Is treasure buried inside Victorio’s Peak?

Victorio Peak in New Mexico

Victorio Peak, New Mexico

Doc Noss with a black cowboy hat on

Doc Noss discovered the treasure


White Sands, New Mexico, is an inhospitable environment, home only to rattlesnakes and sagebrush, vultures and mule deer. In November of 1937, a man named Doc Noss was deer hunting there. He hiked to the top of a hill known as Victorio Peak. As thirst and fatigue set in, Doc searched for fresh spring water. Instead, he discovered a mysterious hole in the ground—the hidden entrance to a tunnel. There was a ladder in the opening and Doc climbed inside. A maze of tunnels led into a large cavern. In one chamber of the cavern, Doc found an old chest. On the lid were the words “Sealed Silver,” written in Old English inscription script. The chest was only a small part of the treasure that Doc Noss claimed he found. There was gold, silver, jewels, and gold bars that today, would be worth and estimated $1.7 billion dollars. Even now it may still be hidden beneath the craggy slopes of Victorio Peak.

Thousands of bars of gold in a cavern

Thousand of bars of gold

Doc Noss had been a traveling medicine-show man. In 1933, he married Ova Beckwith, whom he nicknamed Babe. They settled down and opened a foot clinic in Hot Springs, New Mexico. Doc’s grandson, Terry Delonas, heard incredible stories of his grandfather his entire life:

“He loved adventure and was fascinated with history. Babe was very strong-willed, ardent might be a word to describe her.”

After Doc discovered the treasure at Victorio Peak, he and Babe spent every free moment exploring the tunnels that led deep inside the mountain. Doc found that the passageways in the mountain led to several caverns. In one of them he found 79 human skeletons stacked in a small enclosure. In a deeper cavern, Doc found what appeared to be a stack of worthless iron bars. He brought the bars home for his wife Babe to inspect:

“I said, well Doc, this is yellow, look at it. And he looked at that and the sun was right at the right hour to shine right down on it. And he rubbed his head and he said, well Babe, if that’s gold, and all that other is gold like it, we can call John D. Rockefeller a tramp.”

Doc Noss slumped over on the bumper of his car

Doc Noss was shot dead

Doc told Babe that inside the cavern, there were as many as 16,000 bars of gold. How had this enormous treasure come to be deep inside the caverns of Victorio Peak? There are four theories. The treasure could have belonged to Juan de Onate, the man who founded New Mexico as a Spanish colony. Reportedly, Onate had amassed an Aztec treasure of gold, silver, and jewels. Another theory is that a Catholic missionary named Father LaRue, who operated gold mines in the late 18th century, stored his gold in a cavern there. It could have belonged to Maximillian, the Emperor of Mexico, who tried to remove wealth out of Mexico when he learned of an assassination plot. Finally, it may have belonged to an Apache tribe that raided stagecoaches filled with gold mined in California.

But Doc was unconcerned as to how the gold arrived there. And in the spring of 1938, six months after his discovery, he and Babe went to Santa Fe to establish legal ownership of their claim. According to their grandson Terry, Doc and Babe filed a lease with the state of New Mexico for the entire section of land surrounding Victorio Peak:

“They filed a treasure trove claim, which has become the historic Noss family claim to the treasure in Victorio Peak.”

Military airmen crouched next to the bars of gold

The gold was found by military airmen

Over a period of two years, Doc mined the peak. Witnesses say he took out more than 200 gold bars, and then hid them from everyone, even his family. Back then, it was illegal to own gold that was not in the form of jewelry. According to Terry, Doc hid the gold bars in a variety of locations all across the desert:

“Some were hidden right by the county roads… Some were dropped in horse tanks at the nearby ranches. Some were just buried in the sand and Doc would put a different colored rock over the top of it than was natural to that surrounding.”

Finally, in the fall of 1939, Doc decided to try opening a larger passageway into Victorio Peak. He hired a mining engineer named Montgomery to assist him. Together, the two men used dynamite to blast through a large boulder that was blocking the lower portion of the shaft. The blast caused a massive cave-in, which collapsed the fragile shaft. Doc had permanently shut himself out of his own mine. According to his grandson, Terry, even worse was the fact that now Doc only had a few gold bars to draw from:

“He only had those few dozen or hundred or so that he’d brought to the surface and he became very protective of those bars.”

For nine years, Doc Noss attempted to sell his gold bars on the black market. Then in 1948, he met a man named Charlie Ryan and struck a deal to sell him 51 of the bars.
But at the last minute Doc feared that Charlie Ryan would double cross him. He asked an acquaintance named Tony Jolly to help him re-bury the gold in a new hiding place:

“We went out across the desert, a little ways, we started digging and we dug 20 bars of gold out of the ground. It turned out to be 90 more and we buried those bars of gold. I handled and saw 110 bars of gold.

The next day, Doc and Charlie Ryan got into an argument. According to Terry, Ryan pulled out a gun:

“Ryan accosted him and said if you don’t tell me where the bars are, you won’t leave this room alive.”

Doc tried to escape but it was already too late. He was shot by Charlie Ryan and died instantly. The date was March 5, 1949. But the saga of the treasure at Victorio Peak did not die with Doc Noss. As the legend grew, other treasure hunters tried to cash in on Doc and Babe’s claim.

When Doc Noss was killed in 1949, he allegedly left behind a treasure of 15,000 gold bars, buried inside the caverns of Victorio Peak. For three years, Babe Noss and her children struggled to clear the passageway to the treasure. In 1952, when they were less than 12 yards from the opening to the central cavern, disaster struck again. The State of New Mexico was forced to relinquish Victorio Peak and the land surrounding it, so the United States Army could expand the White Sands Missile Range. Babe and her family were forced off their claim by the Army. Victorio Peak was now off limits to everyone by order of the military. But that didn’t stop former Airman 1st Class Thomas Berlett and a group of off-duty soldiers from clearing the blocked entrance and exploring the caverns. According to Berlett, it wasn’t long before they found what Babe was after:

“They were bars of something. And as we scratched it, we knew right away that it was actually gold. We marked and identified one of the bricks inside with my initials on it and we stood it on end on the large piles.”

Eventually, the airmen informed their superiors about the gold they had found at Victorio Peak. They were denied permission to explore further. According to Thomas Berlett, they took steps to insure that no one else could salvage the treasure:

“The following weekend, we returned to the entrance and we dynamited it in four different places and blasted the whole thing shut.”

Over a year later, the Secretary of the Army created a “Top Secret” classified military operation at Victorio Peak. In 1961, Babe Noss, along with the State of New Mexico, filed an injunction against the Army to stop excavating at Victorio Peak. In 1963, the Army petitioned the state of New Mexico for mineral rights. But their request was denied. Even so, aerial surveillance photo showed that extensive work had already taken place.

Finally, the Army succumbed to pressure and allowed some private claimants, including Babe Noss and former military personnel, to undertake a highly publicized, 10 day expedition at Victorio Peak. The excavation was an extensive, large-scale operation. But after 10 days, no treasure had been found. Lambert Dolphin, a scientist from the Stanford Research Institute who worked on the dig, thought the treasure may have actually been there, but just out of reach:

“I noticed on the radar screen, some echoes quite frequently at a very great depth, 300, 400 feet deep. And that led me to the conclusion that there was indeed a large cavern at the base of the mountain, about where Doc Noss had said.”

Deep in the heart of Victorio Peak there may still be jewels, artifacts, and piles of gold worth a billion dollars. Tony Jolly, the man who helped hide some of the gold, went back years later, and retrieved ten bars. But Doc’s heirs have recovered nothing. For Terry Delonas and the rest of Doc’s family, the fate of the treasure is still, quite literally, a billion-dollar question:

“We have decided that we will finish the work that Doc Noss started, that Babe Noss tried to finish. We will eventually get Victorio Peak open so that the mystery of what’s inside the peak can be solved.”

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack and season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.



  1. bernie

    I think the Gold Treasure is still there it’s just to messed up for the Military to even go down in the mine they would have made a cleaner job of getting to the gold looks like it hasn’t been tampered with it’s close coaters and a dig would be out of the question for the military they would have to make more room or a bigger tunnel to even attempt getting to the gold so I think the gold is still there


  2. Nick

    So what is the actual status of this hunt? I know the area quite well did a lot of construction in the state years ago and have always wondered.


  3. Rosco Rupert

    The feds will take any large treasure you find. If you find treasure…sneak it out of the country!


  4. Pat

    I was in the military police at WSMR from 1989 – 1990. We spent several days escorting a civilian exploration team at Victorious Peak. The Army also had alarm sensors in the area, we made many trips uprange in response to “activity”. At that time the locals believed the gold was removed by the military in the 1950s


  5. Heidi Mills

    I believe this story to be true, as a friend of mine told it. Her family on her dad’s side, were originally from the area in New Mexico where it all originated. As she told it, her Uncle as a teenager of about 14 was lookingrecruited by Dr. Noss to go into the caverns n help retrieve the gold and treasures. The families that lived in the area, were all eventually relocated and forced off the land, as the stories began to surface. The government confiscated the land and they were never allowed to return. Her dad and his family settled in a suburb of Seattle eventually where w met.


  6. Mr Mysterious

    All our life’s people of position tell us how honourable its is to do the write thing, at one point the only person who knew about the treasure was the one man who found it, the Doc, he thought he’d do the write thing and make a legal claim only to be screwed by the military who are of course attached to the government who love to screw everyone, theres no point looking for the treasure, its gone, what people should now be looking for is the 100 bars the Doc buried, that’s what I’d do although I wouldn’t of told anyone about the initial find to begin with, happy hunting everyone.


  7. Ron

    Terry and I, I can say are friends not close friends but when we did see each other you would think we were close.
    My wife at the time knew the family well and I myself got to meet Babe Noss in the late 60’s. She was definitely a
    character I liked her immediately. I lived in Tucson at that time. Heard stories about this gold from friends of their
    family from the time I was close to becoming a teenager growing up in El Paso. After I married I came to know Terry a little better and I remember him telling me about a television camera crew going in on an exploratory examination of Victorio Peak. I was all excited of course but that turned to disappointment real quick. I always hoped for the best for Terry and family. Finally I only saw how futile it must be to fight city hall. Lost track of Terry years ago but if we cross each others paths again it’ll be like years past, good friends I’m sure. Lived in the Denver area for over 45 years and remember a big write up about all this, sure is interesting reading for sure, in the Denver Post and also in the Rocky Mountain New which has gone out of business a number of years ago now. Never heard anything more about what has happened with this treasure find. Likely not in my life time but if your reading this Terry I’m living in Alamogordo now and would like to say hay for old time sakes.


  8. Nathan

    Goes to show you how the Federal Government cannot be trusted. Anyone who researches this story will fully understand that the story is true. Too many factual details and eye witnesses for this to be just another treasure story. My heart goes out to all of the Noss family, for I strongly feel they have been denied their rightful claim to the treasure. I hope they never give up trying to seek justice. We should all learn a lesson from this unfortunate incident and realize the federal will stop at nothing to get their way.


    • Anthony Taylor

      Mel Fisher beat off the attempts of the state of Florida and then the Federal Government, to retain his claim to the findings of the Spanish Treasure ship, the Nuestra Senora de la Tochia, Back in the mid to late 80’s. Saw some of the treasure finds on show at their Key West base, Way Way beyond Magnificent. There is a documentary on Youtube about the years long search – worth anybody’s time to watch!


  9. Britt

    Watching this story has made me believe that the military is only denying the claims of the Noss family so they can take the gold for themselves.


    • Herbert Eales

      There is two thing I know about
      1st Brigham young with the Mormon church knew about the gold . That is how the church was funded in the beginning.

      The 2and my dad and uncle were MPs in the service. They talked about how they were given orders to keep people away from that spot while the military loaded up trucks . He said there were two large disk that were covered and put on a flat bed truck. They then escorted the trucks 25 of them to fort Knox.
      Rumors where it was Aztec gold
      But we will never see it.
      Very few people at Fort Knox saw it.
      Presidents have tried but the people running the place only let top officials see one room of gold


  10. Bill Blaski

    I believe the military stole mrs Noss treasure. Too many military personnel along with babe and doc saw it. Hell a guy drove around with Doc burying gold bars. It’s a shame they got shafted out of it.


  11. Tom

    I feel that the story is true! I also feel the military would never allowed the 70’s search unless they had already removed it! Do you honestly believe the military would ever pass up free money that they would not have to declare to the public! I may be wrong, but would you allow someone to search if you hadn’t already gotten to the money!


  12. Mike

    Seems to me according to his interview Mr Jolly got very rich


  13. Mike

    Tony Jolly is my grandpa. This story is very true. I remember his stories about it as a kid. I’m pretty sure the military had taken that treasure.


  14. Ethan Steffens

    The goverment actually tried to cover it up


  15. Emily

    Serious doubts on a lot of this “treasure” story. It’s interesting to note that the family never seems to have gotten any richer (even after the gold was no longer illegal to own). That there is no evidence of anyone actually having been in possession of the gold. The one man said he helped move 110 bars, but again, all this gold and no one made any money. It would also be very unlikely for the US government to demo a stash of gold to keep it from being taken. If there was really any thing in there, it would have been removed long before anyone demo-ed anything out there. Its like all the other treasure hunter stories, based off some rumor and no one ever has evidence of the “vast riches” they apparently found.



      Normally, I would agree with you, but at the time they discovered the gold, the government made it illegal to possess privately owned gold. At that period of time, you couldn’t just take gold to the mint to cash it in. Supposedly, the Noss family tried to turn some bars into cash, and it was taken by the mint without any monetary redemptions. Then, I believe it drove Babe to start stashing it around the area until it became valuable again. He just didn’t live long enough to see it come to fruition. That being said, my opinion is that I don’t believe that Babe and the Noss family should have been instantly rich after the discovery from the vast amount of gold. It’s kind of like the prisoners in the Florida Keys that were fed lobsters in the late 1890’s to the early1900’s because at the time, lobster was considered the cockroaches of the sea. Yet, they’re a delicacy these days. You have to look at the perceived value of the product at a particular time. It’s a great story that we all dream about. Imagine finding one random 15-17lb gold bar in the desert sands or the ocean!!! We all want to believe it, that’s what badass dreams are made of!!! Pretty sure the movie “Goonies” put this stuff in our heads!


  16. Bryan Nichols

    Seems like this got loaded up by the military?


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