Spanish Treasure Cave - Located between Gravette and Sulphur Springs
Just after you cross over the border at the N. W. corner of Arkansas you enter a cave riddle area. The cave in the past are know to be used by outlaw and Indians. The caves provided shelter and a warm place in the winter and a cool place in the summer.
But there is one legend that talks about Spanish gold being buried in the cave. Maybe as much as 9.5 million dollars worth as it was told. The story goes that about 275 years ago the Spanish army came through Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma into Arkansas. As they traveled they robbed Churches and took anything they could find of value. It is said by the time they reached accumulated about 9.5 million dollars in gold. But a blizzard came in and the Spaniards took cover in a cave near Gravette, Arkansas. A fire was built inside the cave to keep the Spanish Conquistadors warm. But the smoke from the fire was seen by local Indians who attacked and killed most of the Spaniards.
Someone must have escaped from the Indian attack. Early settlers talk about the arrival of an old Spaniard by stage coach in October of 1885. With him he brought three old parchment maps that point to a particular cave in that area. The man had rode in from Mexico and was very hard to understand, but didn't get across that he planned to stay a while. That he was looking for a cave in the area.
Some locals help his look for the cave. The word got out by word of mouth he was looking for a cave with a big flat rock covering the opening. On that rock a deer foot was carved into the rock. It wasn't long before someone reported that a rock with some funny markings on had been found. When they took the old Spaniard to see the rock he got very excited and ask the owner who lived in a near by cabin for permission to move the rock. When they did they found a cave located behind the rock.
An old pioneer cabin that sits near the entrance to the Old Spanish Treasure Cave. It is believed to be the oldest standing log cabin in Benton County.
The old Spaniard hire a group of men to start excavating the cave and found a large natural entrance and an angled passageway way that appeared to have been covered up. The Spaniard would look at his maps which only he could read and give the men direction of where to dig each day. Where he said there he said there would be landmarks in the cave the, they were usually right where he said they would be. The Spaniard stayed for about a year and as the fall weather set in, he decided he needed to go further south where it was warmer because his health wasn't good. He left enough money to pay the men to continue to dig.
A postcard of the entrance to Spanish Treasure Cave from probably from around the 1940's
But before he left he shaved the bark off of a tree until he got to the smooth surface of the inside of the tree. On the tree he traced a map of everything they had already done, and where he wanted the works to continue to work inside the cave. Once they reached that point they were to write to two address. One being in Madrid, Spain, and the other in Mexico. They were told once they wrote to those addresses that people would come and guide then on additional excavation. He took his charts and left never to be seem in the area again.
What happened to the old Spaniard knew until about 35 years later. Someone from the local area from around the cave had gotten a job in Oklahoma. He was working in Paul's Valley, Oklahoma when he met someone who had asked about caves in on the Missouri-Arkansas border. He said an old Spaniard had stop there years earlier, he had come down with a case of pneumonia. No one in his family could much understand the man. He had a number of map with him that he said if something should happen to him the map should be sent to Madrid , Spain. They apparently knew the maps were from the N.W. corner of Arkansas, but not for sure where. The maps kind of bounced from family member to family member until they were lost.
We know whoever has owned the cave since then has continued to look for the treasure. We know the cave has been a place for groups visiting Sulphur Springs to go visit in the 1900's. It is said that in 1908 a man by the name George Dunbar who owned the cave at that time had some found gold coins and a bracelet. The current owner has found a sword blade and a belt. He started a mining operation called the Sulphur Springs Cave Company, which was a cover up to try finding the buried treasure. Recently old railway line was found from in the cave from this time. Donkeys would pull the ore cart through the cave. Also 1908 the Gravette Commercial Club tried to get an electric railway build from Sulphur Springs to the Spanish Treasure Cave, but this apparently never happened. But it wasn't until the 1930's that it opened as a tourist attraction open to the public.
From a 1926 newspaper article we know there was extensive excavation done previous to that time. Apparently at that time the tree that was marked by the old Spaniard was still there. But it was overgrown with bark by that time since it had been many years. The new owner W. W. Knight of Kansas City, at that time employed scientist to do a survey of the cave. The cave has exchanged hands many times over the years.
The most recent owners our Paul and Tracy Linscott who have owned the cave for the last 23 years. Although Linscott can't confirm the stories of hidden Spanish treasure in the cave, he hopes to find more proof the Spaniards were in the cave a long time ago.
One summer there was a severe drought in our area. Which allowed them to access part of the cave usually under water. They found some symbols that looked like a candy Cane and an eye with some squiggle lines. They turned to where the eye would be looking. They found a small space and looking in they saw a little room with a long pool in it. They started to dig to make the entrance large enough to get in the room. In the process they. In the process of there digging they found wood encased in the clay. But before they could gain access to the room. It rain again and the water table rose again in the cave to where they no longer had access to that part of the cave. There waiting for the next drought in the area to explore that part of the cave further.
Last summer Linscott said they have found another passage they call the Lost Miner's Tunnel. They finally got into it and are now trying to figure out where it goes.
But now the main reason you should visit the cave. The Old Spanish Treasure Cave is a living cave which means it formations are still growing. The cave contains stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws, flowstone, large columns and more. The temperature in the cave stays a constant 56 degrees year around. The path inside the cave is well lit. The cave is open ever day during the summer and reduced hours during the winter.
Here are some old views of the interior of the cave from some old postcard
The main source for this piece was: Old West Magazine Winter, 1983 article by Sarae Michael Also from several online pages.