It was not until some five years later that the memory dislodged itself and came floating down through the ether by way of a
black book with red lettering sitting on the store shelf of a small shop in Jerome, Arizona.  It read Death Traps to Treasure,
Spanish and Mexican Mine Traps, Warning Signs and Symbols. I grasped the glossy cover and flipped through the pages. I
did not notice much, if any, similarity with Emmett’s map other than three crosses on an arc which apparently were intended
to be a warning sign of death traps, but the crosses were on an upper arc not a lower one. Quickly I produced my plastic
credential and was out the door proudly with my new manifest. When I arrived home I Googled the author and found another
book Spanish Monuments and Trail Markers.  Euphoric and with a sense of accomplishment I ordered it ‘next day air’
determined I was now going to unlock the puzzle.

It is mesmerizing how tenacious and creative the Spaniards had been in creating their elaborate trail systems. I read about
Heart Monuments, Mule Monuments, Royal Poodle Monuments, Bird Monuments, Indian Monuments and Compass Rocks.
Intriguing, I thought, but some are so subtle I doubt I would recognize them even if the Royal Poodle bit me in the ass. I
placed both books on my shelf with the other partially read books in my collection. My intent, of course, was some day to
finish each and every one of them. Again more immediate distracting adventures waylaid me.

It was a Death Valley venture like most, tooling along backcountry roads, the sun bright, casting clean crisp shadows onto
the sparkling desert sand, when I noticed in a rock pile, a pile I had driven past many times, a boulder that just did not fit
with the rest of its accompaniment. I stomped on the brake, bringing the Toyota to a dust billowing halt. I could not believe
it, there it was, what appeared to be a compass rock. It sat just as the book described it, elevated by other stones and light
shown under it indicating it was arranged by man. I grabbed my camera taking pictures from many angles until I was out of
film. Now what do I do with it? I rushed home ferociously digging through my pile of books.

On a whim I Googled Spanish Monuments and to my surprise the search revealed a book I did not own. It had a title
designed to be remembered, Turtles Lead to Treasure, A Guide To Spanish Trail Monuments written by Calvin Keys. In his
book he outlines the system the Spanish used to mark their trails and yards. Calvin writes “I have come to know the symbolic
language well after studying Spanish Monuments for more than twenty years, comparing many sites and numerous
monuments and across several states in the Southeast.” His book is a fascinating journey into realms the producers of Indiana
Jones could only dream. I found this book, with its many photos, filled in large gaps of missing information but I still could
not fit all the pieces of this elaborate puzzle together.

I scanned the old photos of my compass rock and emailed them off to Calvin. In a short time through the electronic labyrinth
of the Internet came a reply. ”…After viewing your photos, I cannot rule in or out exactly what part of a trail those boulders
represent...What I do see is the light hole…you can almost never get a direction by looking through the light hole. They are
usually in line with something, or other light holes, but not facing the other symbols. At least the ones that give direction.
When following a trail, you just follow along below the ridges and watch for more light holes…Keep looking for more light
holes and climb any ridges that you think could have yard monuments…”

After reading Calvin’s email our intent was to head back to the light hole and start a new search from there but in the shadow
filled evening, while waiting for friends to arrive at camp, we ventured out on a short hike. Much to our surprise we found
another light hole almost immediately, along with a few other monuments. Through the smoke and the crackle, and glowing
embers of the campfire we discussed the evening’s find. I settled in for the night wondering what tomorrow would bring.
Overnight the condensation froze to the glass of the camper shell creating tiny crystalline structures that ceded to water
drops in the morning sun. A few drips on my sleeping bag and my fitful sleep came to an abrupt end. With coffee swirling in
the brisk morning air the plan was made.

We were going to head to the newly discovered light hole and check out the monuments. After a hard days hiking, over a
few ridge lines, we found that the monuments led right back to the first light hole I had discovered! Although a good
distance away it was clearly visible through the binoculars. From here, we decided the next morning we would go back to
the original light hole I found years ago and see if it would really lead us through to the newly discovered monuments. With
a new perspective it was now clear that the signs were indeed pointing to our new find.  We now located one section of the
trail. From here we have been working remotely with Calvin to decipher where it leads and with his help we have gained a
greater understanding of Spanish Monuments and also a great respect for the skill and perseverance of those that created

So it appears that we inadvertently stumbled onto something that is not directly related to the 1834 date or the petroglyph,
but could be a significant chapter in the history of Death Valley. Perhaps the 1834 date was inscribed by someone who had
knowledge of the Spanish and their mines. Who later came back to relocate the mine or mines after the Spanish were forced
out of Mexico and Alta California? One thought I have often pondered is who built the stone corral in Pleasant Canyon? I
have read that it was used as a landmark on many old maps and it was assumed that it was built by Indians but maybe there
is another answer…

As Calvin would say, be safe, beware the death traps and do not play fetch with the Royal Poodle no matter how much he

Happy Trails - Matt

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved  
Turtles Lead to
Treasure -

Calvin Keys
Death Traps to
Treasure -

Wandering with Matt & Kat
Spaniards in Death Valley?
A number of years ago, when diskettes were still in vogue, Emmett
Harder mailed a few pictures. One was of a stone with an 1834
inscription and on the same stone next to the date appeared to be a
brand. With this picture Emmett included a photo of a large
petroglyph with three crosses on the lower arc of an inner circle and a
number of other symbols. Intrigued, I queried Emmett about both. He
explained he was told that the petroglyph was a Spanish Map. Now
my pregnant mind swirled with thoughts of 1834 and Spanish Maps. I
set out to see what information I could uncover. My thoughts were
wild and ideas rampant. Were the date and the map intertwined, or
just found in the same general area by happenstance? What was the
significance of the brand? Could it be from a Spanish Land Grant
Family? The date appeared too out of synch to be considered of
Spanish origin. Unfortunately my curiosity peaked and my research
waned and I was off onto some other ADD driven venture. There, in
my desk, the photos sat, captured in a tiny little green Diskette for a
number of dust-covered years.
When it arrived my anticipation crashed on the floor and meekly
crawled away. This was not what I expected. There were pictures of
rocks, rocks and more rocks. Confined within the glossy cover pages was
not a single hint of anything that resembled a petroglyph. My hopes
dashed, onto the rocks of course, but having contributed steeply to the
FedEx retirement plan, I felt as if I should give it more than just a
cursory glance. I read the King of Spain required that all trails to and
from mines be marked with monuments that would allow the King or
any of his regency to locate the mine. These monuments were
constructed according to the King’s rules and as such would carry the
same meanings anywhere in the world although the style could be
slightly different, based on the artist. Really they were an early form of
road signs designed to direct those that knew to look for them and how
to interpret them back to a mine or treasure. If the miners met an untimely end, the trail could be followed simply enough
and production brought back to pace.

I read and re-read the information about compass rocks. Armed with
the books I set back out to investigate this boulder more thoroughly.
At that time I had a preconceived idea of where the boulder was
pointing, but upon inspection it did not appear to line up with
anything prominent in either direction. Looking high, low and
through the light hole did not yield anything. I was lost. I had what I
thought was something but maybe I was just wishing it to be. I
needed some assistance with this and remembered in the back of
one of the books it read “I’ll help if I can, write me. Chuck.”

I wrote what I thought was a cleverly penned letter and in
anticipation, I checked the mail regularly but as each day passed
without a response my hopes diminished. After about a month I
decided that really there was not going to be a response. I learned
at a much later date that Charles Kenworthy had passed into the
great beyond. I searched the Internet and acquired numerous books
on Spanish Monuments and Trail Markers but still was not able to
decipher what heading I should take. In frustration and without
much advancement the books were tossed back onto the shelf.
Periodically I toyed with the idea of picking up the trail but much
like a cold case detective I had nothing to go on.
With that, a cross-country collaboration and
friendship started. Still intrigued by the possibilities,
I also sent Calvin pictures of Emmett’s petroglyph.  
He responded; “Those are interesting images. I have
seen several Spanish maps and a few etched
symbols. I don't have a clue about these though.
When you find a typical group of Spanish
monuments, you will enter a whole different world of
exploring after that. Look for large free standing
boulders that are spaced from other boulders or look
for groups of a few boulders that stand out from the
normal material. Boulders that have a smooth
rounded appearance from a distance may be
carved. Monuments are what you want to find and
what the search is all about. You may see a single
cross or some other symbol on the way but look for
profile heads, and that one group of boulders that
stands out from the normal stuff in the area. ”
Monuments are the whole basis of the Spanish trail and yard system. The light holes are the best trail markers, but they did
not only create light holes all the way. Hearts and dog heads were used along the way to a yard as well. The hearts are
mainly monument in shape versus being carved into rock. Signs and symbols were mostly used in the yard. Symbols mostly
look much like what you see in my book...not so much etched, but shaped into the rock.
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