The Red Hill Treasure, New Mexico

Gold Prospector in New Mexico

Gold Prospector in New Mexico

In July 1836, an old prospector named Adams staggered into the town of Pinos Altos, just north of Silver City, New Mexico. The prospector rushed to a doctor after bleeding from several gunshot and arrow wounds. Lying on his deathbed, he told several friends around him that he had been prospecting north of the town. His knapsack held a fortune in gold nuggets. After several weeks of prospecting, he told of a red hill in the distance. When he arrived at the hill, he described gold lying everywhere.

While he was filling his knapsack with the gold nuggets, an arrow struck the gravel at his feet. Finding cover behind some rocks, he peered around to see about a dozen Indians.

Continuing to hide behind the rocks, the Indians fired gunshots and arrows at him in an attempt to dislodge him. Wounded several times, he stayed hidden until nightfall, and finally, the Indians withdrew. Carefully returning to Pinos Altos, he traveled through streams to cover his trail.

Just a few hours after reaching Pinos Altos, Adams died from his wounds and was buried in the town’s cemetery. When the gold in his knapsack was assayed, it was found to be worth over $7,000.

Pinos Altos, New Mexico

Pinos Altos, New Mexico

Word of the gold discovery quickly spread throughout the area, and dozens of prospectors headed north in search of the red hill. However, no one ever reported finding the hill and its scattered gold.

Pinos Altos is located six miles north of Silver City on New Mexico Highway 15. This is not the same story of the Adams diggings, as this episode happened more than 25 years earlier.


© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated December 2022.

Also See:

Ghosts, Legends, Myths, & Mysteries

Lost Treasure Tales

New Mexico – Land of Enchantment

Treasure Hunting in New Mexico