As with any lost treasure tale, there are widely varied accounts. One must take into account that it is often the purpose of the writer to stretch the truth in order to excite the reader. There are considerable disagreements about the fate of the Rhoades Mine. We are going to take a look at some of those accounts.
The Rhoades Mine story began when Thomas Rhoades led a group of Mormon Settlers, as he was one of the faithful converts of Mormonism in about 1834. He led the settlers to the northern part of California and settled near Sutter’s Fort along the Consumnes River. Eventually, Rhoades is reported to have began working with John Augustus Sutter who later became his close friend. John Augustus was very famous due to the gold that was discovered at his mill site in California.
Other reports of the Rhoades Mine give an account of it being associated to the time when the Chief of the Ute Indians got baptized and joined the Church led by Brigham Young. The chief by the name of Wakara then offered to show Brigham a piece of land infested with gold in his territory, all he needed to do was to choose a representative who would go to check the land with the chief. And Rhoades was found trustworthy to accompany the chief.
Because of the involvement of the Ute Chief in the Rhoades Mine story, the beliefs surrounding the mine stipulate that it is located in the Uinta Mountains or the Ute Indian Reservation in the vicinity of Ouray. Others even associate the mine to Spanish and Legendary Aztec gold mine lore.
On the other hand, there are reports believed to have been made by someone unknown in May of 1896 in the Salt Lake Tribune, who claimed to have had a personal encounter with Rhoades.
According to the reports given, it is believed that at the time of his coming to Utah, Rhoades brought with him some gold dust worth about $50,000 from California. Then after some years, it is believed that Rhoades discovered some stones in the Uinta Mountains, which had some similarities with those he had seen and extracted gold from in California.
Agriculture Over Gold
Then, upon going back to Salt Lake City where the LDS Church was located he shared the story of his discovery with the Church leader named Brigham Young, who allegedly advised him not to disclose his story of gold discovery in the Uinta Mountain in order to avoid having many people running to the place or even disturb the agricultural interests in which the Mormon Pioneers were involved.
The reports given also revealed that Rhoades never expressed any more interest in the gold he had discovered. He is not recorded of having claimed any findings or mining of gold whatsoever. Therefore, according to the reporter, the Rhoades mine was not regarded as a mine, rather was just a gold panning area which later transformed into a gold mine after some years.
Speculation Continues to Grow
Later in the year 1879, an article on October 11th was published in the newspaper of Salt Lake Herald with the heading “Rich Land of the Utes”. In the article it was revealed that the Rhoades Mine was found in the Uintah reservation. And many stories were told of how Rhoades left his home with a pack animal in spring times and brought with him gold worth thousands of dollars. But the stories surrounding Rhoades’ mining life are believed to have been kept as secret within the family.
On 6th February, 1902, another article was carried in the newspaper for Eastern Utah Advocate which stated that, everything said about Rhoades Mine with regard to gold mining was a myth. Instead, the mine only had copper which was found by cowboys and sheepherders who explored the area.
Other newspapers such as the Wasatch Wave published a story which stated that a particular older settler gave his own account that Rhoades only obtained gold from California in the early days and brought it with him to Utah where he hid it in the hills. And he only visited his secret treasure about once a year to pick the gold from there. As a result, people were made to think the man was mining from the mountains.
Again some years later in the late 1950s, the Rhodes Mine discovery hit the news headlines in Uinta Basin Standard’s newspaper dated 10th July, 1958 where it was stated that Bullock Mining Company had finally found the long lost Rhoades Mine. But it turned out to be fake, as there were no more reports about actual mineral recovery at the alleged site.
The Mystery Continues
Treasure hunters continue to speculate about the existence of the Rhoades Gold Mine. Some theories include speculation of coverups by the LDS Church, Indians, murders and death and just about anything you could imagine.
From a practical standpoint, one should accept the fact that there are indeed lost mines out there. Under many circumstances there are times when most who research the subject believe that a rich mine may have been lost. Is the Rhoades Mine one of these mines?
Before getting too deep in speculation about all the various stories and “tales” of mine, it might be a good idea to consider the general geology of the area and whether a rich gold strike in the area is truly likely. Utah has some gold mines, but it is nowhere near as rich as California. For those who choose to search for this lost mine, I would recommend that you focus your research first on the geology of the area and its potential for gold. Then move on to the more speculative bits of research regarding its location.