Author Topic: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold  (Read 15368 times)

wshawkins

  • East Side Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3524
  • Got to love the Eastern Sierra
    • View Profile
Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« on: June 09, 2012, 05:18:02 AM »
Many colorful characters came out of the old west mining camps who contributed to its legendary reputation with colorful names. Most were hard working folks through good fortune and hard work, reaped great rewards.  Then there were the individuals who would take from others.  This story is about one of them.



Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold



Richard Barter, best known as Rattlesnake Dick, was born in Quebec, Canada, the son of a British officer around 1833. Though little is known of his early history, he was said to have been a reckless sort of boy.



Rattlesnake Dick, 1856




During California’s Gold Rush days, he migrated there in 1850, accompanied by his older brother and an old man who was some sort of relative. Settling in at Rattlesnake Bar, a small mining camp in Placer County, the brother and other man soon returned to Canada. But, Rattlesnake Dick remained at the camp, working for other miners and doing a little prospecting on his own.

 

Yreka Mine, 1860




However, Rattlesnake Dick was unsuccessful in his quest for gold and soon decided to turn to a life of crime. He began with rustling horses but was as unsuccessful at that as he was at finding gold. In no time, he was arrested and sent to prison for two years.

When he was released he formed a gang made up of brothers, Cyrus and George Skinner, along with several others. In 1856, Rattlesnake Dick learned from a drunken mining engineer that large gold shipments were being sent down Trinity Mountain from the Yreka and Klamath River Mines.

Rattlesnake Dick sent George Skinner and three others to intercept the gold shipment, which was packed on a stagecoach. George and the other bandits stopped the stage coaches outside of Nevada City, California holding guns on the drivers. Meekly the men turned over $80,600 in gold bullion to Skinner and his men, without a shot being fired.



Stage Coach Robbery




The bandits then made off with the shipment to keep a rendezvous at Folsom with Rattlesnake Dick and Cy Skinner. However, George Skinner found it next to impossible to take the heavy gold shipment down the mountain passes without fresh mules. Soon, he split up the gold shipment burying half of it in the mountains.

Making their way to Auburn, the outlaws were soon intercepted by a Wells Fargo posse and gunfight ensued. In the melee, George Skinner was killed and his confederates fled. The lawmen recovered $40,600 of the stolen loot and though they searched diligently, they failed to find the remaining $40,000.



Wells Fargo Poster




In the meantime, Rattlesnake Dick and Cy Skinner weren’t at the rendezvous point in Folsom, as they had just been jailed for stealing mules. When they were released, Rattlesnake Dick immediately sought out George Skinner to obtain his share of the gold shipment, only to find that Skinner had been killed. Cy Skinner and Rattlesnake Dick spent the next several weeks trying to find the buried gold before they finally gave up.

Both men soon went back to robbing stagecoaches but their luck soon ran out. On July 11, 1859, Sheriff J. Boggs trapped Rattlesnake Dick and Skinner in a mountain pass near Auburn, California. Boggs fired a shot right into the heart of Rattlesnake Dick, killing him instantly. Skinner was wounded, but lived to be taken into custody and given a long prison sentence.



Skinner’s Prison Cell, 1859



 
The treasure has never been recovered and is said to be somewhere on the slope of Trinity Mountain, said to have been buried about 12 miles south of the hold-up point.  The loot if found today would be now worth over 3,500,000 dollars.



Trinity Mountains


"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Sierra Girl

  • Guest
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2012, 05:46:45 AM »
Great story and pictures!  Just a perfect morning read with my coffee!

Creek Dude

  • Humboldt Creeker
  • Administrator
  • Eastern Sierra Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2012, 06:26:48 AM »
If the gold shipment was coming from Yreka and the Klamath River area, how was the stagecoach robbed going down the mountain near Nevada City?  The geography doesn't add up at all...or the story wasn't well-researched by Legends of America...

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ca-treasures2.html
"Rock the Creek." - Hardrock

Creek Dude

  • Humboldt Creeker
  • Administrator
  • Eastern Sierra Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 1373
    • View Profile
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2012, 08:34:53 AM »
It's also funny how just a little bit of research can reveal two different ways Mr. Rattlesnake Ricardo was killed.  According to the above article, he was killed instantly in a gun battle with one gunshot to the heart.  In the following link, a different account is told...

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=26142371

Without primary sources, who really knows the true stories of the American west?  Likely, they are simply glorified pieces of fiction based loosely on "fact."  How much is really true is highly questionable.  Makes for a fun read though...
"Rock the Creek." - Hardrock

wshawkins

  • East Side Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3524
  • Got to love the Eastern Sierra
    • View Profile
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2012, 08:51:34 AM »
Good point Creek Dude.  I believe most shipments of gold in the 1850’s were sent to San Francisco or Carson City.  It would be an odd route to get there to either place.  Like most movies on TV or in theater’s, I think sometimes the “lore” of the story matters more than the actual facts.

Still makes an interesting read!
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Scott

  • Guest
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2012, 08:57:42 AM »
Good read wshawkins!  Like Creek Dude said, who really knows the true stories of the American west?  Lot of stories but what really is the truth?  Fun read.  Thanks.

flyGirl

  • Guest
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2012, 11:06:33 AM »
Very entertaining story!  I would think the first version (wshawkins) looks more actual than Creek Dude second account.  Do you really believe somebody named Rattlesnake that steals clothing among other thief’s, would honorably shoot himself?  Not likely!  Great read.  Thanks.

How did he get such a nice grave head stone for a thief?  You know he had no money!

Sierra Girl

  • Guest
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2012, 08:34:38 AM »
Enjoyable read wshawkins!  Also interesting there are two different stories of how he died!  Do you find this problem often on stories of the old west?

wshawkins

  • East Side Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3524
  • Got to love the Eastern Sierra
    • View Profile
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2012, 10:58:32 AM »
Yes, quite often.  Just human nature I guess.  Everybody seems to remember things differently.  The worst one for me was the story I did on "Lying Jim Townsend".  There were so many different stories on him, probably because he lied about just everything!   :lol2:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

High Sierra

  • Guest
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2012, 08:17:07 AM »
Very entertaining read Hawk!  What a name, Rattlesnake!  Did he ever kill anybody during robberies, other than possible himself?

Scott

  • Guest
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2012, 08:40:41 AM »
Was this guy a gunslinger?

wshawkins

  • East Side Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3524
  • Got to love the Eastern Sierra
    • View Profile
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2012, 09:50:34 AM »
Very entertaining read Hawk!  What a name, Rattlesnake!  Did he ever kill anybody during robberies, other than possible himself?

Not to my knowledge.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

  • East Side Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3524
  • Got to love the Eastern Sierra
    • View Profile
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2012, 09:51:46 AM »
Was this guy a gunslinger?

No, not a gunslinger.  Just a robber of Innocent people and a low life!
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Scott

  • Guest
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2012, 11:29:12 AM »
You think with a name as "Rattlesnake" he would be a gunslinger!   :lol:

flyGirl

  • Guest
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2012, 05:02:11 PM »
A real low life!  Got what he deserved.   :robber:

wshawkins

  • East Side Hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 3524
  • Got to love the Eastern Sierra
    • View Profile
Re: Rattlesnake Dick's Lost Gold
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2012, 05:17:04 PM »
Justice was swift in the old west.   
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."