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Thread: The Lost Adams Diggings

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  1. #1
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    The Lost Adams Diggings

    Greetings Friends and Hola Amigos,

    I am posting this thread just for "seed" - there have been a number of threads here on Treasurenet focused on the Lost Adams, but as they were not in a separate forum, over time the threads simply get "pushed off" and become archived and out of sight. Hopefully now we won't have that trouble any more.

    The Lost Adams Diggings is one of the most famous and most sought-after lost mine legends of the southwest. Several books, numerous articles and even a movie have been done on the lost bonanza. Treasure hunters still search for it today.

    Here is the Wikipedia version of the story;
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ____
    Canyon of Gold
    In 1864, a teamster named Adams (no sources disclose his first name) and some prospectors in Gila Bend, Arizona were approached by a Mexican Indian named Gotch Ear, who offered to show them a canyon filled with gold only 10 days ride away. The miners accepted and together they rode to find the gold. They crossed a road on the way which Gotch Ear said would lead back to Fort Wingate, and that they should remember it so they could go back that way for supplies when needed. They soon arrived at a canyon with a blind entrance. At the bottom of a Z-shaped narrow canyon trail they found a creek rich with gold.

    The men paid Gotch Ear and began panning for gold. However, a force of Apaches, led by a chief named Nana, confronted the miners. Nana allowed them to mine the creek, provided they did not venture up past the waterfall. The miners obeyed at first, but eventually several miners began mining near the waterfall and discovered two rich veins of gold. The diggings were very rich, with some gold nuggets described as being the size of hens’ eggs.

    The miners stored their gold under a stone in the hearth of the cabin they built near the creek. One miner, a German, kept his gold separate. He soon collected all the gold he wanted and left the camp.

    Some of the miners were sent to Fort Wingate for more supplies. When this group did not return after eight days, Adams and a man named Davidson rode out to investigate. From the top of the Z-shaped trail, they found five dead men and three dead horses, all that was left of the party that had set out for the fort. Adams and Davidson then returned to their cabin by the creek and found that the Apaches had returned, set fire to their cabin and killed the remaining miners. Adams and Davidson narrowly escaped and walked twelve days through the desert until they stumbled on an army patrol, which took them to the nearest fort. Davidson died there. It was 10 years until Adams overcame his fear and returned to New Mexico to look for the diggings. Adams spent the rest of his life trying to relocate the hidden canyon.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ____
    <from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Adams_Diggings>

    The man Adams was a real person, though tracing his full name has proved to be fruitless. The Apache chief mentioned in the story is also a real person, Nana, was one of the most successful and far-ranging war-chiefs of the Apaches.
    <Photo believed to be Chief Nana>


    The skeptics cannot believe that Nana could ever have been so tractable with American prospectors, but the relationship between Apaches and Americans was not always one of mutual hostility, and even in this case, Nana and his warriors did not attack the miners until they had broken the agreement.

    Adams showed a gold nugget to many people in support of his story, a lump of gold the size of a hen's egg!

    Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.
    Oroblanco

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  2. #2
    pw
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Gosh, Oro, this legend is perhaps the most frustrating of all the 'lost mines' that have lured so many into the hills seeking riches. I have collected a couple dozen different published versions of the tale myself, many of them similar in some respects to each other, but also many of them surprisingly at odds with the others concerning details of the events. Other tellings of the tale, private recollections of contemporaries and others from lifelong searchers, muddy the waters even more. A thought-provoking arguement has also been offered in recent years that claims that the legend is a fabrication designed to divert attention from other events that occurred.

    Thirty-five years ago I wore out a bunch of Vibram rubber in the malpais country getting the lay of the LAD land after reading Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver, my introduction to the subject. Ever since then, it seems every place I've been in NM or AZ has been a possible LAD search area, depending on which version of the legend you prefer at the time. Back in the late '70's, I guess it was, I attended a murder trial in Silver City stemming from the death of one of a group of treasure hunters seeking the diggings. Gene Ballinger, a well-known TH newsletter writer, was convicted and sent up the river. About ten years ago I started comparing notes with my buddy Sonoita Bob, a great source of LAD knowledge, and I was re-invigorated. Bob has raised possibilities that still haven't yet been explored adequately. A year and a half ago I was involved in a search and rescue mission for LAD seekers in an area that, as Coronado said, 'might not contain treasure but is sure a good place to look for it'. Heck, not a month ago I read a posting on TNet that places the LAD about 2 miles from my home! It's been about 150 years since the alleged events that spawned the LAD story and there is still interest.

    Well, this is an 'information overload' topic for sure, but deal me in - I guess.



    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  3. #3
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Thank you Springfield, I look forward to your posts!
    your friend in 'Dakota Territory'
    Roy ~ Oroblanco
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  4. #4
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Where could the Lost Adams gold be? Here is what Wiki says,

    _________________________________________________
    Possible locations
    For decades the Zuni Mountains were considered the most plausible location of the diggings. Thousands of prospectors, ranch-hands, and men-of-fortune searched this area and the rest of southwestern New Mexico prior to WWII, as the Adams diggings became the most sought-for gold in the country. Only Frank Dobie's 1939 book Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver adequately describes how renowned the Adams legend had become. The combination of the depression and the deregulation of the gold market prompted the most unlikely people to search for the diggings. Between 1895 and 1930 several large logging communities flourished in the Zuni Mountains, several with schools and post offices; wide-gauge railroads crisscrossed the mountains. The loggers were well aware of the Adams legend, as it had become a nationally known story. Between running logs nothing was more common than prospecting except for drinking. Rumors of gold in the Zunis had become so common that the U.S. government ordered several geological expeditions in the years between WWI and WWII to verify whether this claim could be supported. The geologists found nothing. In the 1950s the area was thoroughly re-explored for uranium during the uranium boom around Grants, New Mexico. Eventually the obsession with the Zuni Mountains as a host for the Adams diggings faded. It was also around the mid-century that the popularity of the Adams legend began to diminish and the Lost Dutchman Mine became America's most sought-for lost gold mine. The Adams diggings were beginning to seem a hoax or a mine unlikely to ever be found.

    Geologically, the Adams diggings could only be in the southwestern quadrant of the state. Adams himself spent most of the remainder of his life searching the areas in and around Reserve, New Mexico. This area was the largest gold producing area in the state, and hosted several small mining booms, including the rich strikes at Elizabethtown and Pinos Altos. The areas that could conceivably host the diggings in this region (containing several large mountain ranges that remain sparsely inhabited) are numerous, as minerals and evidence of previous mining can be found throughout the area. Local folklore will tell you that the gold is at the headwaters of either the Black River, the Gila River, or the Prieto River. Spanish Lore will tell you to look to the Blue Mountains. Dozens of mining camps in this region of New Mexico were thought to be the Adams diggings for brief periods, until each proved itself to be less rich than at first indicated: egregious hopes followed by rapid disappointment. That seems to be the story of gold in the desert southwest.

    The Datils and Gallinas Mountains and the basins to the north of these mountains were considered possible locations for the diggings that increased in popularity as the other locations lost appeal. Dick French, in his book Four Days from Fort Wingate, places the diggings in this area. It has become known as "Dick French’s area," although his location was known to have been found by others in the 1950s, if not earlier. No gold has been found there.

    A similar but geographically less plausible location was found in eastern Arizona by Don Fangado (name?) near Clifton. The site contains features described by Adams much like the area favored by Dick French; however, again, the gold remained undiscovered.

    In some minds the gold was to be found on either the Zuni or Navajo reservations, but the laws preventing the acquisition of mineral rights in these regions has discouraged searching. A recent news article has the diggings located in the center of the Navajo Reservation's four sacred mountains; perhaps near Sawmill, Arizona, an area known to be rich in semi-precious stones.

    There are other sites, but the leading candidates in the popular imagination are mentioned above. If it really exists, its traditional location remains within "Apacheria" or the southwest quadrant of New Mexico and bordering areas in Arizona. The complexity of the story is detailed in Jack Purcell's definitive book on the subject, The Lost Adams Diggings: Myth, Mystery, and Madness. This work, unlike its predecessors, is a serious attempt to give historical perspective supported by cited research. Purcell believes that the gold exists and is perhaps somewhere in the mountains just south of Quemado, New Mexico. Perhaps gold will be found someday, but in the minds of most, the legend is fading away among the other items in the forgotten annals of American lore.

    <this is also found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Adams_Diggings>
    _________________________________________________
    Actually I must disagree with Wiki's conclusions about the location, yes geologically the SW corner of the state is the most likely but gold has an annoying habit of turning up where it shouldn't be - such as IN coal, which all geologists will tell you is impossible, yet in Cambria (Wyoming) the anthracite coal they extracted had enough gold in it, that the ashes were worth processing to recover the gold. The uranium discoveries in the Grants (NM) region also would seem to point elsewhere, yet here in the Black Hills we have very large uranium deposits, almost adjacent to gold and silver deposits.

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas,
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
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  5. #5
    pw
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Hmmm. I personally would place the location between N32° and N34° latitude and between W108° and W110° longitude, more or less, with the 'supply fort' being either old Fort Grant in AZ or old Fort West in NM.

    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  6. #6
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Springfield wrote
    I personally would place the location between N32° and N34° latitude and between W108° and W110° longitude, more or less, with the 'supply fort' being either old Fort Grant in AZ or old Fort West in NM.
    Dang buddy - we don't need to pinpoint the location so precisely do we!!?
    Merry Christmas to you and yours,
    Roy ~ Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
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  7. #7
    mx
    Nov 2004
    Alamos,Sonora,Mexico
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Oro, why do you want it to be closer than 14,000 sq miles? Isn't that close enough??

    Don Jose de La Mancha
    "I exist to live, not live to exist"

  8. #8
    pw
    Apr 2003
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Quote Originally Posted by Oroblanco
    Springfield wrote
    I personally would place the location between N32° and N34° latitude and between W108° and W110° longitude, more or less, with the 'supply fort' being either old Fort Grant in AZ or old Fort West in NM.
    Dang buddy - we don't need to pinpoint the location so precisely do we!!?
    Merry Christmas to you and yours,
    Roy ~ Oroblanco
    Actually, this cuts the search area dramatically when you consider that people have speculated/searched for this thing all the way north to the Zuni Mountains of NM, east as far as the Magdalena, NM, vicinity, and south to Juh's stronghold somewhere near the Chihuahua/Sonora boundary a hundred miles into Mexico. Would you rather search for a needle in a haystack or a needle in a hay field? By the way, the 'maybe boundaries' I've outlined couldn't be adequately covered by an army division of foot soldiers in ten lifetimes - it's awesome terrain. Throw in Cuckoo Adams as the eyewitness with a different story for every listener and it's no wonder it's tough getting a handle on this legend!!

    Of course my opinion about all this can change, and has numerous times, but this is my 2009 working model.
    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  9. #9
    pw
    Apr 2003
    New Mexico
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Quote Originally Posted by peterm
    Remember, what is written in Wikipedia is written by anyone who wants to do so. Not everything is correct. Now, my question is this: "Is the Lost Adams Diggings located in the Canyon del Oro or are these two separate locations?" Would like everyone's thoughts on this.

    Also, Chief Nana has stated, and history has proven him true, that he and his warriors were raiding Mexican ranches in Northern Mexico at the time of the 1864 massacre of the Adams party and that they had nothing to do with it. I think another Indian tribe did the deed. There are a couple of lesser knowntribes in the area of the canyon who are just as fierce as the Apaches. It was probably one of them.

    Also, I've noticed that several LAD searchers have been looking for the remains of a cabin. Keep in mind that Adams said the Indians burned the cabin. Chances of finding any remains now are slim to none unless there are some of the chimney stones still standing.

    Happy Hunting!

    Pete
    I would venture that 'Canyon del Oro' is only a generic term used to describe the location of the diggings, wherever they might be, if they exist at all.

    Way back in the '70's, when my partner and I had a small mining services company in Silver City, we once got a cryptic phone call from a guy in Albuquerque who wanted us to meet him at Mesa del Oro (north of Alamo, NM) to file claims on the LAD, which he had located there. We were going to have to sneak onto Indian land to do so, and risk criminal prosecution later, but he assured us that it would all be worth it in the long run. When he mentioned that we would be blindfolded for the final couple mile hike to the site, we politely declined his offer. We had many such conversations with wild-eyed TH-ers in those days who claimed to have found this and that, here and there.

    You're right about the cabin thing. However, if you've spent much time in the hills in the SW, you'll realize that there are many, many cabin ruins to be found even today in canyon bottoms from AZ to NM and back again. Even a burnt cabin leaves clues for a long time, especially if there was any stonework. When you find good placer near a cabin ruin, then maybe you've got something. This of course raises the speculative possibility that back in the earlier days (late 1800's and into the 20th Century), if there indeed was cabin ruins, it very well could have been located (structural ruins are a relatively easy target), it's remnants totally removed, and the rich nearby placer exploited without being reported to the world. Lots of folks have claimed to have found the LAD, even written books about it's location; nobody has shown any real proof. If you found a burnt cabin in a remote spot with good placer nearby, what would you do - destroy the major clue (cabin ruins), pan gold and keep it a secret, or tell someone? I know what my choice would be.
    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  10. #10
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Real de Tayopa wrote
    Oro, why do you want it to be closer than 14,000 sq miles? Isn't that close enough??
    What? Do you doubt that I have not already found it? Why, Mrs O and I found the very spot, complete with the twin-peaked mountain, the zig-zag canyon, a small valley with "coyote melons" growing in it, etc even a campsite. Of course every speck of gold was gone, so I presume that Adams must have mined it all out, or someone later on, leaving not a trace of any gold anywhere, not even a tailings pile or a hole where they must have dug. One of those "mysteries" I suppose, how they were so efficient as to remove every single color of gold in the whole valley. I guess those "old timers" had super-efficient gold recovery methods.

    peterm wrote
    Also, Chief Nana has stated, and history has proven him true, that he and his warriors were raiding Mexican ranches in Northern Mexico at the time of the 1864 massacre of the Adams party and that they had nothing to do with it. I think another Indian tribe did the deed.
    That would be a problem, if that 1864 date is correct - but is it?

    Springfield wrote
    Would you rather search for a needle in a haystack or a needle in a hay field?
    I was kidding amigo - even reducing the search area to the size you propose is a huge improvement over just saying "AZ-NM"!

    Springfield also wrote
    Throw in Cuckoo Adams as the eyewitness with a different story for every listener and it's no wonder it's tough getting a handle on this legend!!
    Adams himself is one "factor" that I rather gave little weight to, but now I wish I had really taken notice of where HE went when he tried to find it again, your stomping ground Silver City. I think he was thoroughly confused about where it was, but could pick out that place as important to finding it again.

    Springfield also wrote
    Lots of folks have claimed to have found the LAD, even written books about it's location; nobody has shown any real proof. If you found a burnt cabin in a remote spot with good placer nearby, what would you do - destroy the major clue (cabin ruins), pan gold and keep it a secret, or tell someone? I know what my choice would be.
    I guess it would very much depend on where it turned out to be - if inside the Rez, then I don't know exactly what I would do - but if it could be legally filed on, I think I would go the "legal" route. Proving it was "the" Adams Diggings would be a tough sell, there are always folks like me out there who just won't believe anything. The coffeepot would be a key item for giving weight to such a find, in my opinion.

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas,
    Oroblanco







    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
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  11. #11
    mx
    Nov 2004
    Alamos,Sonora,Mexico
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Evening: as a general co-incidence this bit of data could be slid / filed into the LAD locations also. However I doubt that it is----- or is it? he hehe

    The Apache legend says that they holed up in a cave at the upper end of the Tayopa canyon. I have mentioned this in another post in TN. I called it the Skull cave.

    One enters the Tayopa canyon / Barranca in a narrow passage way between two huge rocks, effectively a hidden entrance. Shortly there is a waterfall to your right from the Paramo gold Placers. Up in the Paramo canyon there is a small mesa that was used by the Indians also, however they entered from above. Continuing up the Tayopa canyon you turn to the left to the location of the Skull cave. The Tayopa and Paramo are box canyons. hmmmm?

    Broadly interpreted it could be the LAD, just with the popular location from ft Wingate being off, however the 10 days from Gila Bend could be close.

    Gold is encountered from the Rio Mayo to the falls from the Paramo, and up into the Paramo. The LAD?? do Ya suppose??

    Don Jose de La Mancha

    p.s. what a coincidence, Nana was raiding in that part of Mexico at that time also.


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  12. #12
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Seasons greetings,

    Don Jose', we could choose a different fort. Fort Wingate may not have been the right one. Here is one of the (many) versions, note Fort Apache;

    Prominent among the lost mines stories of Northern Arizona was that of the Adams Diggings. Most indefinite are the details and the various locations indicated lie anywhere from the Colorado River through to Globe. Adams understood to have been a San Bernardino colony Mormon in 1886 heard from a Mexican a story of a rich gold deposit and forming a party of twenty two struck eastward to a point supposed to have been near Fort Apache where the Diggings were found. The story continues that after working for a while eleven of the party started for the Pima villages for supplies. They failed to return and nine more driven by impending hunger took the same trail leaving in camp only Adams and two others. The three finally driven out by famine started out and found on their trail the bodies of all their comrades who had been murdered by Apaches. The trio appear to have succeeded in returning safely to San Bernardino and in 1875 to have started as members of a party of twelve to return to the lost bonanza. Jas C Bell later of Globe with two companions joined this party near Prcscott and were made members while four more joined at Fort Verde. The lapse of time had made Adams very uncertain in his location but he remembered that it was in a deep canon running in an easterly direction at a point where a gold ledge was sharply defined on the sides of the gulch and near two black buttes. Search was made down as far as the Gila near San Carlos and thence up to the headwaters of the Gila and back again to Fort Apache but there was no success and still undiscovered are the ashes of an old cabin wherein Adams told Bell was buried gold dust worth at least $5,000.
    <rizona, prehistoric, aboriginal, pioneer, modern: the nation's ..., Volume 2 By James H. McClintock>

    Merry Christmas to you all,
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  13. #13
    pw
    Apr 2003
    New Mexico
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    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Quote Originally Posted by Real de Tayopa
    Evening: as a general co-incidence this bit of data could be slid / filed into the LAD locations also. However I doubt that it is----- or is it? he hehe

    The Apache legend says that they holed up in a cave at the upper end of the Tayopa canyon. I have mentioned this in another post in TN. I called it the Skull cave.

    One enters the Tayopa canyon / Barranca in a narrow passage way between two huge rocks, effectively a hidden entrance. Shortly there is a waterfall to your right from the Paramo gold Placers. Up in the Paramo canyon there is a small mesa that was used by the Indians also, however they entered from above. Continuing up the Tayopa canyon you turn to the left to the location of the Skull cave. The Tayopa and Paramo are box canyons. hmmmm?

    Broadly interpreted it could be the LAD, just with the popular location from ft Wingate being off, however the 10 days from Gila Bend could be close.

    Gold is encountered from the Rio Mayo to the falls from the Paramo, and up into the Paramo. The LAD?? do Ya suppose??

    Don Jose de La Mancha

    p.s. what a coincidence, Nana was raiding in that part of Mexico at that time also.
    That's why Nino Cochise's book, The First Hundred Years of Nino Cochise, controversial for sure, throws such a monkey wrench into the works. Nino claimed 'Sno-Ta-Hae', the Apache gold mine, was located 2 km from Pa-Gotzin-Kay, or 'Juh's Stronghold' - the Apache sanctuary deep in the Sierra Madre. I don't believe the scholars have ever agreed on the exact location of the stronghold, but it was somewhere in the mountains west of the Bavispe - Baserac area, presumably. The very name attributed to this mine and the appearance of Ammon Tenney and John Brewer in the Nino account, not a treasure hunting book, confounds Lost Adams Diggings researchers because of the obvious common elements between the Apache mine located in northern Sonora and the LAD, purportedly located in Arizona/New Mexico. The proximity of Nino's Sno-Ta-Hae to Tayopa is an open question so far as I know.
    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  14. #14
    pw
    Apr 2003
    New Mexico
    BS
    2,850
    1299 times

    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Quote Originally Posted by Oroblanco
    Seasons greetings,

    Don Jose', we could choose a different fort. Fort Wingate may not have been the right one. Here is one of the (many) versions, note Fort Apache;

    Prominent among the lost mines stories of Northern Arizona was that of the Adams Diggings. Most indefinite are the details and the various locations indicated lie anywhere from the Colorado River through to Globe. Adams understood to have been a San Bernardino colony Mormon in 1886 heard from a Mexican a story of a rich gold deposit and forming a party of twenty two struck eastward to a point supposed to have been near Fort Apache where the Diggings were found. The story continues that after working for a while eleven of the party started for the Pima villages for supplies. They failed to return and nine more driven by impending hunger took the same trail leaving in camp only Adams and two others. The three finally driven out by famine started out and found on their trail the bodies of all their comrades who had been murdered by Apaches. The trio appear to have succeeded in returning safely to San Bernardino and in 1875 to have started as members of a party of twelve to return to the lost bonanza. Jas C Bell later of Globe with two companions joined this party near Prcscott and were made members while four more joined at Fort Verde. The lapse of time had made Adams very uncertain in his location but he remembered that it was in a deep canon running in an easterly direction at a point where a gold ledge was sharply defined on the sides of the gulch and near two black buttes. Search was made down as far as the Gila near San Carlos and thence up to the headwaters of the Gila and back again to Fort Apache but there was no success and still undiscovered are the ashes of an old cabin wherein Adams told Bell was buried gold dust worth at least $5,000.
    <rizona, prehistoric, aboriginal, pioneer, modern: the nation's ..., Volume 2 By James H. McClintock>
    These old-timer interviews are very interesting, some that I've read re LAD demonstrate the wild variations in search areas that were targets in the years and decades following the original Adams event. Of course the Fort Apache reference here is only a locational descriptor relating to the 1875 expedition target area since the fort wasn't established until 1870, six years after the Adams party's alleged original discovery. The location is certainly in the ballpark though, IMO. Of particular interest to me is the mention of Adams having been a Mormon. Quite interesting indeed.
    ​Adios, amigos - it's been interesting.







  15. #15
    us
    Jan 2009
    Alaska
    White's GMT
    81
    12 times

    Re: The Lost Adams Diggings

    Springfield wrote recently: "Way back in the '70's, when my partner and I had a small mining services company in Silver City...."

    Springfield,

    With your experience and travels in NM, have you ever seen a feature like the one below.... and if so, what the heck is it?

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	NM Feature 3b.jpg 
Views:	3253 
Size:	82.5 KB 
ID:	356876




    Bill

 

 
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