One of the main stumbling blocks for the tale had always been the lack of any kind of evidence for treasure in the region. If the Partnership, or anyone else for that matter, had been able to demonstrate that something was hidden, the Army would have been more receptive to additional searches of range property.
Some archaeological evidence was discovered in 1988 in the pictographs and petroglyphs that dotted the rocks around Victorio Peak. For the most part, these had been ignored, the assumption being that the markings were drawn by Indians who lived in the region. The January 28, 1993, issue of The Courier, reported on “The Mystery People.”
Ballinger wrote that the markings were a type of writing known as Ogam and that
the writers were Celtic origin, Ballinger claimed that the oral tradition of
the Indian spoke of a group of "white” Indians. These white Indians lived
in southern New Mexico about the time of Christ and died out some thousands of
Gene Ballinger, editor of The Courier. Photo
copyright by Kevin Randle.
Ogam, according to one expert, Dr. Arnold Murray, Pastor of the Shepherds Chapel and director of the Shepherds Chapel Network, is an ancient form of writing which, until recently, couldn’t be read. According to a March 4, 1993, edition of The Courier, Dr. Barry Fell first discovered and isolated the Ogam alphabet while teaching at Harvard. The samples in southern New Mexico, according to these experts dated from 2500 B.C.E. to 250 B.C.E.
I will note here that according to the American Heritage Dictionary, Ogam is not as old as Ballinger reported. It dates from the 5th century to the 10th century and is of Celtic origin. That, of course, changes the dynamics somewhat but the question becomes, who was using Ogam in the desert southwest a thousand years ago. It might suggest some sort of contact between those indigenous people in the southwest and the Celtic people, but the connection is rather tenuous at best. And there is controversy around the findings of petroglyphs in other parts of the United States that date to about 8th century. It is just another of those conundrums that plague archaeological research and had little to do with the treasure and who put it there, if, in fact, there was any treasure. There is more to this aspect of the tale, and I’ll explore all that at a later date.
It is the belief of various experts that the caves of Victorio Peak were used as warehouses. Gold minded for the last two thousand years was stored there because there wasn’t a means of moving the bulk of the treasure from New Mexico. When the Celts died out, the Indians, including the Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo Indians, fought over and then stored more treasure in the caves.
|The Courier containing the information about the Ogam Alphabet.|
According to Ballinger’s articles, the last treasure was placed in the caves in 1886. Apache warriors raiding the stage lines had stolen strong boxes from Wells Fargo. That would explain the boxes seen by Doc Noss about fifty years later. And that would explain the amount of treasure in the cave. Various groups had been adding to it for over two thousand years.
Ballinger, listening to Murray and Fell, is of the opinion that they finds of Ogam around Victorio Peak are of immense archaeological significance. The Spanish sword and other artifacts found and held by Ova Noss Family Partnership establish the validity of the original claims. If that is brought forward, then they Army would be required to open the range for further exploration.
Another Assault on Victorio Peak
In early 1989, the partnership again approached the Department of the Army seeking permission to begin negotiations to return to Victorio Peak. In early 1989, the Partnership again approached the Department of the Army seeking permission to begin negotiations to return to Victorio Peak. Assistance from Norm Scott and his Expeditions Unlimited from Florida was enlisted, again.
This time, before any work was done, the vast body of government regulations were brought to bear. Before anyone was allowed back on the range and the peak, environmental impact statements, archaeological research statements, and various other documents were required. Only after those documents and reports were submitted and approved could the work begin.
It became clear from the reports that the 1962 Gaddis Mining Company expedition to Victorio Peak had been sponsored, at least in part, by the Noss family. They had been given their forty-eight hours and four men nearly thirty years earlier and had found nothing. That didn’t stop them from making claims that the government was preventing them from finding and recovering what they believed was their treasure.
The environmental impact statements and the archaeological assessments were completed and submitted, reviewed and approved. Then a rider to the 1990 Appropriations Bill provided the last push. It said, “The Secretary of the Army may, subject to such terms and conditions as the Secretary considers appropriate to protect the interests of the United States, issue a revocable license to the Ova Noss Family Partnership.”
The rider also made it clear that the Partnership would reimburse the Department of the Army for expenses. The rider provided a mechanism so that the reimbursement was directed to the missile range rather than the Department of the Army. In Fiscal Year 1990, the range collected $122,000 from the Partnership for range support.
The Partnership has been allowed on the range for a new search. As late as April 1995, they have found nothing to indicated that any treasure had ever been held in the caves of Victorio Peak. They did recover and old board from a tunnel that the believed had been left by Doc Noss.
Coming up -What is the Truth Part Eight