filled his pockets with gold coins, grabbed a couple of jeweled
swords, and laboriously returned to Babe waiting anxiously at the
surface. After telling her of what he had seen and showing her the
loot, she insisted he go back into the mine for one of the iron bars.
After much searching, he finally found a small iron bar that he could
carry back through the narrow passageway. When he reached the
surface, he told Babe, "This is the last one of them babies Iím gonna
bring out." However, when Babe rolled the bar over, she noticed
a yellow gleam where the gravel of the hillside had scratched off
centuries of black grime. What looked to be a piece of iron was
actually a solid gold bar.
discovery of the
Doc and Babe spent every free moment exploring the tunnels inside the
mountain, living in a tent at the base of the peak. On each trip, Doc
would retrieve two gold bars and as many artifacts as he could carry.
At one time, he brought out a crown, which contained two hundred
forty-three diamonds and one pigeon-blood ruby. Yet, Doc trusted no
one, not even his Babe, disappearing into the desert, hiding pieces of
treasure in places that he never revealed.
Among the artifacts, Doc is
reported to have retrieved were documents dated 1797, which he buried
in the desert in a
Wells Fargo chest along with various other
treasures. Although the originals have never been recovered, a copy of one of the
documents proved to be a translation from Pope Pius III.
Doc Noss cared
little about the historical value of the
inside Victorio Peak, mostly ignoring the pouches, packs and
artifacts, while he concentrated on the gold coins and bars.
However, Doc was
unable to capitalize on the gold bars, as four years before his
discovery; Congress had passed the Gold Act, which outlawed the
private ownership of gold. Unable to sell the gold bars on the
open market, Noss was stymied, but continued to work steadily to
In the spring of 1938, Doc Noss
and Babe went to
to establish legal ownership of the find, filing a lease with the State of
New Mexico for the entire section of land surrounding Victorio
Peak. Subsequently, he also filed several mining claims on and around
Victorio Peak, as well as a treasure
trove claim. With legal ownership established, Noss began to openly
work the claim, but he also became increasingly paranoid, hiding the gold
bars all over the desert.
When Docís story eventually hit the headlines,
scholars began speculating on how the enormous
could have come to be stashed inside Victorio Peak. Some believe that
Doc Noss found the Casa del Cueva de Oro, Spanish for the House of the
Others believe that Noss found the
of Don Juan de Onate, who, in 1598, founded
as a Spanish colony. Seeking out the Seven Cities of Gold, Onate was said
to have been a cruel man, brutally subjugating the Indians to do his
bidding by beating and torturing them. Reportedly, he amassed a
of gold, silver and jewels before being ordered back to Mexico City in
Others speculate that the
could be the missing wealth of Emperor Maxmillian, who served as Mexicoís
emperor in the 1860ís. When Maxmillian heard of plot to assassinate him,
he began to move his gold and
out of Mexico. Legend says he sent a palace full of valuables to the
United States to be hidden. Maxmillian was assassinated in 1867.
Finally, others believe that the
were hidden by
for whom the peak is named. Victorio
used the entire Hembrillo Basin as his stronghold, refusing to live on the
San Carlos Reservation in Arizona where the government wanted to banish
him. A treaty was reached between the tribe and the Federal
government in Washington that the Indians could stay upon the land in
New Mexico. However, with
the discovery of gold, the treaty was broken in 1878 and Victorio went on the warpath.