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Categories: From the Gold Prospectors Magazine

 Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Treasure Hunter

by GPAA Admin

The Treasure Hunter
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From the March/April '20 issue of the Gold Prospectors Magazine

by Steve Nubie

 

In each issue we’ll feature four lost treasures in the United States by region.  All information is based on the hard facts derived from folklore, rumors and frequent exaggerations.  This issue’s treasure hunt is focused on the American Southwest.

 

  1. The James’ Gang Gold/Oklahoma

 

  • History:

The James gang ambushed a Mexican pack train in 1875 and stole gold bars.While traveling through the Wichita Mountains they encountered a blizzard and buried the gold.Most of the gang was captured after the Northfield Minnesota raid and the treasure was lost.Frank James reportedly returned to Oklahoma to search for the treasure and while he found other treasures they had buried, it’s believed he never found the gold bars.

  • Status:

Traces of the massive fortune have been reportedly found by numerous people, but the primary treasure is still believed to be lost.

  • Contents:

Gold bars

  • Physical size:

Rumored to be buried in a bucket, but a previous treasure hunter found only an empty bucket.Not known if that was the bucket once containing the gold. Also rumored to be buried in a cast iron Dutch oven.

  • Today’s estimated value:

$1 million to $2 million

  • Past and present searches:

Numerous and on-going, including Frank James (Jesse’s brother) who retired and died in Oklahoma.

  • Location details:

A ravine on or near Tarbone Mountain

  • Notes:

Ray Pack of Marlow, Oklahoma, reportedly has 13 maps related to the treasure location.

  • Cautions related to safety and property rights:

Some locations are currently on Native American reservations

 

The Wichita Mountains (Photo Credit: Jonathan W.)

 

  1. The San Saba Treasure/The Alamo, Texas

 

  • History:

In 1836 a group of frontiersmen made their way across Texas transporting silver and gold to finance the Texas revolution for independence from Mexico.  They were led by Col. Jim Bowie.  Their ultimate destination was a mission church called the Alamo.  Upon arrival they buried the treasure somewhere in the vicinity and two months later were all slaughtered by 6,000 Mexican troops. 

  • Status:

Some of the treasure was reportedly removed by Mexican soldiers but it’s believed most still remains hidden.

  • Contents:

The treasure is said to contain silver and gold bullion.

  • Physical size:

No information about a container so may be stacked bullion.

  • Today’s estimated value:

Millions of dollars

  • Past and present searches:

A thorough search approved by the U.S. government revealed no treasure at the site of an old well.

  • Location details:

One report said the treasure was buried in the bottom of the old well in the plaza of the Alamo during the siege and on orders of Jim Bowie.Another report indicated that it’s located beneath the road in front of the chapel. Ground-penetrating radar indicated some interesting anomalies beneath the site of the old well.

  • Notes: As a well-known legend, the treasure may have already been found but unreported.
    • Cautions related to safety and property rights:

The Alamo is on federal land and is a protected national monument.Permission is required from the USFS, although outlying areas around the Alamo may be less restrictive. A past search required 3 years to get a permit.

 

The Alamo (Photo Credit: thealamo.org)

 

  1. The Red Hill Treasure/New Mexico

 

  • History:

In July 1836 an old prospector named Adams staggered into the town of Pinos Altos, just north of Silver City, New Mexico. Bleeding from several gunshot and arrow wounds, the dying prospector told several friends who had gathered around him that he had been prospecting north of the town. His knapsack held a fortune in gold nuggets. After several weeks of prospecting he told of a red hill in the distance. When he arrived at the hill, he described gold lying everywhere.

  • Status:

The Red Hills exist and there are many red hills across the terrain.Finding the specific red hill where Adams found his gold is the challenge.

  • Contents:

A strewn field of nuggets visible on the surface

  • Physical size:

From pebble-size to quarter-size nuggets

  • Today’s Estimated value:

Millions depending on quantity and weight

  • Past and present searches:

The prospector’s friends and other prospectors have searched but to date no one has found the gold field Adams described.

  • Location details:

Pinos Altos is located 6 miles north of Silver City on New Mexico Highway 15.

  • Notes:

The Red Hills are clearly marked on local topographic maps.

  • Cautions related to safety and property rights:

The Red Hills cover land owned privately and by the federal government.Prospecting is allowed on federal land, but private land would probably be prohibited.

 

Red Hills (Photo Credit: Alexander Frolov)

  1. The Sierra Estrella Hoard of Gold/Arizona

 

  • History:

A Spaniard named Don Joaquin led a mining expedition in the Sierra Estrella, in the hopes of finding gold. He succeeded but hastily prepared to return to Mexico as the American Army approached his location. Loading 3,000 pounds of gold onto the backs of 15 mules, he and some of his men headed up Zig Zag Trail toward Butterfly Peak. Continuing on toward Montezuma’s Head, the group turned into a short box canyon about halfway down the trail. Spying a cave, Don Joaquin had his men bury the gold in the back of the cavern, then killed the Indian scout, placing his body over the hidden treasure. Joaquin was later murdered.

 

  • Status:

The treasure has never been found.

  • Contents:

Nuggets, fines, flakes and dust

  • Physical size:

Various but weighing 1.5 tons in total. Perhaps in sacks, pots or chests

  • Estimated value:

$72 million

  • Past and present searches:

Various but with no reported success

  • Location details:

Somewhere in the Sierra Estrella in a cave past a landmark known as Montezuma’s Head.

  • Notes:

Given its high value, the treasure could have been found and unreported

  • Cautions related to safety and property rights:

The region is notoriously dangerous in terms of heat and lack of water

 

Next issue’s Treasure Hunt:  The American Northeast from Captain Kidd’s loot to Confederate Silver

 

Be sure to abide by all local, state, and federal regulations when hunting for treasure. It's always best to check with your local Chapter and area before making a trip on your own. Safety first!

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