I enjoy reading as well as exploring the wonders of nature. I have a very large library, most are books on nature, history or geology. Among these are several old publications that are filled with interesting accounts that have often been forgotten by the passage of time. I often use these books to find material for articles about history or little known natural features.
Over the years, using these old books, I have been able to rediscover several natural areas that had been forgotten. It is a great joy to walk into a special site and feel like you are the first person to see what no one has observed in many years.
Recently reading an old 1895 Indiana Department of Geology annual report, I found a very interesting account. State geologists it seems roamed all over Indiana and ventured into every nook and cranny to find out what geological resources Hoosierland contained. One of these finds really caught my attention. Being a lifelong resident of Daviess County anything about my homme county if always of interest. To find an event I had never heard about is always very special.
The account began, “Some excitement has been created in the vicinity of Washington by the statement that gold and platinum had been found in paying quantities on the farm of the Cross Brothers.”
Gold and platinum in Daviess County! I had never heard of such an event. I could not wait to read on to learn of this great event.
The author of the article W.S. Blatchley, the state geologist, went on to say he had made a visit to the Cross Farm and had found a rather large shaft that extended into the ground to a depth of 14 feet.
He reported that there was four feet of soil and surface clays then six feet of what he called dove-colored argillaceous shale. This was followed by four feet of very dark shale. This was where the gold and platinum was said to be found.
A number of the Cross family told Blatchley that the shale had been assayed and had been found to contain both gold and platinum that was reported to be worth up to $36 a ton. Now back in the late 1800s this was a very valuable find and well worth the effort to extract.
Blatchley was very dubious of the discovery. He went so far as to say, “While the shale will make a fair amount of brick or sewer pipe, all the gold or platinum contained in 40 acres of it would not pay one-eighth of the amount spent in sinking the shaft.”
Who was right, Blatchley, the state geologist or Mr. Cross who had the shale assayed? I don’t know I had never learned of this event before reading it in the geological report. Does anyone know? If you do please let me know.
While gold has been found in Indiana in a number of places, it is always in small flakes found in glacial material left behind in Indiana streams, most often in south central sections of the state.
I’m afraid I must side with Blatchley as it would be a very rare even to find gold in our Hoosier shales. Still I have found some things I believed to be impossible turned out to be real.