Arkansas Home to Many Treasure LegendsArkansas is home to many treasure legends, including tales of lost hoards of Spanish gold and silver, mysterious Knights of the Golden Circle hidden gold deposits, and numerous outlaw caches, including not a few attributed to Jesse James and his gang of robbers and ex-Confederate "bushwhackers."
The sheer number of potential James Gang treasure caches in the State of Arkansas is staggering if one believes the hundreds of different stories and legends concerning Jesse and the boys. I suspect that many of these tales are mere "will-o-the-wisps" since the James Gang would have had to spend most of its days burying loot (and not committing robberies) to accommodate the multitude of treasure tales attributed to it.
That said, here are four James Gang treasure cache legends in Arkansas that I think may hold water:
The quaint small town of Mena in southwestern Arkansas has a long history of interactions with Jesse James, both real and imagined. A number of James Gang caches are supposedly buried at various locations just outside Mena. To lend substance to this supposition you would do well to note that in 1998 a small hoard of gold coins in varying denominations and dating from the James Gang period was recovered near Mena by two treasure hunters from California.
Jesse, his brother Frank, and the infamous female "desperado" Belle Starr (along with her lesser known husband, Pony Starr) made off with nearly $35,000.00 in greenbacks and silver and gold specie from a bank in Missouri and then scooted across the Arkansas line to evade pursuing lawmen. The small group holed up briefly near present-day Springdale, Arkansas where they divvied up the loot and buried in separate caches what they couldn't easily carry (probably the bulk of the silver and gold coin due to its excessive weight).
Many treasure hunters believe that these caches were buried inside one or more caves that line the nearby flint bluffs. However, other treasure hunters don't agree. They think the caches were buried near unique rock formations or other distinctive terrain features that had human or animal characteristics to them when viewed from certain angles. One of these is supposedly the profile of an Indian warrior's head.
There is evidence to support the claim that a number of James Gang caches, including over $60,000 in gold coin, were buried near Paragould, Arkansas. Possible search areas include the Black and St. Francis River areas.
In 1874 the James Gang robbed a stage coach about five miles outside Hot Springs, Arkansas. Over $30,000 in greenbacks, silver and gold coin, and personal jewelry items was stolen from mail pouches and the unlucky passengers before the gang fled to evade pursuing lawmen.
Slipping into the Ouachita Mountains along little-known trails Jesse and the boys eventually made it to a location near modern-day Bluffton, Arkansas. Here they buried the majority of the loot somewhere close to Polluck's Bluff.
These few tidbits of James Gang treasure cache information pale when compared to the overall buried treasure potential in Arkansas. Many, many more tales of buried loot that have nothing to do with the James Gang can also be researched and developed with a bit of time and effort.
In the final analysis, Arkansas may well be a buried treasure hunter's paradise.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "New Mexico's Lost DuPont Mine"
(c) J.R. 2009
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