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I now continue with the saga of the ex-'49er Darlington and a possible treasure trove near Winslow, Arizona:
A Coffin of Extraordinary Weight
The members of Darlington's small party helped bury his wife, uttered a few words on her behalf, and then began the arduous journey east once again. However, this was done with no small amount of complaining, especially concerning the weight of Darlington's wife's coffin.
Only Darlington himself knew why his wife's crudely constructed coffin was so heavy and this secret he kept until his dying day. It was then and then only that an elderly Darlington confided to a close friend that he had buried half of the gold (Note: Both coins and placer gold. J.R.) he had accumulated in the California goldfields in the coffin with his wife.
Darlington Tells All
When his friend expressed surprise and, in truth, the secret thought that Darlington must have been crazed with grief at the time, the dying man verified at least part of this theory. "Yes, I was stricken with inconsolable grief at my beloved's passing," croaked Darlington from his deathbed. "But that's not the real reason I buried half of my goods with her. No sir."Treasure Hunting
Darlington drew a deep, ragged breath and continued. "You see, she was my 'Pard in more ways than one. And, by God, that woman earned her half of the gold the same as me. Life in the goldfields was hard, very hard, for man and woman alike. Do you understand what I am saying?" When his friend nodded his assent Darlington smiled one last time and expired.
Little Faith in This Tale
So goes the tale of Darlington's gold and the possibility of a fortune in gold buried somewhere near the Sunset Crossing of the Little Colorado River outside modern-day Winslow, Arizona. Depending on who you listen to however, Darlington's trove (or should I say his wife's trove?) runs from a high of $300,000 down to a "measly" $90,000 or so.
How much faith do I personally have in this treasure legend? Not much if the truth is told. There are far too many inconsistencies and gaps in this tale of lost gold:
1) I have been unable to verify Darlington's existence (or that of his wife, for that matter).
2) Who in their right mind (despite their great grief over the loss of a loved one) would bury a fortune in gold with the body?
3) This tale shares similarities with a number of other lost gold treasure troves in the West concerning an ex-'49er returning home with a fortune in gold (a variation on a theme perhaps?).
4) The truth of the matter is that most of the '49ers and those that followed hard on their heels to the California goldfields returned home broke or nearly so, if they returned home at all. Very few of these aspiring miners were able to wrest a fortune in gold from the Motherlode's rich placer grounds.
On the Flip Side
On the flip side of the coin, however, there is no doubt about the location of this teasure legend. The Sunset Crossing of the Little Colorado River beyond Winslow was widely used in the mid-to-late 1800s by most travelers, including supply trains and military columns.
So it is possible that someone named Darlington buried his wife there. By contrast, it's also possible that someone named Smith buried his brother there too. Or his favorite dog.
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The real question of course is this:
Is a fortune in gold buried with a woman's remains somewhere at or near Sunset Crossing?
Do your research and answer this question to the affirmative and you may be on your way from "rags-to-riches," figuratively speaking of course.
Good hunting to you.
(c) J.R. 2009
Questions? E-mail me at email@example.com