Coins Set Off Gold Fever in Grants Pass in 1919


Friday, Nov. 25, 2016


Lynda Demsher


3 068

The police chief had a hunch that a man who showed up in Grants Pass wearing only his underwear four years earlier was connected somehow with the treasure discovered in 1919 under a water tank.

While repairing the Southern Pacific water tank in July, two carpenters had found several $10 and $20 gold coins.  A train engineer, hearing of the carpenters' luck, found several more. This set off gold fever in the community, and soon the ground around the water tank was "fairly well stirred," as the Grants Pass Daily Courierput it.

How the gold coins got there was the subject of much speculation, until Police Chief C.E. McLane recalled an incident that had happened four years earlier when the man in the underwear was found wandering along the railroad tracks near the water tank.

The man had appeared confused, but gave McLane the name of his brother in Indiana.  The Chief wired the brother, who arrived 10 days later.  He asked his destitute brother what happened to the $800 in gold coins he had when he left Indiana.  The young man answered that he’d just thrown them away, but couldn’t say where.

Mystery solved!

Source:  "Great Excitement at the Old Water Tank." Rogue River Courier 10 July 1919 [Grants Pass OR] : 1. Web. 1 Oct. 2016. Historic Oregon Newspapers. Web. 2 Oct. 2016. <



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