This is a question that was posed by one of our readers. They also wanted to know how the outlaws had so much time to put down these treasures and the clues that go with them. They were under the impression that the outlaws would have been in a big hurry and would have just stashed the cash in an easy spot during their get away.
For the first question, almost anything can be a treasure mark. The outlaws used everything including carvings on rocks and trees, metal clues such as knives, guns, ax heads, etc. They used stone or rock clues such as circles of stones or stones laid out in a pattern or individual stones sitting upright or with carvings or drill holes in them. The different types of clues are only limited by the imagination of the outlaw leaving them behind and how long he expected them to be there.
Lots of people see carvings and piles of rocks and assume they are treasure clues, mostly because they want them to be. Not all carvings and rock piles or individual rocks are treasure related. To know for sure you have to be able to follow the marks and or markers to something else that indicates you are actually working a trail. I have said this before and I will say it again, in some outlaw stuff you will not have the traditional “go this way” markers. Some markers that were left behind were intended to be used with a map and don't have any meaning other than "you are here".
The map could be carved somewhere around the area where you are finding markers or the map could have been a “carry around” type map, the kind made on leather, cloth, or metal, etc. If the markers were meant to be used with a carry around type map then you may never know the answer unless you just get really lucky with a metal detector. It’s all in the details. It’s possible you can find enough pointer markers to get you in the vicinity of where the treasure is/was planted but it will take a lot of detector swinging to find the spot without a map.
What does a treasure carving look like? Again, it can be almost anything but generally speaking it will look out of the ordinary. Somebody’s initials and date could actually be part of a treasure carving but probably won’t be the whole map. Maps to me are usually pretty obvious but you have to get used to what you are looking for to actually “see” some maps. I have posted two photos of part of an outlaw map to show you what some of the symbols you may run into will look like. This doesn’t mean you will ever see anything like this again but you may see one or more of these types of symbols if you are looking.
I have also put up a couple of photos of other markers known to have been left behind by outlaws.
How did the outlaws have time for all of this you ask? Simple, they weren’t in as big of a hurry as you thought they were. For the most part, any outlaw that made his living as an outlaw had one or more spots they liked to hide out in. Jesse James for instance was all over the place and had several different spots he was comfortable in. When he and the boys pulled off a robbery they would head for one of these spots. Once there, they had all of the time in the world to do what ever they wanted as far as making maps and clues to any treasure they left behind.
It would be my opinion that they spent a day or two just laying out the treasure trail to the cache. This is just a guess on my part and I have no facts to back this up but based on what I have seen this would seem to be about the normal amount of time it would take to put down a cache and mark it in the fashion I have worked at different sites. When the outlaw got to his or her hiding spot they would have days if not weeks to do what they wanted.
Even though it may take us months if not years to work a site you have to remember that they knew where the treasure was and were making themselves a way to get back to it with a few tricks thrown in to keep people like us from finding it. The movies and books usually have it wrong when they say somebody was riding hard and fast with no time to stop and bury a treasure. Sure, immediately after the robbery they were riding hard and fast but once they had some distance between themselves and the good guys then they were headed for that hide-out.
Once you have seen some of the maps drawn or carved by an outlaw you will realize they had a lot more time than what you thought to put down a treasure and mark it. You should also keep in mind that these weren’t a bunch of dumb cowboys, a lot of the outlaws had a lot of experience making maps.