Monday, February 17, 2014

The Miller Mine

February 10, 2014 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The legend of the Dutchman’s Lost Mine continues to haunt the history of the Superstition Mountain region. The word "legend" is derived from the Latin word legenda: a participial form from the Latin verb legere meaning to read. In Medieval Latin legenda was used to mean "something to be read." During the 14th Century, it is likely the utterly incredible exploits and events recounted in some legends led to the present English definition of the word’s meaning, "unverified popular tale, myth, etc." It is by this definition I recommend we should read and learn more about the history and lore of Superstition Mountain area.

One of the stone cabins near the Miller Mine, supposedly where Jacob Waltz lived while working the mine.

Mr. Lewis A. Weise came upon an interesting story in July 1920. Weise heard that George Miller had found the Lost Dutchman Mine east of Phoenix and agreed to accompany a party of two to the site of the mine. The party consisted of Dr. Robert A. Aiton and James G. Simpson. The party left Phoenix on Sunday, July 11, 1920, and drove fifty-five miles on the road to Roosevelt Dam. At that point along the Apache Trail the three men left the car and hiked along a burro trail eastward for about four miles. The trail brought them to the head of a very deep ravine. The mining camp was finally located on a ridge beside a burro trail.

Dr. Robert A. Aiton, promoter of the Miller Mine and
 Lost Dutchman Mine Corporation in 1920’s.
The mine was being worked by a crew of five men under the supervision of an old time prospector-miner named George Miller. The mine was equipped
with a six-horsepower gasoline engine that operated a bucket and air fan. The main shaft was 100 feet deep and two incline shafts were sixty and fifty feet respectively. According to Weise, the specimen chipped off the vein assayed at $40 per ton in gold.

The mine was located, according to Weise, by George Miller, who started working the area in 1913. Miller had worked many locations in the vicinity, but had not found any specimens that yielded gold. Miller claimed he didn’t find the present bonanza until 1915. According to Miller, an old Native American had told him about the old "Dutchman" Jacob Waltz, and his diggings there. Miller also said the mine fit all the clues associated with the Lost Dutchman Mine. There was an old stone cabin that stood near the mine. It was a stone cabin, according to Miller, that Jacob Waltz used while working his mine.

As George Miller told Lewis Weise his story, he was convinced he had found the Lost Dutchman Mine in the mountains sixty miles east of Phoenix. Weise stated it appeared Miller had an unlimited supply of rich gold ore to process.

Now, history will tell us the Miller Mine (Lost Dutchman Mine) never amounted to anything. Lots of money was invested through the efforts of Dr. Aiton but no gold was ever produced. Dr. Aiton died in Superior, Arizona, on Monday, February 17, 1928, and George (Dracluvich) Miller died on April 6, 1936, and was buried on his claim near his mine.

Mr. Lewis Weise’s newspaper article recorded for all time the legend of George Miller and his Lost Dutchman Mine. Isn’t the difference between history and legend a thin line after all? The Miller Mine (Lost Dutchman Mine) story was followed up with stories in the Arizona Gazette, Arizona Republican, Arizona State Miner and the Florence Blade-Tribune during the month of August 1920. This was the beginning of the legacy of George Miller’s Lost Dutchman Mine and Dr. Robert A. Aiton’s corporation the Lost Dutchman Mine, Inc.

This area today is accessible by a very rough four wheel drive trail from the Tortilla Ranch access corridor off the Apache Trail about twenty miles east of Apache Junction. From the end of the four-wheel drive trail it is still a half-mile walk to the site of the old Miller Mine (Lost Dutchman Mine). One should be very careful exploring the area because of prospect holes and depressions. There is no evidence of gold ore in this area.

George Miller and his two partners are buried near their mine. Miller’s grave is no longer marked as it once was. The erosion of time has erased the cultural marks on the land except for the old diggings.