Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Deadly Treasure

A TREASURE MAP. A LOCKET. MURDER. DECEIT. None of these things are on Lexi's mind when she returns home to Park City, Utah, for her grandfather's funeral. That is, until she stumbles across an old diary while cleaning out his attic. Soon Lexi's head is filled with tales of hidden treasure buried deep in the mines of the Uintah Mountains. When the diary is stolen and Lexi realizes her life is in danger, she decides to find out if the stories are true. She heads to the Uintahs in search of the secret mine, with her handsome friend Brad by her side. What they don't know is that someone is following them, someone who will stop at nothing to get the treasure. Soon Lexi and Brad are in a fight for their lives, just as they are starting to realize that there may be more to their relationship than they originally thought. With surprising twists around every corner, expect the unexpected in this thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and mystery.

The Story Behind the Story

When I first began writing Deadly Treasure, I knew certain events would unfold in the book, but I had no idea they would include the real life mysteries of the Lost Rhoades Gold Mines in the Uintah Mountains. What made this particularly exciting was that Thomas Rhoades, the one who retrieved gold from these mountains in the 1800’s and carried the location of the mines to his death, is my husband’s great-great grandfather. Through family documents, I was able to gather information for this fiction work, including the real life murder mystery of Thomas’ son, Enoch Rhoades, who was killed while looking for the gold and whose story is woven through the pages of this book.

In Deadly Treasure, the main character, Lexi, is speaking with and elderly aunt who enlightens her about the mines. Since she can sum up the history of the Rhoades Mines better than I can, I’ll just quote her. Her name is Ethel, by the way.

       “There’re really two ideas about how it all started…First idea began way back when the Aztecs lived in Mexico and were being conquered by the Spaniard, Cortez. Some say the Aztecs traveled to the Uintah Mountains and placed all their valuable gold bars and other treasures in some mines and caves to hide them from the conquerors. The Spaniards then followed to find the gold. The other idea is that the Spaniards found the caves of rich gold and silver ore, smelted it, and compiled their gold bars in a cave until they had enough to take to the coast and sail it home to Spain.

       “But no matter where the gold came from, it’s up there in the Uintahs just as sure as I’m alive. And it’s also cursed.”

       “Cursed?” I hadn’t heard that before and didn’t know if I believed it, either.

       “Yes, cursed. Depending on the legend you believe, some say the Aztecs placed a curse of death on the gold, death to come to any that greedily take it. Others say it was the Spaniards who placed the curse, and others think it was the Utes. Lots of people talk of Indian spirits that protect the gold. But that’s not all…The Indians believed that the mines were sacred, especially a very valuable one, the Carre-Shin-Ob Mine. It’s rumored that the Ute chief was the guardian of the sacred mine, and men and spirits watch it constantly. No one could go near it, or any other mines, except Thomas Rhoades.”

       I couldn’t breath. “Why? What was so special about him?”

      A wrinkled smile formed across her lips, and she looked me in the eye. “He was friendly with the Utes, he knew their language, and the chief knew he wouldn’t take more than he needed.”

      “Wow,” I said. The hairs on my arms straightened. “So do you really believe in the curse?”

      “Well, whether or not there’s really a curse, I don’t know. But I believe the gold is protected. For what reason, I’m not sure. But there’ve been many, many deaths in those mountains, and anyone who’s ever tried to take it or find the gold in greed ends up dying or disappearing. It’s not a coincidence.”

 Many people say that these mines are fictitious because no one has been able to locate them. I happen to believe otherwise. You can research it on your own, but if you get any funny ideas about exploring for gold yourself, just take care not to disappear in the process. J

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