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Monday, May 23, 2011

A Fool and His Gold Are Soon Departed

This is a fantastic tale of lost treasure, betrayal and ultimately murder.  It involves skeletons staked to cavern floors and tethered to cavern walls, skeletons stacked like cord wood, military cover-ups,  mine openings blasted shut and never found again, off duty Airmen stumbling on a cache of gold bars and gold seekers buried alive (allegedly).  All this over a mound of rock and dirt, barely 500ft. high. A hill that you could walk around and over twice before you got tired.   That the murder took place is probably the only part of the Milton Ernest "Doc" Noss lore that is based on reality.  Then again, the man who killed Noss, Charles Ryan was acquitted of all charges, thus according to the courts, not even a murder took place. 
 To say that this is a sad and sordid saga is a gross understatement.  The lies started the day that Doc Noss allegedly dug up that rock to reveal a passage into Victorio Peak. According to Doc Noss he removed over 200 gold bars, jeweled swords, coins and a jewel adorned crown from the shaft, and stashed all of it  in the nearby desert. Surely a find of that nature would have been hard to keep under wraps. In fact the entire Victorio Peak tale is full of things and objects that no one ever saw. No gold bars were ever produced,  no one, other than Noss, Babe (his wife) and an inept mining engineer ever saw the shaft.   We are expected to believe that  Noss was able to control the urge to cash in on a king's ransom?   Private ownership of gold was illegal at the time, but a man with access to that much gold (allegedly) would find a way to get that gold out of the country.  The borders were wide open back in those days, he could have driven a truck load of gold into Mexico or Canada. He could have reported his find to the government and negotiated a finders fee. There were options that would have allowed him to live well for the rest of his life. Instead he chose to hide the treasure and live on the edge of poverty in Hot Springs, N.M.!
That however is not why I think the entire story is bogus.  Looking at it from a mining perspective, it doesn't stand up.  Doc Noss entered through an opening  about 30in. wide.  He lowered himself 60ft. into the void before he got to the bottom.  There he found another shaft,  by his own calculations this shaft was 125' in length. He didn't mention using any ropes, so  I assume it was an inclined shaft that sloped down into a natural cavern. Further into the earth he discovered another cavern, 300' to 400' underground.  At that depth, without proper ventilation, lack of oxygen becomes a problem, This would make hauling gold bars to the surface quite a staggering task.  Doc Noss may have been quite fit, he was after all a chiropractor (sneer) but that's a large order for anyone.  It takes a stretch of the imagination to believe that Doc Noss pulled himself up (carrying gold bars that weighed 40lbs. each)  countless times to the surface.  Even if he was using a pulley and bucket with his wife working on the surface, he still had to haul the gold bars to the shaft.   That's 400ft. under the earth in an oxygen starved environment.
This leads to another reason that this story is fraught with fraud.  Why would gold be there in the first place?.  The story of Padre LaRue hiding the wealth from his  secret gold mines.  Only to die at the hands of Spanish soldiers torturing him to reveal his secret, is absurd.  Ditto for Victorio and his warriors hiding their plunder at the peak. Think about this, in order to transport that much gold to the site, a train of wagons and pack animals would be needed.  Hundreds of men would have to accompany them, and even in colonial New Mexico, this wouldn't have gone unnoticed.  As for Maximillian's gold, the same holds true, how were they going to transport that much gold and treasure from Mexico City across an international border, during wartime, without drawing attention. It's the stuff of fairy tales, and when it's said and done, that's all it was.  What intrigues me is that so many people took Doc Noss and his wife at their word.  Doc Noss was a grifter and a liar, he played his hand and it cost him his life. There never was any real gold, just a fool and his dreams of gold.
This article was originally posted on Argonauts and 40 Niners 

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