Saturday, May 29, 2010

Waybill to Lost Gold in Utah's Henry Mountains (Part 1)

(South Central Utah's Henry Mountains.)

A Tale of Arrastres, Smelters, and Gold

The fact that early Spanish explorers traveled parts of Utah are well known and nearly as well documented. With their dominant peak of Mount Ellen rising to 11,500 feet above the surrounding desert floor, the Henry Mountains of south central Utah are said to be the location of a substantial hard-rock gold strike by the Spanish in the early days of the American West.

Gold Concentrators

According to legend, the vein material the Spanish discovered was very rich, in fact rich enough to warrant the building of a number of arrastras for crushing ore as well as rudimentary smelters for transforming the gold into crude gold bars or dores. (Note: An arrastra was usually composed of a circular stone "patio" or dragging surface over which a large rock or stone wheel was pulled by a burro or mule which was hitched to a central wooden post. Pieces of ore were placed in the path of the grinding rock and subsequently crushed, freeing the precious metal for recovery. Many old arrastras can still be found here in the West and are easily recognized by experienced prospectors, miners, and treasure hunters. J.R.)

Fear of Death Kept Them Away

The Spanish worked this mine only briefly before hostile Indians in the region drove them out of the Henry Mountains. Much of the gold they had already mined and processed had to be hidden and left behind in caches to await recovery at a later date.

Unfortunately for the discoverers of this rich mine, that later date never came as the members of the initial Spanish mining party fled headlong back to New Mexico. Fear of a prolonged and painful death at the hands of the Indians kept most away, while the remainder died of disease or in untimely accidents.

Two "Down-and-Outers" Go for the Gold

Although rumors and campfire stories kept the legend of Spanish gold in the Henrys alive and well, it wasn't until the 1930s that anyone decided to do anything about it. At the height of America's "Great Depression," a crusty old down-and-outer named Al Hainey decided he'd had enough of soup lines and hooked up with a U.S. citizen of Hispanic descent named Francisco Olgean. (Note: I suspect this spelling of Francisco's surname is phoenetic in nature...the real spelling was probably Olguin which is pronounced similarly. J.R.) Francisco, better known as Frank or "Pancho," was well versed in interpreting Spanish treasure signs and symbols and had a strong hankering to "strike it rich."

This odd couple, Al and "Pancho," were essentially dead broke when they started out to search for Spanish gold in the Henry Mountains. Despite their poverty and lack of provisions, neither Al nor "Pancho" hesitated for an instant. They were going for the gold and all else be damned. After all, what did they have to lose?

In my next post I'll tell you the rest of Al and "Pancho's" story as well as provide you with their waybill to the possible location of Spanish gold in Utah's Henry Mountains.

Until then, good hunting!

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Detector Reviews: Minelab's 'Eureka Gold'"

(c) J.R. 2010

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