Aug 02, 2012, 08:54 PM
Check my reasoning on this....
Hi All, I live in an area where there are many lost mine tales, and the details of one of them have intrigued me. I am dealing with a creek canyon running north-south, with a high granite western wall of a couple thousand feet in height. Supposedly a tunnel was there very long ago, and the tale goes that is was very shallow (around 6 to 8 feet deep) and "the daylight was good all the way to the back of it, and it went underground on a slight upraise". This tunnel was discovered late on a September afternoon according to the story.
So I have a couple of problems/questions with this story, assuming it has any truth to it at all:
First, on this western canyon wall in the late afternoon, most of it is covered in shadow. Which makes one wonder how the sunlight could be going all the way to the back of a tunnel with its portal on this wall (facing east). Does that mean direct light, or just that ambient light was good enough to light the tunnel its whole, short length? If direct light, that would narrow the search area significantly, since only very small portions of the canyon from center westward are in direct sunlight in the late afternoon.
Second, exactly what is meant by the phrase "and it went underground on a slight upraise"? Does that mean there was a grade inside the tunnel going up from the portal to the back? Many shallow drifts in the area were done this way to minimize drainage issues. But it could also mean the opening to the tunnel was on the side of a small mound, or "upraise".
Please sound off on what you think about this.
The tale ends with the mine being covered intentionally by Indians, so it is supposedly no longer in plain sight. But if the time of day of discovery is accurate, and I can determine what is meant by the last half of that quote from the story, I could narrow down the search area enough to explore it on my upcoming vacation in late August.
Aug 02, 2012 08:54 PM
Aug 03, 2012, 12:04 AM
Me thinks that all such lost mine tales .... are just that: Tales. They're a dime-a-dozen. But we want seeeooo hard to believe them "lest we be left out" of fabulous riches. And everything in the tale must be true, .... because afterall, it's in print. Heck, the mere fact that the tale says "It has been reported that ...." means that ... that too.... must be true. Throw in a few old newspaper clipping photos, and a picture of a miner posed next to a burro, and presto, it's gospel fact.
Originally Posted by UncleMatt
Metal detecting is my one worldy vice!
Aug 03, 2012, 10:24 AM
I deal in reality
If the sun was shining in it late in the afternoon, it is in the EAST WALL of the canyon. You should have told us what story you are talking about. I bet some one here on T Net has already checked it out. Heck, It has already been in print, It's no secret!
Aug 03, 2012, 11:04 AM
UncleMatt, if this is in the Durango area there are several authentic gold sites. One is Parrot Peak, over 11,000 ft and another at
Mayday on the La Plata River. Just south of Sliderock Mtn $60,000 in highrade gold nuggets were hidden in a clump of spruce
on a small bench of hillside. Very shallow, hand dug in leaf mold.
On your question do you have the location down to explore?
Aug 03, 2012, 04:45 PM
Thanks all, I am well aware of the likelihood of "authentic" tales being out there. And I know about the Falls Creek high-grade cache tale that lastleg posted about. You don't grow up in the Durango areas with as many miners and outdoorsmen in your family as I have and not know about most of the tales in the area. I have hiked Parrot Peak many times looking for the Lost Venison Load and the Lonewolf vein.
But I was referring to the old Spanish mine tale from the upper Shu-ah-Gauche river. And yes, I know the sun shines on the east side in the late afternoon. That was my point: how can it be shining through a portal on the west side if the sun is only shining on the east side?
However, Temple Cornelius was an amazing man who lived in the area, and raised a family here, and had some credibility among the white settlers, the Indians, and the Hispanic populations in the area. While I am sure he cashed in on the lost treasure craze of the 60's-70's with his books, I also think he learned of things no one else was equipped to learn. I will be vacationing up in the mountains there anyway, so thought it would be fun to track this one down. My main goal will be to find the white, lima bean rock that supposedly was placed in a crevice at a campsight below the mouth of Rock Creek by Phil Prouty. If that is there, perhaps there is more to find up there. Not holding my breath or anything, but its fun to look anyway.
Aug 03, 2012, 08:29 PM
TC was the best storyteller I ever read. I even bought a Landcruiser in '88 to look for "The Golden Treasures of the San Juan."
I hope you will post more on anything San Juan.
Aug 03, 2012, 08:56 PM
I am making use of all the latest technology when I go up into the high country in late August. I will be taking lots of video and photos, and will post some of those here.
The Gold Nugget Claims, and the old Grizzly King claim will be within reach on this stretch, but the supposed source of Jim Weaselskins gold nuggets was much higher up. However, some geologists I have talked to think most of the gold bearing fissures were in granite strata that eroded away eons ago in this watershed. Indeed, sediment tests from a couple of decades ago show next to nothing in gold in PPM.
So won't be making this the only place I check out. But the Mancos River near the active Red Arrow mining claim is another story. Highest sediment test for gold in all the Laplatas! Over 500 parts per million! Next closest watershed in the range was around 110...
Aug 03, 2012, 09:04 PM
If anyone has any info on Temple H. Cornelius, I would love to see it posted. I found him on a census living in Durango, CO at 7th and Main in the early 1900's. Raised a sheepherder's son, he took over his own herd at 9. Among many occupations, he worked for the Durango News paper in Durango, spoke 5 languages, managed ranches, did trail guide work, prospected for gold constantly, and even worked with archies at Mesa Verde and other 4 corner locations. Of course, he also published the treasure books so many love, including myself. Indeed, I see more references to his 2 books than any other on treasure forums.
Aug 03, 2012, 09:28 PM
I heart which I could not help him
Aug 03, 2012, 11:35 PM
You live in a state that is rich in minerals. I am not sure I would single out one tale and try to follow it. Why not just prospect and see what turns up? Whatever you do-good luck...
Aug 04, 2012, 07:11 AM
People today do not realize that every acre of reachable land in mineral territory has been gone over by the old
Matt What other T. Cornelius books than Golden Treasures were written and how do I find them?
Aug 04, 2012, 12:11 PM
If all the land has been gone over, then how were the treasure sites not found? What I meant is keep your eyes open and search the general areas of these legends. I never trust directions, maps or legends. I just hope that you have a great and successful time in the field.
Aug 04, 2012, 02:56 PM
You are quite correct about that. The old prospectors were very thorough indeed, and they had experienced eyes to look with. However, the Martin Hotter rock found in Junction Creek was passed by thousands of times on the trail where it was found by those same experienced miner types for many years, and was only discovered by accident. It is a known fact it was found, broken up, and sold for ore. People looked for a long time in that watershed for the vein that shed that boulder, but it was never found. So things may still be around to find, just the right set of circumstances has not resulted in that occurring (yet).
Originally Posted by lastleg
Several reasons may explain why the old lost treasures in the area have never been found:
1. They don't exist
2. They were found, but were simply taken away without fanfare or notice to anyone of the find. There are many very good reasons to do this, some of which are not legal...
3. They were hidden by the Utes, for a variety of reasons. According to Temple, the Utes liked to cover the portals with logs, and then cover them with rocks, then dirt. By now though, many of those logs are rotting away to nothing, if not gone already. So new depressions/openings might be visible.
4. They have been covered by erosion/landslides, and are now under a lot of material.
5. (added after further thought) The right circumstances have not occurred for them to be found.
The book that Temple wrote that is the best in my opinion is Sheepherder Gold. That is the one you want lastleg. I also just acquired Guide to the Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps by Perry Eberhart. Not for the tales or ghost towns, but for the old maps it contains. I was already able to verify all the landmarks from one of the accounts written by Temple with those maps. I will be scouring the county records in San Juan, La Plata, and Montezuma for more old maps and verification of Temple's history and reputation. It helps that my Aunt works at that last one. I will also visit the Durango Herald and see if they have any of Temple's old newspaper articles.
Last edited by UncleMatt; Aug 04, 2012 at 04:17 PM.
Aug 04, 2012, 04:59 PM
Matt, I've had the Eberhart book for ages. Think he and others got into a jam at Victor, breaking into bldg or something. What got me started
was the Brown "Jeep Trails" series. I checked that one out of library so many times they almost gave it to me. Will see if Sheepherder is on
Amazon. Ever been to upper Carson? Only time there somebody was drilling 3" holes into rock face and using a flame from pipe into opening.
I guess they were trying to melt free milling ore out the hole. ? ? ?
The lower ghost town was still standing at the time. But we had to go on down to Lake City and back to Creede before it got too dark. That is
where I stay when hunting rocks and ghosts.
On the comment about the old timers I read an artcle in Desert Magazine about some homeowners laughing about the tenderfeet turning over
rocks on a near hillside. They knew that every inch of that hill had been prospected long ago. Those guys knew how to read rock and they were
doing it for a living and not as a hobby.
Thanks for the tip.
Aug 05, 2012, 08:02 PM
Back on topic, I found sections of watershed that are still fully illuminated by the sun on the west side of the canyon in the late afternoon up on the Vallecito below the mouth of Rock Creek. Maybe I will focus my initial search attempts there. The account talks about how the men were on horseback, which would limit the search area even further, as much of the canyon side is too rugged or vertical for horses.
Last edited by UncleMatt; Aug 06, 2012 at 05:08 PM.
Aug 05, 2012, 08:06 PM
Thanks Austin, I don't expect to find any lost mines, my main focus is nugget shooting! The lost mine interest I have is just something else to do up there.
Originally Posted by austin
Last edited by UncleMatt; Aug 05, 2012 at 08:17 PM.
Aug 06, 2012, 09:18 AM
You are bringing up some interesting points. I just got back from Southern Oklahoma this weekend. I was out poking around for the lost mine with the iron door located NW of Lawton OK. There is a lead with a bunch of stories easy to debunk. Most of these leads change in scope once one has actually walked the area's terrain.
My recommendation is to over-analyze the original legend/lead that you are looking for. Too many times hunters seek cache sites that could never have occurred logistically. For example, They were on the stage carrying some payroll in solid gold. (Of course, the dollar amount of the gold = a weight amount too much to carry.) Then, after a running gun battle with indians, they stopped and buried their gold. (Yes, always plenty of time to carry gold, run with gold then bury it.)
Two weeks back I was in the Diamond Crater state park in Arkansas. That was fun but too touristy for my tastes.
I have been a TH since early childhood. My father was tight with Karl VM. I ended up with a lot of inherited items including a library of research books, maps, leads, etc. I think there are about eight copies of TH manual #7 (including a hard cover.) I have some of the earlier books as well. Even figured out one of the LUE cache sites. So, I am may be new to the forum but not new to TH activities of all sorts.
Are there any TH around Fort Worth? I like all kinds of treasures.
Aug 06, 2012, 05:06 PM
I agree, the first thing is to look at the situation objectively. If the tale does not translate to the real world, such as misnaming places, mislocating things, etc,. you can probably ditch that one right there.
One reason I am so drawn to Temple's treasure tales is if nothing else, he knew the territory in implicit detail, and I have lived most of my life in that setting. I have scoured every one of his tales, and the landmarks, rivers, creeks, ridges, old mines, etc., all are exactly in the tale as they are in reality. If that were not the case, his 2 books would be on the "fun fiction" shelf of my library.
Now I am not saying every tale in his books is gospel truth, but at least he went to the trouble to make sure the setting he presented was totally accurate. He may have simply recognized the greatest treasure was the money he could make with books entertaining people, and being accurate with the setting helped accomplish that end. He may have just used his knowledge of the San Juans and the cultures there to make gold of his own, which is as legit as anything else that makes money. I personally would love to see one of his tales proven true with a cache discovery or lost mine/vein found where he said they were.
Last edited by UncleMatt; Aug 06, 2012 at 05:09 PM.
Aug 06, 2012, 10:10 PM
Uncle Matt, the Ophir gold bar robbery cache was found on Timberhill on the road to Stony Pass. It was confirmed by other
sources. The Stewart placer seems unlikely from the geology of that area, at least from what I have studied. Nearest gold
strike I can think of was Summitville. I do not put any stock in the Treasure Mtn yarn because I know of no gold discoveries
west of the Rio Grande until you get to the Divide.
There were a few gold claims around Beartown but silver was the main ore. Beartown is just below the Divide. I hiked up on
the continental ridge and found a closed very shallow shaft. The view for my effort was worth the climb. I'll never forget the
sight of pristine cirques poised above the chasm with bright sunlight making them gleam. Just after that a summer storm
pelted us with small hailstones with no place to hide. We were quite a sight in single file with torn hats and raincoats back
down to Beartown.
Aug 07, 2012, 04:37 PM
About a third of the way down the list at this link you will find Temple H. Cornelius living in Durango, CO at 1715 Main Ave. in 1911. His 2 brothers are also listed.
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