CEMENT, Okla. (TNN) - Buried treasure - For decades, those two words have led countless people to the small town of Cement in hopes of creating history.
Jesse James is an iconic name across the world, but did you know he actually has ties to right here in southwest Oklahoma. A rock formation near Cement called Buzzard’s Roost is what many people believe is a starting point to find millions of dollars' worth of buried treasure.
Jesse James and his family have strong ties to southwest Oklahoma, with his brother Frank even calling Fletcher home at one point. Since then, generations of Cement residents have passed down stories of the legendary outlaws.
“It’s what people truly believe happened, it’s what their grandparents or great grandparents told them. There was a mule train coming through, some people say it was from Mexico, Jesse and his gang interrupted their travels and supposedly the bounty they were carrying is still buried or hidden somewhere here in the Cement area,” said Ginger Baker, member of the Cement Community Association, which serves as the curators for the Jesse James Visitor Center.
People from across the world have come to Cement in hopes of striking it big.
“As far as we know, no one has found it. We have treasure hunters that come through constantly to look for it. There’s been historians, documentarists come through to do stories,” Baker said.
But what, exactly, are they looking for?
“What I imagine the treasure is is gold. I don’t know the form it would be in just in my mind, it’s gold buried or hidden somewhere in the Keechi Hills. Sort of a starting point is Buzzard’s Roost. There’s carvings, some of them have been pulled off, unfortunately. Some of them are still up there and give direction to where you can start looking for the treasure,” Baker said.
Artifacts, such as a kettle, have been found in the area, leading treasure hunters and locals to believe the tales they’ve long heard are true.
“What I know has been found is the kettle, the buckles off the pack saddles of the mule train, and the rock that we have here in our museum with half of the pistol. I’ve heard there’s also other carvings at Buzzard’s Roost that are difficult to get to. Those are the things that solidify that we did have Jesse and his gang in the area and the stories all build off those artifacts,” Baker said.
Those carvings generally serve as another clue, pointing hunters in the right direction.
“From what I know about the carvings, they’re typically a weapon, a bow and arrow, a pistol. The way they’re pointing shows where the next map marker or clue is. So, if a pistol is pointing, about the general area a pistol would shoot you would find the next clue,” Baker said.
Countless people have followed those clues, including his brother Frank.
“I’ve heard stories from people saying he would come get a horse and ride the Keechi Hills. We assume he was looking for this buried treasure. We don’t know if he ever found it. It’s never been published,” Baker said.
That’s the allure of treasure hunting -maybe you’ll find it, maybe you won’t - but the only way to know for sure is to hunt. For this treasure, there’s nowhere better to start than the Jesse James Visitor Center in downtown Cement.
“There’s so many different places you could start if you were interested in treasure hunting and so many places and so much information there that you could take it or leave it and make your own theory about where it could be. There’s so much information. It would take you multiple days to go through all the files and theories and everything we have here,” Baker said.
That information could send you down a path to find something others have tirelessly searched for.
“It would be awesome if someone found it but then it’s like the treasure is in my heart, I kind of feel like I know where it might be so I don’t want that daydream to sort of end in that sense,” Baker said.
Until that daydream is proven incorrect by someone finding the goal, it stays just that...a dream.
“I do believe that the treasure is still buried here somewhere in the Cement area. We’ll see, maybe someday, somebody will find it,” Baker said.
The Jesse James Visitor Center is open by appointment only. You can find the contact information to schedule a visit on their website.