LAS CRUCES – The monthly Culture Series returns to the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in August and the first lecture focuses on one of the enduring mysteries in the region.
Historian Jim Eckles’ talk at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 is title: “Victorio Peak: One Hundred Tons of Gold or Just One Hundred Tall Tales.” The presentation, hosted by the Friends of the Museum, will be in the museum’s theater and admission is free, although donations will be accepted.
Milton Noss claimed he descended into Victorio Peak in Doña Ana County in 1937 and discovered a huge tunnel. At the end of the tunnel were rooms with skeletons chained to the floor and gold bars stacked like firewood — the math led to claims of 100 tons of gold. In 1939, he collapsed the entrance when it was dynamited to make it larger. Since then, Noss himself, various family members, and a horde of others tried to regain access to the fabulous treasure. Newspaper accounts talk about billions of dollars in gold hidden there.
These searchers and claimants have been prevented from simply leveling Victorio Peak because, after World War II, the tiny mountain became part of White Sands Missile Range. Although the missile range considers treasure hunters as trespassers, the Army has allowed four different searches at the peak. During the last one, Noss descendants were there for several years.
Eckles will detail the legend and some of the efforts to find the gold and explain why they haven’t found anything. Eckles is a retiree from the missile range where he worked in the public affairs office for 30 years. One of the most popular questions he received while conducting tours of the missile range was, “Can we see Victorio Peak?” Because of the persistence of the 100-tons of gold legend, Eckles included a whole chapter to it in his book “Pocketful of Rockets: History and Stories Behind White Sands Missile Range.”
The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is located at 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces. For information, call 575-522-4100.