Tuesday, April 21, 1998

Wiggins' Gold

April 21, 1998 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. 

The Tucson Citizen reported the discovery of the Dutchman’s Lost Mine on April 16, 1932, near Superior, Arizona. The first paragraph of the article read as follows:

A gold strike of wide proportions and averaging $12,000 to the ton was announced in Tucson today as having been found six miles from Superior in the Superstition Mountains. The reported discovery was made by Thomas Wiggins, 56, who showed handfuls of nuggets as big as marbles in the mining town today.

The Tucson Citizen’s report of the find caused a stampede to the site which was about six and a half miles from Superior near Picket Post Mountain. Wiggins, the discoverer of the mine, believed it to be the famous Lost Dutchman Mine.

Residents of the area rushed to the edge of the little gully to see the ledge of gold for themselves, and were turned back by armed guards. The ore was so rich that, when broken, it was still held together by ribbons of almost pure gold. At least that was the claim.

Armed guards were placed at the camp to keep high-graders away. Several shooting incidents did occur over the claims. All the land around the area in the Superstitions began to be filled upon by prospectors and miners as soon as the news was out about the gold discovery.

At the age of 19, Thomas W. Wiggins rode with Theodore Roosevelt and the Arizona Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Mr. Wiggins married a Miss Quarrels of Tucson in 1903. It was through his wife’s relation that he met an old Mexican man that told him about the Dutchman’s Lost Mine being located near a fortress-shaped mountain on the trail to Globe from Florence. Wiggins, after talking to several people, determined the mountain to be Picket Post.

Wiggins had lived in the Superior area for about five years before making the discovery. An old Phoenix man had told Wiggins that all men that had searched for gold in the Picket Post area in the early days usually found gold if they worked at it.

Wiggins said he followed this tip and eventually discovered this rich vein of gold and silver. Wiggins reported the ore assayed 124.5 ounces of gold per ton and ten ounces of silver to the ton. The principal vein was four to six inches thick. Other veins in the area ran from six dollars to fifty dollars per ton in gold and silver. Wiggins named his claims the Katie Claims, probably after his wife.

Thomas Wiggins eventually faded into obscurity along with his alleged claim of finding the Dutchman’s Lost Mine. Wiggins had found gold near Picket Post, but not in the quantity he first believed or reported. Even today gold can still be recovered in the area in minute amounts.

Maybe old Tom Wiggins’ true legacy was his walk up San Juan Hill in June of 1898 with Colonel Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. It’s going to be interesting to see how Wiggins will be remembered. Will he be remembered for the gold he found at Picket Post Mountain or the walk up San Juan Hill with Roosevelt in 1898?