Is a cache of looted gold and silver worth millions buried in Arizona’s Skeleton Canyon?
Along Arizona’s eastern border is a jagged ravine called Skeleton Canyon. More than a 100 years ago, a gang of Mexican smugglers were ambushed and robbed within its steep, canyon walls. Some say the take from that robbery was buried in this area, an undiscovered treasure worth millions.
Treasure hunters have searched for years in Skeleton Canyon. They’ve turned up bleached bones and old Mexican coins, but no treasure. Is the treasure real? It depends on who you ask. Treasure hunter Fern Hamill said he has no doubts:
But Robert Palmquist, an Arizona Historian, has voiced a different view:
The legend of the Skeleton Canyon treasure starts in a small Mexican village. Jim Hughes, a member of Arizona’s infamous Curly Bill Brocious Gang, learned that Mexican bandits had looted the town of Monterey, Mexico. They were planning to smuggle the fortune into the United States through Skeleton Canyon.
Hunter Pritchard, director of a treasure hunting museum, speculated on the booty’s worth:
According to Hunter, Hughes rode back to Arizona and made plans with Curley Bill Brocius to ambush the Mexican gang:
The outlaws now had their treasure, but without mules, they had no way of moving it out of the canyon. So part of the loot was divided up on the spot. The rest was buried, to be picked up later. But two members of the gang had other plans, according to Hunter Pritchard:
Zwing Hunt and Billy Grounds hid in a desert cave where they lived for close to four months. During this period, Billy Grounds wrote a number of letters to his sister, Maggie, in San Antonio. Billy wanted her to know where the treasure was hidden in case anything happened to him. Billy would venture out once a week to give the letters to a passing stagecoach. Treasure hunter Fern Hamill claims he’s seen the nine letters:
Historian Robert Palmquist doubts the letters were legitimate:
But Fern said he found evidence in the cave that proves the letters are real:
A Sheriff’s posse finally cornered Billy Grounds and Zwing Hunt. During the shootout, Billy was killed and Zwing was seriously injured. As the story goes, after his capture, Zwing revealed the secret location of the treasure to his uncle. His uncle then drew up a detailed map.
Robert Palmquist doesn’t buy it:
Fern Hamill said that he’s seen the map that was made by Zwing Hunt’s uncle:
Is there really a treasure buried in Skeleton Canyon? Or is it just another tall tale from the days of the Old West?
According to Hunter Pritchard, the story is at least plausible:
Historian Robert Palmquist has voiced his doubts:
As for Fern Hamill: