Guide to Gold and Buried Treasure: Treasure Mountain, Colorado Part 1
About a group of French miners int he San Juan Mountains of Colorado who buried gold there, information and history of the search for the lost treasure.
OBSCURE CACHES: II
Treasure Mountain, Colorado
Gold worth anywhere from $5 million to $40 million was buried by French miners in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado in the late 18th century.
How It Got There. Tales of incredibly rich gold mines being worked by the Spanish began to drift out of the west with the French fur traders in the late 18th century. Since the French felt that they had a claim on the area themselves, they sent a party from New Orleans to find out what all the excitement was about.
The French party finally reached the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, and was amazed to find them even richer than they were rumored to be. The French set up camp and began working their 1st rich strike, without bothering to look up the Spanish.
The size of the French party and the amount of gold its members mined is in dispute, but everyone seems to agree that they buried all their gold to keep it from falling into the hands of the Spanish or the Indians.
The fields were so rich that the French changed their plans and stayed on through the 1st winter, though it got so cold and the snow was so deep that mining was impossible. They wintered in what is now Taos, N. Mex., and returned to their mines in the spring. They continued this pattern for several years, until finally trouble struck.
Trouble came in the form of Indian raids. Perhaps the Arapahoe Indians began their raids because the French were friendly with the Utes, who were traditional enemies of the Arapaho. Perhaps the Spanish put them up to it because of complaints from the senoritas in Taos about the Frenchmen's "love 'em and leave 'em" ways. Perhaps it was because the Spaniards had learned just how rich the French mines were, and had decided that they didn't want anyone else making off with that much gold. Whatever the reason, the French forces were soon decimated. The survivors decided to conceal their gold and seek safety.
Some accounts claim that the French had 3 hiding places for their gold. Others say that they dug a single shaft into the bedrock of Treasure Mountain, a tunnel full of death traps. They also dug a well nearby, according to this tale, and put a map showing the gold's location in a bottle, and dropped it to the bottom of the well. Trees in the area were marked with arrows pointing to the shaft concealing the gold.
The small French party suffered more Indian attacks during their flight, and only one man--Remy Ledoux, the party's leader--survived. When he straggled into a French trading post on the Missouri River and spilled out his tale of fantastic riches in the mountains to the west, his countrymen scoffed. It was too much to believe!
Political turmoil in France made matters even more complicated. Napoleon was on his way to having himself named Emperor, and local French officials had more important things to worry about than tales of buried gold. The treasure was all but forgotten.
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