While Baker County has a history of mining for gold, Phil Scheler found a different type of buried treasure when he and Jerry Long were digging on the hill above Western Heights to replace water pipes.
They were working near a spring that supplies water to the subdivision about 2 miles west of Baker City, off West Campbell Loop.
The pipes had been clogged with roots, Scheler said.
But during the excavation he and Long dug up an ore cart, an auger and a set of tools beside a set of metal rails that had long ago been buried in a caved-in tunnel.
After doing some research and hearing from experts in the community, they believe the cart is a Truax automatic ore cart built by Globe Iron Works, a 19th century company in Stockton, California.
Scheler believes the cart and auger are both well over a century old, and that workers used the auger to drill holes for placing dynamite.
What’s not clear, though, is whether the tunnel was excavated solely to access its water, or whether it was also a mine.
Scheler says that the ore cart, along with the auger, tools, and tracks it was found with, will be placed on a pedestal at the entrance to Western Heights for anyone who wants to see the relics.
Scheler also said he’s hoping someone in the community might know more about the history of the objects.