15 Lost Treasures of South Dakota (Not Only Black Hills Gold)

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Cory Haasnoot

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South Dakota is a beautiful state full of the rich history of its gold mining days and filled with stories of famous outlaws such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane to name a few. In this article lost treasures of South Dakota, we will be exploring 15 lost and buried treasures that have yet to be recovered in South Dakota.

A lot happened in the years starting in 1876 when gold was first discovered in the Black Hills. Mining towns sprang up all over the state. And along with those mining towns come the tales of lost treasure that you will learn about here. With gold and payrolls running in and out of some of these towns stagecoaches were robbed constantly and much of that loot is still buried in the Black Hills.

In this article you will learn about some of that buried stagecoach loot along with many stories of gold prospectors buried caches and even a gambler who buried his earnings under a saloon in Deadwood.

Without Further Adieu I present the 15 Lost Treasures of South Dakota. Enjoy!


15 Lost Treasures of South Dakota

TREASUREAMOUNTLOCATION
Lost Gold on Bear Mountain$1 million in gold bullionWest side of Bear Mountain about 10 miles from Hill City, South Dakota
A Gold Prospectors Murder & His Stolen Gold Dust$3,000 in gold dust. Now worth $65,000Near Burnt Ranch close to Sheridan Lake in South Dakota
Carl Bufford’s Buried GoldUnknown amount of Gold BullionIn a Cemetery near the now Ghost town of Rockerville, SD.
Buried Gold at Lame Johnny Creek450 pounds of gold barsNear Lame Johnny Creek which lies a few miles north of Sturgis South Dakota. 
Buried Stagecoach Loot In Wind Cave National Park$400,000 in gold bullionSomewhere between Canyon Springs and Horsehead Creek Crossing in Wind Cave National Park 10 miles north of Hot Springs, South Dakota.
Indian Gray Foot’s Buried Loot$56,000 in gold coinsAlong the eastern shore of Long Lake east of Lake City, South Dakota.
Buried Loot Near Hat Creek$30,000 in gold and silver coins and jewelryNear Hat Creek in Fall River County.
Lost Loot on Sheep Mountain Table$240,000Somewhere on Sheep Mountain Table in the Badlands National Park.
Buried Gold In Pierre$100,000 in gold bullionRiverside Park in Pierre, South Dakota.
Two Lost Treasures Hidden Near Rapid City$26,000 & $50,000 in gold bullion$50,000 in gold bullion in a cave that is located on the south end of Rapid City. And $26,000 in gold bullion in a water hole at the base of a waterfall in Spring Creek that can be found a few miles southwest of Rapid City.
Four Directions Treasure$46,500 in gold coinsSomewhere in Deadwood, SD.
The Gordon Party’s Lost Gold$45,000 worth of gold bullionNear Sturgis SD only a few miles north of Deadwood.
Lost Gold on Deadwood Mountain$85,000 in gold bullionOn Deadwood Mountain near the city of Deadwood.
Buried Payroll In Deadwood$30,000 in gold and silver coinsSomewhere in Deadwood, SD.
Archie McLaughlin’s Buried Winnings$10,000 worth of gold coins and dustUnderneath one of the saloons in Deadwood

Lost Gold on Bear Mountain

This story takes place in 1879 during the height of the Black Hills Gold Rush when two gold prospectors named Humphrey and Shafer who lived in a small cabin on the west side of Bear Mountain about 10 miles from Hill City, South Dakota buried over $1 million in gold bullion somewhere near their cabin.

Soon a couple of bandits heard about the prospector’s gold strike and tried to get them to give up their secret spot where they had buried the gold. The two men would not tell the thieves and they were subsequently murdered. If this legend is true the gold is still buried somewhere near an old cabin that is probably not standing anymore on the west side of Bear Mountain in Pennington County South Dakota.

If you plan on searching for this treasure you will need to bring a large truck to haul that amount of gold bullion out of the mountains if you can even get a vehicle to that spot.


A Gold Prospectors Murder & His Stolen Gold Dust

Sheridan Lake
Sheridan Lake

General George R. Crook was a well-respected Army Officer of the 5th Calvary. Crook and his men would travel back and forth from Custer South Dakota to Fort Buford North Dakota during the Black Hills gold rush. They would camp near Sheridan and Pactola in South Dakota on their trips.

When they were about to leave one of their camps near Sheridan they notices one of the soldiers was missing. So they sent scouts to the town of Sheridan to see if the soldier went there but he was nowhere to be found. They decided he was AWOL and proceeded on their way north.

The missing soldier in fact wasn’t missing he was alone sleeping in an abandoned cabin that the other soldiers didn’t check. He quickly caught up with the rest of the calvary at their next stop which was O Valley.

A gold prospector by the name of Norman McCully was found dead the next day near Burnt Ranch which was close to Sheridan Lake. McCully is said to have been traveling from O Valley where he had his gold claim to Rapid City, South Dakota to cash in his $3,000 in gold dust. People first thought that Indians had attacked him and stolen his gold dust but they soon noticed boot prints near his body.

Soldier Accused of Murder

This leads to the belief that the missing soldier might have been the one who murdered McCully and stole his gold dust. He was already under arrest for being AWOL but General Crook said he would bring up the evidence of this murder case when he was at trial with the missing soldier.

With that said the 5th Calvary went on their way to Fort Benton. While there the soldier accused of going AWOL was put to work in a sawmill. One day, while he was working another man at the mill, started accusing him of the murder of Norman McCully. Outraged by the accusations the soldier pushed the man into a saw blade killing him instantly.

The other mill workers got together and hung the AWOL soldier for pushing the man into the saw. No one knows for certain if the soldier killed Norman McCully and stole his gold dust. But if this story is true there might be gold dust worth about $65,000 in today’s economy buried near Burnt Ranch close to Sheridan Lake in South Dakota!


Digging Deeper: Lost Treasures of North Dakota


Carl Bufford’s Buried Gold

Rockerville, South Dakota 2006
Rockerville, South Dakota 2006

Carl Bufford was an old gold miner of the Black Hills who by all accounts had hit a rich gold strike somewhere on Storm Mountain. He is said to have buried a large amount of gold bullion in a Cemetery near the now Ghost town of Rockerville SD.

Rockerville was founded in 1876 and became a huge gold mining boomtown in the Black Hills by 1882. Rockerville got its name from the Rockers that they used to separate placer gold from the rest of the sediment.

Rockerville is located off of the U.S. Highway 16 between Rapid City, SD, and Mount Rushmore. If you can find the old cemetery you might be close to a pile of gold. But please do not disturb the dead. Before you do any digging make sure you know exactly where the cemetery is located and that you are not digging into any graves. If you can’t find this information out I wouldn’t suggest NOT digging there at all.


Digging Deeper: Can You Metal Detect In a Cemetary?


Buried Gold at Lame Johnny Creek

In 1879 the Cheyenne-Deadwood stagecoach was held up and robbed of 450 pounds of gold bars. The outlaws got away and are reported to have buried the gold near Lame Johnny Creek which lies a few miles north of Sturgis South Dakota. Soon after a posse caught up with them and they were all hung.

The gold was never recovered and could still be buried near Lame Johnny Creek. As a side note, Lame Johnny Creek got its name from a South Dakota outlaw named Cornelius Donahue whose nickname was Lame Johnny. He was hung from a cottonwood tree near this creek.

If the gold is still there it would be worth millions of dollars today. It would be well worth someone’s time to take a gold-finding metal detector like a Garrett AT Gold to this area near the creek. You just might come away being a millionaire!


Buried Stagecoach Loot In Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park Visitors Sign
Wind Cave National Park Visitors Sign – By Brian W. Schaller Own work, FAL, Link

Somewhere between Canyon Springs and Horsehead Creek Crossing lies $400,000 in gold bullion. In 1878 a stagecoach was held up and robbed of the gold. This was one of the largest stagecoach thefts of all time. The bandits got away and are said to have buried the gold somewhere in the previously said location.

A posse soon caught up with the bandits and they were all hung. They didn’t reveal the exact location of the buried gold. Unfortunately, the gold is presumed buried in the Wind Cave National Park so metal detecting and digging is strictly prohibited so this treasure may never be recovered.

Wind Cave National Park is located 10 miles north of Hot Springs, South Dakota.


Indian Gray Foot’s Buried Loot

An Indian known as Gray Foot is said to have robbed a bank in Lorton, Minnesota in 1862. He got away with a flour sack full of $56,000 in gold coins which he hide or buried along the eastern shore of Long Lake between two willow trees. The area is located just east of Lake City, South Dakota.


Buried Loot Near Hat Creek

Hat Creek is a small stream located in Fall River County South Dakota. There are a couple of treasures that are said to be buried near here. One of the stories states that a strongbox from a train robbery was buried somewhere along the banks of Hat Creek. The strongbox contained $30,000 in gold and silver coins.

The other story states that bandits had a hideout near Hat Creek and that in 1887 after they robbed a stagecoach near here that they buried gold and silver coins and some jewelry that they stole from the passengers of the stage here.

If you want to make a weekend out of treasure hunting along hat creek you could stay at the Hat Creek Campground that lies along Hat Creek. Just make sure they allow metal detecting in the area before doing so.


Digging Deeper: Best Places to Metal Detect For Jewelry


Lost Loot on Sheep Mountain Table

In 1879 one of the Deadwood Stagecoaches was robbed of $240,000. The outlaws got away and are said to have buried the loot somewhere on Sheep Mountain Table when they were hiding out from a posse that was after them.

But like other lost treasures in South Dakota, this one is in the Badlands National Park and hopes of locating this treasure does not look good. Maybe someday they will grant someone or a group permission to search for these lost treasures. Until then we will just have to wonder and enjoy the beauty of these National Parks!


Buried Gold In Pierre

Pierre, South Dakota Along The Missouri River
Pierre, South Dakota Along The Missouri River – By Alanscottwalker Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In the latter half of the 1870s, a group of gold miners were coming back from mining operations in the Black Hills when they were attacked by Indians. Before the attack, they buried $100,000 in gold bullion about 100 to 200 yards from the Missouri River.

The gold is said to be buried in what is now Riverside Park in Pierre, South Dakota. One of the surviving miners said that the gold was buried near a large cottonwood Tree but when he came back later with soldiers for security he couldn’t locate the buried gold.


Two Lost Treasures Hidden Near Rapid City

Rapid City, South Dakota 1912
On front: “Copyright by W. J. Collins, Rapid City, So. [D]ak., July 23, 1912.”

Rapid City SD was a gold miners boomtown in the 1870s and 1880s. With all those miners and gamblers in one town, it is no wonder that there are lost treasures buried near this town. There are two lost treasure tales to tell about Rapid City.

The first story states that a gold prospector hide $50,000 in gold bullion in a cave that is located on the south end of Rapid City. The other story states that $26,000 in gold bullion was thrown into a water hole at the base of a waterfall in Spring Creek that can be found a few miles southwest of Rapid City.


Lost Treasures of Deadwood

Deadwood South Dakota 1876
Deadwood South Dakota 1876

Deadwood was a boomtown during the Black Hills gold rush. With tons of money and gold flowing in and out of Deadwood, there were many robberies and murders that took place and along with that tales of buried treasure. Deadwood was once one of the wildest towns of the midwest and once home to the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane which makes this town one of the most interesting boom towns of the Gold Rush.

In the following paragraphs, you will learn about some of those lost and buried treasure stories that took place in and around Deadwood South Dakota!


Four Directions Treasure

Supposedly there is a lost treasure consisting of  $46,500 in gold coins hidden somewhere in the town of Deadwood.


The Gordon Party’s Lost Gold

The Gordon Party was a group of gold prospectors who were coming back from the goldfields in Montana when they were attacked by Indians in the 1870s. The Indians got away with $45,000 worth of gold bullion that they are said to have buried near Sturgis SD only a few miles north of Deadwood.


Digging Deeper: Lost Treasures of Montana


Lost Gold on Deadwood Mountain

Last Deadwood Stagecoach
Last Deadwood Stagecoach

Thieves are said to have buried $85,000 in gold bullion that they stole off of the Deadwood Stagecoach. They are said to have buried the gold bullion on Deadwood Mountain near the city of Deadwood.

Buried Payroll In Deadwood

Downtown Deadwood SD 1876
Downtown Deadwood SD 1876

Bandits are said to have stolen a payroll consisting of $30,000 in gold and silver coins from the Holy Terror Mine. It is said that they buried it in the town of Deadwood.


Archie McLaughlin’s Buried Winnings

Original Location of Nuttal and Mann's Saloon Where Wild Bill Hickok was killed
Original Location of Nuttal and Mann’s Saloon Where Wild Bill Hickok was killed – By CyArk, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Archie McLaughlin was a gambler in Deadwood in the 1870s. It is said that he buried $10,000 worth of gold coins and dust which was his earnings from a night of high-stakes poker underneath one of the saloons in Deadwood. If this story is true those coins could be worth millions of dollars today!


Conclusion – Lost Treasures of South Dakota

Along with these 15 lost treasure of South Dakota there are many other lost treasure stories that we just don’t have time here to tell them all. But if you haven’t done so I recommend visiting South Dakota and checking out Mount Rushmore and of course Deadwood. And while you are there you might want to check out some of the many ghost towns in this state there might just be some lost treasures to find there.

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions, comments or have a treasure hunting story to tell about South Dakota I would love to hear from you 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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