.|
|Butch Cassidy’s Buried Loot||$15,000 in gold coins and cash||Between Spokane Falls, Washington, and Wallace, Idaho near a stagecoach road by a creek where a beaver dam once stood.|
|Gold Bullion Buried at the Base of Treasure Rock||$200,000 in gold bullion||Near Goose Creek north of the City Of Rocks at the base of Treasure Rock.|
|Lost Assayers Safe||A safe containing hundreds of pounds of gold||Bottom of the Snake River|
|Lost Miner’s Gold||$75,000 in gold||Robber’s Gulch southwest of White Bird, Idaho|
|Sunken Steamer Kootenai||140 tons of gold and silver ore and 685 pounds of gold bullion||Bottom of Lake Coeur D’Alene|
|Plummer Gang Lost Treasure||$575,000 in gold bullion||Above the town of Spencer in a canyon called Beaver Canyon in Clark County Idaho and in a cave behind a waterfall on the snake river|
|Buried Gold at Robbers Roost||300 pounds of gold||A mile north of McCammon in a place now called Robbers Roost in Bannock County Idaho|
|Lost Diamonds||Two bushels of uncut diamonds||Goose Creek near Rock Flat which is between McCall and New Meadows Idaho|
|Buried Loot in Twin Falls County||Strongbox full of gold||Flat mesa 15 miles west of Rogerson, Idaho on the east side of Brown’s Bench|
Isaac Swim’s Lost Gold Mine
Isaac T. Swim was a gold prospector in Idaho. In the summer of 1881, he discovered a gold/quartz mine in Custer County Idaho on the Yankee Fork River. After discovering the gold mine he traveled to Challis Idaho to stake his claim.
Once he staked his claim he traveled back to the Yankee Fork River to take samples back with him so he could determine the assayed value of his claim. In June of 1882, he ventured back with some other miners to help him mine the gold. But when they got to Salmon River they noticed that the banks were overflowing because of the melting snow from the previous winter.
Swim wanted to wait until the river calmed down but the other miners wanted to proceed. So Swim decided to cross the river by himself first and then come back for the other miners. This proved to be fatal for Swim. He ended up drowning along with his horse. Swim was the only one who knew exactly where the gold claim was located.
The other miners searched for the gold claim but were only successful in finding a claim marker that was across from the Yankee Fork River. To this day the gold/quartz outcropping has never been found and is still waiting for discovery near the mouth of the Yankee Fork River and close to Robinsons Bar in the Salmon River Mountains in Custer County Idaho!
Portneuf Canyon Lost Stagecoach Gold
Four men by the names of Brocki Jack, Willy Whittmore, Fred Williams, and a crooked Ada County sheriff named Big Dave Updyke conspired to rob a stagecoach along the Portneuf Road that ran from Virginia City, Montana to Pocatello, Idaho on July 26, 1865.
The four men planned the robbery out carefully in Boise, Idaho. They then took off on a 200-mile journey to camp at Ross Fork Creek which was close to a fur-trading outpost named Fort Hall. After deciding on how they were going to hold up the stagecoach Fred Williams went to Virginia City, Montana to find out which stagecoaches would be carrying gold shipments of them. Fred would then ride the stagecoach as a passenger.
The other three men found a spot where they could do the hold-up in a canyon near Pocatello, Idaho. The area was narrow so they could have a better chance at stopping the stagecoach. They even put a blockade of boulders so the stagecoach would have to stop.
Once that was set up the three men went back to their camp and waited for word from Fred Williams. The stagecoach that they would hold up finally left from Virginia City to Pocatello on July 21, 1865. After a few days of travel, the stagecoach finally stopped at Sodhouse Station that was close to the outlaws camp.
During the overnight stop, Fred Williams went to the camp to alert the other outlaws that the stagecoach was near and that it carried a valuable cargo of gold in two strongboxes. Fred then went back to Sodhouse station so he could continue on the stagecoach.
The next day the stagecoach arrived at the spot that the outlaws picked out for the hold-up. The stagecoach stopped near where the boulders barricaded the road and the outlaws came out of hiding with their guns ready.
There was a shoot out and a man named Sam Martin shot of Willy Whitmore’s finger. Whitmore then started shooting up the stagecoach. The driver Charlie Parks then tried to take the coach through the thick brush to getaway. Brockie Jack shot his horse dead and the stagecoach stopped.
Fred Williams and a saloon keeper named James B. Brown were the only ones that escaped Whitmore’s rampage. Everyone else was either shot to death or injured in the shoot-out.
Williams came out of the woods with a shattered arm from the shootout. The other outlaws unloaded the two strong boxes from the coach and opened them. Inside were gold nuggets and dust in two bags and 15 huge gold bars.
They got away with an estimated $86,000 worth of gold that would be worth around $1.6 million today!
3 Survivors take the stage to Miller Ranch Station
The three men who survived came out from hiding when the outlaws left. They were Charlie Parker the driver, James B. Brown the saloon keeper, and L.F. Carpenter who was buried underneath the other dead bodies he was faking that he was dead. With the horses that remained, they drove the coach to Miller Ranch Station.
Once they reached the station they identified who the outlaws were and the insurance company that insured the stagecoach put up a $10,0000 reward for the capture of the four outlaws.
Pursuit of the Outlaws
The four men were pursued by the vigilance committee. First Willy Whitmore was found in Arizona and shot to death. Fred Williams was found next in Colorado and hung by the Vigilance committee. Neither one of them had any money or gold on them.
David Updyke the Sherriff of Ada County was a more difficult case to bring to justice. The Payette River Vigilance Committee waited until the sheriff did some bad deeds. On September 28, 1865, they brought Updyke in on charges of defrauding revenue and not arresting a known outlaw.
But Updyke posted bail and subsequently took off for Boise City, Idaho. The people of Boise City had enough of the lawlessness and after realizing this Updyke left town with another man named John Dixon in 1866. Unaware they were being followed they stopped for the night at an abandoned cabin.
They were then captured by the vigilante group that was following them and they were both hanged. Although Updyke was questioned he would not reveal the whereabouts of the stolen gold.
Brockie Jack disappeared and was never found or heard from again. The gold has never been found. If it’s still around it would be worth more than a million dollars and could be buried near where the robbery took place in the Portneuf River Canyon that’s just a few miles south of Pocatello, Idaho!
Jack Breen’s Lost Gold Claim
Jack Breen was a poor gold prospector who in 1889 discovered gold near Coeur D’Alene in Idaho. Not having enough money to work the claim he decided to head for Coeur D’Alene where he found two men by the names of N.R. Palmeter and Jack Osier to be his partners.
Breen then went to a saloon and started bragging about his gold find. Many people at the saloon started to buy him drinks in hopes he would reveal where the claim was. He only said that it was close to Hayden Lake.
His partners were afraid that Breen would give up the exact location of the claim had him arrested so that he would be safe. But the next morning the jail burned down with Breen inside and killed him. He never did reveal where the gold claim was and has never been found to this day.
Ed Long’s Stolen Lost Gold
Here’s another stagecoach robbery story that took place in Portneuf River Canyon. A man by the name of Ed Long robbed a stagecoach that was traveling from the goldfields of Montana to Salt Lake City.
While the coach was stopped between Pocatello and McCammon Idaho it was robbed by Long and his partner. They got away with $100,000 in gold nuggets and dust that were neatly packed in leather bags in the strongbox.
They fled to the City of Rocks and buried the bags of gold dust and nuggets there. A posse from Brigham City caught up with the pair at Birch Creek and a gun battle ensued. Long was shot to death and his partner was wounded and captured by the posse.
Long’s partner was taken to a stage station and was questioned about where they hid the gold but he wouldn’t reveal the whereabouts.
The gold was never recovered and is still buried somewhere near the City of Rocks along the Idaho Utah border.
Butch Cassidy’s Buried Loot
Because Idaho was part of the wild west it’s only fitting that Butch Cassidy and his gang at least road through Idaho during their robbery sprees. There’s one story that took place in Montpelier, Idaho.
As the story goes Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang were steaking out the Bank of Montpelier that had opened in 1861. On August 13, 1896, Cassidy and his gang broke into the bank of Montpelier and got away with over $15,000 in gold coins and cash.
Cassidy and his men were chased out of town but were never caught. It is speculated that Cassidy buried his stolen loot between Spokane Falls, Washington, and Wallace, Idaho near a stagecoach road by a creek where a beaver dam once stood.
The Bank of Montpelier is still there in Montpelier, Idaho. It is now a Butch Cassidy museum. And the town even celebrated the 120 year anniversary of the robbery!
Gold Bullion Buried at the Base of Treasure Rock
This story takes place in 1878 when a shipment of gold bullion worth up to $200,000 was hijacked on a stagecoach that was heading for a U.S. military camp. The gold was meant for payment to the soldiers there.
The strongbox was so heavy that the robbers had to drag it away behind their horses. A posse was quickly formed and followed the drag tracks that the strongbox left to the City of Rocks. One of the outlaws was shot and the others were arrested. They didn’t reveal where they hid the gold but it is presumed that they buried it at the base of what’s now called Treasure Rock.
The gold has never been recovered and could still be waiting for a lucky treasure hunter to find it close to Goose Creek north of the City Of Rocks!
Lost Assayers Safe
Fort Hall first built by American fur traders and then sold to the British Hudson Bay Company was widely used as a communication center and supplied the gold prospectors in the area. It was located near the junction of the Oregon and California trails at the Bottoms of the Snake River.
In 1846 the U.S. Army took over the fort. In 1863 a huge flood engulfed the area washing away a few hundred buildings including an assay office that had a safe in it that held hundreds of pounds of gold dust and nuggets.
The safe has never been located and could be at the bottom of the Snake River!
Lost Miner’s Gold
Legend has it that a freight wagon carrying $75,000 was robbed in Idaho County along the Salmon River. The robbers are said to have hidden near some rocks when they were headed to Seven Devils in Idaho.
A posse went after them and shot them all before they could tell the whereabouts of the stolen gold. The gold could still be hidden in a place now called Robber’s Gulch southwest of White Bird, Idaho!
Sunken Steamer Kootenai
The steamer barge Kootenai was a ship that helped break through the ice and carried gold and silver ore. In the fall of 1889, the Kootenai was carrying 140 tons of gold and silver ore and 685 pounds of gold bullion on Lake Coeur D’Alene.
On November 12, 1889, the Kootenai lost its load of ore and gold bullion to the ice depths of Lake Coeur D’Alene. The steamer sank in about 75 feet of water about 300 feet from shore. Many attempts were made over the years to locate the lost cargo but all were unsuccessful.
The gold bullion is said to be buried under 20 feet of mud at the bottom of Lake Coeur D’Alene.
Plummer Gang Lost Treasure
The Plummer gang was lead by Henry Plummer who was actually elected sheriff of Bannack Montana during the years of 1863 and 1864.
Henry and his gang did most of their robberies of shipments in Montana but there are a couple of stories of treasure that they buried when they were in Idaho.
One instance is called the Lost Rock Bandit Cache in which the Plummer gang robbed a stagecoach and got away with $75,000 in gold bullion. It is said that the gang buried the gold above the town of Spencer in a canyon called Beaver Canyon in Clark County Idaho.
Another story states that the gang hide $500,000 in gold bullion in a cave behind a waterfall on the snake river. This is now located about two miles southwest of the American Falls Reservoir Power company.
To this day neither of those treasures have been found and could still be waiting for someone to find them. The gold bullion would be worth a lot more in today’s money.
Buried Gold at Robbers Roost
About a mile north of McCammon in a place now called Robbers Roost, it is reported that bandits buried 300 pounds of gold that they had robbed from a stagecoach in 1865.
A posse was formed and caught up with the outlaws who were killed in the gun battle that ensued. The gold has never been found and could still be buried there in Bannock County Idaho!
Legend has it that in the 1890s a gold prospector stumbled upon two bushels worth of diamonds. He found them on the banks of Goose Creek near Rock Flat which is between McCall and New Meadows Idaho.
He ended up burying most of the diamonds but a flood went through the area destroying the markers he left behind. Of the diamonds he kept, he sold it for $1000 but the rest of the diamonds were never found and probably were swept down Goose Creek to who knows where.
The diamonds would bring in a mighty sum for anyone that finds them. In this case, a metal detector would do you no good.
Buried Loot in Twin Falls County
The Jarbidge-Idaho stagecoach was robbed of a strongbox full of gold by a lone gunman in 1888 near Salmon Dam in Twin Falls County Idaho. The gunman was killed by a posse but not before he buried the loot.
Legend has it that he hid the gold on a flat mesa 15 miles west of Rogerson, Idaho on the east side of Brown’s Bench. It could still be there just waiting for discovery!
Those are 13 of the lost treasure stories about Idaho. There are many more stories from this state that are not listed here because they have very little information attached to them and if I mentioned every one of the tales of lost treasure from Idaho this article would be never-ending!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this article and if you are interested I have lost treasures stories from other states as well. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the section below. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!
Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.