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An Almost Perfect Robbery

April 24, 2015

Hello and welcome to another round of Anassa Relates Historical Anecdotes Without Thorough Research! I got this one out of a book of British Columbian gold rush stories about a year ago, which is kind of weird since it deals with my home town. I guess nobody wanted to talk about the heist when I was growing up there.

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The roadhouse at Bridge Creek was one of the rest stops for the BX stagecoaches that were responsible for transporting gold from the Barkerville gold fields to Yale, where it would be sent to the banks in New Westminster. One morning, the stage driver/guard supervised the loading of the strongbox onto the coach, making sure it was entirely secure, then set off across the fields and up the steep hill that would take him south along the Cariboo Road.

Just as the stagecoach had crested the hill and pulled off to give the horses a breather, a man stepped out of the woods beside the road, wearing a plaid shirt, slouch hat, and a bandana over his face as a mask. He was carrying a rifle. He demanded the driver hand over the strongbox of gold, or he’s shoot him. The driver was no fool, so he handed over the very heavy, very locked box, figuring that the robber wouldn’t get very far hauling the thing and that he was close enough to the roadhouse that he could have a posse up in no time. He waited till the bandit had dragged the box into the woods, then managed to turn the coach around and raced back to the settlement where, as predicted, he had a posse up in no time.

By the time they got to the site of the robbery, there was no sign of the robber, or the strongbox, or much of a trail. After half a day’s searching, they finally found the box, though, lock smashed and contents missing. The robber hadn’t left a trail they could follow, though, so the posse had to content themselves with reporting the missing contents to the police and hoping for the best.

A stagecoach near Clinton (not far from Cache Creek) From Wikipedia

A stagecoach near Clinton (not far from Cache Creek)
From Wikipedia

A few months later, a guy showed up in Cache Creek, which is a couple hours south today and was quite a bit longer away then. He walked into the mining office and staked a claim on Scottie Creek. The claims clerk warned him that people had already panned that creek and found nothing, so he should put his money on a different claim, but the man was having none of it. He just had a really good feeling about Scottie Creek, you know? So the clerk took the guy’s money and granted him a claim.

The man kept people off his claim with a rifle and seemed to know nothing about mining. Everyone figured he’d get bored, give up, realize his mistake, go broke, move on. But then he showed up in town with a poke of dust he’d panned from the creek, and then another.

The banker and the mining officials got suspicious, especially since they weren’t really that far from Bridge Creek and knew all about the stolen gold. They wrote some letters, checking if the man was a known criminal and all that. They looked at the gold, which turned out to be not from the Cache Creek area, but actually from a scattering of creeks around Barkerville. The police go out to Scottie Creek and arrest the guy. Turns out the guy had dumped his stolen gold into the creek and panned it back out to launder it.

And he’d have gotten away with it if he’s only chosen a more plausible creek.

(Also, unlike some of my other stories, this one has actual historical documentation attached. It’s actually true.)

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