Monday, August 13, 2012

Charles Kenworthy: Treasure Hunter

August 6, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Charles “Chuck” Kenworthy was probably one of the world’s renowned treasure hunters. He was an intelligent man who formed a treasure company that sought treasure all over the world. Chuck formed the Quest Exploration Group better known as the Quest Corporation to hunt treasure worldwide. His major projects included sites in Peru, Cocos Islands, Catalina Island, Bahamas, Florida, Arizona, Virginia and California.

Chuck decided in 1973 he needed a better way to approach treasure hunting. He had used most of his resources, but had limited success as an amateur. He convinced the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) scientist to team up with him on treasure hunting. The equipment developed by the Stanford scientist provided Kenworthy an all-new research tool for treasure hunter. He now could X-ray a mountain or use a Magnometer on the ocean floor. This modern equipment redefined the term “treasure hunting.”

Kenworthy then approached John Wayne to rent his yacht, the Wild Goose, for a treasure search near Catalina Island in 1975. However, Wayne insisted on being partners with Kenworthy. Chuck accepted
Wayne’s offer and was searching for a Manila galleon that sank around Catalina Island. They found no gold, but they did find copper bullion. Soon after this expedition Kenworthy looked toward Arizona and the Superstition Mountains.

Chuck’s personality could be very infectious. He knew how to present his case and had the tenacity of a man with a dedicated mission in life— and that was to find treasure. He let nothing stand in his way, but always maintained his integrity, ethics and professionalism.

Charles Kenworthy contacted me in 1977. He told me he wanted to make a trip into the Superstition Wilderness Area to a location called Charlebois Spring and an area just west of Black Mountain (Charlebois Mountain). We communicated several times about his plans.

After we met in 1977 he wanted as much information about the Superstition Mountains as I could provide him. He wanted to know about the trails, permanent springs, camp areas and local outfitters. He indicated John Wayne was his partner. I contacted Everett “Arkie” Johnston and Bud Lane, who owned and operated the Peralta Pack Outfit and Stables on South Meridian Road in Apache Junction. Johnston and Lane became Kenworthy’s trusted packers for several years until they closed their stables. Chuck then moved his packing operation to Ron Feldman’s O.K. Corral toward the end of 1983.

During the winter 1977-1978 Charles Kenworthy set up a camp at Charlesbois Springs and started exploring the area to the immediate east against Black Mountain. He was convinced the Peralta Stone Maps
fit the area around Charlebois Springs. He said the “heart” was located immediately above the springs and the cartographer who made the Peralta Stone Maps stood on a point along the eastern ridgeline of
Bluff Springs Mountain providing the perfect detail illustrated on the Stone Maps.

I made two or three trips into the mountains with Kenworthy. He spent a remarkable amount of time trying to convince me the Peralta Stone Maps were authentic. He took me by helicopter over the area and even had the pilot illegally land on Bluff Springs Mountain so he could point out to me where “El Gato”, the Peralta Stone Map artist, had stood to do his work. Chuck was adamant about his belief in the Stone Maps.

I will never forget the time I rode into the mountains with a geologist from the University of California. Chuck wanted the geologist’s opinion of the local strata above Charlebois Spring. The man was not familiar with horses and the trip into the mountains was not good for him. He was so sore he could barely get off his horse. He was convinced he could not ride the eight miles out the next day.

This created quite a dilemma for the wrangler, Bud Lane. We rested the old man for a couple of days and then decided to take him out. He would walk a couple hundred yards then ride a couple hundred yards. It took us nine and half hours to get the old geologist out of the mountains. To be  honest I didn’t think we would get him out alive. Personally, I would have never taken him into the mountains. I never did see this geologist’s report on the area around Charlebois Spring, but I think he was ready to sue Kenworthy for maltreatment even though they were friends.

One of the most interesting incidents I shared with Kenworthy was a map that included many cryptic symbols on it. Chuck believed the map was authentic and I believed it was a fraud. Chuck believed the cryptic writing on the map was some form of ancient Hebrew. He sent the map to Israel by courier to be analyzed by scholars in ancient Hebrew. The scholars studied this map and they concluded some of the symbolism was very similar to ancient Hebrew. Chuck always believed the map was significant, but I still believed it was a fraud. Once Chuck made up his mind there was no changing it.

I remained friends and communicated with Chuck by mail for several years until the time of his death. He authored several books on treasure hunting, treasure signs and how to solve complicated maps, etc. He was often a guest speaker in the Apache Junction area. You might say Chuck was a very intelligent and enigmatic character on the treasure history of the Superstition Wilderness Area. His integrity and ethics appeared to be always intact. He was a gentleman for the most part and respected by many people. Kenworthy’s treasure expeditions left a legacy with our treasure hunting society in the Apache Junction area.

Chuck passed away on Sept. 10, 1998. His wife Agnes and their seven children survived him: Agnes, Kathy, Charles (“Tiger”), John, David, Paul and Michael. His oldest son, Charles, was Chuck’s and the company’s legal counsel.

Charles Anthony Kenworthy was born in Cleveland, Ohio on Dec. 10, 1930. He was a very successful real estate entrepreneur who retired from his business 1971 to become a world-renowned treasure hunter.

Undoubtedly Charles Kenworthy was one the best known international treasure hunters to set foot in the Superstition Wilderness Area.