Among the early citizens of Hidalgo County Texas, there were rumors and old tales of an immense cavern located near the Loma Blanca Lake which is situated in the northeastern part of the county at a point known as, Alta Colorado or Red Cliff. Many were the strange tales connected to this mysterious cavern. One of them states that during the close of the last century, (1700-1800) a wealthy Spaniard got into some trouble with the authorities in Mexico City and found it necessary to flee the country in order to save his life.
As the legend goes, the man loaded an immense amount of gold and gems upon pack mules, and with his faithful servant, started north in search of a seaport where he could find passage to safer climes.
The two crossed the Rio Grande with no problems but when they arrived in the vicinity of Loma Blanca Lake, they were attacked by a band of roaming Indians. In the battle that followed, the Indians succeeded in killing his pack mules and mortally wounding his faithful servant. A man of undaunted courage, the Spaniard was well supplied with arms and ammunition, and by taking advantage of the natural surroundings, he was able to keep the red men at bay until they finally left the area.
The man then realized he was alone, many miles from any civilization. Though the packs carried by his now dead mules contained an untold fortune, he could not purchase one solitary comfort. He did not know the country, but surmised he could not be far from the Gulf coast.
After several days of examining his surroundings, he discovered the mouth of a cavern hidden amongst the shrubbery that is native to this area. Once inside he discovered it contained springs, numerous passages and several large rooms, one of which he decided to make his treasure vault. There is no record of how many trips he made from the battle site but eventually he moved all of his treasure into the cavern.
Next, he made cement out of gypsum and yese and sealed the door to the room with a wall of natural rock. After marking the spot with two old-fashioned swords (crossed) he struck out in an easterly direction until he arrived at the Laguna Madre, where he managed to cross over to the Padre‘s Island. (which was known at that time, as Isla Blanca, or the long white Island.) Eventually, he was picked up by a passing vessel and taken to Spain where he died, shortly after his rescue.
Among his belongings were a map, directions and a description of the cave and its contents and how to find the hidden room. The people whose hands these descriptions fell into were so used to hearing fabulous reports of hidden wealth from the new world, that they did not give the documents a second glance before filing them away in the archives. His secret remained buried until around 1875, when a Spaniard, by the name of Villanueva, stepped onto the docks at Brazos Santiago.
Now the arrival of a Spaniard or anyone for that matter was usually of little interest in those days, but Villanueva‘s actions caused him to attract attention. He traveled all over the northern portion of the country afoot making several trips to the Rio Grande and thence to the Loma Blanca or Alta Colorado. From there he would go east, to the Laguna Madre, only to return several days later. There was no doubt he had discovered the exact location of the cave, but at that time, there was no visible trace of it. The rank grass which had formerly kept the loose sand from drifting, had been eaten off by countless herds of cattle, and the wind, which blows almost incessantly at that point, had entirely covered the entrance. He never fully disclosed his plans or the scope of his research, but he became convinced he could not explore the cave alone. Lacking the funds to employ help, he made discreet inquiries to two or three parties. But before any partnerships were formed, he died at the Sans Ranch in Hidalgo County. Interest in the treasure cave seemed to die with him.
It is not recorded into whose hands the maps and documents fell upon his death, but a few years later, a party of six men showed up from Karnes County and retraced the same ground that Villanueva had searched. According to the newspaper account; “the men commenced clearing away a considerable amount of sand and debris until they had uncovered the mouth of a cavern in the side of a hill. The passageway, although filled with many years accumulation of drift sand, was well defined and could easily be followed and by all reports excavations are in progress at this time.”
The article ended here and I have not been able to find any additional information on this lost treasure. If you have any knowledge about this or other treasure caches in the Rio Grande Valley, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org