The Victorio Peak Treasure

Sixteen thousand gold bars lit the dank cavern beneath Victorio Peak. As far as Doc Noss knew, this epitome of all mother lodes was his and Ova’s, alone. And the gold was just the beginning. If you included the jewel-inlaid antiquities, priceless weaponry and religious artifacts, Doc estimated the entire booty to be worth somewhere around a billion dollars. Those were 1937 dollars, no less.

The only question was how to bring the cache of wealth to the surface. After all, the prospector had burrowed endlessly into the limestone crag in order to get to this point.

Life was funny. Ol’ Doc Noss had been prospectin’ the better part of his days, never once hittin’ a vein anywhere near this magnitude. Then, one afternoon while scanning Victorio Peak for deer, Doc noticed an out-of-place rock configuration. Upon investigation, the slabs of stone yielded a tunnel just large enough for the wiry man to fit through.

Being a prospector, Doc’s curiosity got the best of him. Being part Cheyenne, his strong resolve helped him reach the bottom of the chasm, which was a claustrophobic nightmare.

Thus far, Doc had disclosed his secret to only one person, his wife Ova. The couple set up makeshift accommodations at the summit, and Doc began the laborious process of extracting two bars of gold a day. Additionally, the prospector and his spouse were forced to circumvent the Gold Reserve Act, a law forbidding private parties from owning the most precious of metals. Because of this decree, Doc and Ova temporarily hid their treasure in the desert, far from the prying eyes of the government.

After retrieving one hundred bars, Doc realized his efforts could take forever, unless he pursued a more direct approach. Hiring a munitions expert to blast a larger pathway in the cavern seemed a good idea at the time. Eighty sticks of dynamite later, Doc realized the covered conduit had not only failed to widen, but was now sealed off.

Reaching the unclaimed riches consumed the incensed prospector, who invested ten years of his life, and large portions of what he’d originally uncovered, on his hopeless attempts. Unable to sell his bullion on the open market, Doc was forced to ply his wares with less-than-savory characters.

Noss enlisted the aid of rodeo rider Tony Jolley. Late one night, the two men stole into the desert, digging up 110 gold bars, only to reinter them in 10 different locations. The entire time, Doc rambled about unseen forces out to purloin his treasure.

Dawn broke. Noss drove Tony to the cowboy’s motel, where the exhausted cattleman slept most of the day. Stirring in the late afternoon, Jolley meandered to a local diner, only to overhear that Doc had been shot to death.

It was believed Noss uncovered a nefarious plan by business associate Charles Ryan to steal his gold. An argument ensued between the two men, and Doc made for a gun in the back seat of his truck. Apparently, Ryan pulled a piece of his own and laid the prospector out in, what a jury claimed, was self defense.

Tony Jolley, now the only person who knew the location of the riches, was nowhere to be found, allegedly on his way home to Idaho.

Doc’s wife continued her own quest for what lay beneath Victorio Peak, but was soon evicted from the land by the government, who were intent on using the area as a portion of the forthcoming White Sands Missile Range.

After hearing accounts of Noss’ quest, Captain Leonard Fiege and Airman Tom Berlett, both stationed at Alamogordo’s Holloman Air Force Base, attempted an exploration of the Peak in 1958. During his pursuit, Fiege stumbled upon a concealed cave. Sitting down in the darkness on what he believed to be a stack of stones, the military officer caught his breath. Moments later, drawing his flashlight, Fiege discovered his makeshift chair was actually a mound of gold bricks.

The men realized there was no way to sneak ponderous gold bars past base security. As such, they sealed off the entrance to the cave and applied for grants of permission to claim the treasure. The process was protracted, and three years of efforts muddied Fiege’s memory. By the time the allotments were awarded, he couldn’t recall the location of the cache.

Ova Noss petitioned to claim what she believed was rightly hers. After much deliberation, permits were granted, but they always expired before the treasure could be unearthed.

Renowned Attorney F. Lee Bailey even entered the fray, representing an anonymous client with interest in obtaining buried wealth. When all was said and done, the greatest hidden treasure perhaps known to man would remain unclaimed, somewhere beneath a scarred peak in southern New Mexico.

Ova Noss died in 1980. Her daughter, Letha Guthrie, and grandsons, Jim and Terry Delonas, continue their own search for the fleeting trove.


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