Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Lost Dutchman Mine

One of the best treasure tales in the history of the American West is the Lost Dutchman Mine. Shrouded in mystery, the mine is not only allegedly extremely rich in gold, but is also said to have a curse upon it, leading to strange deaths, as well as people who mysteriously go missing when they attempt to locate the mine.

For more than 120 years, the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine has been told and retold.

The matchbox made from ore found under the deathbed of Jacob Waltz.
When the Spanish arrived in 1540, the region around the Superstition Mountains was inhabited by the Apache, who considered it to be sacred ground, as it was home to their Thunder God. Led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the conquistadors cared little about Apache customs, wanting only to find the legendary "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola.”

Learning that the range did hold gold, the Spaniards were intent upon exploring the area. The Apache refused to help them, telling them that if they dared to trespass on the sacred ground, the Thunder God would take revenge, causing great suffering and horrible deaths. The Indians called Superstition Mountain the "Devil’s Playground.”

In the 1840s, according to the Denver Post, the Peralta family of Mexico mined gold out of the Superstition Mountains, but Apaches attacked and killed all but one or two family members as they took the gold back to Mexico. Some 30 years later, Jacob Waltz — nicknamed "the Dutchman," even though he was German ("Deutsch") — rediscovered the mine with the help of a Peralta descendant, according to legend.

Jacob Waltz made periodic trips into the Superstition Mountains and returning to Phoenix with small quantities of bonanza gold ore. He was known to shoot anyone following him through the rugged mountains east of Apache Junction, Arizona. Waltz died in Phoenix, Arizona Territory on October 25, 1891 without revealing the source of the rich gold ore ... some found beneath his death bed.

The clues to Waltz's gold mine still ring clear ... "No miner will find my mine." "To find my mine you must pass a cow barn." "From my mine you can see the military trail, but from the military trail you can not see my mine." "The rays of the setting sun shine into the entrance of my mine." "There is a trick in the trail to my mine." "My mine is located in a north-trending canyon." "There is a rock face on the trail to my mine." These and other clues have fired countless imaginations for more than a century.
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David Bremson sees plenty of rescues in the Superstition Wilderness. "Most of the body recoveries we've done out of the Supes have been Dutch hunters." A Dutch hunter who got lucky twice was Robin Bird, the woman who went searching for the fabled gold and ended up flirting with death before she was rescued. Bird had to be rescued six months previous while doing the same thing.

This time, she was found lying in the mud, unresponsive and suffering from hypothermia and severe dehydration.
But Bird was hardly the only hiker who needed help. Rescuers found three men who had gotten lost in the Superstitions the day before. They had met Bird on the trail and asked for directions, and she steered them wrong.

Later a 21-year-old Arizona State University student was rescued after he failed to return from a hike. "This is not an unusual amount of rescues," Bremson said. "It's fairly normal."
In 2009 Denver bellhop Jesse Capen, 35, disappeared after heading off to find the Lost Dutchman mine. 3 years after finding Capen’s Jeep, wallet, backpack and cellphone, volunteers from the Superstition Search and Rescue finally located Capen’s body.

It was found in a crevice 35 feet up a cliff face in the southern portion of the Superstition Mountains, near the 4,892-foot Tortilla Mountain. Capen had made finding the treasure an 'obsession'. “We call ‘em Dutch hunters out here,” said Superstition Search and Rescue Director Robert Cooper. “They’re infatuated with all the lore and the history of the lost Dutchman mine and he was part of that.”