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Lost Dutchman's Mine

THE LOST DUTCHMAN'S MINE --History and Bibliography
Courtesy of Tom Kollenborn and the Superstition Mountain Historical Society

Does the Dutchman's Lost Mine exist? To answer the question we must examine the history and various documents about the region closely.

Superstition Mountain and the Dutchman's Lost Mine are synonymous with Arizona lost mine lore. We must first ask ourselves is the Dutchman's Lost Mine a myth or is there some truth to this lingering tale from the past? Probably the most difficult part of this question is the separation of fact from fiction. The two have been so entwined over the past one hundred and twenty years it is almost impossible to separate the truth from the legend . There are several well documented facts associated with the story as well as outrageous lies.

It is told a prospector named Jacob Waltz had a rich gold mine deep in the rugged mountains east of Apache Junction. The story tells of a German prospector who made periodic trips into the Superstition Mountains and returned to Phoenix with small quantities of bonanza gold ore. This old prospector braved the dangers of the marauding Apaches prior to the 1886 surrender of Geronimo at Skeleton Canyon.

Barry Storm, an early author on the subject of lost gold mines, believed Waltz had found a Peralta storehouse or cache. Storm suggested Waltz's gold was too rich to be from a mine. He further believed the gold had been hidden by the Apaches after they massacred a group of Mexican miners. Many of Storm's aficionados believed his popular scenario. Therefore, many early prospectors believed Waltz's mine and the Peralta cache were all one in the same.

There is not one shred of evidence to suggest the Peraltas ever mined in the Superstition Mountains or that they were massacred by the Apaches. Alfred Strong Lewis, in his manuscript, Rain God's Gold, theorized the Peraltas or Spaniards worked the rich goldfields four miles northeast of present day Apache Junction and were massacred by the Apaches as they were preparing to leave the area and return to Sonora in 1847. Lewis' scenario safeguarded Storm's unproven theory. Alfred Strong Lewis was a mining engineer who was totally convinced the Goldfields were the source of Jacob Waltz's bonanza gold ore. This theory continues to linger today unproven, but a logical choice.

To study the story of the Dutchman's Lost Mine we must first examine the facts and tales about Jacob Waltz, the alleged owner of the mine. Furthermore, we must establish his existence and actual role in the story. To do this requires extensive research in national, state, county and municipal records.

Jacob Waltz, according to documents, was born near Oberschwandorf, Wuttenburg , Germany around 1810. No existing church records support this date, however many census records do. According to documents Jacob Waltz crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1839. He departed the Port of Bremen on October 1, 1839 and arrived at the Port of New Orleans in Louisiana on November 17, 1839 . The ship Waltz made his crossing of the Atlantic on was the Ship Oblers and its captain was H. W. Exter. His manifest listed Jacob Waltz as being from Horb, Wuttenburg , Germany . Waltz probably traveled to the gold fields of North Carolina and Georgia after arriving in New Orleans . From the gold fields of Georgia Waltz returned to Natchez , Mississippi . The gold fields had taught Waltz he had to be a citizen of the United States to file or stake a claim on a gold vein. Realizing this Waltz filed his letter of intent to become a citizen of the United States on November 12, 1848 , in the Adams County Courthouse in Natchez , Mississippi . After this letter of intent it is possible Waltz traveled to Texas and from there to California .

Jacob Waltz arrived in California about 1850. His name appears on several California census records. He prospected and worked as a miner in the mother lode country of California for eleven years. It was on July 19, 1861, in the Los Angeles County Courthouse, Jacob Waltz became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. Waltz worked as a miner on the San Gabriel for a man named Ruben Blakney. It was probably here he met Elisha M. Reavis, later to become the "Hermit of Superstition Mountain."

Waltz departed California in 1863, with the Peeples-Weaver Party or a similar group of prospectors headed for the Bradshaw Mountains of Arizona Territory. Waltz was one of the earliest pioneer prospectors in the Bradshaw Mountain area. Waltz's name appears on the Gross Claim which was filed in Prescott, Arizona Territory on September 21, 1863. His name also appears on a special territorial census taken in 1864. On this census Waltz is listed as a miner, 54 years of age, and a native of Germany. Waltz's name also appeared on a petition to territorial governor John N. Goodwin soliciting a militia to control the predatory raids of hostile Indians in the Bradshaw Mountains. Jacob Waltz's name also appeared on the Big Rebel and the General Grant claims in the Bradshaw Mountains. Waltz was very active in the Bradshaw Mountain area between 1863-67.

Jacob Waltz moved to the Salt River Valley in 1868 and filed a homestead claim on 160 acres of land on the north bank of the Salt River. It is from here Waltz began his exploratory trips into the mountains surrounding the Salt River Valley. If Waltz had a rich gold mine or cache he had to have discovered it on one of these prospecting forays. Old timers claim Waltz prospected every winter between 1868-1886. Waltz died in Phoenix, Arizona Territory on October 25, 1891, in the home of Julia Thomas without revealing the source of the rich gold ore found beneath his death bed.

Jacob Waltz did exist. There are many government documents that support the fact Waltz lived in Arizona Territory from 1863-1891. The question still remains. Did Jacob Waltz have a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains?

Shortly after Waltz's death Julia Thomas, Rhinehart and Hermann Petrasch traveled to the Superstition Mountains to locate Waltz's rich gold mine. After several weeks in these rugged mountains Thomas and the Petrasches returned to Phoenix empty handed and broke. Disappointed and broke Thomas produced several maps with misinformation on them. She sold these maps hoping to compensate for her losses. The Petrasch brothers hunted for Waltz's mine for the rest of their lives. Julia Thomas was the first searcher for the Dutchman's Lost Mine. The origin of the Dutchman's Lost Mine may have started with Julia Thomas.

Many Arizona pioneer historians believed Julia Thomas gave an interview to Pierpont C. Bicknell, a free lance writer and lost mine hunter, shortly after her return from the Superstition Mountains in September of 1892. Bicknell probably paid her a token fee for the story. Ironically Julia Thomas and the Petrasches walked over the rich gold deposits at Goldfield in September of 1892 without discovering them. The rich Black Queen was discovered in November of 1892, and the rich Mammoth Mine was discovered on April 13, 1893. The Mammoth Mine produced about three million dollars worth of gold bullion in four years.

Peirpont C. Bicknell , more than any one person, may be responsible for the tale of the Dutchman's Lost Mine. P.C. Bicknell was the earliest writer to associate Weaver's Needle, the Peraltas and Jacob Waltz with the Dutchman's Lost Mine in his writing. Bicknell's first major article on the Dutchman's Lost Mine appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 13, 1895, revealing several clues to the location of the Dutchman's Lost Mine. These clues closely paralleled those that Julia Thomas and the Petrasches often alluded to.

Bicknell may have also been responsible for the variety of names Weaver's Needle has had. He called the needle Needle Rock, Sombrero Peak and El Sombrero in different articles he wrote about the Dutchman's Lost Mine. Actually Weaver's Needle is a prominent pinnacle that towers over much of the region east of Superstition Mountain and had played a major role in the legend of the Dutchman's Lost Mine. This famous landmark was named after Powell (Paulino) Weaver, a mountain man, guide, prospector and early Arizona pioneer. Weaver first visited the area in 1825 when the region was still part of Mexico. Weaver's Needle appeared on military maps as early as 1853, making it one of the oldest anglo-American named landmarks in the Southwest. Weaver's Needle appeared on maps almost two decades before Superstition Mountain did.

There is little doubt among historians that Peirpont Constable Bicknell took a writer's liberty to exaggerate the truth in much of his written material about lost mines. Any separation of fact from fiction must start with Bicknell's published works.

It is doubtful that Barry Storm or Oren Arnold thoroughly researched Bicknell's early work on the Dutchman's Lost Mine. Since 1895, thousands of periodicals have appeared on the Dutchman's Lost Mine and much of the legend can be traced back to Bicknell. Bicknell may have had the earliest impact on the legend itself, but Barry Storm embellished all works he found on the Dutchman, Peraltas or Jesuits. His work impacted the thinking of more contemporary prospectors than any other individual except for the man who perpetrated the infamous Peralta Stone Maps.

The one book that probably had the greatest impact on contemporary prospectors and treasure hunters in the Superstition Wilderness Area was Barry Storm's Thunder God's Gold , published in 1945, by the Southwest Publishing Company. Storm suggested in his book, Waltz's mine was one of the eighteen Lost Peralta Mines. Storm struggled desperately to link the Dutchman's Lost Mine to Spanish lost gold in the Southwest.

Barry Storm's first book, On The Trail of Dutchman, was published by Barry Goldwater and most of the photography was done by him. Storm used Goldwater's money and also used his first name.

Barry Storm, better known as John T. Clymenson, was one of the most celebrated writers and promoters of the Lost Dutchman Mine and the Peralta Mines in the early 1940's up to the early 1960's. His stories and tales fired the imagination of an entire generation of lost mine hunters.

The two hundred and forty-two square miles of rugged terrain found in the Superstition Wilderness makes it a difficult task to systematically search or prospect the region. Most professional geologists will insist there is little geological evidence to suggest a rich gold deposit exist in these volcanic mountains. Jacob Waltz, the alleged owner of the Dutchman's Lost Mine, claimed his mine was located where no other miner or prospector would search for gold. A recent U.S. Geological Survey could possibly support this clue Waltz left behind. The application of the mercury vapor test over the Superstition Wilderness Area found the region to be highly mineralized. The report is indicative of deep seated mineral deposits. Who knows for sure, maybe one of those highly enriched mineralized bodies reached the surface by way of an intrusion. This report could explain why a man would devote his entire life to searching for gold in this land of barren ash and basalt.

Since 1891, more than one hundred and thirty-seven people have claimed to have found the Dutchman's Lost Mine. The first claim was made on December 7, 1895. The story of the Dutchman's Lost Mine was well rooted in pioneer history long before the first tourist visited Arizona.

Fake maps, lies and imagination formulate the foundation of many tales told about the Superstition Mountain region. During the past three decades investors have lost millions of dollars to unscrupulous con men and promoters. The naive investor better not take the written word of authors or periodical chroniclers without knowing their credentials. Authors and periodical chroniclers often take a writer's liberty to tell a story. Oren Arnold once said it all, when he said, "Don't let the truth stand in the way of a good story."

No landmark in the history of the Southwest has generated so many interesting tales of lost gold and resulted in more deaths than Superstition Mountain. According to some, Weaver's Needle towers high over the surrounding terrain east of Superstition Mountain and serves as monument to those who have searched and died for the gold of Superstition Mountain.

Prospectors and treasure hunters continue their search of this vast mountain wilderness for gold and lost treasure. Stringent rules for prospecting have limited their activity in recent years, but still they come to search for gold and lost treasure. The United States Department of Agriculture closed the Superstition Wilderness Area to mineral entry, at midnight, on December 31, 1983, to comply with the National Wilderness Act approved by Congress in 1964. This law stifled the search for the world famous Dutchman's Lost Mine or did it? Men and women still search for the Dutchman's Lost Mine.

The clues to Waltz's gold mine still ring clear through the towering peaks and deep canyons of the Superstition Wilderness Area. "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 many other clues have fired the imaginations of men and women for more than a century.

Just maybe it is not so much the finding as it is the searching.



(revised Aug. 1995)

Courtesy of Tom Kollenborn

Allen, Robert J. The Story of Superstition Mountain and the Lost Dutchman Mine. Pocket Books, New York, New York, 1971.

Arnold, Oren. Superstition Gold. Arizona Printers, Phoenix, Arizona 1934, 1946.

Arnold, Oren. Ghost Gold. The Naylor Co., San Antonio, Texas, 1960.

Arnold, Oren. Mystery of Superstition Mountain. Harvey House, Inc., Publishers, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, 1972.

Babcock, Jerry. Chicomoztoc. I.M.O. Green Printers, Inc., Marshall, Mo., 1990.

Barnard, Barney W.E. The Story of Jacob Waltzer: Superstition Mountain and Its Famous Dutchman's Lost Mine. Mesa Tribune, Mesa, Arizona, 1954. * 21 editions 1979.

Barnard, Barney W.E. and Higham, Charles F. Superstition Mountain and its Famous Dutchman's Lost Mine. New Edition, Mesa Tribune Mesa, Arizona, 1952.

Bennett, H.A. Treasures, Mines, Indians, Death. N.P. 1970.

Black, Harry G. The Lost Dutchman Mine. Brandon Press, Boston, Mass., 1975.

Blair, Robert L. Tales of the Superstition Mountains. Arizona Historical Society, Tempe, Arizona, 1975.

Brock, Robert M. Tortilla Flat History. Orion Publishing Company, Fountain Hills, Arizona, 1985.

Brock, Robert M. The Apache Trail Guidebook and Lost Dutchman Legend. Orion Publishing Company, Fountain Hills, Arizona, 1986.

Burbridge, Jonathan S. Arizona's Monument to Lost Mines. N.P. Reno, Nevada, 1969.

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Canaster, Estee. The Sterling Legend. Ram Publishers, Dallas, Texas, 1972.

Carlson, Jack and Elizabeth Stewart. Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness. Clear Crekk Publishing, Tempe, Arizona 1995

Colten, James. The Apache Trail. Apache Printing, Apache Junction, Arizona, 1980.

Colten, James. Echoes of a Legend. Apache Printing, Apache Junction, 1977.

Corbin, Helen. The Curse of the Dutchman's Gold. Foxwest Publishing, Phoenix, Arizona 1990.

Corbin, Helen. Senner's Gold. Foxwest Publishing, Phoenix, Arizona, 1993.

Crossland, R.C. This Trail is Dangerous. Sun Graphics, Yuma, Arizona, 1984.

Dahlmann, John. A Tiny Bit of God's Creation. Reliable Reproductions, Tempe, Arizona, 1979.

'Autremont, Hugh. West of Dawn. Exposition Press, New York New York, 1971.

Davis, Gregory. 50th Anniversary of Don's Trek. Ironwood Lithographs, Scottsdale, Arizona 1984.

Davis, Gregory and Kollenborn, Thomas J. History of the Lost Dutchman Monument. Salt River Project, Phoenix, Arizona 1988.

DeGrazia, Ted. Ted DeGrazia and His Mountain: The Superstitions. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona, 1972.

Ely, Sims. The Lost Dutchman Mine. McGraw-Hill Publishers, New York, New York, 1953.

Francis, Marilyn. Thunder in the Superstitions. N.P. Phoenix, Arizona, 1957.

Fraser, Jay. Lost Dutchman Mine Discoveries. Ben Franklin Press, Tempe, Arizona, 1988.

Gardner, Earle Stanley. Hunting Lost Mines by Helicopter. William Morrow and Company, New York, New York, 1965.

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Author unknown. Apache Trail: A National Scenic Byway. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tonto National Forest, 1990.  

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