Lost Davis Canyon "Olla" Gold




A number of "lost mine" - "lost gold" legends have their roots in southeastern Utah. This one is short, but it tells a lot in its brevity. It also includes an old prospector and his mules. What "lost mine" story is complete without a grizzled old prospector and his mules?

"The Lost Davis Canyon "Olla" Gold"(1)

The time is the late 1800's. The setting is canyon country Utah near the small town of Escalante. The no-name prospector in this legend was lucky enough to locate a dry placer where he bagged a small fortune in gold nuggets. After loading the now full bags onto his mules, and carefully noting the location of his find, he set out on his return trip to Escalante. This is where his luck ran out.

On the return trip, while stopping to water the mules, the animals accidentally ate some poisionous plants. Shortly after leaving the watering hole near some old indian ruins, the mules dropped dead. Having no way to carry the fortune in gold that the mules were packing, the prospector located some old indian "Ollas" (Ceramic like pots with narrow necks) in the nearby indian ruins. After filling the ollas with the gold nuggets and sealing them, the prospector then burried the pots somewhere near the old ruins.

Once he had hidden away his treasure, he set out on foot for the long trek to Escalante. He never made it. Several days passed before the old prospector staggered onto a remote ranch, dehydrated and near death. The family at the ranch cared for the man, but even with this care, it was not long before he passed away. Before dying the prospector shared his story with the ranchers family. He told them of the burried ollas, and how they could be found in Davis canyon not far from the old indian ruins. According to legend, the old prospector also shared the location of the original placer site farther up and beyond Davis Canyon. 

His story, told and retold, began a legend and a search that has lasted to this day. There is a Davis Point 13 miles west of Escalante in present day Main Canyon, and a Dave Canyon, a side canyon of present day Alvey Wash 10 miles south of town, but no Davis Canyon was, or is now known, anywhere in the area. This fact, and and the fact that there were litteraly hunderds of old indian ruins in that region, made it impossible to locate the exact site of the burried gold or the source.

To this day, there is no evidence that anyone has ever found the hidden ollas and the fortune in gold nuggets they contain or the original placer site they came from.

Critical Note: While gold seekers of the past were free to do what they chose, today it is a violation of state and federal laws to disturb any indian ruins in any way! 


(1)  Verbal communication - Scoutmaster Larry Hartly, Scout camp 1973, Settlement Canyon, Utah