In The Desert
Santa Isabel, Mission
The story behind the mission: (See the photos below)
The Jesuit order of the Catholic Church had for over 70 years defied incredible physical odds in establishing a foothold in Baja California as well as the rest of the Southwest. They had established 15 to 17 known missions (depending on who's account you read) with the help of soldiers and of course Indian slave labor. Another thing that confused the issue is the fact that they moved 3 missions to different locations. They also had "visita" missions in the southern part of Baja.
But their power in the New World was their ultimate downfall. It inspired the stories (some true) about their real objective in the New World. It was supposed to be to save souls by converting the natives to Catholicism. Most of their agenda had more to do with wealth for the Jesuits. They used the natives as labor in the mines and to build the missions.
One of Spain's leaders, Jose de Galvez was sent to the New World to check up on the Jesuits -- he distrusted them from the start. He thought they mismanaged potentially rich missions, and used them and the people (natives, soldiers) as bases and tools to secretly hoard a great wealth of pearls, silver, and gold. This is how a lot of treasure stories got started.
One of the stories told was of Jesuit padres in Ca. sending a large shipment of illegal wealth to a Venetian merchant in Cadiz, Spain. This was the first story that the court in Madrid heard that started the mistrust of the Jesuits. In those days the Jesuits were supposed to give the Spanish 5th to Spain which was supposed to include 1/5 of everything they got in the way of wealth and give it to Spain. Like a tax. Of course the heads of the Spanish Court didn't think this was the case.
Apparently the King didn't believe they were being honest and he thought he'd teach them a lesson. In 1768 he expelled the Jesuits from the provinces of New Spain (as it was called then). Of course the Jesuits had spy's that told them what was going to happen and when; so they hid all their wealth so they could at a later date come back and retrieve their riches. They never made it back. The Dominican Order of priests came over to the New World and took over, but it was too late, most of the wealth had already been hidden.
So where did all this wealth go to. This has been the big question in hundreds of treasure stories through out the New World.
So this is where the real story begins -----
Every weekend a very wealthy neurosurgeon from Los Angeles got in his plane and flew down to his hacienda in Guymas on the mainland. He flew by visual, not instruments, so he flew down the Baja peninsula till he got to his landmark for his turn to the East by South to take him across the Sea of Cortez and to Guymas. On one such trip that started out uneventful he was flying low over the beaches thinking how nice an area this would be for a home to be built when he noticed a rectangle in the soft sand a short distance off the beach. After circling several times he decided he could land on the hard sand beach next to the water -- it was low tide.
After landing he struggled through the soft sand to get to the rectangular outline in the sand thinking it was probably nothing. And when seen up close it did look like an old adobe structure that had never been finished, what's new he thought, they're all over Baja. Since he'd come down to get a look he jumped into the edge of the building. It was worn down and rounded. If it hadn't been for the shape from the plane you wouldn't know it was there. He looked a little closer and saw something that looked like golden flecks in the adobe. Thinking it wasn't much he was going to get going, then at the last minute went back to the plane and found a screw driver in the small toolbox on board and went back to the adobe walls. He started digging at the wall and low and behold it was full of particles that looked like small pea sized gold nuggets. Now what to do? He took off his socks and filled one with the gold. He was getting tired out in the heat so he left and went to his home in Guymas. He flew back to L.A. with the sock hidden in his suitcase. Thinking the next time he'd take a pick and stop for a longer time and try to figure out a way to bring more back. This was like a great adventure to him!
This story was given to me first hand, and I know it is true. He got busy and couldn't go back for a month and in the interim there had been a series of bad storms that came up the Sea of Cortez and yes you guessed it; he couldn't find the outline again no matter how much he looked. The shifting sands covered it up! But no big deal --- did you read the above, he was very successful at what he did and really didn't need the money anyway; it was more of a novelty to him. He did say that the area where it was had no roads close to the shore line. and showed me where his flight plan would've taken him each time he went down there. Here's the map with an approximate flight path, can't find the original but this is close. Also in Red are the suspected areas for search that I came up with, although he said it was near to his turn to the East.
He is deceased now from a bad motorcycle accident in Susanville, Ca. He was decapitated. This is why I feel I can relate the story to others now.
The map showing the flight plan ---
Here is one of the first missions in Baja and this is in top condition to this day, We photographed it on one of our many trips down there. Some of the old missions today are hard to find because there is hardly anything left of them; maybe just a few rocks where the foundations were. This mission is in the town of Loreto below the search area. The Santa Isabel was never intended to be finished; only the foundation for storage of the vast amount of gold they hoarded.
If nothing else, going down is an adventure in itself. There are so many beautiful spots along the coast, and inland also. We even found geysers just behind the town at Gonzaga Bay and a lot of run off from the geysers that was mineralized. Nice stuff.
Here's hoping your search ends as beautifully as ours did -
Content including photographs are Copyright © 2013 - Present - Don & Linda Gilmore
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This photo is of Gonzaga Bay at sunrise. Taken by Linda. The beaches below Gonzaga Bay deserve some close scrutiny. So much to do......
Take a trip to Gonzaga Bay HERE