Monday, August 28, 2017

Lost Gold: The Affliction

August 21, 2017 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness Area has fascinated and mesmerized those who have walked or rode the trails within the towering spires and deep canyons of this region. The terrain can overwhelm you with beauty, isolation, vastness, tranquility and just pure ruggedness. These 159,780 acres of wilderness continue 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. His book wasn’t much of a success; however it did get him a threat of a lawsuit from Barry Storm, another author on the topic.

Weaver’s Needle has always been associated in some way with the location of the Lost Dutchman or Dutchman’s lost mine.
Today’s prospectors and treasure hunters still wander the region in search of gold or treasure; however, 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. A few wildcatters still take their chances with the authorities.

Contemporary writers, weekend explorers and the curious continue looking for facts and information associated with events that occurred decades ago. Such research and discussions have 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 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. The forum about the Dutchman’s Lost Mine can be factual and it can be fictional at the same time. It is very difficult to separate the fact from the fiction. After all history is a very thin gray line between the truth and a lie. You can Google up these forums on the Internet. You might want to look at Desert USA, Treasure Net, or The Lost Dutchman Mine.

When somebody 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 a 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 some old timers might not have told anyone about their discoveries in the hills. This type of behavior could easily explain all the confusion involving the Dutchman’s lost mine.

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 allegedly 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? 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 are some unscrupulous pseudo-historians who will tell you that the gold came from an old Mexican ore mill on Peter’s Mesa and that other similar fragments of the gold ore can be traced to the Massacre Grounds, supposedly confirming or backing up the story of the Peralta Massacre in 1847. This is a bizarre tale with no historical foundation to support it. To believe such a story is to believe in a fairy tale. My father walked Peter’s Mesa and several other areas west of old George Miller’s place in the late 1930’s, and found nothing but the hard work of old time dreamers. My father never questioned the tenacity and obsession of the old timers that searched for gold in the Superstition Mountains.

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 1920’s,  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, Howard Van Devender, and many, many more that allegedly found the mine and reaped its profits. Most of those profits were monies they talked 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. 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. Even after Robert Jacob was convicted some still believed he had found a bonanza and that the government was trying to keep him from bringing the gold out.

Now you ask me is there a Dutchman lost mine somewhere out in the rugged Superstition Mountain region? Yes, I have dreamed of finding this mine, but I have never found any evidence that really suggested the mine existed. Everything is based on subjective hearsay. Actually, facts about the 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 that supports this alleged gold ore is nothing more than hearsay. Even I am guilty of signing an affidavit that verifies I saw the gold ore and jewelry “Brownie” Holmes claims belonged to Jacob Waltz. Again 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 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.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Arizona Bound Along the Apache Trail

August 7, 2017 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

This image was captured along a portion of the old Goldfield-Mesa City Trail, c. 1915. Photo is from the Southern Pacific Railroad’s “Apache Trail” album.

It was on February 13, 1927, a special train with five cars arrived in Phoenix from Los Angeles. The purpose of the special train was to carry a company of fifty famous Player-Lasky players who were filming a western movie for Paramount Films.

The title of the picture they were filming was Arizona Bound. The director of this western motion picture was John Waters. His assistant director was Richard Blayton. The company motored along the Apache Trail to Fish Creek Canyon where they planned to film several takes of Arizona Bound.

The film centered on the stagecoach days of early Arizona, back in the 1890s.

Betty Jewel played the feminine lead, while Gary Cooper, Jack Dougherty and Christian Frank interpreted the important male parts. The scenes are centered on a picturesque stagecoach and twenty-two-head of horses negotiating Fish Creek Hill. The location managers couldn’t have picked a better site for filming, based on the dramatic and scenic backdrop Fish Creek Canyon provided for the cameras; however, the area was quite remote. It was more than fifty miles from Phoenix.

The story, Arizona Bound, was written by Paul Gangelin. The cameraman for the project was Charlie Schoenbaum, one of the best known cameramen on the coast. Schoenbaum was really impressed with the filming opportunities that he found in this area. Betty Jewel was the only star brought from the coast for the filming. At the time Gary Cooper wasn’t a major star in Hollywood.

The crew motored in a large bus from the Adams Hotel and the Arizona Hotel to their filming site daily. The filming involved extremely long days for the crew under quite primitive conditions.

The storyline of Arizona Bound was woven around the transportation of a particular gold shipment from New Mexico to Arizona in the early 1890s. The entire film was built around Arizona life and scenes.

John Waters directed many of Zane Grey’s stories, turning them into very popular motion pictures. Waters returned to Arizona to film other productions along the Apache Trail. Waters was one of the leading directors in the moving picture industry in the late 1920s. His success focused around new film techniques, new stars and innovations. One important attribute of his films was on “location,” no matter where.

Gary Cooper appeared in this film, and this was one of his first trips to Arizona for the purpose of filmmaking. For any of you who were fans of this legendary actor: yes, Gary Cooper rode the Apache Trail.

The Apache Trail was an enormous attraction to the directors of film in Hollywood. Arizona encouraged film companies to film in Arizona during this period. I served on the Apache Junction Film Commission for ten years, and during my involvement, we had a lot of success attracting films to the Apache Junction region. We had an excellent film commission here in Apache Junction with Cindy Bushboom, Eric Sundt, Ann Cole, Sandie Smith, Sissy Young, Roger Young, Rosemary Shearer and many more. Apache Junction was well represented on the local and national scene. Our members were invited to Hollywood and other California film centers and we prepared dossiers on several film sites in and around the central mountain region and Apache Junction. We sponsored big shows at Apache Land called “Elvis Lives.” We had a large turnout for these programs.

Film in Apache Junction was very active between 1986-1998; another interesting part of Apache Junction history I can relate to. I do apologize for leaving any names off the film commission list. My memory is not what it used to be.