Monday, May 4, 2009

Jacob Waltz and the Mexican Mines

May 4, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The subject of Mexican mining north of the Gila River has often conjured up tales of lost gold mines and treasure. My father was involved in mining most of his life and found prospecting and mineral collecting a wonderful and relaxing hobby. My interest in mining, prospecting, lost mines and even treasure was nurtured by my father’s interest.

Father’s best friend was an old man named Bill Cage. Cage had worked at the Old Dominion mine in Globe, the Magma in Superior and many other Arizona mines prior to 1930. Bill worked for my father from 1941 until 1952. If I recall correctly Bill Cage was born in 1869 somewhere in Indiana.

His family supposedly moved to the Salt River Valley around 1879. Bill became a blacksmith apprentice in Phoenix around1885. Cage worked in the Phoenix area for about ten years before moving to Globe and working at the Old Dominion mine. During Cage’s blacksmith apprenticeship in Phoenix he met many of the old timers and prospectors. Bill spoke quite fluent German. My father’s German was also quite fluent. My father and Bill became great friends even though there was some twenty-five years difference in their ages.

Bill Cage showed up at Christmas, Arizona looking for a job in November of 1941. Bill told Morris Watson, the level foreman, he was looking for work. He further said he was too old for the draft. World War II had just begun for the United States and many young Americans were joining the military service. Morris Watson asked Bill Cage how old he was. He told Morris he was seventy-two years old but in good shape. My dad asked him what kind of work he did.

Cage told my father he was a blacksmith and had worked at mines before. Finally Morris and my dad agreed to hire Bill Cage and gave him a try. Good blacksmiths were hard to find and the mine certainly needed help with the new demand for more copper production because of the war.

Bill Cage was an excellent blacksmith and could work circles around men twenty years younger then him. Bill Cage worked for my dad until he was eighty-four years old. He was one of the best blacksmiths ever employed at the Christmas Metal Shop.

The hiring of Bill Cage united two men who were interested in the Superstition Mountains and the tale of the Lost Dutchman Mine. Bill Cage could hike just about anywhere at his age. My father soon found out he had many ideas about the location of lost gold in the Superstition Mountains. Bill talked a lot about Mexican mines around the Silver King and Goldfield area. Father and Cage made only four trips into the Superstition Mountains during the war years. The mine’s production schedule kept my father tied to his job and he had little time to spend in the mountains.

Bill Cage and my father were both convinced there were Mexican mines in the Superstition Mountain region. Cage believed without a doubt that Jacob Waltz had found one of the many rich Mexican mines in the area. Cage offered an old drift or adit in Gold Rush Canyon as proof of Mexican mining in the area. Today Gold Rush Canyon no longer exists. The canyon has been obliterated by open pit mining in the area.

Bill told my dad he knew the old “Dutchman Jacob Waltz” when he was an apprentice blacksmith in Phoenix in the 1880’s. Bill further informed my father the “Dutchman” Waltz was a very secretive man and talked to very few people. Bill said he repaired a special short shovel for him, made him special chisels and made him a small pick. He also said he worked on his pack saddles a couple of times. Cage said Waltz often rode a dark mule and had two or three pack burros in his string when he went into the mountains.

Dad asked Bill if he ever saw any of the Dutchman’s gold. Bill told my father he would have to be honest about that and said no. Bill further told my father Waltz prospected during the winter months and worked during the summer months on irrigation ditches for different farmers along the north bank of the Salt River. He also said Waltz had a good size truck garden and raised a lot of vegetables. He further said Waltz raised chickens, a few rabbits and a couple of goats. Cage further stated Waltz claimed to have a friend in the mountain he visited several times over the years. He never said what mountains or what his friends name was. Cage never named Waltz’s friend, but I would surmise it was Elisha M. Reavis.

When Bill Cage passed on in 1959, at the ripe old age of ninety, he left behind an interesting life. He had prospected the Superstition Mountains off and on for almost sixty years. He left my father with a legacy about the life of an old man who loved to search for lost gold and treasure. This lure of gold in the Superstition Mountains had attracted a wide range of personalities who believed strongly in the possibility of a lost gold mine or cache in the area.

The legacy of Jacob Waltz, the old Dutchman and the Lost Dutchman mine, continues to attract men and women from around the nation and the world.

Recent discoveries such as ancient tunnels seem to indicate Mexican miners and prospectors may have entered the Superstition Mountain region prior to 1850. These miners and prospectors probably came from the Santa Cruz and San Pedro river valleys.