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Wild West gold!

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  • Wild West gold!

    So, I was looking up notable characters in the largest city close to me (Redding, CA). No real celebrities to note, however, I did find an interesting pair of notorious brothers from the late 1800's!

    They were the Ruggles brothers who robbed a stagecoach near where I live!

    The story:
    Ruggles Brothers Loot in Middle Creek, California

    Stagecoach with guard sitting on top, protecting whatever wealth it might *have been carrying.
    Stagecoach with guard sitting on top, protecting whatever wealth it might
    have been carrying.

    John and Charles Ruggles came from a respected family in Tulare County, California. Handsome men, Charles attended college but John was seemingly a “problem” from a young age. The boys’ father had high hopes for Charles but little faith in John as he was already in trouble with the law, arrested and imprisoned for robbery, while still a very young man. However, about the time Charles graduated college, John was released from prison and began to corrupt his younger brother, who had never committed a crime.

    He soon talked Charles into making his living the “easy way” by robbing a stagecoach. On May 14, 1892, the pair lay in wait for the Redding & Weaverville Stage just outside of Redding, California, intent upon taking a strong box filled with some $5,000 in gold coins.

    As the stage headed east in the late afternoon on what is now Middle Creek Road, from Shasta to Redding, it was driven by John Boyce. Its only passenger was George Suhr, who was riding up front with the driver. However, the stage guard, who also acted as the stage messenger, Amos “Buck” Montgomery, was riding inside the coach. When the stage came to a sharp curve in the road it slowed and out of the trees stepped Charles Ruggles. Wearing a long coat and a bandanna covering his face, he was pointing a shotgun at the driver. When he ordered Boyce to stop the stage and throw down the strong box, Boyce immediately complied, heaving the heavy box to the ground.

    Almost simultaneously, a blast sounded from inside the coach as Montgomery fired his shotgun riddling Charles in the face and upper body with buckshot. As the bandit fell, he returned the fire, hitting both Boyce and Suhr in the legs.

    Suddenly, John, who was hidden nearby, retaliated by firing shots into the stagecoach. He hit Montgomery who would die just hours later from his wounds. Frightened by the blasts, the horses took off running, pulling the stage behind them.

    John, believing that his brother was dying, grabbed the heavy strongbox, hid it nearby, and fled. As soon as the stage reached “civilization” to tell their tale, a posse was immediately formed who quickly found Charles. Though severely wounded, they took him to the Redding jail where he was his injuries were treated.

    John made a clean getaway for a short time, winding up at his aunt’s house in Woodland. However, when she learned that he had robbed a stage and killed a man she kicked him out and reported him to the local sheriff. Six weeks after the robbery, on June 19th, John was arrested while sitting in a restaurant in Woodland. Returned to the Redding jail, John was surprised to find his brother very much alive and recovering from his wounds.

    In an effort to save himself and his brother, John told the authorities that the stage guard, Montgomery, was in cahoots with them. He also revealed where he had hidden the gold, telling authorities that he had hidden it in Middle Creek. Attached to the strong box was a floating device that came within a foot of the top of the water that would help him in finding it later.

    The LOOT:

    Ok! So, the gold was never recovered. It was a relative small haul for the time period, mostly with gold coins of the era. HOWEVER, I researched the period gold coins. They are worth a combined $10,345,000 NOW!!!!!!!!!!

    Somewhere... lost in middle creek.....

    I took a trip up the trail this morning and decided to put my detective skills to work. The creek flows through a high and steep gorge. The old trail is curvy and a constant uphill. I found the exact hairpin curve where the robbery took place. The coach would have climbed approximately 3/4 of a mile, the horses would have been tired. They were headed east to Redding. So, out steps the robbers and the crime soon after. The coach would have ran off east, soon down the hill to Redding. I believe John Ruggles would have escaped west, back towards the city of Shasta. He could have NOT deviated from the gorge until he got to the city of Shasta approximately 3-5 miles away.


    The creek is around 500 feet STRAIGHT down the gorge from where the robbery took place. I'm not believing he slid down to the creek to hide the loot. He would then have to climb BACK up the otherside, which is possible, HOWEVER not when you are trying to escape. you either had to go upstream or down. His most likely avenue of escape would be to head south to the town he was eventually captured in. To get there, he would have to have either headed towards Redding (Where the law was soon posse'd to hunt him) OR head east then south fromm Shasta City. I believe he did just that.


    Somewhere. In a creek, there are hundreds of them, WEST and SOUTH of Shasta city is an iron lock box full of gold coins.


    PS. my pictures of the trail and exact place this happened are not working. BOO.


    Last edited by Buggyout; 12-19-2017, 01:35 PM.
    I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.

  • #2
    I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


    • #3
      Ok! So.... The strong box used during that time from Wells Fargo was pretty heavy -

      Weights over 40lbs, and measures 12 1/2”x 9”x 7”

      NOT including the weight of the gold therein.

      John could not have dragged it far. With a horse, maybe. Again! I was in the area this morning - Steep and heavily wooded.


      I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


      • #4

        After the robbery, searchers found a parcel of mail approximately 3 miles SOUTH of the robbery location. The parcel had been on the stagecoach. This map shows the location of the robbery, the old coach trail and the location (The red X at the bottom) where the parcel of mail was found.

        I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


        • #5
          I hope you have invested in a decent metal detector. Good Luck!



          • #6
            Whats the chance the mail fell off as the horses stampeded away?

            After 125 years of storms and snow melt how far down river could that box have been washed... But Like Dale says, a good metal detector, do they make them with a probe that is or can be waterproofed? Might be worth walking all those streams and probing the banks and any holes. Though what was a hole where it might have gotten caught up in could now be a shallow spot filled in with 100 years of silt.

            Awesome story though and how cool would it be to find that. Good luck Buggy. If nothing else looks like you'll be in extra great shape after lugging those hills everyday.
            I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


            • #7
              The horses from the stagecoach ran east for five miles towards Redding. The mail parcels were found south. I'm trying to determine whether they put the mail IN the lockbox. It would make sense, if they did.

              I think John somehow managed to break the lock open and discarded the mail on the run.

              The land is still pretty wild.. There are houses scattered around the area. It would have been a tough horse ride through this area even today.

              DALE! I would LOVE to get a metal detector! It's on my list for sure!

              I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


              • #8
                Great adventure, Buggy. That is something on my bucket list if I ever retire. I love the old West. I want to explore ghost towns and old mining towns. Search for the Lost Dutchman Mine. Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

                Have fun, and definitely get a good metal detector.
                The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

                Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.


                • #9
                  Morg! Anytime you want to come out, I'll take you to all the places you mentioned! Haha!

                  I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


                  • #10
                    Buggy: I am going to hold you to that. I promise I will do some research on places in your area.

                    Can't wait!!
                    The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

                    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.


                    • #11
                      Buggy, you really need that medal detector.