Monday, October 20, 2014

The Dutchman's 2014 Rendezvous

October 13, 2014 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

About eighty to a hundred people attended last year’s “Dutchman’s Rendezvous” at the Don’s Camp.
We are now well into the twenty-first century and the intense interest in lost gold in the Superstition Mountain area still prevails. Men and women continue to come to Arizona hoping to find their fortunes. Most find nothing and others are lucky to get away without the loss of their lives. Sadly, some make poor choices and eventually end up dead.

Death or injury is no stranger to the unprepared and inexperienced in this rugged mountain range east of Apache Junction. Prospectors have died from extreme weather conditions, from gunshot wounds, from falls, drowned in flash floods, and from natural causes.

Since the early 1880s men and women have searched these rugged mountains for gold and lost mines. The most significant lost mine stories centers around an old German immigrant name Jacob Waltz. His mine was allegedly located near a prominent landmark called Weaver’s Needle just east of Superstition Mountain.

Maintaining a camp in these mountains can be difficult at best. The trails are rough and steep making it difficult to deliver supplies. Also pack trains (horses or mules) are a very expensive method in which to move needed items into the wilderness. Also, all camps are limited to fifteen days by forest service regulations.

Camps cannot be established within a quarter-of-a-mile of a water source. This can make camping very difficult in the dry season when water is scarce. One can easily get disoriented in these mountains if they don’t have map reading experience. The lost have died trying to find their way out of the mountains as recent as 2012. No one is immune to the dangers that exist in these mountains, however, caution and common sense will protect most from serious injury or death.

Each year I am amazed at the people who become involved in the search for the Lost Dutchman Mine. There is a continuous list of new prospectors who are searching the mountains for clues. 

Many years ago a businessman and prospector named Joe Ribaudo (who lives in Lake Havasu City) decided he wanted to see the Dutchman legend carried on by some kind of annual gathering. He came up with the idea of the “Dutchman’s Rendezvous.” He held the first gathering just west of Twin Buttes and the coke ovens along the Gila River east of Florence. The first gathering was small with thirteen attending in October of 2005, however there was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea. The next year, the rendezvous was moved to Don’s Camp. This was accomplished with the help of Don’s member Greg Davis. The camp is located at the base of Superstition Mountain near the Peralta Trailhead. Each year the activity is held toward the end of October and has grown. It is a gathering of individuals that are extremely interested in the Superstition Mountains and its many tales and stories. This event has attracted old timers as well as younger folks anxious to learn the stories of Superstition Mountain.

The third year Joe handed over the organizing of the “Dutchman’s Rendezvous” to Wayne Tuttle and Randy Wright. Greg Davis continued to make the arrangements for the Don’s Camp for the rendezvous. Joe and his wife, Carolyn, remained camp hosts and provided some shade and cold water. The scheduled activities include a variety of options. Friday night includes sitting around a campfire and entertaining each other by telling stories about the mountains. There is usually a guided hike on Saturday. After dark on Saturday everyone gathers around the large Ramada to listen to a couple of guest speakers.

I have attended for last three years and I think it was an excellent opportunity to meet a variety of people from all over the United States who were interested in our history. As I look back I should have made an effort to attend and report on all of these events. Please don’t get this event confused with Lost Dutchman Days in Apache Junction. This has nothing to do with that particular event or the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce.

Last year there were three days of events. The interested, the curious and the very serious showed up last year. Some individuals drove from Texas, California, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and several other distant locations. The organizers should be proud of their accomplishment. I didn’t personally count each and everyone in attendance, but I would estimate there were about eighty to a hundred people who attended last year’s “Dutchman’s Rendezvous” at Don’s Camp.

A number of old time Dutch Hunters attended, and of course they are legends in their own right. Many authors, who have published books about the Superstition Mountains and the Lost Dutchman’s Mine attended.

The Dutch Hunter’s (Dutchman’s) Rendezvous is an open event, so everyone is welcome. This year’s event is scheduled for October 24, 25 and 26, 2014. There will be guest speakers at the Saturday night campfire gathering (October 25). I promised Wayne Tuttle I would also say a few words. The camp is primitive, so bring what you need to be comfortable— including water, food, and bedding if you are spending the night. For more information you may email Joe at