Boot of Cortez is the Largest Gold Nugget Found in the West

As stated on the title of this post, the “Boot of Cortez” is the largest gold nugget found in the Western territory. But unlike any other large gold nugget discoveries, this one has an interesting feature and story of the finder on how he was able to uncover it.

Let us first start about the discovery of the Boot of Cortez.

The Location

The story about the discovery of the Boot of Cortez started way back in the year 1989. In the Mexican state of Sonora, there is a place called “Caborca” which is situated close to the “Gran Desierto de Altar”. About 60 miles from the west is the “Sea of Cortez” which is more popularly known as the “Gulf of California”. 70 miles towards the North is the Arizona border.

The Livelihood

Ranching is the main livelihood of Caborca’s community but mining is also a growing interest. There are several mines around the area so as placer deposits at the canyons. The most interesting part is that, some local Mexicans were able to find gold nuggets which influenced more of the community to seek and find their own.

The Unknown Gold-Seeker

Due to some lucky individuals who found gold nuggets, there was a man who was completely determined to find his own treasure. I really tried searching for his true identity but I can’t find any information. It seems that he wanted to remain unknown or anonymous and doesn’t want to become famous.

Amateur Treasure Hunter

Being full of motivation and determination, the local Mexican man decided to visit a Radio Shack store and bought his first inexpensive metal detector. You have to know that metal detectors from the 80’s weren’t as reliable and efficient when compared from the current models of what we have now today. Our cheap metal detector models might be even more powerful than any of the metal detectors available in the late 80’s.

The amateur treasure hunter was so serious about being able to find his own share. So he spent and dedicated most of his time practicing with his newly bought metal detector. He practiced it on his actual testing sites such as on buried coins and many other metallic objects until he was able to master operating his equipment.

Uncovering the Boot of Cortez

After all those actual testing and understanding on how to operate his metal detector, the local Mexican man was now ready to embark on his treasure hunting adventure. So he marked his calendar for his very first day of attempt and went into the desert area where the previous finders were able to find their gold nuggets. There he swung his metal detector by walking slowly just to make sure that he was able to cover and never miss a portion of the area.

If you think that he just went into the site and swung his own equipment just a few times and then luckily he found the Boots of Cortez, you are wrong. He spent several days and many countless boring hours just doing what has been describe above. So despite of disappointment where he recovered tons of junks, he never gave up all because of his overflowing confidence that the treasure was within his reach.

The day finally came when he got a strong signal from his equipment. As compared from any other previous signals, this one was different. So he immediately dug the spot and he just unveiled the top portion of his finding. When he continued digging, he never expected that the gold nugget that he discovered was so large that it is now considered as the “largest gold nugget found from the Western hemisphere”.

So what happened next?

The mysterious Mexican man probably sold his greatest findings because the Boot of Cortez landed into the hands of various owners. It’s actually a huge thanks to these owners that it never came into their own mind to melt the gold nugget and turn it into something else. In fact, they even allowed it to be displayed on museums for the public to see.

Recent museum exhibits of the Boot of Cortez was in 2006 by the American Museum of Natural History. But in January 2008, this precious gold nugget got auctioned and it was sold for a price of $1,553,500.

How exactly was the Boot of Cortez found?

The local Mexican man didn’t find the Boot of Cortez by luck. He just applied some of the basic treasure hunting methods which I covered in some of my older posts. You might say, “It was his metal detector” but not really.


As a treasure hunter, there was a confirmation that gold nuggets were being found on the area by the locals. This should always be the first info that any gold-seeker needs to know about. You really do not want to go searching on a certain random place trying to find gold nugget. If this is the case then you might never find one in your entire life.

Not Fully Explored Area

The area where the Boot of Cortez at the time when it was found was probably not fully explored by many gold-seekers and it happens that the founder was the first one. This is similar to one of the tips I gave on my other post which is to find long forgotten areas or abandoned places as the best sites to run your metal detectors.

Hobby, Passion and Interest

If the founder of the Boot of Cortez doesn’t have the passion, interest and hunting for gold nuggets was not even his hobby – Do you think he was able to find this world breaking discovery?

The answer is “No”. He might not even be willing to spend some money on buying a metal detector. But if he has, he will surely not be able to endure the long and boring hours of getting nothing but useless metal scraps.

Moreover, there are several other large gold nuggets that were found around the world that they even have larger sizes than the Boot of Cortez. But sadly, most of them were already melted. Perhaps, what keeps the Boot of Cortez spared from being melted is its unique shape or appearance.

View Comments (2)

  • kinaraya.tao says:

    Very nice, inspiring article. Yes, in THunting, perseverance is key. Your article about a group of hunters who did not give up but instead dig and dig the whole area since the time of Marcos until they finally hit the jackpot last year was also very inspiring. It would always remind my friends of this story. But this article is unique since the founder was a newbie, thanks Sir and keep it up.

    • I am so happy that the article inspired you. I also truly believe that in order to achieve success in all aspect of life, perseverance is always an important factor.

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