TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – The joggers and cyclists along Riverside Drive have no idea they’re traveling along what could be one of the richest treasure troves in Oklahoma, but Craig Gaines does.
“I like this spot. It’s got history,” says this engineer and author. “This is a significant spot even though it doesn’t seem like it.”
He’s been interested in lost treasure since watching the ‘bad guys’ bury it in old western movies from the 1950s.
Gaines recalls his boyhood fascination with the genre.
“It was on TV. I had all these magazines. There were lots of stories.”
Near the old Arkansas River crossing he tells us there were several times through history when travelers hid money to keep it for themselves.
“If you’re being chased, or you think you’re being chased, if you have money or treasure, you’re going to bury it.”
He specifically mentions Civil War loot he’s researched on nearby Lookout Mountain, another treasure on Turkey Mountain across the river, and a Spanish treasure, a fortune in gold dust said to be hidden away near what is now the 11th Street bridge.
“They crossed the river here,” he points out. “Then they were attacked by Indians and they buried their gold and vanished.”
Following old newspaper accounts, letters, and even maps, Gaines spent a lot of time during the COVID shutdown period researching as many credible stories as he could.
There were enough of them to compile in a new book, ‘Lost Oklahoma Treasure: Misplaced Mines, Outlaw Loot, and Mule Loads of Gold’.
That book joins a group of treasure stories he’s already written.
“I’m always on the lookout for treasure stories,” he says with a smile. “I tuck them away.”
Gaines has never found treasure himself, at least not the buried kind he writes about.
But there is another treasure category he mines with every page.
He insists, “The thing about looking for treasure is you find other things.”
History itself makes the dust, the nugget and the coin of the realm that’s always there for the storyteller’s taking.
It’s usually right below the surface and that’s what keeps him digging.
Gaines book is published through Arcadia Publishing.