The Norman Transcript

Centennial

April 6, 2007

Oil wasn’t the only treasure sought underground

Oklahoma abounds with treasure legends. They start with what possibly is the wildest wild-goose chase in recorded history when Spanish explorer Coronado searched for Quivira, or the Seven Cities of Cibola.

Coronado is believed to have crossed a portion of modern Oklahoma during the 16th century as his expedition wandered over more than three thousand miles of land previously unexplored by Europeans.

Coronado never found the seven cities where streets were supposedly paved with gold.

Other Spanish penetrated what is now Oklahoma by the 17th century and found the Wichita Mountains near modern Lawton.

Spanish miners apparently searched for gold and silver. There is no proof they found any in large quantities, but the Spanish gave rise to tales of lost Spanish mines and buried treasures.

Such legends also persist in and around the area of Quartz Mountain State Park near modern Altus in southwest Oklahoma, and in and around the Arbuckle Mountains in south central Oklahoma.

One legend tells of an army paymaster and his military escort bound for Fort Arbuckle being killed by outlaws on Mill Creek near Davis. Most of the outlaws were also killed, but one, a Mexican, managed to bury the loot before escaping. Some of the loot apparently was recovered by a party of Mexicans camped on Mill Creek during the 1930s.

Southwest of Woodward in northwest Oklahoma is the site of another legend of Spanish buried treasure. In a dry canyon west of the town of Vici, human bones were found about 1900. According to tradition, Indians harassed a party of Spanish traveling with several burros carrying gold.

The Spaniards supposedly made a stand against the Indians in the dry canyon but buried their gold before being killed by the Indians. The bones were believed those of the dead Spaniards.

About 1912 a few gold coins reportedly were found in the canyon, but no one has ever reported finding all of the Spanish treasure.

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