Nestled inside an old-timey display case in the United States Bank Building in the former frontier boomtown of Baker City, Oregon, is the stuff dreams are made of. The case plays host to the Armstrong Nugget, a relic that harkens back to a time when hordes of people flocked to the West in hopes of striking it rich. It was the dream of every prospector to hopefully unearth an Armstrong Nugget. The 80.4 troy ounces of solid gold is worth well over $100,000 by today’s standards. The nugget was discovered by miners George Armstrong and Dick Stewart on June 19, 1913, in nearby Buck Gulch. While sifting through gravel one day, Stewart spotted a large object protruding from the water. As he got closer, he realized it was a solid gold nugget about the size of a fist.
Remarkably, the nugget still sits in the same quaint U.S. bank today that it has called home for over half a century. It’s believed that Armstrong kept the nugget at the bank for decades, borrowing on its value for the rest of his life. When he died, the nugget became the property of the bank. Most gold nuggets discovered during the gold rush were eventually melted down and crafted into coins, bars, or other items. So for this enormous piece of gold to still be intact after all these years is truly remarkable. Today it sits under a deceptively simple glass case, with other lesser gold nuggets. But don’t even think about performing a heist, as the case features several security measures. At night, the nugget is placed in a safe, its golden luster lost in the darkness of a bank vault until the next day.
Know Before You Go
The bank is located directly across from the Geiser Grand Hotel.