According to the Ova Noss Family Partnership, getting into the Victorio Peak cavern where Doc Noss supposedly found a king´s ransom in gold and treasure may not be as difficult as originally thought.
On a videotape produced by the partnership, Lambert Dolphin, the group´s geophysicist, says he has identified a large cavern under the northwest side of the peak and it may be accessible by digging a modest tunnel into the peak. He theorizes there may have been an opening down on the side of the peak long ago which allowed people hiding the treasure to simply walk into the room.
In May Dolphin used a new ground penetrating radar to make images of the peak´s interior. He says the radar is 20 times more powerful than the one used in 1977 when he tested the mountain during Operation Goldfinder. After hundreds of readings from different angles, he says he has a definite picture of the room and it turns out to be 200 feet below the old Gaddis tunnel which was completed in 1963.
He says this makes sense because the family has always claimed Doc went down, by his own estimate, 300 to 400 feet into the peak. The Gaddis tunnel is 200 feet below the chimney opening on top of the peak.
Dolphin says this puts the room under the bioherm limestone reef material in the peak. A bioherm is a mass of limestone formed by organisms. He says the layer below the reef is soft shale which has probably eroded out leaving a room with crumbling walls and a very hard ceiling. He feels Noss could have entered the peak on top, worked his way to the diorite dike and its fissure and followed it down to the room.
On the tape Dolphin concludes all this is good news for the partnership and its backers. First of all, he has proof there is a cavern of some sort. Second, its location should eliminate the need for long and costly tunnels. Third, he says, "I doubt that anybody has been in that cavern since Doc Noss was there."
He goes on to assure backers that most of the gold is still there by saying, "If any artifacts or gold have been removed in recent years, these are probably secondary deposits and I would suspect not the main deposit."
Not only is this good news for hopeful backers it seems to say the Army really didn´t steal the gold as "Unsolved Mysteries" and others have accused.
The tape´s narrator then asks if all this work is worth it. He goes on to say that Doc Noss reported seeing more than 16,000 bars of gold in the cavern. This is total gross weight of 640,000 pounds (works out to be 40 lbs. per bar) which turns out to be 384,000 pounds of gold if each bar is only 60 percent gold. He then multiples that out at $350 per ounce and gets a value of $2,150,000,000. That´s right, more than two billion dollars. Enough said.
In addition to letting the Army off the hook for stealing the gold, the tape admits the Gaddis Mining Company work at Victorio Peak in 1963 was done under contract to Ova Noss as well as the state of New Mexico. In the past many Noss supporters have said Ova was never allowed into the missile range to search for her "personal property." Now the partnership admits she was allowed in and says she was not allowed "adequate time" to recover her property---Gaddis Mining was on site 60 days in the 1963 search.
Another interesting aspect of the tape is its tone. Most of the time it is fairly straight forward. But when discussing the history of their project, the narrator makes it sound as if the Army demanded the partnership get Congress to approve the venture. The narrator states they got the Congressional support and it is now law that the partnership is authorized to dig at Victorio Peak.
In reality, the partnership was told by the Army it could not dig unless it could directly reimburse the Army for required support. It turns out this requires Congressional intervention and they were directed to seek the necessary action on the Hill. If the Army was not concerned about reimbursement, it would not require an act of Congress to approve the permit.
The rider on the 1990 Appropriations Bill says, "The Secretary of the Army may, subject to such terms and conditions as the Secretary considers appropriate to protect the interests of the United States, issue a revocable license to the Ova Noss Family Partnership...." The operative words in that sentence are "may" and "revocable." The secretary is certainly not directed to allow the search.
The key to the section follows and states that, "The Secretary of the Army shall require the Ova Noss Family Partnership to reimburse the Department of Army...." and that "Reimbursements for such costs shall be credited to the Department of the Army appropriation from which the costs were paid." This allows the partnership to reimburse WSMR directly for support costs.
This may sound like a fine distinction but it is important because contrary to what the partnership implies, there was no law passed which directs the Army to allow them onto WSMR. I can see that this would be an important point to the partnership and its various supporters and financial backers. If there was such a law, their position and efforts would be more secure, especially in dealing with the missile range.
As of the end of Fiscal Year 1990, White Sands has collected just over $122,000 for range support from the partnership. This includes such things as security, scheduling, helicopter support, archaeological work and photography.
As far as the actual search is concerned, it could begin soon. The range has received comments from the various state and federal agencies which are required to review the environmental assessment. The comments are being addressed by the author of the document and should be ready for final review and public comment soon.
Once the license is signed logistical work will begin in the Hembrillo Basin. For instance, the road must be improved, telephone lines laid to the peak and trailers placed for support personnel.
Whether the press will be allowed in to observe remains to be seen.
---Interlaced with the historical information in these articles are statements of personal opinion by the author, Jim Eckles, which are not necessarily the official position of White Sands Missile Range or the U.S. Army---