Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Legend and Lore of the Guadalupe Mountains

I’ve been researching lost and buried treasures as I plot the next book in my treasure hunting romantic adventure series. The first book in the Southwest Treasure Hunters series is The Mad Monk’s Treasure. The Dead Man’s Treasure is book 2. For book 3, I need ideas….

Legend and Lore of the Guadalupe Mountains
W. C. Jameson
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Pages: 157
ISBN: 0826342175
Paperback $15

The Guadalupe Mountains are in West Texas (near El Paso) and southeastern New Mexico. The mountain range includes the highest peak in Texas at 8749 feet, Guadalupe Peak, as well as the dramatic El Capitan peak. Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico are within the mountain range. The range extends from desert and grasslands to forested upland, with steep, rocky trails, and stories of giant rattlers and even jaguars.

This book starts with an overview of the land, people, and history, including the Spanish, Mescalero Apache, US military, and miners. Some chapters cover general history. Others describe mysteries or paranormal episodes. Some visitors have claimed to hear strange drumming sounds and seen campfires or smoke, though no source was ever found. One legend tells of a ghost crewmember from a bomber plane that went down in the mountains the 1940s.

Rattlesnake Canyon in the Guadalupes
You will also find stories of specific treasures, hidden by bandits or by the Spanish who mined gold ore and hid it in various caves and crevices. In one case, two men stole military rifles from the US Army Calvary during the 1880s. They buried these in several places and added headstones to make the sites look like graves, believing most people would not disturb a grave. In fact, these caches remained intact until the grandson of one of the men located the graves in the 1960s.

Several of the stories are tragic. Some people wasted their lives looking for mines they never found. One chapter describes a Native American village found with everyone mysteriously dead, despite no visible wounds.

Overall, this book is lively nonfiction – or mostly nonfiction, as  the author suggests thoughts and feelings for the people in the stories. While these assumptions are reasonable, it's unlikely he had documentation as proof in all cases. The book does, after all, claim to be "legend and lore," not an academic treatise. It's fairly clear which stories are based on fact and which on less-proven material. A scattering of historic photos adds visual appeal.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is "one of the nation's most pristine wilderness areas," according to the government website, known for hiking, backpacking, and birding. The park includes a visitor center, campgrounds, The Frijole Ranch History Museum, an abandoned ranch house, white Salt Basin Dunes, and picturesque canyons. Visitors are unlikely to find treasure in the form of cached gold, but scenic treasures and adventures abound.

Each novel stands alone and is complete, with no cliffhangers. This series mixes action and adventure with "closed door" romance. The stories explore the Southwest, especially New Mexico.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure:

A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic—and deadly—New Mexico desert....

The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends—a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider.

When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy?

Just how far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she’s really made of?

“The story has it all—action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship....”

Read the first three chapters at

Rebecca Westin’s grandfather left her a buried treasure – if she can decipher a complex series of clues leading to it. Her half-siblings are determined to reach the treasure first. Good thing Rebecca has help, in the form of a green-eyed charmer determined to make their desert adventure sexy and fun. But a treacherous enemy will do anything to get that treasure – and revenge.

Action and romance combine in this lively Southwestern adventure, complete with riddles the reader is invited to solve to identify historical and cultural sites around New Mexico. 

[public domain photos via National Park Service]