|When the meteoric iron Volz shipped out was cut,
very tiny diamonds were discovered in it. For a long time this fact
remained a closely guarded secret. Several strangers entered the rolling
country looking around. Subsequently it developed that they hoped to find
a diamond mine. Those contained in the iron were too small and too
difficult of recovery to be profitable.
Unknown at this early stage of Meteor Crater's history was that not all the outer space visitor was composed of iron. There had also been in the mass a stony, slate-like substance. This material contained larger diamonds that could be broken out with a hammer.
At some early date a mysterious and aged prospector, Adolph Cannon, discovered the diamonds. The stony material was not identified for many years. Today this fact is denied, or that any diamonds whatever are found in meteorite fragments; but this is likely a safeguard to prevent a wild diamond hunting rush leading to a stampede of prospectors. Not all of the land over which the fragments fell on contact with the earth is under control to prevent pillage.
Cannon was a non-talking man who went to Winslow not more than three times a year for necessary supplies. During the winters he lived in the smaller caves of upper Canyon Diablo, but never in the Apache death cave.
He always carried a large sum of currency when in town. Yet he never sold any diamonds. This transaction would have had to be made in or through a railroad town. That he had collected many pokes of diamonds is certain. Over the years he was seen picking up meteor fragments and breaking them out.
Sheepherders, cowboys and prospectors who spied on him occasionally, thought he searched for the outlaws' loot near Two Guns. Yet if so he certainly hunted far from where it was supposedly buried.
Reputable men observing Cannon several times when they had business in the area, were convinced that he cached a hoard of diamonds. Also hidden away in caves and cliff dwellers' ruins were more pieces of the exploded meteorite picked up on the range.
For something like thirty years Cannon plodded the widely strewn area. At his heels followed a burro carrying panniers slung from a forked saddle. When finding a piece of meteorite he knew contained one or more diamonds, he tossed it into a pannier.
Exaggerated tales spread about Cannon's hoard of diamonds. One individual meeting him unexpectedly in the area offered to make contacts for their sale. The yarns also drew hardcases who hoped to rob him of the alleged wealth in stones. On one occasion at least, two were prevented from killing him from ambush by a deer hunter who followed them until they assumed ambush positions. After driving them off, the hunter warned Cannon, who merely regarded him bleak-eyed.
The old man, approaching eighty, was seen alive the last time in 1917. Then in 1928 a gravel hauler found the skeleton of a man in a pit east of Winslow on the Little Colorado. The skull had two bullet holes in it.
Investigating lawmen found with the skeleton and rotted clothing a wallet containing a piece of paper with his name on it, a small mug shot of Cannon taken when a younger man, and a pocket knife known to belong to him. From this evidence, clothing buttons, belt buckle and "buck" teeth, the remains were legally established as those of Cannon. The coroner's physician said that he had been dead at least ten years.
No money whatever was found with the skeleton, and no diamonds. The investigating officers theorized that robbery was the motive for his murder. But they could not account for how he happened to be on the river near Winslow so far from his regular stamping grounds.
Not long after discovery of his skeleton a burly man staggered into a Pitchfork line camp near Jack's Canyon. Fatally wounded, he had a buckskin pouch filled rough diamonds. Before dying he told the two cowboys stationed there that he and a partner had found one of Cannon's diamond caches, over which they had fought. After being wounded from a bushwhack shot the man then killed his partner, shooting him twice with a sixgun.
Although the cowboys tried to get him to the Winslow hospital the unknown man - nothing by way of identification on him - died at sunup while en route.
The cowboys informed the local deputy sheriff of the matter, and hastened to Black's jewelry store where they showed the glistening white stones to the proprietor. Making tests, he pronounced them diamonds of a good industrial quality. Taking the next train to California the cowboys were not seen again in Arizona.
The sheriff's deputy took a search party out hunting for the camp where the fatal fight supposedly had taken place. They could not find it nor the body of a dead man.