July 16, 2024

Treasure Signs From The Field #1

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign… but only if you have the eye.

An overactive eye makes every natural outline a “treasure marker” and you can’t see what’s important.

Too conservative, and you never find anything worthy of exploration or additional consideration.

How then to develop the right kind of eye? It makes sense that it’s an inexact art, and the proof is seldom forthcoming. Even if you stumble across something valuable enough that no one would just leave it laying around on accident or walk away from it, how do you *know* what you thought were signs actually were?

There are a lot of books out there that address treasure signs and symbols, but how do you know they are right? What is the basis for their assertions? Usually, a suggestion that they used such information to locate and recover the “proof”, but most often without coming out and identifying anything specific. This makes logical sense since you are never supposed to tell anyone, anything, ever – except of course 10’s or 100’s of pages of supposed “how to” information published in book form.

Unfortunately, you will have to develop your own style to be effective, and your own reasons for believing what you believe.

Hooked cross sign along the well-traveled Jornada del Muerto.

A petroglyph carved in stone seems like a pretty reasonable treasure sign that could stand the test of time. The longer it took to make and the more detailed, as well as the more weathered, the more logical to be associated with some long-buried object of desire. The more feeble and lazy, the more likely to be modern. However, with no decisive way to date petroglyphs, fakes are always a possibility. Then there is the matter of intent: is it a surveyor’s mark, the work of an idle prospector, or a Native glyph?

Petroglyph resembling the mark of Cortez and a “follow trail” X, but also consistent with Native symbology.

The humble “X” is associated with a lot of treasure lore, but how unique is the symbol to the “hidden treasure” application? Seriously, two crossed lines can’t be that hard to come up with by way of separate development. But, in the right context, even a small hint in the right direction can make all the difference.

Some folks like to make carved animals and witches and all sorts of faces and things out of rocks, but this seems to be very much in the realm of cloud-gazing if not reigned in and treated logically. If you wanted to have your buddies recover something of great value years or even generations later in the middle of nowhere, would you create a menagerie of vague animal forms that may look totally different as the day’s lighting and cloud cover vary? Here’s a “turtle”. Consider yourself lucky if you *can’t* see it right away.

A turtle-like rock found near a bunch of more obvious, and possibly treasure-related signs along the Jornada del Muerto.

Now, things that take a lot of effort to emplace or construct make sense as being worthy of marking an important site out in the wilderness for generations into the future. An important marker that can be casually knocked down just does not make much sense. So, bigger is better for standing the test of time and vandals. Dolmen-style markers are found on occasion near mines in known Colonial Spanish areas, and maybe even the Mexicans who once controlled much of the US Southwest used the same system. Some markers can be as simple as an out of place rock. If it catches your eye from a long way off, has light showing below it, is placed on other small stones (best on bedrock), or is of a rock type from downhill or far away, then it’s worthy of consideration.

Eye-catching stone placed above an old, nearly hidden mine in the Caballos.

The more standard mine-associated Dolmen-like stones are like shown below. The rocks are usually the size of an engine block, and rectangular. They often rest on one or more smaller stones, likely having been pried up with a long bar. The image blow is not the best example, but it’s right next to an old mine in the Caballo mountains, in full view of the hard-to-miss Bat Cave high above.

Dolmen-style rock next to an old mine in the Caballos.

A key to declaring this a marker and not just a big rock that someone gave a little directional aid to are the feet it is propped up on. The next image shows one of the feet – again, this is not the best example, but the size and shape of the main stone is so consistent with ones observed in many places, it is uncanny. Hmmm, perhaps measuring the dimensions of the stone would be smart?

One of the “feet” of the Dolmen-like marker at the old mine.

What about bigger markers? This is where things get very interesting. Some would say that long-gone treasure-hiders had the time and will to carve up entire mountainsides, and some even scour Google Earth satellite imagery and assign meaning to what they see there. Interestingly, airplanes, satellites, and topo maps are relatively new inventions, so one might wonder how or why the ancients would move or modify entire mountains or rock faces just to hide a few scraps of refined metal.

Though the next image is in a truly special area, consider if you will whether you think that the totem-pole-like stone towers are man-made in any way, or just a result of nature’s hand. There are many weird rock formations all over bandland-like geographies. If one is man-made, then are they all? Is that plausible? I guess just the one that supports the best story…

Towering stone formations some might call treasure markers, but which are more likely just one of an infinite example of Nature’s hand.

Some large stone formations are a little more difficult to dismiss out of hand. Knowing the area in which you are searching helps. If you are in an area with a ton of standing stone type formations, then the bar for what you would declare as a marker of some sort should be very high indeed. If, on the other hand, you are in terrain with almost no large stones on the surface, then even a single stone may be very important. Placement is important, too. Some things can only been seen from certain places, even if otherwise in plain sight, as with the very unlikely henge stone shown below.

Large standing stone unlike anything elsewhere in the mountains – very likely a marker of some sort, and much larger than it appears in the image.

The next image of a marker in this article represents a “mini” site sort of a setup. It might be similar to sites that feel like a sort of a diorama, in that the suspicious marker-like constructions seem to mirror the larger surrounding landscape. More time could be spent at this site to try and justify the assessment of this being an intentional marker with Gold (or more likely in this area, Silver and Copper) at the end of the proverbial rainbow.

Somebody’s directional marker setup, with the zoomed-in box showing the propped rock with light showing as a gunsight.

In sort of a saving the best for last, this panel in the next image seems to tell a fairly straightforward tale. The square glyph with the bell tower and the Christian cross next to it is fairly obvious as a church, and there is a trail leading down from it populated with burros or mules. If you squint just right, you can even see a spotted turtle glyph inside the church of the style in Steve Clark’s book. Down the trail we find a sort of outlined cross type symbol, presumably depicting where the goods are buried. Since this locale is along the Rio Grande, perhaps this is a memorialization of some event that happened during the 1680 revolt, where Spaniards or perhaps friendly Natives took the relics and funds of a church and stored them in the foothills for safekeeping. There are more interesting signs at this site, and some indication that a recovery of some sort may have already been made.

Petroglyph panel that seems to show burros transporting items from a church to a presumed nearby burial of treasure or relics.

Applying a test of reasonableness in evaluating potential treasure signs seems important to enable sorting the wheat from the chaff, but it is just the start. Knowing how to interpret what you have found is an even larger topic, with even less solid ground from which to work. Nonetheless, with hard work, persistence, and luck, supposedly some folks do end up like this happy fellow in the image below.

An old mine in the Black Range, but several miles away from the actual location of interest; a long-misplaced locale.



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