Since I began this website, I have received A LOT of pictures of signs, symbols, markings, and supposedly found items. Since I don't personally know the people, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of any of the found items. Occasionally, I meet people through friends that I implicitly trust. I hear stories and see pictures and make judgements based on the quality of the person's character, the amount and types of evidence provided to back up whatever story they tell.
This is one of the very few stories that I absolutely believe.
Many years ago, I read an article in TREASURE! Magazine. It concerned a man that found 82 pounds of gold bars in Southern Arizona. Little did I know that 24 years later, I would meet that man and get the rest of the story.
This story was originally going to be included in a magazine I was planning on publishing. Due to several issues beyond my control, the magazine never saw the light of day, but I always felt this story needed to be told in full, so here it is.
For the sake of the story, we will call this man Anthony, his brother Dave, and their partners Ted and Jim. Anthony had reead books about lost mines and treasures. He always wanted to be a treasure hunter, so he spent a couple of years in the military, he and his brother Dave saved up their money and when Anthony left the military in 1956, he used some of his money to buy a beautiful new Willys Jeep so he and his brother could go treasure hunting (a Jeep which he still drives to this day 54 years later). Anthony and Dave brought in two other men to help with their treasure hunting. Jim, who had the experience and Ted who was an engineer and math whiz (this would be a very important quality which you will see later. They spent the next thirty-five years together chasing the dream.
Here is the gang:
Anthony, Dave, Jim, and Ted
Here are some old pictures from the gang over the years:
Now on to the story. I will basically paraphrase the TREASURE! Magazine Article about the cache find and add what came after the written story. Many of the original pictures were lost or damaged. Where the originals were not available, I used scanned pictures from the magazine article.
Since the mid-1950s, my three partners and I have been prospecting and treasure hunting in Arizona. Most of our trips have taken us into rough mountains and desert country of the Southern part of the state. One expedition lasted a full 23 months.
During these oddysseys, across Arizona, we visited many desolate, lonely sites. Most are one step away from being ghost towns; overs barely maintain populations of more than a hundred. We have encountered many colorful, friendly old timers residing in these out-of-the-way hamlets who have little to occupy their time save sitting in the shade swapping stories, which they wholeheartedly believe, while watching "Front Street" go by.
These cheerful, often witty, weather beaten "ledge lizards" (God bless them) have spun us many tales of buried bandit loot, lost mines, and Spanish Treasure-including their values and current status, no matter how precarious. These stories floated about freely, with "facts" as varied as the tellers' personalities. Though we found their stories interesting, we have usually disregarded them because most of them have lacked sufficient documentation to launch an all-out search.
Most treasure leads we've followed had been well researched and documented, but the problem encountered when researching many documented sites is their popularity. It seems that everybody and their grandmother has searched for them at one time or another. Some sites resemble old artillery ranges, with holes covering every square yard.
But, once in a blue moon, you literally stumble upon something that makes all the hiking, climbing, and hardships worthwhile, especially after thirty years of searching with disappointing results. This is that story.
While one of my partners whom I'll call Dave, and I explored some interesting country near the Mexican Border, during the closing weeks of Fall 1983, we climbed a hill to get a better view of an area we hoped to prospect. Dave, finding himself near an outcropping of rock at the summit, called me over. He showed me some faint markings he had accidentally found on the soft volcanic rock. Although erosion had taken its toll, they were still visible if viewed from an angle. We'd come across many markings during our lengthy adventures, but nothing resembling these. They consisted of a straight line about ten inches long, followed by four dots in a row, and three more straight lines beneath. About five inches further down, there were three more lines. I made a copy of the symbols and marked the site on our topographical map. On the next day of our overnight trip, we discovered a flat rock marked with a cross a little over 100 feet North of the symbols Dave had found the day before. As this was beginning to look interesting, we checked the area over again, took pictures and returned home.
Out came all our treasure related source materials: books, maps, charts, and references on known treasure marks and symbols. A week or so later Dave, our two partners (Ted and Jim), and I returned to the area to begin gridding it out. We were certain these symbols had something to do with that one little word which turns everyone's head upon hearing -- TREASURE!
Jim and Ted worked the area near the rocks, using a length of cord to grid the sites on ten foot squares. They did this around both markings. By working out to a distance of about 80 feet, they came fairly close to a couple of caches without knowing it. In the meantime, Dave and I visually searched all rocks within a 200 yard radius of the symbols with great care but found nothing. Two days later, and still no further ahead, we returned home to take care of other business ventures.
I kept thinking about the first markings we discovered, knowing I'd seen them at least once, but couldn't remember where. Commitments kept all four of us from returning to the site together, although some of us were able to make frequent visits there either alone or in pairs, always returning empty handed.
During the Fall of 1985, almost 22 months after finding the markings, I was looking through some books on ancient civilations of Mexico and South America and turned a page. There in front of me were the markings: the Mayan Number System.
We went to work trying to figure the meanings of both the markings and the cross. Ted, the mathematician of the group, handled all the calculations. We all worked on the directions, and he checked our findings.
The same question lurked in all our minds: What are Mayan numbers doing in Arizona, near an undoubtedly Spanish Christian Cross? The ideas we came up with in the next few weeks were far too numerous and confusing to describe here. The Mayan Numbers were 5, 19, and 15. On large 11x14 inch paper, I drew the locations of both rocks and indicated North. Each sheet had its own various calculations and directions. Before we had finished, there would be well over forty separate sheets. The probabilities seemed endless.
Armed with these maps and a positive attitude, we all left for the site in two 4x4 campers. Three hours later we stood beside the Mayan Numbered Rock, as we came to name it. Camp was established about half a mile to the West, as the terrain was far too rugged, even for four-wheelers.
By the second day, the maps we'd prepared and Ted's calculations weren't working out. The rough terrain had caused us to take several spills, damaging one of the two detectors. Nevertheless, we had once again come very close to one of the caches (Site 1) with our techniques without realizing it.
The following morning, as Dave checked due East of the cross, he received a strong reading on the detector. We dug less than two feet, then BINGO! Bars of shining yellow gold and two inch 2x2 inch gold squares, totalling 27 pounds, were looking back at us! Our actions in the moments following our discovery defy description, but I can relate a lot of yelping, something akin to dancing, and laughing was involved.
After some of the shock wore off, we began to hope for other sites in the same area. Ted, the least emotional of our team, suggested we measure the distance from the cache at Site 1 back to the cross. It came out to almost 110 feet. Working with the numbers on the rock, Ted eventually derived the following equation: 5X19+15=110. Wondering if this was a magic number, we then measured from the cross 110 feet West and detected all along this line, including 15 feet on both sides. BINGO! We made another find at 114 feet - 10 pounds of gold (at what we later called Site 8). We went wild again, but Ted kept his cool.
As dusk approached, we packed the gold into three backpacks and happily made the 15 minute hike back to camp. Our excitement remained fervent, so much so, no one got much sleep. We sat up until one o'clock in the morning passing the bars around, guessing their weights and wondering if any more gold remained buried out there.
Next day before sunrise, we were again on our way. The gold from the day before, we hid in a hole East of camp to keep it safe, even though we hadn't seen anyone for days, since turning off the main road. The country was so rough, we hoped it would remain that way. It did.
Reaching our site, we started running our 200 foot line out from the cross in various directions, detecting first those spots between 95 and 119 feet. We also searched along those lines completely and about 15 feet either side, as we did before, but found nothing. Lady Luck would again be with us that afternoon, although none of us knew it at the time.
While having lunch near Site 1, I mentioned we should detect North and South from this point. The others agreed. First, we tried North and found nothing. Then South and again found nothing. Dave suggested we next run the line East from the point we had just checked, which was about 110 feet South from Site 1. We did this, and 118 feet out, found the third cache - 16 pounds of gold at Site 2. During this measuring and detecting, we all fooled and joked around some, while still keeping our minds on our work. After the discovery of this third cache, the fooling came to an abrupt end. It finally began to sink in that we really were on to something.
The next brain storm was mine. I spoke up "It seems like we're going in steps - East from cross 110, South 110 and East again a 110. If we continue South, then West, and South again every 110 feet or so, and do this all the way around, we would be making a cross." Ted caught the mistake and showed us my error. He noticed, that if a cross pattern were the key, then we would have to run our line 220 feet (not 110) the second time we turned West. Only in this way could we work out a cross pattern that would take us back to where we had found the second cache at Site 8.
Since it was getting late by this time, we put off running the line out until the next day. The following morning was windy and cloudy, and the sky looked unfriendly. Luck again was with us - not a drop of rain all day.
Using the sign of the cross, we ended up finding two more caches, 10 pounds of gold at Site 3 and 19 pounds of gold at Site 6. Like the previous caches, they were buried only 1.5 to 2 feet deep. We kept to the same count of about 110 feet all the way around. We checked each site carefully and even worked out a distance quite a distance on all sides. When a site failed to produce gold, we ran our 110 foot measurements in other directions. The sites yielding gold did not measure out to 110 feet each time. The distances varied from 97 to 121 feet. The reason for this may have been the rugged country, where exact measurements were virtually impossible.
Needless to say we were not at all disappointed with the overall results. We had discovered the treasure through hard work, guesses, calculations, and of course luck, especially in coming up with the cross design. Why some sites had gold and others didn't could have been planned that way to throw off those who stumbled on the area and tried searching. If they one cache, they might have thought that's all there was and moved on. Or, maybe this was someone's bank and he had made three withdrawals.
The remainder of the article consists of the author asking all the questions that would come to mind after some time of pondering the entire situation. What the article didn't say was what came after the find. Here is the rest of the story:
The group spent some time time secretly shopping the gold around to see how much they could expect to net from the find. They finally settled with a buyer in Washington State for somewhere near $500,000. They split the money as equally as possible and spent about $10,000 going nuts for a bit.
Today, many people would say that something over $100,000 net from thirty years of searching is not a very good return of investment of time and money. That Anthony could have taken the money he had saved in the military and invested it in something fairly safe making himself about 10% profit per year. If he reinvested the profit, he would have come out MUCH more than $100,000 after thirty years.
While that may be true, only someone who has never gotten the treasure hunting addiction could say it and believe it. The hunt is worth many times the find in most cases. While YES, I'm in it for the money. I want to hit it big, but I have had more enjoyment in the mountains and deserts of the Southwest looking for and finding monuments, markers, and yes, some nice finds than any day trader could possibly know or comprehend.
Best - Mike