Searching for The Gold of the Lost Dutchman Mine in Superstition Mountain
The Lost Dutchman Mine is said to be a rich goldmine located somewhere in the southwestern American state of Arizona. Generally speaking, this mine is claimed to be situated in the Superstition Mountain, described by one source as “a collection of rough terrain that has gained the name of a single mountain” which lies to the east of Phoenix, the Arizonan capital.
For some, the Lost Dutchman is just a myth, one that perhaps grew over time until it defied belief. Others hold a firm belief in the existence in this mine. Using the clues found in various stories, many have attempted to seek out the lost mine, though it seems that no one has found it yet. Some have even lost their lives in the pursuit of this treasure, hence leading to claims that the mine is cursed.
A Golden Legend
There are many stories about the Lost Dutchman Mine, as they have been accumulating over the years. In one of these, the origin of the legend is traced back to the 16th century. It says that in 1540 a Spanish expedition to find the ‘Seven Golden Cities of Cibola’ was launched by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. The expedition is said to have arrived in the area of the Superstition Mountain, which was at that time inhabited by the Apache Indians. They learned from the natives that there was gold to be found on the mountain.
The Coronado Expedition 1540–1542. ( Public Domain )
Spanish Francisco Vázquez de Coronado Expedition (1540 - 1542) ( Public Domain )
The natives, however, refused to help them in their quest, as they believed that the mountain was the home of the Thunder God, and hence, sacred ground that could not be trespassed on. The Spanish were adamant, and went up the mountain, despite being warned that they would be punished by the god if they were to do so.
As they were exploring, the men began disappearing mysteriously one by one. They were later found dead, with their bodies mutilated, and their heads decapitated. The remaining Spanish fled in fear, and dubbed the mountain ‘Monte Supersticion’.
Bronze sculpture by Suzanne Silvercruys. ( Public Domain )
The next part of the legend speaks of a Jesuit priest by the name of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, who is said to have arrived in the region around 150 after de Coronado’s expedition. The priest’s objective was originally to establish missions and to Christianize the natives. However, when he heard about the gold on Superstition Mountain, he too began searching for it. It seems that the priest did find gold, though it is unclear if it was from the fabled mine.
In 1748, the area now known as Arizona (along with Superstition Mountain) was given by Spain as a land grant to a Mexican cattle-baron by the name of Don Miguel Peralta of Sonora. The first official recording of the Dutchman Mine is found in this story.
In the next century, the Peralta family extracted gold from this mine. Over time, their activities on Superstition Mountain angered the Apaches, who began attacking the goldminers. Eventually, the Peraltas stopped venturing onto the mountain, and all the maps and knowledge of the mine’s exact location were lost. Nevertheless, news of the mine spread far and wide, attracting treasure hunters to the region. The Apaches dealt with them just as they dealt with the Peralta family.
Superstition Mountain - Petroglyph Trail. ( CC BY 3.0 )
It seems that the Apache knew where the gold mine was located, as demonstrated by the next story. In this tale, a U.S. Army surgeon by the name of Dr. Abraham Thorne was taken to a mine by the Apache as a reward.
Thorne had been stationed in Fort McDowell, north of Phoenix, where he interacted, and was on friendly terms with the Apache. The doctor allegedly cured some Apaches of an eye disease, and they wanted to reward him. Thus, being blindfolded, the doctor was taken to a mine, where he was told to take as much gold as he could carry, which he did.
However, Thorne’s greed cost him his life, as years later, he would return for more gold on his own. Thorne managed to find the goldmine, as he had taken note of a strangely-shaped rock formation as his blindfold was removed. Although he managed to take the gold, he was killed by the Apache on his journey home.
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The Waltz Story
In the late 1860s, a German prospector by the name of Jacob Waltz settled in Arizona during the Gold Rush. According to one version of the story, Waltz met a man by the name of Peralta, who told him about his family’s mine, and gave him temporary deeds to it. Together with his partner, Jacob Weisner, Waltz began mining the gold.
Waltz left the mine to get more supplies, and when he returned, Weisner was found dead. Fearing for his own life, Waltz took as much gold as he could carry, covered everything up, and returned to Phoenix. It seems that he never returned, and died in 1892.
Grave of Jacob Waltz, Pioneer and Military Cemetery, west of downtown Phoenix. (CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Following Waltz’s death, the mine was called the Lost Dutchman Mine, as ‘Dutch’ and ‘Deutsch’ (German) are said to have been pronounced the same by speakers of English in America. The tales of this mine have continued to attract treasure seekers to Superstition Mountain, some of whom have lost their lives in the quest for this elusive gold mine.
Featured image: View from the Lost Dutchman State Park of Siphon Draw up to Flatiron, Superstitions Northeast of Apache Junction, Arizona. The Superstition Wildermess is part of the Tonto National Forest. Photo source: ( CC BY-NC 2.0 )
By Wu Mingren
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