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Gilbert Peak

High in the back reaches of the Uinta River there are a series of lakes called the Chain Lakes. These are the lakes shown on one of Caleb Rhoades' old maps. North of these lakes and south of Gilbert and South Burro Peaks are the basins of Rainbow, Kidney and Fox Lakes in which are located other Lost Rhoades Mines.

The diary of my Indian friend's great-great grandfather (who was Caleb Rhoades' Indian guide assigned by Chief Aropene in 1855) contains a map showing several mines in this area north of the Chain Lakes.

F.W.C. Hathenbruck and several others filed two placer claims in this area on July 28,1906. He and his group had established their base camp near Rainbow Lake, but he described his claims as being situated "between Burro's Point and Gilbert Peak," encompassing part of a small box canyon.

This box canyon is, in a sense, located between South Burro Peak and Gilbert Peak, but is actually about two and one-half miles south of the two landmarks, in a direct line centered between the two, and it is very difficult to find unless you know exactly where to look. Hathenbruck's description given on his 1906 mining claim was probably purposely misleading to cause frustration among his competitors but accurate with regard to legal technicalities.

There is no trail at all leading into this small box canyon, although there is a very old log cabin situated at the end of the canyon near a 14 to 16 foot high waterfall which drops off a nearby ledge. The stream near the cabin appears to have been diverted at one time or another, either for the purpose of mining or to conceal or destroy something near the cabin. The stream itself contains what appears to be a large amount of placer-type silver granules. This is, after all, in the area marked "silver" on Caleb Rhoades' old map and in the general location where he shows two old mines.

Near this site is located the old military trail which ran from the Uintah Basin (Fort Duchesne) through Gunsight Pass to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. The trail was called Three Forks because it branched off into three separate trails: one leading to the south side of Gunsight Pass, one leading down through the Uinta River, and another leading over to the Whiterocks River. Three Forks Creek, near Fox Lake, was named after the old military Three Forks Trail.

The Three Forks Creek is specifically shown on maps drawn by both Happy Jack and Aaron Daniels showing mines in that area, along with the site of a buried cannon. The old maps also show that part of the old military trail which leads on over into Whiterocks Canyon and shows the distance as being that of 15 miles. These old maps also indicate certain Spanish symbols found near the old mines, and Spanish symbols in that region of the Uintahs are numerous, particularly in and around Painter Draw, Atwood Creek and Shale Creek.--Lost Gold of the Uintah, pg. 128

The great gold find near Gilbert Peak is creating the greatest excitement of any find that has been made in the west for years. There is no doubt of Uintah County becoming one of the best mining counties in Utah, if all reports are true.

Lorenzo Hatch and Mr. Haladay, were in Vernal this week and were as full of business as a cocoanut is full of milk, but would not say much about what they were doing, or what they were going to do. They recorded some new claims, however, and those who have talked to them, say that they are strictly in it.

The Cass Hite party are keeping the secret of their doings to themselves, but a party who visited their camp picked up a piece of rock among some samples that they had in camp, and could see the gold in nuggets sticking in the rock, showing that Mr. Hite was on to something better than was first found; and will surprise the mining fraternity when he makes known to them and the community what he found.

Vernal is nearly deserted this week, and parties are leaving daily for the new camps, adn next week the Express may be able to give a more complete and authentic account of the camp and what its future prospects are. Every one seems satisfied however that it will prove to be a genuine bonanza, and a bright prospect is predicted for the people living in this valley.--Vernal Express, June 21, 1894

During the summer of 1894 prospectors discovered gold placers at the foot of 13,449-foot Gilbert Peak. It was said that the first strike was made when a miner saw flakes of gold in a mound of dirt thrown up by badgers. Apparently, he worked his find in secret until he was killed by Indians. When two men came upon his remains, they discovered a poke of gold dust in his packsack. Within weeks men were staking claims, including the Victoria, Bromide and Legal Tender. One mining company, the Jeanette, was incorporated at Rock Springs, Wyoming. The Vernal Express enthusiastically reported there was $40,000 worth of ore in bins at the Victoria and $100,000 in sight at the Bromide. Every company promised rich rewards for their stock-holders, but except for the Bromide which shipped thirty tons of ore, there was more gold on their gilt-edged stock certificates than there was in the ground.--Faded Footprints, pg. 158

The Lost Temple Gold Mine is in the vicinity of Gilbert Peak in the Uintah National Forest in Duchesne County. Indian legends tell of a cave piled full of gold ore in this same general area.--Buried Treasure You Can Find, pg. 346

Back in the "old days" a few hardy timber cruisers pushed across the crest of the Uintahs, looking for new and larger stands of timber. Along the way they watched for mineral veins, since they knew that trappers before them had reported seeing ledges of gold and silver in the shining mountains. Later, lumberjacks found flakes of gold in streams rushing down from a mountain later called Gilbert Peak. But nothing was done to trace its source, because during the 1870's and 80's the area was still Indian country, and roving bands of Utes, flushed with victory from the Thornburgh and Meeker massacres, made the mountains an unhealthy place for prospectors.

Only a few timber cutters and wandering prospectors lived at Black's Fork Commissary when an old-timer known as "Hardrock" brought in placer gold which he'd found in a small snow water creek high on the slopes of 13,422' Gilbert Peak. Several lumberjacks repeatedly tried to follow him back to his strike, but he always eluded them by using a different route through the heavy pine forest each time. Many times that summer he returned to Black's Fork Commissary with enough placer gold to buy supplies. And although he was carefully watched, he managed to disappear without leaving a sign or trail.

Finally, the first snows of winter whitened the high peaks, but the old man didn't return. When winter set in with a vengeance, the loggers knew they would never see the old prospector again. The following spring a search began. Everyone expected to find his frozen body in some remote cabin, but instead they found it, mutilated and scalped, where Indians had thrown it into a deep canyon. No trace of his diggings was ever fond. It was speculated that Indians had dragged his body far from his mine to keep other white men from finding it. Gilbert Peak was part of the Ute Reservation at that time, but is now part of the national forest system.

There's not much to go on. About the only clue "Hardrock" ever gave was that his gold came from a snow water creek placer, so during the summer it could be on a dry water course. He also said that he first found the gold when he saw flakes and nuggets shining in the sun on dirt mounds piled up around gopher holes. The old man's gold is still there, somewhere on Gilbert Peak, for no one has found it yet. If you intend to look for it, there's one thing you should know. There are an awful lot of gopher holes in those mountains!--Some Dreams Die, pg 175

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