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Friday, January 27, 2017

Aztec Navigation Glyph (Key Glyph)

NOTICE To all who visits this page....

I am deeply grateful for all those who have assisted with this hypothesis in the past. I have personally visited near 130 sites, over the last 20? years.

If you know of any locations of these glyphs OUT SIDE OF the locations shown in the included Google Earth Image below, please consider sharing with me the GPS location and photo, 

Click for Larger Image

From Saint George on the West to Johnson's Canyon on the East and 
From Kanab 3 Lakes Site To Yellowstone on the AZ Strip

If you prefer the location you know of to remain unknown I fully understand, all I can offer is sharing my locations with you, and offer a sworn oath that your location WILL NOT be made public.

RECENT discoveries has prompted me to pick up this project again.

* I am familiar with "a single" recent location near Littlefield.
* I am familiar with a recent discovery near Marble canyon but am seeking some one with specific location details, photos and hand held NON DIGITAL compass bearing of what many call "the tail or pointer"
* I am familiar with four new locations (To Me), 3? Near Holbrook Az and 1? near Winslow, or visa versa... but lack photos, location and technical information concerning them.
* A suspect location is thought to be near Hite Utah at the river Junction, yet I have no information
* at least 3 locations are rumored in Texas thought to be near or along the Rio Grand River, but again I have no information. 
* It is suspect several locations exist from the Rio Grand and south into Mexico as far a Tula Hildalgo Mexico just 40 miles North of Mexico City, where it is suspect the first location in a trail of these glyphs are heading North from Mexico City, and "possibly documented in about 1450 prior to the invasion of Cortez.

* NOTE: I am VERY familiar with others research of this type of glyph and I ASK that you spare me, I have read them all. "Water Glyphs" Cup and Channel article, Key Glyph etc...

A Basic Navigation Glyph

To qualify as a Aztec Nav Glyph the circular portion will be roughly oval or circular and about 18 to near 22 inches in diameter and about 1/2 to 1 inch deep and approx 1 inch wide.

What is often called the pointer or tail will be roughly 2 inches wide and 1 to 2 inches deep and extending from the circular portion up to 4 feet.

An oval shaped dot (See Images Below) appox 3 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 to 2 inched deep will in most cases appear somewhere within the circle, at times a second oval dot will appear near the junction of the tail and circle inside or outside the circle.

IT IS in every case I have found carved horizontal other than a few incidents where the rock it is carved on has broken away and fallen.

THEY ARE ALWAYS located at the highest point in the immediate vicinity.


IF you know of a location Between Arizona and Mexico, and care to help in this research project PLEASE contact me at tuscoro@gmail.com, or send me a private message on facebook.

Thank You!

Three Keys

Monday, January 9, 2017

Determining the validity of supposed Spanish Carvings on Trees PART 3

Part 3 of 3

Although the trail glyphs when found create excitement and are indeed fun to find, the following glyphs when found are even more so, simply because you know you are close to what you’re looking for. This one although we have only an idea of what it means could very easily pass as a natural scar, had it not been for another exactly like it and each facing each other from a hundred yards away it would not have been considered. In part it is an Icon, we have yet to fully determine what its purpose was, and it is suspect of marking a vein.

Meaning Unknown

Here is another that is meant to be seen from a distance, it is in addition to being an icon it is also a cache symbol. Contrary to what some believe pertaining to the cache symbol, in that they say the cache is in the opposite direction the symbol faces, in my opinion this is incorrect, the symbol faces the cache, there is only one way to know for sure.

Before this grew over from the sides especially near the top it was a near perfect rectangle, or so we think,  it can be seen coming up the old trail from about a half mile away as it was likely intended.

Another mark that is very good to find and in every case I have found one, the authentic Spanish mine is within 100 yards of its location, give or take, and that is what we call a wedge tree, here are some examples. In the following image a friend and I had been talking about the different tree markings one might find, then a few days later he sent me this picture below, he asked what it was and I told him it is a wedge and that a mine is nearby, not long after that, a day or two he emailed me again and told me they had found a mine just up the hill about 100 yards and that the dump was over grown and large trees growing through it.

My friend has since taken me to this site, I have to say, this tree wedge is the most impressive I have ever seen, although it has not been sampled for age yet, I would guess it at near 250 years. The dump site and mine above was a classic scene of an old authentic Spanish Mine. They say Old Tommy Thomson was looking for this one, I am told he never found it.

Photo courtesy of Ben Russell
A very large and old pine with an overgrown wedge


One of the most exciting symbols to find is a heart, if you find a heart you are likely within a short distance of what was considered a Kings Mine. Sometimes when you find it you don’t know that you have, simply because the years have masked it and it does not look like a heart because of the overgrowth which is always from the sides. I have only seen one on a very old pine tree that has retained its shape nicely.

The following are examples of what a heart might look like when you find it.


When it comes to the pine trees and how the tree will react in an effort to repair the damage done to it by way of carving is any ones guess. Not all pine like varieties react to the carving the same and many of the same variety may seem to react differently than others. One variety which you almost never find a carving in, will replace the scarred area with a sap that builds up and over time, just like if you scraped the skin of your arm the body reacts and will replace it first with fluids that eventually become a scab and the skin repairs itself. This variety of pine is very similar in its reaction and after time is very difficult to even see the scarred area left by the carving but upon close viewing, it is obvious.

The following heart symbol was by far was the most exciting as we had looked at it for years not knowing what it was until one day my perspective was a bit different. Many core sample were taken to confirm the original outer boarders of the carving and of what we suspected was under the over growth. We were right, it was a heart.

Heart symbol marking a Kings mine and carved approximately 1770

Photo Courtesy of Todd Strong
A suspect carving yet to be verified

Although we have never been faced with this situation before of the above image, and if it becomes expedient to know if this is a carving and what it may be, we can only think to use a rasp to peal back the layers of time to see what it is and what it may be, but I refuse to damage the tree unless it becomes that important, I feel the same way about damaging the trees as the many Native Americans.
Part of this game is investigating seemingly authentic tree carvings, a friend sent me the photo below and with some excitement asked if I could come and see it, I must admit, from the limited view of the photo I was intrigued.

Upon arriving at the site the first thing I noticed was the smaller size of the healthy Ponderosa tree, this immediately cast doubt but I remained hopeful. It should not have escaped my first view but did in giving credence to the color of the wood the cross was in, even in full shade continuous, this should have been a gray color, but it did indeed slip past me. The overgrowth was near two inches thick and so we continued in out quest to uncover what seemed to be additional overgrown symbols in the top left and bottom right. Just as I was about to pop off a piece of the overgrowth, my friend realized what it was.

We both had a good laugh over it but we still had to know for sure, I popped off a portion of the overgrowth and then it was confirmed, J + D, It wasn’t until then we looked much harder at the carving and realized it is a plus, not a cross this little operation also gave us the opportunity to count the rings since it had been carved, I would have bet at least 50 years but, to both our surprise, it was carved only 11 years ago. The diameter of the tree was about 18 inches but this was a Ponderosa and so actually a young tree and when the trees are young, the rings are much larger. I don’t feel too bad about falling for this one and neither should my friend; it was just one of those things that had to be confirmed not only for the experience, but to know the truth of the matter. It was a great day and I got to spend time with a very good friend…

The point to this part being added to this section of the book, is that sometimes things look to good to be true, sometimes they are but other times it is the real deal, the tell tale signs are the size of the tree compared to others of the variety, the tree was just to small and the fact that the wood had not yet faded. The bottom line is, when in doubt, verify.

For years I had heard of another mark on trees that supposedly existed, and seems to me one of the rarest of them all, in fact in all these years of searching, I have only seen one and heard of another that I would like to get to one day to photograph. What exactly this mark means or what its intended purpose was, I can only guess but from what I do know and based on where it was found, I can only assume it is meant to mark something important, such as a cache and possibly an ancient cache scheduled for looting who knows the answer? The mark I speak of is none other than a simple granny knot tied in a branch.

A literal Granny Knot from 230 years ago

Finding a knot in a tree branch is impressive to say the least, although very few have ever seen one, one particular individual claimed it is a sextant mark, I might have fallen for this but frankly from where it is found you can’t see further than a few hundred yards away for the trees, if you understand the sextant and its use, you see this cannot be the case. I was more interested in how it was done and how long ago.

My friend who at the time worked in Range Management came with me to investigate, we first found a tree near by of the same variety and with some experimentation determined that the largest a branch could have been in order to manipulate it into a loose granny knot was about ¾ of an inch. In using the increment borer to get a core to the center of the branch to learn its age, and minus the ¾ of an inch it was determined that it had been tied approximately 230 years prior and this was in 2004. What is it with the time frame of 1770?

I have one other knot to go see and photograph however it will have to wait. If it were a sextant mark as one suggested, why are there so few? I suppose I would be more convinced if in the same tree were carved, MARVA ATWOOD.

Determining the validity of supposed Spanish Carvings on Trees PART 2

Old Pine Trees with Spanish Carvings
Juniper, Mountain Mahogany
Trail Glyphs and Symbols

Pine trees with carvings would seem pretty self evident but as you will see there is a trick or two you might want to be aware of in your search. Pine tree carvings in many ways are easy to spot but sometimes not so easy to determine not only what it is, but as to whether it is a natural scar on the tree or an intentional carving. Dating these trees to determine the age of the tree is as easy as any tree, but with pine trees you can actually date the carving itself, often times down to within a few years, occasionally this holds true with Aspens as well depending on how it reacted to the carving.

If the area you are searching is covered with pines, if there is in fact an old trail from the past winding its way through the forest and the Spaniard was indeed in the area, you will no doubt find the marking of the expedition on the pines leading to an old forgotten mine or even cache.

The most common glyph found along the trail is the simple trail marker it is a vertical line with a dot above it or below it depending on which way the mine is, however you need to understand that the forest service adopted this same glyph as well as the Spaniard but I doubt those of the forest service knew what it meant and their older carvings identifying forest service trails, can be deceiving.

The reason I have said “as well as the Spaniard” in the adoption of this glyph is, that the Native American Indian glyph is identical in general meaning and it is my belief the Spaniard knew this and adopted it for their own purposes. Earlier I mentioned another glyph that was likely adopted by the Spaniard from the Native Indian or Aztec, that being the Turtle.

In the above image you can see the meaning is near identical, the Spaniard had a definite meaning for the dot being “Mine” however the Native American meaning for the dot was general, it completely depended upon the subject of the panel it was found on, above it is shown as meaning “here”, but this is just one of the many base meanings as it could mean One, Day, or any object. The fact that the dot is disconnected in the Indian Glyph the meaning of “To” comes into play, and the glyph in general says go to here being towards the dot or object intended. If the dot were connected it would be interpreted as from here go with the dot being the point of origin, and in this case the direction would be down or opposite the dot.

The Spanish glyph is much the same, if the dot were on the bottom and you approached this glyph, the mine is in the opposite direction you are traveling. Not often but at times you may find a dot at both ends, if so there is a mine in both directions. If you find the same glyph on both sides of the tree, be suspicious as it is likely a forest service mark and likely a recent carving. Here is an example of a trail glyph in which when you come upon it, you can see the mine is down or back where you came from.

This is the glyph which indicates “Mine is down”, or as you face the tree it is behind you, this particular glyph points at the main shaft of a silver mine that Thomas Rhoades documented in 1863, his pick and shovel is cached nearby.

Now, how do we know this isn’t a natural scar on the tree possibly created by another tree falling and hitting it, or even from a large rock rolling off the mountain and striking it? Well, you don’t always know… Sometimes you just have to weight the evidence because the scar is completely grown over, is the scar facing up hill? No? Well then a rock coming down the hill could not be the culprit. Is there evidence of a fallen tree? No? Then that might not be the cause either. Is the glyph facing you and about eye to chest height as you approached it and is it right next to a trail or suspect trail? Yes? Then it might be what you suspect, however in this case the evidence is clear, look into the scar if possible and look for ax marks such as this one, the marks are clear.

This trail symbol was cut in about 1770, the ax marks are obvious.

Always try to verify the trail glyph with ax marks, never second guess as it can cause you a lot of unnecessary hiking and waste a lot of time, unless of course you enjoy that. Sometimes misinformation and unnecessary hiking has helped me find things I might not have found otherwise.

Now don’t feel bad if you can’t make out the faded one above, it isn’t much easier in person. Here are some examples of trail glyphs on Juniper and Mountain Mahogany.

A very old Juniper Trail Glyph (Well Over 300 Years)
Notice the obvious ax marks.

Mountain Mahogany Trail Glyph, also very old, notice the recent attempt to carve over the original, likely by a Forest employee. These two glyphs are found on a very old trail and is now a designated Forest Trail. Where was the trail heading?

Other Symbols, Marks, Glyphs and types of Trees

Like all tree carvings you have to use common sense in determining whether or not they are in fact what you think they are, if it is expedient to know the age of the tree and the age of the carving then take the time to core sample the tree. Here is word of caution, If coring the tree can be avoided, then do so and only core as deep as you suspect the thickness of the overgrowth, ALWAYS find a fresh stick from the same tree slightly larger than the hole your increment borer makes and when you have obtained your sample, placed it into a fountain drink straw for transport and hammer at least 2 inches of the fresh stick into the hole, if you don’t do this the consequences for the tree could be fatal. Rule of thumb, if you don’t know what you are doing, then don’t do it.

There are other types of Glyphs or Symbols you might also find along the trail, but before I go on let me explain the difference between a glyph and a symbol. A glyph is a combination of symbols, a symbol is a single intended mark as in the trail glyphs previously shown with the dot representing Mine and the line representing Trail or Go. The dot is a symbol as well as the line, the two together constitutes a glyph. I am often caught using the terms synonymously but in this work I am trying very hard not to and to refer to them for what they are.

A symbol that you might find at or near a mine or cache is what I call a site mark.
You may mistake it for a trail glyph if you are the Kenworthy types, meaning those who could put horns on a beer can at deer hunting season, and it may be nothing but a natural scar. No disrespect or offense intended to Charles Kenworthy but face the facts, one of his books has created the many types who can read anything they can imagine into what ever it is they are looking at, like seeing shapes in the clouds.

This site “Mark” in the following picture, as it would be properly called because it is not really a symbol, if it is a site mark it will ALWAYS be on both sides of the tree, they are found at or near a location and are used for defining where the intended target is located, they are subtle and perfect for the job.

My good friend and Author of “Following the Legends” Dale Bascom standing next to a site mark. There is a mark just like it on the other side of the tree and another tree just like this one about 100 yards up the hill. The target is between them. Each tree is right next to the almost forgotten and diminished trail.

You will also note that the site mark does not work well by itself and is usually accompanied by a second tree with the same purpose; it is not a new concept that something is more easily pin pointed when two or more perspectives are given and this is the purpose.

The easiest way to navigate and use these marks is to place your finger tips into each side mark and have someone lay a straight sick or pole across your arms parallel to the two marks and the pole should be roughly pointing at the intended target. It works just as if you had a hole clear though the tree and were looking through it. Again don’t forget to look for ax marks whenever possible to validate whether it is man made.

When sampling a tree with the use of an increment borer, the object is to use a borer and bore just a bit more than the overgrowth. If successful and the tree is not suffering from heart rot often found, you will be able to count the rings and determine the age of the tree, one ring per year.

Several core samples were taken of this tree because of the suspect symbol, often this variety of pine after the glyph is made by simply removing the bark, they will sometimes try to repair themselves by growing over from the sides, this one we knew what it was, but had to take several samples for the purpose of defining the original outside boundaries of the symbol now severely over grown.  When dating the symbol itself this is an ideal situation as you go to the other side of the tree away from the symbol and determining the total age of the tree, now take a core sample in the symbol itself and compare, this does not work with aspens. By doing this you can get near exactly when the symbol was carved. This one was carved again, near 1770. If this is from the previous mention Expedition which is likely, and because of the distance it is from the former mentioned tree, it begins to tell you just how busy and how far these Spanish expeditions traveled.

Another type of trail marker you might find which is considered as a symbol and not a glyph is the one league mark, (A Diamond). When you find one of these you are one league away from an intended target, one league as you follow the trail, NOT as a crow flies, from your target. Remember, the Spaniards did not have Google Earth. Now at least you know you are on the right track or trail in this case. Here are two examples, one found in a pine and the other is in an Aspen.

One League Ahead, Follow the Trail.(Pine)

When the above symbol was found we were working a particular site and my friend and best researcher mentioned he had found the one league mark indicated on the map we were working, he took me to it and I failed to see it, apparently I shrugged it off and walked away. 2 years later he mentioned it again, this time it sunk in and I asked, what one league tree? He said the one I showed you 2 years ago; this time when we returned to it I could see it plain as day.  The point being, what you don’t see one day, you may see clearly another day, don’t be to quick to shrug things off, I hope I have learned to listen more intently to this friend as he seems to see things the first time, things which most don’t.

One League Ahead, Follow the Trail (Aspen)

Determining the validity of supposed Spanish Carvings on Trees

Determining the validity of supposed Spanish Carvings on 
Old Aspen, Pine and other Trees.

Part One

Since the 1500’s up until even as late as the early 1900’s Spanish explorers have been visiting the mountains of Utah. As a result of these many expeditions in the lust for gold literally hundreds of treasure stories have emerged. The History of Utah according to the teachings of academia would have us believe that the only Spanish explorer that ever came into Utah was Dominguez Escalante in 1776. Little did those who created the historic curriculum for our Utah schools know, but Escalante was merely following some very old trails.

The evidences in the Uinta Mountains and surrounding are many, much of which is kept secret by the finders as they know what they have found but don’t know what to do with it, old newspaper articles and pioneer journals will testify to the many expeditions into the mountains of Utah.

Many of these evidences I have seen for myself and being somewhat skeptical years ago, but thirsty for the truth of the matter, I chose to approach this new hobby with an open mind but each story had to pass my tests of scrutiny.

A Very old and tired Aspen…  my first aspen find
(This symbol simply means, turn around and go one league at 120 degrees)

Many would have us believe that the carvings found on the trees are done by bored sheep herders and are nothing more than doodling and for the most part this may be true. For years I was told and believed the aspen trees will only live to be about 150 years old and therefore cannot bear authentic carvings from a few hundred years ago. One day after finding the tree in the above image, I decided to test that theory by bringing with me a fellow researcher whose job at the time with BLM was land management and in part determining the age of trees with the use of an increment borer.

The above Aspen was barely alive when I first found it in 1999 (Now Dead) This tree dated at just under 500 years of age, not 150 feet from it is another near the same age and bearing a similar carving and as of the summer of 2016 was still alive.

The suspect tree bearing a very unusual and interesting glyph surprised both I and my friend in that the tree dated by core sample as being just short of 500 years old, keep in mind the tree had heart rot and so it became necessary to find a healthy tree near by for comparative sample.  How long the glyph had been on the tree is unknown as there is no way as of yet to date the glyphs on Aspens. The short of this is, don’t believe everything you are told, especially by the so called experts, put it to the test. The following tree is located about 150 feet or more up the old unused but still visible trail.

Note the E.C above the glyph which on other trees was associated with a date in the late 1800’s, it is much more recent than the carving just below it.
(Go one league at 120 degrees)

When I began this new hobby some 17 years ago it molded into and fit nicely with my already love of the mountains and deserts and the 15 years of searching, documentation of and study of the Native American Petroglyphs. I did not know it then, but the study of the Native American petroglyph gave me an edge so to speak in the new hobby.

Since this time I have heard many stories, seen many things and met some very good people and some not so good. I have visited several Old confirmed Spanish mines and many mines thought to be old Spanish mines but historic records tell a different story. How does the finder know and confirm an old Spanish mine to be authentic? If you don’t know by the time you finish the book, this hobby may not be for you.

A few years ago a good friend sent me the following photo, at the time the aspen trees bearing carvings in general had understandably taken quite a pounding by skeptics, and he was a bit hesitant to tell me and I must admit, when he told me he had found some glyphs on some aspens I was skeptical, by this time I had seen many personally and many photos sent to me from those wanting to know if what they had found were indeed authentic unfortunately, all to that point in time I believe were not. At this time I had only seen personally the two above which were found by me, the funny thing is, one of them is right next to a well traveled dirt road and had been traveled many times by many treasure hunters and yet it had never been seen.

Maltese Cross Expedition Symbol with map below it.

This tree using an increment borer dates at 295 years old. Notice how much the tree has expanded horizontally(circumference), the map matches the below drainages found below near perfect.

When I saw the above photo I knew we had a winner, I called my friend immediately and scheduled a trip to the area. What I found most interesting is, according to the “grape vine” here in Utah, Mel Fisher is rumored as to saying that because of “Things” he found on the Spanish Galleon the Atocha, he knew that a majority of what was on the ship when it sank, came from the Uinta mountains, keeping in mind the Atocha sank in 1622. Prior to Mel Fishers passing, it is also rumored by those who sold him supplies that Mel spent two years in Utah looking in certain areas. It is also rumored by the same that his daughter spent two years looking in the same places after his passing. Is it possible the Spaniards have been coming to the area of Utah since the early 1600’s? As far as I am concerned, the answer is yes.

Upon arrival at this site and examining the tree and testing the age of it, it was quite apparent the carving was genuine. We set out covering the area in order to locate what we knew was near by and that is, further instructions. The hardest part was determining which way the trail went as the trail was long lost as the dead fall had long covered it. We knew further instruction waited further up the trail, but which way was up? Common sense says the opposite direction the glyph faced.

Within 100 feet or more we found another tree with a double or split cache glyph, now we knew we had a good direction, another 100 yards we found what we were looking for, a Turtle carved on a tree with other symbols, a heart which would be indication of a Kings mine and further up the non existent trail, a one league symbol.

What had we learned so far? Well we knew it was related to a documented expedition, but which one? We knew now that we had a cache site as well, due to “Other things” found accustom to a cache site and necessary for navigation to find said cache generally found at “certain types” of cache locations. We also knew we had a mine site at least one league away, and it was a Kings Mine.

In looking at this site and seeing where it was located, I knew we had possibly found one of the things Mel Fisher was looking for. A well known map by certain groups which surfaced many years ago is dated around 1770 and covers this particular area, Could it be related? Although it is at this time thought to be impossible to date the actual carving in an aspen we know by the age of the trees they are found on that the symbols or glyphs could be no more than 250 years as the trees would have to be at least 40 to 50 years or more to be desirable enough to use for a carving. These trees were near 300 years of age.

However, was there anything on the map that verifies what we were looking at? Quite possibly but it is not yet confirmed and we are not certain that it can be, but it comes down to “perspective” what exactly did the map maker intend? What was his perception of things? On the map is what I call a cache symbol and in this case a “Split Cache” or two caches. And we have a tree with the same glyph, however from my perception; I had suspected an area a few miles further west when I first received the map a few years before.

Split Cache, or Two Caches

A split cache occurs when one expedition enters an area for mining and for what ever reason is unable to take all their spoils and they are forced to leave a portion and some times all of it behind, I can think of several reasons as to why this happens. If a surplus is left behind and it is a first time cache you might expect to find the following symbol, one found on an aspen and another example found on a pine.

This symbol meaning “cache” and “180 degrees” faces the cache site some 20 feet away which appears to be a collapsed concealed mine tunnel and with a trickle of water coming out from it...

Although I have never made an attempt to prove the above cache, a friend of mine took me serious and made a fair attempt, he says they dug back into the hill where it was evidenced of a collapsed tunnel, it was quite clear we were following a slowly declining tunnel.

Notice the writing at the right of the above cache symbol? Notice the width of expansion of the vertical lines? Now look at the expansion of the vertical lines in the cache symbol, this will give at least an idea of age. By the way, these were made with a single knife blade incision. The date associated with the writing to the right of the symbol is in the 1920’s made by a finder of the tree and likely never knew what it meant.

Cache Symbol on a pine, this tree, now lying dead on the ground and was alive and well when I found it in about 1998. Pine carvings can be dated but I have not dated this one and should before it is impossible to do.

If another expedition follows the next year or even years later by another expedition leader, I am sure he is approached by the previous expedition leader who has interest in the previous cache left behind and swings some sort of deal should he have room to bring it back. However if the following expedition is successful as well having a surplus, or maybe the Indians killed some of their mules and or men both of which are necessary, it will be cached along with the first and stamped with the leaders expedition mark and you now have a split cache.

Apparently the leader of the 1770 expedition knew there was a split cache ahead OR, was the map drawn by him after the expedition as documentation of the charted course? It would likely be the later but we cannot be sure. If the map was his guide into the mountains, was he successful? Was he able to retrieve the two caches?

Here are a few photos of aspens thought to be authentic by some still to this day despite the core samples evidencing the contrary. Some are even regarded as such by a few self proclaimed “experts.”

Gold? Maybe, if carved by someone who found gold after 1950 as the tree was only 50 to 80 years old.

Some times a carving is jumbled just enough where at first glance it would appear to be of a Spanish origin, the following is one found by a self proclaimed expert but no matter what I tried to tell him he would not believe. He is convinced it is an authentic Spanish carving although he had no idea what it said and believed the date to be 1734, he is so convinced that his photo I took using his camera, is proudly displayed on his living room wall. A simple internet search showed that MARVA ATWOOD was alive and well living in the Basin in 1934. Ignorance can be a dangerous thing, be leery of those who beat their own chest.


When trying to make the determination as to whether an aspen carving fits the time frame or any tree with a mark for that matter, Try using an increment borer, you can get them at any forestry supply for $150 to $200. The Aspen does not react to a carving the same as a pine carving. The Spanish usually carved their message in an aspen with a simple splitting of the bark; they did not gouge out wide letters and such. Each aspen will also react to the carving a little different than others however of the majority, the vertical line will simply broaden with time but make sure it was created with a simple incision; if you look close you can see the scar of the original cut.  Look at this example and note how each has resulted differently in its growth.

Now it is presumed each tree just feet from each other was carved near the same time yet look at the differences, Both say BLACK HAWK and it is debated among many as to whether Black Hawk himself carved these some time during the Black Hawk wars. There is no doubt they could easily be from the time frame but did Black Hawk know how to write? It is more likely an indication of the Black Hawk mine being near by. Look closely and you can see the single incision.
Another Aspen with a questionable carving on it is found high on the mountain next to an old trail going up the mountain, it says, IW DP Oct 1736. If this carving is authentic, the tree would have to be no less than 300 years old. Notice the branch that has grown up from the side since the carving was done, it is assumed as such as it would seem almost impossible to carve with the branch present.

The date 1736 is off to the right between the branch and tree.
Notice how wide the W has spread and the growth splits in it, also note the letters stick out from the tree near 1 and ½ inches.

This tree is still in question as I have never cored it, I just can’t see the tree being 300 plus years old, and perhaps I am wrong... When dealing with Aspens the likelihood of it bearing an authentic carving from the Spanish era is slim but, as you can see it is not impossible. Each year that passes this likelihood grows smaller and smaller. When in doubt, core sample the tree and don’t be surprised if the tree has heart rot, if it does, estimate the diameter of the rotted portion, then find a healthier tree near the same diameter as the rotted part and core sample it, add that to the good portion from the suspect tree and this will serve as a good representative example.

UPDATE: This tree died about 10 years ago, I recently went back to try to authenticate it unfortunately all I have to go on is a representative examples, based on this and general appearance, I believe the carving to be authentic, the bark of this tree bearing the carving is now in my possession.

Another trail symbol or glyph is the turtle, many would equate this glyph with a cache and it is in part true, but to be honest it is more used as a trail marker to a mine or cache. There is also what we have come to call a Cache Turtle, found very near the cache, however in order to have a cache turtle, other symbols and things must be present used in navigating the turtle in order to pin point the cache. I wish I could say more.

It has been said that the turtles head points to the cache, this is only true when you find a simple trail marker turtle indicating direction however, if you were to find a cache turtle, I can promise you the head does not point to the cache, again I wish I could say more.

The Turtle

Now the other symbols associated with this particular site have been left out of the photo however notice how the Aspen tree has expanded and distorted the head, if you were not in the right perspective mind, you might just walk right past this one. The trail marker turtle will look very much like this one.

There is more to the use of the turtle than meets the eye, the use of the Turtle used by the Spaniards was adopted from the Aztec, the Aztec used the same symbol to guide their way back to one of their most ancient homes the area of Aztlan, (The Place of the Heron), or Turtle Island, and there is only one place where all of these things are found but you will not know this place unless you really do your research. The Spaniard  equated the symbol in part with wealth likely having been told by the Aztec it was used to lead to Turtle Island or their ancient home. But what the Spaniard heard was that it lead to Gold!

Very seldom if ever will you find an Aztec Turtle, if so it is going to be in the form of a petroglyph, the ancients did not carve on trees by the simple fact that it would be like carving up a part of their mother. Interestingly enough, the highest concentration of Turtle Carvings and monuments made by the Spanish found, is on and around none other than what use to be Turtle Island. If you understand the people who occupied this land before the Spanish arrived by study, you understand the Spanish in ways not thought of.

The trail marks you may find along the old trails are many and it would be impossible to list them all which is not my intent in this work, however my goal is to just open the mind a bit so as to help the reader be ready for what ever circumstance may come and whatever carving they may find so that they can make an intelligent decision instead of relying on a proclaimed expert of which I do not profess, how ever I do like to think I am a good observer and good student. I would suggest getting a copy of Waybill to Lost Spanish Mines and Treasures by Gale Rhoades. The book had become so rare at one point I saw a copy sell for $1100, not long after I paid 300 for mine, recently I saw two unused copies sell for $10. I also have heard the book has now been reprinted. Should you get a copy of the book although I feel it is fairly accurate, question all it says and put it to the test and it would be fair to tell you, the contents of this book comes from an earlier book.

This tree carving was thought to be impossible to find, in fact, when I first saw it, I did not know it was a tree carving because the first I ever seen it was on a map. In going through some of the old maps I had been given to study, this carving was on one that I had taken interest in, however the mark on the map as interesting as it was, (Swastika with a large dot) I did not for a minute think it had anything to do with what my interest was in the map. I called a friend of mine to ask questions about the origins of the map, if anyone would know, he would. None to my surprise he was very helpful in understanding some things about the area and the map.

   Photo courtesy of Stephen B. Shaffer                      as it appears on the map

Surprised by his statements he then told me he had a picture of it and that it was found on an old Aspen 25 years prior. If he had not taken pictures at that time and knew where it was found and which way it was facing, the meaning of it would no doubt be lost for good. Today I cannot express the importance of taking pictures and getting a GPS coordinate and mark it on a physical map. Although there are a few plausible theories as to what this means, Because of where it was found, the direction it faces and other things nearby, It is believed by myself to mean, you are approaching a junction of 4 trails coming together, take the fork to the right to go to a cache, cave or mine, This particular trail without a doubt leads to an old mine but, because this fit beautifully with the part of the map I was interested in, it is my estimate the large dot represents not only the hypothesis of representing a large cave, but also a large cache. In the original photo sent to me, I count 22 bullet holes, of all the things that could possibly happen to destroy something of historical significance, man is the worst enemy history has.