utah lost treasures

Utah Lost Treasures (7 Greats Treasures to Discover!)

utah lost treasures

Gold, silver, and many other valuables are all said to be hidden in many places across the state of Utah. Utah has many lost treasure legends that have been passed down for generations.

From the stolen goods of outlaws to the lost Aztec treasure of Montezuma to the treasure chest left in the Great Salt Lake Desert, there are many buried treasures in Utah.

Exploring the great outdoors of Utah could prove to be a great opportunity for treasure hunters. Who knows, you may just stumble upon one of these treasures with your metal detector.

Quick Recommendation for treasure hunters: There are so many ways and tools that can help you find treasures. The tool that I actually recommend is using a Metal Detector. Indeed, while there so many expensive models out there costing 1000s of dollars, I still recommend using a mid-level machine that should not cost you that much. In fact, if you don’t have a big budget, I recommend using this quality metal detector that should be affordable for most average hobbyists out there. It has more than enough features you will need to find most treasures buried in the ground.

Without further ado, here are some of the most popular tales of lost treasures in Utah …

1. Buried Treasure of Butch Cassidy

Butch Cassidy is perhaps the most well-known outlaw in the US. This famous outlaw was actually born as Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah. He was the ring leader of the Wild Bunch outlaw gang that was responsible for robbing many trains and banks during the Wild West days.

On April 21, 1897, a daytime robbery took place at the Pleasant Valley Coal Company in Castle Gate in Utah. A train carrying the payroll for the Pleasant Valley Coal Company workers made a stopover in Castle Gate to deliver the payroll. Butch Cassidy and his accomplice Elza Lay had prior information of this delivery and were already waiting in town to steal this payroll.

When the train finally rolled into town, one of the robbers made his way to the train, while the other kept waiting near the stairway of the Coal Company’s office building. The outlaw held up the paymaster, two guards, and two other men at gunpoint.

The outlaw grabbed the largest bag that contained the payroll, and then the other outlaw showed up and grabbed the other two bags. A few angry citizens pursued them, but Cassidy and Lay took off south.

It is said that both the outlaws made their way through North Springs Canyon and were spotted in Cleveland and Huntington in Utah, from where they made their way to Robbers Roost, where they had a hideout already.

Legend has it that they buried this stolen loot somewhere around Robbers Roost or in North Springs Canyon. It is believed that several hauls from other robberies are also buried here. It is estimated that Butch Cassidy had eventually amassed $7,000 in gold coins from the Castle Gate robbery.

It is expected that today this gold would be worth well above $250,000, and combined with the loot of their other robberies, there could be millions of dollars’ worth of gold and silver buried in the Canyons of Southeastern Utah

2. Lost treasure of the Ghost Town of Standardville

Standardville was a thriving coal-mining town in Spring Canyon in the early 20th century. The town was named so because it was considered to be the gold standard of coal mining towns in that area during that time.

This lost treasure story is about a little girl who got hold of one of her father’s cigar boxes. However, it just so happened that instead of the cigar, her father kept some of his freshly minted silver dollars in this box.

And the girl took this box of silver dollars outside to play. In those days, there were pipes spread throughout the town that used to stick out from the ground.

Most of these were not capped. These pipes were used to bring fresh air into the mines and to let the harmful gases escape.

The girl decided to drop the silver dollars one by one into one of these pipes. She continued to do so until all of them were gone.

She then took the empty cigar box home, and when the father found out, he made the girl bring him to the pipe that she dropped the coins in, but she could not remember which pipe it was that she dropped the coins into.

So they could never find these silver dollars, and they are probably still sitting somewhere in an old mine shaft in the town of Standardville. While this is not a big treasure, but in today’s time, it would still be worth quite a lot.

3. The Hidden Treasure of Montezuma

Montezuma II was the last great emperor of the Aztec tribe of Mexico. He ruled from 1502 to 1520. During his rule in 1519, the Aztec people witnessed the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernan Cortes.

Several bloody battles took place between the Aztecs and the Spanish in the years that followed, and Montezuma was ultimately killed in 1520 during one such battle.

According to the stories, before Montezuma died, he ordered several men to take all the riches of Mexico and head north to the Aztec’s ancestral homeland Aztlan. This treasure included billions of dollars in gold, silver, and gems.

Many people believe that Aztlan was in present-day Utah and that the treasure is hidden away in Utah’s southern canyons and deserts. However, there is also a belief that the treasure is cursed.

The search for this elusive treasure has continued for many years, with no success. However, in 1989, Brandt Child, a local resident of Kanab, purchased some land he named Three Lake Ranch. He believed that the treasure was hidden in an underwater cavern on his ranch.

While searching on a cliff above the cave, he found a petroglyph of a circle with a line through it, which was assumed to be the markings of the Aztec people and a marker for the lost treasure.

Child believed that the treasure was located in a water trap that was 36 feet below the pond on his property.

He brought in some divers to dive into the cave, but after detecting metal at the entrance itself, the divers said they saw a ghost of Aztecs guarding the cave.

One of the divers even said that their mask was tugged on as if something was trying to rip it off. This reinforced the belief that the treasure was cursed, and the divers left. Since then, no diving team has wanted to go there to explore.

When another person tried to drill into the cave, the drill bit came up with gold on the end of the tip. So Child wanted to try and drill further.

But, when they came back with a wider drill bit, it just broke off at halfway to the cave. However, the guy who was drilling died of a heart attack the next day, further cementing the idea that the treasure is cursed.

Child then decided to drain the pond in order to gain access to the caverns below. However, his plans could not be fulfilled as it was found that there was a rare snail called the amber snail that was only found in this area of Utah.

Since the snail is a protected endangered species, killing even one would bring on a fine of $50,000. Due to this, he could not drain the pond.

Many people believe that Montezuma’s treasure is not real, while others believe that it is guarded by supernatural forces. Either way, if it’s really hidden in an underwater cave on Three Lakes Ranch, it is a challenging task to find this one treasure.

4. Lost Silver Ledge of Santa Clara

santa clara

During the Mormon War of 1857, the Moron leaders were said to have hidden a large treasure near the old Spanish road as it crossed the Santa Clara River, around ten miles southwest of St. George in Washington County.

The Mormon leader, Brigham Young, is also said to have ordered some of the gold treasure to be hidden away in Bloomington Cave, which is the fifth largest cave system in Utah.

5. Treasure of the Lost Josephine Gold Mine

gold mine

The lost Josephine gold mine had ore that was assayed at $50,000 a ton in the 19th century. The lost mine was said to be located near another abandoned gold mine in the Henry Mountains near Waterpocket Canyon in Garfield County.

6. Lost Treasure in Johnson Canyon

Golden, shining powder scattered over the dark background

According to legend, a wealthy politician fled Mexico during the fight for Independence and ended up in Johnson Canyon, around 20 miles northeast of Kanab in Utah.

This is where it is said he buried his wealth, which included many ancient weapons, gold nuggets and gold dust, precious stones, silver plate, some jewelry, and gold and silver coins.

The treasure is said to be located between Black Rock Peak and the Paria River. Soon after hiding his treasure, he was shot and killed.

But before he died, he left a roughly drawn map that showed the location of his hidden treasure. After his death, though, the treasure map could not be deciphered, and this lost treasure remains hidden somewhere in Johnson Canyon close to Kanab. The treasure will be worth several million dollars in today’s time.

7. The Donner Party Lost Treasure

The famous Donner Party left Illinois in the spring of 1846. They headed west to California in search of a better life.

Unfortunately, they never made it to California and died in the Sierra Nevadas during the winter of 1846-47. As they were traveling west, they decided to veer off the popular Oregon Trail onto the Hastings Cutoff to save time. However, this was a huge mistake, and they paid for it with their lives.

Taking the Hastings Cutoff led them to the Great Salt Lake Desert, which is a dry lake located in Northern Utah. It is here that their troubles began.

Knowing that they had a rough road ahead, George Donner and James Reed, who was leading the wagon train, decided to start leaving some of their possessions behind.

On the fifth day of traveling through the Great Salt Lake Desert, George Donner is said to have buried a chest containing $15,000 in gold coins at a place called Floating Island. George believed he would return later and retrieve the chest. However, that day never came and 42 of the 87 people of the Donner Party, including George Donner, died on their journey.

Many people still believe that this buried treasure chest is located somewhere near a small spring near Pilot Peak, 15 miles south of the ghost town of Lucin in Utah. George Donner’s treasure chest of gold coins has never been found till today, and it is still believed to be buried in the salt flats of the famous Great Salt Lake Desert.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully those lost treasures in the state of Utah would get you excited to start your adventure to find treasures yourself, whether in Utah or any other state.

If you are aware of any other lost treasure in Utah or you’ve got any story you want to share, let me know so I can feature it in this article.



About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.