Growing up in Arizona, I think at some point we all heard about the famed Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine. The stories and potential fortunes just waiting to be discovered are enticing, as well as the hope for an easier life. Since we are all familiar with the story of the Lost Dutchman, today we’re going to look at some lesser known fortunes hiding somewhere in the state. You never know, one may be hiding in your backyard.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Roy Gardner's train robbery loot may lay hidden near Flagstaff.
A lifelong criminal, Gardner was a well-known train robber from the early twentieth century and finally got caught in 1920. After his arrest, escape, and another arrest, Gardner attempted to tell the authorities where his loot was stashed. However, he led them on a wild goose chase and admitted that he “forgot” where he hid the money.
Some people believe that approximately $16,000 of an estimated $250,000 in stolen money is sitting somewhere near or within one of the extinct volcanoes in Flagstaff.
2. Stolen bullion from the Cerro Colorado Mine lay somewhere between the mine and the Cerro Colorado Mountains.
The Cerro Colorado Mine, which sits a little less than 20 miles from the Arizona-Mexico border, produced mostly silver but also small amounts of gold, lead, and copper. According to a
2014 article in the Arizona Daily Star
, the mine also experienced a fair amount of banditry which includes approximately $70,000 in bullion (precious metal bars) stolen and hidden. They lay hidden away in Cerro Chiquito, a small mountain that sits across from the mine entrance.
3. A vast silver mine might be hidden near Tumacacori Mission since the 18th century.
When the Spanish first arrived in the Americas, their primary goal was to reap new resources from the land, including gold and silver. As they expanded their conquest into what is now Mexico and Arizona, missions were founded and the indigenous peoples were used mine those minerals.
One such mine was the Opata Mine, which lies somewhere near the Tumacacori Mission. Sounding like something out of an Indiana Jones film, the story basically goes that the Franciscans sealed off the rich silver mine after witnessing their “workers” attempt to sacrifice a woman inside. Although unlikely to actually exist, it is possible the facts were skewed and that an abandoned mine may sit somewhere in the area.
4. Bronco Bill's stolen Wells Fargo booty might be stashed away near Solomon.
Another Old West outlaw, Bronco Bill was pretty well-known for robbing trains and stagecoaches in his heyday, focusing on Wells Fargo shipments between 1894 and 1897. During this time, Bronco Bill and his gang stole an unknown amount of money. Whatever amount they did manage to take, the story goes that the gang hid the money away somewhere near Solomon (then known as Solomonville) which sits a couple miles east of Safford.
The odd part of the story that seems to refute its truth? After Bronco Bill was released from prison in 1917, he never returned to the area to reclaim his treasure. Perhaps he got wind of someone else from his gang taking it? Or perhaps it never existed. We will never truly know.
5. A robbery at Canyon Station may mean a mound of gold coins may sit near Kingman.
Other than the traces of this story, not a whole lot remains of Canyon Station: just the bare bones of the old stage station sit at the foothills of the Cerbat Mountains. But back in 1873, a stagecoach robbery took place near the station where two men stole the strongbox holding a good fortune of gold coins that were en route to Fort Mohave.
Since the robbers didn't stand much of a chance of running away with a heavy chest on their own, the rumor is they stashed the box away somewhere not far off from the station, buried somewhere in the foothills of the Cerbat Mountains. The two men were never able to return to their loot; one died upon getting caught by authorities and the other died while an inmate at Yuma Territorial Prison.
6. Stolen outlaw treasure hides in southeastern Arizona near “Davis Mountain.”
We've read a lot about robbers getting away with money from stagecoaches and trains but what about from their fellow criminals? It happened. One story goes that some outlaws took money from a bank in Monterrey and valuables from a church in Matamoras, Mexico then began heading northwest. However, the robbers were robbed as they traveled through Skeleton Canyon and these folks hid the treasure a little further off near Davis Mountain. As usual, they never made it back.
It turns out that Davis Mountain, as the bandits called it, exists somewhere near the Arizona-New Mexico border but by another name. Their description for how to get to the site is lengthy (
you can read it here
) and about what you would expect from a pirate map with paces and landmark descriptions.
7. The loot from stagecoach robberies is hidden near the ghost town Gillette.
Mining and milling towns were known to be the homes of less than savory people, including plenty looking for quick cash. The same went for Gillette, a former milling town that is now a ghost town that barely exists between Black Canyon City and New River. Back in the town's hey day in the early 1880s, a local blacksmith named Henry Seymour supplemented his income with robbing stagecoaches, gaining a pretty big fortune that he hid near town. He eventually got caught and was hauled off to prison but never returned for his treasure.
8. A buried treasure and gold mine lay in the shadows of the Estrella Mountains.
The Estrella Mountains are certainly a treasure in themselves but there's a story that more monetary wealth is hidden inside. A man named Don Joaquin led an informal mining operation in the area in the 1840s, hoping to find gold in the mountains' hills. He finally lucked out and was able to extract somewhere around 3,000 pounds of gold.
However, when the U.S. Army began patrolling the area, Don Joaquin and his crew packed up and began heading back towards Mexico but not without hiding the treasure first in a small box canyon cave nearby. Greed, though got the best of Don Joaquin's crew because they later murdered him and took off back to Mexico but without the treasure.
Don't get your hopes up too high though. It is entirely possible the story was made up by author John D. Mitchell, perhaps to pad his treasure hunting book. But, who knows, gold may actually be hiding there.
9. Montezuma and his treasure somehow made their way from present-day Mexico City to Casa Grande.
There's two stories here. One goes that Spanish conquistadors kidnapped Montezuma (an Aztec leader) and demanded a ransom for his return. Instead, the Aztecs took to hiding their treasures everywhere, including in a cave near the Casa Grande Ruins. Another story says that Montezuma anticipated Spanish invasion and directed his city's treasures be hidden until they were able to rid themselves of the Spaniards.
However, both of these stories are highly unlikely. As the Spaniards moved deeper into the Americas and into Mexico, they eventually invaded present-day Mexico City, then known as Tenochtitlan. Its leader, Moctezuma (often spelled Montezuma) was taken prisoner in his own home and was killed shortly afterwards. The likelihood that his people would have traveled over 1,400 miles to hide treasure? Probably not very high.
10. Long Tom's gold sits behind a waterfall in the Grand Canyon.
In 1910, a man named Long Tom Watson stumbled across an abandoned cabin where he found a number of papers, including directions to hidden gold. Tempted to find a large amount of wealth, Long Tom attempted to hike to the the hidden loot, described as buried behind a waterfall inside the Grand Canyon. Eventually, he came across a waterfall near Horse Thief Trail and found gold nuggets galore.
Unfortunately, Long Tom broke his leg as he prepared to leave and had to leave his gold behind. After he recovered from his injury, he attempted looking for the treasure again but was unable to find it.
So, do any of these stories sound plausible to you? If you know of any other similar stories, let us know by sharing them in the comments.