The lost treasure of Hardin’s Lost Treasure.


Where is the lost treasure of Hardin?

A famous story of lost treasure may in fact, never have been treasure at all. Nevertheless, it still created one of the largest mining rushes ever and the creation of a thriving new town. The story is of James Allen Hardin and his lost silver treasure.

In 1849, Hardin was travelling west with a wagon train from an unknown Eastern state. The long journey covered the plains and Rockies on the Emigrant Trail and headed down the Applegate-Lassen cut-off from the Humboldt River. Hardin crossed the Black Rock Desert, went around Black Rock Point, and finally stopped at Double Hot Springs for a short rest.

It was at Double Hot Springs that the emigrants realized that they were running very low on supplies and they especially needed food. Hunter volunteered to go back to Black Rock Range to look for food and he took John Lambert with him. They had gotten approximately three or four miles north of the Springs when they crossed an expansive sandy area and Hardin noticed bright pieces of metal distributed amongst the sand. Hardin and Lambert both assumed that it was lead and that this lead would be good for the bullets that they needed. They didn’t find any food that day but they did take the metal with them. That night, Hardin borrowed an oven to turn the metal into bullets and when the train moved on to Oregon, Hardin took one piece of metal that hadn’t been in the oven yet to use later.

Hardin soon called Petaluma, California home and he had forgotten about his travelling days along with the piece of metal he had saved. One day an assayer came into his shop and noticing the piece of lead, asked about it. After telling his story, the assayer wanted to test the metal. The testing showed that the metal contained large quantities of silver.

Wanting to claim the rest of the silver, Hardin assembled a large team to go back to the area and collect the rest of the metal. Hardin and his team spent the entire summer of 1858 looking for the treasure but they didn’t find it before it started to get cold and they were forced to give up the search. They went back the next spring but still could not locate the metal that was comprised of mostly silver. In 1860, the Paiute War started and that ended any further expedition travels to the area.

After the war in 1866, a man discovered a ledge that he thought had a good possibility of being the lost silver. After word had spread, miners and prospectors rushed to Black Rock Desert to claim a piece of treasure for themselves. This led to Hardin City being built around the area. A small piece of Black Rock ore yielded high amounts of gold and silver, which further spurned on the rush of Black Rock.

During that time, Black Rock was just about the only thing people could talk about even though some batches found precious metals while others produced nothing. In fact, there were more batches that were of no value than those that had any at all. Dall’s Mill was the mill that had the most results. Regardless of this fact, Hardin City kept expanding as more people kept coming to get in on a possible rush. Assayers were brought in and changes were made in the mills of Hardin City regarding the reduction process but still, no treasure was ever found. In 1868, the search for treasure had been abandoned and Hardin City became completely desolate.

It was later found that the only reason Dall’s Mill had any results at all was because of the way the metal had been processed. The mills had not been cleaned well enough and so there were still traces of silver from previous ore and that ore had nothing to do with the Black Rock ore.

Some evidence of Hardin City still remains such as depressions that were left by the buildings that once stood there. And still today, people go searching around Black Rock looking for Hardin’s lost treasure. Someone may find it one day but for now, the legend of Hardin and his lost treasure stands as it is and it may never be known if the lost treasure is in fact, lost treasure or just lead of which one piece proved to be quite valuable.

The lost treasure of Hardin’s Lost Treasure.

 The lost treasure of Hardin’s Lost Treasure.

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