La Caverna del Oro

Written by on October 15, 2016 in CO History & Heritage - Comments Off on La Caverna del Oro

La Caverna del Oro or The Cavern of Gold is the story of a legendary lost gold mine somewhere above 13,000 feet, perhaps located on Marble Mountain in Colorado just over Music Pass. Legend says that the Native Americans knew of the gold centuries before European settlers came into the area, but believed the cavern was haunted by demons and stayed away.

In 1541, several Spanish monks translated the Native American tale of gold and, overwhelmed by greed, enslaved the Indians to mine the gold for them. Two of the monks supposedly died in an uprising by their slave-miners, but the third monk managed to convince the natives that he had subdued the evil spirits and got them to go back to work. Huge amounts of gold were brought from the depths of the cavern and loaded onto pack mules. Just before departing, the monk had the few remaining Spaniards in his party kill the Native American miners to keep the secret of the gold. The train fled south to Mexico, although no record of the gold arriving in Mexico has ever been found.

About 100 years ago, an explorer, Elisha Horn, found skeletal remains of a man clad in Spanish armor with an arrow sticking out of its back. Painted on the rocks above the skeleton was a red cross, which was also near the entrance to the Caverna del Oro.

A few years later, another expedition found a 105-year-old Mexican women who claimed to remember visiting the mine as a child and watching the miners take loads of gold from the depths. Her story tells of an oaken door 500-700 feet inside the cave mouth that concealed the entrance to what she called the Three Steps Mine.

Subsequent expeditions to the cavern have not found any gold, nor the oaken door, but they have found an old ladder, a hammer and shovel, buckets and a windlass, as well as the remains of a fort and arrowheads lower down the slopes of the mountain.

Spanish Cave (also known as Marble Mountain Cave and La Caverna del Oro) is a real place on Marble Mountain and can be visited, although it is strongly recommended that only highly experienced spelunkers enter – the cave is VERY dangerous. The cavern has been explored by many people, but the question remains as to whether or not what we know as La Caverna del Oro is the real location of the lost gold mine or was it located elsewhere. Some people think that the entrance by the cross might have been an escape route, rather than the true way in, and the “real” entry to the cave lies hidden lower down on the mountainside. Regarding the mystery of the wooden door, behind which lies the treasure, some theorize that the door has since been hidden by a rockslide.

Since the mine and the hoard that was taken from it (or hidden in it) remains lost, the Cavern of Gold may still be out there in the mountains of Southern Colorado just waiting to be found!

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