Don Joaquin’s Lost Gold:
In 1847 a Mexican Army Officer named Don Joaquin led a small mining expedition into the Sierra Estrella Mountains in the hopes of finding rich gold or silver deposits. Like anyone with geology, military training and experience he located a very promising location to mine. As well as a defensive area to set up a camp not far from the mine.
The mine was producing well and with no problems to speak of except low food stores. Until one day a Gila river Pima scout ran into camp and told the commander that the American Army was moving along the Gila and will be soon heading to Pimeria Alta.
Pimeria Alta was Spanish Arizona and at that time modern Mexican settlements, ranches, Presidial’s-Forts, Pimeria Alta is located from pretty much Arizpe in Sonora all the way north to the Gila river. Tucson, San Xavier, Tubac, and other places of importance are within Pimeria Alta.
Realizing his situation, not having the security of reinforcements and his path south to Mexican settlements about to be cut off. He ordered his men to abandon the mine for the time being, pack up everything and make for a small butte nearby.
This butte is modern Butterfly Peak, the path they took to get there is known as the Zig Zag trail.
Don Joaquin made a tactical decision to hide all the gold with the help of one Indian laborer. So if in the event he and his party were to be captured by the approaching Americans that their gold would not become plunder for the enemy.
With the help of the Indian laborer, they moved half way down the trail into a type of box canyon where they found a small cave. Then they removed the gold from the mule packs and piled it up inside of a small cave (probably an alcove). It is said they hid 3,000lbs from the packs of 15 mules.
When the job was completed, Joaquin killed the Indian laborer and placed him inside with the gold ore and then sealed/walled up the cave with the intention to return. He quickly sketched a quick map of the canyon he was in near the butte, so he could easily recall the location of the walled up cave.
He joined up with his men later on the evening of the following day right before sunset. His men nervous about the on coming American Army, the threat they posed to their families south of the Gila and their commander taking his sweet time in hiding their wealth caused the men to make a quick but drastic decision. Upon Joaquin’s return his men killed him, took his crude map and quickly under cover of darkness made there way south to the northern most Mexican outpost, being Presidio San Augustine de Tucson.
For thirty five years no word of the lost gold was known until in 1882 a man arrived claiming to hold a old Mexican map and asking for a guide to take him to the areas the map depicted. His expedition was a quick one as the local natives quickly chased him out of that area and upon his return to Phoenix he soon returned south back to Mexico without ever finding the hidden gold.
To this day there are many stories and claims as to what happened to the man and the crude map.
This treasure is still out there and within the Sierra Estrella Mountains south of Phoenix. If this could be found, it would be not only a great payday but also a priceless window into the past.
(Please follow state, federal, reservation laws and respect private property. If you have any doubts at all, simply ask permission)