ST. GEORGE (ABC4) – With tales of lost mines, buried Aztec gold, and paranormal activity, Utah has long been a mecca for treasure hunters and adventure seekers of all kinds. Shows like Mystery at Blind Frog Ranch and Skinwalker Ranch have fascinated and captivated audiences in our state and beyond, and although there have been no major discoveries of hidden Aztec gold, Spanish riches, or the like thus far, many of us are still left to wonder.
Timothy Draper, founder of Treasures in America, a Utah-based one-stop-shop for all things treasure hunting, has been wondering for 25 years. Indeed, Draper has made his career out of searching for these rumored riches. He’s been involved with both Mystery at Blind Frog Ranch and Skinwalker Ranch, and now, he’s out to create his own treasure hunting show, called Uncharted Expeditions.
The show, which will be available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and YouTube, just began filming in St. George, and its first season will officially be released on November 25, 2022.
And even though Utah’s possibilities for this sort of treasure-based adventure are amply documented, Draper’s team of treasure hunters thinks there’s room for one more — and that they have something new to bring to the table.
“What’s going to separate us between everybody else and their television shows is, in my opinion, a lot of these guides you see on TV are new at what they do, they’re new to the treasure hunting world,” Draper says. “That’s good for entertainment and these other networks spend a lot of money trying to help educate them on how to do it the correct way. But I’m a real treasure hunter. I’m the guy they call to get the story idea and to get the information to find old maps and stuff like that.”
And aside from Draper’s experience, the show will also differ from others in that it won’t just zero in on a particular area of Utah, each episode will feature a hunt for a unique treasure in a different corner of the Beehive State. During the first season alone, the team will work to track down lost Spanish silver mines, Aztec artifacts, ancient, historic sites, and silver and gold bars.
“Some of my research in the last 25 years has taken me all the way down to Mexico to find documents, old maps, research these stories of what the conquistadors did here in the Western states,” he says. “Utah has some very remarkable stories about treasures and the Spanish lost mines, the lost gold, and so I just figured it would be a good first season to start right at home.”
Draper’s team is comprised of himself and five other men: Shaun Fotheringham, the team climber, Todd Andersen, the miner and prospector, Marc Hoover, the detectorist and diver, Antonio Mendez, the digger and interpreter, and Josh Blodgett, the production manager. For future seasons, Draper says the team is planning to explore treasures in other states besides Utah, too.
“I have so many treasure sites in North, Central, and South America, I can’t do it all by myself in my lifetime,” he says. “I’ve spent the last few years creating this elite treasure hunting team. Every one of my guys have a different talent that I need to get closer and closer to these treasures. So we’re hoping by doing a different story every episode, that we’re going to be able to show America that there are treasures around every corner and in every state.”
In the past, local experts have told ABC4.com that, while it’s certainly possible there is buried treasure in Utah, there is also reason to be skeptical. Richard Paine, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, says that while Aztec gold certainly does exist, the stories of hidden treasure passed on by the conquistadors may have been fabricated by Mesoamerican peoples simply to get the Spanish to go somewhere else.
But still, it’s certainly fun to imagine that there’s treasure somewhere in our backyard. And, with all these shows, if there are riches to be found, hopefully there’s enough to go around.