Monday, May 11, 2015

An Affliction

May 4, 2015 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness Area has fascinated and mesmerized those who have walked and rode 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 continue to attract gold and treasure hunters as prospectors continue to wander the trails of the Superstition Wilderness Area in search of gold.

Bonanza gold, worth about $470,000 per ton.
Some claim it looked a lot like Jacob Waltz gold
from beneath his death bed— If that story is true.
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. His book wasn’t much of a success—however, 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 in search of gold or treasure, but for the most part, their way of life is slowly disappearing. Strict forest service regulations and the withdrawal of the wilderness from mineral entry has all but ended prospecting and mining in the region. The only mining that might possibly exist in the wilderness area today is totally illegal.

Contemporary writers, weekend explorers, and the curious continue looking for facts and information associated with events that occurred decades ago. Such research and discussions has been opened to the public through various forums about the Superstition Mountains and the Lost Dutchman Mine on the internet or worldwide web. You might say a new type Argonaut has arrived on the landscape for the wilderness area.

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 internet or the worldwide 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. 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 interested in 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’d be in. I believe most old timers would not tell anyone about their discoveries in the hills. This 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. There is no guarantee as to the source of this gold ore found under Waltz’s deathbed.

The Dutchman’s lost mine continues to be 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 1920s more than 170 individuals have claimed they found the fabulously rich Dutchman’s lost mine. The roll of discoverers lists the names of 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 conned out of innocent and naïve investors. I have watched this vicious cycle for more than fifty years and witnessed the destruction and heartache it has caused to innocent people. Arizona Attorney General Robert K. Corbin successfully convicted and jailed a couple of these crooks. Most notable was Robert Simpson Jacob. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for his part in a criminal conspiracy.

Now you ask is there a Dutchman lost mine somewhere out in the rugged Superstition Mountain region? I have dreamed of finding this mine, but I have never found any evidence to really suggest the mine existed. Everything is based of subjective hearsay. Actual 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 alleged pieces of this gold that supposedly exist today. The documentation supporting this alleged gold ore is nothing more than hearsay. Even I am guilty of signing an affidavit some thirty years ago  verifying that I saw the gold ore and jewelry “Brownie” Holmes claims 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— meaning who knows for sure where that gold came from that was found under his bed. Dreams help 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 said, “Yesterday’s adventures are today’s memories.”