A Professional Geologists view of "Wall of Silver: A Treasure Hunters Dream"
Dear Sir or Madam,
I have been approached by many people to render an opinion on the book you published: "Wall of Silver: A Treasure Hunter's Dream" by Richard Kellogg in 2004. I am enclosing an updated critical assessment of this book which pertains to an alleged, 18th century, silver mine in Keweenaw County. The author claims that this mine has walls of pure silver and over one million dollars worth in gold coins are buried within its confines. This assertion has encouraged some people to look for this property with the intent to enter its underground areas. My concern therefore in writing this book review has to do with basic, public safety and to dissuade budding prospectors from entering uncapped mine entrances. After careful review of the author's book, I have concluded his work to be a complete fabrication and without any merit whatsoever. Enclosed is a copy of my review. Please send a copy of this document to the author.
Richard Lassin PG
"Wall of Silver A Treasure Hunter's Dream"
Written by Richard Kellogg
Published in 2004 by Avery Colors Studios
Richard Lassin, PG (professional geologist; Wisconsin license #516)
The book "Wall of Silver: A Treasure Hunter's Dream" by Richard Kellogg was published in 2004 by Avery Color Studios, Inc in Gwynn, Michigan. The author details the rediscovery of an unchartered, silver mine in Keweenaw County, Michigan which allegedly contain walls of pure silver. The author has placed a disclaimer at the beginning of the book that states in part: "it is a 'story' not meant to be accepted as a historical record" and therefore I initially give him some slack in his story telling. In contrast, Christy Strawser of the Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, Michigan) interviewed the author on February 3rd, 2005 whereby Mr. Kellogg attested to the complete accuracy of his story. When Kellogg goes on the public record with newspapers and other media claiming his book's complete accuracy, his work becomes subject to scrutiny which I here provide.
As a professional geologist I have worked throughout Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and am familiar with the area and its silver production. Many of the mines encountered pure silver in association with the vast native-copper mineralization. It is believed that the silver was naturally electroplated onto the pre-existing copper masses due in part to galvanic action. Small masses of pure silver and copper can still be occasionally found in many of the abandoned tailings piles scattered throughout the area. The Quincy Mine produced hundreds of thousands of dollars of silver during its life span. When I read Kellogg's book, it initially resonated with me because the presence of pure silver has some historical documentation especially in Keweenaw and Houghton Counties.
I offer the following critical assessment of Mr. Kellogg's published work. There are many inaccurate statements, fabrications, and misrepresentations presented throughout this book. The following is a compilation of issues (in no particular order) that debase Mr. Kellogg's assertions and credibility:
- Before I even read this book I had a problem with the statement that "walls of silver" were found in an uncharted mine. This isn't how mining of fissure mineralization typically occurs. When a mineralized vein is found, miners worked the vein along strike,following it where ever it might go. It makes no sense to mine something from its side as described in this book and then leave half of it unmined. Furthermore, Keweenaw silver mineralization was always in close proximity to native copper. Therefore, finding walls of silver is inconsistent with historical silver mineralization in this area.
- In the preface Kellogg alleges first-hand knowledge of the mine's location, as he visited it in 1971 (?) with his anonymous, geologist friend. I find it odd that the author states: "I hope to hear of its rediscovery." yet, Kellogg refuses to tell anyone just exactly where it is. This ambiguity between what the author says and what he does (or in this case what he doesn't do) makes me suspicious that this story may be nothing more than that.
- Kellogg changed his geologist/friend's name in order (I suppose) to protect his family's identity even though he had no children or wife and has been deceased for over 30 years. For what purpose did Kellogg keep secret the main character's real identity? I can think of no legitimate/logical explanation for changing the main character's name if this story is true.
- In an interview with Christy Strawser of the Daily Tribune dated Feb 3rd, 2005, Kellogg is quoted to have said (regarding his trip to the mine): "So in June 1971 he took me to it." In Kellogg's book (published in 2004), he says he visited the mine somewhere in the spring of 1973 page (119). The author needs to get his story right.
- Early on in the book (page 6 and 16), serious questions of this story's complete accuracy are raised. The main character blasts his way into an abandoned and unchartered mine as a young field-geologist for the Galena Mining Company exposing dead/murdered bodies, bear traps, and bags of pure silver only to have the same experience happen years later with the "Wall of Silver" mine. What are the chances of this occurring to anyone just once? Why would a mine-owner, store U.S. mint-ready silver in an abandoned mine and then booby trap the drifts with bear traps in the first place? What's wrong with using a bank? I believe this entire section was fabricated by the author as it is simply not believable.
- An interesting side note is that galena is the primary mineral for lead ore. No lead ore has been found in copper country. Why would investors name a company after a mineral they were not searching for? Also, I can find no historical mention or documentation of the Galena Mining Company in Michigan whatsoever.
- The chapter "The Confession" states that the main character's grandfather was murdered by his step grandfather. The killer used his Civil War pistol. The killer states: "...(I) ran the tips of my fingers over the bullets" (Page 50). This could not happen. Civil War pistols were black-powder weapons and did not use bullets but rather lead projectiles packed tightly over a black powder charge and then sealed with grease in order to secure the chamber from accidental discharge. A percussion cap was then used to ignite the black powder. Most assuredly this section was entirely fabricated. Absolute nonsense.
- Jake Stockard dies two weeks after he showed Kellogg the mine (see pages 139 & 141). This would be in June 1971 according to the Strawser interview. The Kellogg's sell their house and tavern shortly thereafter and move to Traverse City where the author encounters a severe snowstorm (page 146) while in transit. A severe snowstorm in July?
- The author states that underworld sources from Illinois are reported to have purchased silver from the lost mine back in 1927 at the rate of 35 cents/ounce (page 56). Using stolen, US mint die-stamps the native silver was melted down and then transformed into brilliant and uncirculated U.S. coins worth "hundreds of dollars per copy (Page 69)." This makes no sense. Why would anyone use native silver when coin silver was so easily obtainable? Anyone could go down to the corner market and get a roll of forty, silver quarters for $10.00 back in the 1920's. Why would anyone use a remote source of silver located hundreds of miles away when a local source was readily available?
- In 1927 the average price of traded silver was 58.3 cents per ounce (Kitco Metals, Inc.). There is .72 ounces of silver in four pre-1965 quarters. The main character sells his stash for only 35 cents per ounce which would suggest a nice profit margin (400%) if you made your own coins. But, there are some serious, up-front costs in making "fake" silver coins namely, furnaces, lifting and hauling equipment, sheet rollers, stamping equipment and other fabricating materials. This is not a cheap process and involves hiring some smart people. Would anyone really initiate this type of counterfeit and expensive operation when your supply of silver wasn't assured? It would be much easier to make counterfeit currency when considering the weight problems involved. But who knows, maybe the Chicago crime-bosses used these bogus coins by paying their goons in half dollars. The notion is almost comical.
- The author continues his story by alleging that his geologist friend transferred $35,000 in ill-gotten currency into three thousand five hundred, $10.00 gold pieces (page 135). Does the author have any sense of the weight of 3500 gold coins? It would weigh about 120 pounds. Hauling upwards of 120 pounds of gold out of a Chicago bank and subsequently moving his stash to the Keweenaw Peninsula and burying it inside a steel box deep within the "Wall of Silver" mine is simply not believable.
- On page 135 the author states that Stockard dug up this steel box within the mine which contained trays, a padlock, and ledger. The combined weight of all these items must then have been something around 150 pounds. No mention was made of this weight problem as if the author never pondered this scenario. I own a 160 pound mass of pure copper and it takes all my strength to lift it a few inches. When the author states (page 135) that Stockard "returned it (the box and contents) to its hiding place" without mentioning any difficulty in doing so, it leads me to question the very existence of buried gold coins.
- And another point of contention is why would the main character secure the steel box (which contains all the gold) with a padlock and then keep the key around his neck (page 135)? After all, the box is buried inside an unchartered mine that nobody can find. Is the padlock really going to deter anybody? If someone actually found the box, does anyone really believe that the padlock would provide any additional security? I believe that this entire gold coin scenario was either completely made up or the main character was an absolute dope.
- Digging up a steel box buried within the "Wall of Silver" mine is suspicious in the first place insofar as there really isn't any loose material to bury something that substantial. The base, walls, and roof are solid rock especially when 18th century workers were mining a mineralized fissure. Why didn't the main character bury his gold with his silver specimens that he safely stored beneath his barn?
- Kellogg states that three thousand, $10.00 gold pieces are still buried inside the "lost" silver mine. At current gold prices of about $1,000.00/troy ounce, the value of these remaining coins could be in excess of one million dollars. In the intervening 30+ years Kellogg never went back and collected the coins or any of the pure silver just waiting to be picked up and hauled to the bank. As a reader, does this jive with any understanding of the human condition? This makes little sense. Wouldn't Kellogg at least of attempted to purchase the property? After all, the author claims several times throughout the book that he was going broke (page 81).
- Stockard runs into trouble with treasury agents for illegally selling silver specimens (page 74) and a higher court exonerates him on April 16th, 1940. Kellogg quotes the ruling from the court but doesn't bother to give the case number. The author clearly must then have in his possession documents regarding this matter and deliberately decided to withhold such evidence which further undermines the author's credibility. It is also possible that this part of the book is entirely made up by the author, neither bode well for Mr. Kellogg. Note: it was not illegal to buy or sell silver in 1940 as all US coinage was silver based.
- As mentioned above, five hundred gold coins were given the author by the main character so that this story could be published (which he waits 33 years to do). The author took the gold coins he received and exchanged them for 10,000 silver dollars (over 640 pounds worth) from a precious metal dealer (pages 157-158) about 2 years (page 157) after he moved to Traverse City (1975-76?). I wonder if Kellogg declared this transaction on his IRS 1040 Form? What does it mean when the author states (page 157): "After a thorough examination of the bags (without opening them) revealed that their contents were authentic..." I am dumbfounded as to the author's intent. To think that the author or the buyer never actually looked at the gold coins is simply unbelievable.
- The author still has in his possession 500 gold coins given him by the main character sometime after his Traverse City house fire. Why didn't Kellogg take pictures to document his loot and support his claims regarding this story's "complete accuracy?"
- I need to discuss the material presented on Page 137 which I find objectionable. I have no real proof of deception by the author but I ask the reader to consider the material being offered here as fact. Dick Kellogg runs for a state representative seat in 1970 and loses. Subsequently, he travels to Washington DC and allegedly brings back a large government contract, enough to employ 150 people. But, the author cannot get the business started because he can't find anyone who would rent him a place to run this operation because "people were afraid of the mining company." And exactly what mining company was that? They had all went out of business, closed, and/or left town years ago. If anyone brought 150 jobs to the Calumet area, the community would hold a parade in their honor. Nearly all mining had stopped in the area by 1970 and the area had ample space to accommodate a new business. Alas, what was wrong with his tavern? I stopped in a few years back (2007) and the author's former tavern was being converted into office space for an insurance agency. Why couldn't have Kellogg done the same? Absolute nonsense.
- Then there is the matter regarding the mine proper. Kellogg tells the reader that miners blasted a 90 foot long, escape-shaft through hard rock in four days (page 36) when trapped inside back in the 1770's (page 9). The collapse allegedly closed off the primary, mine entrance and was situated only feet from the base of the escape tunnel. Miners would not blast in proximity to a collapsed mine entrance for fear of further collapse, and it would take longer than four days to blast through 90 feet of solid bedrock (and a large copper mass) when all that was available to them were simple, hand tools. How come the author doesn't mention this large, copper mass when he visits the mine in 1973 considering he crawled right over it?
- The "escape" tunnel slopes at 15 degrees (page 115) where the main character lowers a lantern down the hole. This would be impossible when considering gravity and the angle of repose. At 15 degrees the lantern wouldn't slip down the portal as it would need a slope in excess of 40 degrees. Clearly the author fabricated this part of the book.
- Where are the mine tailings including those from the escape tunnel? If his diagram on page 12 is true, where are the estimated 250,000 cubic feet (~20,000 tons) of excavated material? This would be a tailings pile 100 feet by 100 feet by 25 feet tall. There should also be about 1,100 cubic feet of escape tunnel debris inside the mine. Where is it?
- The main character attempts to hype the Wall of Silver Mine as the "Mother Lode" when on page 13 he compares this discovery to that of the nearby Cliff Mine which produced (according to page 13) "2 million ounces of silver in the last year (1926)." The Cliff Mine closed in the late 1880's and then its useful machinery and parts were sold for scrap in 1903 (The Cliff: America's First Great Copper Mine; Sequoia Press; 1971; p.105). Also, the Cliff produced only about $50,000 of silver throughout its entire lifetime (USGS Professional Paper 144 by Butler and Burbank; 1929; Page 83). The main character is alleged to have been a geologist and if so, should have known the history of the Cliff Mine. Clearly, either the author fabricated this entire part of the story or the main character was dumb as a coal bucket. Neither explanation bodes well regarding the author's credibility.
- I must take some time and discuss the alleged interview Richard Kellogg had with Chief Herbert Welsh of L'Anse, Michigan in 1974. I don't understand this. Sitting Bull was killed on December 15th, 1890 and was alleged to be Chief Welsh's grandfather who was born in 1900 (page 41). How could Chief Welsh have had a conversation with his grandfather (page 42) when he died ten years before he was born?
- Furthermore, Chief Herbert Welsh is the only person that corroborates any part of the author's story. Yet, the author never tapes the interview nor does Kellogg get Chief Welsh to sign a statement attesting to his recollection of the matter. If providing evidence to support his claims is that important to the author (as expressed on page 127), why didn't the author hire Chief Welsh to write his recollections of Sabin Stone and the silver mine? Now that Chief Welsh is dead, Kellogg's interview becomes conveniently unverifiable.
- The author's chapter: "Supporting Documents" fails to support any of the author's claims. The provided copies of the grantor/grantee ledger-entries from Keweenaw County suggest that the mineral owner of the property has filed timely notices with the Register of Deeds Office thereby maintaining their claim to the mineral interests of the alleged Wall of Silver Mine. Clearly, Kellogg does not own an interest to the mineral wealth in this general area. Selling stolen silver specimens taken from this mine could be construed as a criminal act. Kellogg admits to substantially profiting from stolen property..
- Where are Sabin Stone's diary entries? Kellogg makes detailed journal entries attributed to Sabin Stone but has no photocopies of the originals. Stockard allegedly goes to the British Library and finds the log and manifest of the HMS Monarch dated May 16, 1770 (page 76) from which Sabin Stone travelled to America. Kellogg directly quotes this document but withholds photocopies. By withholding this evidentiary material (which should be in his possession), the author's credibility is further eroded. I believe this entire section was fabricated.
- Kellogg states that Sabin Stone's ancestor Richard Stone of Sault St. Marie lived on a Centennial farm and had his great grandfather's original diary in his possession. Checking with the State of Michigan, there is no Centennial farm registered now or ever to Richard or Joshua Stone in Chippewa County. If these documents ever truly existed they would have historic proportion but providing archival material for academic scrutiny is something the author apparently preferred not to do. Most assuredly this part of the book was entirely fabricated.
- Alas, the author has a string of real bad luck, His silver was stolen by burglars at his Sportsman Bar (can't remember when though), his house was burned by a shadowy visitor incinerating all his relevant documents and photographs, the counterfeit half dollars have disappeared, and the movers lost or stole his last two crates of silver specimens when he finally left Copper Country for the safety of Traverse City. No claim apparently was ever filed with the movers, the movers were never identified, and no settlement was ever made. There are no important photographs, no strong box key, no journal documentation, no silver specimens, no gold coins, no verifiable facts, no testimonial evidence from those that bought his silver, and no useful location descriptions (although he gives some details to two different locations of the mine: one being near Seneca Lake and the other northeast of the Phoenix location). Not one person has come forward to corroborate any part of the author's story.
- It bothers me that the author cannot "remember" when his Sportsman Bar was burglarized. I lived in Iron Mountain, Michigan for many years and their local paper published every crime including motor vehicle violations. If a burglary took place, it got front page attention and I believe the same would hold true for Keweenaw County. All Kellogg needed to do was to go to the local newspaper and do a search. He only lived in the area for five years and although it might take an afternoon, finding the published record should not be very difficult. Why didn't he do this? The alleged burglary happened just prior to Stockard's death and his moving to Traverse City. If the author is confused about the dates, all he had to do was check the date on the deed of his new home and work backwards. If that didn't work he could call his attorney who handled the "dram shop suit" against the author (page 146) and establish some sense of his departure from the Copper Country.
- The story regarding Kellogg's fire at his Traverse City home back in 1975 is suspicious. Essentially, it is alleged some guy comes by and makes an unsolicited offer to purchase the author's home. Kellogg lets him in, he lights up a stogey in the basement and buries it in the author's sofa. But are we to believe that Kellogg doesn't even get the prospective buyer's name or a phone number? The author is alleging arson in his book, but he doesn't bother to mention this to the fire department. Had he done so, the fire marshal when faced with an arson allegation would have investigated the matter and at minimum talked to the guy with the cigar who conveniently has left no name, no address nor a phone number to be reached at. The fire has an up side to it so far as it lets Kellogg off the hook, as he now has a convenient excuse for not providing evidence to support any of his claims.
- Kellogg leaves the Keweenaw in 1974 (see page 42). On page 145 Kellogg states that he moved to Traverse City around the time of Stockard's death which occurred in 1971 (see page 2). Which version is true?
- Just when exactly did the main character die? On page 2 the author states that Stockard died in 1971. On page 119 Stockard is still alive and fishing in the spring of 1973.
- Stockard is alleged to have been a part of the death marches in the Philippines (page 143), but on page 74 Kellogg states that Stockard spent his military career during World War II in the corps of engineers building and repairing airfields in the Pacific theater. I don't think both versions could be true.
- Stockard gets married at the age of 62 (page 79). He leaves Copper Country shortly after the end of World War II which would be late 1945 or early 1946. He travels to England and spends about a year with Katherine Allingham (page 77). Then, he travels back to Sault Ste. Marie to visit Sabin Stone's kin and returns to Katherine where they spend a few more months before they marry (page 79). The main character must have been married in 1947. Therefore, Stockard must have been born in 1885. That would make him 57 in 1942 when the Selective Service started drafting men for the war. Stockard was too old to either enlist or be drafted. I believe that this is strong evidence that supports the notion that the main character is fictional.
- The author has a problem with dates. On page 111 the author examines an envelope from Richard Stone to Jake Stockard which contains copies of Sabin Stone's original 18th century journals. The envelope is dated June 3rd, 1936. Previously (on page 77), the main character doesn't discover these journals until well after World War II (1947).
- Richard Stone is alleged to be in his mid-forties (page 77) when Stockard visits him at his Centennial farm in 1947. Hence, Richard was born around 1900 and is the great grandson of Sabin Stone (page 78). Sabin becomes a crown geologist and leaves England in 1770 (page 19). I believe that a crown geologist would have to be at least 30 years old meaning that he was born before 1740. Three generations of Stones cover at minimum 160 years. Therefore, theaverage minimum age of fatherhood for these three men was 53 or older. And they did it without Viagara.
- In 1999 (page 152) Kellogg attempts to secretly visit the silver mine one last time and the author states: "a mine security patrol checked out the area about every three hours." If Kellogg was concerned about being spotted by mine security patrols how come the patrols didn't do anything to deter the beer-drinking loggers that are partying near the mine entrance? So much for mine security. Also, the last mine to close in the general area was the Champion Mine in Painesdale, Michigan back in 1968. Much of the surface is now owned by municipalities, private individuals, or various paper companies. Mining companies don't hire security patrols when they own no land. Most of the land in the area is commercial forest where the public is free to enter upon such property at any and all time. I have worked along these cliffs over the past 35 years and have never seen or heard of "mine security patrols."
- Kellogg attempts to get permission to enter upon the mine site from International Paper in 2002 (see page 162). The lands in question include T.58N. R.31W., Section 28 & 29 and as of 2006 belong to the Lake Superior Land Company, which are taxed as C.F.A. lands meaning that they are taxed as commercial forest lands which are open to the public and permission to enter upon is not required. Page 173 suggests that Lake Superior Land Co. has owned an interest in this land since 1.1.87. Maybe, the reason Kellogg never got permission from International Paper is they had no idea of what he was talking about nor do I. The word obfuscate comes to mind.
The author states that he would have liked to of provided some documentary material in order to help substantiate his claims (page 127). If Kellogg truly wanted to provide legitimacy to his claims, he could have contacted the Stone family and reacquired copies of the Sabin Stone journal or at minimum have the Stone family attest to the journal's existence. The author could have also provided a case number for the Federal court case alluded to on page 74 or contact the British Library for documents regarding the ship log of the HMS Monarch as outlined on page 76. Additionally, the author could have provided the government contract number he brought to Copper Country back in 1970 or taken photos of his gold coins. As stated previously, why didn't Kellogg get Chief Welsh to write his recollection of Sabin Stone and the lost silver mine? But alas the author doesn't provide any of this evidence because in my opinion this story is entirely fictional. Furthermore, items #32-#37 above are such egregious errors that indicates that the author didn't even seriously proof-read his manuscript before publishing giving evidence that he fictionalized (at minimum) major portions of this "story". After reading this book, I cannot find one significant item within this work that is verifiable.
The only unresolved question that might be asked about this story is whether or not the unchartered "Wall of Silver" mine could exist. To better answer this question, I draw attention to the mine map the author provides on page 12. This type of mining would be atypical for 18th century mining. The volcanic beds in this area all dip 45 to 75 degrees to the northwest and evenly placed, support pillars as illustrated in this diagram would not be utilized to support the large, stoped area where walls of silver were allegedly found. Stoping is typically associated with bulk mining of low-grade, amygdaloidal copper, not high-grade fissure deposits. Furthermore, tunneling 600 to 700 feet through solid, basalt beds would only be done if the workers were mining a mineralized vein which in this area trends northwest-southeast, not east-west as illustrated. The "nearby" Cliff Mine followed such a NW-SE mineralized structure, but it plunges beneath the greenstone ridge which (although thoroughly explored) was essentially found to be barren. Finally, this entire area has been scrutinized many times over the past 150 years and I draw to the reader's attention to the part where the main character states that the mine was rediscovered in 1927 when expelled, mine air affected campfire smoke (page 6). In the summer the mine air would be quite cool (50 degrees I have found), but in the winter it would be the same temperature which is warm enough to melt snow. Even the author acknowledges this fact on page 122. As an early 19th century explorer (during the time when the Cliff Mine was active), a dry patch of earth in the middle of winter at the base of a ridge not far from the prolific Cliff Mine would surely have been noticed and thoroughly examined. Early miners weren't stupid. When considering the plethora of misinformation and overwhelming nonsense the author presents throughout this story, I can't see how anyone could seriously believe any of Mr. Kellogg's assertions regarding the existence of the mine.
It is interesting to note that the author quotes an excerpt from "Boom Copper" by Angus Murdoch (page 68). I note the similarities between the Silver Islet Mine (page 111 in Boom Copper) and Kellogg's description of the "Wall of Silver" mine (page 12). I believe a case could be made that the book Kellogg wrote was in part derived from information obtained from the Silver Islet mine.
Finally, I take exception to Mr. Kellogg's characterization of the residents in the Copper Country as underage, beer-guzzling thieves, thugs, and intimidators who allegedly took advantage of him and eventually drove the author into paranoia (page 128) and forced the Kellogg's to sell their tavern and move to the safety of the Lower Peninsula. The author's statement on page 48 that Copper Country: "refused to give up on punishing the Kellogg family." suggests a deep-seated contempt for the residents of Keweenaw County. I offer for consideration that the book "Wall of Silver: A Treasure Hunter's Dream" is the author's twisted attempt to avenge this perceived injustice. Personally, I have found the residents of this area as kind-hearted, friendly, and decent people who would help just about anyone in need. To suggest that Mr. Kellogg was a target for abuse because he wouldn't share his source of stolen silver is patently objectionable.
In conclusion, the book: "The Wall of Silver" fails as any type of historical or technical document, and in my opinion does not merit any serious consideration outside of its entertainment value and needs to be placed in the fiction section of the public library. Richard Kellogg owes the public and the Keweenaw County prosecuting attorney an explanation regarding his assertions to the story's complete accuracy when contrasted with the issues here raised in this book review. I suggest he publicly respond to this critique in complete fullness.