Under the dam forming the Great Salt Plains Lake near Cherokee may be 1,400 pounds of gold bullion.
In 1854, miners were returning from the California Gold Rush when they saw hostile American Indians riding up for an attack. Using the red bluffs near the river bank as a landmark, the miners took no chances, wrapping the gold in buffalo hides and then burying it.
When the attack was over, there was but one survivor. Quickly, the miner sketched out a map of the gold's location and slipped out before the American Indians returned.
SEARCH FOR GOLD
Fifty years had passed when Carl Joseph Sheldon came into possession of the map and purchased a section of land east of Cherokee for $400 near the salt flats, where the map said the gold had been hidden.
He took on a partner to help with the digging. They found an old metal rod near where the gold supposedly was buried. Sheldon drilled on the spot, running into water, then quicksand. He took a core sample for analysis. The report on the sample revealed bits of buffalo hide " and a little gold!
Excited, Sheldon hurried back to his acreage, only to find his drill gone as well as his partner and the rod. He could not remember the exact location he had drilled, and spent the next 25 years searching his 20 acres for the gold.
In 1940, the Oklahoma Planning and Resources Board seized his property for the construction of a dam that would form the Great Salt Plains Lake. No gold was found when the area was excavated.
The Wichita Mountains (pictured) were the site for the last major gold rush in the continental U.S. before World War I. Gold, silver and platinum were found in limited amounts. "Mike Coppock