Saturday, April 26, 2008

Relics and a Cache or Two

This was going to be about a ghost town called Wallace, KS but Wallace isn’t really a ghost town. There are probably a few ghosts in the area if you are interested. If you are traveling in Wallace County, KS there are a few things you could check out, especially if you are a civil war buff or like to hunt for relics.

There are four sites you can check out and I think all four are still on private property. The first is the Pond Creek Station, located about one mile west of Wallace, KS on the south side of Highway 40. Pond Creek Station was located on the old Smokey Hill trail and was a temporary military post and stage station in 1865 and 1866. At one time you could still see the old cellar holes and what was left of the dirt fortifications. A couple of the buildings from the site including the coach house and stage tender’s building were moved from the property intact to another piece of land, apparently to preserve them. This old station would be a good place to run a metal detector looking for artifacts and relics. Who knows, maybe you will come across a small cache left behind by a traveler or worker.

The next three sites are the same place but in different locations. I’ve got you wondering now don’t I? What started out as Camp Pond Creek in 1865 was renamed in 1866 as Fort Wallace. This was an active Army post from 1865 until 1882 and was considered one of the largest army posts in Indian Territory. It’s main purpose was to quell the Plains Indians who were trying to protect their lands from the white man. When construction on the fort first started in 1865 the soldiers camped at the bluffs on the south fork of the Smoky Hill River and Pond creek. This location was about two miles west of the permanent location of the fort. So there is your first site, where the soldiers camped while building the fort. This could be a relic hunters dream.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Fort Wallace started out in a low area of land and was partially constructed when a First Lieutenant, who was apparently smarter than the preceding officers at the fort, decided with the fort being in a low lying area it was vulnerable to attack from all sides and requested that he be allowed to move the fort. In July of 1866 construction started at the new site that was on higher ground. So there are your other two sites. You have the spot where the fort was first constructed and then you have the spot where the fort was finally and permanently located.

This fort site is located about two miles southeast of the town of Wallace, KS. The original cemetery plot is still there and is across the road from the actual fort site. It’s my understanding that all of the soldiers buried in this cemetery were later exhumed and re-interred at Fort Leavenworth, KS. There are still other graves in the cemetery and there is a large monument in the cemetery dedicated to the dead soldiers.

As far as I know there are still remnants of the fort that are evident to someone looking. No buildings exist but you can probably find some of the foundations and cellars.

As long as you are in the area of Wallace, KS you might as well do some looking around for some “small” caches left behind by an old resident of the town.

Peter Robidoux was a pioneer storekeeper that did very well for himself in the town of Wallace, KS. Mr. Robidoux arrived in Wallace, KS in 1872 and immediately opened a small general store. As his store prospered he was forced to enlarge the store several times. Mr. Robidoux was known to boast that he would put all of the silver dollars he earned each day into an empty beer keg and the day’s earnings would fill up the keg each day! Holy crap! Somebody was drinking a lot of beer! Oh, come on, your weren’t actually thinking about the silver were you?

In 1909 Peter Robidoux bought a large Victorian style home and moved his family into it where they lived for several years. In 1919 he sold all of his holdings that included the house and thirty two THOUSAND acres! Robidoux was known to have hidden several caches of money on his property and he apparently died before he recovered them all.

It has been reported that treasure hunters have found a few of these caches but it is thought many more are still in the ground. The old Victorian home once owned by Peter Robidoux still stands in Wallace, KS and is being restored to it’s original beauty.

Thirty two thousand acres is a big place to hunt but a little research might give you some insight into where some of these caches might still be.

No comments: