Tuesday, May 19, 1998

A Place Called Paradise

May 19, 1998 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. 

Don’t we all sometimes dream of paradise and riches?

As a child I often dreamed of finding a lost gold mine or treasure, and accompanied my father on many excursions into the Superstition Mountains during the late 1940s. A friend of Father’s told us about a place called Paradise. As many of you probably already know, there is a place in Arizona called Paradise, but the Paradise my father and I looked for was in the heart of the Superstition Wilderness.

From a prospecting point of view, it wasn’t often that my father found the eastern end of the Superstition Wilderness interesting or even encouraging. But, Dad was told about a deep shaft with an iron door located in a canyon called Paradise near a spring of the same name in the eastern end of the Superstitions. Father believed nobody would dig a deep vertical shaft, let alone timber the shaft and put a head frame over it, unless there was good reason.

Our adventure started at the Reavis Ranch Road some twenty-eight miles down the Apache Trail from Apache Junction. We drove up to a site near Plow Saddle and parked Dad’s 1939 Ford four door. We picked up the old Plow Saddle trail and headed off into what Floyd Stone called the Frog Tank country just north of Cimeron Mountain.

We soon turned up Paradise Canyon and then up a small tributary. After a careful inspection of the area we found an old shaft, but it was not necessarily to our liking. The shaft was timbered with hand hewn lumber and was about thirty five feet deep. At the bottom of the shaft there were two tunnels running in opposite directions.

Father could not find any material on the surface that would encourage a prudent man to dig such a hole. He was convinced we had found another typical lost mine in the Superstition Wilderness, however there was no gold. It was just a good story. The old shaft probably dated to the turn of the century, or even earlier, and the work had been done by somebody who knew how to timber a vertical shaft. Father did find some bull quartz in the area, but it contained no sulfides or oxides other than silicon oxide, the primary ingredient of quartz.

As Dad and I looked around, we couldn’t imagine why anyone called this Paradise. It was rugged, brushy and very rocky terrain. Maybe the cattlemen called it Paradise because of the water that was available in the canyon for their cattle in the Spring of the year. Our two-day adventure to Paradise Canyon had been exciting and strenuous. We enjoyed our search for lost gold, but to me the real adventure was being out in the wilderness with my father, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation and just thinking about the old Dutchman and his lost gold mine.

The trail on down into Frog Springs did produce a few other interesting things. Near Frog Springs there were four or five old eight by eight timbers that may have been used for a head frame. They were drilled for one inch bolts and two inch stringers. Also, these timbers may have been intended for a corral that was never completed. And, of course, we could have just been over-speculating about their origin… in the late 1940s you could still get a four-wheel drive Jeep down into the canyon.

On our return trip to Plow Saddle we visited a large archaeological site on the right-hand side of the canyon. After exploring the area we hiked back out to Plow Saddle and called it a weekend.

The trip was a simple adventure I enjoyed with my father and I remember it to this day. No, we didn’t find any gold, but our treasure was being together and speculating about what happen[ed] here in Paradise fifty, or a hundred or thousand years ago.