Monday, January 5, 2015

Tribute to a Legend

December 29, 2014 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The “Lost Dutchman Monument” on North Apache Trail, just north of the City Focal Point.
The legend still brings prospectors
to the Superstitions.
The legend and lore of Superstition Mountain has prompted a continuous search for hidden gold or lost treasure within the towering spires and deep canyons of this nationally known landmark for the past century. Men and women from all walks of life come to bid their luck against the elements and dangers of a mountain some call “evil.”

A German immigrant named Jacob Waltz supposedly started this contemporary search with clues about a rich gold mine that he allegedly found within the realm of this mountain. These clues, after his demise on October 25,1891, fired the imagination of the citizens of Phoenix and the surrounding countryside. The story of lost gold in these mountains led many on a dangerous and wild search. These stories are a century old now and they still tantalize the imagination of contemporary adventurers. A century of searching has passed since Waltz’s death, yet no rich gold mine has been discovered.

Only one other man has created such an interest and lust for lost gold since Waltz’s death. This was Adolph Ruth. He did it by dying in the summer of 1931, alone in the heart of the Superstitions. 

Ruth’s sudden and violent death in mountains quickly replaced the headlines of “depression” in major newspapers across the nation.

Across this nation newspaper headlines echoed the story of Ruth’s mysterious death in the Superstition Mountains while searching for gold. Soon after these stories appeared authors and journalists capitalized on the story of Superstition Mountain and the infamous Lost Dutchman’s mine.

The story caused temptation on the part of readers to pack their bags and head for the Superstition Mountains in Arizona and begin the search for gold.

The list is endless of those men and women who have searched and died in this barren and rugged wasteland known as the Superstition Wilderness Area. Some threw their fortunes away just for an opportunity to search for this hidden wealth.  All of them believed they would find that single solitary clue that would lead them to the golden cache, riches beyond the dreams of kings.

The Lost Dutchman mine is one of the most often found mines in the world and yet still remains lost. Since 1895, the mine has been found at least 150 times by a variety of individuals from all walks of life. The annual winter migrations of prospectors descending on the Superstition Wilderness Area only proves the interest still exists in the mine’s story today. This story is still America’s most popular lost mine story and continues to captivate the imagination of dreamers.  This fanatic search for lost gold has driven some men to the brink of insanity and some even to suicide.

Some of these individuals have even organized complex corporations and implemented sophisticated electronic equipment to aid in their quest for the gold they believe is contained within the rocks of Superstition Mountain or its wilderness.  Even with the advent of modern technology and the advancement of electronic metal detection equipment the legendary Lost Dutchman’s mine continues to elude the prospector’s pick or shovel.

The hunting of lost mines, in particular the legendary Lost Dutchman’s mine, is like chasing a rainbow, “so close yet so far away.” 

The search itself is a solo avocation among the most ethical and honest lost mine hunters. These men and women share no information and ask nobody for assistance. Maybe it is not the finding that is so important to them, but the searching. It is a documented fact many an old timer found pay dirt, only to sell it or lose it so he could return to his wanderlust way of life prospecting in the hills. The source gold and legends are where you find them, “out in the hills.”

The true Dutchman aficionados are definitely blessed with a certain amount of happiness and the rewards of adventure in the great outdoors.  They spend countless hours, days, months and years around campfires speculating about the location of Superstition Mountain’s hidden wealth. 

As long as there are those who dream there will be Dutch Hunters and treasure hunters probing the towering spires and deep canyons of the Superstition Wilderness Area searching for lost gold and treasure. This is the story of those who search for gold in the Superstition Mountain region.