In The Desert
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This is a very brief history of Montezuma, his treasure in the desert, and how it came to be. Montezuma ruled the Aztec people and conquered other people in southern Mexico and Central America to increase his wealth and food supply. Early in 1519 the Spaniard's showed up on the coast of Mexico looking for gold and also to convert the natives to Christianity. They moved inland to the capitol city of Tenochtitlan. They were surprised and said that they had never seen such a great city as Tenochtitlan anywhere in the world. This great city of the Aztecs is mostly buried under the buildings and streets of Mexico City today. At this time there are over 300,000 people living in Mexico City. More info on Montezuma can be found HERE
At first the Aztecs thought Hernan Cortez was their sun god Quetzalcoatl. It was a prophecy that he would return to the Aztec people. Montezuma gave gifts of gold and silver to Cortez. Of course this made the Spanish more excited about finding treasure and one year later ended the reign of Montezuma and ended the Aztec empire. During this time Cortez was temporarily run out of Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs. The Aztecs were directed by one of their priests to take the gold and silver artifacts and hide them -- the big question is, where? Some say they were told to take the wealth and head South to hide it. Others believe it was deposited in the lake surrounding the city. And still others think they headed North to hide it. The lake is unlikely as parts of it have been dug up and nothing was found. The Spanish conquered the lands south of the city and it was never found according to their records. That leaves us with North. But how far North?
So where in the desert is this fabulous treasure horde? Some options below----
This story was brought to light in 1914 by Freddy Crystal when he came to Johnson Canyon just North of Kanab, Utah. He had photos of petroglyphs from Mexico that to him indicated that the treasure was located there in some caves found in the area. The local inhabitants of Kanab spent a great deal of time digging out cave entrances in this area to locate the treasure. None was ever found. It was said that they found a skelton and few artifacts (not verified) and some strange markings on the rocks near and in the caves. They also found stairs cut into the sandstone leading to a cave, similar to stairs made by the Anasazi people. After a while they gave up their treasure hunt. People today still search out this area to see if they'll be the lucky ones. At one time the BLM threatened to close the caves, citing them as dangerous.
Later in the late 1980's, Grandt Child came up with another location that he believed was the real location of the treasure. On a chain of 3 lakes right next to Rt. 89 above Kanab he spent time scuba diving and it was said that his divers found a man made cavern. The story goes that the divers were having a hard time breathing and had to surface after 2 attempts, never to return. Several local people have also said this is not true and in fact they never found a cavern at all. Later the plan was to drain the lake, but this was not allowed because of a snail that lives only in this water system. Another attempt was made to drill into the cavern. This was also unsuccessful. And there are also contraditions to this story as well. These locations are based on the unsubstantiated beliefs of 2 men. Of course you can make up your own mind.
Location Map for the above ---
The Grand Canyon plays a role in Montezuma's treasure too. In 1867 James White ended up in the Mormon settlement of Rioville (now called Junction) after drifting down through the Grand Canyon. He was escaping from an Indian attack on the upper Colorado River. On his miserable journey down through the Grand Canyon he stopped and found a cave (still not located) that contained a lot of gold, silver and jem stones. Later it was decided that this must be the location of Montezuma's treasure. Nobody believed this story.
Later a prospector with a broken leg was found by a Piute Indian and his wife and nursed back to health. The prospector saved the life of the Piute's wife and was then considered a brother. He was shown a fabulously wealthy cave on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon (maybe the same one James White found?) and was allowed by the Indian to bring some of the gold artifacts out of the cave.The story goes that he made at least $15,000 for this new found wealth. Of course they blind folded him so he could never find the cave again. He settled in the area and never did find the cave again. Now the area where this cave is supposed to be located is very near the junction of two rivers, the Colorado and the Virgin River. All the stories written about these two adventures and the finding of the cave in this area have left out a major fact. Since the time this happened the Hoover dam was built. This in all probability leaves us with a cave that is now under the waters of Lake Mead. See the map below ----
Junction of the Colorado River and the Virgin River today (yellow X)
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