The Army abruptly halted an underground treasure hunt here today after a search team found five sticks of moldering dynamite deep inside this remote mountain.
It was dynamite and it was dangerous," said Maj. James Cheatem, chief of security for White Sands Missile Range, where the moutain is located.
Three members of the Army's explosive ordnance disposal unit were hellcoptered in and about 60 reporters and search team members were cleared off the 1,500-foot rocky peak shortly after noon.
The ordnance disposal team and a professional underground explorer gingerly carried the five dynamite sticks up a twisting passageway from 400 feet inside the mountain. Neither the military nor members of Expeditions Unlimited, which is leading the hunt here, said they knew how the dynamite got there.
The dynamite, several tin cans, a teakettle asnd apair of red corduroy trousers were discovered late Sunday by the first search team to enter the mountain legally since 1963. The team is looking for a lengendary gold board estimated to be worth as much as $250 billion, and has benn given 10 days by the Army to find it.
Earlier today, the gold hunters turned their attention to a second site.
Norman Scott, head of Expeditions Unlimited, said a bulldozer would try to open a hol in an area called Bloody Hands, about a mile and a half from the peak.
He said "electronic radar and other electronic surveillance equipment" would be used to determine if there is a cave in that area and if there is gold in the cave.
The searchers opened nnd entered the first hole Sudnay, on the east side of the peak. It led to a cave that some of the treasure's claimants said could be linked to a large cavern containing the gold.
Using a backhole today, they enlarged the hole and were trying to excavate another 300 feet into the peak to reach the big room.
A professional spelunker, or cave expert, and two men who said they had seen the teasure years ago inside to peak entered the narrow slit dug in the peak on the restricted missile range Sunday afternoon.
The men said they crawled on their stomachs down a dusty passage. When their rope gave out at 212 feet, Leonard Flege and Jack Hull stopped there and the spelunker, Jerry Lee, continued another 100 feet into a cave.
Hull said he hoped to dig into a mound of dirt Lee noticed to one side of the cave. Lee said the cave is connected by a tiny hole to a big room "where the calling has obviously fallen in."
Several persons who claim to have seen the legendary Victorio Peak treasure havesaid it is in that room.
The late Milton (Doc) Noss said he found a cache of gold bullion, coins and artifacts in the rugged limestone mountain in 1937.
Noss' widow, Ova, now 80, watched the exploration after she was driven up the peak in a military vehicle.