Monday, September 23, 2013

What Dreams Are Made Of

Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness Area has fascinated and mesmerized those who have walked and ridden the trails within the towering spires and deep canyons of this region. The terrain can overwhelm you with beauty, isolation, tranquility, vastness and pure ruggedness. These 159,780 acres of wilderness continues to attract gold and treasure hunters. Prospectors continue to wander the trails of the Superstition Wilderness Area in search of gold.

Most of the gold they searched for was in their minds according to "Doc" Rosecrans, an old time prospector of the area now deceased. He spent forty years living along the Apache Trail and occasionally hiked into the Superstition Wilderness to explore a hunch. He published a small book on the Dutchman’s Lost Mine in 1949. Although his book wasn’t much of a success, it did get him the threat of a lawsuit from Barry Storm, another author on the topic.

Prospectors and treasure hunters still wander the region but, for the most part, their way of life is slowly disappearing. Strict forest service regulations have ended the legal mining in the region.

Contemporary writers, weekend explorers, and the curious continue looking for facts and information associated with events that occurred decades ago. The three most controversial topics are the location of the Dutchman’s Lost Mine, the Peralta Stone Maps and the tragic death of Adolph Ruth. These topics continue to attract a wide range of interest among readers on the web. The internet has changed the way we view and research material today. A forum about the Dutchman’s Lost Mine can be factual or it can be fictional depending on its source. It is very difficult to separate the fact from the fiction especially online.

When someone claims they have found a lost gold mine how do you know they are telling the truth? A simple question might be: "Where is the gold?"

If that person were to produce gold, then there would be some interesting repercussions from those curious about where the gold was found. The next question would be: "Did you stake a claim?" Would any person in their right mind stake a claim on rich vein of gold? Probably not! A claim notice would be an invitation for everyone to come and look at your rich gold mine. I believe this explains the dilemma you would be in. I would believe most old timers would not have told anyone about their discoveries in the hills. This type of behavior could easily explain all the confusion associated with the Dutchman’s lost mine today.

Jacob Waltz, the legendary "Dutchman," may or may not have had a gold mine. Nobody knows for sure. When he died on October 25, 1891, a candle box of high-grade gold ore was found under his bed. This gold proved to be of bonanza quality. The discovery of this candle box of rich ore created a controversy that continues to linger to this day. Where did this gold ore come from? How much was there, 24 lbs., 48 lbs.? Men and women have searched the high peaks and deep canyons of the Superstition Wilderness Area for the source of this gold ore to no avail.

The Dutchman’s lost mine continues to be just a tale about a lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. To many folks, the mine is a figment of somebody’s imagination that continually draws in more dreamers each year. Since the early 1920’s more than 170 individuals have claimed they found the fabulously rich Dutchman’s lost mine. The roll of discoverers lists men like Glen Magill, Barry Storm, Robert Simpson Jacob, Charles M. Crawford, and many, many more that allegedly found the mine and reaped its profits. Most of those profits were monies they extracted from innocent and naïve investors. I have watched this vicious cycle for more than fifty years and have witnessed the destruction and heartache it has caused.

Former Arizona Attorney General Robert K. Corbin successfully tried and jailed a couple of these crooks. Most notable was Robert Simpson Jacob. Jacob was sentenced to ten years in prison for his part in a criminal conspiracy.

Now you ask me: "Is there a Dutchman lost mine somewhere out in the rugged Superstition Mountain region?" Like many others, I have dreamed of finding this mine, but I have not found any evidence that suggests the mine ever existed. Everything is based on subjective hearsay. Actually facts about this lost mine just don’t exist. Even the alleged rich gold ore found under Waltz’s bed is based on hearsay information. Yes, there are supposedly pieces of this gold that exist today. But the documentation that supports this alleged gold ore is nothing more than hearsay. Even I am guilty of signing an affidavit some thirty years ago verifying I saw the gold ore and jewelry "Brownie" Holmes claimed belonged to Jacob Waltz. Again, even witnessing such a thing is still subjective information at best.

A very distinguished gentleman once said Waltz’s gold ore is what dreams are made of. Who knows where that gold came from that was found under his bed? Dreams help to build subjective ideology.
Let’s face it, if you have spent a lifetime searching for the gold of Superstition Mountain there has to be something meaningful to the story. Maybe my father had it all figured out when he basically said, "Yesterday’s adventures are today’s memories."

The iconic Dutchman and his burro stand at the entrances to Apache Junction and greet all who visit.
September 16, 2013 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.