I know, I know, if it was found then how could it be a mystery?
It’s kind of like working a treasure trail to the end only to find the treasure is already gone. You know a treasure was there but you just don’t know exactly what it was because all that is left is an empty hole. This is a story of an empty hole being found but with very few clues present.
This recovery took place in 1926 on the north edge of what used to be the Fort Reno military reservation near El Reno, Oklahoma. Fort Reno was established in 1874 for the U.S. Army in “No Mans Land” for the protection of the Five Civilized Tribes from the not so civilized Plains Indians. The fort was abandoned in 1908 after Oklahoma became a state but it was still used as a U.S Cavalry remount station until 1949. Today the property is used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
During the week of January 10th, 1926 Edward Crane, a fence rider for the Fort, discovered the hole while making his rounds. The hole, 13 feet deep and 8 feet wide, was located south of Darlington and about five hundred yards from where the Chisholm Trail crossed the North Canadian River. Mr. Crane had just been by the location two days earlier and there hadn’t been a hole there so it was surmised that whoever dug the hole worked during the dark of night so they wouldn’t be discovered. And worked fast I might add, that’s a big damn hole!
Now for the weird part, the location of the hole was on flat, tilled ground with no landmarks what so ever in the immediate vicinity. Whoever dug the hole only dug the one hole and left very little for clues as to what might have been in the hole to begin with. They also where able to hit their target dead on because when the hole was inspected closely a box made of rotting wooden timbers was found almost squarely in the center of the hole. The box was approximately four feet square and it appeared that a large metal box or safe had originally been inside the wooden box. The only other clues left behind was a bucket and a rope used to haul the dirt out of the of the hole. Officials were at a loss on how to explain how anyone would know where to dig a hole to make the recovery because there wasn’t anything close by to use as a land mark or measure from and no clues of any kind were found in the area. Remember, this was in a tilled field with nothing but dirt and more dirt, the closest “landmark” was the tracks of the Rock Island railway that were south of the hole through another field.
Officials at Fort Reno estimated the box had been in the ground between 30 and 50 years and said that what was recovered may have been a safe “with a large amount of money” that was “lost” by a government paymaster in route over the Chisholm Trail to Fort Reno.
The funny part is, according to the government report the safe was supposedly lost when the vehicle it was being carried in tried to cross the North Canadian River and became bogged down in quicksand. Now just how does an army payroll in a safe inside a vehicle that supposedly sank in quicksand end up in a wooden box at the bottom of a hole on dry land? I guess Uncle Sam has always been a little scatter brained when it comes to accounting for money!
I know this isn’t something you can look for but hearing about somebody recovering something is always interesting. Especially when it seems like the people making the recovery must have had x-ray vision!