A Billion-Year-Old Gold Mine: The Enigmatic Treasure Mountain

Abandoned Gold Mine Photo Credit: NeilLockhart (iStock).

Millions of dollars worth of gold may be hidden deep in the Colorado mountains.

In 1880, three prospectors unintentionally and allegedly discovered a strange cave that housed a mysterious treasure and a number of unanswered questions.

In October of 1880, E.J. Oliver, S.J. Harkman, and H.A. Melton found themselves in the middle of a powerful snowstorm while prospecting in the San Luis Valley.  To save themselves from the elements, the group was forced to take shelter in a cave. 

While the three waited for the storm to pass, the men decided to explore. 

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According to a report from the Fairplay Flume in 1880, the trio traveled deep into the cave, at some points, crawling on all fours to fit through narrow tunnels. While moving through one of the wider chambers of the cave the prospectors stumbled upon something horrifying. 

“Mr. Oliver, who was to advance, struck his foot against something that moved easily, and thinking it was strange, lowered his light and to his horror found a human skull,” the 142-year-old article reads. 

The men reportedly came across four other skulls and several other human bones as they continued. They eventually entered a corridor, where several rocks appeared to be protruding from the cave walls, like shelves.

“Mr. Melton, who was examining this particular spot out of idle curiosity, lowered his light, and stooping down looked over the ledge, and noticing what appeared to be peculiar shaped stones, concluded to draw them out, when to his amazement he found them heavy enough to require his entire strength to move them,” the article reads. 

What he found, was reportedly at least 400 solid gold bars. According to a report by LegendsofAmerica.com, the men excitedly gathered up five bars and headed back to Silver Cliff, Colorado. 

Once in town, the bars appraised at $900 each. 

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The story was corroborated by several eye witnesses who saw the gold for themselves. One of them shared the tale with the Fairplay Flume, a news organization that still exists today.

“They refused to share the exact location of the cave, but declare their intention to return to it as soon as the weather moderates, and make a more thorough examination. We obtained our information from a gentleman who vouches for the gold part of the story, having seen and felt it,” the article says. 

Unfortunately, when the men went out to collect the rest of the gold in spring of 1881, they were unable to locate the cave. In their excitement, they failed to make a map and only noted that the cave’s mouth was north-facing. 

At the time the travelers found the treasure, gold in the U.S. was worth around $20.67 per ounce, according to OnlyGold.com. If this is to be believed, that means that each gold bar weighed roughly 45 ounces, or 2.8 pounds. Multiplied by the 400 bars that were reportedly found, the loot would have been worth an estimated $372,060. 

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To put that into perspective, if the gold was found today it would be worth around $30,000,000 (based on the current cost of gold $1,635.00 per ounce).

Over a century later, the strange cave, aptly named Dead Man’s Cave, and its treasure have yet to be found again. Some even question whether or not the cave existed at all.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t go seeking this gold. The cave opening has probably been lost to time, covered by a rockslide or otherwise. Seeking this gold would pose risks to self and the potential search and rescue mission that such a dangerous tasks could result in

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