KANAB (ABC 4 Utah) – Historians say the richest cache of gold is hidden in southern Utah and that it’s buried deep within its caverns. Hundreds of people have explored land and water to find it but still, to this day, nobody has gotten close to Montezuma’s treasure.
Legends say that during the 16th century, 8,000 Aztec warriors carried King Montezuma’s gold from Mexico City to the U.S. to protect it from the Spanish conquistadors.
“Montezuma’s treasure is in some place in North America,” said Matt Brown, a journalist and historian in southern Utah.
Some believe it’s in Kanab and that it’s hidden at the pond of Three Lakes Ranch.
“Archeologists believe that the Aztecs thought of this as their homeland,” Brown explained.
It’s said that the Aztecs may have used a clever strategy called a water trap to hide their precious jewels. The trap would’ve have required them to dig 35 feet deep under the water and then build a tunnel that would lead inside a cavern next to the pond.
“They created a room that would’ve been higher than the water level so, = they drain the lake out and they go back in the cavern, put the gold back in there and they fill the water back up,” Brown explained.
Then historians say, the Aztecs killed each other on the spot so that their spirits could protect the gold.
“Some believe they may even be inside the cave where the gold was because they would have tried to obviously get up where they could breathe and die,” said Brown.
Lonn Child’s family has owned the Three Lake Ranch for thirty years. His father bought the property for $1,500 after suspecting the gold may have been there. Since then, they’ve tried to look for the treasure.
“If there are curses, this is cursed. Every time there’s been an attempt, bad things would happen,” Child said.
He said treasure hunters have spent more than a $100,000 worth of equipment to dive into the lake but strange situations would stop them.
“As they’re are swimming back in there, all of a sudden, the divers started screaming – I’m being choked down, I’m seeing ghosts, I’m seeing ghosts,” Child explained.
And that’s not all that happened.
“People have died. We had a well driller that died,” Child said.
In 1998, Child’s father hired a well driller to attempt another way in. They drilled a 4-inch hole on top of the cavern and when they pulled the drill up, it had gold flakes on top of the drill so they wanted to try again with a bigger drill.
“The well driller went home, came back the next day and started drilling down with a 10-inch drill down the same hole. They got down 50 feet and the drill bit broke off, so they had to quit. This guy was 45 years old. He went home that night and had a heart attack and died. Three weeks later, his wife died,” Child said.
At one point, his family even tried to drain the lake but were stopped by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Apparently, an endangered species called the ambersnail lived on the property. If they killed even one snail, Child’s family would face a major fine.
“The federal government sued the owner of property $25,000 for each ambersnail, ” Brown said.
Not only that, Brown said the ambersnail is an ancient creature from Mexico City.
“It’s only found in two spots in the United States. Here and across the Colorado River so people think the ambersnail is here to protect the gold as well,” Brown said.
Some say that Montezuma’s gold could be worth more than $3 billion and that thought alone has attracted international attention to the red rocks of southern Utah.
Crews from National Geographic and H2’s original hit series America Unearthed have explored Kanab to investigate the haunted ghosts and the lost treasure.
Host and Forensic Geologist Scott Wolter told ABC4’s Tasmin Mahfuz about his experience.
“I went into this with a complete open mind and I was really impressed with just about everything I saw. The caves that we went and saw looked like a repository to me. It was surprising and it was exciting,” said Wolter.
So, is there gold?
Kelly Stowell, Kane County’s film commissioner. said a lot of people still think it’s out there.
“There’s a lot of evidence that it is. My dad came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t meant to come out,” Child said.
“There’s something going on there,” said Wolter.
Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see.