It has been estimated, by knowledgeable people, that there is enough information in Arizona concerning what we call treasure and ghost towns to fill half-a-dozen books. Arizona also had more than its share of blood and thunder days-the stuff from which treasure legends are born.
Hostile Indians raided its ranches and mining camps, carrying away and concealing treasures they had little use for but wanted to deny the white man. Outlaws preyed upon the bullion trains packing gold and silver from the mines, ambushing stages carrying Wells Fargo chests, and holding up passenger trains as they stopped for water at lonely tank stations.
Many of the treasures seized by these bandits were cached for recovery at a later date, which for some reason or another, never arrived.
The earliest known treasure hunt in the United States was in what is now called Arizona. In 1539 Fray Marcos de Niza was sent by the Spanish governor of New Spain to check on reports made by Indians of large cities of great wealth to the north. This journey triggered a hunt for precious minerals that are still going on in the Grand Canyon state.
When a meteor crashed on the Coconio Plateau near Winslow, Arizona, an estimated 22,000 years ago, it created a crater 4,000 feet across and 570 feet deep which scattered fragments over an area two and a half miles in diameter. It is believed that the main body of the meteor, perhaps a mile deep, may be worth as much as $20,000,000 because of the many diamonds it might contain.
Dolph Cannon, a mysterious character who lived the life of a recluse in the caves of Canyon Diablo, spent many years gathering meteor fragments, breaking them apart, and extracting tiny diamonds. When he appeared in Winslow on frequent trading trips, he always carried a large roll of bills.
Some thought this money was secured from selling the diamonds he had recovered. However, some believed he had entered the country with a supply of money which he kept cached in one of the caves.
One day Cannon disappeared and was never seen again in his canyon haunts.
It was speculated that he had accumulated a fortune in diamonds and had left the country. But ten years later, it was learned that he had been murdered, supposedly by someone attempting to force him to tell where his accumulation of meteor diamonds was cached.
Many subsequent searches of Canyon Diablo revealed the caves in which the recluse had lived, but no diamonds or cash have ever been reported found.
In the early 1870s, a troop of soldiers from Fort Tucson chased a band of Apaches toward the Mexican border. Suppose the Indians succeeded in crossing over into Mexico. In that case, they could not be brought back to their reservation, so, despite the terrific heat, the soldiers pressed hard to overtake them.
Somewhere in the Baboquivari Mountains, the troops were halted in a small canyon where a pool of cool water had collected at the foot of a rocky ledge. A second pool was found near the first, and the men split into two groups to gather around the welcome water.
As one of the soldiers knelt to fill his canteen, he noticed that the bottom of the pool was covered with bright shining pebbles. He scooped up a handful and showed them to his companions. Someone recognized the pebbles as gold nuggets, and there was a wild scramble to fill their pockets.
More nuggets were found along the ledge and the men, forgetting their tiredness, rushed madly to gather as many as they could find before being ordered to resume the chase.
When the officer commanded to mount, several men expressed their desire to abandon the chase and collect the gold. But the order stood, and their request was denied. As the soldiers rode away, the men tried to locate the landmarks in their minds so they could return later. But in a country where all the landscape looks remarkably similar, it takes an extremely experienced man to retrace his steps weeks or months later.
Eventually, the fleeing Indians were headed off, captured, and returned to Tucson. The soldiers, however, did not forget the gold. Some asked to be discharged, but they were denied. Two of the more determined deserted stole amounts and rode away to the south.
They eventually found the ledge, but the water in the pools they depended upon had dried up. Nevertheless, they gathered all the gold they could carry and loaded their horses so heavily that they were forced to walk and lead the animals.
Before long, the extreme heat began to take its toll, and they had to lighten their animals’ burdens. Time and time again, they discarded some of the gold. One of the horses fell and could not rise, and before long, the second horse dropped of thirst and exhaustion.
When a search party found the deserters, one died, and the other died. Before death claimed him, he managed to gasp out an account of their experiences. It is said that several of the men who had seen the gold in the “tanks” in the Baboquivari Mountains did several searches after they were discharged from the army. If any ever found it, the news was kept a secret.
This story was given to me by Thomas Penfield (deceased), who wrote the book “A Guide to Treasure in Arizona.”
One of the first Mexican families to follow Father Eusebio Kino northward into Primeria Alta was the Valverde’s. They settled in the Santa Cruz Valley near Guevavi Mission (now only a mound of rubble, but its site can be located). With their ranch established, the Valverde’s took to the surrounding mountains in search of the gold which they knew the Indians secured.
They found it at some spot lost to history and developed a rich mine. Employing Indian laborers, the Valverde mine produced enough gold each year that a large pack train was required to carry it out to Mexico. The Valverde’s prospered immensely, and to store the wealth for their mine between pack trains to Mexico, they built a stone vault under the ranch’s main house.
Stinging under the harsh treatment of their Spanish masters, the Indians of Primeria Alta rose in revolt in 1772, destroyed the missions and ranches, and killed all white men who did not flee their wrath. Among the families who escaped to Mexico were the Valverde’s, but they had to leave behind their horses, cattle, and about a year’s accumulation of gold.
Wealthy from the gold they had already sent to Mexico, the Valverde’s never returned to Arizona. In time, all traces of the ranch were reduced to rubble, and today not even a low mound remains to indicate its site, which is probably overgrown with mesquite and cottonwood trees.
This little-known location of a large cache of gold in southern Pima County could be worth searching for.
In 1873, a Mexican prospector named Pedro Pedrillo found a crude rock cross-bearing, in Spanish, the instructions “dig here.” This was on the eastern slope of the Cocopah Mountain range. Pedro dug up a tin box that contained a scroll with this story.
On March 19, 1682, the Spanish ship ISABELLE CATOLICA wrecked off the coast of California. Captain Jesus Arroa and his crew of twenty-five men, with tools and weapons, started traveling east. They came to what is now the Cocopah Mountain range.
Here they found placer gold and spent eight months collecting it. They planned to try to get to Mexico City with what gold they could carry, but Indians attacked the party while they were still mining.
A battle of two days convinced Captain Arroa that they would all be killed. He thereupon wrote directions to where the gold that had been mined could be found, then made a cross and buried the instructions beneath it. None of the ship’s crew is known to have escaped the Indians.
In 1874, Pedro Pedrillo organized a search party to go to the Cocopah Mountain range. After several weeks of unsuccessful searching, the party gave up. To the best of known records, the gold has not been found. With modern equipment, a good prospector has a chance of finding this cache. The location is in the Papago Indian Reservation. Permission to search will have to be obtained from the tribal council.
Although this story of a treasure site near Red Rock in Pinal County is part legend and fact, it is still worth investigating by an interested person.
FACT – According to an old newspaper clipping that I have, around 1910, near Red Rock, several Papago Indian children found some old rusty pearl heads, swords, and tools. They were identified as being of early Spanish origin. These artifacts were still in the University of Arizona in 1978.
LEGEND – A traditional story among the Papago Indians is that, over four hundred years ago, a group of men with white skin and blue eyes came to this area and lived with the Papagos on a large ranch that they, with the help of the Indians, built.
The enemies of this Indian tribe eventually killed all. During their stay, the strangers explained to the Indians their desire for the yellow metal. Over the years, a large quantity of gold was collected and concealed along an old trail, in a southwesterly direction, between present-day Red Rock and Silver Bell, Arizona.
It could very well pay a treasure hunter to learn exactly where the Spanish artifacts were found and also try to locate the old ranch site and the ancient road. Since all the white men were killed, the gold is still hidden in the area.
I pass this brief bit of information on so that anyone who might be interested can investigate it further. This quote by an Indian in 1960 is taken from a letter sent to me by a man still living in Arizona. (His name is withheld by request.)
“Long time ago, even before my great-great-grandfather’s time, Apache hid many loads of yellow metal in the tunnel on the banks of Gila, about San Pedro River. They dig big tunnels, put in clay, then a big pile of yellow pebbles. They bring pebbles from many places far away, so they hated iron hats (Spanish) not found. They put more yellow metal in holes on the burial grounds a long way up Gila on the north. Iron hats do not find yellow pebbles; they are still there.”
If this information is correct, then the tunnel location and the burial grounds are between Hayden and Christmas, Arizona, on the northeast side of the Gila River.
In 1872, a stagecoach from Prescott to Ft. Mohave, Arizona, was robbed of $72,000 by two men near Canyon Station, located about twelve miles from Kingman, on the Stockton Hill Road in Mohave County.
The story is that one of the robbers was killed by a sheriff’s posse. The second one was captured and sent to prison, where he died years later. Several attempts to find the money, which it was later learned had been buried near the holdup site, were unsuccessful.
In 1935, a man named Goodwill owned the property where the original station stood. One summer day, he saw an old man searching around the foundations of the old station. When he approached, the man told Goodwill that he had been in prison with an old man in the 1890s, who told him that he was one of the robbers and that the money had been buried near the station.
The man was given permission to search, but after several days he told Goodwill that the area had changed, and he could not find any landmarks the old robber had told him to locate.
While many have searched, it appears that the $72,000 is still hidden near the old Canyon Station Stage Stop.
This story of a lost cache of gold bullion worth approximately $125,000 is unusual in that the landmarks have been found, but the additional symbol telling the exact location of the cache has not.
The story of a hijacked load of gold bullion brought from Mexico to Arizona was told in the area of Safford, Arizona, for over ninety years before in 1903, when a man named George Swift discovered a triangle made of granite rocks at Snow Flat, on Mount Graham. When he found the triangle, Swift did not know the legend of the hijacked bullion.
When he learned the story, Swift returned to the triangle. As he knew the age of trees could be determined by the growth rings, he cut down a tree within the triangle and counted the rings, thus determining that the rocks had been placed there about 1830, the correct period when the bullion had been hijacked.
He then dug down several feet in the center of the triangle but found nothing.
After excavating in several different places, Swift decided that there had to be another marker signifying the exact position of the bullion. Still, in search, as he might, he was never able to locate the additional symbol.
According to several books on treasure symbols, putting more than one mark indicating a treasure site was quite common among the Spanish, French, and Indians when they concealed valuables.
The mystery of the triangle has never been solved. The odds are good that somewhere in Snow Flat, on Mount Graham, a fortune in gold bullion waits for someone who can locate a marker indicating this cache.
In April of 1884, Garvin Harmon of Boston hired a French scout named Jean Bouche to explore the eastern reaches of Arizona as part of an investment venture. Harmon planned to acquire prime valley land that would later be the site of towns, railroad rights-of-way, and good rangeland and might contain valuable mineral deposits.
Bouche traveled the southeastern portion of Arizona until late May and then headed north for Jaajo country. One day as he rode along in an especially rugged region, he heard low moans. He followed the sounds to the edge of a deep, narrow arroyo.
Below, in the arroyo, lay a badly injured youth. Bouche scrambled down the rocks, carrying his canteen and a rope. He first offered the youth water and then checked the extent of his injuries. The Indian had tumbled into the cleft and broken his left thigh and collarbone.
Bouche made a crude splint for the youth’s leg and then carried him down the arroyo until he could climb out with his burden. The Frenchman fashioned a sled, or travois, from nearby branches and his horse blanket and pulled the wounded Indian a few miles beyond the arroyo. Below he could see the squat hogans of a Navajo village, so he headed toward the village.
As Bouche rode in, Indians gathered around the travois and carried the boy to a large Hogan in the center of the village. Others took Bouche to another hut and kept him prisoner for several days. Bouche could speak a little of the Navajo dialect, but no one would speak to him.
About a week later, the Frenchman was brought from his hut and learned what had happened. The boy was the son of the chief. Because of Bouche’s merciful actions, he was now recovering nicely. The chief told Bouche he wished to repay him for his kindness.
A small band of Indians was assembled, and Bouche was blindfolded. He was helped onto his horse, and the party rode off and was later told to dismount. With the Indians guiding him, he climbed a long slope.
Finally, the ground leveled off, and Bouche felt the sudden coolness of the shade.
He smelled a dank, musty odor. When his blindfold was removed, he found himself in a cave, and what a cave it was!
The walls were heavily braided with veins of gold. The chief handed Bouche a large hide sack and told him to fill it with gold. When the sack was full, the Frenchman was again blindfolded. He was led back to his horse, the party returned to the village, and there he was released.
The chief thanked Bouche for his kindness but warned him that the debt he owed the Frenchman had now been paid in full. Bouche was warned never to return to find the cave of gold, or he would be killed.
The Frenchman rode westward, spreading his tale and showing the chunks of gold he had recovered from the cave. Though Bouche kept his word and never entered Navajo territory again, others did. But to the best of anyone’s knowledge, no one ever found the cave.
Charles Tully was one of those lucky people you hear about. When Estevan Ochoa needed cash to expand his business in 1863, Tully was taken in as a partner. The Tully and Ochoa Freight Company became the southwest’s most successful freighting company.
Tully and Ochoa wagons from Kansas City rumbled westward, carrying freight over the Santa Fe Trail and on into Arizona. They acquired government contracts to carry freight to army posts and Indian reservations throughout southern Arizona.
Both Tully and Ochoa amassed sizeable fortunes from their freight company. In addition, Tully ran a successful cattle spread along the San Luis wash, just above the Mexican border, roughly a dozen miles southwest of what is now Arivaca, Arizona.
Tully kept his money close at hand, hidden somewhere near his ranch house. When he died, Tully’s wealth was known to have amounted to $70,000 or more, but it could not be found. Wherever he hid his money, Tully did a good job of it, for many have looked for his fortune, but no one has unearthed it.
Tully’s daughter returned to the crumbling adobe ruins of the old ranch; some said to hunt for the money. But as far as it is known, the treasure is still where Tully hid it long ago.
In June of 1928, Earl Nelson and a man named Forrester robbed a bank in Clarkdale, Arizona. Forrester was killed during the getaway, and Nelson was captured and jailed, but he soon escaped. When recaptured later, he admitted he was trying to reach Stoneman Lake, a town about 45 miles south of Flagstaff, Arizona. Nelson said he and Forrester had hidden several thousand dollars from a previous crime near the town.
Treasure hunters of that era scoured the Stoneman Lake area, but as far as it is known, the loot was never found. An added inducement for modern treasure hunters is that Stoneman Lake was a favorite campsite on the military trail between Fort Apache and other forts to the west.
The Heintzelman mine, southwest of Tucson, Arizona, seemed cursed from the day fifteen men were buried in a cave-in. There was no way to recover the bodies, and the other miners felt the mine was haunted.
Indian attacks caused many of the miners to quit. Although mine manager John Poston had an additional problem: his Mexican miners were robbing him blind. Finally, in a desperate act designed to halt the theft, Poston executed his foreman, Juanito, when he caught him trying to smuggle a load of silver bullion.
But the cold-blooded act backfired. Instead of cutting down on the stealing as Poston had hoped, the killing of Juanito caused even more Mexicans to the desert, and as they left, they stole everything they could carry off.
The miners carried with them to Mexico the assertion that the stolen silver Juanito had been caught with was only a small part of the bullion he had buried near the mine. They said his hidden cache was worth $70,000.
Was the story of Juanito’s buried treasure true? There were outlaws in Mexico who believed it. For all their prying and hunting, the Mexican outlaw did not find Juanito’s silver. If Juanito buried it near the Heintzelman Mine, it must still be there today.
A hot summer wind blew along the railroad track as Walter Swan made his way toward the station house at Bisbee Junction. He had a part-time job handling freight for the railroad.
Topping a rise, he looked across the valley toward the depot. Something strange was happening. The train was halted at the station, and several men on horseback appeared to be milling around the freight car.
A robbery was in progress. Five men with drawn guns demanded that the guard surrender his shipment of payroll cash intended for the nearby Copper-Queen Mine at Bisbee. After a brief shouted conversation, one of the bandits fired, hitting the guard in the stomach.
Crumbling inside the car, the man cried, “Oh my God, boys, you don’t know what you have just done. This will follow you all the rest of your lives.” As the man lay bleeding, an argument ensued around the thieves.
Crawling closer for a better look, Swan caught snatches of the conversation. “I told you, no shooting,” one of the bandits said, firing his pistol at the offender.
The victim dropped from his saddle, dead. Horrified, Swan started to crawl away, fearing that his presence would also spell death for him.
As he did so, another volley of shots rang out, and a second bandit fell from his horse. Swan rolled into a nearby ditch and crawled to safety. Within minutes of the shootings, the remaining bandits had gathered as much loot as their horses could conveniently manage, and rode off toward Tombstone, a distance of some 30 miles.
With barely time for an investigation, the Bisbee Sheriff mounted a posse of enraged ranchers and miners and followed in the direction of the fleeing criminals. Even though the posse rode for almost two days, no signs of the bandits were found.
The search widened and spread across the state, but the thieves had made good their escape. It wasn’t until almost two years later that the remains of one of the holdup men were found a day’s ride from Bisbee Junction, and he had been shot in the head.
It appeared that a dispute over the distribution of the loot had ended with the killing of the third bandit. This left two men with three horses to carry the heavy gold shipment of several thousand dollars, enough to pay miners’ salaries at the Copper Queen.
While records of this incident are vague, it now seems apparent that more than $11,000 was involved, most of it in gold coins, a heavy commodity to carry on horseback.
Many have wondered about the loot and its final disposition. The last two bandits could have made good their escape and taken all the money. This now seems a remote possibility. The amount of gold was too heavy for five horses to spend much time with, especially if they also carried riders.
When the three bandits left the Junction, they had only one horse apiece, and these were being forced to the limit. Plus, they were carrying heavy sacks of gold coins and paper currency. How far could they have gone before the animals became winded? Possibly five or eight miles?
No one answering the description of the bandits was seen in Tombstone or Benson, so the men must have bypassed this population center. It was certainly impossible to carry all the money.
It would have attracted too much attention and been too heavy for a horse and rider to handle. The money, or at least some of it, probably lies buried less than 50 miles from present-day Bisbee.
Somewhere thirty miles southeast of Salome is a rich red clay ledge of gold.
A rancher in his pick-up truck was looking after his cattle when he was suddenly attracted to a red clay ledge not often found in that area. He got out of his vehicle and closely examined the ledge’s surface. Although not experienced in prospecting for gold, he noticed shining particles in the clay.
It was gold! He loaded enough red clay on his truck for panning and drove home. At home, he contacted an old friend and prospector to find out what he thought about the gold in the red clay samples.
The dirt panning brought enough gold to see that the rancher had found a real bonanza easily.
The rancher and his friend plan to return to the red clay gold deposit. In the meantime, the rancher had to travel to Colorado to close a land deal.
Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack while gone and left his friend without disclosing the exact location of the ledge of gold.
All of this happened just a few years ago. Hence the facts are quite fresh and accurate in the minds of the people who know about it. The prospector-friend of the deceased rancher attempted to locate the gold, but no other information was available.
One tale, little known by treasure enthusiasts, is told by the residents of Patagonia in Santa Cruz County, Arizona.
An ancient trail can be found about eight miles west of town and well into the mountainous terrain. It was built and used during the Spanish days. Its antiquity cannot be doubted, nor can its long disuse, for very old oak trees now grow in the trail.
The best conclusions which can be drawn today would indicate that the trail led from San Xavier del Bac (the old mission) toward California or outlying missions in the same general area.
Many years ago, an ex-soldier started digging a tunnel into one of the many cliffs which dot the area near the trail. He was a Negro, and at first, the occasional ranchers who ran across him believed he was mining.
Their curiosity aroused; cowboys who frequently rode through the area often stopped to see him.
One day the Negro saw a mountain goat near the tunnel. Probably fascinated at what the man was doing, the goat showed now fear and stared silently at the Negro. A superstitious man, he picked up his rifle and killed the animal.
Later he told the cowboys that the goat was a Spanish priest in disguise who had come to spy on him. He further related that the padre’s ghost was guarding a treasure buried there.
As the months passed, the Negro’s behavior became increasingly erratic. The ranchers became worried, believing that someday the man might shoot a cowboy under the delusion he was a Spanish ghost.
Several went to the Negro’s shack to bring him back to civilization for medical treatment. When they tried this, the Negro became violent and attacked one of the groups with a butcher knife. The rancher pulled his gun, and apparently, the Negro was killed accidentally or in self-defense. The place where the shooting occurred has since been known as Camp Loco and is on the ancient trail.
The story grew into a local legend. Many years ago, it tells, a mule train of Padres and Indians came over the trail and buried treasure to protect it from enemies. They built a room of rocks at the bottom of a high precipice and secreted their valuables there.
High on the cliff, they dug a tunnel and filled it with lime which was used to blast off the face of the cliff. Hundreds of tons of rock and earth tumbled on the rock house, burying it forever.
There are three signs that prove where the treasure is buried. On the east side of the canyon is a sheer cliff into which is carved a huge butterfly. It is unmistakable, with wings, an antenna, and a head. The head is pointed toward the treasure cliff.
The treasure site is in a little canyon; on one side is a tall, thin rock formation which, if imagination is used, will resemble a man standing with one arm stretched upward. The head of this formation also points toward the treasure. Still, a third clue exists in the form of a huge rock that resembles a man’s hand. This figure also points toward the treasure.
Several times in the last half-century, each of these representations has been sighted by travelers in the area. Unlike the legend, however, all three have not been located together, and no treasure has been found.
William Harrison Hardy, riverboat captain, merchant, prospector, miner, member of the Arizona Territorial Legislature, and county supervisor, started his life’s adventure in Colorado in 1864.
In this story, one prospecting trip was described by Hardy. It was published in the paper “Phoenix Graphic”, in 1899. It is about a mountain of silver.
This story of William Hardy starts on the morning of May 10, 1866, when he is sitting in front of his house in Hardyville. A team of wagons from California had just crossed the river, naturally on the ferry operated by Hardy. He started his story this way:
“A middle-aged man rode up to the house. He was mounted on a small horse, and a pack mule followed. I invited him to stop and eat dinner. After dinner was over, the man went to the corral and petted his animals. Toward the evening, he got out of his pack an old greasy sack and asked me to take a walk. The prospector, for such he was, took his sack of ore, and we went out behind the corral. He looked in every direction to see if anyone was near to hear our talk. We sat down on the ground and began to show me his find. He first showed me some lead ore and said he found it near the canyon of the Colorado.
The man then took out of the sack some silver ore that was at least half pure metal. He said this came from a mountain to the north, towards the mouth of the Little Colorado River, and the whole mountain was of such silver ore.”
Hardy continued his story:
“The sight of this silver ore got to me, and I was in for a trip to find it. I told the prospector that I would wait until morning. I then picked out two men. I told them the story, and they were in for the trip at once. I consulted the latest maps and found that all the country north of us was unexplored, and at least 500 miles of the Colorado River was not located on the maps. We were determined to explore it. I set to work the next morning. We had six mules and one horse, three of the mules were packed with kegs, so as to pack water if need be and started out early. The third day out we reached Peach Springs, about 80 miles form the start. This was as far as we had knowledge of the country. Here we found a half-breed Indian and Mexican, who knew the country and would guide us. About 4 o’clock in the afternoon we reached a small spring, afterwards called Pine Springs. The next morning we got off early, as our guide said it was a long way to water, and we reach it by 5 o’clock. At daybreak all hands were up. A half mile along the foot of the mountain we found a tank of water. Here we camped and decided to prospect three days. I climbed to the top of the mountain, and with field grass I could see the banks of the Little Colorado River for many miles to the east as well as the banks of the Colorado River.”
With his companions, Hardy prospected, using hammers, drills, and even powder. However, this mountain failed to be the mountain of silver the prospector had told him about. Suddenly, they had a feeling of being followed by Indians, so they turned back.
Now Hardy knew they had made the right decision not to proceed in their search for the mountain of silver. Hardy came to the end of his story:
“At this point, five Indians appeared who had been following the mules. We took a shot at them. Two of them fell, and the others ran back. We kept right on course and four days later reached home. After this prospecting adventure in searching for the mountain of silver, Hardy lost his interest in long trips. The mountain of silver, somewhere toward the mouth of the Little Colorado River, remains undiscovered.”
The following is the story of Precillano Ruiz, his gold and silver mine, his murder in 1889, and his fortune of $50,000 in gold and silver, which still lies hidden in a cache.
Precillano Ruiz and his brother, Agustin, were placer miners and prospectors residing near old Tucson, Arizona, during the early settlement of that area. The Ruiz brothers were well-respected citizens around Tucson and in the San Pedro Valley.
It is known that Precillano Ruiz had made several visits to his home in Sonora before and after the death of his brother, displaying large buckskin sacks filled with gold, claiming his discovery was made near Wickenburg. Suddenly, Precillano mysteriously disappeared, and residents in the Wickenburg area assumed he had been killed while returning from Wickenburg to his claim.
Later, an article in a newspaper stated that a Mexican camping near the “Slim Jim Gulch” had been murdered. Information was learned that proved that the murdered man was Precillano.
At the same time, this murder came to light; it was also learned that Precillano had extracted and accumulated gold and silver in the amount of $50,000, which, for safety reasons, he kept hidden in a cache in or near his mine. Later events led to the belief that Precillano had been murdered to gain possession of his valuable mine.
There is no evidence to this day that this fortune has been found. The area where Precillano Ruiz left his cache of gold and silver is in the immediate location of many rich discoveries of precious metals.
In 1882 the railroad construction reached the Kingman area and pushed ahead toward Topock, on the Colorado River. Hundreds of people worked for the railroad, living in a camp. This camp was moved from place to place as miles of the new railroad bed was completed.
At the time of the robbery, the railroad camp was located in the present town of Yucca, which became one of the railroad stations. The railroad workers were paid in coins every few months, and naturally, the payroll day was known to the workers and the people living in the area.
A gang of three men executed a daring and successful robbery of the payroll money. These men had lived in the area for some time, and one had made his residence at the La Cienega station to elude the posse in pursuit. The other two robbers made a getaway in the opposite direction, and the posse lost their trail.
The man with the loot was attempting to reach his home at La Cienega, hide the money, then play cool, pretending to know nothing about the robbery. Somehow, the posse found his trail and even picked up a few coins he had dropped along the trail to La Cienega.
The man had enough time to get to La Cienega and hide the loot. However, he was caught nearby the posse on the way to La Castaneda Wells station and brought back to the adobe station building. The posse questioned him about the loot, which was not found when he was caught.
They confronted him with coins found on the road very close to La Cienega station. The posse very likely used physical persuasion, and finally, the robber confessed that he had hidden the loot in the kitchen. The preliminary search for the loot proved to be unsuccessful.
The posse then took the robber back to Yucca.
On the way, the robber tried to escape but was killed during his brief attempt to gain freedom. This robber was the only one who knew the exact location of the hidden payroll. He was expecting to join his two companions later and divide the loot.
The payroll money remains hidden near or at the La Cienega station. The kitchen was torn apart, and the floor area was dug six feet deep, but no money was ever found. It is believed that the robber did not have too much time to hide the loot, but he had lived at the La Cienega station for some time and knew the immediate area very well.
The ranch is still known as La Cienega Ranch, and sometimes it is called the Seventeen Mile Ranch, supposedly so because the distance to this station from the one at Yucca was seventeen miles. As far as it is known, this payroll has never been found.
In Arizona Territory, rugged King Woolsey was a man to be reckoned with. In 1880, a party of men under Woolsey’s command discovered a gold ledge on Camp Creek, north of Phoenix. They had just been through a skirmish with a bunch of Apaches who had vanished suddenly. When they were sure that the danger was passed, the group of Indian fighters made camp in Squaw Hollow, about ten miles south of Bronco Canyon.
It wasn’t long before a few seasoned prospectors in the group commented that it looked like a good country for prospecting, and the hunt was on. The group fanned out and started searching. One by one, the men straggled back to camp empty-handed, except for one excited man who carried his hat filled with hunks of gold-bearing quartz. It took a while before the man calmed down enough to say that there was a great deal of the ore in an exposed ledge.
The ore was passed around from man to man, and the gold fever was at a high pitch when one of the men noticed movement. It was the Apaches. They had only retreated to gather more warriors to sneak back and attack the Woolsey party with a stronger force. This time the whites were badly outnumbered, and all thoughts of the rich, gold-bearing quartz were driven from their minds.
Once back in a civilized country, the Indian fighters split up and went their separate ways, but to a man, they kept the existence of the gold ore a secret. One of the Indian fighters did return to the area of Squaw Hollow to hunt for the ledge of gold.
It was only when he was sure that he couldn’t locate it again that he made his story known, and since he was a reputable citizen, there was no reason to doubt what he told about the incident. The man was Judge J. T. Alsap, and his story begins when he feels it is finally safe enough to venture into the Camp Creek country.
He made a base camp at Creek, and from there, he roamed over the surrounding country, searching for the ledge of gold-bearing quartz. However, he could not find the gold.
An elderly shepherd, several years after Alsap’s unsuccessful hunt for the ledge of gold, camped in Squaw Hollow while moving his flocks down from the higher mountains to the milder climate of the Salt River Valley. A prospector was grinding ore by hand with a pestle and mortar.
It was a tedious process but a profitable one. In later years, the sheepherder crossed Squaw Hollow several times, but he never saw the prospector again. He found the tailings near where the prospector had ground the ore, but he had no idea where the prospector had obtained the ore.
Squaw Hollow is easily reached and is situated about 40 miles northeast of Phoenix. It’s a heavily mineralized country, so there’s a chance of finding ore, but the land is also covered with dense thickets, which are almost impossible to walk through.
Camp Creek cuts its way across the land, beginning roughly 10 miles from Horseshoe Dam, emptying into the Verde River about four miles southwest of Bartlett Dam.