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Great Story on 1890 Walnut Grove Dam Collapse


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Hi Guys-

Somewhere downstream from where the dam collapsed, there's supposed to be an old safe that contained a lot of gold coins and jewelry. To the best of my recollection- it was never found. So if anyone is detecting in that area and comes across a really large signal, you might want to think twice about not digging it up....

Steve

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Hi Guys-

Somewhere downstream from where the dam collapsed, there's supposed to be an old safe that contained a lot of gold coins and jewelry. To the best of my recollection- it was never found. So if anyone is detecting in that area and comes across a really large signal, you might want to think twice about not digging it up....

Steve

If you're looking for the safe, you'll find it in the basement of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in dowtown Wickenburg. I researched this story in the Phoenix Library a couple of years ago. The first report to the media was by "Buckey" ONeill who was then serving as the sheriff of Yavapai county. During the interview, he mentioned that the safe had been washed away and had not been found. That really excited me as it verified all of the stories I had read and heard over the years. I almost left then and there to go search for the safe since it would have been within 50 - 60 miles of where I lived---But I kept reading looking for more clues. As I scrolled through the microfilm of the 1890 Phoenix and Prescott newspapers, I found an issue dated approximately 2 weeks after the initial report where "Sheriff ONeill has arrived with the latest updates on events in Wickenburg". Included in the updates was the news that the safe had been found and recovered with the contents intact. A couple of months later, I visited Wickenburg and happened to go into the museum. While I was there, I noticed a large, ornate safe in the basement. The descriptive card with the safe indicate that it had been washed away during the flood of 1890 and later recovered.

So no safe to be found, but the area of the flood is still worth searching for all the smaller items that were washed away and have yet to be recovered.

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If you're looking for the safe, you'll find it in the basement of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in dowtown Wickenburg. I researched this story in the Phoenix Library a couple of years ago. The first report to the media was by "Buckey" ONeill who was then serving as the sheriff of Yavapai county. During the interview, he mentioned that the safe had been washed away and had not been found. That really excited me as it verified all of the stories I had read and heard over the years. I almost left then and there to go search for the safe since it would have been within 50 - 60 miles of where I lived---But I kept reading looking for more clues. As I scrolled through the microfilm of the 1890 Phoenix and Prescott newspapers, I found an issue dated approximately 2 weeks after the initial report where "Sheriff ONeill has arrived with the latest updates on events in Wickenburg". Included in the updates was the news that the safe had been found and recovered with the contents intact. A couple of months later, I visited Wickenburg and happened to go into the museum. While I was there, I noticed a large, ornate safe in the basement. The descriptive card with the safe indicate that it had been washed away during the flood of 1890 and later recovered.

So no safe to be found, but the area of the flood is still worth searching for all the smaller items that were washed away and have yet to be recovered.

Great Post! :smrt1: Thank you for the knowledge! - Terry

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If you're looking for the safe, you'll find it in the basement of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in dowtown Wickenburg. I researched this story in the Phoenix Library a couple of years ago. The first report to the media was by "Buckey" ONeill who was then serving as the sheriff of Yavapai county. During the interview, he mentioned that the safe had been washed away and had not been found. That really excited me as it verified all of the stories I had read and heard over the years. I almost left then and there to go search for the safe since it would have been within 50 - 60 miles of where I lived---But I kept reading looking for more clues. As I scrolled through the microfilm of the 1890 Phoenix and Prescott newspapers, I found an issue dated approximately 2 weeks after the initial report where "Sheriff ONeill has arrived with the latest updates on events in Wickenburg". Included in the updates was the news that the safe had been found and recovered with the contents intact. A couple of months later, I visited Wickenburg and happened to go into the museum. While I was there, I noticed a large, ornate safe in the basement. The descriptive card with the safe indicate that it had been washed away during the flood of 1890 and later recovered.

So no safe to be found, but the area of the flood is still worth searching for all the smaller items that were washed away and have yet to be recovered.

Hi Guys-

This a great example of why any treasure hunter should do their research before hitting the field. Too many times they will go to the area of a supposed treasure site and start detecting without even verifying whether the treasure really exists or has already been dug up,etc. I actually met a couple people that were out detecting the Hassayampa River and looking for the safe and that's how I heard about it. 90% of treasure hunting is research,research, research and you'll eliminate a lot of wasted time if you do it before heading out into the field....

Steve

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They are building a new bridge across the river at Wickenburg, in the digging of the footings the local gold prospectors club asked and got permission to catch samples of the layers as they drilled into the sands.

The findings where presented at a meeting but I don,t remember the footages but there where flood layers of black sand plainly visiable and they had fine gold in them, you could ask the Miners Creek club the details.

As far as artifacts that was to far upstream to be likely but down stream where the little San Domingo enters the river the RR dug 80 feet with out hitting bedrock, it would be some great dredging if you could get to it but man you would have to have a hard hat diver and a big hole because the river flows even when its not visiable.

If you want to see how far you can dig without hitting bedrock in the San Domingo washes go directly across the hiway and look at the gravel operation in the bottom of the wash, they are far below the river level and still going, I have heard that they get enough gold from the gravel wash water to pay the costs of operating, don't know the truth but theres lots of sand in the river!

Max

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They are building a new bridge across the river at Wickenburg, in the digging of the footings the local gold prospectors club asked and got permission to catch samples of the layers as they drilled into the sands.

The findings where presented at a meeting but I don,t remember the footages but there where flood layers of black sand plainly visiable and they had fine gold in them, you could ask the Miners Creek club the details.

As far as artifacts that was to far upstream to be likely but down stream where the little San Domingo enters the river the RR dug 80 feet with out hitting bedrock, it would be some great dredging if you could get to it but man you would have to have a hard hat diver and a big hole because the river flows even when its not visiable.

If you want to see how far you can dig without hitting bedrock in the San Domingo washes go directly across the hiway and look at the gravel operation in the bottom of the wash, they are far below the river level and still going, I have heard that they get enough gold from the gravel wash water to pay the costs of operating, don't know the truth but theres lots of sand in the river!

Max

How cool is this forum? If you are into gold prospecting in Arizona, joining the gold forums is a must! I learn SO MUCH here. Thank's everyone for sharing! - Terry

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I just remembered ! I did find an artifact in a tributary to the Hassaympa last year but was unable to recover it.

"IT" is a Bobcat loader and its buried up to the dashboard in a wash, looks like its been there a long time,

anyone know the story behind it ??

Unc Ron ?

Max

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Max, I used to do business with the Hanson operation and talked to them about the gold recovery...The foreman told me they had tested it but that it cost them more for the operation than they recovered...Other things I've researched indicated profitable payable recovery for a couple miles down river from big San Domingo at about 75 feet and lower...I don't recall ever seeing any bedrock depth stated, just the beginning of the pay level...Out in the Hassyampa at the mouth of LSD there's some bedrock outcrops a couple hundred yards out in the river sands...The depth to bedrock on the inside turn doesn't appear to be that great...I also met a state geologist who told me about some historic hardrock claims at the mouth of LSD...From what he said, they were very productive...I did a little poking around and found some hardrock tailings...I was surprised...Cheers, Unc

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Ron,

Thanks for the info, I,ll check on the claim situation there, I have rode up to the RR bridge last year but no futher and walked down from Hansons, some of it looked good, when I get back to Morristown I,ll be living over on the LSD side of 60 and have good acess to all that area. I don't remember how deep they went at the new bridge but I think they had to set bell bottoms rather than going to bedrock.

I had the job & pleasure ? of being one of the escorts for the first 2 of the beams for the new bridge from I-8 at MP44 to Wickenburg through the valley off of old 80, supposed to be a simple one day job! it took them 8 hours to make the first 12 miles, the second day we got to Wickenburg and the oversize permit called for a left turn into the job site, what a joke! We went up to the Shell station, blocked 60 and backed them in and out to head back west, we had a lot of unhappy people that day. Wish I could have watched them dig in the river!

Max

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Couple more tidbits...The original claimant of the hard rock claims at the mouth of LSD is actually buried there...His grave is near some white board fencing on what I think to be private land...

Regarding the dam catastrophe, there is actually a book about it with lots more info than in the Wickenburg website...There's pictures of local people from Prescott and surrounding area with rowboats and a small sail boat on the lake created by the dam...It was a popular sunday afternoon picnic and recreation area...Also, I was told by someone who has long time ties to the history of the area of the Bradshaws and Wickenburg that a Yaqui Indian--who had a degree in engineering--actually found the safe in the Hassyampa....I don't know if the one in the museum is actually the same safe from up stream or another safe from the town that got damaged...The wall of water was supposed to have been 40' high when it hit Wickenburg...It wiped out areas downstream near the mouth of LSD...Many days later Goldwater, who had a store in the area, found an old widow woman who had been living in a home on the side of the river near Smith Mill...She was naked and beaten up from the river flow and had lost her mind...They put her in a "home" in Phoenix...

Interesting times in those days....Cheers, Unc

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  • 9 years later...

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