Springers Deadmans Lode
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  1. #1

    Oct 2016
    1186 times
    Researching Treasure Stories Author

    Springer's Deadmans Lode

    This story is one I want to do a whole book on, I think there could be enough info on it. For those who don't know it, it's about an old prospector who had been to several major strikes but always a bit too late. Once he was around Deerlodge he prospects east up Baggs Creek and makes his big strike. Of course he dies before anyone learns the location and the legend is born. So a couple of days ago I buy a few old Frontier Times and one has the story! Two fellow who were with him when he died are named. Of course if the names are real I doubt it will lead to the old mine, but they would lead to more material. This would be a stand alone story on a single lost treasure, like the one we did on Keyes Lost Placer.

  2. #2

    Oct 2016
    1186 times
    Researching Treasure Stories Author
    From "Treasure State Treasure Tales" by Jean Moore 1950:
    Thomas Springer was just another hopeful prospector who, after wandering around the early day mining camps in Montana Territory in search of his fortune, decided to make one last try in Blackfoot City, about 80 miles north of Deer Lodge. Here too, Dame Fortune must have snubbed him. So, weary and undoubtedly discouraged, he decided to settle down in Deer Lodge, where he built a small log cabin.
    Old-timers describe Springer as a large-boned, but not too husky a man. Not a very talkative person, he told very little about his past but did say that he had at one time lived in Sycamore, Illinois.
    Whenever the weather permitted, Springer would prospect in the hills around Deer Lodge, always alone and sometimes disappearing for several days at a time. As he never seemed to find gold in paying quantities, his neighbors sometimes worried about how he managed to live with no apparent income. Softhearted merchants, when he bought his meager groceries, would often slip in a little extra measure on his grocery list.
    But, suddenly one day, Springer disclosed a full poke of gold dust and immediately became the center of attraction in town. His neighbors plied him with free drinks to loosen his tongue, but the wary prospector never seemed to hear when questioned about the source of his sudden riches; although, he did finally admit that his gold was not from panning but had been obtained from rich quartz ground up by a mortar and pan washed. There were some who did not take the story of Springer’s gold too seriously, thinking that he at last was going to have to get a grub stake.
    “He’s just leading up to a bid for a grub stake with his yarn. Done it myself plenty of times. Bet he had his gold watch pounded up and is going to salt the claim,” “said one of the buying miners.”
    “That’s it! He’s been keeping this here gold dust he’s been showing off for just such an emergency,” volunteered another.
    Early one morning, despite the watch kept over him by the town residents, Springer disappeared. A visit to his cabin by several miners proved that he had taken his few household supplies and bedding. There was no sign of foul play and it was assumed that Springer did not plan to return to his cabin.
    After a while, other things occupied the minds of Deer Lodge residents. Springer was almost forgotten when suddenly he showed up at a general store where he purchased supplies; and this time there was no frugal buying but rather a shopping spree. Once again he was pursued by curious friends who escorted him to a local saloon and bought him drinks while they questioned him as to his disappearance and activities. This time, Springer was more cooperative. He probably exhibited samples of gold streaked quartz which he implied came from a rich vein he had discovered.
    Filled with free drinks, Springer left a saloon in very high spirits; but, as before, he shrewdly evaded any pertinent questions regarding his gold discovery.
    Springer’s every move was now carefully watched and everyone knew there would be no chance for him to slip away again. But he played the game of cat and mouse well. Seemingly in no hurry to return to his discovery, he visited around town, apparently enjoying the anxiety of his impatient fellow miners.
    Time went on and Springer showed no signs of ever leaving his cabin again. He seemed to be quite content to take life easy and became quite sociable as though he wished to compensate for his former unfriendliness. There is little doubt that he was well aware of the watch put on him and his casual manner was to mislead his would-be pursuers.
    One day, word was passed around that Springer was finally going to disappear again as he had just bought a good supply of groceries, the kind of prospector might take on a long trek. That evening, a double guard was put on Springer’s cabin, and early the next morning he was seem to leave.
    Evidently, Springer believed he had given his guards the slip. But in order to be sure, he took off in a zigzag trail for Cottonwood Creek. This made it almost impossible for his trackers to keep him in sight without they themselves being seen. Of one thing Springer’s pursuers were sure: their quarry certainly had far more stamina than he appeared to have. It became harder and harder to keep him in sight, and when they thought they couldn’t keep up much longer, he simply and completely disappeared.
    In attempting to explain his disappearance, they gave several stories. One insisted that a cloud overshadowed the trail; another said he was just coming around boulder when it happened. But all agreed that he had left no trail whatever. The disgusted trackers had no choice but to return to Deer Lodge and take the ribbing they knew they would get.
    A few days later, Springer returned to his cabin where he took it easy for a couple of weeks before playing hide and seek again. This time, he even went so far as to make it easy for his friends to track him, until, that is, he reached the wooded section around north Cottonwood Creek when as usual, to the chagrin of his weary followers, he did his usual disappearing act.
    From then on, his disappearances away from his cabin became longer and longer until finally in late August 1872 Springer surprised two friends, John Stearns and John Hildreth, by calling on them. He had, he said, decided to call a truce and let them in on his gold discovery as partners as he realized he was not physically able to work his claim and had not, in fact, even had it recorded yet. He wanted partners he felt he could trust, he told them and said that he also needed protection.
    Early the next morning, Springer and his new partners rode nonchalantly out of town as though just out for a ride and casually picked their way to Cottonwood Creek. Although they looked back every once in a while, they were confident that they had outsmarted Springer’s usual followers by leaving town in broad daylight rather than sneaking out in the middle of the night.
    The party continued on its way for about two hours when they stopped for a snack and a short rest. Suddenly Springer said, “Take care of my horse for me, I’ll be back soon.” Taking a small map from his pocket, he studied it carefully, checked it with the mountain terrain and remarked that they would be at his mine before the following night. Picking up his gun, he said he was going to look around for a bit for game for their supper, stated a meeting place, and set off into the woods.
    After riding for about half an hour, Stearns and Hildreth came to the designated meeting place where they set up camp and prepared supper. They waited for Springer, but when he failed to arrive by sundown, they were worried. There were no answers to their shouts and gunshots. All the next day until nightfall the anxious miners hunted for Springer. At last they decided to return to town and form a rescue party.
    Ten men assisted them in the hunt. Starting out early in the morning, they carefully searched the area in which, but a short time before, the three men had traveled. No possible hiding place was overlooked. Again, they returned to Deer Lodge, and this time 20 more recruits joined the search party.
    After about eight hours of diligent searching, a coyote’s howl caused them to turn back to a previously scouted area. Here, the long search ended when, beneath a gnarled old pine tree and covered with high grasses, they discovered the body of Springer. Coroner Erwin Irvine, Justice of the Peace in Deer Lodge, pronounced the cause of his death is due to “a probable heart attack caused by too much exertion.”
    Springer was buried in Deer Lodge and with him the secret of his gold discovery.
    Many attempts were made to locate the Springer lode, but no one was successful. If a modern prospector with a modern gold detector wants to accept the challenge, it is waiting for him.

  3. #3

    Oct 2016
    1186 times
    Researching Treasure Stories Author
    An update to this one is we came across an article by a doctor who as a boy asked and was told the story of Springer's lost lode by none other than the owner of the hotel, who often grub staked Springer.

  4. #4

    Oct 2016
    1186 times
    Researching Treasure Stories Author
    Lost Springer or Deadman’s Lode
    It is said that his gold laced quartz was from a prospect hole on Baggs Creek. Baggs Creek is a north branch of Cottonwood creek. Later he was seen to have nuggets and claimed he made a better strike, a motherlode as he put it. The Helena Daily Herald claims his name was Thos. O. Spring!



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