TIP OF THE DAY

Bank Loot Found
By Margaret Lewis
From Page 18
October, 2002 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2002 Lost Treasure, Inc. All rights reserved.

 For almost a century, a cache of gold coins, gold bullion, and silver dollars lay hidden in the Sandia Mountains just a few hundred yards east of Albuquerque's city limits. Two Albuquerque men, through diligent research and untiring efforts, uncovered some of this long lost treasure. This golden bonanza was not found by luck or some freak accident. Lots of hard work was involved. Most of us have heard about lost treasure all of our lives, but this one was found and recovered within eyesight of hundreds of people living near the base of the mountain. During the mid-1980's, one of the men, a local businessman and part-time treasure hunter, had just bought a new metal detector. While on his way home that evening, he made a call on a client that lived on San Pedro Street. After his business was concluded, his client walked with him to his car. As they stood there in the driveway, his client noticed the metal detector in the car and said he wished he had one of them many years ago. Asking why, the client told him a very credible story about a lost cache of bank robber's loot that was hidden within eyesight of where they were now standing. The client was about 70-years-old and said that when he was much younger he knew a man that claimed to be a member of a posse that chased three bank robbers into the Sandia Mountains one afternoon during the late 1890's. He said that a bank was robbed in an area that is now known as Old Town, and that the robbers got away with about $50,000 in gold and silver coins and some gold bars. Albuquerque is located at the base of the Sandia Mountains and has grown tremendously during recent years. Today, the city streets extend right up to the base of the mountain, but during the 1890's, it took a few hours' ride on horseback to get there. The robbers had a few hours start on the posse and made it to the mountains an hour before sundown. "The bandits went up that canyon there, then crossed over to that canyon there," said the old timer, pointing with his finger. "They stopped and made camp in the rocks about halfway up the front side of the mountain. If they would have kept going, they could have gotten away clean, but they were afraid of injuring their horses at night on the treacherous rocky terrain. The posse arrived at the base of the mountain at dusk. They kept a few men there and sent a few more around the back of the mountain to get behind the bandits. This positioning of the men allowed the posse to close in on the robbers from both sides. Shortly after daybreak, the bandits were caught in cross fire as they came down the backside of the mountain. During the gunfight that followed, two of the bandits and one of the deputies were killed. The other bank robber was captured and taken back to town to stand trial. Since a deputy was killed, the bandit was sentenced to hang. When the bandit was captured only a few gold coins were found in his possession. The bulk of the money was missing. Several posse members traced back over the bandits' trail and conducted a brief search of the area, but no money was recovered. The posse member still claimed up into the late 1950's that he didn't think any of this money had ever been recovered." During the summer of 1984, the businessman and a friend hiked over the entire area where this saga took place. Keeping in mind what the old timer had said, it was easy to find the area where the bank robbers had supposedly made camp. They did not have a metal detector with them this trip, but visually inspected the area, observing many good locations where a cache could be hidden. A year passed until he and his friend returned to the mountain to look for the hidden cache. Early one morning in late November 1985, they headed up the mountain to look for it. After all, who knows how many other people down through the years have heard the same story and searched for the loot? It might still be there, they thought, and would surely be worth the time and effort to give it a good try. The area to be searched was about a half-mile long and about 150 meters wide. It started where the bandits had camped that evening and went up over the first small peak and then down again to the area where the shootout took place. The area had many good places to hide a cache and this made it even harder for the searchers. This time they were prepared to spend all day searching for it. They wore boots, gloves, and cold-weather clothing, because the daylight temperatures at this altitude (8,000 feet) were between 20 and 30 degrees. There was also a cool wind that blew into their faces, making the hunters' eyes water. They carefully searched the entire area and, after a week with no results, they became tired and discouraged. Then all of a sudden things changed for the better. The metal detector rang loud and clear in a sandy area behind a large rock. The depth meter showed that something made of metal was located about 10 inches deep in the ground. Scraping away the soil with a knife, their heartbeats quickened at the sight of many black-tarnished Morgan silver dollars. It was over 100 of them and they were dated in the late 1880's and early 1890's. Since nothing else was found there, it was obvious that this was not the main cache. Where was the gold that the old man told him about? Since it was late and getting dark, they returned to their homes. The value of the silver dollars was only about $1,200, but the men were extremely happy over the sudden turn of events. The dates on the silver dollars confirmed that they were most likely a part of the bank robbers' loot. The two men slept very little that night because they had a strong feeling that much more of the loot would soon be recovered. At 6:15 a.m. the following day, the pair started back up the mountain. Gold fever had definitely set in. They began searching the areas to the east and south of where they had found the silver dollars. They slowly worked their way up the trail and, at 2:40 p.m., they found two solid gold bars at the base of a gigantic rock, buried over a foot deep in the ground. Since the price of gold at the time was over $300 an ounce, they were looking at a lot of money. Excitement at that point became too high to do any more searching. It could also be dangerous if the activities were being observed by anyone else. Sleeping that night was also very difficult and, with just a few hours of rest, they headed back up the mountain at sunrise. The two men found three more small caches during the next few weeks. To the best of their knowledge, they had found most of it, but who really knows? During the 1890's, gold was worth about $20 per ounce and silver $1 an ounce. A $20 gold coin had one ounce of gold in it and a silver dollar had one ounce of silver in it. Today a $20 gold coin sells for about $400 and a silver dollar for $10. This makes a $20 gold coin worth more than 20 times its original value. Two old, dried-out saddlebags were recovered that had been filled with these gold coins. The metal detector that was used was a White's 6000-D and cost $500. The treasure hunters agreed that it was the best investment they had ever made. Where today can you get a 3,000 percent return on an investment? What can a person do with a treasure like this? First of all, the bank that was robbed and the insurance company that was involved have no claim on the money because the statute of limitations has expired. This means that if no one has found it in seven years, the bank and insurance company can no longer claim it. It belongs to the finder. It is not unlawful to own, buy or sell gold and silver in any amounts. Almost every major city in America has numerous coin dealers and gold and silver exchanges to accommodate you, and they do pay cash if you ask for it. Just list it on your tax return as additional income, and note the source: treasure hunting activities. This fantastic treasure lay undiscovered for over a century within easy eyesight of Albuquerque's half a million residents. Thousands of people have hiked, camped, and hunted over this area during this time. The treasure hunters said the location of the find could be easily reached on foot within 30 minutes of Tramway Road.  Sources: Albuquerque Citizen newspaper, 1893. Albuquerque Morning Democrat newspaper, 1894.




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