There seems to be a question of just how many bars of gold Milton Noss (re)buried right before his untimely demise (Noss Death Story on Youtube). One can only speculate on how this tale would have evolved if Noss had not been gunned down by his disgruntled (or worse) business partner, Charles Ryan.
The usual story is that Noss was preparing to hand over a sizable number of gold bars to Ryan, who would see to their transport to a locale in which they could be sold. The possession of gold bullion (basically, refined gold) was illegal in the US at the time – yes, folks, laws and societies change over time, and what is legal today may have been very illegal in the past, and the other way around. Witness all of the marijuana legalization acts lately. What do the people in jail for marijuana-related crimes think about the free use of the stuff on the streets in certain states while they continue to eat their prison gruel? Such is the nature of law, and the cold imposition of supposed collective will on the individual by the faceless bureaucrats and career “elite”.
So, it’s widely believed that Tony Jolley, who helped Noss bury bars before the night of his death/murder, eventually returned to the area and recovered some of what they had buried years before (Tony Jolley recounts recovering gold bars on YouTube). Supposedly, he netted enough cash from the (difficult) sale of the bars to secure a nice spread away up in the rugged state of Idaho. Interesting that Jolly was buried by the LDS church – maybe conspiracy-oriented researchers can look into that angle. The LDS folks seem to like crypto-archaeology and alternative history (who doesn’t!?), and some say there’s a treasure-hunting streak in that cultural group.
Anyways, here is some audio recorded on-site when Victorio Peak was excavated by a whole host of claimants. The locals at the site recount their understanding of the number of bars, relationship of Ryan to Noss, and other details. Interestingly, a supposed witness to some of the bars who does not seem to come up a lot is a local rancher, Andy Henderson. By candid second-hand relation, we hear that Mr. Henderson not only saw two bars, one with holes (assay drillings?) and one solid one, and that Noss also showed him the general area from which they were recovered. Here is the audio file of the relation of Mr. Henderson’s experience:
So, was Noss being friendly? Was he excited and needed someone to confirm his discovery out of an emotional need? Was the rancher exposed to the bars in order to propagate a desired story in order to obscure the real location from when the supposed treasure emerged? There are lots of possibilities.
Anyways, the cooperative agreement between Noss and Ryan is told here as having moved 110 bars of gold, supposedly from somewhere in Hembrillo Basin. The night before Noss’ demise, it is told that 51 bars were moved. Most critically, the folks say that the local rumor mill put the conflict between Noss and Ryan as having something to do with 21 bars missing from the 110. What exactly was the nature of the issue is not something that the folks on the recording want to speculate on, even way back then. Here is the audio from that portion of the discussion:
These audio recordings were taken while the recording crew was hanging around the Victorio Peak excavation during Operation Goldfinder. If you listen carefully to these or others posted or which will be posted, then you can hear the sounds of machinery, excavations, and workers coordinating on old-school walkie-talkies.
The truth of what happened in the whole Caballo Mountains, San Andres Mountains treasure storm of the late 1920’s has yet to be established with certainty. Some excellent books have come out in the recent past, including the comprehensive Gold House series. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself, because it is unlikely that anyone alive knows the real story. Only a new recovery of treasure of some sort in the area, with physical evidence relating back to the saga, is likely to advance the known truth very much – so strap on those boots, get out there, and be safe.