||By William "Flint" Carter
In the late 19th Century, the city of Tucson, Arizona was quietly developing on the south side of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
The famed Wild West show entertainer William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody walked 150 miles on the north side of the Catalinas and surveyed mining deposits that would forever tie him to the legends of gold and silver stories that today continue to grow.
Little did Cody know that after his death the origin of the tales he had heard would be connected to the world’s largest land treasure of over 100 tons of gold and more.
Being a prudent businessman the rich mines were a solid investment and if the treasure was real or not did not matter to Cody. For years the rich mines in the Catalinas paid off and the treasure was focused there.
In the next few decades after Cody’s death in 1917 more of the story comes to light. The first motion picture filmed in Sonora (Variety’s “Motion Picture of the Year,” 1924) was filmed at the mines and later would be redone four times over the next six decades (the 3rd being the “Secret of Treasure Mountain”). The fictional stories were based on facts in history.
The records of lost or stolen productions from the mines over centuries tallied quite a pile.
No one knows exactly how much was extracted from these mines except the natives who lived there and watched the plunder of nature’s treasures. The natives also knew all of the trails, the water holes and the caves in the area.
In 1901, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show and Geronimo attended the World Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y. Supposedly he told Cody that he knew of a cave with five million dollars in gold. Geronimo would show it to him if him and his people could go back to their lands.
We don’t know if Cody ever got directions to that cave. Later, Geronimo drew a map to the cave on the inside of a shirt while in jail for drunkenness. Like the cave, that shirt disappeared.
For almost four generations, the bloody battles had amassed tons and tons treasures. All of which was of no value to the natives who were being slaughtered for the gold or their hair.
For the next seven decades, acts of Congress, and millions of dollars and years of excavation yielded yet a larger mystery!
William F. Cody spent over a decade mining in these gold fields near Tucson and helped found the town of Oracle near his mines. Unfortunately, much of his involvement was covered up after his death because his wife’s best friend in the area, a very wealthy woman, was angry with him. The treasure lost its reputation mired in legal morass.
The many stories, now fiction or fact, remain the center of a ongoing saga of the Old West and the world’s largest land treasure!
For more information, visit http://emol.org/flintcarter