Montezuma’s Treasure – the Search for Gold!
By Dixie Brunner
Freddie Crystal in 1914, thought he had found the location of the famed Montezuma’s Gold. (The Aztec Indian treasure Montezuma’s followers supposedly buried to prevent it from falling into the hands of Cortez and his Spanish conquistadors.) Freddie was staying at a nearby Johnson Canyon ranch at the time, and was convinced he knew the location of the famed gold. Crystal said Indian petroglyphs marked the way to a buried tunnel and secret room inside of a mountain with a great hoard of Aztec gold, silver and jewels. He disappeared for a few years, returning with a map he claimed to have found in a Spanish monastery. The map showed four mountains to the north, one mountain in each of the other three directions, a cliff with stairs, a duck petroglyph symbol, and a canyon with four side branches. One of the branches was marked as the buried treasure site. After a great deal of searching, Crystal and his entourage found another map directing them to White Mountain. As the group entered the canyon, Crystal pointed out matching clues...the duck petroglyphs and the cliff stairs were both there. They were sure they had found the lost treasure! The group was so excited they began digging immediately. After two days of back-breaking excavation, they discovered a man-made stone wall built of blue limestone rock. News of the discovery rocked Kanab! The townspeople were in a frenzy. An organized group of diggers set up a tent city on the flat terrain beneath the mountain’s slope. The workers pushed through the stone wall and found to their excitement, a tunnel. The 160 foot tunnel was treacherous with cave-ins, but Crystal and his group worked diligently. The party found pottery shards, deer and rabbit bones, and just as the map said, a large room! Unfortunately, the room was empty. There was no gold, jewels or treasure...only dust. Many more tunnels leading in other directions were found, and the searchers kept on looking for the treasure to no avail. After a two year effort, Crystal gave up his treasure hunt and disappeared completely. Interest in the treasure waned, and Kanab folk returned to their ordinary lives without finding the phenomenal gold stash. The tunnel and treasure room still exist today. Occasionally you hear of somebody who thinks they know the gold’s real location, but Kane County’s primary treasure is to hit refresh and enjoy the spectacular scenery.