In southeast Arizona there are pervasive legends and Indian traditions that tell of a massive treasure left behind in 1767. And I mean MASSIVE! The legends have it that when the Jesuits were expelled from the region they left behind gold and silver worth millions. You may or may not believe in what the Jesuits are said to have done throughout history but when you look at legends and stories from the past almost all will have at least some grain of truth.
This story takes us to a series of mines worked by the Jesuits, possibly located in the Santa Rita Mountains. The Jesuits were said to have mined 2050 mule loads of silver bars and another 905 mule loads of gold bars from the mines before they placed all of the bars into an abandoned mine shaft and covered it over. I don’t care who you are, that’s a lot of treasure! You can figure the average mule load would be between 130 and 150 pounds so the small side estimate would put this treasure at more than 380 thousand pounds or 192 TONS of gold and silver!! Besides this massive amount of ingots there is also supposed to be “valuable relics” from the missions in with the bars of gold and silver and a few other viable mines in the same area.
Now even I have a hard time believing there is that much treasure in one spot but I’m just repeating the story, and daydreaming, just a little.
The Jesuits were supposed to have made a map to the location of the covered mine shaft and included a complete inventory of what was in the shaft. This map and inventory along with a few crosses and some other smaller religious artifacts were placed into a copper box and given to a group to be taken to the Alter Mission. While in route to this mission the group with the copper box came across a padre that informed them that the Alter Mission was under attack by Indians and going there would be hazardous to their health.
The group apparently buried the copper box at the exact spot that they ran into the padre and then took off for safety. No one knows the spot where the copper box was buried but there are some clues to where this massive treasure is hidden.
According to an old Spanish document that was found years later the treasure may be located in the Santa Rita Mountains. This document said that there is a rock just north of the mine with CCB/TD carved on it. Just south of this carving is a “monument of rocks” directly over the mine.
Other clues say that the treasure is located under a headstone shaped rock with a cross carved on it. This rock is supposed to be at the base of a large pile of rubble located on the east face of the Black Hills.
Even more information places this huge treasure about eleven miles west of Arivaca Junction or another location is supposed to be about four miles southwest of the Tumacacori Mission.
The one thing all of these stories have in common is that the treasure is buried under tons of earth and rock. The Jesuits are said to have placed the treasure in the old mine shaft and then covered it over with dirt and rock. Once it was covered they transplanted some of the local foliage on top of that to further camouflage the spot. Moving tons of gold and silver and then placing tons of earth and rock on top of that would have taken months of work.
There is a good possibility that an infrared photo of these areas might give you a little more insight into what activities may have taken place there so long ago. You might even be able to identify the trails into and out of the Alter Mission, which might give you an idea of where the copper box is buried. Finding treasure is always easier with a map!
If you go looking for this one, don’t forget to take your camera. We’d love to see photos of a tunnel full of gold and silver bars! You would share wouldn’t you?