Dutch Oven Legends

By Keith Fisher

Where has summer gone? Last spring, I planned to spend my summer catching up on social commitments, and cooking for my family. I planned to hold the block party. I’ve postponed it for a few years. Like all of you, I’m running out of weeks, and school has started again.

Enough of my whining, how are you doing with your list? When trying to think of something to write about, I remembered a story you might enjoy. My dad told it to me once, while we were fishing.

After talking about his youth, and a treasure hunt Dad participated in, he told about a bank robbery that took place in the early 1900’s in Spanish Fork. The robbers, Chuck and Jed, had heard about a large payroll so they made plans to steal it. They were outfitted for a trip into the mountains on horseback leading two packhorses. The daylight holdup left the two men running from the law. They stuffed the loot into Jed’s saddlebags and lit out, up the canyon and over the mountains to the east.

In that small town, it didn’t take long to raise a posse, and the robbers were feeling the pressure. At the Diamond Fork River, they separated. Jed turned one of the packhorses loose, and rode up the fork. Chuck continued up the canyon to Tucker. He climbed into a boxcar, headed up the summit. He heaved a sigh of relief. He didn’t have to worry, Jed had the money, and they promised to meet in Denver.

Even with the helper engines, the train traveled slowly up the grade. Halfway to the summit, in a place called Dry Fork, the train slowed to a stop. The boxcar door slid open, and the posse pulled Chuck out of the car. They beat Chuck, but he never revealed the identity of his accomplice. He went to prison for the robbery.

Years later, after his release from prison, Chuck found Jed in Vernal, and demanded his share of the money.

"I can’t give it to you," Jed said. "I’ve been looking for that loot for twenty years. I just can’t find it." He went on to tell Chuck what had happened.

After they separated, Jed got nervous. He knew the posse wasn’t far behind and he suspected they would follow him and not Chuck. He needed to travel faster, so he considered turning the other packhorse loose. That’s when he got an idea. He figured if he didn’t have the payroll with him, nobody could accuse him. He could always come back for it.

He didn’t have much time. He put the money into a Dutch oven, and stuffed the pot in the cavity of a rock. Jed sent the packhorse in a westerly direction, climbed onto his other horse, and made good time over the mountains to Denver. When he heard Chuck went to prison, Jed tried to get the money. He tried for twenty years, but he never found the place again.

"Where do you think it is?" Chuck asked.
"I know it’s somewhere between Springville Crossing and the Strawberry Valley," Jed hung his head. "I’m so sorry, I would’ve tried to make your life easier in prison if I had found the money."
According to the story, Jed died a year later, after trying to help Chuck find the Dutch oven. Chuck spent the rest of his life looking but he never found it either.

Doesn’t that story stir the imagination? Does it make you want to go and look? The details in this story are fiction and I’m not sure if the story is true, but I’d like to think so. If the story is true, and you found the Dutch oven. What would be more valuable to you? The money, or the Dutch oven? Theoretically, a Dutch oven with the lid held down should be airtight, and should protect the contents. So I ask you again, which would be of more interest to you? What would you do if you found it?

The answer, for me, is the Dutch oven. The money would be too old to spend anyway, and the government would probably force me to turn it over to them. The Dutch oven is a link to the past, an antique that represents a happier time. When life was easier—when icehouses were big business. Just think if the cast iron was seasoned, and if the rocks protected the pot from the weather, I could clean it up and cook with a 100-year old Dutch oven.

Notice the picture above. The Dutch oven is in the LDS Church Museum in Florence Nebraska. Its over 150-years old.

Return to the Neighborhood.

1 comment:

Kim Thompson said...

What a fun story. It made me want to go look for the money. My couldn't help but think of the question . . . what if?