Planning on taking a trip to the Grand Canyon? Did you know that there is a lost cache of gold nuggets and a lost placer deposit that you may be able to find?
Few people know of the Old Tanner Trail, into the Canyon, and even fewer use it. The story goes that somewhere along that trail lies a slope that is thick with Gold Nuggets. The first person to find the placer deposit stashed his bag of gold behind a waterfall. An old prospector, by the name of, Long Tom Watson, later found the bag.
Long Tom had prospected the hills of Arizona for over 60 years. He spent every summer searching the Canyons of Northern Arizona for gold. When winter came, Tom would look for some place to, hole up, near Flagstaff. One year Tom set up house keeping in an old abandoned shack on the outskirts of town. As the winter progressed he got bored and began searching the place. He found some old letters and began to read them to pass the time.
He found a letter from an old prospector to his brother. The letter told about a great find of gold nuggets in the Canyon. He told of filling an ore sack full of nuggets. As he was setting up camp for the night a couple of suspicious looking strangers appeared. Not liking their looks, he made an excuse to leave camp and stashed the nuggets in a cave under a waterfall nearby. When he returned he found the strangers ransacking his camp. A gun battle ensued and he wounded one of the men while being severely wounded himself.
He was later found by two Forest Rangers and taken to a doctor. He was in and out of consciousness but, in a lucid moment, managed to write a letter to his brother telling him how to find the cache. The letter never reached the brother.
After reading the letter and looking at the map that was included with it, Watson was sure he could find the treasure. He spent the next two years finding out that it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. It seems that the waterfall he was looking for only ran in the spring, making it very difficult to find. Finally in the spring of the third year Watson decided to check out the Old Tanner Trail, better known as Horse Thief Trail. As he was setting up camp for the night he heard the sound of water somewhere West of the trail. With a little searching he was able to find a 22-foot waterfall.
He could see the opening of a cave behind the waterfall but it would be very dangerous to reach, finally he took a chance and made the leap into the cave. Inside the cave he found the ground covered with nuggets, the bag must have burst when it was tossed inside. He filled his pockets with nuggets and prepared to go back and get a bag for the rest. As he made the leap back to the ledge he slipped and plunged down the falls. He regained consciousness in a small pool; he knew immediately that his leg was broken. After much struggle Watson was able to get to his mules and back to town.
It took more than a year for Watson’s leg to heal properly. When he was finally able to go back in search of the waterfall he couldn’t find it again. After many years of searching he concluded that the falls were only active during very wet years. He died a broken and discouraged man, who finally committed suicide.
To search for the falls you must enter the park by the East entrance North of Flagstaff. You can find the Old Tanner Trail by following the trail down the South Rim, at Desert View Point.
Good luck in your search and remember, no metal detectors are allowed in the park, do the search with eyeballs only!