Taken from the 5000 TREASURES OF THE WORLD CD: Around 1810 a party of Spanish soldiers fled the troubles in Mexico and headed northward, pillaging, looting and robbing everything of value in their path. Even the rich Spanish missions along their route were not spared. The group accumulated a large store of gold and silver coins and bars, valuable church vessels, ornaments and statutes, all of which were carried on 40 mules. Some versions of this story say that along their flight, food and water became scarce and , one by one, the mules were killed for food and the treasure it was carrying was secreted along the trail. By the time the party reached the Escalante Desert, what treasure remaining was placed in a cave in the Boulder-Escalante region and the entrance covered over. Others claim that the entire store of treasure was concealed in this cave when Indian hostilities forced the Spaniards to abandon their cumberson cargo. All researchers seem to agree that one of the items buried was a three foot high solid gold statue of Jesus and that the party never returned to recover their hoard of treasure which has become known as the Treasure of the Golden Jesus. Many years later Indians told of a cave where Spanish soldiers had hidden a large cross of gold and claimed to have actually seen the cave. Mysterious markings can be found on Fifty Mile Mountain and numerous Spanish artifacts have been recovered to lend credence to the story.
This story is in George Thompsons book "Lost treasures on the Old Spanish Trail" but he has a twist on the story. He says that a group of missionaries were being chased by the indians and had to lighten their load of church treasures in order to escape and they put it in a cave somewhere on Fifty Mile mountain. Supposedly cowboys have found mule shoes and a broken spanish sword up there, but ole' George is well known for 'coloring' most of his stories. Studying quad maps of the area has led me to believe they were following the Colorado to get to the area were they could cross. They would have to have a source of water also. The only way around Fifity mile is on the north by Escalante or the extreme south along the cliffs of the Colorado. On the south are springs, and I feel that this is the route they would have taken as heading to the north end would have added better than a hundred miles to the journey over very rough country. This is all in the Escalante Monument now so travel by horseback is about the only way in there. I feel that anyone wanting to follow this legend should look to the southern end of the range as a good place to start.
Kaiparwits Plateau (on modern maps) used to be called Fifty Mile Mountain. Several old-timers still refer to it by the old name. Somewhere on this mountain there is supposed to be a cave that conceals a statue of solid gold that it took four men to carry.
The story starts in 1810, when Mexico declared its independence from Spain. Soldiers and peasants fought together to rid Mexico of the Spanish. During the fighting, a group of Spanish soldiers fled to the north with several burros. They decided to rob and loot anything of value in their path.
Reaching a mission, which unfortunately was in their path of escape, the soldiers loaded the burros with all of the church gold and silver, vessels and anything else of value they could find. Among the gold items the soldiers found was a statue of Jesus, over three feet high, made of solid gold.
After several days of travel, the soldiers reached the desert wastes of Arizona, then on into what is now Utah. Waterholes were far apart, and no food could be found, so the burros were killed, one by one. Load after load of loot was dropped along the trail. Only a few soldiers were left when the Escalante Desert was reached. With imminent starvation facing them, the soldiers decided to hide the gold statue (all they had left of 40 burro loads of loot).
It is believed the soldiers found a cave at the north end of Fifty Mile Mountain, near the town of Boulder and Escalante, in Garfield County. It was in this cave that the golden statue was hidden and the entrance covered over. After a few days rest, the surviving soldiers left and several of them made it to the Pacific coast, but they were never able to return for their cache.
A few years later, mountain men began their hunt for beaver in this area. Then came the Mormons, claiming title to the area containing the golden statue. Indians told the Mormons of a cave in the mountain that Spanish soldiers had used years before, then traveled on west. It was years before the Mormons found time to search for the cave.
In 1875, a Mormon bishop named Llewellen Harris became friendly with an aged Indian who told him about the cave where many, many years ago, Spanish soldiers had hidden a large cross of gold. The Indian had seen the cave once, before the soldiers closed it. He had a crude map of the area with a mark showing the location of the cave.
Bishop Harris searched for years but never found the cave. However, he and other Mormon searchers did find evidence (in the form of spurs, uniform buttons and a skeleton) that the soldiers had indeed been in the area of Fifty Mile Mountain.
Different symbols of spiders, turtles, crosses, and other strange markings, believed to be keys to the caves location, have been found, but no one has been able to decipher them. Maybe someday a treasure hunter will stumble on this cave that holds a golden statue so heavy that it took four men to carry it.
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