Montezuma’s Treasure

Montezuma’s Treasure

There’s still gold in these hills!


  • Mysterious events surround Kanab residents attempting to find Montezuma’s treasure, which they say is buried somewhere near Kanab.


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 Caves in Johnson Canyon
Caves still remain from the days when the town of Kanab was in the head of Johnson Canyon digging for Montezuma’s treasure.

The search for Montezuma’s treasure continues in the Kanab area. Legend has it that when the Aztec king, Montezuma was killed by his own people in Mexico in the 1500’s, and the spanish Conquistadors were driven from Tenotchitlan, the Aztecs took their treasure and hid it from the Spaniards. That was 400 years ago.In 1914, Freddy Crystal arrived in Johnson Canyon, just north of Kanab. He had a newspaper clipping of Mexican petroglyphs he thought indicated that Montezuma’s treasure was hidden nearby.

Six years later, the entire town of Kanab was living in tents at the head of Johnson Canyon digging for the hidden treasure. After two years there was still no sign of gold.

In the spring of 1989, Grandt Child came up with another theory. He decided that the real hiding place was not in Johnson’s Canyon and the signs in the canyon were a ploy to divert attention from the real hiding place. Child believes the treasure is in the lower pond of the three lakes chain, six miles north of Kanab on Highway 89. He found an Aztec treasure sign, a circle with an arrow pointing down, carved in the rock 8 feet above the water level on the wall above the lakes. The site fits the criteria for an Aztec treasure hiding technique, called a “water trap.”

Tony Thurber, friend of Child’s, made a dive to explore the lake. Under the treasure sign he discovered a tunnell about four feet wide and seven feet tall that appeared to be handmade. When Thurber got 30 feet into the tunnel, he was disoriented and couldn’t tell if he was going down or up, or in or out. He said he got caught in a heavy draft and was afraid he might get swept into an underground river.

He finally found his way out. He went down again with a tether line attached, but surfaced. He got concerned when he found the line limp rather than taut as it should have been. The person holding the line said it had been taut the whole time.

On June 22, 1989, Thurber returned with three professional divers. The divers got 70 feet back in the tunnel. Their sonar equipment showed the tunnel was 100 feet long and ended in a room 80 feet in diameter. Detectors registered heavy metal at the end of the tunnel. It was late, so they quit for the day. That night Russ, one of the divers, had a dream. In the dream he swam back to the cave, an Aztec warrior with a spear was waiting and threw the spear at Russ when he surfaced.

Russ was the first to go down the next morning. At a certain point in the tunnell, he started screaming that someone was grabbing and choking him. As he was pulled from the water he appeared white as a sheet. Another diver went down and had the same experience.

The divers left and returned in two weeks. They experienced the same choking sensation in the tunnell and had to be pulled up. The diving crew did not dive in the lake anymore.

Childs decided on a plan to drain the lake. To his surprise, the pond happens to be the only known habitat of the Kanab Amber Snail. The property was fenced off by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Then in December of 1991, 11 geese were mysteriously placed in the pond. The gaggle of geese was accused of eating the Kanab Amber Snails. The agency decided to capture the suspects and force them to vomit. After gathering the evidence, the geese were donated to an animal sanctuary. Killing one of the endangered snails is a serious offense and carries a fine of up to $50,000 per snail. No one came forward to claim the geese.

Is this the end of the search for Montezuma’s treasure, or just another attempt by the spirit of the Aztec warriors to protect their treasure until the arrival of “The Chosen Ones?”

Information courtesy Southern Utah News, June 27, 1990.


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