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COBWEB CORNERS: Cash on the tracks – a double mystery

By Mel McFarland

       Now, this mystery is quite involved, and as far as I know has never been solved. The men, whose names I recognize, have been gone for a long time. I do know that some family members are still around and might never have heard this tale.
       So what would you do if you found over a hundred dollars? Turn it in? Well that is part of the tale too.
       Back in 1942 a couple of fellows were walking along the railroad tracks under the Colorado Avenue bridge near Sierra Madre Street. One spotted what he thought was a strange rag. When he picked at it, it turned out to be money! The two of them looked all over the area, and before they were done they had nearly $1,000 in cash and coins. Most of the money had been buried, but not very deeply.
       They went to the downtown police station, which was on the first floor of city hall then. The police, however, only took their report, not the cash. A newspaper story came out and others went down to the spot, where more money was found. There had been no sizable robberies that matched. The stories entertained the city for a month or more, but they finally died out.
       In 1944, it happened again! This time it was under the Midland trestle over the Rio Grande, about where the Cimarron Street bridge by the power plant is today. A crew of six men, employees of the Midland Terminal railroad, were working on the bridge. One of the men saw an old bread wrapper sticking out from under the ballast on the Rio Grande tracks. He kicked it up, and noticed something in it… cash.
       Looking over the area, the men came up with several packages of money, much of it separated into various denominations. It totaled nearly $700. There was even a bundle of $2 bills! This brought the total for the two sets of finds up to nearly $2,000!
       The section boss decided to go to a bank to get clean money, the police were also informed of the find. Back then the police did not have anything like a lost and found, so they only took a report. The bank told them that all the bills were over 10 years old. The finders divided up the new cash and went on their way.
       Another story ran in the paper, and soon others were looking for mystery money under the bridges at railroad tracks. One reporter wondered if it was some gambler's stash.
       To my knowledge, this might be the end of the story, unless, as I continue to read the papers chronologically, I see more articles on it.
       The Midland foreman was John Sherbak, who lived at 2317 Howbert, over near the old Midland School. In my talks with members of the family, when I wrote my book on the Midland Terminal, "The Cripple Creek Road," this story never came up!

Cobweb Corners has appeared in the Pioneer since 2004.