Did you find what you were looking for prospector?
The deserts of the American southwest have long been the discussion of lost mines and buried treasures. For hundreds of years, man has scoured the desert floor searching for any signs of the countless tales of lost riches. Some have claimed to have found the elusive treasures but only to be lost again, while others grew old or died trying. None the less, the legends live on as they are passed down from generation to generation. Maybe you will be the lucky one...
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ARIZONA -- Lost Soapmaker
By Anthony J. Pallante
From page 50 of the February 2002 issue of Lost Treasure magazine. Copyright © 2002, 2001 Lost Treasure, Inc.
The Tinajas Atlas, or High Tanks area at the southern end of the Gila
Mountains near the Arizona-Mexico line is named for the natural rock
tanks that trapped rain water from the infrequent but violent desert
thunder storms. In 1855 a party from Mexico City headed for the
California gold fields stopped to camp and rest at the Tinajas Atlas
for a couple of days after completing the arduous trek across El Camino
Del Diablo from Caborca. During the rest break the horses were lightly
hobbled and allowed to graze freely. When the prospectors were ready to
proceed on into Yuma, the two guides that the group had hired through
the auspices of a wealthy German soapmaker in Caborca set out to
retrieve the stock. While accomplishing this task, the guides
accidentally dislodged the over burden on a steep butte and exposed a
rich vein of gold in “rotten sugar quartz.” The guides cut a few
samples with their knives and returned to the mining party as if
nothing had happened.
After setting the group on the road to
Yuma, they returned to Caborca seeking a grubstake from the soapmaker.
The soapmaker was only too happy to oblige. He gave the guides a pack
train of mules complete with leather ore sacks, tools, and food. They
gave him the gold samples and a crude map and headed back to Tinajas
Atlas. They were never seen or heard from again. The soapmaker
organized a second expedition but could find no trace of the mine.
In 1922 the fire chief of Yuma befriended an ancient Papago Indian who
told him that as a young boy he had been with a party of Indians who
had killed the guides at the mine site and then caused an avalanche of
overburden from further up the hill that buried the miners and their
mine. The Indians took the mules and horses but never returned to the
site because of the spirits of the two dead miners. The Papago told the
fire chief that the mine site was one day’s ride (by Model T) out of
Yuma in the vicinity of Tinajas Atlas and offered to guide him there.
The fire chief agreed and set aside three days for the complete trip,
but the Indian disappeared in the interim and was never seen again.
When the fire chief had the ore samples that the old Papago had left
with him assayed, the report came back $80,000 per ton at 1922 prices.
The chief and many others searched the area between Tinajas Atlas and
Tule Well for years afterwards, but the mine — now called the Lost
Soapmaker — has never been found.
Please Note: It is the responsibility of the treasure hunter to gain permission before detecting.
-Anthony J. Pallante