If you can ever dig up the map or the marvelous lake near Mt. StuartÖthe gold may be yours for the keeping.
Captain Ben Ingalls of the United States cavalry strained to hear sounds from other members of his scouting party as he rode his horse slowly up a brushy hill near Mt. Stuart. He had accidentally become separated from the scouting party several hours before and now he wasnít quite sure where he was. Cascade country was a formidable wilderness in the year 1872.
Captain Ingalls reached the top of the hill and found himself on a long, narrow ridge. He noticed in the canyon below three small lakes. He pulled his horse up sharply, and the animal tossed his head and champed the bit. Never before had Captain Ingalls seen lake like these. Two lakes were roughly round in shape with dark water. But the middle lake was shaped in a crescent and shimmering green in color. A narrow stream connected all the lakes.
He found a steep trail leading to the floor of the canyon. The horse trotted impatiently down the trail, noisily crushing the rocks under his hoofs. As the captain approached the crescent-shaped lake, his mouth dropped open and he gasped. Then he let out a low whistle, jumped off his horse, and ran to the edge of the lake. He stooped down, examining the beach. It was a beach of crumbling quartz rock studded thickly with glittering, virgin gold.
Captain Ben Ingalls stayed in the canyon about two days, sketching a map of the area so he would be sure to find his way back. He estimated that there were about 10 tons of gold in his view and that probably much more hidden in the immediate vicinity. When Captain Ingalls left the canyon to find his troops, he carried with him several samples of the gold. He followed the creek, which now bears his name. Hoping to recover it when he returned, he buried the map somewhere near the mouth of the creek. Captain Ingalls bedded down the first night several miles from the canyon. Shrill screams from his horse awakened him abruptly in the night. Then he felt the ground shake terribly under him. The whole earth seemed to erupt with rumbling noises. He could hear the crashing of boulders and splintering trees all around him. But Captain Ingalls remained untouched. He didnít realize at the time that he was experiencing the great earthquake of 1872.
After Captain Ingalls rejoined his troops, he wrote to John Hansel, telling him about his discovery and sending him samples of gold. Ingalls asked Hansel to join him at the mouth of Ingalls Creek, but, before he could return, Ingalls was killed in a shooting accident. Hansel carried on the search for the gold alone. Although he and his family homesteaded a ranch for many years at the mouth of Ingalls Creek, Hansel never found the map of the gold. Apparently, the earthquake had shaken the cliffs around the three lakes and buried them deep beneath the earth. Many prospectors combed the area during the 1890ís, but no one found a canyon and lakes even remotely resembling those described by Captain Ben Ingalls.
Some persons wonder if another upheaval in the earth wonít sometime in the future uncover Captain Ingallís great gold discovery of 1872.