Thomas Rhoads

 Thomas Rhoades, pictured above, was supposedly commissioned by President Young to salvage hidden gold known to Ute Indians. Chief Walker (Wakara) reportedly agreed to reveal the location of the gold as long as it was used exclusively for the benefit of the church. The site of the mines was called "Carre Shin Ob" or "There dwells the Great Spirit" Thompson recounted. Indians had no particular interest in the gold beyond their basic needs and harbored old 68resentments against Spanish overlords who had mined the metal at the expense of their race.

If regularly retelling an incident makes the story true, then there is a gold mine somewhere in the Uintah Basin that could pay off the national debt.

            Maybe not the national debt of 2015, but according to Caleb Rhoades there was enough to pay off the national debt of the 1850s. Reportedly, Rhoades worked the mines from 1855 to 1905.

            The story seems to start when Ute War Chief Wakara was baptized into the LDS Church. In July of 1852, Wakara allowed Brigham Young to choose one white man to salvage hidden gold from mines that were supposedly abandoned by Spanish entrepreneurs who were in the territory before the 1776 Dominguez-Escalante explorations.

            Young chose Thomas Rhoades, a stalwart church member who spoke Ute. Thomas became ill in 1855 and his son, Caleb, took his place. Both men claimed they were only allowed to cross through Indian Territory and haul out the gold if they never revealed the mine’s location. Other agreements included that only one person at a time knew where the mines were. Indian surveillance was to remain constant, and only as much gold as one individual could carry could be removed during a trip. The gold was to be turned over to the Mormon Church.

            When Thomas returned to health, the two men took several trips together. The trips were said to have taken a couple weeks. Family records suggest the first load of gold weighed about 62 pounds. Family records also claim that the statue of the Angel Moroni which sits on the Salt Lake Temple was overlaid with gold from these mines as well as some of the trimmings inside the temple. There appears to be no confirmation of this from Church officials then or now.

            Articles in the Deseret News during this time frequently had small snippets stating that Thomas had returned from a trip or that Caleb just left on a business endeavor. There was never any mention of gold, however.

            Certainly, President Young made no announcements about the discovery of gold. Some even doubt the existence of such a place.

            When Caleb’s widow died there was much speculation that her estate would at least mention the mine or the four or five other mines that Caleb had been allowed to work. A newspaper article in the Carbon County News dated Oct. 10, 1911, reads in part:

            “There is no reference in the will, it would appear, concerning the ‘Lost Rhoades Mine.’"

            In the Nov. 11, 1921, Myton Free Press, was a short story with the headline of “Rhoades Mine a Myth.”

            The story reads: “Thomas Rhoades of Tabiona says there never was a Rhoades mine. His father, who died years ago, was supposed to have taken thousands of dollars out of a gold mine somewhere in the mountains surrounding the Uintah Basin. The story is that on his deathbed he told his son Caleb Rhoades about this mine. For years Caleb carried gold out of here and it was thought he was getting it from his father’s mine. There is no authentic information that he ever said so. It is presumed he sought this gold from Indians. Thomas Rhoades, a brother of Caleb, says he was with the father many days before death and that his father never said one word about any mine.”

            This story conflicts with many other legends about Thomas spending his final days discussing nothing but the mine. 

​ViAnn Prestwich can be reached at

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