(Silver is at the heart of Nevada's statehood.)
Nevada Has a Rich History
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Nevada has a very rich history. The Silver State didn't receive that nickname for nothing...precious metals fueled Nevada's early growth and still do to a reasonable degree.
In more modern times, the Silver State was the only game in town when it came to trying your luck at the tables or yanking away the handle of a "one-armed" bandit. Today, the plethora of Indian casinos have taken some of that gambling luster away.
However, both the gambling and the gambler at the heart of this Nevada treasure tale existed long before the glitzy Las Vegas Strip casinos, Reno's famous arched sign welcoming folks to the "Biggest little city on earth," or the unregulated Indian casinos looking to pick your pockets these days. No, this story didn't take place in these gambling meccas, but in a small remote Nevada mining town called Tybo.
Unbelievable Run of "Luck"
Silver, lead, and zinc were once king in Tybo, Nevada. All three were in great supply and the mines were still going strong into the 1880s, 20 years after the initial mining claims were filed in the area. As you probably already know, mining boom towns were magnets for all sorts of people, including many "shady" or disreputable types.
Gold Prospecting Books
One of these, a slick gambler (translate: card cheat) from Belmont, Nevada made it a point to find out when Tybo's miners were paid and after doing so, decided to make a trip to the mining town to help relieve them of the burden of carrying all that hard-earned money. While at Tybo, our gambler friend had an unbelievable run of "luck" and stripped the miners of over $3,000 in gold coin.
Fleeing with Ill-Gotten Gains
After three full days of fleecing his victims, the gambler realized the writing was on the wall and it was time to depart the immediate environs for greener pastures elsewhere. The increasingly angry and accusatory demeanor of the miners helped him along this path.
Placing all of his winnings in a sturdy canvas sack, the card sharp packed up and caught the first stage out of Tybo. Not a moment too soon, it seems. An angry mob of miners was forming a posse of sorts to force the gambler to "stand and deliver" his ill-gotten gains back to whence they had originated. That is, in the pockets of the miners' jeans and overalls.
Buried Gold at McCann's Summit?
Catching the first stage coach out of Tybo, the gambler fled the scene of his big hit.When the stage arrived at McCann's Summit (a common "rest stop" and place to water the horses) the driver reined in his team and went about the business of tending to the horses. The gambler became increasingly worried and frantic, rightfully fearing that a vengeful group of miners was hard on his heels and more than ready to dispense some frontier justice his way.
(Old charcoal kilns near McCann's Summit, Nevada. Image courtesy Robert Wynn.)
The gambler grabbed the canvas bag containing his meager wardrobe (and the gold coins) and tossed the driver a $5.00 gold piece, asking the driver to wait for him about a mile down the road near some old charcoal kilns while he "relieved" himself. The stage driver agreed and eased the team back onto the road while the gambler disappeared into a stand of nearby trees clutching his bag.
The Gambler Shows Up Again
Not long after the driver arrived at the charcoal kilns the gambler showed up again, this time without his canvas bag. Noticing the stage driver's puzzled look, the gambler told him that he'd inadvertently left his bag behind but it was of no consequence anyway. The gambler hopped back into the stage coach and left Tybo post haste.
However, the gambler must have met an untimely fate because, according to the locals, he never returned to retrieve his bag and was never seen in or near Tybo again. How many times this sort of scenario figures into lost treasure tales is up for speculation, but I suspect the actual number is substantial.
The Gold's Value Today?
If it indeed does exist, what would the value of the gambler's gold be today? It's hard to tell, but one thing is certain. The $3,000 worth of U.S. gold coins in various denominations (including the much sought after $20 Double Eagle) would be worth many times over its face value. Perhaps even into the six-figure category, depending on the condition and rarity of the coins in the gambler's lost stash.
Does this tale of ill-gotten gains won and lost again have merit? Perhaps. Only time and good research will tell....
Good hunting out there!
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "$230,000 in Buried Gold"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2012
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