State Treasure - Arizona

By Anthony M. Belli
From page 59 of the February, 2010 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © 2010 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

Robbery Loot Remains
Lost Near South Tucson
PIMA COUNTY – The story of the train robber’s loot that became lost inside Arizona’s Colossal Cave has taken on a few new twists over time in its re-telling. But, thankfully, the location of where this lost treasure was buried remains intact. Since the discrepancies of the various versions of this legend do not affect the site where the booty was buried, I will stick to the undisputed facts of the following incident.
On a hot summer day in 1884 the Southern Pacific mail train bound for Tucson stopped for water at Pantano, a water stop located southeast of Tucson. Four masked men who’d been hiding behind a storage shed made their way to the mail car and gained entry through an unlocked door.
Inside the car were the mail clerk and a number of Wells Fargo agents; all were taken quickly and by surprise. The outlaws made off with $62,000 in gold coins.
One version claims the gold was part of a secret shipment, which is why the Wells Fargo men were caught off guard. Regardless, it is known that the outlaws knew exactly where the gold was located and pulled off the job in record time. If this was an inside job it appears from all accounts that the inside man was never identified. The gold was to meet a number of payrolls in Tucson as well as to pay the troops at the small U.S. Army depot at Fort Lowell.
When the train arrived at Tucson, the robbery was reported to Pima County Sheriff Bob Leatherwood who quickly organized a posse and rode out to Pantano. The sheriff cut the outlaws’ trail heading northwest towards Vail. Hours into the chase, the posse followed the track into a cut-off that brought them to the ranch of a man named Crane.
Sheriff Leatherwood interviewed Crane and learned the fugitives had arrived at Crane’s Ranch hours earlier and, at gunpoint, relieved the rancher of four fresh horses after ditching their tattered mounts nearby. The rancher secured their worn-out animals then started out after them. Crane told the sheriff he followed the gunmen to their hideout in Posta Quemada Canyon. Instantly Leatherwood knew where his prey was holed up.
Sheriff Leatherwood knew of the notorious Robber’s Cave, a favorite hideout for fugitives and outlaws looking to lay low for a while. This information was confirmed by Crane who stated that the gang had tethered his stolen mounts in a grove of trees and hiked up to the cave’s entrance and disappeared. Crane explained that he decided to leave well enough alone and turned back for home without his horses.
Leatherwood and his posse now headed for the confluence of the Posta Quemada Wash and Aqua Verde Creek located about a mile south of the Robber’s Cave. There the sheriff organized his men and proceeded to the cave.
With the posse in position, Leatherwood approached the cave’s entrance with his rifle and demanded that the fugitives surrender. Gunfire from inside the cave was the only reply. Four rifles all concealed in darkness and covering the cave’s entrance would make quick work of the sheriff’s posse. Sheriff’s Leatherwood’s decision was to wait them out.
Over the next two days a few small skirmishes with Leatherwood’s posse and the outlaws ensued. On the third day all went silent as the posse camped for days waiting to starve out their quarry. On day seven nothing had been heard from the outlaws for five days, at which time Leatherwood decided to storm the cave.
Using lanterns, officers entered the cave and were shocked to find that its passageways and caverns were endless. Hours into the search nothing had been found, then a second small aperture was discovered that led to the surface where the fugitives had escaped.
After regrouping at the cave’s entrance, Leatherwood was considering his options just as a rider appeared. Depending on which version you have the rider was a resident of either Willcox or Bisbee, both in Cochise County. The rider said the fugitives were holed up in a saloon in town and spending gold freely. The posse was then dismissed and Leatherwood departed for that town alone.
When he arrived Leatherwood enlisted the aid of local law enforcement. Officers proceeded to the saloon and ordered the fugitives to surrender. During their arrest, some of the suspects reached for their pistols and officers opened fire. After the smoked cleared three bandits lay dead and the fourth readily surrendered.
Under questioning at the jail, the surviving bad guy confessed. He claimed that, after the gang had entered the cave, he was assigned to look out for a posse near the entrance while his partners removed $2,000 in gold coins from the loot and buried the rest to retrieve later. Each man then got his $500 share of traveling money. Shortly after splitting the loot they were surprised by the posse and remained in the cave until locating a second entrance whereby they made their escape.
The suspect claimed he never saw where his partners had buried the remainder of the loot. It was never found.
The suspect was convicted and served 28 years in the Territorial Prison at Yuma. In 1912 he was released and immediately put under surveillance by Wells Fargo agent James Westphal. Westphal lost the convict in Tucson and immediately proceeded to the Robber’s Cave.
On arrival at the cave, Westphal was unable to locate the convict, nor did he ever show up there. Westphal returned to Tucson, but could find no trace of his man; he’d just vanished. No trace of him was ever found and his fate remains unknown. So far as is known the treasure was never recovered.

Pleasant Valley War Treasure
GILA COUNTY – The Pleasant Valley War was a range war between two feuding families, the sheep herding Tewksbury family and the cattle herding Graham family. Of all the feuds in American history the Pleasant Valley War was the most costly, resulting in almost total annihilation of both families.
While several of the events associated with the Pleasant Valley War occurred outside Gila County, both families and some outlaws linked to the feud are thought to have cached their personal or family fortunes not far from Young, Arizona.
The Tewksburys herded their sheep on rangeland that sat adjacent to where the Graham family herded their cattle. In the early days both families maintained a tacit understanding regarding the dividing line that separated their two ranges. After 15 months that mutual arrangement collapsed and actual fighting broke out. Once the fighting began it raged on for nearly a decade.
In all, roughly 20 deaths are attributed to the Pleasant Valley War, nearly all being members of both rival families and their employees. Speculation has always been that a number of personal caches consisting of payroll belonging to employees of either family became lost when those respective workers were killed during the violence. Also the personal fortunes of both families likewise could’ve been lost in the same manner.
Local research today could help pinpoint the various cabins, houses and outbuildings used by family and workers from both sides of the feud; who knows what treasures and artifacts could remain awaiting to be found.

Chinese Caches
Hidden Near Yuma
YUMA COUNTY - In the desert east of Yuma are reputed to be an untold number of long forgotten buried Chinese caches. Dating from the time of the California Gold Rush in 1849 through roughly 1900, the number of Chinese that entered the United States steadily grew in spite of Anti-Chinese sentiment and laws passed to curb Chinese immigration.
Ships departing China for the U.S. were re-routed to Mexico where, for a fee, a Mexican guide would smuggle the Chinese from the interior to the Sonora-Arizona border. Once on the U.S. side, the Chinese had some advantage since the Anglo influence of Anti-Chinese sentiment at that time had not taken hold in Arizona. However, they still had to contend with the Indians and Hispanic highwaymen.
Local research could provide better details as to the location of Chinese camps and where the Chinese became the victims of crime.

Arnold, Oren, Hidden Treasure In The Wild West, 1967, Katonah, New York, Abelard Schuman and YRP, Inc, p. 28-34
Masters, Al, “Arizona Train Robbers’ Colossal Cave Cache,” September 1976, Lost Treasure, p. 16
Pleasant Valley War: Wikipedia Research.
Pleasant Valley Chamber of Commerce, Pleasant Valley History - The Pleasant Valley War, 2005,
Henson, Michael Paul, “Arizona Loaded with Ghost Towns and Treasure Sites – Hidden Caches,” August 1982, Lost Treasure, p. 40.