Hawthorne’s Chris Hegg can be seen Tuesday nights on Lost Gold of the Aztecs on the History Channel.

Local business owner and historian Chris Hegg is the star of the History Channel’s series, “Lost Gold of the Aztecs” and its new season features many scenes of Mineral County.

The show- a spinoff of the popular “The Curse of Oak Island” that aired last season- follows three families in three different US states as they search for signs of Aztec treasure and proof that Emperor Montezuma and Spanish conquistadors trolled the Nevada deserts.

“History and Discovery channel viewers liked the finding-hidden-treasure/ conquistador angle of ‘The Curse of Oak Island,’ and there aren’t very many places like that,” says Hegg.

Hegg says that “Lost Gold of the Aztecs” has been under development for two years, delayed due to covid. Hegg has been working with the History Channel since 2018 when they found him after a commentator on the show “Ancient Aliens”. He has been into independent mining and deciphering petroglyphs in the Nevada desert long before that, and published a book titled Ancient Language of Man that won a Top Shelf Indie Book Award in 2019. He was working with a local production company when the History Channel reached out Hegg, saying that they loved Hegg’s book and wanted to know more about where he got his theories.

“I grew up in Luning and around all the old miners that you still see around here [in Hawthorne]. I treasure hunted and they passed down stories of Aztec artifacts and gold that were [supposedly] found here,” he says.

Through studying ancient petroglyphs for decades, Hegg believes that the origin story of the Walker River Paiute Tribe is almost identical to the Aztec stories- even down to the Cecil the Serpent legend- and wanted to chase down these stories.

“There have been all kinds of artifacts found over the years at Walker Lake as well as in Pyramid and Lahontan- the white clay porcelain that archeologists found in the 1950sthat was made in Mexico,” he says in his search for the Aztec gold. Now Hegg and his team are trying to prove that these artifacts originated in Mexico and made their way up through Mineral County. The development of the “Lost Gold of the Aztecs” show is augmenting his research and helping people discover Mineral County.

“I’ve been fighting to get Mineral County and Walker Lake on the map for years,” Hegg smiles. “There’s a reason why Mineral County is called ‘Nevada’s Scenic Secret’. It’s a beautiful place,” he adds.

When asked what his most interesting find is in Mineral County, Hegg replies, “I actually can’t say, but one I can talk about (released in episode five of the “Lost Gold of the Aztecs”) was the discovery of the cochineal bug,” Hegg says. Creating a bright red dye that was thought to be second in demand to silver, Hegg says that it was thrilling to find these bugs native to tropical areas deep in the ground within Mineral County.

“It was the second most expensive treasure in the world,” Hegg says of the cochineal bug at the time of the Spanish conquistadors. “And we found a copious supply of it underground, human-processed freezedried bugs on a shelf.”

Hegg speculates that it was transported from the South.

“I’m into petroglyphs and researching them; I grew up all around them,” he says. “They have a Spanish influence to them, and this show [“Lost Gold of the Aztecs”] is to prove that the Spanish were here. Every conquest was pretty well out there, but this region hasn’t really been explored,” he adds. His theory is that 19th century explorer John C. Fremont was sent by the federal government with two cannons and over 30 men to confront the Spanish and find the Lost City here in the Western US.

Hegg thinks that this took a long time to come to fruition because a lot more people were involved with it being documented on a major TV network, but it was also nice that the crew was so hands-on.

“It’s better that way because we could hit the ground running,” he says. He likes that the network is committed to not doing too crazy and keeping the show realistic, but he did have a traumatic event in the mines that the film crew was present for, but he doesn’t know if it will be aired.

In the meantime, Hegg encourages people to stay tuned to see what they discover and maybe catch a glimpse of their Mineral County friends and neighbors.

“There are quite a few people out of Mineral County in this show; I think they’re excited about seeing themselves on TV,” Hegg adds.

Season One of “Lost Gold of the Aztecs” starring Mineral County resident and Pepper’s Place owner Chris Hegg airs on the History Channel on Tuesday evenings at 10/9c.