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 mysterious cavern.

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 a chief.

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.

Copyright, 2000-2003
Web Page October 25, 2003
Background Courtesy Pat Calton
Trees Images By Feebleminds Animated Gifs

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 grants that this information and data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material, for personal and genealogical research. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit, can not be copied over to other sites, linked to, or other presentation without written permission of Ethel Taylor.