Victorio's Peak Treasure (2024)

Is treasure buried inside Victorio’s Peak?

Victorio's Peak Treasure (1)

Victorio Peak, New Mexico

Victorio's Peak Treasure (2)

Doc Noss discovered the treasure


White Sands, New Mexico, is an inhospitable environment, home only to rattlesnakes and sagebrush, vultures and mule deer. In November of 1937, a man named Doc Noss was deer hunting there. He hiked to the top of a hill known as Victorio Peak. As thirst and fatigue set in, Doc searched for fresh spring water. Instead, he discovered a mysterious hole in the ground—the hidden entrance to a tunnel. There was a ladder in the opening and Doc climbed inside. A maze of tunnels led into a large cavern. In one chamber of the cavern, Doc found an old chest. On the lid were the words “Sealed Silver,” written in Old English inscription script. The chest was only a small part of the treasure that Doc Noss claimed he found. There was gold, silver, jewels, and gold bars that today, would be worth and estimated $1.7 billion dollars. Even now it may still be hidden beneath the craggy slopes of Victorio Peak.

Victorio's Peak Treasure (3)

Thousand of bars of gold

Doc Noss had been a traveling medicine-show man. In 1933, he married Ova Beckwith, whom he nicknamed Babe. They settled down and opened a foot clinic in Hot Springs, New Mexico. Doc’s grandson, Terry Delonas, heard incredible stories of his grandfather his entire life:

“He loved adventure and was fascinated with history. Babe was very strong-willed, ardent might be a word to describe her.”

After Doc discovered the treasure at Victorio Peak, he and Babe spent every free moment exploring the tunnels that led deep inside the mountain. Doc found that the passageways in the mountain led to several caverns. In one of them he found 79 human skeletons stacked in a small enclosure. In a deeper cavern, Doc found what appeared to be a stack of worthless iron bars. He brought the bars home for his wife Babe to inspect:

“I said, well Doc, this is yellow, look at it. And he looked at that and the sun was right at the right hour to shine right down on it. And he rubbed his head and he said, well Babe, if that’s gold, and all that other is gold like it, we can call John D. Rockefeller a tramp.”

Victorio's Peak Treasure (4)

Doc Noss was shot dead

Doc told Babe that inside the cavern, there were as many as 16,000 bars of gold. How had this enormous treasure come to be deep inside the caverns of Victorio Peak? There are four theories. The treasure could have belonged to Juan de Onate, the man who founded New Mexico as a Spanish colony. Reportedly, Onate had amassed an Aztec treasure of gold, silver, and jewels. Another theory is that a Catholic missionary named Father LaRue, who operated gold mines in the late 18th century, stored his gold in a cavern there. It could have belonged to Maximillian, the Emperor of Mexico, who tried to remove wealth out of Mexico when he learned of an assassination plot. Finally, it may have belonged to an Apache tribe that raided stagecoaches filled with gold mined in California.

But Doc was unconcerned as to how the gold arrived there. And in the spring of 1938, six months after his discovery, he and Babe went to Santa Fe to establish legal ownership of their claim. According to their grandson Terry, Doc and Babe filed a lease with the state of New Mexico for the entire section of land surrounding Victorio Peak:

“They filed a treasure trove claim, which has become the historic Noss family claim to the treasure in Victorio Peak.”

Victorio's Peak Treasure (5)

The gold was found by military airmen

Over a period of two years, Doc mined the peak. Witnesses say he took out more than 200 gold bars, and then hid them from everyone, even his family. Back then, it was illegal to own gold that was not in the form of jewelry. According to Terry, Doc hid the gold bars in a variety of locations all across the desert:

“Some were hidden right by the county roads… Some were dropped in horse tanks at the nearby ranches. Some were just buried in the sand and Doc would put a different colored rock over the top of it than was natural to that surrounding.”

Finally, in the fall of 1939, Doc decided to try opening a larger passageway into Victorio Peak. He hired a mining engineer named Montgomery to assist him. Together, the two men used dynamite to blast through a large boulder that was blocking the lower portion of the shaft. The blast caused a massive cave-in, which collapsed the fragile shaft. Doc had permanently shut himself out of his own mine. According to his grandson, Terry, even worse was the fact that now Doc only had a few gold bars to draw from:

“He only had those few dozen or hundred or so that he’d brought to the surface and he became very protective of those bars.”

For nine years, Doc Noss attempted to sell his gold bars on the black market. Then in 1948, he met a man named Charlie Ryan and struck a deal to sell him 51 of the bars.
But at the last minute Doc feared that Charlie Ryan would double cross him. He asked an acquaintance named Tony Jolly to help him re-bury the gold in a new hiding place:

“We went out across the desert, a little ways, we started digging and we dug 20 bars of gold out of the ground. It turned out to be 90 more and we buried those bars of gold. I handled and saw 110 bars of gold.

The next day, Doc and Charlie Ryan got into an argument. According to Terry, Ryan pulled out a gun:

“Ryan accosted him and said if you don’t tell me where the bars are, you won’t leave this room alive.”

Doc tried to escape but it was already too late. He was shot by Charlie Ryan and died instantly. The date was March 5, 1949. But the saga of the treasure at Victorio Peak did not die with Doc Noss. As the legend grew, other treasure hunters tried to cash in on Doc and Babe’s claim.

When Doc Noss was killed in 1949, he allegedly left behind a treasure of 15,000 gold bars, buried inside the caverns of Victorio Peak. For three years, Babe Noss and her children struggled to clear the passageway to the treasure. In 1952, when they were less than 12 yards from the opening to the central cavern, disaster struck again. The State of New Mexico was forced to relinquish Victorio Peak and the land surrounding it, so the United States Army could expand the White Sands Missile Range. Babe and her family were forced off their claim by the Army. Victorio Peak was now off limits to everyone by order of the military. But that didn’t stop former Airman 1st Class Thomas Berlett and a group of off-duty soldiers from clearing the blocked entrance and exploring the caverns. According to Berlett, it wasn’t long before they found what Babe was after:

“They were bars of something. And as we scratched it, we knew right away that it was actually gold. We marked and identified one of the bricks inside with my initials on it and we stood it on end on the large piles.”

Eventually, the airmen informed their superiors about the gold they had found at Victorio Peak. They were denied permission to explore further. According to Thomas Berlett, they took steps to insure that no one else could salvage the treasure:

“The following weekend, we returned to the entrance and we dynamited it in four different places and blasted the whole thing shut.”

Over a year later, the Secretary of the Army created a “Top Secret” classified military operation at Victorio Peak. In 1961, Babe Noss, along with the State of New Mexico, filed an injunction against the Army to stop excavating at Victorio Peak. In 1963, the Army petitioned the state of New Mexico for mineral rights. But their request was denied. Even so, aerial surveillance photo showed that extensive work had already taken place.

Finally, the Army succumbed to pressure and allowed some private claimants, including Babe Noss and former military personnel, to undertake a highly publicized, 10 day expedition at Victorio Peak. The excavation was an extensive, large-scale operation. But after 10 days, no treasure had been found. Lambert Dolphin, a scientist from the Stanford Research Institute who worked on the dig, thought the treasure may have actually been there, but just out of reach:

“I noticed on the radar screen, some echoes quite frequently at a very great depth, 300, 400 feet deep. And that led me to the conclusion that there was indeed a large cavern at the base of the mountain, about where Doc Noss had said.”

Deep in the heart of Victorio Peak there may still be jewels, artifacts, and piles of gold worth a billion dollars. Tony Jolly, the man who helped hide some of the gold, went back years later, and retrieved ten bars. But Doc’s heirs have recovered nothing. For Terry Delonas and the rest of Doc’s family, the fate of the treasure is still, quite literally, a billion-dollar question:

“We have decided that we will finish the work that Doc Noss started, that Babe Noss tried to finish. We will eventually get Victorio Peak open so that the mystery of what’s inside the peak can be solved.”

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack and season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

Victorio's Peak Treasure (2024)


Was the treasure at Victorio Peak ever found? ›

History. The treasure was allegedly found in 1937 by American businessman and gold prospector Milton Ernest "Doc" Noss. While there have been multiple documented expeditions to the peak, no gold has been officially recorded as being recovered from the site.

Who owns Victorio Peak New Mexico? ›

Additionally, the actual land where Victorio Peak is located was not owned by the State of New Mexico but rather by a man named Roy Henderson, who had leased it to the Army.

What is the greatest treasure of all time? ›

The biggest treasure so far discovered would be the Hindu Padmanabhaswamy temple treasure of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, south India, worth $14 billion USD, and consisting of gems, coins and images, hidden in a secret room.

Has any hidden pirate treasure ever been found? ›

After sinking off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717, the ship's legendary cargo hold full of gold brought treasure hunters from around the world. The Whydah Galley, under the flag of the infamous pirate Captain Sam “Black Sam” Bellamy, is the only recovered hoard to this date. Black Sam's riches came from the slave trade.

Was the skeleton canyon treasure ever found? ›

Either way, according the HISTORY's "Lost Treasures," it's believed that the cache of loot lies buried somewhere in the canyon. Several treasure hunters have tried to locate the so-called Skeleton Canyon Treasure but have so far been unsuccessful.

What is the lost treasure in New Mexico? ›

The Fenn Treasure was a cache of gold and jewels that Forrest Fenn, an art dealer and author from Santa Fe, New Mexico, hid in the Rocky Mountains of the United States.

Where is gold found in New Mexico? ›

Known placer gold deposits were found along the southern and eastern flanks of the Ortiz Mountains; however, there could be additional placer gold deposits along the western flanks of the mountain range. Most placer deposits in New Mexico had been discovered by 1900.

What is the geology of the Victorio Peak? ›

The Bone Spring and Victorio Peak formations are composed of as much as 2,000 feet of limestone beds and contain groundwater in joints, fractures, and solution cavities (Bureau of Economic Geology, 1983).

Can you keep treasure you find? ›

“The law of 'treasure trove' holds that property that is considered precious and is hidden with no proof of its former ownership belongs to the finder,” CEO and Attorney David Reischer told FOX Business.

What is the most valuable unfound treasure? ›

  • The Amber Room. The interior of the Amber Room glistens in St. ...
  • Sarcophagus of Menkaure. This antique illustration shows the sarcophagus of Menkaure, on the Giza Plateau in Egypt. ( ...
  • Ark of the Covenant. ...
  • Honjo Masamune sword. ...
  • Crown jewels of Ireland. ...
  • Sappho's lost poems. ...
  • Dead bishop's treasure. ...
  • The Just Judges.
Feb 20, 2024

What is the most valuable hoard found? ›

Found in the 1980s in the town of Środa Ślaska, Poland, the Środa Treasure is a 14th-century hoard of gold and silver coins, precious stones, jewelry, and a gold crown. It is worth a cool $120 million. Workers discovered the hoard during demolition work in 1985.

What treasure is still unfound? ›

The ten undiscovered hidden treasures that will amaze the world
  • The tomb of Emperor Qin. ...
  • The tomb of Nefertiti. ...
  • King John's Crown Jewels. ...
  • The Amber Room. ...
  • The Menorah of the Second Temple. ...
  • Leonardo's Battle of Anghiari. ...
  • Mallory and Irvine's pocket camera. ...
  • Treasure of Lima.
Feb 17, 2023

What state has the most lost treasure? ›

Given that the treasure is still lost or hidden, it can be very difficult to decide which area has the most hidden treasure. It is widely believed that Texas has over 200 hidden treasures. Some of these treasures were thought to be buried by famous outlaws and robbers.

What is the richest shipwreck still not found? ›

Flor de la Mar

The Holy Grail of shipwrecks said to be the 'richest vessel ever lost at sea', is a large 16th-century Portuguese ship.

Has the Aztec treasure been found? ›

Unfortunately, no lost treasure was located. Although the hidden treasure of Montezuma wasn't found inside the cave, many Kanab locals believe it to be elsewhere in the area. The speculation has led to other areas around Kanab being searched.

Is the Peruvian treasure real? ›

The Treasure of Lima is a legendary buried treasure reputedly removed from Lima, Peru, in 1820 and never recovered. It is estimated to be worth up to £160 million or $208 million in today's money.

Who found the treasure chest? ›

He announced that he had hidden a bronze chest filled with coins, jewelry and valuables somewhere in the middle of the Rocky Mountain range. The hunt lasted ten years. Ten long years, until a man named Jack Stuef finally got his hands on Fenn's treasure.

What is the biggest undiscovered treasure? ›

#1: The Treasure of Lima: A Lost Fortune of the High Seas ($200 Million) The Treasure of Lima is one of the most famous lost treasures in history, a vast fortune in gold and silver that was looted from Peru by pirates in 1820.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aracelis Kilback

Last Updated:

Views: 5273

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aracelis Kilback

Birthday: 1994-11-22

Address: Apt. 895 30151 Green Plain, Lake Mariela, RI 98141

Phone: +5992291857476

Job: Legal Officer

Hobby: LARPing, role-playing games, Slacklining, Reading, Inline skating, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Dance

Introduction: My name is Aracelis Kilback, I am a nice, gentle, agreeable, joyous, attractive, combative, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.