OF KIOWA COUNTY!!
Every chain of mountains has its legends and the Wichitas in
southwest Oklahoma is no exception. The Wichitas stretch across about
mid-Kiowa County from the North Fork of the Red River into Comanche County
around Fort Sill. These mountains, supposed to be the oldest in the United
States, have formed the background for romance, tragedy, ambitions, dreams,
catastrophes, successes and failures. It is only natural that many legends
and stories of gold hidden in their inaccessible boulders abound; strangers
from foreign lands seeking their fortunes, gold miners, Indians, cowboys
and outlaws. These legends were handed down from one generation to another,
giving us the real romance of the Wichitas and Kiowa County.
The Mexican town in the mouth of Devil's Canyon was perhaps the first
ghost town in what is now Kiowa County. The legends of rich treasure and
ghosts that guard them have preserved a history of Devil's Canyon that
other history and tradition could not have done.
Spanish miners led by Don Diego Del Castillo who came to the area in 1650
are said to have started the legends. Although there seems to be no proof
of gold or silver ever being removed in any large quantities, the stories
and legends persist.
Devil's Canyon, called Canyon Diablo by the Spanish explorers, cuts a
large swath a mile and half long through rugged granite peaks before opening
into the North Fork of the Red River. Lying between Flat Top Mountain
and Soldier Mountain, the area is rich with tales of lost Spanish gold
and smelters that melted the gold. Also found there are foundation ruins
of a forgotten ancient church, a brass cannon and even the treasure of
a Spanish ship. Part of the area, 768 acres, is owned by the Quartz Mountain
State Park now
Early settlers in the area have found beads, arrowheads, jewelry, buttons,
along with some bones in plowing their fields. Many were found at the
site of the old Mexican town and a Wichita village. There are enough stories
and legends about lost gold mines in Devil's Canyon, it is hard to believe
there is not some proof in the idea.
Fifty years after Columbus discovered America, the Spanish came. In April,
1541, Coronado, on his search for Cibola, the Seven Cities of Gold, left
his main camp in Mexico with a detachment of 30 soldiers and crossed the
Red River in search of the mythical city of gold that had been told to
them by an Indian guide. Steel clad warriors directed by Coronado camped
on the south banks of the South Canadian River and dreamed of a fabulous
land of gold referred to by the Indians as Quivira.
The Indian told them that in Quivira, there was a river in level country
(probably the North Fork of the Red River in central and southern Kiowa
County) which was two leagues wide where canoes could travel with more
than twenty rowers to the side. Their Lord sat on a poop under a golden
awning and on the prow was a great golden eagle. He told them that the
lord of the country took his afternoon nap under a great tree upon which
were hung a great number of golden bells, which put him to sleep as they
swung in the breeze.
An old Spanish Map that I have a copy of, shows the showing North America
and the southwest in 1578, thirty seven years after Coronado searched,
still shows the Seven Cities of Cibola in the southwest.
The old Spanish trail followed the North Fork of the Red River into Kiowa
County. Spanish gold miners followed this trail in 1650 to the Devil's
Canyon area. Fierce battles with the Indians left the miners' number decimated
and they returned to Mexico. There is no record of them ever finding gold
but rumors still persist about gold mines in that area.
Devil's Canyon is supposed to be
haunted by ghosts in shining armor guarding the hidden treasures. One
of the treasures is supposed to be a brass cannon filled with gold buried
somewhere in the canyon. Another of the supposed treasures is a silver
casket filled with church wealth. According to the legend from the early
Spanish missionaries who were in the area in 1629, it is buried in one
of the hidden caves.
In 1629, another Spanish explorer Diego Del Castillo spent several months
in the Wichita Mountains searching for gold. The search was fruitless
as far as the records show, but the tradition of the "Lost Spanish
Mines" of the Wichitas persist to this day. In 1611, the Spanish
sent gold seeking expeditions east from Santa Fe and found the Sierra
Jauman Mountains which they named the Wichitas. It is thought they did
their mining in the Devil's Canyon area.
In the fall of 1806 a party of well educated Mexicans who were splendidly
dressed and spoke the English language fluently, camped near the remains
of an old village in Devil's Canyon. Prospectors who were working in the
same area learned from the Mexicans that they were trying to locate two
of the old mines called Black Shaft and Tunnel Shaft mines. The Mexican
party, which was composed of ten men, camped at the site for four weeks.
One night about 10:00 a blast shook the entire community, followed by
five more at intervals of about 20 minutes. The next morning when all
the miners disclaimed knowing anything about it, with aroused curiosity,
a number of them went to visit the Mexican camp. The Mexicans were gone
and the surrounding hills showed no sign of the blasts.
Nearly a century later, a young blacksmith from Lugert was in
the area hunting rabbits. A heavy snowstorm came up. While on the broad
mesa between Devil's Canyon and Bird Canyon, the hunter came upon a big
hole in the ground. Across the hole lay a cedar log, which broke when
kicked and fell into it. From the sound, the hunter figured the hole was
about 40 feet deep.
After his return to Lugert, as soon as it was possible, he and
some friends went back to the mesa, searching for the hole, which they
never found. The men still wonder what happened to the entrance of this
Only two traces of shafts that might be of Spanish origin are
known. One of these is near Roosevelt and the other is near Cache. These
holes, clearly prospector's shafts pre-date the memories of the oldest
prospectors and are presumed to be the work of Spaniards.
Over a century and half ago, gold bullion valued in that day
at $100,000.00 was buried at Twin Mountains, about 10 miles southeast
of Roosevelt. Over the years many treasure seekers have hunted for it.
Mark McFarland, who lived near the site, also searched for the treasure.
When he was about was about 14, he found a rock on the mountain deeply
carved with the initials "JJ" and "BDL", and the message
"$100,000 gold will be found 10 feet below." Doubting the authenticity
of the stone, he tossed it into a pile of rocks at the base of Twin Mountains.
Some forty years later, at the request of a Con. 8 school teacher, who
was interested in the history of the southwest, he returned and found
the rock, still where he left it, and still legible.
There are three stories about how the gold got there:
1. That a company of Spaniards was moving three burro loads
of gold to Santa Fe from Devil's Canyon. While passing through Twin Mountains
on the trial to Santa Fe, they were attacked by Indians but managed to
hide the gold before the Indians killed them.
2. A caravan of Spaniards had an unknown number of mules loaded
with gold. The Spaniards were ambushed by Indians at the mouth of Devil's
Canyon, eight miles west of Twin Mountains. In 1901, after the country
was opened for settlement, an aged Indian woman and her two sons were
discovered digging on Twin Mountains. The woman, who said she was 105
years old, said she had made off with three gold laden mules with the
aid of two young Indian men. She and her people had had a fight with the
Mexicans as they were bringing a burro pack train out of the canyon. They
had later buried the gold on the west side of Twin Mountains and planned
to return for it. They didn't locate the gold.
3. Story of a robbery by the "James Boys". Possibly
that accounts for the initials on the rock, "JJ", but no one
has found out yet, who "BDL" is.
An early businessman of Hobart, that had been a scout for the
trail herds that passed through on the Great Western Cattle Trail, then
had settled in Hobart, found evidence of once thriving villages of the
Mexicans and Indians in Devil's Canyon. Near a Mexican village were a
number of springs and on the west side of Soldier Mountain there was a
mysterious cave with several tons of ashes. The cave had been used by
the Spaniards to smelter gold. They would build a big, hot fire and throw
the gold ore into the fire. It would melt down into the ashes. After the
ashes cooled they sifted the gold out.
The Indians told him that the Spanish and their burro pack train came
from the mountains in the west. His theory was, the Spanish would mine
the ore in Colorado until it became too cold, then loaded it onto burros
and move to Devil's Canyon to smelt it. The canyon had shelter and protection,
water and grass for the animals and plenty of wood for the fires. The
Indians could smell and see when the Spanish were smelting, so when they
got ready to move the gold, the Indians would attack, kill the Spanish
and take the gold and bury it. One legend is a band of Kiowa discovered
the Spaniards mining and smelting gold. The Kiowa killed all the Spaniards
and took 50 burro loads of the gold. It was later hidden by the chiefs.
The legend is no one was allowed to get near the gold unless they were
Another story is there was a group of Mexicans that tried to find the
gold that their ancestors had buried. They knew it was buried somewhere
in Devil's Canyon. They searched day and night. They needed more supplies
so sent two young Mexican boys to a trading post across the river (Doan's
Store). When the boys got out of sight of the camp they heard screams
and looked back seeing a large band of Kiowa attacking their camp. They
rode for help, but when they returned, all the Mexicans had either been
killed or captured. This story was told in 1893 by an old Mexican that
claimed to be one of the boys.
Another old Mexican showed up at Frank Lugert's saloon after the territory
was opened and spent several months in the area. He said he had been with
a hunting party years before, who had dug on the west side of King Mountain
for a cache of gold they believed hidden by Mexican miners. The hunters
were attacked by Indians but the Mexican escaped. Mark Sauerburg, who
owned the saloon with Lugert searched the area. He found an abandoned
mine shaft on the west side of King Mountain and later at the top of the
mountain, he found the bones of the hunting party.
Legends also say that in the archives in Historical Santa Fe,
New Mexico, is recorded an eighty-five pound nugget of gold, eighty-five
percent purity, brought to Santa Fe which reportedly came from a Devil's
Canyon area mine.
It is generally conceded by historians that gold
legends of this county were responsible for the influx of herd-rock miners
who moved into the Wichitas around Cold Springs and started the Wildman
era of gold mining prior to the time this country was opened to settlement.
There appears to be no verifiable record of any
gold or other precious mineral ever having been commercially processed
and sold from Kiowa County. But the history of the men who tried to prove
the mineral legends is known and recorded and..who knows...They may have
all missed the fabulous treasure of the Wichitas!
The Otter Creek legend stems from a report that outlaws who had
stolen a government payroll from Fort Sill were being pursued by cavalry.
When they crossed Otter Creek, two miles south of Cold Springs, they buried
their loot in the creek bank at a creek crossing. Legend has it that they
were below the narrows, but to be below the narrows, they would have been
seven miles south of Cold Springs. There is an old historic crossing on
Otter Creek two miles below Cold Springs, but whether the loot is buried
there or five miles down stream actually confuses the treasure hunters.
Stories for this page come from several places, tales from old
timers in Kiowa County, legends I have heard from my father and the history
of the county. I hope you have enjoyed them.
This information compiled, prepared and submitted to this site by Ethel Taylorand remains the property
of the submitter NOTICE: Ethel Taylor
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as long as this message remains on all copied material, for personal and
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