Is there gold buried under the mission?
by Richard Senate
Ventura County has some exotic treasure yarns that implies that treasures still are to be found here. These include the lost padre’s gold mine (at the headwaters of Piru Creek) to the lost Olivas Gold (buried on Red Mountain) But few realize that some treasures exist within the city limits of Ventura! This is a partial list of the lost gold rumored hidden beneath our feet. Now are these just stories or could they really exist? You be the judge. Have they been found but not reported? Perhaps but still, they are worth examination.
The Lost Mission Vault. The story is that the padre’s of Mission San Buenaventura operated a gold mine and formed the gold into crude ingots. They were taken down the Santa Clara River Valley and stored in a hidden vault at the mission Church. Once a year a black painted galleon of the Jesuit Order would come and take away the gold for the use of his Holiness the Pope in Rome. The galleons stopped coming with the Mexican War for Independence and the gold is still there! Some say it was within the thick walls of the church, others say it was under the Mission Padre’s Quarters, still others believe it is located in an underground room in the hill behind the church.
The iron bound chest at the Cross. In 1818 a pirate threatened California so the mission treasures were hidden and the settlement abandoned for several weeks. They saw the pirates as godless men who would be repelled by the cross–so they buried the contents at the foot of the cross on the hill. Native people saw them and curious dug up the goods, only to re-bury them on the hill. When they padres returned the treasure chest had vanished. The present site of the cross was not the original location. Maybe the rusted chest could be found with a metal detector?
The gangster’s loot. In prohibition times gangsters smuggled Canadian Whiskey into LA though Ventura. The ships would carry in the booze and fast boats would take it ashore, all the while avoiding the Coast Guard Cutters. The ship captains demanded to be paid in cash. So, the gangsters brought cash in suitcases to pay them. This was hidden in a tunnel under the city. But, before the ship came, an earthquake caved in the tunnel and buried the bag of cash. Those gold certificates would be worth a fortune today!