From A Lost Ledge
Land ~ Sea Discovery Group Staff
I have searched
through bookstores, swap meets, and garage sales to find maps,
magazines, and books that had anything to do with gold or lost
treasure. Many times when I get a lead I can now go to my own
library and research to my hearts' content.
While I was
at a local prospecting shop I overheard someone mention "The
Indian Squaws' Lost Ledge." The missing ledge of gold is
said to be lost somewhere in Fish Canyon and that wasn't far from
where we were in Azusa.
of the lost ledge of gold I headed home to see what I could dig
up on the story. A treasure hunter has got to have a detectives'
blood running through his veins. When a story is heard, true or
not, we should always check out all leads and follow them up.
Most of all though be prepared for anything.
A great reference book by
Thomas Probert helped pull the leads together.
takes place near Azusa, California, at the mouth of the beautiful
San Gabriel river. This is Southern California's gold country.
Gold has been mined here since the mid 1850's according to the
newspapers of the time, but there are also stories of Indians
possessing gold jewelry in this area prior to the opening of the
San Gabriel Mission in 1771. Fish Canyon is just two miles off
the Foothill Freeway just west of Azusa.
In a great
reference book called "Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of
the West" by Thomas Probert, I found my first lead. It was
an article in Pioneer West Magazine printed in July of 1970. Somewhere
in the garage were old copies of True West, Real West, and much
to my delight, Pioneer West. With this lead and two others I found
later, I was now armed with the treasure story.
goes like this. In the entrance to Fish Canyon sometime around
the year 1880 an Indian squaw tended her herd of sheep. During
the course of the day a mountain lion attacked one of the sheep.
In the scuffle most of the other sheep took off up the canyon
in all directions. She spent most of the day rounding up the rest
of the herd. While looking for the sheep she came upon an outcropping
of rock that sparkled with gold. The squaw broke off some of the
gold-filled quartz rock and put it in her pocket. A few days later
the Indian woman was in the nearby town of Monrovia and sold the
chunks to a jewelry dealer there who was amazed to see such fine
"jewelry rock" as it is known. The woman brought gold-bearing
quartz to the dealer many times, but for as many times as he would
ask the whereabouts of the ledge, the Indian woman would refuse
to divulge any details. She would only say it was in Fish Canyon.
Well, to me it was worth at least a look see, so I grabbed my
pack and hammer and headed down the freeway to the Irwindale exit
and then turned north on the first street that headed towards
the canyon. At the end of the road a locked gate belonging to
a rock and gravel company greeted me. I got out of my truck and
walked up to the gate. A guard came from behind the brush and
asked if he could help me. I explained I wanted to prospect in
the canyon. The guard smiled and produced a form for me to sign,
which released the rock company from any responsibility while
I hiked half a mile through their property to the start of the
National Forest. I thanked him and set out on my hunt. Once through
the quarry I was amazed to see such beauty only a few miles from
the freeway. The canyon had been blocked since the rock company
got its permit in 1956. Little has been said about Fish Canyon
and thanks to the blocked entrance it has seen very few visitors.
My hopes soared. Perhaps there was a chance I could find the lost
rises up from the creek bed 50 feet or so and winds along the
contours of the west slope of the canyon. On your left are sheer
cliffs rising up and on your right a good tumble through rock,
Spanish Daggers, and alder trees on down to the creek. All along
the trail I'm eyeing the rock formations and the offshoot canyons
for the Indian woman's ledge.
This beautiful twisted live
oak led to cabin site discovery.
find myself in an area that just doesn't fit with the rest of
the picture. There were beautiful twisted live oaks, flowers that
didn't seem natural here, and cacti that were planted in rows.
There were also pines that normally grew in higher elevations.
I went through some of the brush taking my chances with the poison
oak until I broke into a clearing that had in the center of it
a handrail that extended for a length of nearly eight feet. As
I approached the Iron rail I could see flagstone steps lying next
to it. The handrail led up to the foundation of a cabin. Further
investigating led to other foundations, fireplaces, and even a
few wells that were covered over with flagstone and the overgrowth
of at least forty years. I counted over twelve sites and it looked
like more could be on the other side of the creek. I found some
old rusted kitchen utensils and a few metal bed frames typical
of the forty's period.
was very pleased with my find I continued on my search for the
lost ledge. Further up the trail I spotted an outcropping of quartz
with a small hole just to the right of it. It was up on the canyon
side above me and surrounded by a gnarly looking cactus patch.
Was this the "Lost Squaws Ledge?" It didn't appear to
be lost to me, just hard to get to. I had to check it out. This
wily spot took nearly an hour of fumbling around in the brush
to figure out how to get to it. Finally after scrambling up a
few boulders and across a small wash, I practically fell into
another cabin site. This one was really hidden well. A chimney
rose up eight feet from the ruins. Behind the site a small trail
less then a foot wide meandered through the cactus up to the mine.
It was a quartz outcropping that had been tunneled into a depth
of only four feet. Hardly worth the fifteen or so jabs I received
on the way up to it. I dug in the loose dirt on the floor and
found some lead from hunters' bullets and a button from a military
jacket. It didn't appear to be very old however. I chiseled off
some quartz chunks that I could check out later.
Fish Canyon Falls
Soon I was
back on the trail. It switched back higher up in the canyon and
then finally drops to the creek again about two miles in. The
trail then crossed the creek and rose high above the east slope,
somewhat dizzying in spots. Within a short distance around a turn
there came into view a shaded amphitheater with two deep green
pools and there rising above them in a step like fashion was an
eighty five foot waterfall! It was spectacular! This was an extremely
beautiful, and lush area. What a great place to hike to, have
a picnic, and take a dip in one of the pools. Later in one of
my reference books I found a photo of people doing just that taken
in the early fifties.
a leisurely lunch at the falls I headed back the three miles to
civilization. I didn't find "The Indian Squaws Lost Ledge"
that day but I did find some new leads to check out at a later
date. The cabin sites would be a good place to work with a metal
detector as would around the falls where people would swim. I
also think the wells may hold some old bottles and there must
be a dumpsite close by to discover.
I had a great day that I surely won't forget. I hope to get back
soon to check out my new leads and try again for the lost ledge.
1. James Klien,
Where To Find Gold In Southern California, Ward Ritchie Press,
2. Thomas Probert, Lost Mines and Buried Treasures of the West,
University of California Press, 1977
3. Thomas Penfield, A Guide to Treasure in California, True Treasure
4. Pioneer West, July 1970, 10 True Tales of Buried Treasure,
5. Jake Brouwer, a personal experience that occurred in Azusa,
California in 1993.