||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
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
For more information, visit http://emol.org/flintcarter