- In 1878 a wagon train was attacked in Chavez Pass 30 miles S.W. of Winslow and everyone except two of the party were massacred. The two survivors said all of the valuables and cash of the wagon train were buried the night before the attack near the campsite and never recovered after the melee. Even though the remains of the burnt wagons were found, the treasure wasn’t.
- A cache of gold dust and silver coins was secreted by Apache Indians after they attacked a wagon train a few miles N.E. of the stage station at Mountain Springs. The dutch oven containing the treasure is hidden behind two rocks at the point of the Winchester Mountains N.E. of Wilcox.
- Two heavy bags of gold were buried by outlaws after a robbery. Captured and sent to jail, they admitted the crime and gave these directions to the cache: from Douglas, go north on a country road for 18 miles. Where the road forks take it to the left leading in a westerly direction and continue for about 5 miles, then turn north again. Straight ahead is a corral. Go through two gates and follow this road 8-10 miles to a goat ranch. From goat ranch: about 200 yards up a canyon is a spring and old campsite. Up this canyon, towards a dike, is the area where the loot was hidden.
- Profits from the 250 acre Spade Ranch, established in 1883 by William Craig and Paul Vogel, are believed buried somewhere on the property located in a meadow on Webber Creek below the Mogollon Rim and near Pine.
- In 1903, Jake Johnson and his brother were taken to a treasure cave, by a Paiute Indian, containing a vast quantity of Aztec gold and silver, from the south rim of the Grand Canyon. They were blindfolded one day’s ride S of Pipe Spring and rode another 4 days. At the base of the Grand Canyon they entered the cavern, where their blindfolds were removed. The two men were allowed to take all the treasure they could carry, in return for their help in saving the life of the Indian’s wife. They searched for years and could not find the cavern.
- The Nazi Germany war regime is said to have cached upwards of $300 million in the area of Chloride.
- 1870s—2 bandits robbed a stagecoach of an army payroll and stole $72,000. The loot is believed buried in the vicinity of Canyon Station.
- Indians planned and made several attacks on emigrant trains in Secret Pass and buried a large store of weapons in a concealed cave. The cave is located at the western or Colorado River side of Secret Pass where Thumb Butte is a prominent rock formation nearby.
- Spanish priests, in charge of a wagon train enroute from Mexico to California, were loaded with everything needed to establish a new mission including, chalices, candlesticks, crosses, vestments and other church articles. Indians forced them to conceal the treasures in a cave in the area of Secret Pass and then the party was attacked and massacred. Two nuns escaped the foray and returned to Mexico to tell of the tragedy.
- In the 1880’s, 5 bandits robbed a saloon in the booming mining camp of Mineral
Park. While escaping, they robbed a stagecoach of a strongbox containing 400pounds of gold bars, dust and nuggets and the passengers of additional valuables.The strongbox was too heavy to take with them and in their haste, pushed it off tothe side of the road and covered it with dirt. A posse caught up with the gangshortly afterwards and killed them all. The posse found the stagecoach and itspassengers not far from Topock and all made a thorough search for the gold, butnothing was ever found. The location is along the Yucca-Needles stage road to the W of the Yucca Stage Station.
- The above coins may or may not have come from a cache made by 4 outlaws who robbed the Sante Fe train in 1889, 34 miles E of Flagstaff. The loot was taken up Canyon Diablo to a cedar thicket where the spendable loot was divided and the diamond jewelry and separated rifles and watches buried on the rim. The outlaws then separated.
“Long Tom” Watson found some old papers in 1910 in a cabin written by outlawsthat told of a cache of gold nuggets hidden behind a waterfall that exists only in the spring of the year in the vicinity of Havasupai Village in the Grand Canyon. The site is W of the old Tanner Trail in the Grand Canyon, about 4 miles N of Hwy. 64. He began his search in 1912, and after 2 years of futile searching was on his way out of the canyon to the Arizona strip via the old Horse Thief Trail from Morgan Point where he saw a falls. Behind it was a cave and, inside, a bushel of gold nuggets. As he was about to leave, he fell and broke his leg, but managed to get to the Buggelin Ranch, leaving the treasure behind. When he recovered, he made numerous attempts to relocate the cave and waterfall, but failed. In disgust, Watson later committed suicide and the story became legend.
The owner of an Indian trading post N of the peaks from Flagstaff during the 1800’sburied the profits from his store in jars and cans around the fences on his property. The caches are believed to have numbered in the hundreds, many of which are still awaiting discovery to this day.
An outlaw cave is located to the W of this trading post, possibly in the North FriscoPeak region, where it it believed a large cache of gold coins remains unrecovered.
$100,000 in outlaw loot was buried by Curly Walker near his stone fort-likeheadquarters in the N end of the Painted Desert. The ruins are still visable and, somewhere nearby, the unrecovered cash.
In the 1880’s, 7 outlaws of the Valenzuelo gang were killed by lawmen at MexicanPocket S of Flagstaff and another five bandits escaped, only to be killed later. The 12 bandits buried their shares of loot from series of rich hauls in separate cachesand contained in saddlebags here and were never able to return to recover them.Shortly after the shooting spree, 2 separate caches were found; one contained$5,000 in gold and silver coins, a few years later, $8,000 was found in saddlebags in another cache in the same area. It was presumed that another 10 caches of outlaw loot with a face value of some $80,000 remains buried in separate places inMexican Pocket.
A cache of stagecoach loot was buried by a lone bandit at Viet Spring nearFlagstaff. The outlaw was killed in a gunfight and the treasure was never recovered.
On May 10, 1881, 5 outlaws robbed the Canyon Diablo-Flagstaff stage about 30miles E of Flagstaff. Two mail sacks were taken containing two 5-gallon oak kegspacked with a Wells Fargo shipment of gold ingots and coins cosigned to a SanFrancisco bank. The gold was worth $125,000. The bandits made good their escape and holed up in a log cabin at a place later called Viet Spring. A posse trailed the gang and trapped them at the cabin. In the shootout, all the bandits were killed and a search of the area made, but no gold was found. Many fruitless searches have been made for this cache over the years until a local man, Jim McGuire, suddenly started spending $50 gold coins at the saloon. McGuire was not a wealthy man and boasted that he “found” the coins. When he died suddenly, a search of his cabin turned up nothing and it is presumed that he had indeed found the stagecoach loot but only took a few coins from the cache at a time. The treasure still awaits recovery.
Roy Gardner was a train robber and gunrunner who started his crime career in 1906. He concealed $16,000 in gold coins in the cone of an extinct volcano near Flagstaff before he was captured during a train robbery in 1921 and sent to prison. His cache was never recovered.
- In 1878, outlaws attacked a packed train loaded with silver bars enrouted from the Stonewall Jackson Mine at McMillenville. Each of the 25 mules carried 2 huge ingots which weighed 190 pounds each. Taking over the mules, they turned NW from the Globe Trail and moved the train into the Mogollon Moutains in Navajo County . Seeing that they were being followed by Indians, the outlaws led the caravan to the area of Little Valley ( Clark Valley ) where the silver was cached in an old 40-foot-deep mine shaft on the side of the slope and covered over. The bandits were killed in an shootout and the treasure was never recovered. The search are for this hoard is believed to be within 1 mile of the lower end of Lake Mary on the rim of Little Valley in the San Francisco Mountains.
- During the winter of 1881, outlaws Henry Corey and Ralph Gaines stole 8 gold bars, each 3 feet long by 4 inches, from the old Tip Top Mine near (GT) Gillette. They holed up in an abandoned cabin on Rogers Lake and buried the bars near the cabin. They went to Flagstaff, held up a stagecoach of $25,000 in gold and silver coins and returned to the cabin. They dug up the gold bars and, together with the stage loot which was placed in wooden kegs, they chopped a hole in the ice and lowered the treasure into the lake. When the sheriff learned that the pair was at Rogers Lake, a posse set out to capture them. At their approach, Corey and Gaines managed to make a hasty escape, leaving the treasure behind. Gaines was killed in a brawl and Corey was arrested during a holdup near Globe and sent to prison. When Corey was released 24 years later, he and a friend made repeated searches for the loot but it was never found. Corey died in 1936. During certain times of the year, a search can be made on the dry lakebed.
In 1879, four outlaws robbed a stage near Gila Bend and made off with $125,000 in gold coins and 22 gold bars stamped “AJO”. The next day, the same gang robbed another stage near Stanwix Station obtaining 2 chests containing $140,000 in gold coins and $60,000 in currency. Fleeing northeastward when the posse trailed them into the Tonto Basin country, than northwestward when the posse finally overtook them. In the shootout, 2 of the gang were shot and killedand the other 2 escaped, making their way to Holbrook where they waited for things to quiet down. Here, one of the bandits was killed in a poker game and the other, Henry Tice, in a fit of anger, shot and killed the gambler. An irate made a quick job of justice and killed him.The search area for this huge store of treasure has centered around the cliffs between Mormon Lake and Flagstaff. All efforts to locate this hoard have failed.
- William Ashurst owned a ranch near a good spring, now known as Ashurst Run, 25 miles SE of Flagstaff. He is known to have buried a number of 5 and 10 pound lard cans full of gold coins somewhere on the property that were never recovered after his death.
- Outlaws headed by Henry Seymour robbed a stagecoach in 1879 of $225,000 in newly-minted coins contained in 3 boxes at the Pine Spring Station located between Beaverhead Station and Brigham City. They took the gold into the station where they holed up just as a 20-man posse arrived. After a day long standoff, the posse set fire to the rear wall of the structure and routed the outlaws who were gunned down within a few yards of the station. The posse then put the fire out and searched for the gold, but it was never found. The hoard of gold coins remain buried somewhere in or near the old Pine Springs Station.
- Herman Wolf operated a trading post for 30 years on the Little Colorado River between 1869-1899. The highly profitable business brought him tens of thousands of dollars in gold and silver coins. During all of this time, he is known never to of banked a single penny, but in 1899, Wolf decided to bring $100,000 in gold to the Flagstaff bank for deposit, but died before he did so. His 30-year accumulation was estimated to total some $250,000 and remains buried somewhere near his old store on the Little Colorado River just off the California-Sante Fe Trail near Canyon Diablo. Only small portions of his hoard has ever been found, and that nearer to the store than the location which he confided to a close friend not long before he died. A bucket of Mexican silver and 20 U.S. gold coins were found in 1966 and 1901 respectively and is but a mere part of his treasure. The main cache still eludes seekers.
East of the Canyon Diablo trading post on the other side of Hwy. 40 near the Meteor Crater is Diablo Canyon which stretches about 50 miles N and S and ends in the San Franciso Wash. In the northeastern area of Diablo Canyon, about 7 miles S of Two Guns in the late 1920’s, an old Apache Indian told the story of an old Indian ambush on a group of white miners near Meteor Crater and killed them all. After the attack, no gold nuggets were found and the Indians presumed the hoard cached before or during the battle. The aged Indian told of a stone corral and a stone structure, some sort of cabin.In the 1930’s another Indian reported seeing the stone corral and cabin but was unaware of the treasure and did not search for it.
- In 1878, a wagon train was attacked in Chavez Pass, 30 miles SW of Winslow and everyone except 2 of the party were massacred. The two survivors said that all the valuables and cash of the train were buried the night before the attack near the campsite and never recovered after the melee. Even though the remains of the burnt wagons were found, the treasure wasn’t.
- A treasure known as the Lost Ledge of the Lone Ace Desert Rat is located near Skull Valley NW of Prescott.
- An early resident of Chino Valley, about 20 miles N of Prescott, is believed to have buried a large quantity of gold coins and nuggets somewhere in or near his cabin before he died. His treasure has never been recovered.
Mose Casner operated a ranch in Beaver Creek Canyon near Rimrock and accumulated a fortune of $100,000 which he buried on his ranch in 5 dutch ovens, each containing $20,000 and each buried in separate locations. Casner died without revealing the location of his money and it was never recovered.Another source claims that Casner bored holes in several pine trees and cached hoards in his “tree banks,” then plugged the holes. This source claims that one such tree near his house yielded $1.000 in gold coins and another, in Beaver Creek Canyon, contained rolls of currency.
- For 50 years during the 1800’s, Sycamore Canyon was used as a hideout by outlaws and cattle rustlers. It is believed that a large number of treasure caches from these sources remain buried and hidden in this vicinity.
- Numerous bottles filled with gold were hidden in an orchard in Cottonwood during the peak of the Jerome mining days by two miners by the name of Marvin and Dreher. 3 of these bottles were found by a young boy in 1961, but it was a small sampling of what remains.
- 38 bars of gold, stolen in Mexico by a man named Hashknife Charley, were buried somewhere between a spring and the boundary line between Arizona and Sonora near Sonoyta on the Arizona side of the border. The valuable cache was never recovered as Charley died in jail while serving a prison term for stealing horses.
- The Treasure of Zonia, a hoard consisting of bars and bullion from a Mexican pack train and sacks of Mexican gold and silver coins and some church treasure, is buried in the vicinity of Yava between Kirkland and Hillside on Hwy. 96. It has never been recovered.
- In 1876, 2 bandits robbed the stagecoach from the Vulture Mine of $40,000 in gold bars which they sawed into chunks in order to carry it. Government men were immediately on their trail and the outlaws were shot and killed in Thompson Valley. Part of the loot was recovered several days later and indications are that the remainder was hidden in the mountains somewhere between the Vulture Mine and where the town of Hillside is located today. It has yet to be found.
- The Golden Cup Treasure is located on Rich Hill.
- While being pursued by lawmen, 2 Mexican outlaws dumped $30,000 in raw gold on a pinnacle between Japanese Wash and Weaver Creek near Stanton. The hoard was never recovered.
- Precillano Ruiz had a rich placer mine somewhere near Wickenburg in the Black Rock Mining District. Over a period of time he extracted $50,000 in gold and silver which he kept hidden in or near his mine. He was killed around 1890 and his claim taken over by others. His cache of treasure was never found and remains somewhere near his mine, now known as the Monte Christo, a short distance from the Constellation Mine in the area near the Bradshaw Mountains and adjacent to Rich Hill, Stanton, Weaver and Octave.
- In 1870, bandits attacked a pack train carrying silver bullion from border smelters at Coalmine Springs near Alto. The bullion has never been recovered and, beacause of the weight of the treasure, it is believed to be cached somewhere in the area of the holdup.
- The stongboxes of at least 2 stagecoach robberies are believed buried somewhere on the slopes of Granite Mountain NW of Prescott.
- In the 1800’s, a party of successful prospectors were returning from the Big Sandy River to Prescott with a considerable amount of gold dust and nuggets contained in canvas bags. Stopping at Granite Dells for water in a spring that was located down in a ravine, they were attacked by Indians. The gold was hastily buried near the spring as the battle went on. All of the men were killed except one who made good his escape. The lone survivor returned to the site on several occasions with a search party later, but they never found any signs of the gold cache. It is surmised that the Indians dug up the tresure and reburied it somewhere else in the same area.
- The treasure known as Yaeger’s Lost Gold is located near Yaeger Canyon in Javapai County.
- “Red” Jack Almer buried $8,000 in gold coins in the vicinity of Prescott.
- A chest containing some $100,000 in gold was buried by a miner being folowed by hostile Indians under a boulder shaped like kneeling man. The site was near a spring at the foot of a mountain past which a stream flowed into a small valley near Prescott. In a tree a few feet away he marked a cross above a half circle. The cache of gold has never been recovered.
- $75,000 in gold bars is buried in the area of Prescott.
- Oscar Johnson was a recluse-miner living in McCabe. He hoarded his wealth and buried it somewhere in or near his cabin. Johnson mysteriously disappeared and neither he, nor his money, was ever found. Most all agree that his treasure remains buried somewhere near the cabin and yet to be found.
- In 1864, miners struck a rich placer of gold desposit on Lynx Creek E of Prescott, washing out about $30,000 in nuggets packed in 5 buckskin pouches. Between Lynx Creek and Prescott, the party was attacked and killed by 2 Indians who took the gold and headed for the mountains. Within 3 hours, a posse set out after them, and about 10 miles from the scene of the attack, overtook and killed them. The posse did not find any gold and they believed that it had been buried or hidden somewhere enroute by the robbers. It has yet to be found.
- Some legends say that Montezuma’s Aztec treasure hoard, removed from Mexico during the Cortez conquest in the 1500’s, is buried in a great sink hole known locally as Montezuma’s Well, near the ancient cliff dwelling’s known today as Montezuma’s Castle.
- A treasure known as the Silver of the Dead Apache is located in the Bradshaw Mountains E of Prescott.
- 200 pounds of raw gold lies at the bottom of a creek near the junction of Slate and Sqaw Creeks close to (GT) Bumble Bee.
- An Apache Indian living in Bronco Canyon often traded gold nuggets at the store at Fort McDowell. Two prospectors went to the canyon and set up camp in Bronco Canyon and prospected the area. One day they found a rich vein of gold quartz showing signs of having been worked. The men worked the vein, taking out between $70,000 and $80,000 in gold which they stored under a huge rock near their camp. Preparing to leave the site because winter was upon them, a party of Apaches swooped down and attacked killing one of the men while the other managed to escape. The survivor waited until the Indians were subdued but by that time he was in his 80’s. Before he could return to the site, he fell ill and on his deathbed told of the story of gold and rich mine. Several years later, a Mexican sheepherder told of finding the campsite in Bronco Canyon but didn’t know of the mine or treasure cache. Others, too, have reported seeing a crude arrastre in the same region, but the mine and cache, located about 4 miles E of (GT) Bumble Bee, has yet to be found.
- Black Canyon Hill is located 38 miles S of Prescott on Hwy. 49. The place was a dangerous spot on the old stage road and many holdups took place here. It is believed that some of the stolen loot from these robberies may still remain buried in the area.
- Henry Seymour was a blacksmith in (GT) Gillett. In 1882, he held up 3 different stagecoaches on the outskirts of town, obtaining a total of $69,000. He was caught trying to hold up a fourth stage and was sent to prison, all the time refusing to reveal where he had hidden the loot. After he was released from prison he dropped from sight and never returned to Gillett to recover his treasure.
- Miners Samuel Walcott and James McNally had a gold ledge somewhere in or around Blue Canyon in Black Mountain. When they were killed in the 1880’s, the location became lost. Before they were killed by attacking Indians, the miners buried 200 pounds of gold near the mouth of Tsegi Canyon in Marsh Pass off Black Mountain. The cache is located up the canyon and buried somewhere betwen the creek running through it and the cliff-like wall not far from the present-day trading post on Hwy. 163.
- Returning from the California gold fields in 1855 with $300,000 in gold , a prospector named Darlington and his family were heading for their home in Illinois. When they reached the Sunset Crossing of the Little Colorado River, his wife took ill and died. She was buried in a box built by the post trader at Sunset Crossing and was so heavy that it took six men to lower it and leveled it off to resemble the terrain. Years later it was learned that Darlington had placed half of his gold, $150,000, in the coffin as his wife’s share. It’s still there.
- An oxcart heavily loaded with gold plates, bowls and other items was placed in a cave in the cliffs and covered over after Indians attacked a group of early-day Spaniards. The cave is located W of the Rock Point trading post and past the formation called Rock Point. The search area is just around the hill from the top of the mesa.
- A small party of prospectors recovered $75,000 from a rich gold deposit in the late 1800’s on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Pursued by irate Indians, the miners finally escaped, taking a hard, round-about journey from the area. One by one they died from exhausution until only one was left and, he too, was dying. He said that the gold was buried under a boulder shaped like a kneeling man at the foot of a mountain in a small vally that contained a small stream near Prescott. Subsequent searches failed to find the gold even though the landmarks were located.
- One suggested location of Alec Toppington’s Bear Cave Treasure is in the Carrizo Mountains.
- 3 Navajo Indians knew the location of a cave whose floor was littered with gold nuggets and ingots in the 1860’s. The Indians took Henry Adams, operator of the trading post at Fort Defiance, to the cave blindfolded. The cave was to the SW and up a steep hill from the base of a towering cliff. Adams saw 3 peaks nearly identical in size and shape looking out from the cave entrance, then he was blindfolded again and led from the cave, one night’s travel from Fort Defiance. Adams sold his store and searched for years for the treasure cave without success. After running out of money and grubstake friends, he killed himself. Some researchers believ the treasure cave is located in the cliffs N of Indian Wells.
- Profits from the 250-acre Spade Ranch, established in 1883 by William Craig and Paul Vogel, are believed buried somewhere on the property located in a meadow on Webber Creek below the Mogollon Rim and near Pine.
- Local residents fleeing the area because of Indian uprisings buried a large Mexican-Spanish treasure in the vicinity of Globe in the middle 1800’s. The cache was never recovered.
- The Sunlit Cave Treasure, consisting of several tons of Spanish gold bullion, is located on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, 15-20 miles S of Ehrenberg.
- Zuni Indians hid a cache of gold and silver and some church vessels in a cave under the mesa during the Indian Rebellion of 1680 somewhere in the area starting S of Lupton to the N Mexican border. Legends say that this treasure was never recovered. The Yuma Indians are said to have brought out gold nuggets from Cibola Cave, 50 miles N of Yuma in the Trigo Mountains.
- William B. Rood owned a ranch on the E side of the Colorado River, about halfway between Yuma and La Paz as the crow flies and between the area of Walker and Draper Lakes, except on the E side of the river. Rood drowned while crossing the river in 1870 and it was widely known that he had various amounts of gold coins hidden on the ranch, called Rancho de los Yumas. He was a very wealthy man, but only a few hundred dollars was found after his death. Various relatives, and others, searched for his caches at different times, but there were no reports of any recoveries. In 1897, Alfredo Pina dug up a baking powder tin containing $960 in gold coins. Another small cache is believed to have been found by Leonardo Romo. The recovered caches are but a small portion of what is still awaiting recovery. The remains of the old ranch buildings can still be located.
- A blacksmith working a small shop at Middle Well, located just N of a sand road that runs midway between the Castle Dome and Kofa Mountains, skimmed high grade gold ore from passing wagons and buried the gold in a cellar dug beneath the floor of his blacksmith shop. He died of a heart attack and the highgraded treasure went unrecovered. In the 1960’s, treasure hunters searched the area and found many relics and bottles, but no gold.
- Wealthy Mexican Don Jose Maria Redonda came to Arizona and built a vast estate about 15 miles N of Yuma in the Gila Valley, naming it the Hacienda de San Ysidro. He added to his fortune over the years from his ranch and winery and also owned a number of stores in Yuma. When his vast estate was divided by the government in 1874, Redondo abandoned the Hacienda and moved to Yuma. Rumors had it that a huge fortune remained buried on the estate and seekers flocked to the site, literally tearing it apart but no known treasure was found. Rumors persist today that a large treasure remains buried somewhere on the property.
- The Lost Treasure consists of some 50 pounds of gold nuggets and is located near the present Laguna Dam. Indians reportedly ambushed and killed a group of miners and threw their bodies and the gold into a gorge in the hills.
- Indians attacked the mission and the gold and other tresures were gathered by the Padres and taken across the Colorado River to the Arizona side and buried close to a peak known today as Sugar Loaf, or Sqaw Peak. A second version says the treasure was buried in a cave on the face of the peak.
- Near a prominent army camp used for desert training during WWII in a mountainous area at a flat base fronting a vertically-faced wall of volcanic rock are two stacks of 220 gold bars that were discovered in the 1940’s by 5 trainees assigned to the camp. The site is near Yuma and was lost by those who originally found it.
- John Glanton was a scalphunter who was forced out of Mexico when he was caught selling Mexican scalps as being Apache to the government. At Yuma crossing, Glanton met Able Lincoln and joined him in a profitable ferry business that grossed $20,000 per month. Not happy with that, Glanton robbed California gold seekers and killed them if they resisted. Indians attacked the crossing one night and killed both Glandon and Lincoln while a third ferryman escaped. He later stated that Lincoln had $50,000 in silver coins and between $20,000 and $30,000 in gold coins which he kept buried someplace near his camp. Glanton is believed to have had a similar fortune which he believed to have been buried in the thickets on the W bank of the river, placing it in California. After the massacre, the governor sent an expedition to the Crossing to protect the travelers, punish the Indians and recover the treasure. The venture cost the state over $110,000 and they did not find a cent of the Glanton-Lincoln hoard.
- According to an ancient map, a cache of gold treasure is supposedly buried somewhere in Spook Canyon in the Gila Mountains, about 5 miles SE of the once-rich Fortuna Gold Mine.
- The English pirate Thomas Cavendish stripped several Spanish galleons of their treasure in the late 1500’s. One of his vessels, the Content,loaded with tons of gold and silver, mysteriously disappeared and is believed to lie under the desert sands while the mutinous crew tried sailing the vessel up the Colorado River with the hiijacked treasure and became caught in a tidal wave and swept far inland.
- A large cache of gold and silver coins is hidden on the Colorado River near the Pima Indian villages near Yuma.
- A gold miner returning to the East from the California gold fields with $40,000 in nuggets was robbed along the El Camino del Diablo in the 1850’s. The outlaws are believed to have fled into the Tinajas Atlas Mountains to a hideout and it is a good possibility that some of this, and probably additional caches of loot, was buried there. Numerous outlaws and highwaymen used the basins in the Tinajas Atlas Mountains as a hideaway any many caches of loot and treasure are believed secreted in the region.
- Around 1933, a Mexican couple was traveling illegally towards Wellton from Mexico and crossing the Gila Mountains along one of the old Indian trails, about 1/2 day’s hike from Tinajas Atlas. As they came through a small pass and started down the E side of the Gilas, they saw what looked like a piece of burlap flapping in the wind from behind a sand dune. Upon investigating, they found a cave nearly hidden by the dune and, inside, about a dozen wooden crates full of Winchester .30-.30 carbines dated 1903. Leaving the cache they continued on their journey, were caught by government officers and forced to return to Mexico. The rifles have never been recovered.
- The Nazi Germany war regime is said to have cached millions of dollars in war treasure in an area between Yuma and Lukeville. A similar Nazi war cache was recently recovered near Lima, Peru and lends credence to its existence.
- A treasure from a wagon train massacre is buried W of O’Neil Pass near Papago Well.
- $140,000 in gold coins, stolen from a stagecoach in which 6 people were massacred in 1871 about 9 miles W of Wickenburg, is believed buried very near the hold-up scene. The robbery was supposed to be an “inside job” with only the $140,000 and a shovel missing from the stage even though other treasure and valuables were on board. Law men found the shovel lodged between some rocks, about 300 yards from the exact massacre site which is today marked by a monument. One source places this treasure N of Hwy. 60-60 on a dry mesa near an arroyo between 2 hills in a wash. It has never been recovered.
- GT: Vulture City, near the Vulture Gold Mine, 12 miles from Wickenburg on the road to Buckeye and Aguila. Robberies, Murder and rape were a frequent occurance in Vulture City. The gold mine was robbed of bars on numerous times and much treasure is believed to remain hidden in and around the region. Wells Fargo chests, carrying the gol from the mines on stages were robbed so often that the carrier’s lives were always on the line. Highgrading was rampant in the area of the Vulture Mine during its heyday and at least 8 men are known to have been hanged for their stealing and this, too, added to numerous caches that were hidden in the region. Old timers say that as much as $8 million was highgraded from the area mines and never reported. The main gold ore body has never been found at Vulture City. $17 million in gold has already been recovered from the mines, but the mother lode source of this ore, speculated to be worth many times that amount, still awaits discovery.
- The Valenzuela outlaw gang buried $25,000 in gold bars in the area of Wittman. It has never been recovered.
- Grocery heiress Marjorie Jackson was murdered at Indianapolis, Indiana. in the late 1970’s. F.B.I. agents recovered $1.4 million in cash in the desert, 20 miles N of Phoenix and believe that an additional $1 million to $6 million in cash, stolen from her home, is still buried in the same general area.
- The treasure known as the Royal Treasure is located in the general area NW of Phoenix.
- A cave of treasure lies in the vicinity of Hidden Valley in the Salt River Mountains, or South Mountains, on the outskirts of Phoenix. The hoard was seen in the early 1900’s and one $50 gold slug was removed. The opening is now believed covered over by fallen rocks and natural washing.
- The Lost Epileptic Gold Mine and a hidden cache of gold bars worth $50,000 nearby in the Estrella Mountains.
- In 1878, two Mexican prospectors found a rich gold ledge in the Estrella Mountains and worked out an estimated $50,000 in gold which they buried nearby. Pima Indians discovered them and attacked, killing one of the men and wounding the other. The injured man reached Tucson but died before he could lead another party to the site. The mine and $50,000 in mined gold was never found and still awaits seekers high in the canyons of the Estrella Mountains SW of Phoenix.
- A Mexican bandit murdered the station keeper at Burke’s Station in an effort to learn the location of the hidden strongbox in the 1870’s. The money chest was never found and is believed to remain somewhere in the immediate vicinity of the old stage stop, just off the Agua Caliente road, a short distance E of the road on the S bank of the Gila River. The location on topographic maps is Township 5, Range 10, Section 28.
- The Aztecs took millions of dollars from the streams, rivers and mountains of Mexico in ancient times. There is an abundance of evidence that during the conquest by Cortez, a huge store of treasure was carried from today’s Mexico City to the north and buried in a cave, possibly in Arizona. Some sources speculate and legends say that the tons of Aztec gold is buried somewhere near the mountain known as Montezuma’s Head.
- Don Joaquin Campoy worked a rich vein of gold in 1847 inthe Sierra Estrella Mountains W of Phoenix. When he heard rumors of approaching American soldiers and a possible war with Mexico in the brewing, he loaded 50 bars of gold and 30 rawhide sacks of gold dust on mules and headed them up a trail toward Butterfly Peak, then down another trail that followed a high ridge from Montezuma’s Head. Somewhere along this trail it is presumed that Campoy turned off into a small box canyon and found a shallow cave where he buried the gold. He died before he could recover his hoard and it remains buried to this day.
- The Lost Treasure of Telegraph Pass, a cache of $50,000 in coins and jewelry contained in an iron pot, was buried in 1870 at the S end of the Estrella Mountains below Montezoma’s Head in a level campsite with a small butte on the E side, not far from Telegraph Pass.
- A hoard of gold bars, said to total between $1 million and $2 million, remains buried in a cave near Montezuma’s Head.
- The Lost Ortega Mine is located somewhere in the Sierra Estrella Mountains. A group of Mexicans worked the mine using hired Pima Indians as laborers during the Mexican-American War. The mine was located in a short, deep box canyon on the E side of the range and about halfway between 2 high peaks and high up the mountainside. When word was received that a force of U.S. soliders were in the area, Ortega covered over the mine entrance and concealed the mined gold in a small cave nearby. Ortega died within days of the treasure burial and the mine, nor the cache, was ever located in later years. The search area is just W of the Santa Cruz River in a line between St. John’s Mission and Montezuma Peak W of Phoenix.
- A wagon train consisting of 14 well-to-do families made its way towards the California gold fields in 1849. One of the wagons carried their accumalated fortunes to start a new life, some $50,000 in a chest. Each night, the chest was buried for safekeeping along the route within the circle formed by the wagons. Ever since leaving San Antonio, Texas, the party was plagued by Indian troubles and when the party camped for the night near the natural formation known as Montezuma’s Head in Arizona, a band of Apaches attacked, killing every member of the group. The treasure, buried the night before, was never found, even though subsequent searches were made by wagon trains who came upon the scene of the massacre and modern-day searches as well.
- An Apache chief named White Horse related that a wagon train of Spaniards came to the Superstition Mountains and chose Weaver’s needle as the place to bury a store of gold bars , jewels, statues and other artifacts. He stated that they climed the Needle and deposited the huge cache inside a cave near the top, then sealed the entrance. The Indians then attacked the Spaniards and killed them all. The sealed cave has never been found.
- The Lost Jesuit Treasure, worth an estimated $6 million, is located in the Superstitions. The hoard, possibly in 3 tunnels leading to 3 mines, was secreted when the priests were expelled in 1767.
- In 1976, famous western artist Ted DeGrazia of Tucson announced that he had concealed more than 100 original artworks inside a tunnel somewhere in the Superstition Mountains, 40 miles E of Phoenix. he said he hid the paintings, valued from $3,000 to well over $30,000 each, in order to keep his heirs from having to pay well over $1 million in taxes upon his death.
- In the late 1880’s, the stage on the Florence-Pinal Wells route was robbed of an $85,000 payroll bound for the old Pinal Silver Mine. The holdup took place along the stage road at a bend in Queen Creek about 3 miles E of Hewitt’s Station, located in a canyon now named after it and E of Comet Creek, about 12 miles NW of Old Pinal Town. The bandits rode off to the W following Queen Creek and were caught by a posse about 10 miles down the creek and off to the hills around Comet Peak. One of the outlaws was shot and killed, another escaped and the third was badly wounded. The dying man confessed that the loot was, “…buried along the trail under a palo verde tree.” A search was made, but nothing was found.
- In the early 1860’s, Andrew Pauly found a cave in some red cliffs N of Maricopa Wells near a large needle rock that contained skeletons, copper shields, spear points, axes and other artifacts as well as gold relics. Inside the cavern was a metal door that he could not open and what layed beyond is not known. Speculation ranges from a hoard of Aztec treasure to a vast Spanish treasure stockpile of gold and silver. No further reports were forthcoming.
- In 1871, the Blue Water Massacre took place at the Blue Water Station on the Yuma-Tucson road between the stations of Picacho and Sacaton. The operators of the station were killed by 3 Mexican outlaws for the money hidden somewhere in or near the station, but it was never found. The accumulated life savings of John W Baker, the operator, also remains secreted somewhere in the vicinity of the old stage stop.
- $26,000 in gold was stolen by outlaws during the robbery of an army paymaster, J.W. Whamat, at Cedar Springs in 1889 on the old military road, 16 miles NE of Camp Grant. The money was never recovered and may be buried in the immediate vicinity of the robbery.
- Frontiersman and scout William “Arizona Bill” Gardner told of a cache of gold coins cached near or on the grounds of old Camp Grant and hinted that the treasure burial occurred in 1877 and involved 5 cavalrymen on leave from the fort who made off with a $20,000 payroll. 4 of them were killed while out fighting Indians and the fifth deserted the army. It was from the deserter that Gardner learned of the treasure. Arizona Bill died at San Antonio in 1937 at the age of 96.
- Paddy Lynch was a prosperous rancher in the 1870’s and 1880’s and a miser who lived near the head of Aravaipa Valley, 10 miles N of Mammoth on the road from Wilcox to Globe. Most of his accumulated hoard of cash was buried somewhere near his house, 20 miles from Fort Grant. He was found shot to death in 1902 and the house ransacked. His cache was never found.
- An old Papago silver deposit was shown to John D. Walker in 1880 and a rich mine and boomtown sprang up. Before it was all over. 300 ingots of silver, each weighing 25 pounds, was buried by Walker within 1/2 hours wagon ride from his house at Vekol to the north along the county road to Casa Grande. The hoard was made around 1890,”almost in plain sight” near the old Walker home. The 1050 pounds of pure silver has never been recovered.
- A cache of Indian guns, pistols and rifles, numbering upwards of 1,000, is hidden on the Papago Indian Reservation in the mountains to the W of the Santa Rosa Wash between Casa Grande and Santa Rosa in the 1880’s.
- In the early 1700’s, the Spaniards mined and accumulated a large store of gold and silver in a cave in the area of the Red Rock Butte NW of Tucson. The treasure was stored in the cave somewhere in the Silver Bell Mountains. Marauding Apache Indians from the north wiped out both the Papagos and Spaniards and the treasure was never recovered. If not on the butte itself, the hoard is located somewhere along the road between Red Rock and Silverbell.
- El Tejano was an outlaw in the 1870’s who frequently robbed stagecoaches in Arizona. He was found dead one day along the Santa Cruz River S of Tucson from gunshot wounds sustained in a robbery attempt. His buried caches of stolen loot are believed to remain buried at either Picacho Pass or Cerro del Gato, both near Tucson.
- In the late 1890’s, outlaws crossed into Arizona with loot amounting to $48,000 from a Belen, New Mexico, train robbery and hid the cache at the Camp of the Double Circle on Eagle Creek. It was at this spot that the bandits were shot and killed by lawmen and the treasure never recovered.
- In 1905, a gang of outlaws robbed a train at Fort Thomas. An iron-bound chest containing $440,000 and another containing $65,000 was taken. The gang is believed to have buried the treasure, possibly an army payroll intended for Fort Thomas, about 10 feet deep near the holdup scene on private property. This treasure has been connected with the secretive Knights of the Golden Circle, an organization of Confederate and Southern sympathizers who attempted to raise enough money to restart the Civil War.
- $14,000, part of a payroll robbery at Cedar Springs in 1889, is buried a few miles SW of Fort Thomas.
- Padres transporting church treasure along a trail through the rough Graham Mountains were warned by a scout that Apaches were heading their way. The priests hastily buried a large store of gold coins, jeweled church vessels and other valuables in a cave and in the ensuing battle, all but a few of the party were killed. The survivors escaped and the treasure was never relocated.
- There are signs of a caravan of early Spaniards burying a cache of gold bullion on Mount Graham. The party wa traced as far as their stopping place in Shannon Canyon where the gold is believed buried.
- Money taken in a stage robbery is believed hidden on the old Camp Grant land on the San Pedro River.
- An old Mexican women said that a cache of treasure was buried in the grave of a wealthy Chinese in the abandoned town cemetery at (GT) Metcalf.
- A large bean pot buried on Bush Creek, a tributary of Rousensock Canyon, is said to contain a fortune in gold nuggets, buried by a German prospector who was a man named Rose. While on e of the men was away getting supplies, the other was murdered. When the partner returned, he buried their nuggets and left. He never returned for the cache and it is believed that he, too, was killed.
- Apache Indians raided a Mexican mine and killed all but a few of the miners. The miners had buried their accumulated gold prior to the attack in many iron bean pots just below the crest of a hill above the creek about 3 miles due W of Ajo. Searchers for decades have failed to locate the buried treasures or the rich gold placer mine.
- Papago Indians tell the story that the fabled treasure hoard of Montezuma was buried in a cave near the top of a high peak in the Ajo Mountains, SE of the old mining camp of Gunsight. The legend says that after burying the treasure, Montezuma climbed to the top of the peak and turned to stone. The peak shaped like the head of an Indian is the place to search. Many sources say that there is considerable substance to the Papago legend.
- The early Spaniards found gold and silver ore so rich that arrastres and smelters were built to crush the ore and smelt it into ingots. The ingots were stored under the floors of the San Marcelo Mission. In 1750, the Indians rebelled and completely obliterated all signs of the mines, mission and smelter and dumped the bodies of the Spaniards on top of the gold and silver ingots before they covered it over. A large flat rock with an iron ring in the middle covers the entrance to the underground treasure vault. Time, rain and drifting sands have obliterated all traces of this location.
- Captain Jesus Arroa buried a large quanity of gold from the wrecked Spanish galleon Isabella Catolica. He moved about 300 miles inland SE of San Diego near the Mexican border and N of the state of Sonara, Mexico. and cached the hoard on the slopes of the Cocopah Range in 1682. Searchers have been made for this cache as far back as 1874 without success.
- The treasure of the San Jose del Tucson Mission is said to be buried somewhere on or near the old mission grounds.
- There are rumors of treasure being buried in White House Canyon S of Tucson where the canyon comes out of the flats.
- It is said that the old owner of the house located at 1322 Fifth Street in Tucson buried a cache of treasure on his place before he died. It is claimed that his ghost appears at night and sits on the fence guarding his hoard.
- In the 1700’s, Spanish Jesuits cached a huge store of gold nuggets in sacks and stacks of gold bars in an old mine tunnel on the E slope of Baboquivari Peak. When they were expelled in 1767, they were forced to leave the treasure behind. In the early 1870’s, a Papago Indian accidently found this Jesuit treasure and removed one sack of nuggets from the location which he frugally lived on for the rest of his life. One day, under extreme pressure from his peers, he said that the site was located in a “Bat Cave” on a ridge extending NE from Baboquivari Peak toward Tucson on the Eside. He said that he closed the entrance to the mine so that flights of bats could never again reveal its location. The site is near Arivaca.
- In 1861, “Bandito Juanito,” the Mexican foreman of the Cerro Colorado Mine, highgraded $70,000 in silver bullion and buried it somewhere near the mine. The hot tempered mine owner shot and killed Juan and his stolen silver was never found. Most sources agree that the hoard of bars are still buried on th slope of Cerra Colorado facing the mine on Cerra Chiquito.
- DeEstine Sheppard, wealthy Arizona gold miner, cached $5 million worth of gold ore and bullion from his famous diggings near Tucson, accumulated after 30 years of mining, before his death in an Illinois hospital in 1907. The rich mine and huge store of gold is believed located in the vicinity of Arivaca Wash. A map Sheppard drew on his deathbed was extremely vague, but indicated the mine and bullion was located about 55 miles S of Tucson somewhere near the present Nogales-Tucson highway and perhaps the Pajarita Mountains. His route to the mine was along the old Smuggler’s Trail that led past the San Xavier Mission down through the Cerritas and through a pass NE of Cumaro Wash to another pass in the mountains to the S and in the area of Arivaca Wash near the Mexican border.
- Pancho Villa’s bandits robbed and looted towns in the Old Mexico and were chased across the line into Arizona where they hid in the mountains 5 or 6 miles from Arivaca. All but one of the gang were killed in a gun battle in 1913. The lone survivor admitted that the loot was cached where he stood as a lookout and could see Sasabe from the S slope. Old Mexico to the W and Main Street of Arivaca to the N. The 2 packloads of treasure were never recovered.
- In 1751, word was received at the Tumacacori Mission that the Indians were in revolt. The area mines were covered over and concealed and the gold and silver bars and other church fixtures and ornaments were loaded on a carreta. The hoard of valuables also included a wooden box containing the mission records and a map pinpointing the 8 satelitte mines. While making their way along the trail to the NW, 2 day’s out from the mission and along the trail in the Tascosa Mountain foothills about 6 miles S and 4 miles E of Arivaca, the group ran into Jesuits from the Altar Sonora Mission who were also fleeing the revolt. The Sonora party had with them 8 pack mules of church treasure and ingots. A scout appeared with word that an Apache war party was in the area and the Spanish turned of the road and concealed the entire hoard in an abandoned mine tunnel nearby. The padres never returned.
- The Cienega Stage Station was located near (GT) Pantano. In 1872, it was operated by a small band of outlaws known locally as the “Benders.” Murders, holdups and robberies took place here regularly and with no interference from the law. The Benders, disguised as Apaches, accounted for nearly all of the crimes. Their largest haul was an army payroll of $75,000 stolen in a ambush near their station. This hoard, and a large number of other valuable treasure caches, are known to have been buried or hidden around the site of the old stage stop and never recovered. A band of real Apaches attacked the station and killed every man.
- The Santa Lucia Lost Mine and a store of rich gold ore and bars worth $5 million is located in the Table Mountains.
- Around 1909, F.A. Edwards owned 200 acres adjoining the Tumacacori Mission and claimed that his property held a treasure estimated to be worth as much as $80 million-80 mule loads of gold. Records in Madrid and Mexico City supposedly confirm its existence and directions to the cache, but searchers have so far been futile.
- Spanish padres built a rock shelter for a large treasure and buried it under tons of rock from a cliff on an ancient trail leading from the old San Xavier del Bac Mission. The search area is 8 miles N of Patagonia and near the old trail.
- An old Chinaman named Kang operated a store in the old mining camp of Washington and secreted his gold coins and bars and a small box of jewerly in a secret hole cut into solid rock a few hundred feet from his store. The Chinaman died of a heart attack and the gold cache was never recovered.
- A Southern Pacific express train was robbed of $60,000 in gold coins and bullion by 2 outlaws named Alvord and Stiles in 1899 near Cochise. The gold was buried within 1/2 mile of an old cabin a few miles outside Cochise to the north and along the old trail between Wilcox and Cochise, probably within a few miles of Cochise. The money was buried with an agreement that it would be recovered once the heat died down, but the gang was arrested or killed and the cache never recovered. Wells Fargo agents made a long search for the loot, but they were unsuccessful.
- In 1895, bandits robbed the safe in the express car of the Southern Pacific RR, 5 miles W of Wilcox. In an effort to dynamite the safe, 8 sacks of Mexican silver dollars were used to weight the sticks down on the top of the safe. The explosion blew 8,000 silver coins through the roof of the RR car and spread them all over the right-of-way. It is said that RR agents recovered about 7,000 coins after the incident leaving some 1,000 behind. There have been reports by treasure hunters that these coins are still being recovered here.
- A cache of gold dust and silver coins was secreted by Apache Indians after they attacked a wagon train a few miles NE of the stage station at Mountain Springs. The dutch oven containing the treasure is hidden behind two rocks at the point of the Winchester Mountains NE of Wilcox.
- A Mexican wagon train, loaded with a large amount of treasure including a life-sized gold statue of the Virgin, a huge store of gold dust and nuggets and a large gold cross, was bound for Sante Fe and camped in the dry bed of a creek between 2 hills at the springs at Dos Cabezas. The huge store of treasure was buried before the men retired for the night. Apache Indians attacked and killed the party and only one small boy escaped and returned to Mexico. 45 years later he returned in search of the treasure, but he was never able to locate te exact burial site.
- The outlaw Zwing Hunt, who took in part in the Skeleton Canyon fracas, is said to have buried part of the treasure in gold and diamonds in a canyon on Harris Mountain. He also added to this cache with loot from other robberies and holdups. A dying outlaw is to have revealed that the value of this treasure hoard was $300,000.
- After a bank robbery in Nogales in 1884, the notorious Black Jack Ketcham hid the loot in “Room Forty Four,” a cave located in Wild Cat Canyon at the S end of the Chiricahua Mountains and about 8 miles SW of Portal. The cave is located near the old William Lutley Ranch.
- Outlaw “Pop” Clanton of the Clanton gang buried $50,000 in gold coins on or near the site of the old Clanton Ranch of Horsethief Springs near Tombstone. The coins were stolen from a baggage car during train robbery. He died in the 1930’s at the age of 90, refusing to tell his Ruffian sons where the treasure was located. It has never been found.
- In 1882, the Apache chief Cochise raided emigrant trains, ranches and robbed stagecoaches. Although he had no use for gold, he took every opportunity to take it from the whites. On one occasion he seized 2 heavy iron-bound chests filled with gold coins from the Butterfield stage and somehow managed to drag or haul the chests to his Apache hideout, later known as Cochise Stronghold Canyon in the Dragoon Mountains, about 10 miles SE of Dragoon. Even after peace was made, the Apaches vowed that no white man would ever find the hidden chests, located in a place where even a horse cannot travel. They’re still there.
- A post hole bank containing $16,000 is believed buried on the old Jones ranch near Naco, on the Arizona side, about 1/4 mile S of the old ranch house.
The Dalton Gang Loot
The famous Dalton Gang made history in 1892 when they attempted to rob two banks at the same time in Coffeyville, Kansas. The result was the death of four of the outlaws and four citizens, and a prison term for the only survivor, Emmett Dalton.
Less well known is the fortune in gold and silver coins allegedly buried by the outlaws on the evening before the Coffeyville attempt. The cache was estimated to be worth between $9,000 and $20,000 in 1892 values.
Before their Coffeyville robbery, the Dalton Gang held up a Missouri-Kansas-Texas train near Wagoner, Oklahoma, and another near Adair. From these robberies, they netted $10,000. A few weeks later, they walked into an El Reno, Oklahoma, bank and took $17,000.
Following these robberies, the gang members purchased new saddles and clothes. The remaining loot was carried in their saddlebags as they made their way toward Coffeyville.
On the evening of October 5, the gang arrived at Onion Creek where it joins with the Verdigris River near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. There, they set up camp. Desiring to travel as unencumbered as possible, they unloaded all of the goods from their horses. The gold and silver coins were placed in a shallow hole they dug adjacent to their campfire.
At dawn the following morning, the outlaws breakfasted, checked their firearms and ammunition, and saddled their mounts. Before leaving, Emmett told the gang members that if they became separated, they were to rendezvous at this site, where they would retrieve the coins and escape deeper into Oklahoma.
The robbery attempt was a disaster and spelled the end of the gang. All were killed, save for Emmett. He served only 15 years in prison when he was pardoned in 1907. Lawmen believed that when freed, Emmett would lead them to the buried cache. They followed him for weeks, but he stayed away from Onion Creek. He once told an interviewer that he believed the coin cache was tainted and he wanted no more to do with it.
The precise location of the Onion Creek campsite has been debated for years, but recently discovered information has narrowed the area of search. On the morning the Dalton Gang departed for Coffeyville, Mary Brown, the young daughter of a nearby rancher, was riding her horse when she heard voices near Onion Creek. Reining up her mount, she listened and heard the sounds of men eating and saddling horses. Moments later, Brown saw five horsemen riding out from under a small wooden bridge that spanned the creek and making their way toward Coffeyville.
Years later, when Brown was an adult, she heard the story of the gold and silver coins buried at the Onion Creek campsite and was determined to find them. During the time that passed since the Coffeyville Raid, however, the old bridge had been torn down, portions of the creek had changed course and the road had been relocated. Though she searched for a full day, Brown was unable to find the location where the Daltons had camped so many years earlier.
As far as anyone knows, the treasure is still there.
Belle Starr’s Lost Iron Door Cache
Belle Starr was arguably the American West’s most famous female outlaw. She was known to deal in stolen horses, and she provided sanctuary in her eastern Oklahoma home to Frank and Jesse James, the Younger Gang and other notorious banditti. Some believed that she helped plan crimes and aided her accomplices in hiding and spending money taken in bank and train robberies.
A tale that has surfaced over the years involves gang members Starr allegedly knew. They stopped a freight train bound for the Denver Mint during the mid-1880s. The train was transporting a cargo of gold ingots destined to be turned into coin.
Though the robbery went as planned, the gang feared immediate pursuit from federal agents. They decided to hide the gold in a cave in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains. Before riding away with the loot, gang members removed one of the iron doors from a railroad car and, using ropes, dragged the door along behind them as they made their escape on horseback.
When they arrived at the cave, the bandits stacked the gold against one wall. The iron door was placed over the entrance, wedged into position, and covered over with rock and brush. Before leaving the area, one of the outlaws hammered a railroad spike into an oak tree located 100 yards from the cave.
A short time after the robbery, railroad detectives learned of the possibility that the gold had been hidden in the Wichita Mountains. Though they hunted for weeks, they were never able to find it.
During a subsequent train robbery attempt a few months later, all of the members of the gang were killed. In 1889, Starr was murdered, a crime that has never been solved. With her death, no one remained alive who knew the exact location of what has come to be called the “Lost Iron Door Cache.”
During the first decade of the 1900s, a rancher and his young son rode into a canyon in the Wichita Mountains near Elk Mountain. Their attention was captured by the reflection of the sun from an object located on the eastern slope. On investigating, they encountered a large, rusted iron door set into a recessed portion of the canyon wall. The son wanted to see what was on the other side of the door, but the father reminded him they had to reach their destination before nightfall. Later, the father learned the story of the Iron Door Cache. The two returned to the region, but were unsuccessful in relocating the site.
During the ensuing years, a number of ranchers, hunters and hikers have reported spotting the iron door against one wall of a remote canyon in the Wichita Mountains. On learning the story of the gold, they attempted to return to the location, but could never find it.
While traveling through a remote canyon in the Wichitas in the 1950s, a rancher decided to pause and take shade under a large oak tree. He hung his hat on a railroad spike hammered into the trunk. Familiar with the story of the gold cache and the spike, he made plans to return to the canyon and search for the treasure, but was never able to relocate the site. Later, someone cut down the oak tree for firewood.
The latest sighting of the door was in 1996. A middle-aged man making his way on foot from the small town of Cooperton to Lawton, in search of work, took a shortcut through the Wichita Mountains and spotted the iron door. Three weeks after arriving in Lawton, he learned the story of Starr’s Iron Door Cache. He purchased a few tools and set out to recover the gold. On the way, he suffered a heart attack and died.
Bill Doolin’s Gold
In spite of lore that claims Bill Doolin netted over $175,000 in robberies in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas over the two-year period preceding his death, the outlaw lived frugally in a wood frame shack near Burden, Kansas.
In between robberies, Doolin purchased a small plot of land and a shack near Burden, 40 miles southeast of Wichita. To this place he retreated with his loot, and it was here that he buried most of it. He never told anyone about his new residence, preferring to keep it secret.
In December 1895, Doolin traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. An arthritis sufferer, he often bathed in the hot springs to soothe his aches. One afternoon he was arrested by Deputy Marshal Bill Tilghman while soaking in a hot mineral bath. He was placed in the jail in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to await trial for bank robbery. Certain that he would be convicted, Doolin escaped and fled to Burden. He began making plans to move his wife and child to this location.
For days following Doolin’s escape, the Oklahoma countryside was searched for some trace of him, to no avail. One lawman, Heck Thomas, got a tip that Doolin was planning on visiting his wife and son. He learned that Doolin’s family was living in Lawton. Thomas rode to Lawton and, from hiding, watched the house where Mrs. Doolin was living.
Thomas and a posse were hiding out near the house when Doolin came walking up, leading the horse and buggy. The outlaw spotted the lawman and reached for a rifle under the wagon seat, firing twice. Thomas shot him dead.
Doolin’s friends were aware that he buried his share of the robbery loot, but never knew where. Not until 20 years after the outlaw’s death did anyone discover his secret residence in Burden. By that time, the old shack had tumbled down, and the land was covered in weeds and brush.
Though many have searched the area for Doolin’s cache of gold and silver coins, it remains undiscovered.
Sam Bass Treasure
Following a train robbery outside of Big Springs, Nebraska, Sam Bass and other outlaws got away with 3,000 twenty-dollar gold pieces, along with jewelry and money taken from the passengers. After dividing the loot, the outlaws split up. Bass went to his hideout at Cove Hollow near Denton, Texas. Some believe he buried his booty at Cove Hollow, although others believe he just as easily could have spent the money. He soon formed a gang, robbed more stages and added to his caches.
Bass made plans to rob the Williamson County Bank in Round Rock, Texas. When the outlaws stopped at the store first to buy some tobacco, a couple of local lawmen noticed they were armed and started to talk to them. They didn’t recognize Bass. The outlaws opened fire on them, and a gunfight ensued. Badly wounded, Bass escaped.
Texas Rangers caught up with him in a nearby pasture. The outlaw died more than a day later, and with his death went the knowledge of the location of his treasure caches at Cove Hollow.
Henry Plummer’s Lost Gold
In a short span of time, the Henry Plummer gang amassed an impressive fortune in gold coins, ingots and nuggets from robbing stagecoaches, freight wagons, miners and travelers throughout Washington and Montana…at least, according to legend, since no evidence supports the claim. Some historians have made the argument that Plummer was not an outlaw, nor did he lead an organized gang. But for those who believe that Plummer was a gang leader and who also believe in the legend of his treasure, Plummer’s share has been estimated to exceed $200,000.
For a time, Plummer (and maybe his gang) lived near Sun River, 20 miles from Great Falls, Montana. Plummer apparently buried his portion of the gold near a small creek located 200 yards from the house. He never revealed the location.
On January 10, 1864, vigilantes caught up with Plummer and hanged him. In 1875, a young boy was digging in the soft ground near a stream at Sun River and found one of Plummer’s bags of coins. He returned to the area with his father, but was unable to relocate the spot. Plummer’s buried treasure, at its estimated value, would be worth several million dollars today.
Cy Skinner’s Lost Loot
Cy Skinner was among those named as a member of Henry Plummer’s gang. After Plummer was killed, Skinner loaded up the gold ingots and coins he had accumulated in the same robberies—$200,000 worth—and fled to Hell’s Gate (now Missoula), Montana. After reaching his destination, Skinner carried the gold to one of several small islands in the middle of the Clark Fork. Weeks later, a mob of men stormed Skinner’s cabin, hauled him outside and hanged him.
During the 1930s, a man named Taichert found a portion of Skinner’s gold on one of the islands. When he returned the next day to search for the rest of it, heavy rains had caused the river to rise, barring access to the island. By the time the flow receded, the islands had been altered in size and shape. Taichert was never able to find the precise spot where he had found the gold. Skinner’s gold still rests beneath a foot or two of river deposit on one of the small islands.
Mexican Payroll Loot Austin, Texas
A $3 million treasure, allegedly from a Mexican payroll in 1836 stolen by the paymaster and accomplices, the loot could be buried near Shoal Creek in Texas. After burying the loot and, in turn, killing members of the party, the remaining outlaw returned to Mexico. His map to the treasure shows it was buried five feet underground, close to an oak tree with two eagle wings carved on it.
Eight men dug 40 feet of tunnel for eight months along Shoal Creek, saying they were constructing a new bridge or a large house. On April 13, 1927, according to The Rising Star Record, the workers took off with the loot:
“A box was lifted from the square cut chamber between the rocks, for the next day the workmen were gone and the blasting has ceased. Curious throngs soon found the dark tunnel and with lights discovered traces of the large wooden box that had laid beneath the dirt for more than 60 years.”
Josie Bassett, an alleged girlfriend of Cassidy’s, lived on the Bassett Ranch at Brown’s Park. Cassidy had worked there as a ranch hand. Graves along the river, Josie’s cabin and remnants of Doc Parson’s cabin, where Cassidy lived for a while, still stand today.
Lost Opata Mine South of Tucson, Arizona
About 45 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, rises what remains of Tumacacori Mission, now a national park. The 18th-century church was built by Spaniards hoping to convert the pagan Opata and Papago Indians. The missionaries hired the Indians to work in their nearby silver mines and store the yield in a giant room.
The Opata kidnapped a woman they believed was the Virgin Mary and wanted her to marry their chief. She refused, so the people sacrificed her to their gods by tying her to the silver, rubbing poison into cuts in her hands, and dancing and singing around her.
The missionaries, so dismayed by the pagan violation of their Christian teachings, had the entrance closed off, presumably sealing in the woman’s skeletal remains—and all of the silver—still waiting to be found.
Lost Dutchman Mine Apache Junction, Arizona
Rich in gold, but—some believe—cursed, the fabled Lost Dutchman gold mine generates endless stories. The treasure hunters who mysteriously go missing while looking for the gold fuel the 120-plus-year legend. Today, some wonder if the Superstition Mountains really harbor the gold or if the stories have piled upon stories to bury the truth.
Sometime after 1868, a German (not Dutch) miner named Jacob Waltz found the Peralta family mine and worked it with an associate, Jacob Weiser. Legend has it that they hid some of the gold near Weaver’s Needle, a local landmark. Details after that are unclear, according to Lost Dutchman State Park information. Either Waltz killed Weiser or Apaches killed him, leaving Waltz as the only person who knew the whereabouts of the mine.
His neighbor in Phoenix, Arizona, who took care of him before his death in 1891, and countless others have searched unsuccessfully for the gold.
Ruggles Brothers Gold Redding, California
John Ruggles fired back, killing Montgomery. Thinking his brother was dead, he cached the loot somewhere nearby. Charles was alive, but some of the loot was never found. Eventually, local vigilantes lynched the Ruggles.
Jesse James’s Hidden Treasure Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma
Legend says the James Gang, in 1876, buried stolen treasure in a deep ravine east of Cache Creek in Oklahoma. Jesse James made two signs pointing to the gold: He emptied two six-shooters into a cottonwood tree, and he nailed a horseshoe into the trunk of another cottonwood tree. Then he scratched out a contract on the side of a brass bucket to bound everyone to keep the secret. Although this doesn’t seem in his character to do so, since the written oath could have been used as evidence against him, some folks believe the treasure exists.
The words on the bucket read: “This the 5th day of March, 1876, in the year of our Lord, 1876, we the undersigned do this day organize a bounty bank. We will go to the west side of the Keechi Hills which is about fifty yards from [symbol of crossed sabers]. Follow the trail line coming through the mountains just east of the lone hill where we buried the jack [burro]. His grave is east of a rock. This contract made and entered into this V day of March 1876. This gold shall belong to who signs below. Jesse James, Frank Miller, George Overton, Rub Busse, Charlie Jones, Cole Younger, Will Overton, Uncle George Payne, Frank James, Roy Baxter, Bud Dalton, and Zack Smith.”
The gold hasn’t been found, but the engraved brass bucket and simple map have been, as have the markers pointing to the treasure’s hiding spot.
A new theory about the fate of Amelia Earhart is seriously undermined by evidence obtained by The Daily Beast. The theory, to be aired Sunday in a History Channel documentary, claims that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were rescued by the Japanese after crash landing in the Marshall Islands and then taken to a Japanese prison where they died in captivity.
The pivot of the documentary’s case is a photograph, undated, of a wharf at Jaluit Island, one of the scores of atolls that make up the Marshall Islands. A forensic expert who specializes in facial recognition appears in the program to support the claim that Earhart and Noonan are among a group of people on the wharf.
Just beyond the wharf, in the harbor, is a Japanese military vessel identified as the Koshu Maru. The documentary suggests that after this picture was taken Earhart and Noonan were arrested and taken aboard the Koshu Maruand that a barge alongside contained the remains of their Lockheed Electra airplane.
According to the documentary, it is likely that the Koshu Maru then sailed for the island of Saipan where the two Americans were imprisoned and then killed.
The role of the Koshu Maru (maru means ship in Japanese) is therefore crucial to the theory that Earhart and Noonan are, indeed, the people in the photograph.
However, in 1982 a Japanese author and journalist, Fukiko Aoki, published a book in Japanese, Looking for Amelia. She found a surviving crewmember of the Koshu Maru, a telegraphist named Lieutenant Sachinao Kouzu. He told her that, like other Japanese ships in the western Pacific, they were told that Earhart had disappeared while over the ocean and were alerted to look out for any sign of the airplane and, if they did, seek to rescue Earhart and Noonan.
After a few days, said Kouzo, the alert was dropped. At no time did anyone on Koshu Maru set eyes on the Americans, alive or dead.
Aoki told The Daily Beast that her interest in the Earhart story was sparked when she read a story about four Japanese meteorologists who were assigned to a weather station on Greenwich Island in the South Pacific. As soon as they arrived at the station early in July 1937, they received a government message to look out for the aviators and, if they saw them, to organize a rescue operation. They saw nothing.
“The disappearance of Amelia Earhart looks so different from the Japanese and American sides,” Aoki told The Daily Beast. “One of the weathermen, an old guy called Yoneji Inoue, protested against the theory that Amelia was captured and executed by the Japanese. I wanted to find out what really happened. I found and checked the log of the Koshu Maru, but of course I couldn’t find any description of the capture of Amelia Earhart.”
Aoki later moved to New York where she became bureau chief for the Japanese edition of Newsweek. She has written 12 books. Looking for Ameliawas republished as a paperback in 1995 but only in Japanese.
The four meteorologists were taken to Greenwich Island on the Koshu Maru, arriving on July 3, the day after Earhart disappeared. Greenwich Island is now named Kapingamaranji,and is 1,500 miles from the Marshall Island where the photo supposedly of Earhart was taken, which means that the vessel was nowhere near the Marshall Islands at the crucial time.
As Aoki’s research indicates, the assumption that the Japanese military was under orders to arrest and quietly kill Earhart and Noonan them shows little understanding of what was happening in the Pacific at the time.
The war in the Pacific didn’t begin with Pearl Harbor. It began on July 7, 1937, five days after Earhart disappeared, when a minor clash between Japanese and Chinese troops near Beijing suddenly turned into all-out war between the two nations.
The last thing the Japanese needed was to inflame American opinion by murdering the world’s most-famous woman. Although they had a formidable air force and navy the Japanese were distracted by Soviet Russia’s claims to Japanese islands and at that time they also feared American naval power in the Pacific. America, in turn, wanted no part of the war in China.
Just how anxious both the U.S. and Japan were to avoid conflict was revealed by an incident in December 1937. An American gunboat, the USS Panay, that was allowed to patrol the Yangtze River by international agreement, was called in to evacuate staff from the U.S. embassy in Nanking, as well as some international journalists as the Japanese carpet-bombed the city.
The Panay sailed upriver to what the captain thought would be a safe refuge and anchored alongside other boats laden with Chinese refugees.
But a swarm of Japanese bombers attacked all the boats, including the Panay. Two U.S. crewmen and an Italian journalist were killed. The Japanese claimed that the attack was an accident. President Roosevelt was so anxious that the bombing should not lead to calls for retaliation that he censored newsreel footage. The Japanese, alarmed that they might have awakened a sleeping tiger, paid $2.2 million in compensation.
Then there is how the Japanese treated Charles Lindbergh.
In August 1931, he flew from Alaska across the Bering Sea to Japan in a seaplane with his wife Anne. Thick fog forced Lindbergh to make a blind landing using only his instruments. After touchdown, with the engine shut down, the airplane drifted dangerously close to rocks and was rescued by a Japanese boat that towed them to a safe harbor.
When they reached Tokyo the Japanese gave the Lindberghs a welcome that one newspaper said was “one of the greatest demonstrations ever seen in the ancient capital.”
As for Earhart, there was no military intelligence value to the Japanese in getting their hands on her Lockheed Electra. The Electra was widely used by airlines across the world and held no technological secrets. By 1937 the Japanese were mass-producing a Mitsubishi bomber so far superior to the similarly-sized Electra that when it was converted to an airliner it flew a record-breaking round-the-world flight.
The theory that Earthart crash landed in the Marshall Islands is not supported by the basic rules of geography and navigation. It rests on the idea that, once Earhart realized she had missed a scheduled rendezvous with a U.S. Coast Guard cutter on tiny Howland Island, she reversed direction.
The Marshall Islands are 800 miles northwest of Howland Island, way beyond the range of the Electra as it was running low on gas at the end of a long leg from Papua New Guinea, over the Pacific.
Her only option was to look for a landing place that was much closer and, ideally, ahead of her rather than far behind.
Her last message to the cutter was at 8:43 a.m. on July 2. It was that she was flying on a line of 157 337 – that is, the southeasterly course from her starting point that intersected Howland Island. Because of an unexplained problem with the Electra’s radio, the cutter could receive her messages but she couldn’t receive the replies.
As a result, in the 80-year search for Earhart there is nothing to go on to point to her final position beyond what was in that radio transmission. Yet on the basis of that one transmission we arrive at the next most prominent theory about Earhart’s fate.
This takes us to an atoll named Nikumaroro Island, 350 miles southeast of Howland Island, and to Ric Gillespie, chief executive of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, TIGHAR.
Gillespie is the best funded and most persistent of all Earhart hunters. Since 1989 he has directed 12 expeditions to Nikumaroro, partly funded by National Geographic, and each expedition follows the same pattern: advance publicity that garners a gullible audience and funds, followed by negligible results, some bordering on the ludicrous.
Gillespie gave scientific credence to his theory by analyzing 120 reports of radio traffic in the area of Nikumaroro at the time and deciding that 57 messages were possibly transmitted from the Electra, beginning three hours after the final transmission picked up by the Coast Guard cutter.
To believe this demands two leaps of faith or, more likely, of the imagination. The first is that Earhart managed to land on the atoll and the second is that she did so with such skill that her radio remained able to operate.
Such a landing would have required a near miraculous feat of airmanship. Nikumaroro is a typical coral atoll sitting atop a volcano with a rocky reef looping around a lagoon with only a tiny appendage of flat surface. And although she did not lack courage, Earhart was not a pilot of natural intuitive skills, like Lindbergh, and the Electra was an unforgiving machine in a marginal situation like this.
Earhart, under the stress of knowing that her fuel was running out, would have had to align her approach over water at a shallow angle and make a finely-judged touchdown with no margin of error. Landing on an aircraft carrier would be much easier.
For the radio signal theory to have any credence the airplane then had to remain undamaged by water – for days.
For a fraction of the money that TIGHAR has invested and is still investing in its expeditions they could have commissioned a computer program to simulate the landing. All the necessary data about the handling characteristics of the Electra and the probable weather and sea conditions at the time are available. The trouble is, of course, that this would prove the impossibility of the idea.
Gillespie was, not surprisingly, dissed when told of the History Channel “revelation” about the Marshall Islands.
“This is just a picture of a wharf at Jaluit with a bunch of people, it’s just silly,” he said.
This happened when Gillespie had just sent another expedition to Nikumaroro, this time including four sniffer dogs trained by the Institute for Canine Forensics. The dogs arrived wearing life vests when the temperature was more than 100 degrees. They were looking for human remains – the latest spin of the theory being that Earhart and Noonan had perished there.
The Earhart saga will go on providing endless fuel for lovers of the classic vanishing airplane narratives. People in the grip of a pet theory will go to great lengths to believe in that theory on the thinnest evidence. Gillespie, for example, seized on the discovery of a jar of 1930s ointment for the treatment of freckles found in the waters near Nikumaroro as evidence that Earhart, famously freckled, had made it to the island.
Freckles would not have been of much concern as Earhart planned her flight. Nothing that was not essential was carried in the Electra. She was piloting what was virtually a flying gas station. In place of passenger seats the airplane was stuffed with six large extra gas tanks and had another six in the wings, as well as having to carry 80 gallons of oil for its hot-running supercharged engines.
There is, to be sure, no reason to stop looking for Earhart, Noonan and the Electra. The odds are that after a desperate search for land they ended up, out of fuel, ditching into the ocean, and then plunged as far as 17,000 feet down to the bottom of the ocean. They most certainly didn’t die in a Japanese prison.
Archaeologists have found the wreck of a ship belonging to the Crusaders, dating back to their expulsion from Acre in the thirteenth century CE, off the coast of northern Israel.
The Crusader stronghold was destroyed in 1291 CE when the Mamluk Sultanate captured it, driving the Christian armies from the region. Golden coins dating to the era were found alongside the wreck, making it easy to pinpoint when the ship sank in the waters outside Acre, according to an article appearing in Haaretz.
Taking Acre was a major victory for the Mamluks, as Christian European forces had long used the site as a landing point for countless knights and soldiers. When Jerusalem fell out of Crusader hands after being recaptured by Saladin in 1187, Acre became the new Crusader capital in the Holy Land.
Marine archaeologists from Haifa University Prof. Michal Artzy and Dr. Ehud Galili spearheaded the investigation of the Crusader shipwreck. The ship itself suffered damage while the modern harbor of Acre was being dredged during its construction; the surviving wreckage includes some ballast-covered wooden planks, the ship’s keep, and a few sections of its hull.
Carbon dating has revealed the wood used to construct the hull dates to between 1062 CE and 1250 CE, firmly within the window for Crusader activity in the region. In addition to the associated golden coins found near the wreckage, marine archaeologists also discovered imported ceramic bowls and jugs from southern Italy, Syria, and Cyprus; corroded pieces of iron, mostly nails and anchors, were additional finds.
The biggest find, however, is certainly thought to be the gold coins found with the wreck. A total of 30 florins were found, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority’s coin expert Robert Kool; minted in the Italian republic of Florence – where the coins get their name – the florins were minted from 1252.
Speculation as to how the ship – and the florins – ended up on the bottom of Acre’s harbor is closely tied to the Siege of Acre, as historical eyewitness accounts from the event reported nobles and merchants fleeing from the besieged fortress by boat, often after bribing the owners of these boats with valuables. Many never made it out of the harbor, thought to have drowned there with their riches as the Christian defenders sought futilely to buy them some time to escape.
The Crusader fortress fell on May 18th, 1291, after more than 100 years of Frankish rule. The final defenders, a contingent of Knights Templar, refused to abandon their holdfast. As a result, when Mamluk sappers undermined the walls of the Templar fortress, the entire edifice collapsed, killing the remaining defenders – and around a hundred of the Sultan’s own soldiers as well.
The fall of Acre was the last gasp of the Christian crusades during the medieval era. Once the stronghold was taken by the Mamluks and summarily destroyed, the Catholic Church and the European nobles that supported it abandoned their quest to “liberate” the Holy Land.
SC Lowcountry Civil War Show Grows Under American Digger Banner
January 7-8, 2017:
The second annual American Digger Lowcountry Civil War & Artifact Show & Sell will be held Jan 7-8, 2017 at the Omar Shrine Temple in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Last year’s show, the first ever under the American Digger banner, was a great success and is expected to be even bigger this year.
With 200+ tables and 150+ vendors, special effort is being made by the promoters to increase public traffic. This translates into even more chances to buy and sell artifacts, or just to admire the finds and displays. It is also the first big show of the year, an appropriate start to the 2017 Civil War circuit. As last year, there will be numerous awards and door prizes for both vendors and the public.
The show venue, Mt. Pleasant, is just across the bridge from historic Charleston, so fine dining, entertainment, museums, and more are only minutes away. Bring the whole family, there is something for everyone here!
Living historians are also expected, and we hope to have a return this year of Gen. Robert E. Lee (David Chaltas)!
This is the second year that American Digger has sponsored the show, but the actual Lowcountry Civil War Show is in its 26th year. Always a popular event, it previously had been under the leadership of Mike Kent Productions. Due to date conflict with his gun shows, Mike passed the event on to American Digger Magazine in 2015.
Expected at this year’s show are (of course) Civil War relics, weapons, and artwork, along with other eras from ancient times up to WWII. Seminars will also be included in the admission price ($10) for those wishing to learn more about metal detecting and collecting.
As of this writing, there are still vendor and display tables available. Call 770-362-8671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve yours!
Jan 7-8, 2017
American Digger Lowcountry Civil War & Artifact Show
Omar Shrine Temple
176 Patriots Point Street
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
One day admission: $10/ adults; children under 12 free.
Remains of a strange creature have been found by Siberian miners in diamond-yielding sands.
A bizarre mummified creature has been discovered at the heart of a diamond mine in the Sakha Republic, in northern Siberia. This ancient “monster” could date back to between 252 and 66 million years ago.
The Siberian Times reports that the miners who found the remains had been working at the Udachnaya pipe diamond deposit, an open-pit diamond mine located just outside the Arctic Circle.
The site was discovered in 1955 and since then yielded 350 million tonnes of ore containing rough diamonds. There has also been a number of unusual discoveries such as that of a mystery red rock full of diamonds.
However, no find has been as strange as the mummified monster that has just been uncovered. Its origins are particularly puzzling because no one is capable just yet to say what this species is – it is like nothing ever found before in the region.The miners believed they had just stumbled upon the remains of a previously unknown species of dinosaurs.
Their theory has yet to be proven. The creature will therefore be taken for more analysis to the regional capital Yakutsk, a city 1,686km south of the Udachnaya diamond pit.
Other hypothesis about the little monster’s potential origins are that it might have bee the ancestor of the wolverine, a carnivorous mammal resembling a small bear or of the marten – another slender, agile mammal living in the snow forests of Siberia.
Closer analysis of the mummy’s morphology, bones, and of possible DNA samples should yield more clues about its origins and give a more precise approximation of the time it lived at.
Archaeologists have uncovered what may be the largest royal tomb found in more than a century of work on Maya ruins in Belize, along with a puzzling set of hieroglyphic panels that provide clues to a “snake dynasty” that conquered many of its neighbors some 1,300 years ago.
The tomb was unearthed at the ruins of Xunantunich, a city on the Mopan river in western Belize that served as a ceremonial center in the final centuries of Maya dominance around 600 to 800 AD. Archaeologists found the chamber 16ft to 26ft below ground, where it had been hidden under more than a millennium of dirt and debris.
Researchers found the tomb as they excavated a central stairway of a large structure: within were the remains of a male adult, somewhere between 20 and 30 years old, lying supine with his head to the south.
The archaeologist Jaime Awe said preliminary analysis by osteologists found the man was athletic and “quite muscular” at his death, and that more analysis should provide clues about his identity, health and cause of death.
In the grave, archaeologists also found jaguar and deer bones, six jade beads, possibly from a necklace, 13 obsidian blades and 36 ceramic vessels. At the base of the stairway, they found two offering caches that had nine obsidian and 28 chert flints and eccentrics – chipped artefacts that resemble flints but are carved into the shapes of animals, leaves or other symbols.
“It certainly has been a great field season for us,” said Awe, who led a team from his own school, Northern Arizona University, and the Belize Institute ofArchaeology.
The tomb represents an extraordinary find, if only for its construction. At 4.5 meters by 2.4 meters, it is “one of the largest burial chambers ever discovered in Belize”, Awe said. It appears to differ dramatically from other grave sites of the era. Most Maya tombs were built “intrusively”, as additions to existing structures, but the new tomb was built simultaneously with the structure around it – a common practice among cultures such as the ancient Egyptians, but uncommon among the Mayas.
“In other words, it appears that the temple was purposely erected for the primary purpose of enclosing the tomb,” Awe said. “Except for a very few rare cases, this is not very typical in ancient Maya architecture.”
Many Maya societies ruled through dynastic families. Tombs for male and femalerulers have been found, including those of the so-called “snake dynasty”, named for the snake-head emblem associated with its house. The family had a string of conquests in the seventh century, and ruled from two capital cities. Awe said the newly discovered hieroglyphic panels could prove “even more important than the tomb”, by providing clues to the dynasty’s history.
The panels are believed to be part of a staircase originally built 26 miles to the south, at the ancient city of Caracol. Epigraphers say the city’s ruler, Lord Kan II of the snake dynasty, recorded his defeat of another city, Naranjo, on the hieroglyph, to go with his many other self-commemorations. On another work, he recorded a ball game involving a captured Naranjo leader whom he eventually sacrificed.
Naranjo apparently had its revenge some years later, in 680AD, having the panels dismantled and partially reassembled at home with gaps and incorrect syntax – possibly deliberately, to obscure the story of the snake dynasties’ conquests. Fragments have been discovered elsewhere in Caracol and at a fourth site along the Mopan river, but Awe said the new panels could be “bookends” to the story of war and sacrifice in the ancient Maya world.
According to the University of Copenhagen’s Christophe Helmke, the research team’s epigrapher, the panels provide a clue for Kan II’s conquests – he appears to have dedicated or commissioned the work in 642AD – and they note the death of Kan’s mother, Lady Batz’ Ek’. The panels also identify a previously unknown ruler from the Mexican site of Calakmul, Awe said.
Helmke said the panels “tell us of the existence of a king of the dynasty that was murky figure at best, who is clearly named as Waxaklajuun Ubaah Kan” . This ruler reigned sometime between 630 and 640AD, and may have been Kan’s half-brother.
“This means that there were two contenders to the throne, both carrying the same dynastic title, which appears to have been read Kanu’l Ajaw, ‘king of the place where snakes abound’,” he wrote in an email.
The panels clarify what Helmke called a “tumultuous phase of the snake-head dynasty” and explain how it splintered between cities before dominating Maya politics in the region.
The panels identify the origin of the snake dynasty at Dzibanche, in the Yucatan peninsula of modern Mexico, and refer to the family’s move to their capital of Calakmul. Awe said Lady Batz’ Ek’ “was likely a native of Yakha, a site in neighboring Guatemala, who later married the ruler of Caracol as part of a marriage alliance”.
The researchers have had their work peer-reviewed for publication in the Journal of the Pre-columbian Art Research Institute.
Awe said it was not clear why the panels appeared in Xunantunich, but the city may have allied itself with or been a vassal state to Naranjo. The cities both fell into decline, along with other Maya societies, around 800 to 1,000AD, for reasons still mysterious but possibly including climate change, disease and war.
The city was called Xunantunich, meaning “stone woman” in the Yucatec Maya, long after its abandonment by original residents. The name derives from folklore around the city about a hunter who saw a ghostly, statuesque woman, dressed in indigenous garb, standing near an entrance to a temple called El Castillo – a storytouted by tourist sites today. The site was also once called Mount Maloney, after a British governor.
The temple is impressive in its own right, a stone structure that towers 130ft above the city’s main plaza, adorned with a stucco frieze that represents the gods of the sun and moon