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Jake Johnson’s Lost Treasure Cave


Image Of Freddy Crystals Cave Opening, in Kanab Utah

Jake Johnson’s Lost Treasure Cave

Jake Johnson’s Story Begins In 1902, Jake Johnson Was A Desert Prospector Who Broke His Leg While Working Alone In The Badlands South Of St. George, Utah. Johnson Was Near Dead Of Sun Exposure When He Was Found By An Old Paiute And His Squaw. In Exchange For Johnson’s Camping Gear, The Old Couple Nursed Johnson Back To Health. Then, One Evening, While The Brave Was Out Hunting, A Mountain Lion Attacked His Squaw. Johnson Was Able To Kill The Cat Before The Animal Had Done More Than Maul The Woman. After That, Johnson Was Almost A Brother To The Indian Warrior. During The Rest Of His Convalescence, The Indian Would Tell Legends Of His People To Johnson, As They Sat Around The Campfire In The Evenings.

Once He Told Of A Great Treasure Cache That Had Been Hidden Generations Before. According To Indian Tradition, An Expedition Of Well-Organized And Warlike Men Had Come From The South Escorting A Long Line Of Slaves, Dragging Boxlike Containers Shrouded By Skins. The Party Went Directly To The Grand Canyon And Descended Down From The South Rim. The Treasure Was Placed In A Cavern That Evidently Had Been Chosen Earlier. The Slaves Were Killed On The Spot, While Half Of The Men Remained As A Guard And The Others Returned To The South. It Was Probably Planned By The Aztecs That They Would Recover The Cargo Once The Spaniards Had Been Driven Into The Sea, However, Months And Years Went By Without Word For The Garrison At The Cavern.

Eventually, The Aztec Sentries Intermarried With The Local Paiutes And Told Them Tales About A Great Indian Empire In The South With Their Emperor, Who Would Return In The Future With An Army To Bring Prosperity To The Paiute Tribe. Until Then, The Treasure Must Be Guarded Against Discovery By Anyone. It Was A Responsibility That Meant Annihilation For The Paiutes Should They Permit The Hidden Cache To Be Stolen.

Johnson Later Said He Was Doubtful Of The Story At First, Then Realized That If It Were True, He Had An Opportunity To Make A Fortune Through His Relationship With The Indians. He Bided His Time And Then Asked The Indian To Show Him This Cave, In Return For Saving The Life Of His Wife. After Considering The Request For Several Days, He Agreed To Take The Prospector To The Cave In A Year, If Both Men Were Still Alive.

Johnson Spent The Year Near Kingman, Arizona, Working Gold Placers Near The Colorado River. He Wrote His Brother Telling Him Of His Expectations And Asked The Older Man To Come West Before The Date Johnson Was To Meet His Friendly Paiute Brave.

In September 1903 Both Brothers Were At Pipe Spring In Northern Arizona Ready To See If The Story Told The Year Before Was Reality Or A Hoax. The Indian And His Woman Met The Men As Planned, And After Some Disagreement About Another Man Being Present, Agreed To Lead The Brothers To The Treasure. The Paiute Forced The Pair To Agree That They Would Remove Only As Much Gold As They Could Carry. Further, The Men Would Be Blindfolded And Led To The Cavern. One Day’s Ride South Of Pipe Spring, The Prospectors Were Blindfolded, And Four Days Were Spent In The Saddle Before They Were Finally Told That On The Next Day They Would Be Taken On Foot To The Cave. Starting At Daylight, They Were Led Three Hours Or So, Until A Sudden Drop Of Temperature Told The Prospectors That They Had Been Led Underground.

After A Few Minutes’ Walk, The Blindfolds Were Removed, And The Men Saw That They Were In What Appeared To Be Volcanic Caves. Lighting Torches, The Party Then Proceeded Through The Cave, Always In A Descending Direction, Until They Came To A Single Large Room. The Glare From The Four Torches Suddenly Magnified Several Times The Magnitude Of Golden Idols, Shields, And Other Objects Reflecting The Light In The Eerie Flickering Flashes.

Neither Of The Men Had Time To Inspect The Cave At Length, As The Paiutes Continually Urged Them To Take What They Could Carry And Retrace Their Steps To The Surface. It Was Clear That They Were At The Base Of The Grand Canyon Since An Opening Could Be Seen In The Distance That Led Onto A Sand Beach. However, The Men Were Never Sure Whether They Had Come Down Through The Cave From The Rim Of The Canyon Or Whether They Had Been Led At Some Point Along The Sheer Walls When They Had Entered The Cave.

When They Reached The Surface, The Sun Had Set Long Ago. In The Dark, They Made Their Way Back To Camp. After Returning To Pipe Spring, The Prospectors Went To Salt Lake City And Sold The Bullion They Had Collected To The Smelter There. Each Man Received Slightly Over $15,000 For His Bullion The Equivalent Of Around $500,000 In Today’s Market.

Both Men Outfitted And Returned To The St. George Area, Certain That They Could Find Their Way Back To The Cave And Riches That Would Rival The Count Of Monte Cristo. But The More They Searched, The More The Country Began To Look Alike. They Stayed Until November Snows, Then Returned The Next Year. With Their Profits From The First Trip, They Bought Ranches In Southern Utah And Settled Down To Raising Whiteface Cattle Between Occasional Trips Back To The Canyon To Look For Their Lost Trail Of Wealth.

In 1907, Despairing Of Ever Relocating The Entrance To The Cave, The Brothers Wrote An Article On Their Experiences For The Salt Lake Mining Review. The Editors Sent A Reporter To St. George To Discuss The Letter With The Brothers. The Reporter Came Away Convinced That The Brothers Had Seen The Lost Treasure Of Montezuma. The Article Was Published And Created A Sensation. Men From All Over The West Descended On St. George And Made Futile Searches For The Entrance To The Treasure Cave. It Was A Useless Effort; The Treasure Was Never Seen Again. Gradually, The Excitement Died, And Can Only Be Recaptured By Reading The Yellowing Files Of The Newspapers Of Southern Utah.

My Family (The Dillman’s) Are Planning On Renting A River Raft To Begin Exploring The Canyon From The Bottom Up. My Grandfather (Raymond Dillman), Left Us Several Locations To Investigate In The Grand Canyon And We May Find The Same Cave’s That Jake Johnson And James White Both Speak About. It Is Possible That Their Cave Is One And The Same. That’s If The Smithsonian Hasn’t Already Found The Treasure. There Is No Doubt In My Mind That A Portion Of Montezuma’s Treasure Resides In The Grand Canyon, I Know Of At Least Three Men Who Have Testified To Seeing The Treasure James White, Jake Johnson And G.E Kinkaid. Who’s Kinkaid? Check My Blog For G.E Kinkaid’s Story And Why I Believe The Smithsonian May Already Be In Possession Of A Portion Of The Treasure That Was Hidden Here.

Last Updated 02/20/2021

Copyright Dan Dillman For The Dillman Family 1964-2021