Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Superstition Gold Stories

May 5, 2010 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

There are more stories about lost gold and large gold caches within the boundaries of the Superstition Wilderness Area than contained in all the treasure books of the Americas. But the United States Geological Service reports no profitable deposit of minerals are available within the wilderness area, with the exception of perlite or similar building material that results from deposit of welded volcanic ash a common product of a volcanic eruption. Many years ago there were reports from the USGS that reported deep-seated mineral deposits below 5,000 feet. Apparently none of these deposits proved economical or profitable to work after a Canadian company did some deep-seat drilling near the old JF Ranch. One drill site penetrated the earth's surface some 8,700 feet without favorable results.

Their names have been lost with time, but these men are miners in front of Lost Dutchman Mine No. #1 head frame near Tortilla Ranch, c. 1926.
Now, how about the many gold stories told. I have heard the story of Jacob Waltz and his mine since I was a child. Oh yes, his mine was so rich you could carve pure gold out of an eighteen inch vein with a knife. Also there was enough gold in sight at the mine to make twenty men multi-millionaires. These tales from the 1890's continue to fascinate men and women today. Sometime around 1920 Dr. Robert Alexander Aiton claimed he was opening the Lost Dutchman Mine, Inc., some sixty miles east of Phoenix. Newspaper articles of the period attested to the rich ore discovered at the Miller Mine (Lost Dutchman Mine.) By 1929 this story proved to be a stock scam and finally witnessed its' own demise.

Another interesting story involved a World War I veteran who discovered a cave in the Superstition Mountains filled with gold nuggets. Charley Williams disappeared in the Superstition Primitive Area in 1935. Williams, a crippled veteran was reported missing January 5, 1935. For several days it was feared Williams was dead. On January 8, 1935 Williams emerged from the mountains with a pocket full of gold nuggets and a strange story of how they were discovered. Williams told how he entered a cave and bumped his head. As he sat on the floor of the cave he scooped up these golden pebbles. As it turned out they were gold nuggets. When the nuggets were analyzed they turned out to be dental gold. The U.S. Government confiscated the nuggets under the U.S. Gold Act and planned to prosecute Williams for hoarding gold. Williams had more than five ounces of gold. The U.S. Government kept the illegal gold and Williams was not prosecuted. This was basically the end of the story.

Early in the 1950's another treasure story jumped up on the Southwestern stage. This story involved a strange set of stone maps found near Florence Junction. According to those who claimed they could interpret these stone maps, the maps supposedly led to a bonanza of gold. These maps have since fueled many horrendously fraudulent claims that helped relieve many investors of their hard earned savings.

First, there was Clarence O. Mitchell, (Travis Marlowe) and his M.O.E.L. Corporation in the 1960's. The infamous M.O.E.L. Corporation was followed by Robert Simpson "Crazy Jake" Jacob, and his claim of discovering several metric tons of gold bullion in Squaw Box Canyon. Jacob was eventually convicted of fraud and sentenced to ten years in prison. He also admitted at his trial he never had such a treasure in the Super-stition Mountains. The Arizona Attorney General's office estimated Jake relieved his investors of more than eight million dollars over a period of nine years. Robert Simpson Jacob was a man with a "golden tongue."

There were several incidental purveyors of the Peralta Stone Maps after the M.O.E.L. Corporation and Robert "Crazy Jake" Jacob. Many of these individual believed in the credibility of the "stone maps." Unfortunately investors have lost millions of dollars being involved with people who claim they have solved the "mystery of the Peralta Stone Maps. Charles "Chuck" A. Crawford was a big promoter of the Stone Maps and claimed to have located the "end of the trail" in the Upper La Barge Box at the old mining claims of Roy Bradford. Bob Corbin and I visited his site in the early 1980's. Chuck and his investor were convinced they had found the hidden gold of the Peralta family. Chuck never really had a job; he used his investor's money to promote his own agenda. Ironically Crawford's legacy continues today even after his death.

To this day investors continue to invest money in the Stone Maps. Ironically if the stone maps were authentic the United States Government would have confiscated them years ago under the national antiquity act. If they were authentic we would be looking at them in the Smithsonian Museum under early American history. Yes, there is a remote possibility that there might be deep-seated gold veins within the Superstition Wilderness, but for the most part what little bit of gold that is found in the wilderness is microscopic and of no real economic value. For those who insist on throwing their money away on tall stories about lost gold in the Superstition Wilderness Area all I can recommend is don't plan on writing it off on your taxes. There is no legitimate mining operation going on in the Superstition Wilderness Area presently. As far as the record shows the only Trove Treasure permit ever issued for the wilderness area was to Ronald Feldman of the O.K. Corral in 2004 for a dig near Iron Mountain.

The history and legacy of this mountain continues to attract those who dream of riches even beyond the scope of Frank J. Dobie's book Coronado's Children. We all probably have dreamed about discovery a lost gold mine or treasure, but the reality of these dreams is nothing comes easy in this world of work. Wealth is generated by hard work and good planning.