Something to bear in mind, whenever you see my byline in a publication, is that I’m not necessarily interested in getting to the bottom of things. Getting to the bottom of things would entail something known as investigative journalism, which involves placing a lot of phone calls and asking a lot of questions—no matter that said phone calls are seldom returned and most questions are artfully dodged. Sounds like a lot of work to me, and since I’m self-employed, I’m not normally compensated for legwork. I’m only paid when and if the article appears in print, and even then it may be weeks or months before a check arrives. Which is why, nowadays, I’m reluctant to even leave the house.
Now and again I Google my name to find out what I am supposedly up to. To my amazement, I find that I’m a recognized expert on such things as Bigfoot sightings, alien visitations and cattle mutilations! How did this happen? Well, it happens because I never let the facts get in the way of a good story. And the quickest, most economical way to get a good story is to keep an open mind, strike a neutral pose, suspend disbelief and then switch on the old tape recorder.
Some years ago I found myself crouching in knee-deep shag carpeting, holding a microphone to the lips of Brandt Child, who was lying flat on his back, unable to sit up due to a back injury. I asked Mr. Child to tell me what he knew about the lost treasure of Montezuma.
I was told the treasure—approximately 45,000 pounds of gold—lies buried in an underwater cavern just a few miles up the road from Kanab, at a place known as Three Lakes. How did it get there? Well, picture if you will thousands of long-distance Aztec runners forming an ant-like column along a footpath stretching all the way from Southern Utah to Central Mexico. At the end of the trail, each runner was ritually sacrificed in order to ensure that Hernando Cortez would never find out where the heck all the gold had gone to. And even if he did find out, how would he go about recovering it? Not so easy, now that the cache is guarded by 2,000 Aztec ghost warriors.
How did Mr. Brandt determine the whereabouts of the treasure? Well, like a lot of his neighbors in Kanab, he’d long been interested in locating lost mines and buried treasure. Thanks to a map provided by a mysterious stranger by the name of Freddie Crystal, local prospectors once unearthed a cavern in nearby Johnson Canyon, having blasted through a man made “plug.”
“It led to a big room,” recalled Brandt. “But all they found was just bones of mules and a few artifacts. No gold. But then they found another tunnel and it had a plug in it, too. So they dug it out.”
At the end of the second tunnel, the amateur archeologists came upon still another cavernous room in which was a large human skeleton propped in a sitting position. “They called him Smiley, because he looked like he was smiling.”
No one else in the room was smiling, however, because there was no gold whatsoever. Just a sacrificial altar “where they’d tear the hearts out of men and throw their bodies over the cliff.” Also, the ashes of ancient campfires, “with human fingers all wrapped in bark, ready for roasting, and human legs, and things like that.”
In other words, nothing of interest.
Disheartened, the citizens of Kanab struck their tents, shouldered their shovels and trudged back to their potato fields. Mind you, this all happened back in 1914, and nobody at the time thought to notify the Smithsonian Institution. And why should they? It’s well-known throughout rural Utah that the Smithsonian is a leftist organization bent on debunking all of our favorite folktales. Which is why, when in 1989 Brandt Child discovered what looked to be an Aztec symbol scratched in sandstone near Three Lakes, he kept it under his hat. It so happened that he owned lakeside property there, and what better way to recover the treasure than to just dig a ditch and drain the lake? But no sooner had he fired up his backhoe than he was issued a stop work order from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Turns out Three Lakes is the only known habitat of the Oxyloma haydeni kanabensis amber snail. An endangered species!
Brandt then hired a diver, who supposedly located an underwater tunnel but was promptly driven back by something otherworldly.
“Get me out! Get me out! There’s eerie figures all around me,” he shouted over the intercom. “I’m bein’ choked! I can’t breathe! Get me out!
Did I mention that the property isn’t just haunted but also cursed? Evidently some young tourist once tried to drill an exploratory hole down through the sandstone cliff that overlooks the so-called water trap. The following morning he keeled over from a heart attack—this according to an online website owned by A. True Ott.
Brandt Child may have been plotting his next move on September 12, 2002, as he motored along US Highway 89 near Marysvale. It was there that his longtime quest to get to the bottom of things ended abruptly when his vehicle slammed into a horse and he was killed.
“The horse seemed to come out of nowhere and, to this day, no one can explain where the horse came from.”
– Russell W. Estlack
St. George Spectrum