Monday, October 5, 2009

Waltz at Pinto Creek

October 5, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The story of Jacob Waltz and his fabulous gold mine continues to attract prospectors and treasure hunters to the Superstition Wilderness Area of central Arizona. There are many versions of stories about Waltz’s lost mine.

Many old timers really don’t believe Waltz had a mine, but knew exactly what he was doing when he high-graded gold from other mines. He allegedly left clues around the frontier town of Phoenix to discourage anyone trying to figure out his scheme. One of his clues was, “You can’t see my mine from the military trail, but you can see the military trail from my mine.”

He also said, according to legend, “The evening rays of the setting sun shine into the entrance of my mine.” Waltz left these clues behind to hinder and confuse those who wanted to follow him into the mountains. Actually there is no real proof Waltz left such clues behind.

Jacob Waltz did exist. His name appears on naturalization papers, census records, grain receipts, and other documents. Waltz did live in Phoenix from about 1868 until the time of his death on October 25, 1891. His death was well documented by local periodicals.

Some claim there was forty-eight pounds of high-grade gold ore in a candle box under his deathbed. This discovery of gold ore under his deathbed lead to many versions as to how he acquired this small fortune.

Many of you have heard the standard version of where this ore came from, but there are others stories from different sources that are creditable. There are several interesting stories that have emerged from the old pioneers around Florence.

There is a story told about Waltz arriving in Florence in 1872 looking for a carpenter who could build a dry washer. Waltz was told to look up a man named “Frank”. Waltz found Frank. He asked him if he could build a dry washer that could be packed on the back of a burro. Frank looked at Waltz’s burro and agreed he could build such a dry washer.

Waltz told Frank that he had been working some placer gold near Pinto Creek and he wanted to trace its source with a dry washer. He had already worked the area with a horn and pan. He said he wanted to do a little more serious searching. Waltz’s search area was no secret to many people around Florence at the time.

This story correlates well with another tale. The story of Fool’s Canyon has some interesting parallels to this story first printed in a book by John D. Mitchell, a close friend of Milton Rose’s father. The Fool’s Canyon story tells of another placer gold deposit near Pinto Creek. Bill Cage spent many years prospecting the area and knew old man Shute quite well. Shute claimed there was a rich deposit of placer gold in the area somewhere, therefore there had to be a rich vein of gold ore in the area. Shute had used a dry washer in the tributaries of Pinto Creek since the 1880s.

Shute also told Bill Cage he had never seen Jacob Waltz in the area, but that really didn’t mean anything. The Pinto Creek country is really a rugged brushy terrain.

Prospectors have worked placer gold in the Pinto Creek and Gold Rush Creek area for decades until the mines completely obliterated the eastern tributaries of creek.

Placer gold could still be found in the narrows below the old steel bridge that crosses Pinto Creek on the Kennedy Ranch (Miles) road in the mid 1970s. It is possible the area was the source of some of Waltz’s gold ore, especially if Waltz had traced out the placer and found the ore deposit. We must remember Waltz was very experienced at hunting gold and tracing placer deposits to their source.

Many prospectors have worked the placer gold of Pinto Creek over the years. Big mining conglomerates and individual prospectors claim much of the area today.

There are a few areas along Pinto Creek, when there is sufficient water, you might be able to stick your pan in the water and pan for gold and not be considered a high-grader.

Some of the claim holders along Pinto Creek are serious prospectors and miners and if you are on their claims looking for gold they may consider you a high-grader. You are\ stealing if you remove material from a legal claim.

Several years ago there was an enormous flood that completed covered most of the bedrock in the “narrows” of Pinto Creek. These “narrow” were the best locations for placer. Flash floods continue to change the topography of Pinto Creek along with the mining companies and prospectors.

The story about Jacob Waltz working placer in area is not preposterous. You must consider he was an experienced miner, there was gold in the area, and he could have discovered the source of the placer gold in Pinto Creek.