Thursday, February 28, 2008

Treasure Tales, Colorado

Just like Arizona, Colorado is loaded with lost mines and caches of gold nuggets that never made it to the assayer’s office.

Somewhere in the La Plata Mountains in the Four Corners area is a rich gold mine found by the Spanish. The date of the discovery of the mine changes from one story to another but the most logical dates are the 1770’s or the 1570’s. It appears that the Spanish may have worked the mine for as many as 25 years and the mine was named the Josephine Mine. The story says that the Spaniards melted down the gold they had mined during one summer and used it to make a solid gold statue of the Christ Child.

The Spaniards were transporting the statue and other gold they had to Santa Fe and were attacked by Indians. The survivors of the attack hid the golden statue in a cave as they made their way out of the mountains. The Josephine mine is said to be located somewhere near Dolores, CO and several Spanish arrastras have been found in that area.

If you are thinking about searching for the statue I hope you aren’t superstitious. There are apparently several stories of prospectors that happened across the statue and went insane or died shortly after seeing it.

Here’s one for all of you outlaw gold chasers. In the late 1840’s a group of outlaws had a lucky robbery where they made off with a cache of money “worth hundreds of thousands of dollars” in Sacramento, California. The majority of the group was killed while trying to escape but two of the outlaws made it to a spot that was once known as the James Will Sheep Ranch a few miles east of Clifford in Lincoln County, Colorado. The two that escaped buried the money in a dutch oven (must have been a really big dutch oven) and then made three mounds around it to look like graves. The three graves were in the shape of a triangle and they made headstones for each grave. The two outlaws used the false date of 1857 and their own names on two of the headstones and on the third they marked “Unknown- 1857”. The dutch oven was in the middle of the triangle formed by the three fake graves.

In 1931 one of the tombstones was found and another was found later in 1934. The one found in 1934 was marked “D. Grover and Joseph Foxe Lawe-- August 8, 1957”. Several searches of the old sheep ranch were made back in the 1930’s and 1940’s but the third headstone and the cache has never been found, at least not that we know of.

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