Sunday, November 30, 2014

Montezuma's Treasure Guarded by a Snail...

Bonnie and Steve Shaffer pose with Scott after shooting a scene.

It gets pretty crowded sometimes shooting close-ups; especially tight on the ledge of a cliff!

The cave system at this secret location looked like it certainly could have been a repository for Montezuma's treasure at one time.  It was remote, had all the signs of a repository and was dangerous.

This seemingly bottomless shaft was one of at least three bobby-traps in the cave system.  If one fell into this hole, you wouldn't come out of it alive.

Everything was thumb's up at the start of the dive.  Unfortunately, things went downhill once we submerged.
This episode was perhaps the most interesting "treasure hunt" I've been on so far.  The legendary stories are always interesting, but I started really getting excited when I visited the cave system in the mountains that were definitely man-made and had all the makings of a secret repository.  Since legend had it that Freddie Crystal was in this area, and the workings in the cave system appeared to be over a century old, I thought we were really onto something.  Looking up at the entrance from roughly a mile away, what I originally thought were natural caves at a distance, turned to out to much more interesting up close.  The wind eroded natural caves had definitely been extensively enhanced by man.  The question I kept asking was, "Why would someone put so much effort into a cave system that is so remote?"  Local Natives certainly could have been responsible, but if so, why the need for at least three booby traps pits, including one that went down as far as a flashlight could shine?
The cave system also included a large pit that could have been filled and then covered over to conceal its contents.  Those contents could certainly have been a large cache of gold and other valuables.  Since the likely repository was now empty, that meant whatever was in there had been moved.  It seemed that all indicators pointed to Lonn's property and the tunnel system below the pond.  this of course led to one of the most interesting and spooky dives I've ever done.
As I said in the show, I'm not big on curses and believe people make things worse for themselves with mind games.  Maybe that's why curses work; if you believe something is true, you're halfway there.  Before the final dive after three hours of being in the water, one of our divers got hypothermia and had to get out.  That left me and two safety divers, one handling the underwater camera.  Once we reached the entrance to the underwater tunnel, the third diver couldn't enter and waited at the entrance.  Keep in mind the entrance at the base of the overhanging cliff was at 35 feet underwater.  Because the rocks were angled outward overhead, I could watch my air bubbles rise along the rock which allowed me to keep my bearings.  As I entered the tunnel the roof angled down to the point I had to crawl on my knees.  Moving in I kept one eye on my bubbles knowing they were rising in the direction of my exit.  The diver carrying the camera and lights stopped just inside the cave as tunnel got too low and narrow for him to enter.  I kept going in and the diver's lights behind me got dimmer in the sediment-filled water and when it was almost pitch black I paused and turned on my own flashlight. 
At this point, the tunnel beckoned me to go forward and just as I was about to press on, I glanced at the rock ceiling inches above my head.  My air bubbles were no longer moving up and out.  They were coalescing and then slowly moving outward in BOTH directions.  I then turned around and saw a slight glimmer of the diver's lights and knew this was my only way to get out.  To go any further would have been foolish.  The lure of finding whatever was at the end of this tunnel wasn't worth the risk, so headed back toward that light and followed the rock wall back to the surface.
Once back on shore, I truly was cold, tired and a little disappointed in myself that I let the lure of treasure put me in a potentially dangerous situation.  To top it all off, to not be able to do the safest and easiest thing, drain the pond, was especially frustrating.  In a way though, it was fitting.  If Montezuma's treasure really is inside that tunnel in a cave under the pond, how ironic it's being guarded by a snail.       

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Geology, geology, geology in the Superstition Mountains!"


Field producers Nina and Michelle relax between takes.


Lots of visible gold in this sample Ron Feldman says came from the Lost Dutchman's Mine.


Ron Feldman with son's Josh and Jessie and Scott.


Lost Dutchman, Jacob Waltz, is buried in a lonely part of the cemetery.


The photograph sent anonymously after I returned from the shoot shows rich gold ore inside what appears to be the secret location of the Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.  

The Lost Dutchman Mine mystery was a really fun episode because I had the chance to do several days of hard rock geology in the field.  It brought back memories of my first job out of college as a field geologist looking for gold in Northern Minnesota with Mapco Minerals.  Even though it was fun to be prospecting out in the desert, searching for clue's to Jacob Waltz's "honey hole" of gold ore was tough to do.  It seemed like everyone I talked to thought they had it all figured out when clearly they didn't.  Some thought the gold was a rich ore deposit while others thought it was a cache of gold bars, coins, or placer nuggets mined from a different location altogether.  As you saw in the episode, some are convinced the Peralta Stones are definitely connected to the Lost Dutchman Mine when in fact, there is no clear indication on the stones it even is a map to a gold mine. 
I've received a lot of emails from people who think they know where the gold mine is in the Superstition Mountains.  While there definitely is gold in those mountains, I wasn't certain during the search that anybody living today knows where the mother lode is for certain.  If they did, why would they say a word to anyone about it?
On the other hand, the photograph sent anonymously to me after we shot the episode clearly shows a spectacular amount of veins of gold inside what appears to be quartz host.  The occurrence of gold in this photo could very well be the source of the sample Ron showed me that he said came from the Lost Dutchman Mine.  One thing I know for sure is this large, gold-rich quartz vein was not from the Mammoth Mine Ron took me to.  Even though Mammoth Mine was a reliable gold producer for several years, based on this photo (if legitimate) and the geology I saw, it can't be the Lost Dutchman. 
What I can conclude is if the site in this photo truly is the mine where Jacob Waltz got his gold, the Lost Dutchman was, and apparently still is a gold-rich deposit and someone out there knows where it is.  Maybe one day they'll take me there?  If I had to wear a blind-fold so as to never reveal it's location, I'd be happy to so I could answer the question of it's existence once and for all. 

Judaculla Rock and the Red Bird Petroglyph

Storyteller Tim Hall, Scott, and Nathan Queen in front of the Coffee Shop.
Colin Thrienen shoots overhead footage from a ledge above where the Red Bird petroglyph boulder fell from the wall and rolled onto the highway. 

After filming on the final day in Kentucky I was taken to the cave where Chief Red Bird was buried.

The Committee Films crew lights the Judaculla Rock for night time filming.

Two of our guests in this episode, Lisa Dawn Frady, and Tim Hall, are veterans who served with distinction in our Nation’s military.  Since we weren’t able to acknowledge and thank them for their service during the broadcast, I’d like to do it here.  Thanks to both of you, and to all of our veterans along with those currently enlisted who serve in our military.  Your sacrifice is greatly appreciated and it’s people like you that allow people like me the freedom to run around playing “Indiana Scott.” 
Both the Red Bird Petroglyph and the Judaculla Rock are sites I’ve known about for several years and was excited to do an episode on.  Leslie Kalen showed me the Judaculla Rock the first time and told me that her people’s ancestors, the ancient Cherokee, had carved the symbols covering the stone over a thousand years ago.  My first impression was that it was probably the most amazing Star Map petroglyph I have ever seen.  The one exception is the Peterborough Petroglyphs site in Ontario, Canada.  I had the pleasure of visiting this site this past summer and was educated about its history by an Ojibwe, Mide’win medicine man.  Geologically, the blue soapstone Judaculla Rock and the coarse-grained, high white marble in Peterborough are highly unusual rock types.  It seems obvious to me that the ancient Native people who carved these amazing glyphs understood that.  Both sites are considered very sacred as well they should be.   These sites were used to teach those deemed worthy knowledge about the heavens and the ancient stories.
The petroglyphs on the Red Bird boulder are different and seem to be more like an important sign post with mostly Native messages dating back to the distant past.  There could also be Old World script there as well, but I think the most of the symbols on the Red Bird petroglyph were carved by the Cherokee.    

Ironically, just as we were about to begin filming the episode, one of the people we contacted to be a guest, Pisgah National Forest Archaeologist Scott Ashcraft, declined to appear on the show and then tried to get our access to film the Judaculla Stone denied.  In what was clearly an attempt to control the public dissemination of information about what the Judaculla Stone is, Mr. Ashcroft called everyone he could, including the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to try and derail our filming.  Fortunately, his attempts at sabotage were unsuccessful, but this is yet another example, that hit very close to home, of an academic being territorial to the point of taking disparate action that only served to undermine his own credibility.
I wonder what he thought of the episode?  I’d love to hear from you Scott.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Davey Crockett and Secrets from the Alamo

At the beginning of this episode I was skeptical of the premise Crockett could have survived the Alamo.  However, things got interesting quickly when the land deed and the newspaper articles began to open my eyes.  The chances are very good that he did survive choosing then to live out his days after the Alamo in a quiet, low-key lifestyle.  This begs many questions and speculation as to why?  If he did survive and went on to live a secret life, why would he sign his real name on the land deed?  Perhaps it was to ensure the property would legally stay in the family.  One thing that impacted me was the land deed was signed by the President, James Buchanan, another Mason, who likely knew Crockett was alive and made sure the land transaction was approved for a “Brother” who had served his country with honor and distinction even then, and deserved a peaceful and quiet retirement.  .

Like many American icons, when you dig deeper into their past to try and understand who they really were, you are often surprised.  I found it interesting to learn that his grandparents were killed by Indians whom he despised as a very young man.  Later, he became very ill at one point and was nursed back to health by Natives he lived with and came to understand.  This led to a better understanding and appreciation of Native culture.  When he eventually became a United States senator, he was an avid supporter of Native American rights which created a rift between he and President Andrew Jackson.  This contentious relationship may have played a role in Crockett’s desire to disappear when the opportunity came after the Alamo.

Our theory that both Crockett and Santa Anna used the Masonic sign of distress to save their lives takes on added significance when you consider that Crockett likely wasn’t the only person whose life was saved at the Alamo through Masonic connections.  Our guest at the Scottish Rite Temple in Minneapolis, Jack Roberts, who also happens to be a Texas native in addition to a Freemason, relayed a legendary story about how two of the three only known survivors walked away from the Alamo.  Those survivors were the wife, Susanna, and infant child, Angelina Elizabeth, of Captain Almaron Dickinson.  According to Jack, the legend within the Craft is before the final assault, Captain Dickinson reportedly gave his Masonic apron to his wife and told her to cover herself with it when the enemy captured them.  There are a couple of versions of this story you can read at these links, but the premise of soldiers and their family members surviving vicious battles throughout history due to Masonic affiliations is nothing new.

If Crockett did survive and live on, the question becomes why did we never hear about it?  There are all kinds of possibilities, but one idea that makes sense to me is the United States Government propaganda machine didn’t want news to leak out about any survivors. They likely feared the now famous slogan, “Remember the Alamo” might not been the powerful inspiration it came to be had a famous person like Crockett been known to survive.  That all the soldier’s died at the Alamo served to ‘fuel the fire’ of soldiers in subsequent battles that led to important victories.

Part of me that wants to believe this courageous American hero did survive, and at the age 50 after the bloody battle at the Alamo he decided he had had enough.  If anybody out there has any more clues that could shed additional light about Crockett, I’d love to hear about it.

Director Raul Cadena gets serious at the altar in the Scottish Rite Temple in Minneapolis.

Joy Bland's husband, Mike Hartzell, Will Yates, Brandon Boulay, Joy Bland and Scott.

Archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot gets his drone ready for a flight
at the suspected Davey Crockett property.

An interesting AVM keystone at the entrance to the Alamo.  
Which Mary was it supposed to honor?

An arrowhead found by Scott near the homestead of Davey Crockett.

Scott proudly diplays his jasper arrowhead.