Back in the 1850s, during the days of the Gold Rush,
Joaquin Murrieta was a very well-known man. He strived to make an honest living
as a miner but he quickly faced discrimination and racism. He was then
therefore, forced to turn to the life of a criminal to survive. He became known
either as a Mexican patriot, who was rebelling against the white man’s desire
for domination, or as a bandit.
He became the leader of a band known as The Five
Joaquin’s, who were known for cattle rustling, robberies, and murders in the
area of the Sierra Nevadas, known as the Mother Lode, during the years of 1850 –
1853. There are many treasures that belonged to Murrieta, rightfully so or not,
that have been lost over the years. One of these treasures was a wagonload of
gold that Murrieta and his gang were carrying. The band had stolen this treasure
from one of the northern mines. However, when they were travelling back from the
mine, a group of Indians attacked them and stole the gold.
It’s believed that the Indians hid the treasure in
an old burial grave underneath a ledge of a cliff. Murrieta attempted to go find
the gold and reclaim it as his own but unfortunately, California Rangers found
him and killed him before he could reach the gold.
It’s believed that Murrieta had also buried some of
his stolen treasure somewhere between Burney, California and Hatcher Pass, close
to Highway 299. That treasure has never been found. Another treasure that
remains lost to this day is Murrieta’s treasure of $200,000, which is believed
to be between Susanville and Freedonyer Pass. This is close to what is known
today as Highway 36.
One of the members of Murrieta’s group was Manual
Garcia, who was known as Three-Fingered Jack, stole a strongbox from a
stagecoach. The strongbox is believed to have had 250 pounds of gold nuggets,
which at the time, would have been worth approximately $140,000. It’s believed
that the two men buried that treasure along the banks of Feather River, close to
Paradise, California. This gold has also never been found.
Murrieta has given treasure hunters today much to
work with. Why he always buried his loot and could never seem to go back to
retrieve is unknown. One thought is that he didn’t like to travel with too much
himself. As a thief, he was quite distrustful of other people. But he is still
known today as one of the most legendary bandits ever known.