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  1. #16
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,658
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    The facts behind the factoids
    Quote Originally Posted by mdog View Post
    Yes, it is confusing and the story seems to have changed many times over the years. The Treasure Mountain that Adams wrote about, in his books, is about 15 miles NNE of Pagosa Springs. His map of the French activities in Colorado shows a mining camp several miles west of Buena Vista but that seems to be as close as they got to the Treasure Mountain of Gunnison County.

    Today, I noticed that Adams references the Denver Post story in his notes, May 1-15, 1921, written by Josiah M. Ward.
    Here's a possible way to tie the stories together. It seems much more likely that the French explorers would have discovered and exploited gold placer deposits during their Colorado expedition rather than working a lode deposit. This type of scenario is what triggered the California gold rush and others - virgin placer streams were relatively easy to locate and work, with a lot of gold being recovered quickly. The underground lode deposits were found and worked later, and required more time and technology to be successful.

    Let's say the French began finding gold in the streams near the Arkansas River headwaters, then moved to westerly, possibly as far as the Elk Mountains mineral deposits (Treasure Mountain 1). The map below shows a highly generalized theoretical route, passing through several areas that proved later to be big producers in Colorado. If the French were the first to discover some of these areas, the pickings could possibly have been easy and lucrative. By the time they circled their way south to the San Luis Valley area, they may have been toting a lot of gold and decided to cache it. Maybe that's where Treasure Mountain 2 comes into play. From the mining district map, it's apparent that no significant mineral deposits have been worked in the Pagosa-Wolf Creek area. This doesn't support the rumor of a rich French mine there, but there would certainly be plenty of caching opportunities. This might explain the variation in the stories' locations - the French may have been active in all of them. Just an unproved theory.

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  2. #17

    Jun 2004
    350
    571 times
    Quote Originally Posted by mdog View Post
    I called the Denver library about the article and the librarian said she would look for it. if I can get a copy, I'll post it.
    That would be absolutely amazing...
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  3. #18
    us
    Mar 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdcfia View Post
    Here's a possible way to tie the stories together. It seems much more likely that the French explorers would have discovered and exploited gold placer deposits during their Colorado expedition rather than working a lode deposit. This type of scenario is what triggered the California gold rush and others - virgin placer streams were relatively easy to locate and work, with a lot of gold being recovered quickly. The underground lode deposits were found and worked later, and required more time and technology to be successful.

    Let's say the French began finding gold in the streams near the Arkansas River headwaters, then moved to westerly, possibly as far as the Elk Mountains mineral deposits (Treasure Mountain 1). The map below shows a highly generalized theoretical route, passing through several areas that proved later to be big producers in Colorado. If the French were the first to discover some of these areas, the pickings could possibly have been easy and lucrative. By the time they circled their way south to the San Luis Valley area, they may have been toting a lot of gold and decided to cache it. Maybe that's where Treasure Mountain 2 comes into play. From the mining district map, it's apparent that no significant mineral deposits have been worked in the Pagosa-Wolf Creek area. This doesn't support the rumor of a rich French mine there, but there would certainly be plenty of caching opportunities. This might explain the variation in the stories' locations - the French may have been active in all of them. Just an unproved theory.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks for the map. It's very helpful.

    Villemont came from the north along the South Platte River and found placer gold somewhere close to Fairplay and again somewhere along the Arkansas River. He then moved south to Santa Fe. This was at some time between 1794 and 1796.

    The Lebreau Expedition, 1799-1804, came in from the south. To hide the size of their expedition, most of the expedition camped east of Taos and a small group went into Taos and reported to the local officials. They identified themselves as a surveyors tasked to map the region north of Taos. They found small pockets of placer gold on streams along their route into the San Luis Valley and close to Treasure Mountain, NE of Pagosa Springs, they found a gold bearing outcropping that they mined. The expedition came to the area well prepared. They had carpenters, cooks, hunters, many miners, tools, mercury, tents, everything a mining expedition would need. On the way into the valley, they noticed coal deposits and when they started to mine the ore, they sent packers to bring the coal back to their main camp by Treasure Mountain. The carpenters built big tables and they used hammers to break up the ore. It must have been quite an operation. They stayed at the Treasure Mountain location because they had made an agreement with the Utes to stay within certain boundaries, it was also close to Taos where they went for supplies. The Utes also showed them where to look for gold when they found out that the French were searching for the metal. They directed them toward the mountains north of the valley. They found more placer gold and outcroppings to the north and when they mined enough ore, pack animals were sent to the mining camps to bring the ore back to the main camp. They lost a lot of the miners to mercury poisoning before they figured out what was killing them. One of their mining camps was just west of Buena Vista and it's possible that parties from that camp might have scouted toward the Treasure Mountain of Gunnison County, but Adams didn't write about that. The Spanish commandant from Taos became suspicious of the activities of the Frenchmen so he had Indian spies search for their camp and report their activities. When it was determined that the French had a large party and that they were mining, the Spanish decided to attack them with several hundred Indian mercenaries from several different tribes. Before they were attacked, the French cached their gold because they feared action from the Spanish. The Indians attacked and many of the French were killed in the initial onslaught. The French decided to defend themselves at their main camp but eventually, after a two month siege, they decided to breakout to the north to the Arkansas River and then east. They were picked off as they moved and only two men made it to St. Louis.

    It seems that Adams was pretty thorough in his research, but he was at the mercy of multiple opinions and interpretations of the events. His story is probably as close to the truth as we will ever hear.
    Last edited by mdog; Mar 13, 2016 at 10:26 PM.

  4. #19
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    The events of the second book took place from 1844-1848. At that time, fifty descendants of the Lebreau Expedition decided to search for the cache of Treasure Mountain. They used maps and notes of the expedition that Lebreau had authored. They traced the route that their grandfathers used, and they split their party, when they were close to Taos, so that the true size of their party would be unknown. At Taos, they hired a guide to take them into the mountains to the north and they let the word spread that they would be trapping. The guide was recommended to them by relatives of Spanish who had befriended the Frenchmen of the first expedition. They spent the next three years searching for the locations of two caches. The search involved looking for multiple clues as well as deciphering written instructions from Lebreau. The clues included symbols carved on trees and rocks and fake graves. They eventually found the caches, one was buried by an outcropping and the other was buried below the surface of a small pond their grandfathers had created by building a small dike to block the outflow of the original pond. They found all the gold and made preparations to leave the area and go to St. Louis by way of the Santa Fe Trail. Just as they were leaving the valley, their rear guard was attacked by the men of Diego Archuleta, a rancher who suspected the Frenchmen were looking for gold left by the previous expedition. The Frenchmen managed to thwart the attack but lost 15 men and a number of horses and pack animals. To continue their journey, the French had to cache 1000 pounds of gold bars so they could replace the horses they lost with pack animals. They eventually made it to St. Louis and returned to their homes, some in Canada and some in France. Their guide and confident, who helped them conceal their mission, returned to New Mexico. The rancher, Archuleta, had murder charges filed against the guide and had them dropped when the guide told him the location of the main camp.

  5. #20
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,658
    6952 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    Quote Originally Posted by mdog View Post
    Thanks for the map. It's very helpful.

    Villemont came from the north along the South Platte River and found placer gold somewhere close to Fairplay and again somewhere along the Arkansas River. He then moved south to Santa Fe. This was at some time between 1794 and 1796.

    The Lebreau Expedition, 1799-1804, came in from the south. To hide the size of their expedition, most of the expedition camped east of Taos and a small group went into Taos and reported to the local officials. They identified themselves as a surveyors tasked to map the region north of Taos. They found small pockets of placer gold on streams along their route into the San Luis Valley and close to Treasure Mountain, NE of Pagosa Springs, they found a gold bearing outcropping that they mined. The expedition came to the area well prepared. They had carpenters, cooks, hunters, many miners, tools, mercury, tents, everything a mining expedition would need. On the way into the valley, they noticed coal deposits and when they started to mine the ore, they sent packers to bring the coal back to their main camp by Treasure Mountain. The carpenters built big tables and they used hammers to break up the ore. It must have been quite an operation. They stayed at the Treasure Mountain location because they had made an agreement with the Utes to stay within certain boundaries, it was also close to Taos where they went for supplies. The Utes also showed them where to look for gold when they found out that the French were searching for the metal. They directed them toward the mountains north of the valley. They found more placer gold and outcroppings to the north and when they mined enough ore, pack animals were sent to the mining camps to bring the ore back to the main camp. They lost a lot of the miners to mercury poisoning before they figured out what was killing them. One of their mining camps was just west of Buena Vista and it's possible that parties from that camp might have scouted toward the Treasure Mountain of Gunnison County, but Adams didn't write about that. The Spanish commandant from Taos became suspicious of the activities of the Frenchmen so he had Indian spies search for their camp and report their activities. When it was determined that the French had a large party and that they were mining, the Spanish decided to attack them with several hundred Indian mercenaries from several different tribes. Before they were attacked, the French cached their gold because they feared action from the Spanish. The Indians attacked and many of the French were killed in the initial onslaught. The French decided to defend themselves at their main camp but eventually, after a two month siege, they decided to breakout to the north to the Arkansas River and then east. They were picked off as they moved and only two men made it to St. Louis.

    It seems that Adams was pretty thorough in his research, but he was at the mercy of multiple opinions and interpretations of the events. His story is probably as close to the truth as we will ever hear.
    Thanks for the clarification mdog. I ordered the first book last night and am looking forward to getting Adams' details straight. That always helps. I'm especially interested in what Adams claims as his source information.

    OK. Two early French expeditions, the first a scouting venture where gold was found in the streams, ostensibly all in the Front Range. Villemont's reports triggered the later LeBreau five-year mining effort. Makes sense. A well-equipped and experienced party in five years could have worked all kinds of mineralized sites in Colorado, perhaps even as far as the Treasure Mountain north of Gunnison. For that matter, given the time available, there would have been outstanding mineral discoveries in the Durango-Silverton region as well. This was also Ute territory.

    So, assuming there may have been several mining locations exploited during the five years, it's certainly feasible that a cache site accessed from a permanent camp would have been establish to bank the proceeds from each. This could add up to a lot of gold. The camp - South Fork area would be a good spot - probably had very little or no mining nearby, IMO, due to the relative lack of minerals in the area compared to the obvious abundance elsewhere in the region. This makes sense too, in that, with no mining activity close by, the French could easily justify the place as a permanent "surveying camp" in case the Spanish asked about it. Their cache site at Treasure Mountain 2 would be a good choice.

    I used to be quite skeptical about the Treasure Mountain story, but the more I learn about it, the more I think it may be a real deal. Notwithstanding five years worth of recovering placer gold from virgin streams in mineral country, I also wonder if LeBreau's operation may have something to do with any of the other San Luis Valley-Spanish Peaks legends.
    "Well, yeah, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
    Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, 1998

  6. #21
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,658
    6952 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    Quote Originally Posted by mdog View Post
    The events of the second book took place from 1844-1848. At that time, fifty descendants of the Lebreau Expedition decided to search for the cache of Treasure Mountain. They used maps and notes of the expedition that Lebreau had authored. They traced the route that their grandfathers used, and they split their party, when they were close to Taos, so that the true size of their party would be unknown. At Taos, they hired a guide to take them into the mountains to the north and they let the word spread that they would be trapping. The guide was recommended to them by relatives of Spanish who had befriended the Frenchmen of the first expedition. They spent the next three years searching for the locations of two caches. The search involved looking for multiple clues as well as deciphering written instructions from Lebreau. The clues included symbols carved on trees and rocks and fake graves. They eventually found the caches, one was buried by an outcropping and the other was buried below the surface of a small pond their grandfathers had created by building a small dike to block the outflow of the original pond. They found all the gold and made preparations to leave the area and go to St. Louis by way of the Santa Fe Trail. Just as they were leaving the valley, their rear guard was attacked by the men of Diego Archuleta, a rancher who suspected the Frenchmen were looking for gold left by the previous expedition. The Frenchmen managed to thwart the attack but lost 15 men and a number of horses and pack animals. To continue their journey, the French had to cache 1000 pounds of gold bars so they could replace the horses they lost with pack animals. They eventually made it to St. Louis and returned to their homes, some in Canada and some in France. Their guide and confident, who helped them conceal their mission, returned to New Mexico. The rancher, Archuleta, had murder charges filed against the guide and had them dropped when the guide told him the location of the main camp.
    If this is true, then the Treasure Mountain cache is a moot point, having already been recovered. Question: did Adams say that the 1,000-pound cache hidden on the way out was only a short-time temporary thing, or was it implied that it was left behind and still remains hidden?
    Randy Bradford and mdog like this.
    "Well, yeah, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
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  7. #22

    Jun 2004
    350
    571 times
    Quote Originally Posted by sdcfia View Post
    Thanks for the clarification mdog. I ordered the first book last night and am looking forward to getting Adams' details straight. That always helps. I'm especially interested in what Adams claims as his source information.

    I used to be quite skeptical about the Treasure Mountain story, but the more I learn about it, the more I think it may be a real deal. Notwithstanding five years worth of recovering placer gold from virgin streams in mineral country, I also wonder if LeBreau's operation may have something to do with any of the other San Luis Valley-Spanish Peaks legends.
    I'm quite sure it does...it's also why I have faith there is treasure left...because it was likely stashed in more than one location. But I absolutely believe LeBreau's stash is connected to another well known Colorado treasure legend...the LUE.
    sdcfia, mdog and Benjamin Gates like this.
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    ----------
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    National Prospector's Gazette, Exanimo Express, Gene Ballinger Publications, 8 States Association, National Treasure Hunter's League, Gold Bug, Johnny Pounds "The Treasure Hunter," and so many more...

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  8. #23

    Dec 2005
    Arizona
    7,748
    5313 times
    I sure miss Colorado.......Big understatement!



    Joe Ribaudo
    " Hell, I was there!" Elmer Keith
    "There is an ancient proverb that says a man can never forgive you for a wrong he has done you." From a wise friend.

  9. #24
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,658
    6952 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Bradford View Post
    I'm quite sure it does...it's also why I have faith there is treasure left...because it was likely stashed in more than one location. But I absolutely believe LeBreau's stash is connected to another well known Colorado treasure legend...the LUE.
    But how can you be sure that the 1,000 pounds were not recovered? Otherwise, the LeBreau party may likely not have returned to their homes - as far away as France. Wouldn't they have waited an appropriate amount of time and retrieved the cache? That's $17,000,000 in today's money - tough to turn your back on, I would guess. Maybe mdog has more info from book 2.

    The LUE. I knew it was coming. Are you implying that the LUE map may be French in origin? Most folks believe von Mueller's claim that it was "Spanish treasure." Since I don't revere von Mueller as much as a lotta folks, I guess you can't rule out a French connection.
    mdog and Benjamin Gates like this.
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  10. #25
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,658
    6952 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    Quote Originally Posted by cactusjumper View Post
    I sure miss Colorado.......Big understatement!



    Joe Ribaudo
    Yeah, I'd probably still be there except for one thing - winter.
    mdog likes this.
    "Well, yeah, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
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  11. #26
    us
    May 2008
    Oklahoma
    Ace 250
    1,476
    942 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Honorable Mentions (1)
    Interesting thread. I lived in Del Norte and South Fork early 60s as a Kid. Sure wish I could pass on some info to you guys. Last visit was last year, just passed thru. Tried to find were my Gparents lived but it must have been torn down. I just received a book called "Mt. Lookout" "Where you can see for two days..." by Ruth Marie Colville. History of Del Norte. Did a quick scan for any mention of Treasure Mt. did not find any thing. Copyright is 1995. I will read it and let you all know if there is any mention of any treasure.
    sdcfia and mdog like this.

  12. #27
    us
    Mar 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdcfia View Post
    But how can you be sure that the 1,000 pounds were not recovered? Otherwise, the LeBreau party may likely not have returned to their homes - as far away as France. Wouldn't they have waited an appropriate amount of time and retrieved the cache? That's $17,000,000 in today's money - tough to turn your back on, I would guess. Maybe mdog has more info from book 2.

    The LUE. I knew it was coming. Are you implying that the LUE map may be French in origin? Most folks believe von Mueller's claim that it was "Spanish treasure." Since I don't revere von Mueller as much as a lotta folks, I guess you can't rule out a French connection.
    The story about the 1,000 pounds left behind might be in book 3. Adams did comment in book 2 that the rancher
    who attacked the Frenchmen, Diego Archuleta, spent the rest of his life looking for something that wasn't there.
    I just received book 3 today. Archuleta would have been looking close to the main camp, where the area was
    saturated with tree and rock carvings and empty graves.

    Here's a note from Chapter 10 in book 2.

    In the late 1800's, three men were caught in a "white-out" snow storm in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,
    on their way to Westcliffe to work in the gold mines. Crawling into a small cave, they found 25 bars of gold.
    Taking five bars, they finally stumbled into Westcliffe, nearly frozen to death. The men nor their families, have
    ever found the remaining treasure. Twenty bars still remain in the mountains.

    Mdog here. According to Adams, in his second book, as the French dug up the gold from the two caches, they
    transported it to the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and hid it in a cave near Music Pass. This was the
    cave where they left 25 bars of gold and sealed the cave entrance with rocks.

    The part about the three guys seems kinda like one of the stories Steve has written about. The cave was deep
    enough to shelter them from the storm and Westcliffe was 12 miles away. Why didn't they leave one guy at the
    cave and send the other two to Westcliffe for pack animals. Also, Adams said the Frenchmen sealed the cave
    with rocks. Something else, the area of the cave must have been close to Marble Mountain, the site of another
    treasure legend. The Caves
    sdcfia likes this.

  13. #28
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,658
    6952 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    Quote Originally Posted by mdog View Post
    The story about the 1,000 pounds left behind might be in book 3. Adams did comment in book 2 that the rancher
    who attacked the Frenchmen, Diego Archuleta, spent the rest of his life looking for something that wasn't there.
    I just received book 3 today. Archuleta would have been looking close to the main camp, where the area was
    saturated with tree and rock carvings and empty graves.

    Here's a note from Chapter 10 in book 2.

    In the late 1800's, three men were caught in a "white-out" snow storm in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,
    on their way to Westcliffe to work in the gold mines. Crawling into a small cave, they found 25 bars of gold.
    Taking five bars, they finally stumbled into Westcliffe, nearly frozen to death. The men nor their families, have
    ever found the remaining treasure. Twenty bars still remain in the mountains.

    Mdog here. According to Adams, in his second book, as the French dug up the gold from the two caches, they
    transported it to the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and hid it in a cave near Music Pass. This was the
    cave where they left 25 bars of gold and sealed the cave entrance with rocks.

    The part about the three guys seems kinda like one of the stories Steve has written about. The cave was deep
    enough to shelter them from the storm and Westcliffe was 12 miles away. Why didn't they leave one guy at the
    cave and send the other two to Westcliffe for pack animals. Also, Adams said the Frenchmen sealed the cave
    with rocks. Something else, the area of the cave must have been close to Marble Mountain, the site of another
    treasure legend. The Caves
    That cave is the one that had a very badly weathered Maltese cross painted/chiseled near the opening. Interesting.

    http://www.geocities.ws/kriticle/Clist/colorado-gld.txt
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  14. #29

    Feb 2008
    2,873
    629 times
    I wonder how much midnight oil Xanthus Carson used dreaming up this yarn. Anyone familiar with Colorado
    mining history and the geology of the area is getting a chuckle out this remake. A support group has been
    founded to aid victims of yarnology.

  15. #30
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    Quote Originally Posted by lastleg View Post
    I wonder how much midnight oil Xanthus Carson used dreaming up this yarn. Anyone familiar with Colorado
    mining history and the geology of the area is getting a chuckle out this remake. A support group has been
    founded to aid victims of yarnology.
    I don't know about Mr. Carson but Maynard Adams left extensive notes about the French expedition in his Citadel Mountain books. I
    intend to start at the beginning of his story and, at least, confirm the expedition of Captain Louis de Villemont. There's an author named
    Abraham Phineas Nasatir who wrote a book titled Before Lewis and Clark Documents Illustrating the History of the Missouri 1785-1804.
    He includes information about Villemont. There are parts of the book on the internet but I can't copy and paste. I'll see if I can link it.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=yF...ssippi&f=false

    On page 683, Villemont mentions gold on the Arkansas River in a letter to Talleyrand, but I still would like to see more evidence of his expedition.
    Maynard Adams had this book in his reference notes.

 

 
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