THE LEGEND OF TULAROSA JACK
By Clif McDonald
Tularosa Jack has become a legend because of his vast wealth. He paid for everything with gold nuggets and even gave them to dance hall girls for tips. He was happy go lucky, boisterous, and just a big old good natured man that everybody loved.
I know you have heard lots of different stories about Jack, and the reason they are all different is because I'm the only one who knows the true story. The only reason I know so much about it is because I was his friend and business partner. Jack and I mined together in the early days. We had a mine at White Oaks, one at Hillsborough, and one at Orogrande.
At this particular time I was digging at White Oaks and Jack was digging Hillsborough, when I got a letter from Jack asking me to bring our 20 mule team wagon cause he had a load ready to go to the smelter. I hitched up the mules to the wagon and hitched the pup wagon behind the freight wagon. When I got to Hot Springs, (now known as T. or C.) I knew where to find Jack. So I went to Lula Bell's, and sure enough there was Jack drinking Tequila and teasing the girls. Jack gave me a bear hug and a back slap that almost caused whiplash, then poured me a glass of Tequila cause that's the only thing that will take the alkali dust out of your throat after driving a team all day.
After we had mellowed out and had a steak, old Dock Moss came busting thru the door hollering "I found the Kings Gold!" Well everybody knew what that meant. Way back when Spain ruled this country a regiment of Spanish soldiers were escorting several loads of gold and jewelry. from the North country down to Mexico City then to the Gulf to load it aboard ships to take it to Spain. The convoy got to a peak in the San Andreas Mountains where a lot of old mine shafts were. It was just about sundown so they decided to camp there for the night. Just at that time Chief Victorio and his Apache warriors rode up to the horizon from the other side of the mountain and started sending up smoke signals, and continued to so so until dark.
Well the Spanish captain knew he could defeat Victorio and his warriors, but he was worried about the smoke signals; During the night his men unloaded the gold, put it in one of the mines and placed a large dynamite charge in the opening of the mine so that if things got real bad, they could blast the mine,--close the opening and save the Kings Gold.
Everyone bedded down for the night and just at daylight the Spaniards could still see Chief Victorio and his men on the southern ridge. Just at that minute Geronimo and his warriors rode up from the East, and on the western horizon appeared Cochise and his warriors. Just as the captain was about td give the retreat order, Chief Mangus Colorados and his people covered the north ridge. They had all saw the smoke signals, and the Captain realized they had no chance for victory but he also knew he could not surrender or he would be branded as a traitor, so he told his men to prepare to fight and die.
He summoned his priest and told him to give the men the last rites and put a curse on the gold, the curse was to be that if' anyone ever spent any of the gold or told 'anyone else where it was, they would die.
After this had been done, the captain gave the order to fire the cannons and set off the dynamite to close the mine at the same time.
The battle raged all day. The sun was almost down when the last Spaniard was dead. The four Apache tribes rode in, looted the camp and drove off all the livestock, never suspecting there was lots of gold involved. The Indians named the Mountain Victorio Peak after the battle.
Ever since that time, one of those gold bars turns up and the owner cashes it in then he winds up dead. When Dock Moss came in with that sack of gold bars and dropped them down on our table, it made a sound like a bag of door knobs. I opened the sack and took one out and it was the most gold I had ever seen in one hunk.
Jack said, "Dock, You know about the curse on this gold." Dock kind of snarled and said that was many years ago and the curse is worn out by now. I wanted nothing to do with that Spanish gold so I moved over to the bar and left Jack and Dock at the table. They got drunker and louder as the night wore on. Dock finally passes out and Jack came over to me and said, "lets go to the wagon yard". We walked out into the brightest moonlight you ever saw and Jack said, "he told me where the Kings Gold is hidden". He also cashed one of the bars. He violated both covenants of the curse, so wi will see if he dies. As we reached the livery stable I started to unroll my bed and Jack said, lets hitch up the team and go get the gold. "Are you crazy!"? I asked. "I wouldn't touch it.
Jack pleaded, "Hey look, if the curse is still good, Dock is going to die anyway and if he don't-we will make him a partner. He's blabbing it all over town and someone else will get it that won't cut him in.
Well, we hitched that 20 mule team on those wagons and headed for Victorio Peak. We made good time in the cool night air. When we got to the site I never saw so much gold in my life. Fort Knox must not have this kind of a stash. We loaded up and struck out for our mine in the. Jari1la Mountains near Orogrande. We hid the ore deep inside the mountain. Early next morning we lit out for Orogrande. We went into Tom Bell's place, he sat a bottle up on the bar and asked, "Ya'll hear about Dock Moss?" So I asked him, "What about Dock?" He told us how someone gunned him down over by the Rio Grande River. I looked at Jack knowingly.
After we left Jack said, "The curse is still on but we can beat it. To begin with we can't ever tell anyone where it is. The second part of the curse we can bet. We just melt it and pour it down the cracks in the rocks and dig it back out. We will b e spending gold we have mined instead of spending the Kings Gold."
"Sounds risky to me, "I said, but .lack wouldn't listen. He tried it and it worked for many years and he lived high on the hog for quite some time, but I wouldn't have anything to do with it.
One morning I started out to Jack's mine, got there just at daylight. That happened to be the morning they first tested the atomic bomb up near Carrizozo. When that bomb went off and that mushroom came up out of the desert floor, the whole area shook and the mountains trembled, and I saw Jack's mine cave in on top of him and all that g6ld.
I felt deep sadness for my partner and friend, Tularosa Jack, but then there is an up side. This is the way Jack would have wanted it. He died with more gold than they have in Fort Knox, and he took it with him.
I don't know if the curse is finally worn out, but I ain't taking any chances. I am never going to tell anyone where that gold is until I get ready to die.