Did young doctor Henry F. Hoyt and a mining engineer find a float the size of an egg during an expedition around the Custer Peak area? Did they try to return to the area where they found the silver, assaying at $15,000 a ton, without any luck of ever finding it?

The story goes that in 1877, a young doctor hung out his shingle in Deadwood, South Dakota. Although this boisterous and wild town was dangerous, young Henry F. Hoyt liked it. After several months of patching up bullet holes and setting broken limbs, however, Hoyt decided he had had enough. Gold was in the hills near town, if one could find it.

Teaming up with a mining engineer named Bailey, the two headed out into the Black Hills. After several weeks of fruitless searching, the two started back to Deadwood. They climbed to the top of Custer Peak for a last look at the surrounding area.

As they later started down the mountain, Bailey found a piece of float the size of an egg that was highly mineralized. Taking the bark from a tree, they wrote their claim notice on the exposed wood. The next day at the assay office in Deadwood, the two partners learned that the ore sample would run $15,000 to the ton, as it was almost pure silver.

Since the news leaked out of the assay office, Hoyt and Bailey were followed by a group of miners who hoped to be able to shadow the two men back to their rich diggings. At last the two were able to duck this crowd and find their way back alone to the basin where they’d blazed the tree.

Once there, however, they found that this basin was quite rugged and not as symmetrical as it had appeared to them from Custer Peak. They searched tediously up and down it’s broken slopes and all around its craggy rim without discovering the slightest trace of the place where they had found the float or the blazed tree. It was there, somewhere, but in that vast area they could not find it. Puzzled and disheartened , returned to Deadwood and gave up prospecting.

Is there somewhere in the hills around Custer Peak, a rich vein of sliver waiting for a treasure hunter to find?

This is not the location of the find, but is as good a place as any to stop your ride to ponder the $15,000 a ton silver mountain treasurer.

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DECIMAL DEGREES: 44.251137, -103.729340

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