Posts Tagged With: prospector

Utah…Lost Treasure….The Lost House Range Placers..

The explorers and surveyors of the American West are an august company that includes the great Lewis and Clark as well as a host of other renowned pathfinders. Men like Fremont, Long, Stansbury, Pike, Abert, and Beale opened up the west as surely as the mountain men who preceded them and the sutlers and traders who followed them. One of the most promising of these early explorers and surveyors was an Army engineer and West Point graduate named John W. Gunnison.

The idea of an intercontinental railroad stretching from coast to coast was not new in 1853. Fremont’s expeditions during the 1840’s were focused on finding the best route through the mountains for a railroad. In 1853, when an expedition was mounted to survey the west-central portion of Utah, John Gunnison was a natural choice to lead the party. His credentials were impeccable. He had cut his teeth as a surveyor for the Stansbury Expedition in 1849 and he knew the central Utah area well. Gunnison assumed command of the party, which included two survivors from Fremont’s disastrous fourth expedition of 1848, Richard Kern and Frederick Creutzfeldt. Kern was the expedition’s artist and topographer while Creutzfeldt served as botanist. The Gunnison expedition entered Utah Territory in the fall of 1853, passing through the town of Manti on its way to Fillmore. From Fillmore, the party traveled west, reaching the Gunnison Bend of the Sevier River, southwest of present-day Delta. To the west, Gunnison could see the wrinkled peaks of the House Range rising up from the Sevier Valley. To the southwest, he could see the meandering course of the Sevier River as it disappeared toward Sevier Lake. This was a good place. They made camp.

The following morning, the Gunnison Expedition awoke to the sounds of war cries and rifle shots. The end had come. A band of 30 or so Pahvant Indians descended upon the hapless explorers, killing all but four of the party. The dead included the leader, John Gunnison, and the two veterans from Fremont’s expedition, Kern and Creutzfeldt.

As he gazed westward the evening before the massacre, Gunnison may have been contemplating a route through the House Range into the Tule Valley beyond. The House Range stretches some 60 miles in a north-south direction and forms the western boundary of Sevier Valley. It extends from Sand Pass southward to the Wah-Wah Valley. Along its entire length the range is no more than 10 miles wide. House Range is transected by three major passes. Dome Canyon Pass is the northernmost pass, Marjum Canyon lies eight miles to the south, and Skull Rock Pass, south of Sawtooth Mountain, forms the southernmost and main portal through the range.

The House Range still holds many secrets. Prospectors have roamed these mountains for over two centuries. Evidence of early Spanish mining activity still occasionally surfaces. Caches of old Spanish tools and mining equipment have been discovered in the central part of the range, near the only major gold-producing area in the entire county.

Millard County has never been a major producer of gold. Only 500 ounces are officially recorded for the county. Most of this production hails from the small placer deposits of the House Range. Located in North Canyon and Miller Canyon, the gold placers were worked extensively during the 1930’s. Surely more than 500 ounces of gold were taken from the two canyons during the depression years, not to mention the efforts of the early Spaniards in the area. One story in particular has come down to us regarding an incredibly rich placer deposit somewhere in the House Range. In a single transaction, the discoverer of this placer sold more than 300 ounces of gold – 60% of the total recorded production for the entire county! The discovery occurred sometime during the late 1930’s. A Mexican sheepherder working in the House Range stumbled upon a glory hole of placer gold somewhere on the slopes of the mountains. The deposit must have been rich for the Mexican turned up in the nearby town of Delta with several sacks of fine gold dust. On one of his visits, the sheepherder sold more than 20 pounds of gold to a local doctor. Of course, the Mexican never revealed the location of his find and soon dropped out of sight. He was never seen again. Prospectors have searched the House Range for many years but the Mexican’s lost placer remains hidden to this day.

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California…Lost Treasure….Lost Gold Ledge of the Chocolate Mountains


For the land that would eventually become California, the year 1542 was a pivotal point in time. The first recorded sighting of the California coastline occurred in that momentous year. Two small ships commanded by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo worked their way up the west coast of Mexico to what is now San Diego Bay. Cabrillo had been present during the final conquest of Mexico City and had personally witnessed the fall of the Aztec empire. But his discovery of California would be his crowning achievement, although he didn’t realize it at the time.

Sixty years later, the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino cruised the California coastline in search of wealth. Vizcaino named many locations along the coast including Carmel, Monterey, Santa Catalina, and San Pedro. The expedition found no treasure but did discover “fool’s gold” and a metallic silvery-blue mineral used by the natives.

It wasn’t until 1769 that a joint land and sea expedition to California was mounted by the Spaniards. Don Gaspar de Portola arrived in San Diego in June of that year as California’s first governor. The expedition included a number of illustrious men including Father Junipero Serra, Father Juan Crespi, Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada, and Lieutenant Pedro Fages. The Spanish presence was now firmly established in California.

Five years later, another expedition set out for the newly-established San Gabriel Mission in southern California. Led by Juan Bautista de Anza, the Spaniards marched from Sonora along the Camino de Diablo trail to the junction of the Colorado and Gila rivers. Here they encountered the Yuma Indians led by their famous chief Palma. From the Yuma villages, the Spaniards marched westward through the desert sands to Borrego Springs and then on to San Gabriel Mission. The floodgates were now open. Spanish prospectors quickly followed on the heels of de Anza and by 1780, were scouring the mountains of the lower Colorado River country. In that same year, gold was discovered in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, in the Picacho

Basin, and at the “Potholes” near the southern end of the Chocolate Mountains. The Cargo Muchachos have veteran status among the mountain ranges of southern California. They were the site of the first discovery of gold in California by Spanish prospectors. Initially the surface ores were extremely rich, but deeper down they gave way to very low grade ore. The Spanish miners quickly skimmed off the richest ores and moved on to other locations. The Cargo Muchacho deposits were sporadically worked by Mexican prospectors, but they essentially lay dormant for over 80 years.

Then in 1862, American prospectors discovered rich gold-bearing quartz veins in the Cargo Muchachos. Miners and prospectors swarmed into the area. In 1884, the rich Gold Rock lodes were discovered by a railroad worker named Pete Walters. Railroad men sure seem to make good prospectors. Besides Pete Walters’ Gold Rock strike in the Cargo Muchachos there was John Sutter’s discovery of the fabulous Bagdad-Chase lode and Tom Schofield’s lost mine in the Clipper Mountains.

The Gold Rock claims were extremely rich. A mining camp known as Gold Rock Camp sprang up near the workings, but it was renamed Hedges soon after. (In 1910, the name was again changed to Tumco.) Hedges was a hell-raising town during its heyday. During the late 1800’s, an Irishman named Jim Sullivan worked at one of the saloons in town. One of his fellow employees was an old Indian who had lived in the lower Colorado River country all his life. The Indian carried a secret with him. In his wanderings he had stumbled on a ledge of gold-bearing ore and had samples to prove it! Sullivan eventually persuaded him to reveal the location of the ledge and the two of them set out from Hedges. The Indian led Sullivan eastward towards the Chocolate Mountains. After about 15 miles, they located the ledge, worked it, and then returned to town. Soon after, the old Indian disappeared but Sullivan always figured he could find the ledge on his own. He was never able to.

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California Lost Treasure……Jack Stewart’s Lost Lode

The 1870’s were “silver years” in the mining history of the American West. After the fabulous Comstock silver strike in western Nevada, silver replaced gold in the hearts of the miners and prospectors of the West. 1873 was a big year at the Comstock mines as massive new silver lodes were discovered in the lower workings. These fabulous silver discoveries sent out a ripple of excitement to all parts of the West as prospectors poured over the mountains in search of the white metal. Soon after the Comstock windfall, prospectors discovered incredibly rich silver deposits in the Panamint Range of eastern California. Some of the Panamint ore assayed out at $3000 worth of silver per ton of ore!

Silver was king in Colorado during the 1870’s. It was during those years that the so-called “carbonate craze” swept the state. Prospectors scouted the mountains in search of silver-bearing ore bodies emplaced in carbonate rocks such as limestone. Prospectors looked for limestones that were closely associated with igneous rocks. And they found them! It turned out that Colorado was particularly well-endowed with silver deposits. In 1878, one of the greatest silver camps of all was born with the discovery of a 10-foot thick, tabular bed of silver-bearing lead carbonate. Leadville instantly leaped to prominence. In the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado, a similar ore body near Rico was worked during the 1870’s.

The white metal was also king in Arizona during the 1870’s. The great silver district of the Trigo Mountains got its start with the discovery of the rich Black Rock and Pacific lodes in 1877.

Then, around the turn of the century, gold again replaced silver in importance as numerous rich strikes were made all over the West. 1891 was the year of the great Cripple Creek gold rush. Situated at an elevation of 10,000 feet, the gold-choked throat of the buried “Cripple Creek volcano” has produced over $430 million in gold! Cripple Creek was the last of Colorado’s great gold camps. In 1895, the fabulous lode deposits of Randsburg were discovered in the Mohave Desert of southern California. The Randsburg mines produced nearly a million ounces of gold during their lifetime. Southern California was the scene of another rich

gold strike during the 1890’s. The discovery took place in the Panamint Mountains, about 7 miles south of the abandoned silver camp of Panamint City. The mining camp that sprang up along the western flank of the Panamints was named after the famous Australian gold camp known as Ballarat.

In 1897, it was Alaska’s turn. The great Alaskan gold rush took prospectors to the Klondike and then to Nome the following year. The great placer deposits of Alaska have produced over 20 million ounces of gold to date. In the early 1900’s, the focus shifted back to the American Southwest. In 1902, the fabulous ore bodies at Goldfield, Nevada were discovered. The mines at Goldfield eventually produced over 4 million ounces of the yellow metal. The Goldfield strike sent a pulse of excitement throughout the desert Southwest. Prospectors combed the wilderness, looking for gold and silver ores similar to those at Tonopah and Goldfield. In 1904, the famous Death Valley prospector “Shorty” Harris discovered the rich Bullfrog lode, near the Nevada/California border. Two years later, prospectors returned to the Panamints and located the gold deposits at Skidoo. The Panamints had a way of luring back prospectors again and again. It had happened back in 1873, and then in the 1890’s, and then again in 1906.

One of the many prospectors drawn to the Panamint Range during the 1890’s was a veteran of the Death Valley country named Jack Stewart. In 1897, Stewart found himself on the Death Valley side of the Panamints, not far from Stovepipe Wells. During a rare Death Valley downpour, Stewart was forced to take cover along the northeastern flank of the range. In one of the many small canyons that cut the range, Stewart discovered a freshly-exposed deposit of gold-bearing quartz float! He gathered up some samples, waited out the storm, and continued on his way to Stovepipe Wells. Eventually, Stewart returned to the Panamints to search for the source of the rich float. But the landscape had somehow changed! Perhaps another storm had altered the canyon floor, but in any case, Stewart was unable to locate the deposit. He never did.

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Pinos Altos, New Mexico. Prospector panning gold. 1940

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Lost Dutchman Mine and Peralta Mine Maps

There have been many maps that have appeared over the years to the Lost Dutchman Mine. Which one is real and which is fake? Who knows for sure. Here are over 50 “maps” to the mine. Included are the Peralta Mine Stone maps.

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Alledged Spanish Mine Maps……

A couple alledged Spanish Gold Mine maps….can not verify as authentic….interesting to look at…..

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Purgatory Canyon Treasure

El Rio de Las Animas Perdidas en Purgatoir (The River of Lost Souls in Purgatory) was first explored in the illegal Humana and Bonilla expedition of 1539. At that time, the band was led by a Portuguese don, seconded by a Spaniard. The group, including priests, soldiers and miners set forth on a quest that led them into Colorado.

The Spaniard could not stand to have a Portuguese leading the party and after becoming increasingly jealous and angry he killed the Portuguese and took over the leadership.

The priests refused to go further with the band being led by an “evil leader” and returned to Mexico. The rest of the group continued on to what is now Colorado but were attacked and killed by Apaches.

More than a year later, Coronado would again explore the area in search of Gran Quivera, the seven cities of gold. However, his search would prove nothing more than a frustrating one when he returned empty handed.

More than one hundred years later, in the 1700’s, the Spaniards were transporting twelve chests of Spanish gold coins from Santa Fe, New Mexico to St. Augustine, Florida. The money was to be utilized for payroll and garrison expenses. The regiment, led by a man by the name of Carrasco Rodriguez, for some reason, traveled through Colorado rather than taking a more direct southerly route. Somewhere around where Trinidad is today, the regiment was caught in the winter weather where they were forced to stay until the spring. When spring arrived, Rodriguez once again led his caravan in the wrong direction and nothing was heard of them again.

Some say that the Spaniards buried the chests of gold somewhere along the banks of the Purgatory River. However, the more prevalent theory is that the Spaniards were attacked by Indians, who took their weapons, tools, clothing, and animals. Having no use for the gold, they probably threw it into a cave or a ravine. This theory is supported by a later finding of a suit of Spanish armor found along the banks of the Purgatory River, as well as a skeleton and ancient firearm found in a cave east of the Willow-Vogel Canyon junction in 1924.

Further tales describe the recovery of a few gold ingots and Spanish gold coins found along trails through Purgatoire Canyon. Another story has been told of a small ironbound chest containing a few thick gold coins, which was found in a cave in Purgatory Canyon sometime around 1924. Also found at the site was an old piece of harness with well-carved, ornate silver trimmings.

The man who was said to have found these things drove a knife into a tree outside the cave, confident that he was close to recovering the twelve chests of gold coins. However, while leaving the area of the cave, he fell and badly broke his leg, laying there for two days and nights. In his extremely weakened condition, a couple of people came upon him and he shared his tale with them. Unfortunately, the man succumbed to exposure.

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Lost Treasure Tales

Arapaho Princess Treasure

Long ago, the Spaniards buried eight burro-loads of 50 lb gold bars somewhere in the stone cliffs above the Purgatorie River about 5 miles east of Las Animas. It is said that the gold bars were buried about 300 feet away from a strange arrangement of rocks, one of which was in the shape of a doll and stood about 30 feet high. The burial site was near an early 1800s village in the foothills. However, before any of the gold could be spent or moved, the Spanish were killed and the treasure has never been recovered.

Devil’s Head Mountain
Devil’s Head Mountain, thirty miles north of Woodland Park, can be seen for 75 miles as it towers over the vast forest and scenic meadows. The area surrounding the landmark is filled with wild gulches, mysterious caves and thick timber. In the late 1800’s the area was rife with outlaws, due to its many opportunistic hideouts. There are numerous tales of buried treasure in the Devil’s Head vicinity just waiting to be found. While you are there, you can enjoy the area’s multiple jeep roads, trails, and days of exploring. At the summit, is the last operating fire lookout tower along Colorado’s Front Range. The tower was built in 1912 with materials packed up the mountain by mules. The tower offers a magnificent 360-degree view of the surrounding Pike National Forest. The easiest way to get there is to go west from Sedalia on Rt 67, then south on Rampart Range Road, then ten miles to the Devil’s Head access road.

The Ten-Cent Treasure
Many years ago, a wagon train from the Denver mint, loaded with new dimes destined for Phoenix, Arizona disappeared somewhere between a Crawford ranch and Montrose. Four to six wooden kegs of new dimes were loaded on four separate wagons traveling as a group. Several years later, treasure hunters found the remains of four wagons at the rim of a canyon where a side wash fell off into the river ravine. Though they were able to gather several gallons of dimes along the Gunnison River near the north rim of Black Canyon, more treasure awaits the finding.

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Ghost Town Lost Treasure

Gillette Treasure Trove

Gillette, Arizona, a milling town for the nearby Tip Top Mine began in 1876 and like so many towns of the Wild West was filled with lawlessness and violence.

The town’s blacksmith, a man named Henry Seymour, had a side job of robbing the Wells Fargo stage coach outside of town. In 1882, he held up three different stagecoaches on the, obtaining a total of $69,000.

His lawlessness was suspected when he used some of his proceeds in a local saloon’s poker game and soon he was caught trying to hold up a fourth stage.

Seymour was then sent to prison, never revealing where he had hidden the loot. After he was released from prison he dropped from sight and allegedly never returned to Gillett to recover his treasure. Gillett is now a ghost town with only the ruins of the Burfind Hotel left behind.

Bumble Bee Hidden Cache

According to legend, two hundred pounds of raw gold lies at the bottom of a creek near the junction of Slate and Squaw Creeks close to Bumble Bee. In Bronco Canyon about four miles east of Bumble Bee, it is said that almost $80,000 in gold lays waiting for discovery. In the 1800s two miners had set up camp in the canyon, prospecting the area. Soon, the prospectors got lucky, finding a rich vein of gold quartz. Mining the vein they began to take out loads of gold, storing it under a large rock near their camp. As winter approached, they began to make plans on returning to their homes. However, before they could leave, a party of Apaches attacked them, killing one, while the other managed to escape.

The surviving miner did not attempt to return to the site until the Indians had been subdued. However, he was an old man by then and before he could make the trip he fell ill, telling the story of the gold on his deathbed.
Several years later, a Mexican sheepherder found the campsite in Bronco Canyon but didn’t know of the mine or treasure. Other visitors to the area have reported seeing a crude arrastre in the same region. However, the mine and buried treasure, located about 4 miles east of Bumble Bee, has yet to be found.

Bumble Bee is in Yavapai just north of Black Canyon. The old ghost town has many remaining buildings, some of which have been restored.
Mineral Park – In the 1880s five bandits robbed a saloon in this booming mining camp. Not finished with their thievery, they then robbed a stagecoach of a strongbox containing 400 pounds of gold bars, dust, and nuggets, then relieved the passengers of any valuables. Because the strongbox was too heavy to take with them they buried at the side of the road. Within no time at all, a posse caught up with the desperados and everyone of them were killed in the gunfight that followed. The posse later found the stagecoach and its passengers not far from Topock, Arizona and while they made a thorough search for the gold, it was ever found. The location is along the Yucca-Needles stage road to the west of the Yucca Stage Station.

The cemetery and a few buildings are all that left of Mineral Park. Located on private property, you should get permission from the current mining operation on the land.

Sonora Gold – An outlaw called Hashknife Charley once stole 38 bars of gold in Mexico. Charley was said to have buried the gold bars between a spring and the boundary line between Arizona and Sonora near Sonoyta on the Arizona side of the border. The outlaw was soon captured by lawmen for stealing horses and died in prison. To this day the gold bars have never been found.

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