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KANAB, Kane County – For 100 years, locals have believed Montezuma’s treasure lies at the end of a tunnel below Three Lakes pond in Kanab, Utah. Now, filmmakers hope to discover just what is there.

Producer Mike Wiest along with landowner Lon Child and a crew of filmmakers are setting out to tell the story of Three Lakes, Montezuma and the treasure hunters whose attempts of recovering the gold have been foiled.

The pond that lies along U.S. 89 is the site of Montezuma’s lost treasure that could be worth more than $3 billion, according to local legend. Though some details vary, locals believe Aztecs dug the Three Lakes pond to cover the treasure’s cavernous hiding place in a water trap on the west side of the pond. Once dug, they could divert a river to the pond, fill it up and walk away from an ordinary looking pond with a valuable secret.

While it sounds far-fetched, the story has circulated throughout Southern Utah since 1914, when Freddy Crystal showed up with a map he claimed showed the treasure’s location. It wasn’t until the 1920s, when he found a series of sealed tunnels in nearby Johnson’s Canyon that people started believing him and joining his unsuccessful hunt for the gold.

In 1989, Brandt Child, a Kanab resident, bought the pond and surrounding area. He said he knew the clues in Johnson Canyon were decoys, and the real treasure lay in a water trap 36 feet below the pond’s waterline, indicated a symbol on the cliff above the cave. Multiple efforts to dive into the caves were ended after divers said they became disoriented and saw the ghosts of Aztec guardians, but they were able to detect metal at the end of the tunnel.

Child’s next move was to drain the pond. His plans were halted, however, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the amber snail on the endangered species list in 1992. The small creature is so rare, its only known habitat is Three Lakes pond, and each one killed can incur a $50,000 fine.

"I can't do anything to my own property that might disturb those snails," Child told Deseret News at the time. "It doesn't look like anyone will get the gold."

The pond is surrounded by mystery, which is what Jubal Productions hopes to uncover.

“No one’s gone there yet. We’re only talking 140 feet away from shore,” Wiest said. “It’s so close, yet no one’s gotten there and no one’s ever documented it.”

Wiest has been interested in the property since he was 12 years old and his father mentioned the pond was haunted. He didn’t learn more until a few years ago, when his friends told him about Three Lakes’ history.

“We think more importantly than finding if there’s in fact treasure there, it’s knowing why it’s there, who put it there, who it was being hidden from and who was it intended for,” Wiest said. “We’ve actually read several books on Montezuma and Cortez and the conquering of Central America and the wars that were fought there and the reasoning for the gold to be gathered and taken and hidden. It’s been fascinating.”

Now, the production team is raising funds to send remote operated vehicles, particularly submarines carrying lights and cameras, into the cave. The ROVs are well-situated to high water pressure and immune to human fears of the supernatural that have impaired scuba divers in the past, Wiest said.

“The property has such a rich legacy as far as the stories and hearsay goes, that I think anybody at this point that knows of it and is certified to put on the scuba gear and go down there, they’re already going to have that preconceived notion that people have seen something down there,” he said. “It makes it that much easier for them to interpret that in their mind or to see something. I think bringing in the robots eliminates that unnecessary variable.”

The ROVs would also be better able to avoid smashing any of the small snails.

They intend to use their footage in a documentary about Montezuma’s treasure, its hiding place and protectors. The crew believes there is something down there, and something is protecting it, whether it’s supernatural or explained away by science.

Wiest said he isn’t ready yet to discredit the supernatural as an explanation for the strange occurrences surrounding the cave. He said he wants to go into the filming with an open mind and is even ready to send in a scuba diving exorcist, if necessary.

“Nothing is too far fetched at this point only because, at this point, we can’t afford to discredit anything,” Wiest said.

If the submarines do find anything, Wiest said, they likely wouldn’t remove it from the cave. Lon Child, one of Brandt Child's 10 children the land was parceled out to, has expressed that it belongs down there.

“I’m most excited to actually get a camera and film something that’s never been filmed ever in the history of mankind, that’s never been seen and recorded., Wiest said. "I’m thrilled to get some footage, as poor as the footage may be. I’m just thrilled to get something. At the end of the day, we’re just storytellers. Hopefully this will be a good story.”


Published in News
Tuesday, 15 October 1996 13:54

Caching in on Rock Creek Cache

Published in News
Saturday, 07 May 2005 19:54

Treasure Hunting In Ecuador

A central Illinois man taken hostage in Ecuador nearly 15 years ago says he's going back for another adventure.

Scott Heimdal has his eyes on a multi-million dollar treasure.

For two months back in 1990, Central Illinois and the world watched as guerrillas held Scott Heimdal captive in Ecuador.

Heimdal was working for a gold mining company at the time of his capture, but only because his plans of diving for deep sea treasure didn't come true.

He says there are a lot of really great shipwrecks, a lot of really wealthy shipwrecks along the coast.

Fast-forward 15 years into the present and Scott will tell you his treasure awaits and he's not afraid to claim it all. Even after his 61-day hostage situation and the recent and widespread civil disturbances in the South American country.

''We've worked out a deal with the government of Ecuador, a 50/50 deal that everything we end up locating and recovering we'll split with them.''

Scott speculates the value of an average Spanish shipwreck off the coast of Ecuador could range in value anywhere from 220 to 280 million dollars.

He has confidence in his crew of five that they will not only bring half of that treasure back home, but also remain safe while on the job.

''We're working with the military in Ecuador so security concerns are really addressed by what type of relations we have with them.''

Scott's immediate family will also play an important role in the diving adventure. They will travel with him and live in Ecuador for as long as the recovery takes. An early estimate is several months.

When Scott told the rest of his family about the plan, he was taken back by the response.

''Everyone has just been so great and so supportive. Even people in the community are behind me.''

About 20 independent investors are also behind Scott. He says some are in to make a buck, while others are just looking for a priceless piece of history to hold onto.

Published in News

Tehran  Three kilograms of 2500-year-old gold dating to the Achaemenid era have been unearthed in the ancient palace of Bardak-e Siah in Borazjan in the southern province of Boushehr.

Archaeologists are asuuming that the gold pieces are most probably the golden layers of the wooden doors of the palace or the monumental plates of the building which were usually written on thick golden pieces during the Achaemenid time.

The discovery which came a few days ago beside one of the pedestals of the central hall of the palace, includes four pieces of gold weighing three kilograms.

Three of the pieces are thick pleated tablets and the fourth looks like the above part of an Achaemenid challice, head of the excavation team of Borazjan, Ehsan Yaghamayi, told CHN.

Refering to the similarity of the pieces with the golden and silver monumental plates of Apadana Palace in Persepolis complex, Yaghmayi explained that the pleats of the tablets should be unfolded in the lab to see whether they include any inscriptions or texts to be deciphered and to find out their exact usage.

Bardak-e Siah Palace was discovered in 1977 where remains of another palace, called Sang-e Siah, and many stone inscriptions and bas-reliefs have also unearthed. More than 20 other palaces and halls from the Achaemenid dynasty have moreover been identified buried under the palm trees of Dashtestan area.

Published in News


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