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In September, 1862, an eastbound Overland coach was held up near the North Platte crossing and robbed by two men. The driver was killed and the robbers carried off a small iron safe, which contained $70,000 in gold dust (about $4.4 million using 2012 gold prices) that was being sent east from California by express.
There is a tradition to the effect that this treasury box was brought down the line to Virginia Dale and hidden in the hills near the station. Later that fall two prospectors, a German and an Irishman, on their way to Denver, made their appearance at John B. Provost’s (saloon) in Laporte, with a large quantity of gold dust which they claimed to have taken from a mine in the mountains which they had discovered. In the spring of 1863 they again passed Provost’s on their way to the mountains, returning in the fall with between $6,000 and $7,000 in gold dust which they said came from their mine, the location of which they refused to make known.
From 1911 “History of Larimer County” by Ansel Watrous
The following winter, so the story goes, the Irishman was killed in a quarrel at Central City and the German made his trips to his gold mine after that, always returning in the fall with a goodly quantity of gold dust. Efforts were made to get him to tell where his mine was, but he always put off his questioners in one way and another and never would give the desired information. At last a party of men set out to find what was then called the “Dutchman’s” mine, but after prospecting for several days without results gave up the search.
In the spring of 1864, when the old German passed through Laporte on his way to the mountains, two men followed him thinking he would lead them directly to the place where he claimed to have found so much gold, but he discovered their purpose and threw them off the track by going up the Cache la Poudre and crossing over into what is now Grand county through Lulu pass. He was never afterwards seen in these parts. The story goes that he was lynched in Central City for killing a man. At any rate the “Dutchman’s” mine was never found, and the supposition is that the German and his partner were the ones who held up and robbed the stage coach of its treasure box and afterward obtained their supply of gold dust from the place where they had hidden it in the mountains near Virginia Dale.
Where can I learn more about the saloon owner, John B. Provost? That is also my husband’s name. You may remember him as Timmy Martin on the “Lassie” series…