• Skeleton Canyon
  • Canyon Treasure

Case File: Skeleton Canyon Treasure AKA Peloncillo Treasure
Location: Arizona
Date: 1881
Description: Skeleton Canyon is in the Peloncillo Mountains, a jagged ravine in Cochise County on Arizona's southeastern border. Buried somewhere in it is supposed to be a Mexican treasure worth today around eight million dollars.


History: Treasure hunter Fern Hamill has been studying and searching Skeleton Canyon for a Mexican treasure buried by American outlaws. Arizona historian Robert Palmquist, meanwhile, does not believe the treasure exists, doubting the veracity and legitimacy of letters detailing it's existence. Hamill, however, has seen the letters describing the treasure in detail to Maggie Grounds, the sister of one of the gang members that stole it, and has even found a cave filled with period artifacts and old ropes to lend credence to the veracity of the treasure. A vase found by another explorer in the cave contained a reference to Maggie and the 1885 World's Fair. Hunter Pritchard, director of a treasure hunting museum, remarks that he believes in the veracity of the treasure from the point of view that there's much more plausibility to it than other treasures.
Background: According to legend, the treasure was originally stolen in 1881 by Mexican Bandits from citizens of Monterey, Mexico. Con-artist Jim Hughes learned of the treasure and became friendly with the bandits. He contacted his fellow members of the Curly Bill Brocious Gang, which operated out of Arizona. The gang ambushed the Mexican bandits, but the treasure was too large to carry out of the canyon so they buried it, planning to come back later. Two gang members, Zwing Hunt and Billy Grounds, double-crossed the gang and came back to relocate the treasure. They stayed in hiding for several months. Billy sent several letters to his sister, Maggie, telling her where to find the treasure in case anything happened to him. In March 1882, Zwing and Billy were ambushed by a Sheriff's posse and Billy was killed. Zwing reportedly detailed a map to the treasure before he died in another shootout. However, an earthquake in 1886 destroyed all the telltale clues that might have helped locate it.
Investigations: Several treasure hunters have tried to locate the Skeleton Canyon Treasure but have so far been unsuccessful. They have, however, found evidence that the legend surrounding the treasure was true. Robert Palmquist, a historian, has investigated the story surrounding the treasure. He believes that the story is just a legend, as there seems to be little first-hand evidence that has been found to corroborate the story.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the December 5, 1990 episode.
The book, "The Weirdest People in the World" by C.B. Colby locates the treasure under a square rock marked with two crosses on the bank of a creek.
Results: Unsolved. Fern Hamill passed away in 2011 at the age of 94.