by Caveat Lector

Experts say the copper piece found near Grand Junction in 1961 is a
Knights Templar artifact from 150 years ago.
By Joey Bunch
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 07/04/2006 01:01:46 AM MDT

The mystery of a relic found on a rocky slope of Grand Mesa 45 years
ago took a new turn when researchers declared it not to be a piece of
a cross brought by Spanish explorers.

Instead, the copper plate likely came from the sheath of a Masonic
sword about 150 years ago, said David Bailey, chief curator for the
Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction.

“Now it leads us in a whole new direction,” Bailey said. “What was
someone with a Masonic sword doing in that area at that time?”

The flat piece of metal, a little smaller than a candy bar, was found
at an elevation of about 10,000 feet in 1961.

The find was in proximity of the Spanish Trail, forged by Mexican and
American explorers and traders through Colorado to California
beginning in the 1820s, and the earlier Ute Trail, an Indian passage.

Scholars examined the metal shortly after it was originally found.
They deemed it likely to be the piece of the 17th-century Spanish
cross, because of its religious markings.

The metal is cast with images of King Constantine, a Knights Templar-
style crown encircling a cross, and pikes and trumpets under a
conquistador’s shield – common Catholic symbols of the Spanish
period.

The item had been misplaced until recently.

As soon as they got hold of the item last week, Bailey and his fellow
researchers with the Western Investigations Team, experts who explore
Colorado’s historical mysteries, quickly dismissed that theory.

The item was not made of bronze but pure copper, a metal that is
easily shaped. It also was hollow-back and had tabs that once
attached it to a scabbard, Bailey said.

“It’s definitely a Knights Templar” artifact, he said.

Masonic Knights Templar is an international philanthropic fraternity
of tradesmen, taking its name from the famous Christian military
order that existed from 1118 to 1312.

In the 1700s the Masonic group began using the order’s symbols and
traditions.

If the relic dates back 150 years, it would be far from any Masonic
Temple. The region, 30 miles southeast of Grand Junction, was not
settled by whites until the 1880s.

“Whoever left it, probably didn’t do it on purpose,” Bailey said.

Anita Clark was intrigued by the new finding, almost as much as when
she and her late husband, Keith, found the relic near their ranch in
1961.

“I was hoping it would date back to the Spaniards,” she said. “But it
dates back to a scabbard.”

Staff writer Joey Bunch can be reached at 303-820-1174 or
jbunch@denverpost.com.

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