Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
September 9, 2001
Ten more Texas treasure tales
Author: Paul Cline Jr.; Star-Telegram Staff Writer
1. Lost Seminole Mine
Treasure: Fabulously rich gold mine
Legend: In the 1880s, cowboy Bill Kelly, known as "Seminole Bill," a hand for the famous ranching Reagan brothers of far West Texas, reported finding a gold mine. Lee Reagan told Kelly he was being paid to hunt for stray horses, not gold mines. By the time the brothers realized the magnitude of Kelly's find, he was long gone. The Reagans spent much time seeking Kelly and paying prospectors to search for the mine, to no avail.
Where is it? The mine is believed to be near where Reagan Canyon empties into the Rio Grande in Brewster County, and possibly across the river in Mexico.
2. Lost Sublett Mine
Treasure: Fabulously rich gold mine
Legend: Old Ben Sublett was a prospector who often disappeared into the hardscrabble land along the Texas-New Mexico line for weeks on end, leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves in Odessa. But then he started bringing back bags of yellow nuggets. Sublett would head out again when each load of gold ran out, and many tried, unsuccessfully, to follow him to the source of the gold. He showed the mine to a young son once, who couldn't find it again after Ben Sublett died in 1892.
Where is it? The mine is generally believed to be in the Rustler Hills in Culberson County at the base of the Guadalupe Mountains.
3. The Rock Pens
Treasure: Thirty-one mule loads, mostly silver bullion
Legend: On his deathbed in Austin in 1873, Daniel Dunham dictated a waybill to the treasure, which he and other outlaws looted from a Mexican mine and church. Returning to the United States, they were attacked by Indians in the Brush Country of South Texas. They buried their loot in a pen of rocks hastily built as a fortification. Only Dunham lived to tell the tale.
Where is it? Most believe it to be in La Salle, Live Oak or McMullen county.
4. Maximillian's Treasure
Treasure: Wagonloads of American and Austrian gold and silver coins and bullion, and the other royal riches of Emperor Maximillian of Mexico, a puppet of Napoleon III of France
Legend: When Maximillian was toppled in 1867, his wealth was packed up for overland shipment to Galveston, where it would be sent to Austria. The treasure train was ambushed at the historic Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River in West Texas by six former Confederate soldiers. They killed the wagoneers, buried the loot and headed back east. Five were soon killed in an Indian attack, and the sixth, who had stopped briefly at Fort Concho to treat an illness, found their corpses. He reached Denton before the illness felled him again, and, knowing that he was dying, told his story and drew a map. Many have searched, but the vast treasure remains lost.
Where is it? The dying outlaw's map places it about 15 miles east of Horsehead Crossing, at King Mountain's Castle Gap.
5. Steinheimer's Millions
Treasure: Ten mule loads of gold and silver
Legend: German native Karl Steinheimer, who had come to America as a seaman and had worked as a slave runner for famed privateer Luis de Aury, eventually became involved in mining in Mexico and became rich. In 1838, after hearing from an old flame in St. Louis, Steinheimer packed his fortune and headed north with two companions for a reunion with her. In Central Texas, when they ran into signs of Indian trouble near the confluence of three rivers, Steinheimer buried the treasure, marking the spot with a brass spike driven into a large oak tree nearby. The party was soon attacked; his companions were killed, but Steinheimer, gravely wounded, was able to sneak away. Kindly strangers found him, and they delivered the letter the dying man wrote to his girlfriend describing the location of the loot. The young woman's agents, and many others, searched in vain for the brass spike.
Where is it? Steinheimer's cache is widely believed to be where the Lampasas, Leon and Salado rivers meet to form the Little River in Bell County.
6. Santa Anna's Lost Pay Chest
Treasure: Chest with payroll for the men of Santa Anna's invading army
Legend: As Santa Anna marched into Texas, one of the military columns lost a pay chest as it crossed the Nueces River below San Patricio in the Coastal Bend of South Texas. Unwilling to be delayed as they closed in on the rebel Texians, the officers of the unit decided to leave the chest until their victorious return to Mexico. But after Santa Anna's stunning defeat at the hands of Sam Houston in April 1836, the Mexicans scrambled south toward home. In full flight and fearful of being overtaken by the vengeful Texians, Santa Anna's lieutenants didn't retrieve the chest.
Where is it? Most likely near the old War Crossing on the Nueces, about three miles below San Patricio.
7. Buried Outlaw Loot of El Muerto Springs
Treasure: Twenty-five mule loads looted from the mint and a cathedral in Monterrey, Mexico
Legend: In 1879, four notorious outlaws appeared in Texas - Zwing Hunt, Jim Hughes, Red Curly (aka Sandy King) and Doctor Neal. They had been involved in Billy the Kid's Lincoln County War in New Mexico, and had helped make Tombstone, Ariz., famous as a haven for cutthroats. After stealing 25 government mules from Fort Davis in West Texas, they posed as guano traders for their raid on Monterrey. They fled back to Texas and buried their loot in an 85-foot-deep shaft, cementing the fill rock with antelope blood, intending to dig it up after the heat was off. But most were eventually shot or hanged by vigilantes in New Mexico and Arizona. None returned for the treasure.
Where is it? At El Muerto Springs in Jeff Davis County.
8. Lost Copper Mines on the Brazos
Treasure: Extensive Spanish copper mines
Legend: Stories of Spanish copper mines on the Brazos River have endured for centuries. One 60-man expedition, calling itself the Washington and Texas Land and Copper Co., scouted deep into the Brazos region of Northwest Texas in 1872 without turning up the mine. In 1908, a stranger appeared in Haskell, announcing that he could find the mine if the locals could help him find a buried stone covered with symbols. The "Spider Rock" was located, and in the ensuing days many relics, including copper pegs, gold buttons and human skeletons, were found, stirring the treasure hunters into a frenzy. But the excitement eventually died down, the stranger left, and the mine remains undisturbed.
Where is it? Various stories place the mines along the Double Mountain and Salt forks of the Brazos River in Kent, Stonewall and Haskell counties.
9. Sam Bass' Loot
Treasure: The spoils of many stagecoach and train robberies, including tens of thousands of dollars in gold coins
Legend: After a string of stagecoach robberies in Kansas and Nebraska and train robberies in Texas beginning in 1877, Sam Bass and his gang buried much of the loot in North and Central Texas. In 1878, Bass, 27, was preparing to rob a bank in Round Rock. He was ambushed and fatally shot by a Texas Ranger, dying without disclosing the locations of his various caches. A small box of 1877 gold coins was found near Springtown in Williamson County around the turn of the century, but the rest of the loot remains lost.
Where is it? Most is probably hidden near Cove Hollow, about 30 miles outside Denton. Some believe much of the money is buried just northwest of Round Rock, and others say Bass and his gang hid some of it around Longhorn Cavern in Burnet County, where they used to hide out.
10. Lost LaFitte Loot
Treasure: $2 million in silver ingots
Legend: In 1816, famed pirate Jean LaFitte boarded and robbed a Spanish ship, the Santa Rosa, in Matagorda Bay. He ordered a henchman to take the booty overland to St. Louis. In East Texas, as the convoy neared Louisiana, LaFitte's friend got word that a large detachment of Mexican soldiers was approaching. He shrewdly concealed the six wagons by rolling them into nearby Lake Hendricks. In the ensuing battle, LaFitte's partner and all but two drovers were killed. They escaped and spread the story, but the ingots have never been recovered.
Where is it? Hendricks Lake is near Longview.
- Paul Cline Jr.
1. Lost Seminole Mine 2. Lost Sublett Mine 3. The Rock Pen 4. Maximillian's 5. Steinheimer's Millions 6. Santa Anna's Lost Pay Chest 7. Buries Outlaw Loot of El Muerto Springs 8. Lost Cooper Mines on the Brasos 9. Sam Bass' Loot 10. Lost LaFitte Loot