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More Cowbell
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PostFri Mar 21, 2008 10:03 pm 
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I just picked up a copy of "The Night the Mountain Fell" today at the Goodwill and this story caught my interest:


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Captain Ben Ingalls of the United States cavalry strained to hear sound from other members of his scouting party as he rode his horse slowly up a brushy hill near Mt. Stuart. He had accidentally become separated from the scouting party several hours before and now he wasn’t quite sure where he was. Cascade country was a formidable wilderness in the year 1872.

Captain Ingalls reached the top of the hill and found himself on a long, narrow ridge. He noticed in the canyon below three small lakes. He pulled his horse up sharply, and the animal tossed his head and champed the bit. Never before had Captain Ingalls seen lakes quite like these. Two lakes were roughly round in shape with dark water. But the middle lake was shaped in a crescent and shimmering green in color. The lakes were all connected by a narrow stream. He found a steep trail leading to the floor of the canyon. The horse trotted impatiently down the trail, noisily crunching the rocks under its hoofs. As the captain approached the crescent shaped lake, his mouth dropped open and he gasped. Then he let out a low whistle, jumped off his horse, and ran to the edge of the lake. He stooped down, examining the beach. It was a beach of crumbling quartz rock studded thickly with glittering, virgin gold. Captain Ben Ingalls stayed in the canyon about two days, sketching a map of the area so he would be sure to find his way back. He estimated that there were about 10 tons of gold in his view and that probably much more lay hidden in the immediate vicinity. When Captain Ingalls left the canyon to find his troops, he carried with him several samples of the gold. He followed the creek which now bears his name. Hoping to recover it when he returned, he buried the map somewhere near the mouth of the creek.

Captain Ingalls bedded down the first night several miles from the canyon. Shrill screams from his horse awakened him abruptly in the night. Then he felt the ground shake terribly under him. The whole earth seemed to erupt with rumbling noises. He could hear the crashing of boulders and splintering trees all around him. But Captain Ingalls remained untouched. He didn’t realize at the time that he was experiencing the great earthquake of 1872.

After Captain Ingalls rejoined his troops, he wrote to John Hansel, telling him about his discovery and sending him samples of gold. Ingalls asked Hansel to join him at the mouth of Ingalls Creek, but, before he could return, Ingalls was killed in a shooting accident.

Hansel carried on the search of gold alone. Although he and his family homesteaded a ranch for many years at to mouth of Ingalls Creek, Hansel never found the map of the gold. Apparently, the earthquake had shaken the cliffs around the three lakes and buried them deep beneath the earth. Many prospectors combed the area during the 1890’s but no one ever found a canyon and lakes even remotely resembling those described by Captain Ben Ingalls.

Is this truth or fiction? This story is taken from the book the Night the Mountain Fell & Other Stories of North Central Washington. What we do know of truth is Captain Ben Ingalls did indeed find gold. But it was in the 1850’s. He went on to fight in the civil war and come back to search for his gold. He was accidentally shot when going through some trees and a tree branch hit the rifle of the man on the horse behind him causing it to discharge. He lived for a couple of days. His map was to have been hid near where Ingalls Creek joined with Peshastin Creek. It is rumored to have been found and half of it at one time owned by a local lady. We do know there was about $1,700,000 of gold produced from Blewett and surrounding areas from the finding of the gold to 1910.

Quote:
Is Captain Ingall’s 10 Tons of Gold Still Buried Deep Beneath The Earth?

If you can ever dig up the map or the marvelous lake near Mt. Stuart…the gold may be yours for the keeping.

Captain Ben Ingalls of the United States cavalry strained to hear sounds from other members of his scouting party as he rode his horse slowly up a brushy hill near Mt. Stuart. He had accidentally become separated from the scouting party several hours before and now he wasn’t quite sure where he was. Cascade country was a formidable wilderness in the year 1872.

Captain Ingalls reached the top of the hill and found himself on a long, narrow ridge. He noticed in the canyon below three small lakes. He pulled his horse up sharply, and the animal tossed his head and champed the bit. Never before had Captain Ingalls seen lake like these. Two lakes were roughly round in shape with dark water. But the middle lake was shaped in a crescent and shimmering green in color. A narrow stream connected all the lakes.

He found a steep trail leading to the floor of the canyon. The horse trotted impatiently down the trail, noisily crushing the rocks under his hoofs. As the captain approached the crescent-shaped lake, his mouth dropped open and he gasped. Then he let out a low whistle, jumped off his horse, and ran to the edge of the lake. He stooped down, examining the beach. It was a beach of crumbling quartz rock studded thickly with glittering, virgin gold.

Captain Ben Ingalls stayed in the canyon about two days, sketching a map of the area so he would be sure to find his way back. He estimated that there were about 10 tons of gold in his view and that probably much more hidden in the immediate vicinity. When Captain Ingalls left the canyon to find his troops, he carried with him several samples of the gold. He followed the creek, which now bears his name. Hoping to recover it when he returned, he buried the map somewhere near the mouth of the creek. Captain Ingalls bedded down the first night several miles from the canyon. Shrill screams from his horse awakened him abruptly in the night. Then he felt the ground shake terribly under him. The whole earth seemed to erupt with rumbling noises. He could hear the crashing of boulders and splintering trees all around him. But Captain Ingalls remained untouched. He didn’t realize at the time that he was experiencing the great earthquake of 1872.

After Captain Ingalls rejoined his troops, he wrote to John Hansel, telling him about his discovery and sending him samples of gold. Ingalls asked Hansel to join him at the mouth of Ingalls Creek, but, before he could return, Ingalls was killed in a shooting accident. Hansel carried on the search for the gold alone. Although he and his family homesteaded a ranch for many years at the mouth of Ingalls Creek, Hansel never found the map of the gold. Apparently, the earthquake had shaken the cliffs around the three lakes and buried them deep beneath the earth. Many prospectors combed the area during the 1890’s, but no one found a canyon and lakes even remotely resembling those described by Captain Ben Ingalls.

Some persons wonder if another upheaval in the earth won’t sometime in the future uncover Captain Ingall’s great gold discovery of 1872.


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“If you want to forget all your other troubles, wear too tight shoes.” - Unknown
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Chippster
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PostFri Mar 21, 2008 10:07 pm 
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lets get a nwhikers gold hunt going on...whatever we find we can split it =P

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peltoms
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 4:48 am 
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I am going with fiction.   agree.gif  The earthquake occurred on Dec. 14, 1872, chances are beyond poor that snow would not have blanketed the region heavily. In fact newspaper reports comment on the new snowfall on the ground when the quake occurred.  i want to see a shimmering green lake in Mid. Dec.Newspaper accounts of quake
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Jake
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 9:32 am 
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A preponderance of information suggest that yes, indeed, the gold find was real. The question is to when, and where the discovery was made and who was Captain Ingalls?
According to my sources which I will list below, the likely time frame of the discovery was during the 1855-56 Indian (white?) Wars, not 1872.
Mr. Daniel Meschter did quite an in-depth  study of the story using old records and newspapers of the time. Of all the records  searched he found a half dozen or so Ingalls in the territory and none could be traced to a Captain Ingalls who would have business in the area around 1872, or 1855-56, although several of them were soldiers stationed at Fort Vancouver. This would include members of the Oregon Volunteers who were involved in the wars.
That said, the discovery could have been at any time between 1850 and just before John Hansel received the letter from Ingalls.
Two possibilities are; that Captain Ingalls was a (captain) Dewitt Clinton Ingalls who operated a ferryboat on the Willamette River in Oregon at that time, and the other possibility is that the designation of captain is an honorary title bestowed on someone else.
The lady mentioned by More Cowbell is Kate Bailey, a local historian who grew up in the mining town of Blewett. Ms. Bailey was well respected for her knowledge of local history. Unfortunately, she is passed now, but fortunately I have a taped interview with her from some years back where she says she knew John Hansel and had seen the letter from Ingalls to Hansel describing the location of the map.
Ms. Bailey goes on to say that she met two prospectors in the early 1900s who spotted the lakes from above, but were unable to descend the steep wall of the canyon to reach them and planned to return in the spring. However, upon their return they were unable to locate the lakes again.
Now, is it possible that the lakes, both at the time of Ingalls’ discovery and the discovery by the two prospectors were simply created by snow or log jams, or were they just seasonal lakes? That is all hard to say.
Another possibility is that the lakes are those found on the USGS 7 ½ minute series map which shows the Enchantments Lakes. Leprechaun Lake, Lake Viviane, and Temple Lake, with Leprechaun being fishhook shaped. These lakes drain into Snow Lake and not Ingalls Creek, but who’s to say the part about the gold being on Ingalls Creek is true? I have never been to the above named lakes, but if you have, then possibly you noticed something like Ingalls or the two prospectors found.
And of course maybe the earthquake of 1872 did cover the lakes which happened well after the 1855-56 probable discovery.
It remains a mystery and fascinating story.
References:
History of the Blewett Mining District Chelan, County Washington, Part I and II. Meschter, Daniel Y. Unpublished manuscripts.
Bailey, Kate. Taped interview with.
Pioneers of North Central Washington. Anderson Eva G.
Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines, Volume II. Northwest Underground Explorations.
Wenatchee World newspapers. Various dates.
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Snowbrushy
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 9:43 am 
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Anyone know of a similar story referred to as 'The Ledge of gold' story around Lake Chelan, War Creek Pass? The Army was passing through that area, a horse gets loose at night and next day someone goes looking for it and finds a ledge of gold. Days later the party was the first Whites to travel over Cascade Pass. A report was filed about the trip. No one has ever found that ledge of gold.
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More Cowbell
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 9:54 am 
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Thanks for all that info Jake.  I get a kick out of finding stories about the areas that I love to hike in.

I does seem that dates are off, especially with the whole earthquake happening on Dec. 14th when snow had to be covering everything.

So which Ingalls was the lake and creek named after?

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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 11:43 am 
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That’s a good question More Cowbell, Who was Ingalls Creek named for?
There is enough evidence to say that there was a gold strike made in the area at some point. But just who made it remains undetermined. Nothing I have found proves there was a Ben Ingalls, or for that matter a Captain Ingalls.
We do know that John Hansel had a letter from someone named Ingalls describing the gold find, but who it was is anyone’s guess.
My guess and only a guess by me is that Hansel named it for his friend Ingalls who gave him the letter.
There is much, much more to this story then I have written here. Most of it I did from memory and maybe the clue is somewhere in my notes. For instance; Ingalls did try to return to the location once before his demise along with his Indian guide Colowash who was said to be with him when he made his discovery. But unable to convince Colowash to show him the route back, Ingalls wrote to his old friend Hansel and the rest has been told.
As for the War Creek gold strike, that story can be found in the book “The Smiling Country” by Sally Portman, on page 69.
As Sally tells it: The discovery was made by an old Methow Indian named Captain Joe White who was a guide for a U S Government exploration party. One morning in 1886 while out hunting horses Captain Joe stumbled on a ledge of gold. He broke off a chunk and took it to Colonel F.S.  Sherwood. They were unable to re-trace Captain Joe’s route back to the outcrop, but when the ore sample was shown later in Portland Oregon it set off a mining exodus to the Methow Valley.
I find it odd that army scouts, which both Captain Ingalls and Captain Joe were said to be could never find their way back to a certain point. I sure wouldn’t want them scouting for me.
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mike
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 12:03 pm 
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Quote:
I find it odd that army scouts, which both Captain Ingalls and Captain Joe were said to be could never find their way back to a certain point. I sure wouldn’t want them scouting for me.

Suspicious, yes. Odd, no. Let's say you knew where the gold is but your employer doesn't remember or can't retrace his route. I suspect a case of selective amnesia.
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Mount Logan
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 4:29 pm 
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Does this renewed interest in local gold legends have anything to do with current gold prices?    wink.gif
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the captain was here
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the captain was here
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 5:05 pm 
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uhh.gif Anyone seen the the Captain wandering around up there recently? eek.gif
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Quark
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 7:10 pm 
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Hey, I have that book, too, MC.   up.gif Found it at Magus.

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touron
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 7:49 pm 
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See page 20 of this for similar story and picture of Blewett mining town.   Where does one find info on when/where Ingalls Lake and Creek were assigned names?

(also, sweet smelling biffies may be of more immediate concern than lost treasure--see story on page 7)

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Malachai Constant
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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 8:03 pm 
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My guess is that there is no gold inthe enchantment area as it is part of the Stuart batholith which is pretty solid granite and mineralization is usually in contact zones. If you really found a huge amount of gold, would you tell anyone the right location. My guess is the gold came from Liberty Squak area or maybe Republic. Too many folks have been going to the chants for to long for there to be gold around.

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PostSat Mar 22, 2008 8:24 pm 
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Does seem unlikely, but at the base of every legend their is a grain/fleck of truth.   The question is it worth panning for?

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Touron is a nougat of Arabic origin made with almonds and honey or sugar, without which it would just not be Christmas in Spain.
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PostSun Mar 23, 2008 5:53 pm 
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I’m not sure how well Hansel fits it with your timeline: John H. Hansel was born in May 1838 in Ohio. In 1870, he was living in San Jose, California & married his wife, Adeline in 1876. In 1880, John & Adeline had a farm in Rock Creek, Wasco County, Oregon where they lived until at least 1883, since their son, George, was born there. In 1900, he was prospecting & living in Peshastin & they were still there in 1910.
Hansel Creek, which I presume is named for him, drains off Wedge Mountain and is the drainage just north of Ingalls Creek.
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Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Captain Ben Ingalls Gold - Fact or Fiction?
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