Lost Croslin Ledge

This story goes back to the early days of settlement in what is now Tooele County near Lake Point and present-day Stansbury Park. A man named John or Jack Croslin, a convert to the Mormon Church had settled there in the 1860’s and lived the simple life of a sheepherder and woodcutter.  

It was while he was tending his sheep that this story begins. Then as today, shepherds trailed their flocks and followed them as they wandered. When they stopped, he would stop and watch over them. Then as now, it was a lonely job, to help pass the time he would do a little casual exploring. Not so much to find anything, as to become more familiar with the area. 

One particular day, his sheep were grazing quietly in one of the many canyons near the north end of the Oquirrh Mountains. Feeling that all was well, he set about to do a little  exploring. Upon his return, he found that a few of his flock had wandered higher into the canyon. Croslin left the main body to find these wandering strays. As luck, or something not so lucky would have it, he found more than his lost sheep. Pushing through the heavy scrub oak to the higher canyon he happened upon a rich outcropping of milky white quartz with thick ribboned streaks of  yellow gold. He was no miner, but he knew what gold looked like. He also knew it could be a problem.

He sought counsel from his local bishop and was quickly reminded of that which he already knew. The Prophet and church president Brigham Young had strongly discouraged his members from digging for gold. According to the legend, after meeting with his bishop, Croslin made a special trip to Great Salt Lake City where he met personally with President Young. It was in that meeting that Young supposedly told Croslin that he, or anybody, who attempted to develop the ledge of gold would be “cursed”. Just exactly what the curse was is not clear, but death and tragedy would be associated with this lost gold ledge for years, but that would come later.

Not long after Croslin’s alleged meeting with Brigham Young rumors began circulating about this hidden gold. Locals from Lake Point, Tooele, and the surrounding area began pressing him for more information as to the exact location of the ledge. Croslin would never tell, but a couple of clues did slip in conversation. The first was this , “From the front door of the old Rowberry Sawmill near Twin Springs (Stansbury Park), you could look up into the canyon and see where the ledge was hidden".(1)  Another clue was let when he said, “He had passed near the ledge many times as he tended his sheep and as he traveled the canyon seeking good timber.”(1)  They were vague clues at best, but the only clues that would ever be shared.

Croslin kept his secret, and kept it well. Still, years later, when a close relative (possibly his brother-in-law) began trading and selling bits of raw gold in the area, people whispered that he had secretly visited the ledge and given it to the relative to be sold. Croslin denied this, claiming he did not know how the man had come by his gold. Had this relative found the ledge independently and taken some for himself? No one will ever know, for not long after he began circulating the gold, this relative was found dead in the Oquirrh Range foothills. What makes it more interesting is the fact that there was no apparent cause of death.

Heart attack? Stroke? A passing band of rouge Indians? Nobody knew for sure, but Croslin thought he knew. He was certain it was a result of Brigham Young’s curse. This same “curse” would manifest itself again a short time later when Croslin himself was killed in an accident at Rowberry’s sawmill. It was speculated that perhaps he had shared the secret, having done so, paid a terrible price!

Some say that was the end of the story and the end of the curse! Then again…

Shortly after Croslin’s death, rumors of a map began circulating, a map that he had supposedly drawn and given to other relatives, possibly nephews, two brothers. Whether true or not, one brother would end up shooting and killing the other. The surviving brother quickly left the territory, and was never heard of again.

Did they really have a map? Did they find the gold? Did they fight over what they found? Is that why one brother died? Did the surviving brother leave with a fortune in gold, or broke and on the run? Was all this the result of Brigham Young’s supposed curse? Who knows?

Legend says it was never found, it further states that all the tragedy was a result of seeking the cursed gold and that it’s best left undiscovered.

What do you think? Are you ready to tempt fate? Before you do, I would like to add one more bit of information. This last part was never told around the campfires of my youth, but has a direct connection and is a continuation of this story.

In his book ‘SOME DREAMS DIE’, author George A. Thompson tells this story with some variations and with one addition. It is the story of the outlaw and murderer Bill Hickman. According to Thompson’s story, Hickman befriended Croslin’s widow and persuaded her to help him find the gold. How involved they became and how much time they spent looking for it is not known. He would quickly be chased out of the area by the law and find death in Wyoming, while she would end up outcast by locals for her association with the notorious outlaw.(2)

Was this a sad coincidence, or more of the curse? I’ll let you decide.



(1)  Verbal communication - Scoutmaster Larry Hartly, Scout camp 1973, Settlement Canyon, Utah 
(2) SOME DREAMS DIE, George A. Thompson, 1982, Roaming the West Publishing