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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine

Weaver's Needle in the Superstition Mountains where the Dutchman hid his gold.
Photo by Alan English

Of all the lost mines in America the most famous is the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine that according to its legend is hidden away in the Superstition Mountains located near Apache Junction, east of Phoenix, Arizona.  Other people claim its way past the Superstitions in Mexico.  No one really knows where the mine is located.

The Superstition Mountains can be divided into three distinct groups that can be divided into (1) rock type, (2) structure and (3) process.  Most of the rock type consists of volcanic extrusives that are associated with volcanism.  The structure is consistent with the landform types found accompanying volcanic action and tectonic activity.  This is just the place where you would go looking for gold.  Erosion and mass wasting account for any placer gold that is present.  There are some small areas of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks as well as some Precambrian granite intrusions to be found.  Most of the volcanic activity is from fissure eruptions rather then volcanoes.

Another view of Weaver's Needle
Photo by Ihelewa

The Lost Dutchman Gold mine that is also known by many other similar names is the tale of a very rich gold mine hidden away in the Superstition Mountains, but because Jacob Waltz, the Dutchman, kept the secret of its location to himself.  There are several different tales about how to find the mine and each year there are people that go hunting for it.  Some of these gold seekers have even died in the process.

The mine itself was named after the German immigrant Jacob Waltz that the locals mistakenly called the “Dutchman” that was American slang for a German.  This is derived from the German word for German – “Deutsch.”  The Lost Dutchman is no doubt the most famous lost mine in American history rivaling tales of Captain Kidd’s lost treasure or the Lost Pegleg Mine in California.

Prior to Waltz’s reported discovery in the 1840s the Mexican family, the Peraltas were reported to mine gold in the Superstitions where in 1848 a large group of the Peraltas was ambushed by the Apaches with only one or two members escaping.  There is plenty of evidence of this massacre to be found in the Massacre Grounds where old mining equipment, old weapons, assorted gear and the remnants of a pack train have been found.

The legend goes on to say the Peraltas covered the mines with large rocks to hide their riches from others.  Since then many men have claimed to have found the hidden mines from the number of old maps that have surfaced.  However the men making such claims are unable to return to these mines due to any number of calamities and disasters.  These tales lend truth to the tales of the “Curse of the Superstitions.”

During the 1970’s “the Dutchman” aka Jacob Waltz supposedly found one of Peralta’s gold mines with his partner Jacob Weiser another German.  The story goes on to say they hid some of the gold they found in the area around Weaver’s Needle.  Later Weiser was killed either by the Apaches or Waltz himself.

Waltz later moved to Phoenix where he died in 1891.  Before he died he described the location of the mine to Julia Thomas his landlady.  She became one of the first treasure hunters in 1892, she or other treasure hunters have never been able to find the lost mine since.  Many of them came to a sudden end due to foul play, murder, death or the curse hanging over the Superstition Mountains.

It has been estimated that 8,000 treasure seekers a year have been looking for the Dutchman’s mine since 1892.  Many claim there is no basis to the tale and it is nothing more then a legend, although it is claimed there is some basis in fact to the tales.  Many versions of this tale claim the mine is either cursed, or protected by some kind of guards, usually the Apaches that keep the location of the mine secret.


1 comment:

  1. This is a great story-- and we should go find this one, John!