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Three Forks Mine

There are several maps included on some of the books written on lost treasures of the Uintah Mountains that depict a creek with three forks and a jagged canyon with a mine amd cannon in or near it and claims marked on trees by Pick Murdock, Happy Jack, and Caleb Rhoades. I haven’t figured out where this jagged canyon is--maybe you can.

See map #19, 20, and 21 from Lost Gold of the Uintahs, map “S” from Faded Footprints, Johnny Faucett’s Map, and AC’s Map from Guide to the Lost Rhoades Gold Mines by AC Wilkerson.

Names which the old-timers used to describe places or landmarks are not always the names those same places are known by today. A case in point is one where gold nuggets can be picked off the ground. Caleb Rhoads, Pick Murdock and Happy Jack all brought gold from such a place. They even staked their claims on placers and a mine there, but there is a problem locating exactly where those claims are, for they weren't recorded at the county seat. Instead, each man staked his claim by carving his initials on several trees to identify his property. Those trees have the initials CBR, PM and HJ cut into their bark; all you have to do is find them. But that shouldn't be too difficult, for Happy Jack sketched a map of that area; as a matter of fact over the years he sketched three maps, no two of them exactly alike. The problem with interpreting those maps is that none of the landmarks are known today. (See Map S)

The Happy Jack Map shows a trail coming through the mountains to Three Forks Creek. One problem with that is, there are a lot of streams in those mountains which have three forks. The trail follows the creek, circles around Wade's Knoll and then continues past an area marked "Spanish Trees." No one today knows where Wades Knoll is located, or even why it was called by that name, and there are many places which have Spanish sign trees. Some of those signs are shown on the Happy Jack Map, including several Catholic crosses and a cannon. On the far side of Wade's Knoll there is a place marked "Deep Shaft," and close to it is a partially buried cannon, with part of its barrel protruding above the ground. Some of the old Indians say that cannon barrel is filled with gold nuggets!

Beyond Wade's Knoll, the trail enters the head of jagged Canyon," where six claims are marked on trees, with initials for Rhoads, Murdock and Happy Jack. In that Jagged Canyon just beyond the claims there is a grove marked "Big Trees," and near them a place marked "yellow colored ground which looks like sulfur." A Spanish smelter is shown close to that yellow ground. All you have to do to find those placers and mine is to follow Three Forks to Wade's Knoll. From there it is only a short way to Jagged Canyon, the Big Trees and the old smelter where the ground looks like sulfur. Sounds easy to me!--Faded Footprints, pg. 164

I could be way off on my interpretation of these maps as Gale Rhoades in his book Lost Gold of the Uintahs has this to say about the Three Forks Creek:

Near this site [talking about Painter Basin] 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.

And AC Wilkerson has this to say:

Bob Fair thought the Three Forks mine was in Mosby Park and filed some claims there and did quite a lot of work there. The first I knew of the Three Forks maps was one Johnny Fausett drew for me from memory. Jack Harris, a son of the Indian Interpreter for the Ute Tribe, Henry Harris had shown the map to Johnny Fausett but Johnny didn't have any luck finding the mine and cannon shown on it. Later I acquired a map of the same place by Aaron Daniels and his diary which I will include here. Also a map drawn by Happy Jack.

I can't make this map fit any of the areas on this side of the mountain and I believe it to be on the north side of the Uintah Mountains near Spirit Lake as the drainage is right there. One of the bearing points on the map is Whiterock which I tried to make fit the town of Whiterocks and Johnny was doing the same but the map just says "whiterock" and could fit any whiterock or ledge. Bob Fair was trying to make the Chalk Cliffs fit but the distance shown is wrong.--Guide to the Lost Rhoades Gold Mines, chapter 13

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