Legend of the Lost Adams Mine

In 1863 shortly after Adams and 21 of his men found and began mining her fabulous wealth Apaches brutally massacred everyone except for three of the men. Miraculously Adams, John Brewer, and Jack Davidson all escaped. Only Brewer who kept the whereabouts of the mine secret until his death was able to find the location again and pack out some of the gold. This gold mine dated back to the Spanish Conquistadors who had worked it prior to the Pueblo Revolt which began on August 10th, 1680. On that day the Indians began a well planned mass slaughter of the Spanish all throughout New Mexico. Greatly resentful of having been forced to work in the mines for years their vengeance knew no bounds.

James McKenna, who was born in 1855 wrote about these same Lost Adams Diggings in his book Black Range Tales. While in his twenties, McKenna became the prospecting partner of Jason Baxter and together they searched for the Lost Adams Diggings. Although they never found it, McKenna wrote about an eerie woman painted on a mountain in brilliant colors who was connected to the Adams Diggings. He recorded her story which was told by a man named Jake Schafer who had gotten lost in the Black Range while serving under Capt. Tucker in 1872. Schafer eventually wandered out of the mountains and into Fort Craig with approximately ten pounds of gold nuggets in his haversack. 


After Adams returned from California to look for the gold, thirteen years after being run out of the Black Range by the Apache, he made a disastrous error. He mistook Gila Peak across the border in Arizona for Cookes Peak on the southern end of the Black Range in New Mexico. This mistake caused Adams to spend the rest of his life searching for the lost gold mine (named for him) in places it never was. Frank Dobie's book Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver, which was his version of the story of the Adams Diggings, was first published in 1928. Dobie unwittingly perpetuated Adam's misguided account by publishing it in his book. This has caused virtually all those who have ever searched for the mine to look everywhere except where it is actually located. 

This extraordinary place has long held an incredible story of treasure, untimely death and treachery it has been willing to share with anyone who would take the time to observe and listen. Hiding a gold mine of unbelievable wealth this wretched canyon is an extremely treacherous place to enter. Even without the huge rattlers that permeate the area, just getting around in it is a life threatening experience.

The low falls that were just above the spot where the Adams expedition had almost finished building their cabin just before the massacre. In 1958 Bill Burrud investigated the legend of the lost Adams mine on an episode of Treasure.

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