The Mine with the Iron Door Legends

By Robert Zucker

There are at several different locations around the U.S. that have reported iron door mine legends. There is one in Oklahoma, one in California, [1] two in New Mexico, one in Oregon, [2] Kansas City, Missouri and the Santa Catalina Mountains.

The Lost Cave With the Iron Door in the Wichita Mountains near Lawton, Oklahoma contained $11 million in Spanish gold ingots and doubloons. The entrance was closed off by a heavy iron door and insde were the skeletons of 17 Indians who guarded the treasure. A strange twist to the story involves outlaw Jesse James who is said to have stored two thousand dollars of loot in the cave. Other stories suggest that Belle Starr stored $500,000 in the cave. [3] [4] The rumors drove so many prospectors to those mineral hills in 1897 that soldier from nearby Fort Sill had to eject them. Even though the mountains are heavily guarded by Indians, “some day some one will strike it rich.” [5]

The lost Iron Door mine in the Catalinas, was also called the Escalante mine. [6] The Indians may have actually called it a “strong door– for a heavy wooden door.” When the white man came, it became corrupted to “Iron Door.” [7]

The Mine with the Iron Door legend is basically the same in all instances. In the 1700s and on, the Jesuit missionaries were linked to mining operations. The mines were guarded with large doors, reportedly made of iron or wood.

Next: 1880: The Mine With the Iron Door and the Nine Mile City

[1] “Iron Door Mine,” Sierra County, California, USA, “Commodities (Major) Gold)”,

[2] “Iron Door Mine,” Rye Valley District (Morman Basin District), Oregon.

[3] Interview with Roy Roush, treasure hunting author, from his treasure files. 2014.

[4] “Lost Cave With the Iron Door,” from “Classic American Ghost Stories: 200 Years of Ghost Lore from the Great Plains, New England, the South and the Pacific Northwest,” edited by Deborah L. Downer, August House, 1990. Page 85.

[5] “Ejecting Prospectors,” The Guthrie Daily Leader, Guthrie, Oklahaoma. February 28, 1897.

[6] See index references to John D. Mitchell who popularized the Escalante name.

[7] From the San Bernardino County Sun, December 29, 1932.

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