11 Lost Treasures of Oregon (Buried Treasure Awaits)

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Cory Haasnoot

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The beautiful state of Oregon holds numerous lost treasures that treasure seekers have been searching for for hundreds of years. With Oregon’s vast mountains and its prairies and valleys, there are many places where many treasures were lost or hidden away.

In this article lost treasures of Oregon, we will be discussing 11 of these fascinating lost treasure stories. Including buried pirate treasure, outlaws buried loot, shipwreck treasure, and more. So join me as we take a journey into the past and explore some of Oregon’s most intriguing lost treasures.

11 Lost Treasures of Oregon

Buried Pirate Treasure On Neahkahnie MountainTreasure ChestOn the base of Neahkahnie Mountain in Oswald West State Park.
Lost Chinese Gold400 pounds of gold nuggets and dust.Near the Chinese Cemetary in Auburn, Oregon.
Lost Loot of Horsethief Meadows$25,000Horsethief Meadows in the Hood River Valley of northeastern Oregon.
Lost Pot O’ Gold at Fort GrantIron Kettle of gold bullion and gold coins.Fort Grant was located between Medford and Ashland Oregon.
Stagecoach Robbery Loot Near Louise CreekUnknownSomewhere along Louise Creek just north of Grants Pass.
Oak Point Ruins TreasureUnknownIn the ruins of Oak Point on the Columbia River four miles north of Clatskanie, Oregon.
Lost Gold Coins on Skeleton Mountain$60,000 in gold coins.Somewhere on Skeleton Mountain about twenty miles east of Glendale, Or.
Outlaw Gold On Mitchell Service Creek Peak250 pounds of gold nuggets and dust.Mitchell Service Creek Peak near Mitchell, Oregon.
Coffee Can of Riches$10,000Coxcomb Hill overlooking Astoria River.
Buried Gold Near Skeleton Rock$50,000 in gold coins and bars.Skeleton Rock on the north side of the Ochoco River.
Graveyard of The PacificUnknownFifty-mile stretch south of Fort Stephens and the Tillamook Bay in the northwest corner of Oregon. 

Buried Pirate Treasure On Neahkahnie Mountain

Neahkahnie Mountains From The North
Neahkahnie Mountains From The North – By Fcb981 Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Neahkahnie Mountain holds a pirate treasure that treasure hunters have been searching for hundreds of years. This is a Clatsop Indian legend passed down through the centuries. It states that in the late 1600s Spanish Pirates sailed a ship into Nehalem Bay off the coast of Oregon.

Some versions state that the ship sank in the bay and others say that the ship set anchor. Either way, it is said that the Clatsop Indians watched from afar as a group of the Spanish Pirates from the ship carried a large treasure chest onshore and up to a bluff at the base of Neahkahnie Mountain.

The pirates proceeded to dig a deep hole and put the treasure chest in. They then threw a dead member of their crew on top of the chest and filled the hole in. The pirates then boarded the ship and sailed away. Never to return.

The Search For Pirate Treasure Begins

Fast forward over a hundred years when the Corp of Discovery and Lewis and Clark made their way to the Oregon coast they were told of the pirate treasure legend when trading with the Clatsop Indians. Captain Vancouver of the Hudson Bay Company also learned of the legend while trading with the Indians.

For centuries after treasure hunters have been digging holes all over the base of Neahkahnie Mountain looking for the buried pirate treasure chest. A man named Pat Smith in the 1870s found some rocks that had crosses and arrows carved into them along with the letters DEW.

Two treasure hunters even died when the hole they were digging caved in on them in the 1930s. Thomas Mckay an early settler in the area heard of the buried pirate treasure and started to dig for it. Some think that he may have found it because he all of a sudden quit his job with the Hudson Bay Company. He then left the area.

Mckay then came back to settle in French Prairie in the Willamette Valley area just north of Salem, Oregon. When he arrived he was a rich man giving some of it to his friends. Did he find the lost pirate treasure? No one knows for sure. But if he didn’t find the treasure it is presumed still buried somewhere on the base of Neahkahnie Mountain near Nehalem Bay.

Digging in this area is no longer allowed because it is now part of the Oswald West State Park which is under the authority of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. Treasure hunting is off-limits. So if this treasure is there it may never be found.

Lost Chinese Gold

The Ghost town of Auburn lies along the Powder River. In the 1860s Auburn was a bustling gold rush boomtown and was the largest community in Eastern Oregon at the time. In the 1870s after gold was mined from the area and a new gold rush had taken place in Idaho, the town became almost deserted. Today only a few people live here.

Legend has it that a Chinese merchant in the 1860s buried 400 pounds of gold nuggets and dust near the Chinese Cemetary in Auburn. If the gold is still there it would be worth millions of dollars today. Auburn is located about nine miles southwest of Baker, Oregon on the Powder River.

Digging Deeper: Can You Metal Detect In a Cemetary?

Lost Loot of Horsethief Meadows

Hood River Valley
Hood River Valley

Stagecoach hold-ups were a frequent occurrence in the 1800s in Oregon and most parts of the United States. Many times the stagecoaches were hauling payrolls and other valuables from place to place with very little security to speak of. This story takes place in the 1880s when a stagecoach was robbed of $25,000.

The robber supposedly had a cabin that was found in 1886 by a man named Phillips and a man he hired to help him find the treasure by the name of Dave Cooper. They believed the treasure was near this cabin that was located in Horsethief Meadows in the Hood River Valley of northeastern Oregon.

People who live in the area have told about a tree that grew around a musket and a cabin that once stood in the area that was eventually destroyed when they logged the area in the 1980s. Did Dave Cooper and Phillip find the lost loot or is it still hidden somewhere in Horsethief Meadows in the Hood River Valey?

Lost Pot O’ Gold at Fort Grant

Iron Kettle Full of Gold Coins

Fort Grant was a small outpost and community that sprang up in the 1850s during the Rogue River Indian Wars. This story states that the fort had a paymaster because there were no banks in the area at that time and the miners who worked their claims in the area needed some sort of security for their gold bullion and gold coins.

So the paymaster would hold the gold for them making records of what he had been given. It is said that the paymaster would put all the gold that he got from the miners in a big iron kettle and buried it in the ground for safekeeping not letting anyone know where it was buried.

One day the paymaster suffered a stroke leaving him unable to speak. While he lay on his death bed he tried to draw a map of the location of the buried kettle of gold but died before he could finish it. The miners searched in vain for the kettle of gold in Fort Grant. They never did find the buried kettle or the gold and it’s presumed still buried somewhere in the area where Fort Grant once stood. Fort Grant was located between Medford and Ashland Oregon.

Stagecoach Robbery Loot Near Louise Creek

North of Grants Pass, Oregon lies Louise Creek. It is here that in 1890 a stagecoach was robbed and the outlaws got away with the loot. They were all gunned down a short time later. But before the last man died he told some of the men from the posse that they had buried the loot a few hundred yards from where they held up the stagecoach.

Many looked for the treasure for years but it was never found. Then in 1933, a man by the name of C.L. Eubanks was gold prospecting in the area when he found a tree that was carved with the date 1890 on the trunk and the letter MLP AND LPM. Also carved on the trunk were the words “go-to” there was more to the message but it was unreadable by then.

Eubanks searched for that treasure all summer but never did find it. The lost loot could still be buried somewhere along Louise Creek just north of Grants Pass.

Digging Deeper: Lost Treasures of Georgia

Oak Point Ruins Treasure

Oak Point was founded in 1810. This town now in ruins is located on the Columbia River four miles north of Clatskanie, Oregon. This town was an important river port and trading center at the time with a lot of money flowing through it from sales made through trading.

At the end of the 1800s, Oak Point was destroyed by a flood that swept through the town. Many people’s lively hoods were lost along with some of their treasures that were buried under rubble and mud from the flood. This would be a lucrative area to take a metal detector to. Make sure you get permission before venturing onto any private land.

Lost Gold Coins on Skeleton Mountain

Skeleton Mountain is located about twenty miles east of Glendale, Or. In 1880 a stagecoach was robbed in this area and the outlaw got away with a payroll of $60,000 in gold coins. He said he buried it somewhere on Skeleton Mountain. He was soon arrested and sent to prison where he died years later. He was never able to get back to the area to dig up his loot and it’s presumed still buried somewhere in Skeleton Mountain.

Outlaw Gold On Mitchell Service Creek Peak

Mitchell was founded in 1873 as a stage station that was on the Dalles – Boise Military Wagon Road. Sometime in 1873 a couple of outlaws in the area buried 250 pounds of gold nuggets and dust on the nearby Mitchell Service Creek Peak that was in the hills there. The outlaws were soon caught and hung. The gold has never been recovered and is presumed still buried in the vicinity of the town of Mitchell, Oregon.

Coffee Can of Riches

Astoria Column on Coxcomb Hill
Astoria Column on Coxcomb Hill

Legend has it that sometime in the early twentieth century an old man had a cabin that overlooked the Astoria River on Coxcomb Hill. The old man died in the 1920s and on his death bed he claimed that he had hidden a coffee can that had $10,000 in it in a tree stump near his cabin.

Although people searched for this treasure after his death it was never found. The stump is probably long gone by now and you would think if it was there it would have been found easily. But who knows maybe he buried it under the tree stump but if it was cash that would be long gone by now as well!

Buried Gold Near Skeleton Rock

On the north side of Ochoco River lies a landmark called Skeleton Rock that gold miners use to camp near in the mid-1800s when the gold rush was underway. It is said that a treasure of $50,000 in gold coins and bars is buried here by someone who camped in the area.

Graveyard of The Pacific

Tillamook Bay at sunset
Tillamook Bay – By Aaron Zahrowski – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Many ships have been lost over the years on the rugged coast off of Oregon. Especially in the fifty-mile stretch south of Fort Stephens and the Tillamook Bay in the northwest corner of Oregon. This area is called the Graveyard of The Pacific where 200 ships have sunk over the years.

Along with all those sunken ships brings sunken treasure that washes ashore from time to time. The beaches along Tillamook Bay would be a beachcombers paradise. Don’t forget your metal detector and sand scoop!

Conclusion – Lost Treasures of Oregon

Now you should be excited and wanting to take a trip to Oregon and search for some of these lost treasures! These are just a few of the many lost treasure legends that dot this state. I hope you enjoyed this article and 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.

6 thoughts on “11 Lost Treasures of Oregon (Buried Treasure Awaits)”

  1. Help! Lost Chinese treasure, Auburn, Oregon. I’ve been researching for several days now, but cannot find any reference to this “legend”. My primary sources are Oregon Historical Society and Chinese Historical Society…..any suggestions?

    • Hi Chip
      All I have is what I wrote in the article about this Chinese Treasure. Good luck in your search for more information. I would suggest checking out old newspaper articles from the Oregon area. You might find some more information there. Other than that it’s all I know about this lost treasure. Thank you for the comment and Happy Treasure Hunting!

      • I live in Eastern Oregon (Lagrande-Summerville area and Elgin is nearby to my home,as well, as a novice treasure hunter I was curious if there would be any places near to me, that a person such as myself could possibly explore with my simple $100,metal detector might try and see if I could possibly find any lost riches
        Richard Enter

        • Hi Richard, I’m not familiar with your area but I’m sure you can find many great places to metal detect! A simple $100 metal detector like you have will do the job just fine. I wish you luck treasure hunting and I hope you dig up something valuable!!


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