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John Hollenhorst ReportingUtah has more than its share of treasure legends and of people claiming to have found hidden riches, but not many have turned the corner from legend to reality.
John Hollenhorst personally interviewed two people years ago who separately claimed to have found the fabled Montezuma's Treasure in two different places. In both cases they said they couldn't show him evidence because they were negotiating with the federal government. He's still waiting for proof there are riches underfoot.
Walter Huston literally danced with joy when he found the Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It's a rich dream many have shared. The late Brandt Child of Kanab once claimed the pond he owned concealed a passageway to the biggest legend of them all.
Brandt Child, Kanab, 1991: "We think it's Montezuma's Treasure. We haven't been able to get back in there."
There are so many Utah treasure legends there's a whole shelf full at Sam Weller's bookstore. For instance, the famous Dream Mine, slowly excavated over decades by generations of true believers; The Lost Rhodes Gold Mine in the Uintah's; and a tunnel near Kanab where people have been digging according to an old prospector's instructions.
Sure we all dream about finding a hidden treasure in some out of the way place, but some take it a step beyond dreaming and claim to have actually found a treasure.
W.L. 'Bud' Rusho, Historian: "There's claims of finding treasures, but nobody's every produced any evidence."
By chance, some of the top Western historians were having lunch today. Everett Cooley once followed a man to a supposed stash of Spanish Gold.
Everett Cooley, Professor Emeritus of History: "And when we got there to see all his stuff, we couldn't find the cave. And yet the man who took me there had been a witness to it."
But lack of evidence won't kill a legend, especially when there are reports of government foot-dragging or cover-ups.
W.L. 'Bud' Rusho, Historian: "People love conspiracies and they love secrets."
Everett Cooley: "There are gullible people all the time, and avaricious people who want to capitalize on the gullibility of the rest of us."
Of course, treasures have been found in Utah, including gold and silver. But the ones we have firm evidence for are minerals, uranium, oil and gas -- treasures hidden by nature and not by man.