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    Dec 2004
    Long Island New York
    White's XLT
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    Want to find Aztek gold? search soon

    Want to find Aztec gold? Search soon
    Montezuma's treasure has been rumored to be hidden deep in mines that'll be closed shortly
    By Mark Havnes
    The Salt Lake Tribune
    Article Last Updated: 04/03/2008 10:41:45 AM MDT


    KANAB - Sorry, prospective prospectors, but you'll have to bury those dreams of unearthing Montezuma's gold.
    Land managers plan to close nearly two dozen abandoned mines on southern Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, including some shafts outside Kanab where residents used to hunt for the Aztec emperor's rumored riches.
    Old mines pose safety perils. Curious kids and other explorers can get trapped, injured or worse. Some shafts contain lethal gases.
    Douglas Powell, a geologist with the Bureau of Land Management, said the mines need to be closed to protect the increasing number of visitors who traipse through the 1.9 million-acre monument in Kane and Garfield counties.
    Steve Fluke, an environmental scientist with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, said crews could begin closing 22 mines in September at a cost of about $1,200 per site. They sometimes use backfill, masonry, stones or steel grates - which provide access for bats that frequent some of the caves.
    The closures comply with a 1977 law that mandates shutting down abandoned mines by tapping coal royalties. In 2004, 46 mines were closed on the monument.
    There are no active mining claims on the monument now, although BLM archaeologist Matt Zweifel said he still fields occasional inquiries from hopeful prospectors.
    Conditions were much


    different a century or so ago. Starting around the 1880s, miners began probing these parts of southern Utah for copper, lead, manganese and coal.
    Then, in the 1920s, a man named Freddy Crystal showed up, claiming he had a map that identified Johnson Canyon, east of Kanab, as the place Montezuma's treasures - said to have been spirited from Mexico to keep out of the hands of Spanish conquistadors - had been hidden.
    Many residents caught gold fever and began burrowing into a mountain, creating what became known as Montezuma Mine.
    The treasure hunters struck out and eventually lost interest. Now, those shafts are slated for closure.
    Kane County resident Monte Chamberlain doubts the Montezuma Mine is a hazard and noted it remains popular with locals, including Boy Scouts.
    "We never found gold there," he said, "but never lost a Scout, either."
    mhavnes@sltrib.com

    kenb

 

 

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