A Stream Which Flows Into A River Is Called The Lost Adams Diggings

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The Lost Adams Diggings

Somewhere there a small creek flows in a deep trough-like hollow. The Lost Adams Diggings contain perhaps the richest and most authentic evidence of any lost treasure in the West. This is a story confirmed by more than one person.

A man named Adams was a teamster on his way to Los Angeles with 12 horses. Adams (his first name was variously given as William, Edward, Henry, and John) was an overland freighter between Los Angeles and Tucson, Arizona. He was married in Los Angeles with a wife and three children.

After his last trip, Adams camped in the vicinity of Florence, Arizona. The Apaches, taking his horses, awakened him. Adams gave chase and returned the animal.

When he returned to his camp he found his wagon burning and all his other belongings gone, including the two thousand dollars he had received from his freight distribution. The Apache only used the trick of stealing the horse so they could rob the camp of their real valuables.

Without 12 horses, his valuables gone, Adams moved to a friendly Pima Indian village in what is now Gila Bend, Arizona. There he heard stories of the prospecting trade of miners. A half-breed Mexican-Apache nicknamed “Gotch Ear” heard when miners expressed their desire to find gold. Because of the deformed and crumpled lobe of one ear, the boy was called Gotch Ear.

Apaches captured Gotch Ear and his brother while they were living in Mexico. Gotch Ear was now a fugitive from the tribe because he had killed the Apache who had killed his brother in battle.

Gotch Ear eventually made contact with a group of miners. If you were interested in gold, he told them, he knew of a canyon ten days away on horseback where a creek literally flowed with gold nuggets. In return he only asked for a horse that would take him back to Mexico.

In 1864 Gotch Ear guided a group of 22 men to the site. Gotch Ear led the gold-seeking group for several days in a general northeasterly direction down the Gila River. On or about August 25, the group camped in the lowlands between two high peaks believed to be Mount Ord and Mount Baldy.

This causes confusion for the treasure hunters, however, as Mount Ord is located north of Phoenix and is mistaken for the journey taken by Gotch Ear and his followers.

Since Adams had all the horses, the gold-hungry miners chose him as their leader.

After a four-day journey through heavy timber, the Mexican youth led the miners around a high mountain, which Adams and John Brewer, one of the miners, was the White Mountain of eastern Arizona.

Finally the group reached Box Canyon. Here they camped for the night. In the morning, they hiked up the canyon toward a reddish bluff, but it was really a rock wall sixty to seventy feet high.

Gotch Ear led the men around a large boulder at the base of the wall. There, through a hidden portal, they entered a zigzag canyon, so tight, Adams later said, that a rider could reach out and touch both sides.

There was a stream running through the canyon floor, which they followed into an acre-sized meadow. Here they camped for the night.

The miners had hardly settled before a band of Apaches led by Chief Nana appeared in a meadow near the falls and began collecting the yellow ore.

Nana told the miners to take what they wanted from the creek, but not to make any attempt to find gold deposits in the gorge above the falls. He ordered them to leave soon and never to return.

Although gold did not attract the Indians, the valley where it was located did. The valley, called “Snow-tah-he” by Nana, was a special religious place for the Indians.

Apaches also believed that gold was the “tears of the sun”. No one touched the tears of the sun because it was the source of all life.

Against Nana’s order, the gold seekers remained in the valley. Not only did they stay, but they soon began building cabins. Over the course of three weeks, they collected about sixty thousand dollars worth of gold, which they placed in containers and hid in the hearth of the unfinished cabin.

With the exception of a German named Snively, the latter intended to distribute the gold equally among the men in the prospecting party. Snively did his share every day and kept his gold apart from the others.

Soon the supply dwindled. A party of five miners, led by John Brewer, was assigned to proceed to Fort Wingate to restore the camp. Miners took with them nuggets – some as large as turkey eggs – to use as payment.

At the fort, when the miners paid for their supplies with large gold nuggets, the storekeeper carefully noted this fact.

Meanwhile, Apache Chief Nana, unseen, continued to watch activity on the creek and even recorded a secret trip up the canyon at night to search for a source of gold.

He was not pleased. On his return from Fort Wingate, he ordered his Apache warriors to kill a supply party of five. This was done with the exception of one man, Brewer, who escaped.

The Apaches then killed all the miners in the valley except for two men who were some distance from the Anglo camp. Snively, the German, who had already returned to Germany with his gold. Years later, Snively verified the existence of gold in detail.

One of the two survivors of the Apache Massacre was Adams and the other was Jack Davidson. The only reason the two men escaped the Apache’s wrath was because they had gone to Fort Wingate in search of a supply crew.

Adams and Davidson decided for safety that it was best to move to Los Angeles to avoid further contact with the Apaches. They got lost during the night journey.

According to one story they were spotted by American soldiers and taken to Fort Apache. This casts some doubt on this version, however, as Fort Apache was not established until 1872.

Jack Davidson later claimed he was taken east of Prescott to Fort Whipple.

Adams and Davidson did not know that John Brewer, head of the supply party, had also escaped the Apache massacre. Brewer climbed the canyon wall and reached friendly Pueblo Indians. Brewer eventually moved to Colorado, married an Indian woman, and raised a family.

Adams returned to his family in California and lived there for ten years. He was afraid to return to New Mexico to find the dig.

Adams returned in 1874. Until his death in 1876, he searched and searched for the lost “Adams Diggings”, but was never able to move the gold mine.

There are many stories about attempts to trace the route taken by Gotch Ear and his Anglo followers.

A man named Edward Doheny, while traveling across New Mexico in search of work in Phoenix, reported traveling through Box Canyon before realizing he could not cross. Before turning back, he saw the remains of a burned cabin, but at the time he knew nothing of Adams’ story.

When Grubstacked later, Doheny was unable to find the location again.

A cowboy named Jack Townsend claimed to have located the missing Adams Diggings while working in Magdalena, New Mexico in 1894. This has never been confirmed.

Once, when he was trying to transfer “River of Gold”, Adams met Bob Lewis in a saloon. Lewis was also looking for “Diggings”.

“Go and find the bones of the men who were carrying the goods to the valley. Show me the bones, and I will show you the gold.”

According to Lee Paul’s account on a website called “The Outlaws”, Lewis found the bones. They found it thirty years later. In one cleft were the skeletons of several men covered with packsaddles and fragments of rock.

Lewis was in the Datil Mountains of New Mexico. Although he found the bones, he did not find the secret door. It is believed that the earthquake that struck southern Arizona and New Mexico in 1887 reshaped the scene in the Datil Mountains.

Many, many attempts have been made to find the path laid out by Gotch Ear. None were fruitful. It looks like The Lost Adams Diggings will remain just that — lost.

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