Peter Lassens Pots of Gold

Gypsy Heart

Gold Member
Nov 29, 2005
Peter Lassen's Pots of Gold

Peter Lassen was a Danish-American blacksmith, rancher and prospector. Lassen County, California, Lassen Peak and Lassen Volcanic National Park are named after him.

Peter Lassen was born on October 31, 1800 in Farum, Denmark and immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts in 1830. In 1840 he immigrated to California and became a rancher.

In 1855 Lassen moved to the Honey Lake region, where he prospected and served as Surveyor and Governor of the unofficial Nataqua Territory.

Lassen was murdered on April 26, 1859 in Clapper Canyon (then known as Black Rock Canyon) near the Black Rock Desert as he was traveling to Virginia City, Nevada to prospect for silver. He was traveling along with Edward Clapper and Americus Wyatt; Clapper was also killed in the same incident, while Wyatt escaped. The circumstances surrounding his death remain mysterious. According to Wyatt, Lassen and Clapper were shot by an unseen sniper while breaking camp.

At the time the culprits were widely considered to be Northern Paiute, who were then in a state of unrest, which would soon lead to the Paiute War. Pit River Indians, disgruntled emigrants who followed the Lassen trail, and Wyatt himself have also been suspected. Those who suspect that the culprits were white point to the fact that the dead men's clothing and equipment were not taken, which Indians would almost certainly have done.

Peter Lassen's grave is in Susanville, CA, along the eastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

The history of Masonry in California dates back to "the days of old, the days of gold, the days of '49." To one uninitiated, the study of this history reveals it is of considerable interest.

It is believed that Peter Lassen, a doughty pioneer, from whom Lassen Peak and Lassen County derive their names, was the man who brought the charter overland from Missouri for the first Masonic lodge to be established in California. One Hundred Years of Freemasonry in California suggests that Lassen had nothing to do with the charter but that he was a warden of the first lodge that it brought into existence, Western Star No. 98 (now No. 2).

Arriving in 1840, he was able to secure a 26,000-acre land grant in 1843. Located in the upper Sacramento Valley, Lassen hoped to develop his land into an empire and established the Rancho Los Bosquejo, or the "ranch of the wooded places" in 1845. In the years that followed, Lassen developed a trading post, a new settlement, vineyards, and farms to entice people to what he believed would be his new empire. However, when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Creek, his workers and settlers abandoned him for the goldfields. Lassen’s fortunes would rise and fall over the next decade until he was murdered in 1859 while traveling to Virginia City, Nevada to prospect for silver. Afterwards, a legend began to grow that Lassen had buried thousands of dollars in gold near his home on the Rancho Los Bosquejo. Located at the confluence of Deer Creek and the Sacramento River, he was said to have hidden his gold coins in iron pots surrounding his property. Though Lassen had a lifetime of financial difficulties, the legend continues. The buried cache is thought to be in Deer Creek Canyon near Vina, California or somewhere along the Lassen Trail which follows Deer Creek.
Some twenty years after Lassen's death, a miner named Obe Leininger found a gold-flecked ledge of gold in the same area. In order to find it again, he marked the spot by burying his pick in the trunk of a nearby tree. When he returned, however, he was unable to find the tree with the pick, though he searched the area diligently. Though he and others who had heard his tale continued to search the area for years afterwards, the gold ledge was never found again. The location of the ore was said to be to between the mouth of Calf Creek and the Potato Patch campground of the U.S. Forest Service, just beyond Deer Creek.

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