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September 30: Lost Treasure At Engelhardt Hill

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Today we examine a buried-treasure legend from the countryside near the town of Hebron — or maybe Glen Ullin, sometimes it is hard to tell about the whereabouts of something that was utterly lost.

On this date, in 1988, a newspaper story told tantalizing details about a lost treasure story, as related by Stanley Reetz, of Hebron, who had learned some alleged facts about a gold cache. Reetz said that “folks from the Hebron area sometimes searched” for gold coins in the countryside east of town.

The origins of the Hebron treasure story go back many decades, to 1878, when the U.S. Army established a stagecoach line between Fort Abraham Lincoln (near Bismarck) and Fort Keogh, near Miles City, Montana. This “Fort Keogh Trail,” as it was called, was a path for settlers, railway surveyors, hunters, and stagecoaches prior to the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

As the story goes, a stagecoach started out from Ft. Abraham Lincoln with a payroll packet, carrying pay for soldiers at Fort Keogh. The driver had $2,000 in gold coins secreted in the stagecoach, and he was wary as he started upon the trail. Everything went fine until he was approximately sixty miles west of Bismarck – a location just east of where the town of Hebron would later be established. The anxious stagecoach driver detected signs of hostile warriors; and he resolved that they would not get the money.

As the story goes, he slipped away from the trail and got out of sight south of Engelhardt Hill and hid the package in some convenient hole. The stagecoach-driver speedily wrote in his note book describing the hiding place.

Tragically, the warriors overtook his stagecoach and killed him dead. The payroll never reached Fort Keogh. Other government men tried to find the missing gold, but they did not find it. But they did find the notebook. Unfortunately, its pages had been badly mutilated.

As Stanley Reetz said, local people have sometimes searched for the treasure around Engelhard’s Hill, about 3 miles east of Hebron. Another source surmised the gold-cache had been hidden east of Haymarsh, a bit farther north. But, as far as anyone knows, no one has ever found it.

Dakota Datebook by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, MSUM History Professor.

Sources:

  • Marc Conrad, “His Models Keep Our Heritage Alive,” Bismarck Tribune, September 30, 1988, p. 20.
  • Louis Pfaller, “The Fort Keogh to Bismarck Stage Route,” North Dakota History, July 1954, p. 91, 101.
  • “Wagon Train Planned for Historic Trail,” Bismarck Tribune, February 10, 2005, p. 2B.
  • “Hebron’s New Mayor Is Ex-Service Man,” Grand Forks Herald, March 23, 1920, p 3.
  • Glen Ullin Yesterdays (Mandan: Glen Ullin Historical Society, United Printing, 1983), p. 38.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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