Treasure Mountain, CO - Lost Frenchmens Gold
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  1. #1

    Jun 2004
    350
    571 times

    Treasure Mountain, CO - Lost Frenchmen's Gold

    Hoping someone on the forum can help me solve a small mystery, while at the same time generating some interest in and old story that isn't quite as well known as many. I will provide all of the detail I can scrape together and hopefully someone will be able to answer the one question I have:

    Where does this story originally come from?


    Allegedly posted in a Colorado newspaper in the early 1900s, I can find plenty of references to the article but no conformation that the article in fact exists r a specific bibliographic clue to point me to the original article. The story has been retold for nearly a century, but the original story eludes me. Can anyone help?
    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 2: Ask Exanimo!

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    Understanding our hobby, by embracing its history...

  2. #2

    Jun 2004
    350
    571 times
    Treasure in the San Luis Valley: The golden horde, part II

    By Christopher O’Brien (November 21, 1997)


    The French expedition of1790


    Journeying down from the northern Rockies, exploratory French forays into therarefied air of the Sangre de Cristos are said to have produced gold. A little-known story researched by Crestone author Jack Harlan concerns an ill-fated French-Canadian expedition into the southern Colorado Rockies, and is centered around a very identifiable northern San Luis Valley landmark.

    “While leaving the San Luis Valley by way of Poncha Pass, Round Mountain is skirted on the left. Hereon Round Mountain an undetermined amount of gold nuggets [is] supposedly buried. There are several versions of the story. The most popular one is about a French Canadian trapper whose name has become lost through the years. . . .”

    A party of Canadians were trapping on the Snake River when they were discovered by American trappers, who attacked. In their hasty retreat, the Frenchmen lost their furs and traps to the Americans. Traveling south into western Colorado, one of the four found a gold nugget in the headwaters of the Gunnison River. Here they spent the next month successfully panning the gravel bars. Ute Indians discovered the Frenchmen and attacked them. In the running battle which lasted several days, three Frenchmen were killed. The fourth managed to escape over Cochetopa Pass (just west of Saguache). Sensing that his pursuers were closing in, he buried the gold on Round Mountain with the hopes of later returning for it. The Indians caught and killed the lone French-Canadian near the summit of Poncha Pass.”

    The treasure was never found, but the story endures, hundreds of years later. I travel on U.S. 285,which winds within feet of this little mountain, and on every trip north out of the San Luis Valley, I wonder...

    One of Colorado’s most fabulous treasure legends is centered around a sizeable French expedition that journeyed to our area in the late 1700s. Setting out from a small French outpost near present-day Leavenworth, Kan., 300 men and 450 horses began the long trek toward the Rockies. The guides, officers, miners and laborers, following the course of the Platte River, explored and prospected several areas before reaching southern Colorado, and it is believed by some that the huge expedition may have superficially prospected unsuccessfully at Cripple Creek and other mining regions that later produced fabulous gold fields.

    Working their way south, they finally ended up near present-day Summitville, Colo. They made camp several miles east of Wolf Creek Pass and began prospecting the many creeks that flowed down the San Juan Mountains, just west of the San Luis Valley, hoping to find the elusive malleable metal. They allegedly struck the mother lode and buried the gold on what is now called Treasure Mountain.


    Most sources estimated the value at some $5 million, although one source estimated the cache as worth $33 million dollars. According to later reports, the gold was cached in three places, only known to the top officers of the expedition. A key chart was made of the entire area and kept by the officer in command.


    At first, upon their arrival at the Summitville area, the Native Indians seemed friendly. However, for some reason not presently known, the Indians became angry with the French. Perhaps the knowledge that the French were leaving with gold from their lands prompted them to attack the expedition as the French set out. In any event, an attack was mounted, and during the pitched battle, the gold was reburied and the French made new maps detailing where the buried gold was hidden. Very few French survived the battle. Estimates range from 17 to 35, but it is known the some of them did survive the Indian onslaught. To make matters worse, they were attacked again out on the Front Range, and only five men survived to continue the journey back to the French outpost in Kansas. Starvation and bitter conditions killed off three of the men, who may have been eaten by the surviving two members. The two men, more dead than alive, stumbled into the outpost and one of them died.

    The sole survivor, the expedition’s historian named “Le Blanc,” eventually traveled back to France with two copies of the treasure map. One was given to the French government, the other, naturally, he kept.

    There is much confusion at this part of the story. One version has the historian’s family mounting an expedition and returning to find the buried treasure. Another version has the French government mounting an expedition led by a relative of the historian. In any event, the second expedition, which numbered around 50 men, headed west to recover the gold. Stopping in Taos, N.M., they obtained the services of a guide who led them to the Summitville area. Allegedly, they searched the entire area for three years with no apparent luck. Then, the guide returned to Taos alone, claiming the entire expedition had again been wiped out by the Indians. The locals were suspicious of him because he was the sole survivor. He was tried for murder, but was acquitted. It is said that his trial was the last Mexican trial held in United States territory. Some theorists claim the whole story was contrived by the French who secretly found the gold and returned to France with it. The guide was paid to be a “patsy” and promised a fortune to return to Taos with the untrue story of a massacre. This scenario seems unlikely, although later, French equipment was found among the Indians.


    Another version has the guide spending years trying in vain to locate the lost treasure of Treasure Mountain. Several maps have appeared claiming to lead to the re-buried treasure. A man named William Yule claimed he had a copy of the original and searched the entire western side of the valley – all the way north to Saguache, with no apparent success. Another colorful prospector named As a Poor obtained the map from Yule, and with two partners, was able to locate several landmarks leading to the caches, but was not able to finally locate the hidden French gold. One of Poor’s partners, named Montroy, retained possession of the map, but it disappeared several years later.


    Eureka?


    After much digging, and a bit of luck, I’ve located and talked with several knowledgeable “treasure hunters.” I began hearing stories of “treasure maps.” Then, in 1993, I was introduced to a amiable man I’ll call Tomas Ortiz (not his real name). Tomas’ wife is the daughter of the patriarch of the treasure-hunting family. At one point in our initial conversation, he casually told me that his brother-in-law has an authentic “treasure map written in French,” and his family are “direct descendents of Le Blanc.” He told me, “for three generations” they have been quietly searching for the fabled lost French gold. Their claim is backed up with, what appears to be, a genuine map, drawn by the harried second expedition before they unsuccessfully tried to escape with their lives. Could this actually be the real Le Blanc map? Their map and story are impressive.


    After searching for decades, family members have slowly and painstakingly located seven out of eight landmarks and clues carved in rock that are mentioned in the map. The most important eighth and final clue has eluded their efforts for years. Then,in 1993, their lucked turned. Or did it?


    Thirty-year-old Tomas happened to be hunting elk, in the mountains southeast of Del Norte, Colo., on an overcast late fall morning in 1993. The clouds loomed threatening, and a cold hard rain began to spit. The pale pre-dawn gloom cast faint detail to the surrounding vegetation, and Ortiz looked around for shelter from the rain. He spotted a small 3-foot opening in the ground, hidden by some underbrush, and after removing some loose rocks, he squeezed through the opening and peered into the darkness. He clicked on his flashlight and was surprised to find he had entered a 5-foot-high, 4-foot-wide tunnel, obviously man-made. Ortiz cautiously explored down the gentle-sloping narrow passageway, and after wriggling about 20 feet into the hillside, his way was blocked by an apparent underground landslide. Shining his light around the dim narrow passageway, he spied a carving on the rock wall next to the cave-in. Quite aware of his in-law’s long quest, he was thrilled by what he saw. It was the long-lost eighth clue that according to the treasure map indicated the hidden location of the fabled French treasure. Completely forgetting the wily elk herd he had been stalking, he excitedly rushed back to town to tell the family of his fortuitous find.

    The following day, Tomas led an expedition back to the tunnel. Members of the party, consisting of 20 family members, began eagerly excavating the cave-in, and after several grueling hours of hard work, they extended the tunnel an additional 12 feet into the mountainside. Thirty-two feet in, they encountered a large boulder that appeared to have been purposely rolled into place to seal the rest of the passageway. By this time, the sun had set and the elated group gathered at the entrance and took a break as twilight approached from the east. Undaunted by the approaching night, Tomas lined the length of the passageway with a dozen equally spaced unlit candles. The ensuing events allegedly occurred “in a matter of minutes.”

    As Ortiz placed the last candle at the far end of the tunnel, a “large rattlesnake” lunged out of the gloom and narrowly missed striking him. He frantically scrambled breathlessly back out to the entrance followed by a boiling “swarm of bats” that began pouring out of the hillside. Uncharacteristically, the small mammals began squeaking and diving aggressively at the surprised party. What they claim happened seconds later quickly erased the elation and excitement of the expedition.According to Tomas, as he knelt down to light the first candle at the entrance to the tunnel, the “candle at the far end” of the passageway inexplicably flared on by itself! The stunned group knowing no one was in the tunnel stared at each other in horror. “At that instant,” out of the gloom, a “huge owl” dive-bombed the shocked party within inches of their heads. That was the last straw. As if chased by the devil himself, the terrified group grabbed their children, raced down the hillside, piled into their cars and, as Tomas put it, they “got the hell outta there!”


    Further research has uncovered information that suggests the Ute Indians may have acquired some of the French gold during the running battle, and hid it down near the mouth of the Rio Grande Canyon. As of this writing, the family has obtained the Colorado state treasure rights to legally enter the cave and claim whatever treasure is located there. I have been invited along to document the event.

    Treasure in the San Luis Valley: The golden horde, part II
    Last edited by Randy Bradford; Mar 11, 2016 at 03:40 PM. Reason: Formatting
    mdog, sdcfia, PatrickD and 4 others like this.
    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 2: Ask Exanimo!

    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 1: Exanimo Looks at Books

    ----------
    Randy Bradford's Buy, Sell and Trade List


    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...

    Understanding our hobby, by embracing its history...

  3. #3
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,655
    6950 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    I haven't read any of these, but mdog thought highly of the first volume. These books seem to be the go-to source for the story.

    http://www.amazon.com/Citadel-Mounta.../dp/B003B4J6CU

    http://www.amazon.com/Citadel-mounta.../dp/B0006QE82E

    Citadel Mountain III: 1885-1920: Maynard Cornett Adams: Amazon.com: Books

    There also seems to be belief in some circles that the Zebulon Pike expedition of 1806-07 may have been following up on the French legends.
    Last edited by sdcfia; Mar 11, 2016 at 03:45 PM.
    "Well, yeah, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
    Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, 1998

  4. #4
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    Quote Originally Posted by sdcfia View Post
    I haven't read any of these, but mdog thought highly of the first volume. These books seem to be the go-to source for the story.

    http://www.amazon.com/Citadel-Mounta.../dp/B003B4J6CU

    Citadel mountain II: (1844-1848): Maynard Cornett Adams: Amazon.com: Books

    Citadel Mountain III: 1885-1920: Maynard Cornett Adams: Amazon.com: Books

    There also seems to be belief in some circles that the Zebulon Pike expedition of 1806-07 may have been following up on the French legends.
    Yes, I did enjoy the first two books. I'm still waiting for the third book. The author of the Citadel Mountain books, Maynard Cornett Adams, passed away in 2015. I've been spending 3-5 hours a day researching this story ever since you posted it on my thread on the KGC forum. A person of interest to me is Louis de Villemont. I've found a little bit of information, but not much.

    (Compiled by Mrs. Bynum Blackmon, 105 Cula Vista, El Dorado, Ark.)

    LOUIS JOSEPH DE VILLEMQNT
    (BROTHER OF DON CARLOS (Charles Melchior) De Villemont) who was Commandant at
    Arkansas Post 1794 to 1802.)1

    Parents: Jean Pierre (Pedro) Girard de Villemont and Marie Louise (Francisca)
    Petit de Coulange2

    Louis Joseph De Villemont, brother of Don Carlos, was born in approximately the year
    1762, probably in Goinis in Burgona (Joigny-Burgunday) 60 miles Southeast of Paris,
    the same proven location of Don Carlos* birthplace, and home of his parents.

    He was a Gendarme de la Reine, Queens Bodyguard, Luneville, France, probably around
    the year 1782.3 Luneville is located on the Northeast Point of France, in the Province
    of Lorraine. The French King at that time was Louis XVI (Reign 1774-1792) and his
    Queen was Marie Antoinette. They were both executed in 1793, during the French
    Revolution, which began in 1789.4

    A French Cross of Honor, with the date 1693 inscribed (probably date of Order), is in
    possession of DeVillemont's heir, Bynum 0. Blackmon, 105 Chula Vista, El Dorado, Ark.
    It was awarded to Louis De Villemont probably sometime during the period from 1782 to
    1792, which covers the period of his service in the Queens Bodyguard of Louis XVI and
    Marie Antoinette. The Cross has four wings, each with two gold points. These are
    gold, set in white enamel. The center is round, with engravings on both sides. One
    side is a full-length figure of a King, engraved in gold, complete with a crown and
    white ermine robe. Around the edge of the center are the letters: L U D M INST 1693.
    The other side of the center is a gold sword standing on its point, with a wreath around
    the blade, and on a background of red and gold. Around the edge of it are the letters:
    KRIL VIRTUTIS HR AE M. Consideration should be taken, when reading this description,
    that some of the letters are worn, and may not be exact.

    Louis De Villemont also served sometime after 1796 as Captain of Louisiana to
    Talleyrand. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (Born 1754-1838) was a famous French
    statesman. From 1796 to 1804 he served as French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
    It was during this period that Louis de Villemont served under Talleyrand. Louis
    made many voyages throughout America (by order of the Spanish King) and his knowledge
    was so great that his abstracts and memoirs were preserved.

    The following is quoted from Surrey - 6 PP AE, Etats Unis sup. 7:186: June 6, 1802:
    Prair X, Sedan France. Louis Villemont, ex-Captain of La, to Talleyrand. His
    knowledge of Louisiana, through voyages (by order of the Spanish King) to the U.S.,
    Canada, New Mexico, Upper Louisiana, Great Plains, Missouri River to the St. Pierre
    river, his abstracts and memoirs were sent to Seer of Indies and his collection to
    the intendance of La. (Canadian peltry trade (fur) with La., Miss., designated as
    upper and lower La., approval of retrocession.)

    Also from Surrey; AE Etats, Unis Sup, 7:189: ©July 3, 1814: Mess., X, Sedan. Louis
    Villemont, ex-captain of La. to Talleyrand. Memoir on La. 24 PP.

    Family records show that Louis De Villemont was a wealthy planter in the Bonne Carre
    Section of Louisiana at one time.

    Also in the possession of the heirs are two large portraits of Louis De Villemont,
    size 22" X 26", showing him dressed in a suit of armor, and also showing the identical
    Cross of Honor on his breast. One picture is the original oil, which is flaking and
    in poor condition. The other is a black and white charcoal replica of the oil. The
    original oil was found behind the black and white copy with a newspaper, a 1893 copy of
    the Arkansas City Journal. Evidently some member of the family had the copy made and
    then covered the original in an effort to preserve it. No artist's name is on either.
    1.2,3. - P. 236 - Old Families of Louisiana - Stanley Arthur
    4 - World Book Encyclopedia
    Randy Bradford and sdcfia like this.

  5. #5
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Bradford View Post
    Treasure in the San Luis Valley: The golden horde, part II

    By Christopher O’Brien (November 21, 1997)


    The French expedition of1790


    Journeying down from the northern Rockies, exploratory French forays into therarefied air of the Sangre de Cristos are said to have produced gold. A little-known story researched by Crestone author Jack Harlan concerns an ill-fated French-Canadian expedition into the southern Colorado Rockies, and is centered around a very identifiable northern San Luis Valley landmark.

    “While leaving the San Luis Valley by way of Poncha Pass, Round Mountain is skirted on the left. Hereon Round Mountain an undetermined amount of gold nuggets [is] supposedly buried. There are several versions of the story. The most popular one is about a French Canadian trapper whose name has become lost through the years. . . .”

    A party of Canadians were trapping on the Snake River when they were discovered by American trappers, who attacked. In their hasty retreat, the Frenchmen lost their furs and traps to the Americans. Traveling south into western Colorado, one of the four found a gold nugget in the headwaters of the Gunnison River. Here they spent the next month successfully panning the gravel bars. Ute Indians discovered the Frenchmen and attacked them. In the running battle which lasted several days, three Frenchmen were killed. The fourth managed to escape over Cochetopa Pass (just west of Saguache). Sensing that his pursuers were closing in, he buried the gold on Round Mountain with the hopes of later returning for it. The Indians caught and killed the lone French-Canadian near the summit of Poncha Pass.”

    The treasure was never found, but the story endures, hundreds of years later. I travel on U.S. 285,which winds within feet of this little mountain, and on every trip north out of the San Luis Valley, I wonder...

    One of Colorado’s most fabulous treasure legends is centered around a sizeable French expedition that journeyed to our area in the late 1700s. Setting out from a small French outpost near present-day Leavenworth, Kan., 300 men and 450 horses began the long trek toward the Rockies. The guides, officers, miners and laborers, following the course of the Platte River, explored and prospected several areas before reaching southern Colorado, and it is believed by some that the huge expedition may have superficially prospected unsuccessfully at Cripple Creek and other mining regions that later produced fabulous gold fields.

    Working their way south, they finally ended up near present-day Summitville, Colo. They made camp several miles east of Wolf Creek Pass and began prospecting the many creeks that flowed down the San Juan Mountains, just west of the San Luis Valley, hoping to find the elusive malleable metal. They allegedly struck the mother lode and buried the gold on what is now called Treasure Mountain.


    Most sources estimated the value at some $5 million, although one source estimated the cache as worth $33 million dollars. According to later reports, the gold was cached in three places, only known to the top officers of the expedition. A key chart was made of the entire area and kept by the officer in command.


    At first, upon their arrival at the Summitville area, the Native Indians seemed friendly. However, for some reason not presently known, the Indians became angry with the French. Perhaps the knowledge that the French were leaving with gold from their lands prompted them to attack the expedition as the French set out. In any event, an attack was mounted, and during the pitched battle, the gold was reburied and the French made new maps detailing where the buried gold was hidden. Very few French survived the battle. Estimates range from 17 to 35, but it is known the some of them did survive the Indian onslaught. To make matters worse, they were attacked again out on the Front Range, and only five men survived to continue the journey back to the French outpost in Kansas. Starvation and bitter conditions killed off three of the men, who may have been eaten by the surviving two members. The two men, more dead than alive, stumbled into the outpost and one of them died.

    The sole survivor, the expedition’s historian named “Le Blanc,” eventually traveled back to France with two copies of the treasure map. One was given to the French government, the other, naturally, he kept.

    There is much confusion at this part of the story. One version has the historian’s family mounting an expedition and returning to find the buried treasure. Another version has the French government mounting an expedition led by a relative of the historian. In any event, the second expedition, which numbered around 50 men, headed west to recover the gold. Stopping in Taos, N.M., they obtained the services of a guide who led them to the Summitville area. Allegedly, they searched the entire area for three years with no apparent luck. Then, the guide returned to Taos alone, claiming the entire expedition had again been wiped out by the Indians. The locals were suspicious of him because he was the sole survivor. He was tried for murder, but was acquitted. It is said that his trial was the last Mexican trial held in United States territory. Some theorists claim the whole story was contrived by the French who secretly found the gold and returned to France with it. The guide was paid to be a “patsy” and promised a fortune to return to Taos with the untrue story of a massacre. This scenario seems unlikely, although later, French equipment was found among the Indians.


    Another version has the guide spending years trying in vain to locate the lost treasure of Treasure Mountain. Several maps have appeared claiming to lead to the re-buried treasure. A man named William Yule claimed he had a copy of the original and searched the entire western side of the valley – all the way north to Saguache, with no apparent success. Another colorful prospector named As a Poor obtained the map from Yule, and with two partners, was able to locate several landmarks leading to the caches, but was not able to finally locate the hidden French gold. One of Poor’s partners, named Montroy, retained possession of the map, but it disappeared several years later.


    Eureka?


    After much digging, and a bit of luck, I’ve located and talked with several knowledgeable “treasure hunters.” I began hearing stories of “treasure maps.” Then, in 1993, I was introduced to a amiable man I’ll call Tomas Ortiz (not his real name). Tomas’ wife is the daughter of the patriarch of the treasure-hunting family. At one point in our initial conversation, he casually told me that his brother-in-law has an authentic “treasure map written in French,” and his family are “direct descendents of Le Blanc.” He told me, “for three generations” they have been quietly searching for the fabled lost French gold. Their claim is backed up with, what appears to be, a genuine map, drawn by the harried second expedition before they unsuccessfully tried to escape with their lives. Could this actually be the real Le Blanc map? Their map and story are impressive.


    After searching for decades, family members have slowly and painstakingly located seven out of eight landmarks and clues carved in rock that are mentioned in the map. The most important eighth and final clue has eluded their efforts for years. Then,in 1993, their lucked turned. Or did it?


    Thirty-year-old Tomas happened to be hunting elk, in the mountains southeast of Del Norte, Colo., on an overcast late fall morning in 1993. The clouds loomed threatening, and a cold hard rain began to spit. The pale pre-dawn gloom cast faint detail to the surrounding vegetation, and Ortiz looked around for shelter from the rain. He spotted a small 3-foot opening in the ground, hidden by some underbrush, and after removing some loose rocks, he squeezed through the opening and peered into the darkness. He clicked on his flashlight and was surprised to find he had entered a 5-foot-high, 4-foot-wide tunnel, obviously man-made. Ortiz cautiously explored down the gentle-sloping narrow passageway, and after wriggling about 20 feet into the hillside, his way was blocked by an apparent underground landslide. Shining his light around the dim narrow passageway, he spied a carving on the rock wall next to the cave-in. Quite aware of his in-law’s long quest, he was thrilled by what he saw. It was the long-lost eighth clue that according to the treasure map indicated the hidden location of the fabled French treasure. Completely forgetting the wily elk herd he had been stalking, he excitedly rushed back to town to tell the family of his fortuitous find.

    The following day, Tomas led an expedition back to the tunnel. Members of the party, consisting of 20 family members, began eagerly excavating the cave-in, and after several grueling hours of hard work, they extended the tunnel an additional 12 feet into the mountainside. Thirty-two feet in, they encountered a large boulder that appeared to have been purposely rolled into place to seal the rest of the passageway. By this time, the sun had set and the elated group gathered at the entrance and took a break as twilight approached from the east. Undaunted by the approaching night, Tomas lined the length of the passageway with a dozen equally spaced unlit candles. The ensuing events allegedly occurred “in a matter of minutes.”

    As Ortiz placed the last candle at the far end of the tunnel, a “large rattlesnake” lunged out of the gloom and narrowly missed striking him. He frantically scrambled breathlessly back out to the entrance followed by a boiling “swarm of bats” that began pouring out of the hillside. Uncharacteristically, the small mammals began squeaking and diving aggressively at the surprised party. What they claim happened seconds later quickly erased the elation and excitement of the expedition.According to Tomas, as he knelt down to light the first candle at the entrance to the tunnel, the “candle at the far end” of the passageway inexplicably flared on by itself! The stunned group knowing no one was in the tunnel stared at each other in horror. “At that instant,” out of the gloom, a “huge owl” dive-bombed the shocked party within inches of their heads. That was the last straw. As if chased by the devil himself, the terrified group grabbed their children, raced down the hillside, piled into their cars and, as Tomas put it, they “got the hell outta there!”


    Further research has uncovered information that suggests the Ute Indians may have acquired some of the French gold during the running battle, and hid it down near the mouth of the Rio Grande Canyon. As of this writing, the family has obtained the Colorado state treasure rights to legally enter the cave and claim whatever treasure is located there. I have been invited along to document the event.

    Treasure in the San Luis Valley: The golden horde, part II
    I believe the story became widespread between 1934-1941. Here's an article.

    Pagosa Springs SUN |

    The story in your post is a lot different than what's in Maynard Adam's book. Mr. Adams researched this story for 25 years. He writes that gold was discovered on the South Platte and Arkansas River during an exploration expedition led by Captain Louis de Villemont from 1794-1796. Villemont was a Frenchman who explored for the Spanish when Spain claimed Louisiana. You can read a little bit about him in my post above. Villemont organized a clandestine expedition to search and mine for gold during 1799. The expedition consisted of Frenchmen from Louisiana, Canada and France and was led by a man named Lebreau. The expedition consisted of two groups, one leaving from St. Louis and the other from New Orleans. According to Mr. Adams, two men survived the Massacre, Lebreau and Leblanc. Leblanc lost his mind during the ordeal and died a few weeks after they made their way to St. Louis.

    In the second book, Adams tells how some of the descendants of the original expedition went to Colorado and recovered most of the gold. I'm waiting for book three.

    This is an interesting story but I've become more interested in some of the behind the scenes players, Napolean, Talleyrand, Villemont, Collot and others.

    I'd like to see you keep this thread moving. I'll help if I can. One of the things I would like to know is, did Maynard Adams leave his notes to some museum or university?
    Last edited by mdog; Mar 11, 2016 at 10:00 PM.

  6. #6

    Jun 2004
    350
    571 times
    I'll have to find the story as it ran in the early 1970s in either True Treasure or Treasure world, it references the original Colorado newspaper account that rand much earlier than the 1930s or 1940s. As I recall it gives the paper and the year but that's still a lot of ground to cover.
    mdog likes this.
    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 2: Ask Exanimo!

    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 1: Exanimo Looks at Books

    ----------
    Randy Bradford's Buy, Sell and Trade List


    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...

    Understanding our hobby, by embracing its history...

  7. #7
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,655
    6950 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    The number of major treasure legends that came into the general public's awareness ca 1920s-1940s is striking. There are explanations for this, such as tough times in the Depression fueling searches for pots of gold, a coded-message conspiracy perpetrated by a shadowy powerful group that cached major hoards in many places, and perhaps others. Although extremely tedious and time-consuming, a researcher really ought to verify the names of the players in these published accounts. You'll likely find that there is no record that the people mentioned in the stories actually existed. There could be reasons for that too, but it's troubling.

    One thing that mdog has established is the historical verification of the French players in the Treasure Mountain legend. That's important and provides backup to the idea that this story may have legs. My bet is that the real truth here is probably different than the treasure magazine and newspaper articles have published, but based on facts that have been obscured. The original documents might tell the story, but the chances that we'll see those are probably next to nothing in 2016.
    "Well, yeah, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
    Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, 1998

  8. #8
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    Quote Originally Posted by sdcfia View Post
    The number of major treasure legends that came into the general public's awareness ca 1920s-1940s is striking. There are explanations for this, such as tough times in the Depression fueling searches for pots of gold, a coded-message conspiracy perpetrated by a shadowy powerful group that cached major hoards in many places, and perhaps others. Although extremely tedious and time-consuming, a researcher really ought to verify the names of the players in these published accounts. You'll likely find that there is no record that the people mentioned in the stories actually existed. There could be reasons for that too, but it's troubling.

    One thing that mdog has established is the historical verification of the French players in the Treasure Mountain legend. That's important and provides backup to the idea that this story may have legs. My bet is that the real truth here is probably different than the treasure magazine and newspaper articles have published, but based on facts that have been obscured. The original documents might tell the story, but the chances that we'll see those are probably next to nothing in 2016.
    Great post, sdcfia. An important part of this story is the expedition of Captain Louis de Villemont. Finding proof of the expedition has been unproductive, so far. But, I'm having trouble verifying parts of the story. Mr. Adams left a lot of notes in his references but It's been time consuming trying to track them down.

    While looking for a map of Villemont's expedition, I read of a cartographer who was living in St. Louis about the same time, 1794-1796. His name was Antoine Soulard.

    Antoine Pierre Soulard (1766 - 1825) - Find A Grave Memorial

    Here's a link that shows his map.

    https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4125.ct000683/

    Here's an article about Soulard's map written by W. Raymond Wood. He explains the possible origin of Soulard's map.

    http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/vi...lainsquarterly

    While reading Mr. Woods article, I noticed the name Georges Collot.

    American Journeys Background on Journey in North America, Containing a Survey of the Countries Watered by the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, and Other Affluing Rivers [volume 1]

    Here are two books about his expedition in North America, I haven't read the second book, yet.

    AJ-088a: Collot, Journey in North America (1796) :: American Journeys

    AJ-088b: Collot, Journey in North America (1796) :: American Journeys

    Things are starting to get complicated at this point. My resources are limited, but there are a lot of similarities between the stories of Villemont and Collot. They were both spies for the French, they both had contacts in Philadelphia, Adet for Collot and Tallyrand for Villemont, they both encouraged the French government to acquire and develop Louisiana and they both disappeared about the same time, Collet died in 1805 and Villemont, according to Maynard Adams, was never heard of after the Louisiana Purchase. If anybody has ancestry.com and can verify the death of Louis de Villemont and the location of his grave, I would greatly appreciate it.
    sdcfia and Benjamin Gates like this.

  9. #9

    Jun 2004
    350
    571 times
    Here's a lengthy article by none other than Xanthus Carson, AKA well-known travel writer H. Glenn Carson. This is the article I previously referenced and was my first exposure to the Treasure Mountain cache. He references the Denver Post, 1921 as the source of the story. That narrows down the paper and the year, but as the Denver Post continues to be published, electronic archives are not available.

    Hidden Hoard on Treasure Mountain

    By: Xanthus Carson

    (Originally appeared in Treasure World, September 1971)

    "Gold - millions upon millions of it.”

    "Gold, hidden in a secret place in the side of a Colorado mountain, to await the day of its removal to France."

    Thus began a 25,000-word article, published in serial form in the Denver Post in 1921 , which related a story of one of the most fabulous lost treasures of all time.

    It is the story of a 300-man party of French officers and soldiers who established an extensive - and richly productive-gold mining operation in the San Juan mountain range of what is now Archuleta County, Colorado, in or about the year 1770. It tells how the soldier-miners established an elaborate headquarters "on a mesa on Treasure Mountain" and mined placer deposits over a wide area in the San Juans, amassing a hoard of $33,000,000 in five prosperous years before Indian attacks reduced their numbers so drastically that the gold was cached and the remaining handful tried desperately to escape.

    Only one man lived to return to France with the story...

    The vast Louisiana Territory was within the sovereign domain of France in 1770, and word had drifted back to New Orleans of rich minerals being mined in what is now southern Colorado by the Spaniards after Juan de Onate had followed the 1540 expedition of Coronado. In 1598, Onate established a settlement at a wilderness point about 70 miles northwest of present-day Santa Fe, New Mexico. The settlement was named San Gabriel.

    Onate explored the new land for gold, as well as for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola which had lured Coronado into the disastrous expedition. Onate made some discoveries, although these strikes were not as productive as those made in the same region years later.

    News of the Spaniards' discoveries fired the French into action. By the spring of 1770, the French party, consisting of 300 soldiers, officers and supernumeraries struck out from New Orleans for the land of gold. Their route led them over uncharted territory.

    The daring trek led the Frenchmen northwesterly to the Arkansas River. Following the river's banks, they blazed a trail toward the Rocky Mountains, buoyed on by reports of earlier Spaniards that gold and precious stones existed in abundance in the land that lay ahead.

    At San Luis Park, general site of the future Fort Garland, the French party believed the mining country of Onate had been found. San Gabriel lay to the south. Not finding what they had anticipated, however, the Frenchmen pushed on through Cochetops Pass into the Gunnison country. In this region the party found no trace of the reputed Onate workings. The men then turned southward, entering Spanish territory, which later spelled doom for them.

    Passing Del Norte, the party skirted the San Juan Mountains, striking the South Fork of the Rio Grande about where Summitville came into existence with the discovery of gold a century later. Details of this passage later came to light from a report made by the sole survivor of the 300-man party. The report was delivered to officials in France after one of the most terrible journeys ever recorded in the annals of the American West.

    The French struck gold in the San Juan Mountains. The excited men fell to work, diligently mining and prospecting all over the country. A headquarters station was established on a mesa of Treasure Mountain, overlooking the San Juan River. This point was north of today's Pagosa Spring, later mapped as being due east of Summitville, according to the Denver Post story.

    The great extent of the Frenchmen's operations was discovered many years later by an American explorer named Mathew Arnold, who made a thorough search of the area when he first encountered old mining signs. Arnold told the Post writer that he dug up "plenty" of evidence that a big operation had been carried on at one time along the South Fork. Several feet below the surface he had unearthed many old spruce sluice boxes that had been used along the stream, he said.

    Not stopping at what had been found on the South Fork, the party spread out and prospected the whole country. The efforts paid off so well that the original headquarters was enlarged, acquiring an aspect of permanence. The spot was charted as being about twenty-five miles from the South Fork of the Rio Grande, slightly north of the locality where Summitville was founded, on a park-like mesa of the southern slope of Treasure Mountain.

    All of the gold accumulated in this fantastic operation was (or would have been) net profit to the French crown, since private soldiers were not paid for working in the mines. It is thought, however, that the men were promised shares in the bullion in order to keep down strife and mutiny in the party.

    The group used 500 horses to transport gold from outlying mine fields to the headquarters station, to haul firewood and building timbers to the camps, and to make long journeys into the mountains on various missions connected with the placer workings. The hours of labor were long and strenuous.

    Mining flourished, and gold in various forms accumulated in the stockpile at headquarters, with a value beyond the wildest dreams of any of them.

    Mining continued for five prosperous years. The Spaniards were mining regions to the west, around Hesperus Mountains, and to the south. And from this came trouble for the far-ranging Frenchmen.

    The French soldiers began to frequent Taos, to the south, on the outskirts of an Indian pueblo. Here the lonely men met lovely senoritas, whom they courted and married. Life was thus much pleasanter for the lonely men during the long winter months when snow banked high in the upper altitudes, blocking the mine work.

    When spring thaws came, the miners flocked back to the San Juan Mountains, leaving their women behind. This greatly displeased the Spanish girls, who felt that they had been jilted. They investigated and learned the vast scope of the Frenchmen's operations. When this news was relayed to Spanish authorities, the Frenchmen's fate was sealed.

    The Spaniards recruited regional Indians, who loved nothing better than a chance to harvest white scalps. Attacks began on the scattered French miners. Silent arrows from an unseen foe, a sudden rush from ambush with thudding tomahawks - singly and by small groups the Frenchmen began to disappear without a trace. There were no forays in force, no massacres of large parties. But inexorably the French party began to dwindle.

    The frightened officers realized that the whole party was doomed. Time would find the Frenchmen hopelessly outnumbered and at the mercy of the Indians and Spaniards.

    A decision was made to store the accumulated $33,000,000 in gold in an underground cache and leave it to be recovered by a strongly armed force later. The cache was carefully and thoroughly prepared, according to the Post story:

    "The nuggets were melted into bars for convenience and every bit of foreign matter was broken away, for economy of space. The loose gold was placed in strong deerskin pouches, and the pouches were hard packed in doubly reinforced spruce boxes.

    "A shaft was sunk to bedrock, which was reached at a depth of thirty-two feet. From bedrock a tunnel was run off in a northwestern direction for a considerable distance. The report to the French government stated that in this tunnel a well was sunk in solid rock and that in this well would be found a bottle containing a deerskin manuscript giving further directions as to the exact location of the gold.

    "The shaft was a marvel of construction. It went straight down. It was walled from top to bottom with irregularly sized flat rocks perfectly laid and joined without mortar or cement, as perfectly as any mechanic of today could do with mortar or cement. These rocks were picked up on the mesa.

    "All the spaces back of the lining wall were filled with river worn pebbles ranging from the size of a thumb to the size of a man's foot. These pebbles must have been hauled from a distance of miles as none like them can be found on the mesa. They were taken, without doubt, from the South Fork of the Rio Grande or the West Fork of the San Juan.

    "The markings of trees and chiseling of rocks were spread over a distance of five miles around the shaft. The markings were of two characters. The outermost was in form of the letter V inverted, with the ends wider than in the letter. They extended all around the shaft. Those east of the shaft pointed west, those west of it pointed east, and so on around the compass. These marks were so plentiful that later explorers have considered that they were made to mislead any person not armed with the chart to use as a check.

    "The other marks were chiseled in rocks and do not cover a wide space. They represent the impression that a bear's foot would make in soft earth, only the heel, and the pads of the toes, and sometimes, the claws showing. This imitation of a bear's trail always pointed to the shaft, just as the inverted V did."

    By the time the painstaking work of hiding the treasure was finished, the original French party of 300, through the constant war of attrition carried on by the Indians, had shrunk to the pitiful total of thirty-five men!

    This beleagured, starving handful of very wealthy Frenchmen struck out eastward. But death pursued them, and only two hollow-eyed survivors staggered into a French fur post on the Missouri River, not far from the present site of Kansas City. One of them died there and the other, a man named Labreau, somehow made his way to France bearing the chart to the treasure.

    Labreau turned the chart over to French authorities, and made a complete report of the expedition's fate from the beginning to his arrival in France. The deerskin chart, of course, gave explicit directions to the hidden hoard on Treasure Mountain. But Labreau, took the pains to keep copies of the original for himself.

    It remained for these fantastic documents to come to light in the Western Hemisphere in 1844, when a second party of Frenchmen came in search of the hoard. The group arrived in Taos, New Mexico, traveling on horses, thus leaving the impression that their landing had been made on the coast of California. The men made no effort to conceal the object of their mission - they were looking for Treasure Mountain.

    The treasure hunters sought a man who was familiar with the San Juan Mountains to act as guide. So Bernardo Sanchez joined the party in this capacity.

    With pack mules and plenty of provisions, the party pulled out of Taos, headed up the Red River Valley. At a point that later became the rip-roaring mining camp of Elizabethtown, the men halted by a stream to prepare a meal. One of them took a pan and went to the water's edge to pan for gold – and found it.

    In a short time, a swarm of Indians came over the mountain and chased the men out of the country. They never returned to this strike, which later produced millions in placer gold, plus a town that was at one time the largest in New Mexico Territory.

    As Sanchez later told it, the party made the shortest possible journey to Treasure Mountain, occasionally stopping to study an old chart and a strange-looking manuscript. A full halt was not made until the future site of Summitville was reached, where camp was made on the spot of the old rendezvous of the party's predecessors.
    About seventy years had elapsed since the first French mining party had cached the $33,000,000 in gold, and as soon as camp was pitched the men busied themselves by studying the old deerskin chart and exploring the area.

    "They looked at that map all the time," Sanchez said. "They made a dot on the map every time they found a tree with a cut on it like a V, or the chiseling of a grizzly bear's paw on a stone."

    At one time while these feverish exploration were in progress, Sanchez was sent back to Taos with one of the Frenchmen and several pack mules to procure more supplies - mostly wine. Sanchez' trail companion spoke Spanish fluently, and after they had become close friends, the Frenchmen told the Spanish all about the treasure hoard.
    The Frenchman said the key to the hidden treasure was as follows:

    At a certain hour and minute of a certain night and month, in the shadow cast by one of the trees, at a point a certain number of feet from the base of the tree, was the exact location of the buried treasure.

    A mock grave around which grew three spruce trees, equidistant from the grave, was the starting point of calculation.

    Sanchez was then sixty years old, and his memory failed to recall later the time, the minute, hour and distance named by the Frenchman.

    Some years later, Asa Poor, an American explorer, found the mock grave. But he could not locate the tree. Scholars have said that had the spot where the tree grew been located, the treasure could have been found through astronomical calculations on any day of the year.

    The Frenchmen remained in the area until 1847, but apparently found nothing. Sanchez, who was with them all of the time, said that he packed in lots of supplies, but he packed nothing out.

    "To carry that much gold bullion across this country would require 600 stout mules, and this didn't happen," he said.

    In the end, the Apaches swept down on the party and killed every man except Sanchez, who managed to escape by the skin of his teeth. Back in Taos, he was even accused of murdering the Frenchmen, but was cleared when garments, saddles and guns known to have belonged to the unfortunate men were seen in the possession of Indians.

    Up to recent years, articles believed to have belonged to either the first or second French party were picked up around Treasure Peak. These articles included broken packsaddles, horseshoes, spurs and other items.

    The writer of the Denver Post story believed that the second French party may actually have found the treasure, only to change it to another hiding place when attacked by Indians.

    Later searchers found a small park, about a mile from the shaft and mock grave, in which there was a series of ridges. These ridges were so uniform in distance apart and in height and straightness as to undoubtedly be the work Of man. Digging here unearthed ten or twelve skulls which crumbled when exposed to the air. Full skeletons were not found, nor was any vestige of clothing - not even a button – which proved that the bodies had been stripped before burial.

    Quite a number of rifle shells were found with the skeletal remains, like those used in old-fashioned guns. Shells were not known, of course, at the time the original French party came to Treasure Mountain. The shells found were of the type used at the time of the arrival of the second party.

    Thus the second French party passed into oblivion. And there is little question that the $33,000,000 cache remained after their passage, possibly somewhere near the original hiding place but in a different one.

    The Post story listed several persons, in addition to the French party of 1841, who had copies of the original chart and manuscript which had been prepared as guides to the treasure. The writer of the 1921 story stated that a son of a man named Leon Montroy said that his father had a "set of copies," but that these had become lost. The writer added:

    "Asa Poor and John Gaylord had a copy of Montroy's copy."

    The ink was scarcely dry on the Post series before the gold of Treasure Mountain began making headlines. Two Colorado ranchers claimed to have reached the threshold of the treasure with the discovery of a second shaft, about 200 feet from the original one.

    The pair claimed to have found a "stone tablet" at the bottom of the second shaft which gave a complete description of the treasure's location. Etched in Spanish, the tablet stated that three tunnels and two walls would have to be pierced before the treasure could be found, the men said.

    The tablet also included the information that, because of a rock slide, the treasure would be found 202 feet below the original location, which was given as many feet under the ground. According to the two men, the tablet further warned of "death traps" to be encountered.

    Location of the second shaft which the men claimed to have found was given as 200 feet northwest of the original shaft.

    A search of the Denver Post files failed to turn up a follow-up story after the front-page account of the ranchers' reputed discoveries. However, the 1959 edition of the Colorado Guide Book states, "the gold presumably remains hidden somewhere on the mountain· slope."

    And we suspect that it does – Xanthus Carson
    Last edited by Randy Bradford; Mar 12, 2016 at 04:15 PM. Reason: Formatting
    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 2: Ask Exanimo!

    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 1: Exanimo Looks at Books

    ----------
    Randy Bradford's Buy, Sell and Trade List


    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...

    Understanding our hobby, by embracing its history...

  10. #10
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    The date on the Denver Post story is at the beginning of the time period Sdcfia mentions in post #7, 1921. It would be nice to see the entire story as it was written in the Post.
    Randy Bradford and sdcfia like this.

  11. #11

    Jun 2004
    350
    571 times
    Quote Originally Posted by mdog View Post
    The date on the Denver Post story is at the beginning of the time period Sdcfia mentions in post #7, 1921. It would be nice to see the entire story as it was written in the Post.
    According to this it was May 15, 1921. Would be nice to confirm this as I, like oyu, would very much like to see the original article.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=3t...easure&f=false
    mdog, sdcfia and Benjamin Gates like this.
    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 2: Ask Exanimo!

    Presenting: Selections From the National Prospector's Gazette Volume 1: Exanimo Looks at Books

    ----------
    Randy Bradford's Buy, Sell and Trade List


    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...

    Understanding our hobby, by embracing its history...

  12. #12
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,655
    6950 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    There seems to be confusion - in my mind, at least - as to the true location of "Treasure Mountain", aka "Citadel Mountain". A lot of the tellings place it southwest of Wolf Creek Pass in the eastern San Juan Mountains. Yet, it seems to me that the Adams books (which I haven't read), and other accounts (such as the one below), placed it much further north - north of Gunnison in the Elk Mountains. What say you, mdog?

    Treasure Mountain and the Lost Spanish Gold that was actually French
    mdog and Benjamin Gates like this.
    "Well, yeah, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
    Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, 1998

  13. #13
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    Quote Originally Posted by sdcfia View Post
    There seems to be confusion - in my mind, at least - as to the true location of "Treasure Mountain", aka "Citadel Mountain". A lot of the tellings place it southwest of Wolf Creek Pass in the eastern San Juan Mountains. Yet, it seems to me that the Adams books (which I haven't read), and other accounts (such as the one below), placed it much further north - north of Gunnison in the Elk Mountains. What say you, mdog?

    Treasure Mountain and the Lost Spanish Gold that was actually French
    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.

  14. #14
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    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.
    Old Denver Post Newspapers

    The entire Post from present to 1895 is available on microfilm at the Western History section of the Denver Public Library's Main Branch in downtown Denver. Their phone number is 720-865-1821. For the Denver Post going back to 1978, local libraries across Colorado may have microfim copies. Consult the reference department at your local branch.



  15. #15
    us
    Mar 2011
    1,894
    3974 times
    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.

 

 
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