Thursday, May 27, 2010



Stories and theories on the whereabouts of Montezuma's treasure are numerous. Amateurs and experts alike have spent countless hours studying the long-ago story of the Aztec ruler who allegedly sent a large group of warriors north with a load of treasure.

So, when someone comes forward saying they know the location of at least part of that treasure, most folks treat the claim with a certain amount of doubt.

Which is why Gordon Smith of Beaver has spent years trying to figure out how to tell his story.

Smith a part-time packer and guide who spends much of his free time exploring the nooks and crannies of the Arizona Strip, believes he has stumbled onto a major discovery in relation to Montezuma's treasure.

His biggest problem: Figuring out how to tell the world.

"I'm caught in between a rock and hard place," said the quiet Smith.

Smith, described by friends and family as a survivor who feels more at home in the outdoors than under a permanent roof, but as a person who can be counted on, claims to have found a large ice cave containing artifacts, gems and as many as 27 bodies, which he believes makes up part of King Montezuma's legendary cache.

Accounts say Montezuma sent a part of more than 2,000 warriors north, ahead of invading Spaniards with a heavy load of gold and silver. Speculation persists that the treasure is located somewhere near Kanab, in the canyons and mazes along the Utah-Arizona border.

Smith, who now works as a guide says he was riding his mule one day in March 1985, when he stopped to smoke a cigarette on a slope in the Mount Trumbull-Mount Logan area. He felt cold air coming from under the slab of rock he was sitting on.

Investigating what appeared to be an ice cave, Smith stepped inside the entrance and saw what he thought were bodies and vessels along each wall. The spooked Smith immediately covered up the entrance and left the area, not returning until mid-1989.

On his second visit, Smith explored more of the cave, careful not to disturb the contents. He returned again earlier in 1991 to explore further.

"I haven't slept much since I found this cave," Smith said. "Every time I go back, I'm jumpy for weeks after."

Smith recounts finding what appears to be six animal skin sacks full of gems of a variety of colors. He also says he found as many as 30 closed animal skin vessels that are 2 feet to 3 feet long. Stacked along one wall are 26 bodies, wrapped in some kind of material, but well-preserved because of the frost that has enveloped them in the cave.

But no gold.

Smith, who claims to have studied the many legends and stories of the huge treasure since finding the cave, says everything fits into place.

But getting Bureau of Land Management officials and the news media to believe his story has been a battle.

Bill L...., district manager of the Arizona Strip of the BLM said when he heard of Smith's find several years ago.

"We hear stories like this all the time, usually things over near the Kanab area... When people come in
and tell us, we record them and look into them. Still, if he's found something, he deserves credit for it."

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