Thursday, October 29, 2009

Montezuma's Head in Arizona

Gold, gold and more gold, that’s all I have to say. Arizona is one of those states that has gold just about everywhere there is a hill or mountain and if there hasn’t been any gold found in an area then there is bound to be a rumor about a lost mine or hidden treasure.

One of the hot spots in Arizona is a mountain known as Montezuma’s Head in the Estrella Mountains. For anybody who has read anything about the Aztec’s you will immediately get the connection to gold.

It is thought that when Cortez decided he would conquer the indigenous people of the area now known as Mexico these people, the Aztecs, took a large store of gold north from Mexico City to an unknown location where they hid this massive amount of gold in a cave. And when I say massive, I mean massive. Rumors abound that the Aztec’s moved TONS of gold and hid it. One of the rumors floating around Arizona says that the cave in question is located on or very near Montezuma’s Head.

If finding and moving tons of gold just sounds like too much work then you could look for a smaller cache of gold coins and jewelry said to be worth about $75,000 in today’s prices. This cache is known as the Lost Treasure of Telegraph Pass and is also supposed to be near Montezuma’s Head. It was hidden in 1870. The story says the treasure was placed into an iron pot and buried “in a level campsite with a small butte” not far from Telegraph Pass in the south end of the Estrella Mountains “below Montezuma’s Head”.

Do you need more incentive? There is said to be a stack of gold bars hidden in a cave somewhere on Montezuma’s Head that is worth between one and two million dollars. The gold is supposedly from the Spanish mining in the area and for whatever reason they left it behind. You know how the Spanish were, always leaving things behind!

And now for the good news, over the years, especially back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, several silver bars have been recovered from different spots around Montezuma’s Head by treasure hunters. This would seem to lend credence to the fact that there is in deed treasure buried on and around this aptly named mountain.

A word of warning, Arizona is hot during the summer!
Dry heat my …………..

Heat is heat and when it’s 115 it’s hot whether is a dry heat or not. Arizona is better suited to winter hunting when those “cold” temperatures of 60 degrees creep in.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Outlaw Loot in Devil's Canyon

It’s getting close to Halloween so a treasure story about a place called Devil’s canyon seems fitting.

This Devil’s canyon in located in the great state of Oklahoma near the present day Lake Altus.

There is more than one treasure story about this area of the state but the one I am writing about today concerns ninety pounds of gold coins.

Back in 1894 four outlaws were practicing their trade in Texas when they came upon a group of cattlemen who had just sold their herds. The cattlemen were carrying the proceeds of the sale with them when they had the misfortune of running into the four outlaws. They were quickly relieved of their money, all $35,000 of it and the outlaws headed for Oklahoma with their new fortune.

Once in Oklahoma they camped for a few days and mulled over what they were going to do with their individual shares of the gold. As fate would have it, three of the outlaws decided it would be better to have a third each of the gold instead of a fourth each so they plotted to kill the fourth outlaw. Just like on the show Survivor, things took an unexpected twist when outlaw number four figured out the others’ plan and made off with all of the loot.

Number four headed for what is known as Flat Top Mountain and hid his twice stolen gold there. It is thought he hid the gold on Flat Top Mountain but there is the possibility it was just near the mountain and not actually on it.

This fourth outlaw was later captured and sent to prison, I believe for an unrelated crime, where he died sometime in the 1920’s. Before he died he tried to explain to his relatives where he had hidden the gold. The family made several attempts to find the gold but were unsuccessful in their searching.

So to recap, there is ninety pounds of gold coins buried on or near Flat Top Mountain which is on the Side of Devil’s Canyon just a few miles from present day Lake Altus. Doing some quick math, the ninety pounds of gold at today’s prices should be worth a little over one million dollars. That sounds like it would be worth looking for!

Did I mention this may be located in a state park? Check the rules before you go!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Utah Ghost Towns, relics and gold

Are you looking for a ghost town with a few skeletons in it’s closet? Well have I got a deal for you. This one actually has real skeletons!

Summit County, Utah is the site of what once was the town of Weber Station. Located at the mouth of Echo Canyon and just two miles from the ghost town of Echo City, Weber Station has already given up a few treasures.

In 1931 when the original stage stop was dismantled they found several things hidden in the walls including relics from the 1800’s and several five dollar gold pieces. Also in 1931 an old gas station that had been built on top of where the Weber Station saloon was located was torn down so that a new building could be built. As they were digging out the foundation they discovered seven skeletons that had been there since the “glory” days.

It seems that several businesses in Weber City only existed to steal from the railroad workers coming to the area. Several people disappeared during that time never to be heard from again. I guess we know what happened to at least seven of them.

Along with the less than honest saloons, gambling tents and brothels that were taking advantage of the workers you also had an outlaw gang that used Weber Station as it’s headquarters. The Rachet Gang operated in this area during the 1800’s and stories persist that they buried some of their ill-gotten booty in the ground around the town.

If outlaws and money hidden in walls isn’t enough for you then you can go the extra mile, well actually it’s two miles, to the location of Echo City. This is also a ghost town and during it’s hay day had at least fifty buildings, mostly saloons and gambling establishments. As with Weber City, some construction was being done in the early 1900’s during which they tore down the old jail. In a stone wall of one of the jail cells they found a pair of glasses (the kind you see through, not drink from) and a cache of gold coins.

I guess the guy didn’t need his glasses or his gold which makes you wonder what happened to the person who left them behind. A strong rope comes to mind.

Although I’m not sure why, there are said to be several caches buried in and around the area of what was Echo City. I believe most of these caches are probably from the business owners who were trying to keep their own money safe from the other nefarious characters in town.

Keep in mind there should be lots of relics in these two areas. The stage coach passed through both towns and several artifacts have already been found in the past.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Relics of a Day Gone By

If you find yourself wondering in the desert near Beatty, Nevada you might want to take a shovel and a metal detector with you. You also might want to be asking yourself, “why the hell am I wondering around in the desert?”

If you like to hunt relics then this could the payday you have been looking for.

In the late 1800’s there was a wagon train carrying 20 barrels of whiskey and general goods merchandise from the town of Ludlow to a new upstart town named Rhyolite. During the trek from point A to point B the wagon train followed a road that skirted around the Amargosa Desert. I guess going around the desert was better than going through the desert however, the wagon train was besieged by an unrelenting sandstorm that began to make dunes so deep that the wagons couldn’t be pulled through them. Fearing for their lives the leader of the wagon train decided to have the men unhook the horses and mules from the wagons and ride them out of the storm, leaving the wagons and all of the merchandise behind.

The storm continued to rage on, completely burying the wagons and their cargo. Once the storm had subsided the men returned to the site to retrieve the goods but they were no where to be found. The sandstorm had changed the landscape so much that they weren’t even sure where the goods should be.

Here in lies the problem with finding this cache of relics (and some really aged whiskey!) Stories place this cache at a spot seven miles south of the town of Beatty, Nevada while another story says it was eighteen miles south. If that isn’t enough for you then there is one more story that says the cache of goods is twenty-three miles south of Beatty. No wonder they couldn’t find it!

A little research to determine where this road was in the 1800’s would go a long way to finding the spot where the goods disappeared in the sand. An old topographical map of the area should help considerably.

Watch out for those sand storms, I don’t want to be writing about a wayward treasure hunter who was buried in the sand with his new 4x4 truck.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Digging a Metal Clue

For those of you that read the blog regularly you will know that I am not a big fan of the willy nilly “metal clue”. Metal clues do exist and they can be found but for there to be a hidden clue there has to be something that tells you where that hidden clue can be found. If there isn’t, then the chances are the piece of metal you are digging up isn’t a clue but just a relic. That’s not to say what you find isn’t worth anything but this article is about recovering an actual metal clue.

A lot of us will walk a site using a metal detector just to see what is in the area that might date the site or identify exactly who was in the area. During this process it is possible that you will find a hidden metal clue without realizing it is a clue until you have deciphered the map you are working on completely. This can be a dangerous way of finding clues if you don’t take some very specific precautions. And when I say dangerous, for the most part I am not talking about real danger but the danger in moving something that may be important to solving the puzzle before you have all of the information you need.

Unless you have been working a map and you know for certain you are at the spot where the cache should be located you will always want to be very careful and methodical when digging. Personally, I would do that all of the time, even at the spot where the cache is located just in case there is something else in the hole that you weren’t counting on.

When digging a metal clue (or anything else) you should always remove slivers of ground, digging across the ground in ½ to 1 inch bites instead of digging straight down as if you were digging a hole. By working across the soil in small bites you decrease your chances of moving the object that is in the ground should you hit it with your digging tool. I would also recommend not using a full size shovel when digging anything that you think might be a clue.

The smaller shovels like the folding military types are excellent for this process. I found a small shovel at Home Depot that has a small shovel head and a wooden handle on it and the whole shovel is less than three feet long. This makes it easy to pack in if you are having to hike to a spot and it’s easier to use when you are on your knees digging. It’s not as compact as the military shovel but you don’t have to fold it out when you are ready to use it either.

Once you have gotten down to the actual piece of metal in the ground then it is time to switch tools to something even smaller and start really taking your time. Depending on the soil you are digging in you may be able to finish the hole with your hands but generally it takes some type of tool. This is where an old screw driver or a knife come in handy. I usually carry an old M-16 bayonet for this purpose. You can by them really cheap and they work well. You want to take your time and dig out around the object, being careful not to move it until you can see the entire top of the piece of metal. I also carry a couple of different size brushes that I use for cleaning off things I find in the ground and rock carvings.

At the point of having the object uncovered but before I remove it from the ground I take photos, lots and lots of photos, including a few with my compass in the shot as a reference. Once I have these photos I will take compass headings off of any point on the object along with any straight side and anything else that could be considered a pointer. As an example, a firearm can have several different things as pointers. The barrel can point a direction, the hammer can point a direction, the trigger can point a direction or there can be something cut or carved into the firearm that is to be used for a pointer. Until you know for sure what you are supposed to use then you can’t discount anything.

Keep in mind that if you have something such as the trigger or hammer or even a line carved into the object, these can subjective in nature and therefore the distance you will travel from your clue probably will not be very far, generally under fifty feet.

Did I mention you should have a pen and paper to right down the information from the clue? I know, that’s a “duh” right? If you only knew!!

Once you have your photos of the object while it is still in the ground and your compass headings, I normally measure how deep in the ground the object is. This way I can compare it to anything else I might find and this will help with connecting the dots so to speak. If there is more than one buried clue on a site it is probable that all of the buried clues will be the same depth give or take an inch or two. I will say that it’s not very likely you will have a bunch of metal clues at one site. If you are dealing with an outlaw treasure then one or two is probably the max unless there are several caches in the same map. (Please don’t construe this to mean that every site will have buried metal clues, they won’t. A lot of them won’t so keep that in mind.)

Now comes the time to SLOWLY take the object out of the ground. Why slowly you ask? Because there may be something attached to the bottom of it that may fall off when you pull it out of the ground. If this is the case the piece on the bottom that you haven’t seen yet may be the pointer.

I can’t say this enough, don’t get excited or over anxious about digging anything out of the ground! Take your time and do it right. It may save you a lot of grief and extra work in the long run.

Once you have your metal clue out of the ground you will want to inspect it closely for anything that may be “the” clue you are looking for. Something could be carved on the back of the object or along the sides/edges or if there is a name or stamp on the object this may be information that you need. As an example, you may find a piece of an old iron stove that has all or part of the manufacture’s name on it and your map may also have the same name or letters on it somewhere. This would tell me that the metal clue is telling me where in the map I am. Kind of a “you are here” type deal. This can give you a spot on your map so that you will know what to look for next. Not all clues take you somewhere. Some can simply show you where on the map you are and you have to refer back to the map to get directions from that spot.

Once you have your object out of the ground you will want to take some more photos showing all sides of it, especially if there is anything on it.

If what you have found is truly a clue then you may well be on your way to finding treasure. If the buried clue is still there then this means no one else has dug it up which gives you a very good chance that the treasure has not been recovered either.

Real buried clues are VERY important. They were buried so that no one else would see them and would know to look for them unless they could interpret the map properly. The hidden clue will almost always have a very decisive piece of information connected to it. That’s why it’s hidden, so no one will accidentally find it.

Unless of course you’re just walking around with a metal detector!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A little more treasure news

I guess I'm a little twisted because in a way this seems to be a mean trick to play on someone, I guess because I am a treasure hunter, but in another way it seems pretty funny and has given me a few ideas.

From the AP
ST. LOUIS (Oct. 4) – An Illinois woman who set out on a treasure hunt for buried gold coins after finding a cryptic note in an antique rocking chair may have been the victim of a prolific prankster who died more than 30 years ago.

With help of a donated backhoe, Patty Henken recently tore up a vacant lot in Springfield, Ill., where a typewritten note signed by "Chauncey Wolcott" — found in an old chair she bought at auction last November — suggested she would find a chest containing more than $250 in U.S. gold coins.

The dig turned up nothing but bricks and old bottles. Henken planned to return Tuesday with the donated services of a man with ground-penetrating radar meant to detect any buried items, but the treasure note's promise may already be debunked.

An Iowa woman who read news accounts of the hunt said she knows Wolcott's true identity: John "Jay" Slaven, a notorious practical joker and coin collector who often used a typewriter in his pranks.
Slaven used the pen name "Chauncey Wolcott" and lived for decades at the location where the dig took place, until his 1976 death, according to Betty Atkinson Ryan of Mason City, Iowa. She e-mailed a columnist for the State Journal-Register of Springfield to set the record straight.
Atkinson Ryan told the newspaper that Slaven was her boss in the Journal-Register's classified advertising department decades ago. She said Slaven often used a typewriter to compose some of his jokes and signed them "Chauncey Wolcott." The newspaper said archived news articles described Slaven as an actor with a "booming voice" that he used in television appearances, about 50 radio shows and to narrate the annual Illinois State Fair film.
Henken's life got interesting in May when, while prying off the seat of a rickety rocking chair she bought at auction five months earlier, she discovered a small envelope with "Finders Keepers" typewritten on it. Inside, a key was taped to a typed note.
"This DEXTER key #50644T will unlock a lead chest," the note began, before spelling out a location in Springfield — 1028 N. Fifth St. — where a chest containing more than $250 in U.S. gold coins supposedly was buried 12 feet below ground.
The stash, the note claimed, included eight $20 gold pieces, six $10 gold pieces, five $5 gold pieces, three $2 1/2 dollar gold pieces and two $1 gold pieces.
The undated note, signed by a "Chauncey Wolcott," included a request to contact the Springfield newspaper if the chest was ever found.
It wasn't.
Henken, of Mount Sterling, Ill., said Sunday that she was disappointed there's no closure but still was hopeful Slaven may have left something to unearth.
"My friends feel like I was cheated out of finalizing this," said the 48-year-old Henken, a window clerk at the post office in Mount Sterling. "There's something down there. He wouldn't play a practical joke without leaving me something."

That property's current owners gave Henken permission to tear up the site in search of the supposed booty if they got an equal share of any find. But they pulled the plug on any more digging now that Slaven may have pulled one over on everyone.

"It's done, other than me fixing up their (torn-up) yard," Henken said. "It's been fun, though. I'd do it again tomorrow. I just hope my life isn't so boring from now on."
She's not averse to a copycat caper.
"I fully expect to do something like this before I die," she said. "But I would leave them something to find, a clue to who I was and not leave them wondering what kind of sick person would make them do this."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

More Treasure Found

This isn't the kind of treasure most of us look for or even how we look for treasure but I thought it would be nice to know that these kinds of things are out there!

JOHANNESBURG (Sept. 29) — Petra Diamonds Ltd. says a diamond the size of a chicken egg has been found at South Africa's Cullinan mine.

The diamond may be among the world's top 20 high-quality gems. It was discovered Thursday at the mine northeast of Pretoria, South Africa.

Johan Dippenaar, the company's chief executive said in a statement Tuesday that the 507.55-carat gem was of "exceptional color and clarity."

No value has been give yet for the diamond, which weighs just over 100 grams.

The mine also produced the largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan, at 3,106 carats in the rough. That finished stone is set in Britain's Imperial Scepter as part of the Crown Jewels.

Now get out there and start looking!!!