Tuesday, January 20, 1998

Weaver's Needle

January 20, 1998 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. 

Southeast of First Water Trailhead lies a prominent landmark known throughout Lost Dutchman Mine lore. This landmark is Weaver’s Needle. This towering spire of rock rises to an elevation of 4,553 feet above sea level. Historians claim the “needle” was named after frontier scout, mountain man, prospector and trapper Paulino Weaver. The name, which appears on this landmark today, first appeared on maps around 1853. Weaver’s Needle has been known by other names such as Needle Rock, Statue Mountain and Picacho Peak.

Most maps which make reference to the Lost Dutchman Mine mention the “needle” in some way. This dominating feature is the focal point of the map. Many tales include words like “look for the pointed peak” or “the mine is located within a two mile radius of the needle rock.”

The geology of Weaver’s Needle appears to have confused many so-called geologist[s] over the years. Most of these individuals have referred to the “needle” as a volcanic plug. In reality this is not the case. Weaver’s Needle is an erosional remnant. There is adequate geological evidence to bear this out.

A volcanic plug is nothing more than the remains of a volcanic conduit. A conduit is that part of the volcano which transports the magma to the earth’s surface. When a volcano ceases to be active, the magma in the conduit solidifies, forming rock which is usually consistent and much more resistant to erosion than the material surrounding the conduit. A volcano plug is always quite consistent in the type of rock that is formed after the cessation of an eruption. This process is then followed by thousands or perhaps millions of years of erosion. The results of this erosional process leaves a volcanic plug exposed to the atmosphere.

There are two major characteristics which eliminate Weaver’s Needle from being a volcanic plug. One, the layers exposed near the base of the needle are alternating layers of ash and basalt, extrusive volcanics. Secondly, the faulting associated with the needle provides a clear-cut view of the alternating layers of basalt and ash. If Weaver’s Needle was indeed a volcanic plug, then there would be no alternating layers of ash and basalt. Ash is an eruptive pyroclastic which was ejected from a crater, vent, crack or cone during a volcanic eruption. If the needle was a plug there would be no indication of that layering. Most prospectors want to believe the needle is a volcanic plug because plugs are sometimes associated with rich mineralization.

During the 1950s such individuals as Edgar Piper, Maria Jones and many others made their home near the base of Weaver’s Needle. Their fascination for this rugged peak captured the imagination of the nation in documentaries and newspapers. These prospectors left quite a legacy behind.

Weaver’s Needle continues to fascinate men and women with its beauty and the towering spire of its façade. This landmark dominates the region east of Superstition Mountain. Those who have camped or slept in the shadows of the “needle” have been awed by the wilderness spirit.