A Fool's Quest For Hidden Gold Leads To The Accidental Discovery
Of A Real National Treasure

5 February, 2013

Share this story:
Follow us: - The history of Mt. Shasta is thick with adventurous tales of lost treasures and hidden mines, containing glowing caches of golden wealth beyond imagining.

Gold miners make some of the most imaginative storytellers in the Old West, but in all the annals of folklore spun by the fortune-seeking hoards who flocked to this region in the 1850’s, there’s at least one story that did in fact lead to a real treasure beyond all imagining, which probably tops them all. . . .

This tale begins in Yreka, California, an early boomtown founded during the heydays of the gold rush era.

If you do much digging into the early legends of the Pacific Northwest, along with stories about Sasquatch and Mt. Shasta’s Lemurian underground caverns full of gold, you’ll inevitably come across many tales of lost mines and buried treasures containing unimaginable riches waiting to be discovered. One of the earliest and most oft-told tales of this kind is the “Lost Cabin Mine”.

The legend of the “Lost Cabin Mine” is believed to have originated during the gold-rush era in Northern California, but inevitably spread to other states, with various details changing with each re-telling.

Image Credit: - “Shasta Glow” Loree Johnson © 2012.

The founding of Crescent City, California, by some accounts, was due to some wandering prospector searching for the fabled mine in vicinity of the tall redwoods along the northern Pacific coast. The following account comes from A.J. Bledsoe, writing in 1855:

“In the very earliest days of mining excitement in California, a miner more adventurous than his fellows, armed with his rifle and supplied with necessary mining implements, crossed the Coast Range and prospected in the gulches and ravines of the foothills near the sea-shore.

One lucky day he ‘struck it rich.’ The rich earth yielded its yellow treasures in abundance, and the solitary miner erected a cabin in the wilderness, with the sole thought of amassing a fortune and returning to home and friends in the East. And there in the ‘forest primeval’ with giant trees towering above him, the lonely gold-hunter toiled as if for life, day by day, for many weary months, adding to his store of gold until it amounted to a fabulous sum.

The prowling Indians found his retreat at last, and attacking him in overwhelming numbers left him senseless on the ground, apparently dead.

The treasure was too well hidden to be easily found, and failing in their search for it, the savages set fire to the cabin, burning it to ashes.

When they had gone, the miner recovered consciousness, but not his reason--the light of his mind had gone out, and left a flickering flame of disconnected thought.

Bereft of his reason, he wandered out of the forest and into the home of civilization.

How he succeeded in finding his way back to his friends in the East the legend saith not.

But (so the story goes) he did succeed in reaching home and there, after a brief period, he died.

Before his death his reason returned to him, and calling his friends around him he told them the story of his hidden treasure, describing minutely the locality of the cabin, and from the account he gave, it was evident that the lost cabin was situated somewhere on the northern coast of California.”

Image Credit: - “Time Stood Still” Loree Johnson © 2013.

For many a summer, prospectors tramped through the mountains and wilds of northern California hunting for lost cabins or their ruins, following a trail of shadowy rumors from place to place. As time passed, the tales of the lost cabin spread to other states and became more bizarre and fantastical; some say that the lost cabin was guarded by the skeleton of a grizzly bear, or an angry Sasquatch, or the forlorn ghost of the old miner himself. . . .

During the glory days of the gold-rush, one lucky and garrulous miner showed up in Yreka, California, with a whole lotta’ gold which he squandered away in the town’s saloons over the long winters. This fellow had the habit of swaggering into a saloon and tossing the bartender a piece of gold, hollering: “Set ‘em up for the house!”

Naturally, he made a lot of thirsty friends in Yreka over the years, who took to calling him ‘Set ‘em up!’. Whatever his real name was is lost to history.

The next spring, reportedly, Set-em-up would head out once again into the wilds, always alone, and return to Yreka again in the fall with more loads of gold, where he kept the town’s population happily drunk with whiskey all through the winter months.

For all his loose spending and drinking, Set-em-up never let himself get drunk enough to accidentally let slip the exact location of his secret gold cache; but in a rare unguarded moment he did mention that his mine and cabin was somewhere up in Southern Oregon, and not in the hills of northern California as many suspected. After the winter thaw, Set-em-up packed up and headed north for the summer, as was his habit—and he was never seen or heard of again.

Throughout the winter of 1853, the townfolk of Yreka suffered through a depressing shortfall of free whiskey with the loss of their benefactor. Nobody knew what kind of tragedy might have befallen Set-em-up, but something else was on their mind . . . somewhere out there was an abandoned mine containing untold wealth, just waiting to be reclaimed.

One old miner said he’d been drinking with Set-em-up one night, and been told the general location where Setem- up’s cabin might be found; and so in the spring of 1853 a group of miners packed up and set out to find it.

The miner’s search party got a little bigger at Table Rock City (now the site of Jacksonville, Oregon) because some of the Yrekan boy’s got a little too drunk, and talked too much. Some of the Oregon miner’s decided they were going to follow the Yrekans, whether they were invited or not. Unable to shake them, the Californian’s reluctantly agreed to team up with other miner’s and pressed forward.

Well, the party never did find Set-em-up’s lost cabin, nor his mine. But they did find another treasure. On a hunting expedition, combing through the mountains of southern Oregon in hopes of finding an animal to eat, one of the Table Rock City prospectors, John Hillman, was riding a mule along a high ridge when the animal suddenly lurched to a stop and would not budge. Hillman looked down and saw that the beast had come right to the rim of a huge crater with a brilliant blue lake at its bottom.

Image Credit: - “Crater Lake Reflections” Loree Johnson © 2011.

“Not until my mule stopped within a few feet of the rim of Crater Lake did I look down,” Hillman later wrote, “and if I had been riding a blind mule I firmly believe I would have ridden over the edge to death and destruction.”

Image Credit: Crater Lake Institute - Prospector John W. Hillman of Table Rock City (Jacksonville) was the first American of European descent to see Crater Lake, and he nearly fell into it. This image was made later in Hillman’s life.

In that moment, John Hillman became the first person of European descent to lay eyes on what we now know as Crater Lake.

The party’s provisions were depleted and the miner’s were getting weak with hunger, and there was nothing more for them to do but journey back to Table Rock City. On the way back, they talked about the lake, debating whether to call it “Mysterious Lake” or “Deep Blue Lake”.

Back in Table Rock City the other miners considered this a total bust. They didn’t care about some stupid lake; they wanted Set-em-up’s gold, and that had not been found.

Also, the local Native Americans were restless and — perhaps having heard some rumors of how their counterparts in northern California were being treated — increasingly hostile. The miner’s of Table Rock City had other fortunes to chase after, and so Deep Blue Lake was forgotten about until nine years later, when it was rediscovered by another party.

As for the Lost Cabin Gold Mine, well . . . there are people still out there looking for it today. So far as anyone knows, it has never been found.

But then, if you found it . . . would you tell anyone?

Written by Dustin Naef - Contributor

Source: (Sources: Hult, Ruby El. Lost Mines and Treasures of the Pacific Northwest. Portland: Binford, 1957; Harmon, Rick. Crater Lake National Park: A History. Corvallis: OSU Press, 2002;

Note: My next article in this series should be of especial interest to Ghost Hunters, and relates some paranormal legends about how some mysterious phenomenon would lead treasure-hunters to buried caches of gold and silver.

About the author:
Dustin Naef has been a student of ancient mysteries and the paranormal for as long as he can remember. He has worked in screenwriting, graphic design and illustration, produced and designed video best-selling games, and is currently involved in the production of a film documentary and book about the mysteries surrounding Mount Shasta, California.

If you wish to follow Dustin Naef:
Dustin's website:

Copyright © & Dustin Naef All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of and Dustin Naef

See also:
Odd, Unexplained Disappearances Haunt Our Nation's National Parks

Follow for the latest news on Facebook and Twitter !

Don't Miss Our Stories! Get Our Daily Email Newsletter

Enter your email address:

Once you have confirmed your email address, you will be subscribed to the newsletter.

Recommend this article:

Fire Of Unknown Origin: A Real Life X-File From Mt. Shasta? Part 1-3 Part 1
A strange occurrence happened in the night skies above the quiet little town of McCloud, a popular vacation retreat nestled on the southern side of Mt. Shasta. A giant, glowing jellyfish pulsating with fire was seen eerily hovering over the town before launching off in a north-easterly...

Midas Touch And The Secrets Behind Changing The Color Of Gold

Ghost Hunters - Belief And Disbelief

Subscribe To Our Space, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Earth and Xenology News!

Grab the latest RSS feeds right to your reader, desktop or mobile phone.

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner


Copyright © All rights reserved.

Advertise With Us!


 Subscribe in a reader

Join Us On Facebook!

Other Popular Articles

When Prophecy Fails Part 1-2
Mount Shasta's never been a popular celebrity resort town like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, or Park City, Utah - the kind of place where you might bump into somebody famous or a prominent public figure (Bigfoot notwithstanding). This is more of the kind of town where people unwittingly become famous for all the wrong reasons...

Mount Shasta: The Mountain of Madness? Part 1-2
It's almost considered a sacrilege to mention anything remotely negative in the same breath that you would talk about Mount Shasta in metaphysical or spiritual terms. But Mount Shasta has a deadly and darker side to its legacy, which had long been known to early inhabitants who have lived here since prehistoric times...

Mount Shasta's Megaliths: An Evolving Mystery Part 1 - 2
There’s an interesting legend that when Columbus first made his way to the Americas, the natives gathering on shore could not see his ships. It has been suggested that the tall European ships were such an ‘impossible’ vision in the native peoples reality, that their perceptions could not register what was in front of them, and they failed to ‘see’ the ships.

Mysterious Ancient Megaliths Of Mount Shasta A Place Of Forgotten Land

Mount Shasta, is a place shrouded in mystery. This is an enigmatic place where ancient myths and modern mysteries blend like a dream against a scenery of outstanding natural beauty. Located near the northern side of beautiful Mount Shasta, close to Lake Shastina, there is ancient archaeological mystery.

Alien Toy? All Attempts To Solve This Ancient Mystery - Failed
They are considered as a mystery of archaeology and all attempts to solve it - have unfortunately, failed. Over 100 of these anonymous and enigmatic objects have been discovered...

Not Of This World Relics Hidden From Public View For Many Years - Forgotten And Ignored

Many of out-of-place relics have been hidden from public view for many years because they do not fit the traditional model of human prehistory. According to this model based on evolutionary time scale, they are out-of-place because they predate human evolution. Often forgotten and ignored, they still prove evolution theory false showing human existence much further back into Earth's history...

Secret History:

Is This The World's Oldest Joke?

Ancient Tomb Of Holy Snake Lord Discovered - Great Maya Queen K'abel

Strangest Maps Ever Created - You Have Never Seen Our World Like This!

Prehistoric Artifacts Unearthed At The Ein Zippori In Israel

Carbon Clock Sheds Light On The Greatest Archaeological Mysteries
Core sample sends carbon clock farther back in time Sediment from Japanese lake provides more accurate timeline for dating objects as far back as 50,000 years. The carbon clock is getting reset...


X-Files: Sudden Unexplained Deaths In Yunnan Province Still A Mystery To Scientists

X-Files: Strange Light Phenomena In The Skies Over New Zealand

X-Files: Mysterious Disappearance Of Sandy Island

Remarkable Cylindrical UFO Flies Straight Into Volcano Popocatépetl

Most Ancient Of The Cities - Abydos With Secrets Still Buried Under The Desert Sand
Once, it was the site of many temples, especially the temple of Seti I and first of all, this very ancient city is strongly associated with the "Lord of Abydos" - Osiris, god of the dead and its cult. Today, it's considered one of the most important archaeological sites of Ancient Egypt...

Millennia Old Stone Faces Of Unknown Origin - Who Carved Them And For What Purpose?

An Orb By Any Other Name...
When it comes to the paranormal, there are few subjects capable of whipping skeptics into a childish anger as the mere mention of the word “orb”. I admit not too long ago I was one of those types who was skeptical of orb photos. I didn’t think very much of the examples I’d seen, and dismissed them as probably something like light bouncing off dust motes swirling in the air.

When Science, Spirituality and Magic Meet - Re-Discovering Old Ancient Knowledge Triggering Each Other?

There has been a great deal of hype over the coming new age. Written in sacred texts, carved in stone all over the world and in the alignment of stars above heralding the dawn of Aquarius, we are reminded to 'awaken' and 'remember'.