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Gold - Millions Upon Millions of It 1971


In 2014 I lived in Alamosa Colorado. I met a Spanish man who’s name was Laurence (Lorenzo).  He had heard about a different version of the legend from his former relatives and had documents to boot. We both had searched in the Cat Creek area several times that year. He showed me different signs and markers. Over a cup of coffee, he told me Xanthus Carson had an article about this legend. He had written several books and articles during the 1960s-1970’s. This article was interesting to me… The credit goes directly to Xanthus Carson. This article is in several places on the internet. Several people and websites have cut n paste, so here is this.

Treasure World, September 1971 By: Xanthus Carson "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

Ok, it has been awhile for me. I like this forum better than the blog. Congrats! Let's really HUNT! First, lets look at this article with a grain of salt. Obvious differences in this story. I have read some other forums, but grain of salt. One thing for certain, you are on the ground in the middle of the Lebreau Expedition.

1. Xanthus Carson of 1971 article is before Henry Gesterfield and Maynard Adam's books had arrived on the scene.

Gesterfield is referenced by Adams in Citadel III for the body at Upper Colony Creek 1910. Platoro, I know you have been to the Westcliff and Canon City libraries more than ONCE!!! No one can substantiate the skeleton but you have to figure that Gesterfied was straight up telling the truth. Much info on him the Saguache library. The guy was a Saint.

In 1971, XC is clearly able to "cut n paste" when computers weren't around! Gesterfield sorta implies Sanchez in upper Weminuche/Piedra River and shows maps.

I like Adam's books, but he himself is getting the info from that source and adding much. His details are clear enough. He is not just getting his information from Gesterfield. But, Gesterfield is not copying XC. The stories don't match except maybe Sanchez.

XC article is not that important (In my opinion). Again, cut n paste from 1921.

2. Remy Ledoux falls on hits head on the East Fork of the San Juan Valley and dies. MCA must have got this from Pagosa library. Not referenced in XC article. Not in Denver Post 1921 articles. HE WAS FOR REAL!

3. Adams at least was like you. Was on the ground. La Garita cemetery proves that at least part of Adam's books (A San Luis Pioneer Family) were accurate.

Conclusion: XC, grains of salt - does not PAN out. It is 19.2 times heavier than the real story. Vive la France!





Platoro, please put the 1921 DPost articles on the forum side. Maybe the blog and forum will be hard maintain? Just suggestions. Again, stay on it, this now getting somewhere. Saw the office! Nice.

Per your request, I have included the 1921 articles on the Forum.

Good information alot to learn there but i only got to read a bit looking great !

On June 15, 2020, our group has signed up with Platoro to help research the portions of the Treasure Mountain legend. Our 1st objective will to establish clear routes from New Orleans to Trinidad Colorado and over Whiskey Pass into the San Luis Valley. We will also be testing a theory of French groups coming straight over Cumbres Pass to the area of Horca Colorado and then over Stunner Pass in the Platoro and Treasure Mountain Caldera areas. We plan on having establishing 3 travel routes that explain the rapid collection of gold, processing, and then eventual removal of the gold ingots.

In a previous post, we noticed that a comment about Xanthus Carson and KVM being the same person was a theory.? Our group does not believe that they are the same person. The article written by XC in 1971 is not KVM in our opinion.

I was the one that posted Xanthus Carson and the man from the SLV. Someone picked up on it. I can only report what someone - with over 40 years of looking for his treasure - believed. I don't believe that they are the same person. He clearly had several other alias and a quick search at Amazon or details books he wrote. However, some of the writing styles are similar. I considered (and still do)  my contacts from Alamosa to be very reliable on information pertaining to this legend. I was only explaining comments made to me back in 2015. He had been searching for this gold for almost 40 years. His perspective was very unique. He NEVER read Gestefield or Adams books. His knowledge was handed down from relatives. He believed (STRONGLY) that the legend was real but was NOT French gold. It was Spanish. We spent time on numerous occasions in specific areas on the East side of the CD. He had a copy of the 1756 document and had detailed info from the Capulin group from years back. I can personally verify that he was one serious hunter (from a group of them) with specific details that matched my research. On top of that, KVM lived in just outside Segundo. These guys from the valley can take you virtually anywhere in the Sange De Cristo from memory! They don't need maps! They have heard things about KVM, XC, and many others and spend a lot of their money hunting.  They know more about Whisky Pass than forest rangers and probably the guy that owns all the land up to the top the pass. Most of them were grandfathered into a deal where they can hunt and get firewood at the west side of the Culebra Peak and if your a local, you know what I mean. The know every fishing hole from Monument to Bear Lake on the east side. Bottom line - "Verified and vetted".

I am not taking offense to what has been stated, I am stating what has been stated. So if someone believes they could be the same person, it does not stop the fact that they put their money where their mouths are. We don't have to agree with their views. Their research is serious and I have taken it into consideration. I (WE) very much appreciate the additional help. The money is tight and having more boots on the ground really helps - especially this year. Lets just find the treasure before they do! LOL ... NO - seriously. If they every find it, it is my opinion that NO ONE will ever know. That is not why they are looking for it. For some of them, it is an insult that I believe it is French gold - you can believe that! I am not trying to scare anyone. It is the way it is.


Very cool perspective researching Cumbers to Horca. It has to be more beautiful to look over that valley (to the north) than the turn off off overlooking Pagosa! You just have to wonder what the French and Spanish must have originally thought looking out towards Platoro. It's amazing. But man, I HATE THE ROAD to Platoro!!! It is easier to 4x4 Elwood Pass from the bottom up  --- than that road (L O L)!

The individual that does the road work to Platoro must not have any more teeth as much as it shakes you! No worries on Mr. Carson. We came up out of New Mexico 6-15-20 and went the back way into Pagosa Springs. I don't think most of the locals there even realize that this is Treasure Mountain and Alberta Peak off in the distance to the North. We could clearly see them.

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