The Lost Dutchman's Mine
Placed By: Wanda & Pete for WWW (Formerly known as Chuck and Molly)
Location: Apache Junction, Arizona, Maricopa County
This letterbox was taken to Arizona and planted for us by our friends, Wanda & Pete.
Clues to the Letterbox:
Make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen before heading out on this long lovely loop into the Superstitions. It's rated easy in the "100 Hikes in Arizona" book, but it can still feel like quite a workout if you're not used to the dry climate. The hike begins at the parking lot about 2.5 miles down the gravel road just north past L ost D utchman State Park off route 88. A short distance before this parking lot is a ticket machine on the left where you need to pick up a day pass ($4 in 2006) to leave under your windshield, if you do not have a national park pass to display. Proceed down the 1/4 mile introductory path until you get to the first junction. You can go either way to complete the loop, so we'll let you decide here which direction you want to go.
If you choose the right path, it will take you up to P arker Pass in a couple of miles. After descending from the pass, cross a couple of the creeks or washes of West B oulder Canyon, then follow the trail with the creek/wash now on your left. You will soon reach a flat clearing with an old fire ring and a large jumble of rocks just beyond. About 150 steps past this old fire ring should get you to a flat split rock on your left and a nicely framed view of W eaver's N eedle to your right. From this flat "sitting rock", go about 30 steps due east to a barrel cactus with a squarish chunky boulder a few feet below and behind it. You won't find any of the Dutchman's buried treasure here, but you just might enjoy looking for a nice little memento of your trek under several flat stones on the left (NW) side of the boulder. Take care and remember all the usual desert precautions!
From here, you may continue down to the next junction, and loop back left along the B lack M esa Trail for more adventure, or just return the way you came. We hope many people get to enjoy this fine desert hike for many years to come!
The Legend of the Lost Dutchmanís Mine:
Much of the story of the Lost Dutchmanís mine is speculative, legend, or cannot be substantiated. This is the story, as I know it. I encourage those interested in it to do further research. You will find many different versions.
For over 140 years many people have searched this area for a legendary spot where there was said to be an enormous amount of gold; gold beyond belief. The search for this treasure has made some destitute and driven others mad in their fruitless quest for the elusive gold. Some consider those the lucky ones, for many others have lost their lives or simply disappeared into the eerie silence of this forbidden land.
The early inhabitants of this region were the Apache Indians. This particular area was revered as sacred ground to the Apacheís and they believed that the "Thunder God" protected it from desecration. In 1540 the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado traveled north from present day Mexico in search of the legend of the "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola". Although the Indians told them that there was gold here, they would not help them look for it for fear of the vengeance of the "Thunder God". The Spanish ignored their warnings and ventured into the area without them. It is said that on this expedition, men vanished and others were found decapitated or mutilated. The expedition decided to move on and look elsewhere. They never did find the "Seven Cities of Cibola".
In 1845 Don Miguel Peralta discovered gold somewhere in this area. He was soon shipping gold back to his home in Sonora Mexico. Around 1847 - 1848 Peralta became weary of the Apaches and learned that they were planning to attack so he concealed the mine, leaving no trace of his presence, packed up and prepared to return home to Mexico expecting to return someday. Don Miguel Peralta and his men never came out of the area. All were massacred by the Apaches. Some of the pack mules escaped and later died with their golden burden still on their backs. Other mules were captured by the Apaches but the gold, which meant nothing to the Apaches was dumped, where they found it. For years after this incident people venturing into this land would upon occasion find some of this dumped gold.
In 1870 a Dr. Abraham Thorne who lived and worked among the Apaches, was approached with an offer by the Indians. It seems that he had gained the respect of the Apaches and they offered to take him blindfolded to a place where he could find gold. He was led to a spot in this area. When the blindfold was removed he had a pile of almost pure gold in front of him. He took as much as he could carry, was again blindfolded and led out, never to find the origin of the gold again.
Around 1868 Jacob Waltz came to Arizona prospecting for gold. Jacob was originally from Germany, a "deutchman" which later on, due to an Americanís misconception of the word, would call him Dutchman. In his travels he teamed up with a fellow German immigrant Jacob Weiser and prospected together in this area. It was at this time that they began to show up in town paying for everything in high quality gold nuggets. The two had found the hidden mine. There is much speculation as to how they found it. One story goes that they saved the life of an ancestor of Don Miguel Peralta the original founder of the mine. In return, he gave them a map to the mine. As the years went on, Jacob Weiser leaves the picture. Some say that the Apaches killed him, others say Waltz killed him. Waltz would come into Phoenix to spend his money and leave again for long periods of time mining his gold. Waltz befriended a woman in Phoenix named Julia Elena Thomas. As the years went on, Waltz became sick and bedridden. Julia cared for him and heard the stories of his rich find. In 1891, Waltz died. Upon his death, a bag of gold was found under his bed. Shortly after Waltz's death Julia Thomas, and Rhinehart and Hermann Petrasch traveled to the Superstition Mountains trying to find Waltz's gold mine. They failed, after several weeks Julia Thomas and the Petrasches returned to Phoenix disappointed and broke.
Since the old "Dutchmanís" death, hundreds of people have searched in vain for the mysterious "Lost Dutchman Mine". Many of the searchers have lost their lives in the effort. The Apaches have killed a countless number of them. Waltz is said to have killed at least two that were snooping around trying to find his mine. Death, tradgedy, and misfortune seemed to haunt anyone looking for the lost gold mine.
In the 1880ís two soldiers happened to find the mine by chance. They came back to town with bags of gold. They got supplies and fitted themselves out to bring back more gold, left town never to return. A search party later found them dead on the side of a trail.
In 1931, a government bureaucrat named Adolph Ruth from Washington, D.C. left for the Superstition mountains with a map he said was from the original founders of the mine, the Peralta family. He knew nothing about prospecting or the wilderness but was confident of his map. He never returned. Months later Ruthís skull was found with 2 bullet holes in it. The skull had been place upon a pile of rocks. His headless body was later discovered almost 5 miles away from the skull. In his clothing was a scrap of paper that said: "About 200 feet across from cave." Underneath was the Latin verse, "Veni. Vidi. Vici." ("I came. I saw. I conquered.") No trace of the treasure map was ever found.
In the 1940s, the headless remains of a prospector named James A. Cravey were found in the Superstition mountains. He disappeared while trying find the gold.
In 1945, Barry Storm an author of a book about the Lost Dutchmanís Mine said he was shot at by a sniper while looking for the gold.
Others have claimed that large boulders were rolled down on them by someone trying to kill them. There are countless other cases in which subsequent searchers have vanished, turned up dead or had harrowing experiences while looking for the lost mine. An endless list of misfortune follows the history of the search for the lost gold mine, now known as the "Lost Dutchmanís Mine". Perhaps the Apaches knew something about this mystical area that we donít. Could there be unseen forces at work here? Who else will fall prey to whatever is lurking over "The Search For the Lost Dutchmanís Mine".
Read more about the Lost Dutchman's Mine at the following websites:
Before you set out, please read the waiver of responsibility and disclaimer.