The Legend of the Lost Opata Mine

Written by on December 7, 2016 in Southwest Legends - Comments Off on The Legend of the Lost Opata Mine

Old Mine Tunnel

According to the legend, a huge pile of silver from the Lost Opata Mine remains buried and is guarded by the skeletal remains of a Mayo Indian Princess. Both the silver and the princess lie hidden somewhere near the Tumacácori Mission, 45 miles outside of Tucson, Arizona.

When the Spanish missionaries moved into the area, their goal was to convert the pagan Opata and Papago Indians to Christianity. However, in 1766, they discovered silver near their mission and their goal changed slightly. While they still had hopes of converting the natives, they also put them to work mining the silver. The Indians seemed to prefer working the Opata Mine, rather than the other mines in the area. Since it was a very productive vein, the missionaries didn’t mind and even encouraged the work. What they didn’t know was that the Native Americans still practiced their old religion in the large cavern where the silver was gathered and stored. However, the Christian message must have gotten through to Native Americans to a certain extent, because when they saw a Mayo Indian Princess traveling in the desert, they were convinced that she was the next Virgin Mary.

The Indians captured the princess and carried her into the depths of the mine. They tied her to the huge pile of silver and attempted to force her to marry their chief in order to produce a savior child. When she refused and told them she would rather die, the natives decided to sacrifice her to their gods. The chief then cut her hands and rubbed a poison into her blood explaining that when the sun touched her cuts she would die. As the sun began to shine through into hole in the ceiling of the room, the Indians began their pagan ritual, singing and dancing around the princess.

The local missionaries heard the commotion and came to investigate. They were appalled to discover that a human sacrifice had taken place. In a rage, they drove the natives out and blew up the entrance to the mine, forever entombing the princess and the silver. Perhaps her vengeful spirit still guards this ancient treasure, said to be located halfway between the Guadalupe Mine and the Pure Conception Mine, just waiting to be found.

The Tumacácori Mission and the surrounding area is now a national park. Tumacácori National Historical Park protects three Spanish colonial mission ruins in southern Arizona: Tumacácori, Guevavi, and Calabazas. The adobe structures are on three sites, with a visitor center at Tumacácori. These missions are among more than twenty established in the Pimería Alta by Father Kino and other Jesuits, and later expanded upon by Franciscan missionaries. It’s a great place to visit if you’d like to see the old missions and documents from the era.

Tumacacori National Historical Park
P. O. Box 8067
Tumacácori, Arizona 85640
Phone: (520) 398-2341

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