The Hidden Treasure and Lost Mines of New Mexico by Noel Richards

A treasure hunter fromSocorro claims that the original Gran Quivira ruins are located several miles NE of the present, reported site and within view of the salt lakes E of Willard.A). He also claims that a chest, 24 X 36 X 18 inches, was removed from a 6-foot hole at this location - its contents unknown.. In 1840 wealthy Mexican trader Felipe Chavez lived near the church in San Jose. He gathered an enormous quantity of Spanish gold coins on his numerous treks to Old Mexico. Realizing that it was unsafe to store his accumulated fortune in his hacienda , he hired two peons who loaded a massive chest onto a wagon, then rode off in the neighboring woods. The two men dug a deep hole, depos ited the chest, then he shot the helpers to keep the burial site secret. Chavez dumped the bodies into the pit, filled it with dirt, then marked the site by placing a grinding wheel nearby. Many years later on his deathbed, he confessed his crime to his long-standing housekeeper and told her where the treasure was hidden, but she never searched for the hoard.Today, the city of Albuquerque completely surrounds the old village of San Jose, but the church still remains to mark the location.

Juan Lacuerda came to Chilili in 1898 with an ancient goatskin map looking for a reported $60 million in gold and silver bars, "buried in the vicinity of Chilili," and presumably in the Manzano Mountains. He hired a crew and dug in the ruins of an old chapel but failed to recover any treasure. He disappeared and the treasure he was supposedly searching for was never found. There are several treasure historians who believe that the huge Gran Quivira hoard, 1,600 burro loads of gold and silver, is located in the S Manzano Mountains and possibly in Hell's Canyon of the Four Hills area, both near Tijeras Canyon on Hwy. I.Eight mule loads of gold bullion and the balance of the treasures of the Quarai Mission were secreted by the padres before fleeing the Indian revolt within a few miles of the old mission site, near the town of Punta.. In the early 1900s, a group of Indians camped for a week on the same hill, 2 miles E of Manzano, and searched for certain markings on rocks. They found some of the carvings, but not all of them, and were unable to recover whatever they were looking for.. A cave, accidentally found and lost by a Santa Fe trader and worked by the Comanche Indians containing rough diamonds, is located in the Pedernal Mountains N of Pedernal Peak to the NW of Encino.

The cave has not been found since the 1800s and is located on the W side of the cliff.. Mules gave out on a wagon train en route from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe in 1849. One of the wagons carried 300 brand new Sharpe rifles and 300 Colt revolvers, the rest carried other supplies from the East valued at $35,000. The cargo was buried in the area of the old Santa Fe Trail about 150 miles E of Santa Fe and the party marched on foot towards their destination. About 100 miles from Santa Fe, Indians attacked the defenseless party and killed the entire party. Not one piece of merchandise was ever found.. Madam Barcelo, a/k/a Senora Toulos, operated a highly profitable bordello, dance hall and saloon in Santa Fe in the booming 1800's. Throngs of miners, trappers, traders and affluent business men enriched her coffers until she found herself with $150,000 in U.S. gold coins which, in those days, was only safe in the banks at New York. She hired a reputable freighter to transport her coins on the first leg of the journey, to Independence, Missouri. Three days out of Santa Fe, the freighters noticed that they were being trailed by a group of bandits and, that night, buried her 25 buckskin bags of coins in a hole and built a campfire over the spot.

The entire caravan was killed by attacking Mexican outlaws except one man named Cortez who managed to escape. Cortez made his way towards Santa Fe making a roundabout route to avoid the bandits who were trailing him. When he reached the town he was in dire condition. He told the story to lawmen and drew a rough map to the treasure site and, two days later, died from his exposure. When word reached Madam Barcelo of the fate of her gold coins she sent a party of close friends with the map to recover the treasure. When the party didn't return, a search party found the men massacred, scalped and stripped. Since 1839, many searches have been conducted for this rich cache, located in the area of three large rocks, one of which was "half as large as a house." The search area is generally given as being between the towns of Ute Park and Cimarron.. The Maxwell House a/k/a Don Diego Tavern , was the principle stopping place on the old Santa Fe Trail.

It had a gambling room, billiard room, dance hall and hotel that covered a city block. When the wealthy owner died, stories ran rampant that he had buried or hidden money in or near the place. The building is now in ruins.. Starvation Peak is a butte located just off the highway, S of Raton. In the early days, Indians attacked a small town just N of there and the townsfolk fled to the butte for safety and refuge. The Indians held siege here until all of the people died of exposure and starvation. Treasure caches of every size and description have been found in and around the old townsite and it is believed that much more awaits recovery in the region.

A). Treasure hunters dug up a small chest filled with old coins from the settlement just N of Starvation Butte. B). Several years ago, a cache of coins war dug up on Starvation Butte.. In 1851, two pioneers buried $40,000 in gold coins near a campsite on the old Santa Fe-Cimarron Cutoff Trail, and near the Point of Rocks. Indians attacked and killed the two travelers and other members of the wagon train and the gold was never found. The graves of some of those killed during the attack still mark the site today. The location is twenty-three miles E of Springer, then seven miles N, then two miles E, and finally another one mile N in Youngblood Canyon. The cache of treasure, as well as relics and artifacts, still await recovery to today's treasure hunters. The early Spanish reportedly buried 20 mule loads of gold in the S end of the Malpais above Quemado.

JIn 1872, Jacob Schaeffer was a soldier stationed at Fort Cummings. While hunting deer in the Datil Mountains he became lost, and weeks later stumbled into Fort Craig in a delirious and half-crazed condition carrying a ten pound sack of gold nuggets. He made the find in a box canyon within sight of Magdalena Mountain. When he finally regained his health, he made numerous, secret trips into the mountains but was never able to relocate the deposit.

A). Many researchers believe that the Lost Schaeffer Mine is the Lost Adams Mine, the Lost Snively Mine, or all one-in-the-same.. A black soldier also stumbled upon the gold in the box canyon while he was on patrol and kept his find a secret. After his discharge he returned to the area but Indians chased him out of the region and he never returned. This incident is called the Lost Nigger Mine.. In the 1860's, Jacob Snively discovered a rich deposit of gold nuggets in a box canyon in the Datil Mountains. He built a sluice box and cabin and worked out about $10,000 worth of nuggets before being forced to flee the area because of Indian troubles. Snively was afraid to return to the mine because the Apaches were on the warpath; he was later killed by Indians in 1871 in the White Picacho Mountains. His lost mine is believed to be the Lost Adams Diggings and if not, it was located very close to it..

During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Spaniards from a small mission on the E side of the San Francisco River in the foothills of the Mogollon Mountains secreted a hoard of mission treasure and mined bullion from two area mines. The mines are in the region just W of the San Francisco River, 5 miles N of the present town of Glenwood and in the lower foothills of the Frisco Mountains in the Gila National Forest..

The Lost Cooney and the Lost Turner Gold Mine are one-in-the-same.John Turner was grubstaked by Michael Cooney to prospect in the Mogollon Mountains in 1883. A year later, not hearing from him, Turner's uncle showed up in Mogollon telling Cooney that he had come from the East to help mine a gold deposit John had found along Sycamore Creek, but that John had never showed up to meet him. Cooney searched Sycamore Canyon and found many blazed trees, but no sign of Turner or his mine.

In 1889, some cowboys came across the skeleton of Turner in Sycamore Canyon and found evidence of a fierce gun battle. Cooney spent the rest of his life in search of Turner's mine before he was caught in a winter storm in 1914 and froze to death within 100 yards of where Turner's skeleton was found in 1889. The rich vein is believed to be located near Sycamore Creek above its junction with the Gila River.. Ancient Spanish mines and relics can be found in the area of Ladrone Peak, 22 miles SW Belen. SITE: Old Mesilla, located near today's Mesilla, dates back to the days of Maxamilian, but settled in the 1850's. Many ruins surround the area, today a state monument. Antonio Salazar lived at Santo Nino and went into the W Portrillo Mountains to cut timber and while there uncovered an old Spanish mine tunnel. Entering the shaft, he chipped off samples of rich gold chunks and took the sack of gold home to show his wife. Elated at his new-found riches, he returned to the old mine site with tools and was never heard from again. Searches for the man ended in failure and it is believed that he was killed in a cave-in at the site.

The mine has never been relocated.. In 1856, a wagon train en route from Mexico City with goods and $80,000 in gold and silver coins was attacked by outlaws near Rincon and all the members of the wagon train were killed. Soldiers tracked the bandits S of Rincon and attacked their camp, killing them all. The stolen money and supplies had been secreted by the outlaws and the soldiers were unable to locate the cache.. When the Indians revolted in 1680, the padres of the Santa Fe mission fled S along the Jornada del Muerto with the

gold and silver treasures and valuables of the mission. Constantly harassed by the Indians along their escape route, the treasures and church ornaments were buried or hidden at intervals along the trail. At one spot between Santa Fe and El Paso, Texas, they buried the bulk of their treasures between three hills. Only one padre and a handful of Spaniards managed to survive the trek and the valuables were never recovered. Father La Rue was a Frenchman and came to Mexico with the Spaniards to work among the Indians and peons at a large settlement near Chihuahua in 1798. It was here that the priest learned of a rich vein of gold from an aged and ailing man who had traveled the country to the North extensively. Before dying he told La Rue:"After one day's travel from El Paso del Norte (El Paso, Texas), you win come to three small peaks yet farther to the North. Upon first sight of these peaks, turn to the East and cross a basin where there is a spring at the foot of a solitary peak. On this peak there is a rich vein of gold.

When crops failed at the settlement, the Padre led his flock to the north to work the gold. Arriving at La Mesilla, they sighted the three peaks and turned East across the Jornada del Muerto and into the San Andreas Mountains. After searching, the spring and the solitary peak was found, undoubtedly the place was Hembrillo Basin and Soledad Peak a/k/a Victoria Peak. For many years, the priest and his followers worked the rich vein, tunneling into the mountain as they followed the vein. All the mined gold was smelted into bars and stored in a huge cavern which was part of the mine.When word reached the church officials in Mexico City that La Rue's colony was missing and the settlement abandoned, soldiers were sent out in search for the party to the North.

The Padre knew that he left his post without permission, and realized that he would be severely punished for not delivering the Royal Fifth of his gold to Spain if he were discovered. When word was received that Spanish soldiers were headed towards their mine, La Rue ordered all traces of he gold hidden and the mine sealed. When the soldiers arrived at his campsite and demanded to know where the gold came from they used to pay for supplies in Mesilla, the colonists refused to divulge any information. After a search failed to locate the gold, the soldiers opened fire on the peons, who were badly outnumbered and poorly armed, and the engagement turned into a massacre. The soldiers returned Mexico City empty-handed and told the story.A). Another version as to the demise of Padre La Rue's colony claims that a fierce thunderstorm loosened the cliff above the cave and a landslide buried the Padre, his gold mine and the cavern filled with stacks of gold bars, covering all traces of the site.

The Apache chief Victorio accumulated untold riches in eleven plundering raids on white settlements in the 1870's including wagon trains, settlers and isolated towns. It is believed that he hid the greater portion of his loot somewhere in the territory in which he roamed. Included in this area is Victorio Peak where a battle was fought with the U.S. Cavalry on April 8,1880, after which the Indian warrior fled to Mexico where he and his followers were killed by Mexican troops.The Doc Noss treasure

on this peak may or may not be that of the Apache outlaw and, if not, his treasure hoard of plunder remains buried somewhere in Southern New Mexico.. In 1937, "Doc" Milton E. Noss, a Hot Springs foot doctor went deer hunting in the San Andreas Mountains and was climbing Victorio Peak when he spotted an opening in the hillside. Noss discovered a cave that led down into a shaft which opened into an immense chamber piled with gold bars "stacked like cordwood" and weighing from forty to seventy pounds each. For the next two years he made frequent trips to the cavern, mostly alone but sometimes with his wife Ova. Noss squeezed down under the edge of a flat rock on top of the peak and climbed down a chicken coop ladder which broke. From then on, he had to lower himself using ropes which was a dangerous undertaking. He built a fire inside the cave, hoping the rising smoke would reveal another entrance, but it didn't work and he had to continue to enter the cavern by dangerous descents through the shaft.

During his entry into the cavern, which he always did alone, he discovered twenty-seven bodies, some chained to the walls, as well as a number of relics, including jewelry old coins, Wells Fargo strongboxes, swords, a silver napkin ring inscribed "Talbot Hall, Nov. 17, 1868," and various other items. Ova Noss claimed that she and two children by a previous marriage, Marvin Beckwith and Mrs. Letha, helped Doc hoist up a number of gold bars and some of the other treasure in roped sacks. None of the relics that were engraved bore a date later than 1880. The work however, was slow and difficult. After removing a number of bars, Noss temporarily suspended operations and had five of the bags shipped to the U.S. Mint in Denver where they assayed 60 percent gold and 40 percent copper. When officials took the gold and told him that the U.S. Mint would have to hold it, and gave him a receipt for $97,000 worth of gold (at $20.67 per ounce), he was furious.

Fearing that Treasury agents intended to confiscate the other gold bars he had recovered, Noss returned to New Mexico and hid the recovered bars somewhere near Victorio Peak without revealing the exact spot to anyone. But this was only a part of the treasure. There were also several passages blocked by rocks, logs and other debris leading off from the central cavern and Doc was convinced that many more gold bars were hidden in some of these passageways. During the next ten years, Noss tried clearing some of these tunnels by dynamiting his way in but the blasts added to his difficulties. In many instances, walls and roofs caved in and, on occasion, passenger entrances were not only completely sealed off, but so obliterated that he could no longer locate them.

In 1946, Noss divorced his wife Ova while on a trip to Arkansas and remarried. On his return to New Mexico he found that his prospecting permit had expired and he went to get it renewed, only to find that his ex-wife had already filed for the claims in her own name. The officials did, however, grant a new permit which allowed him to prospect passages on three sides of the cavern. Because of the difficulty in climbing down his shaft, Noss took on various partners in his search. The first was Ben Davidson who quit after several months of fruitless digging. No one ever believed Noss was a con man including all of his investors and his former wife Ova. Possessing her own permit, she camped near the hill in a trailer with her son, Marv Beckwith, and continued to search for treasure.

Doc's next partner was a mining engineer, Charles Ryan, from Alice, Texas, who made an agreement in early 1949 to invest $27,000 in cash and his labor and that Ryan was to receive in return 51 bars of gold. Whether these were to be from those already recovered or from future recoveries is uncertain. Much time was lost transporting supplies to the site and the two agreed to build a landing strip for light planes. The men arranged for an experienced pilot to fly out with supplies from Albuquerque and meet them at their camp. It was coincidence that Beckwith, who was returning to his mother's camp, heard of the flight and arranged for his own transportation. As the plane neared Victorio Peak over Hembrillo Basin, it hit an air pocket, went out of control and crashed, killing the pilot and severely injuring Beckwith. Noss learned of the crash and drove to the scene. Later, the Associated Press reported: "Apparently Becwith told Noss something that caused alarm and was responsible for him going out late that same night, removing some of the gold from wherever he had previously cached it, and burying it again elsewhere."

The following day there was an argument between Noss and Ryan over the treasure. Presumably Noss learned about his partner's clandestine activity and accused him of cheating. The next day Noss's dead body was found in front of his pickup truck. Ryan voluntarily gave himsel f up and admitted that he had shot Noss, but later was acquitted of the charge after the courts found the shooting to be in self defense. Ova Noss continued searching for treasure in the vicinity of Victorio Peak on various occasions until 1955 when she was notified by Air Force base officials that neither she nor anyone else would be allowed to enter the area. From then on there were countless rumors that both civilians and military personnel were engaged in clandestine treasure hunting. The rumors were verified in 1958 when Captain Leonard V. Fiege disclosed in a sworn affidavit that he and three associates had been deer hunting near Victotio Peak and that they had found the treasure cavern. The affidavit, in its entirety, follows:

Sworn affidavit of Capt. Leonard V. Fiege, Holloman Air Force Base, Alamogordo, New Mexico: "In November of 1958, I, Capt. Leonard V. Fiege, along with Ken Prather, Mil [Milleadge] Wessel, and Tom Bartlett [or Berclett] were hunting on the White ands Missile Range. We had separated and I went down a canyon by myself. I saw this small hill and open caves. I climbed the hill and found a small cave that was fairly well hidden. I was to meet the other boys at the base of this hill but they had not yet arrived, so I decided to go into this cave and look around. The cave was large enough to stand up in until I came to a small opening about 30 inches around. I shined my light into this hole and it looked like it opened up into a large shaft on the other end.

I climbed through on my stomach and entered the large part of the shaft again. This shaft led into the main cavern. The dust was so thick and the air was so foul and hard to breathe, so I sat down on what I thought was a dust covered pile of rocks. I was a little sick and was going to get out of there as soon as I stopped coughing. The dust fell off the pile I was sitting on and I started inspecting this area. The pile of so-called rocks was not rocks but smelted gold in bars about the size of a house brick. I realized what I had found and grew a little excited I wanted to explore more of this area but in my excitement I moved too fast and the dust started flying. With my flashlight I saw three piles of this gold all lined up and another pile off to the left that was partly covered by the wall of the cave that had fallen in.

In trying to shine the light around the cave to see if there were any more stacks of this around, I found it almost impossible to see farther than about 15 to 20 feet because of the dust in the air. It was like headlights on a car shining into a dense fog. "I started getting sick again and made my way back out. I was determined to take the boys back in with me when they came to this hill. I was dirty and sick when they arrived. I told them what I had found and we agreed to go in and look at it again. We got as far as the small opening together but Ken and Mil were too large to get through so Tom Berclett and I went in alone. The dust we walked in after we slid through this tunnel was about five inches deep and we stirred a lot of it up. We went in to these four piles of gold and confirmed the findings.

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