10 Lost Treasures of North Dakota

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Cory Haasnoot

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North Dakota is an interesting state with a ton of history. The Dakota Nation originally inhabited this territory and Lewis and Clark made their way through part of North Dakota twice. Once in 1804 and coming back from the Pacific coast in 1806. Many Traders set up shop here and hunters and trappers helped keep everyone fed and warm. The people had to be some of the hardiest people around because of the extreme climate that North Dakota is famous for. Cold as heck in the winter. Warm and steamy in the summer.

In this article, lost treasures of North Dakota you will learn about 10 lost treasures that have been lost to the sands of time for over a hundred years and more. You will learn about buried Civil War Payroll, lost safes in the Red River, buried California gold, buried bank loot, and more. So continuing reading to discover these fascinating lost treasure tales of North Dakota!


10 Lost Treasures of North Dakota

TREASUREAMOUNTLOCATION
Red River TreasureSeveral Safes Containing MoneyBottom of the Red River.
Treasure at the Ruins of Old BottineauUnknownOld Bottineau is located about a mile and a half north of the current town of Bottineau, ND.
Montana Miners Lost Gold$90,000 in gold nuggetsNear old Fort Clark on the Missouri River eight miles west of Washburn, ND.
Pleasant Lake’s Buried LootChests filled with gold bullionPleasant Lake is an unincorporated town in Benson County North Dakota.
Lost Cache Near Bowbells$40,000 in gold and silver coinsTwelve miles from the town of Bowbells, ND
Trader Treasure Near Burnt Creek$55,000 in gold and silver coinsNear a railroad bridge is located in the area between Mandan and Bismark, ND on Burnt Creek east side of the Missouri River.
Lost Civil War PayrollUnknownNear Sunset Butte about 10 miles northwest of Amidon, ND.
Stolen Bank Loot on Turtle Mountain$100,000 in gold coin and bullionTurtle Mountain is located close to Belcourt, ND.
Buried Gold on The Banks of The Missouri River$200,000 in gold bullionOn the banks of the Missouri River near the town of Stanton, ND.
Gold Buried Near The Knife River$100,000 in gold nuggets and dustA mile north of Stanton, ND where the Knife and Missouri Rivers meet.

Red River Treasure

In April of 1897, a massive flood swept through the port city of Belmont, ND. Belmont is located about fourteen miles south of Grand Forks on the west side of the Red River. In its heyday, Belmont was a busy river port city on the Red River.

The flood in 1897 destroyed much of the town and the floodwaters swept many safes that were from the businesses along the waterfront into the river. Reportedly these safes contained a lot of money.

By all accounts, the safes were never recovered and could be lying somewhere on the bottom of the Red River probably under over a hundred years of mud and muck. By now any paper currency that was in them would be long gone. But in those days coins were in high use so those could still be found.

To reach these safes you would for one need to know how to dive and second you would need some underwater metal detecting equipment. These safes might not be worth salvaging because the cost to do so would be cost prohibited.


Treasure at the Ruins of Old Bottineau

Pierre Bottineau
Pierre Bottineau Circa 1855

Old Bottineau was founded in 1883 but changed its name from Oak Creek to Bottineau in 1884 after Pierre Bottineau who was a land speculator, hunter, trapper, and Metis pioneer. The town was originally a stagecoach station stop. The town was moved in 1887 to its current location because they wanted the town to be near the Great Northern Railway that was newly constructed in the area.

Old Bottineau is located about a mile and a half north of the current town of Bottineau, ND. The old town is also located on Oak Creek near the Canadian Border. In recent years treasure hunters have been finding treasure and artifacts in the ruins of the town. There could be more waiting to be found!


Montana Miners Lost Gold

A group of miners coming back from the goldfields of Montana were attacked by Dakota Indians. It is said that the miners buried about $90,000 in gold nuggets that they were hauling back to North Dakota near the Missouri River. They were about a mile east of Fort Clark which was a trading post and now is in ruins.

They came back with some Army troops a few days later but they couldn’t find where they had buried their gold. The site lies eight miles west of Washburn, ND. It could still be there waiting to be discovered!


Digging Deeper: Lost Treasures of Montana


Pleasant Lake’s Buried Loot

Pleasant Lake is an unincorporated town in Benson County North Dakota. It is said that in the 1880s bank robbers buried a number of chests full of gold bullion here. Pleasant Lake can be found about forty-five miles northwest of Devil’s Lake. If the gold is still there it would be worth a fortune! So if you are ever in North Dakota you might want to check the small town of Pleasant Lake.


Lost Cache Near Bowbells

Hudson Bay Company Post on Lake Winnepeg Circa 1884
Hudson Bay Company Post on Lake Winnepeg Circa 1884

About twelve miles from the town of Bowbells, ND in the hills there lies a cache worth $40,000. According to newspaper accounts from 1908, a paymaster from the Hudson Bay Company was robbed thirty-five years earlier around the year 1873 by thieves. The thieves were pursued and they supposedly buried the $40,000 in gold and silver coins.

One of the robbers was caught and he died in prison. On his person at death was a map that he allegedly drew of the area around Bowbells and the spot where they buried the cache. If coins are still there they would be worth a lot more than $40,000 in today’s financial markets.


Trader Treasure Near Burnt Creek

Burnt Creek is located off the east side of the Missouri River. Rumor has it that in the latter half of the 1800s a trader in the area buried gold and silver coins worth $55,000 at the mouth of Burnt Creek. A railroad bridge is located in the area between Mandan and Bismarck, ND, and the treasure is said to lie somewhere in that vicinity.

The treasure if found now would be worth much more than the $55,000 it was worth then. Could you imagine the value of the individual coins if they were in good condition? It would be well worth someone’s time to check this site out!


Lost Civil War Payroll

An Army paymaster for the Union during the Civil War is said to have had his payroll stolen that consisted of a large cache of gold coins. The thieves are said to have buried the cache on or near Sunset Butte near the town of Bowman, ND.

The payroll was never recovered and could still be buried somewhere on Sunset Butte! Searching for treasure here could be challenging but I bet the views are beautiful, especially during sunset. It would be worth just going up there just for that!


Stolen Bank Loot on Turtle Mountain

Turtle Mountain is located close to Belcourt, ND. It is reported that in 1893 a bank was held up and robbed in the area and the thieves buried $100,000 in gold coins and bullion in the foothills of Turtle Mountain.

The Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation now lies in that area. So if you want to do some treasure hunting make sure to get tribal permission before doing so.


Lost California Gold

Gold nuggets, flakes and dust mined from the creeks and rivers of California

There are two stories about miners coming back from California and burying their gold in North Dakota. Both stories are close to the town of Stanton, ND. The following are those two accounts.


Buried Gold on The Banks of The Missouri River

The first story states that a miner who came back from the goldfields of California buried $200,000 in gold bullion on the banks of the Missouri River near the town of Stanton for safekeeping. Rumor has it that while the miner was getting better from an illness he discovered that banks of the Missouri River had flooded and washed his gold away. He never did recover his treasure.


Gold Buried Near The Knife River

In 1864 another miner coming back from California is said to have buried his gold fortune worth $100,000 in gold nuggets and dust near where the Knife and Missouri Rivers meet. The spot is located about a mile north of Stanton, ND. No word on what happened to the miner but it’s presumed the gold stash is still there unless it was washed downriver by flooding.


Conclusion – Lost Treasures of North Dakota

Well, there you have it 10 lost and buried treasures that await discovery in North Dakota. I suggest if you plan on treasure hunting in North Dakota to do it in the fall or spring months because the winters here are brutal and the ground would be totally frozen so you wouldn’t be able to do any digging. And the summer is extremely hot and muggy most of the time which for me at least is unbearable!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the article. If you have any questions or comments please leave them 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.

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