Thursday, June 5, 2008
There's Gold in Them Hills!
Coin shooters and cache hunters alike are always hoping to find that rare coin that will sell for the big bucks. We all have our reasons and they are probably all different but we all would like to find one, okay, maybe a hand full, of rare coins. The one pictured here is just such a coin and if you look in the right place you just might get lucky.
The Parson & Company coin pictured above was made in a private mint owned and operated by Dr. John Parson. Although he was a medical doctor he was an entrepreneur and had a background in metallurgy. Dr. Parson opened his mint in Tarryall, Colorado during 1860 issuing $20 gold ingots. Around the middle of 1861 Dr. Parsons began striking $2 ½ and $5 gold coins. His mint was located near the mouth of a Canyon northwest of Como.
You’ll notice on the coin that Dr. Parson put the word “ORO” on his coins. Although this is the Spanish word for gold it is thought he put the word on the coins because he intended to move his mint to Oro City, Colorado. This is of course just speculation on the part of some book writer but you never know, maybe he was right.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I bring up coins from a private mint other than the fact it’s a little interesting. First, there are only six known Parson $2 ½ gold coins in existence and only five known $5 gold coins in existence so finding one of these coins would bring you more than $100,000.00 each. Secondly, all of the gold Dr. Parson used to make his ingots and coins came from South Park. No, I’m not talking about the annoying cartoon; I’m talking about South Park, Colorado.
Gold was discovered in the South Park area (the southern part of Park County, CO,) in 1859 and within a few months the mountains were covered with mining camps and small towns. Gold can still be found in the streams and mountains so if you like to prospect or pan for gold this would be a good area to go to. There is still plenty of gold to be found.
If you are more into relic or cache hunting then you will want to do some research into the old mining camps and ghost towns. Just in Park County, CO alone there are forty-four ghost towns, including Tarryall where the mint was located. Tarryall was the center of the gold rush in Park County and latecomers to the area found themselves locked out, not allowed to look for gold in the area. These latecomers referred to the town of Tarryall as “Graball”. Being very disgruntled and a little ingenious these latecomers started their own town at the junction of Beaver and South Platte Creeks and called it Fairplay. They recovered large amounts of gold from the area for the next thirty years. I guess the old adage ”don’t get mad, get even” worked in this case.
As a side note, if you are in this area there is a completely restored ghost town with thirty-five of the original buildings still in the town. South Park City is the name of the place. It was restored and reopened to the public in 1959, exactly 100 years from the date of the first gold find. It sits just outside of Fairplay, Colorado.
Now, back to those coins. Because the South Park area grew up so fast with mining camps and small towns there were literally thousands of buildings including cabins, houses and stores in the area. The majority of these are gone to the winds by now but a good researcher could identify some of the locations. Remember, we’re talking about miners and most of them didn’t trust banks and buried or hid their gold, a lot of which is still out there.
In 1944 a hunter (not a treasure hunter) named Francis Brayler found one of these caches. Well, it was kind of a cache. I don’t think it was hidden intentionally but I’m pretty sure the owner wasn’t coming back for it. Mr. Brayler located a natural cave while hunting and inside the cave he found pots and pans, a Colt revolver, a rifle and several gold coins dated 1880. Oh yea, he also found a skeleton, probably the man who owned the coins and other things.
A cache of coins or gold nuggets or even a can of gold dust may await the intrepid hunter. Who knows, maybe you can find a Parson gold coin.
You can’t find it if you don’t look for it!