This isn’t the conclusion I expected. Yet here I am, admitting that I did not recover at least one of the two lost gold bars. And the exceptional high price of gold these days rubs salt into the wounds of defeat. My return to the area of this great adventure buoyed my spirits and enabled my emotions to absorb the silence and calming effect of the natural world. I needed that after the near constant bombardment of excess noise in the sprawl of my urban environment.
I feel the target is correct. The eight years of research and investigation still has me believing I know where at least one bar lies, within approximately one cubic meter, two at most. My old body is the problem. At sixty-nine years of age, my ability to work with strength is gone. My lung function is good as the previous few years of walking several kilometers a day has proven. But while digging in ground the consistency of wet cement, my arms and hands ache and I rapidly run out of energy. I admit now that I am no longer a treasure hunter but a writer, one who wishes he were a younger man. Yet I can’t complain about the aging process as the alternative isn’t good.
Who wants to buy a treasure map? Highest bidder not necessarily accepted. This is a part of BC history and is not meant to be melted into scrap gold. Treasure, after all, is more valuable than scrap gold. After subtracting the smallest bar that evidence suggests had been sold by Roderick in 1896, roughly fifty pounds remains. One bar should weigh roughly twenty-five pounds and court evidence reveals the Cariboo-Amelia gold bullion, unrefined, ran at sixty-three percent purity, give or take a fraction. That still gives close to sixteen pounds of pure gold at twelve troy ounces per pound for well over one hundred and eighty ounces. That’s for one bar about the size of an old VHS tape.
Perhaps I should’ve had my book ready to hit the market, composed a cryptic poem and let the public have a go at it. If Forest Fenn is remembered for anything in the history books, it should be that he encouraged others to embrace and enjoy the quest for gold. I assure you, despite my age, the adventure brought a lot of excitement optimism into my life at a time when the the looming years of retirement had little to offer. Living in an eight year, positive frame of mind helped me endure the years of physical change. I can still hear the words of James P. Delgado of Sea Hunters fame telling me to get up off that couch and go live an adventure. Now if I can put the adventure into the proper words, I can share my passion with others.
And beware, fellow treasure hunters, the gold bars, like many treasures, is said to carry a curse. Take care and know that no good treasure hunt is ever easy.
Despite the covid-19 issues facing every walk of life these days, I have been lucky to benefit from the talents of researchers at Washington State libraries and the Puget Sound Regional Archives.
I knew that James Monaghan enjoyed his wealth and bought an automobile. A Spokane Public Library researcher discovered that Monaghan purchased a sixty horsepower Peerless touring car made in Cleveland, Ohio in 1909 through a local dealer. Monaghan loved the automobile so much he bought another in 1913, a thirty horsepower Chalmers touring car. Both were considered top luxury cars for the time. Chalmers later became part of Maxwell auto out of Detroit and was said to be one of the best all round touring cars of the day. All Monaghan needed were better roads to drive on.
The Puget Sound Regional Archives graciously provided me with a report on the house originally owned by Matt and Mary Roderick including photos of the home taken in 1937 and 1956. The couple bought the house new in 1892 and enjoyed six hundred square feet of living downstairs with the same upstairs. Their recent arrival from frontier life in South Dakota along with their two children must have had them feeling blessed with indoor plumbing and easy access to public transportation.
But the shooting death of Mathew Roderick in BC in late 1896 changed everything for Mary. She eventually sold her beautiful home and moved to the Lane Apartments (old location) two miles north. The enterprising woman became the first female bailiff in King County in 1911. As late as 1935, she was still employed in the role and helped to deal with many high profile trials. Interestingly, the judge who swore Mary in was none other than Wilson R. Gay, the former lawyer who helped Mary settle Matt’s estate in 1897.
These details might seem minor to the main story of the robbery and death of Roderick but it helps us to see the bigger picture and perhaps understand their motivations. It reveals how the economy affected their lives and forced them into situations never considered.
Last year I only had the chance to visit the target area once. Another year on and I am missing that special place big time. When I’m in nature, fully immersed in nature, I’m a child. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, no corona virus or racist rhetoric, no self-centered president who hasn’t a clue about anything beyond his own image. Thankfully, New West has beautiful parks and green spaces where one can still commune with nature and let the stress of the world fade away.
But Nature has a problem with us, mankind. We are a virus infecting the natural course of events that the earth has developed over billions of years. Billions. If you have read James Lovelock, then you know how interconnected the earth is and how it has the ability to adjust, slowly, but adapt and bring about change. As we continue to turn this once Garden of Eden into a cesspool of plastic, oil and nuclear waste, the earth has no other choice. The current pandemic is another in a horrific list of major death events to control the population. I suspect that until we clean up the untold messes we have made around the world, Nature will do her damnedest to rid herself of us.
As we continue to battle the corvid-19 problem to the best of our ability, remember that the earth sees us as a virus. And unfortunately, the global populations of Indigenous Peoples are affected the most and yet were a part of nature. They blended in perfect harmony with Nature while the rest of us decided the earth was to be harvested for our own purposes. By not blending into Nature, we have inadvertently set ourselves up to be removed as a serious illness the earth can ill afford to ignore.
See what happens when I can’t get back to the rugged beauty of Nature or hug my family? I get cranky and write the words none want to read. But we do need to consider the long-term outcome….
Writing is an interesting art. At times I struggle for the proper words but other times the words flow and the writing occasionally surprises me. I’ve written most of the nonfiction portion of the story that covers from 2012 to the present. Every year will be followed by a fictional account of the principal players who were active in the story before, during and after the gold robbery.
The research options available today are great for uncovering facts and details that add so much to the story. Newspapers alone have greatly benefited me, especially from small towns. Being starved for news in a remote area meant gossip, or unsubstantiated facts, made it to print as well. Some papers even reported who arrived or departed on the stagecoach or train and who stayed at which hotel. The facts I’ve learned have allowed me to build a better, more accurate story and bring the characters alive for the reader. With luck, the talents of a few great librarians might add more.
After more thought and review of my Kickstarter campaign, I have decided not to pursue that route for funding. Besides my small group of family and friends, I would have to pursue all the popular websites to reach out to the public. My very limited skills would take more time and effort than I have. My focus is to write the best story I am capable of and recover the gold bars. With luck, other options may occur.
I’ve made the decision to proceed with a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to raise funds to complete this quest.
A preview is available at the site below.
Not yet available; on hold
1896 and 2020 are identical calendar years. With all the Magick that has occurred in my life, this would be a perfect year to end this long adventure. My sharp accountant agrees. A lack of income over eight years of claimed expenses with no income might force Revenue Canada to reconsider my claims. When this pandemic is over, our government will be squeezing every nickel they can from us. Cover your asses, fellow tax payers, the future could hold some expensive times. This isn’t a complaint as much as a realization. There is no where else I’d rather be during a global crisis than in Canada.
Meanwhile, two gold bars stolen in 1896 are waiting in the forest for me to unearth. But my greatest barrier since retirement has been cash flow. In hopes of making the quest complete, crowdfunding might work. There is much to gain and little to loose. This old hermit will have to step boldly onto the public stage and offer some tempting rewards. I will do my best. Now lets see, Kickstarter or Indiegogo?
After years of writing a manuscript detailing my adventure, I chose a competent editor in Vancouver to read my work. Her thoughtful and intelligent guidance surprised and pleased me. The encouragement offered has further ignited my writing passion and I have returned to the original style I wrote some years ago.
Mathew Roderick and I have much in common. My last partner, a wonderful woman, has much in common with Mary Roderick. And with a little imagination, my daughter Haley could have much in common with Roderick’s daughter Trophy Leona.
Now, to clear up a few program glitches and get on with it. Let the winter rains fall…