Monday, April 23, 2001

Senner's Gold

April 23, 2001 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved. 

The story of Senner’s Gold has excited the imagination of many people during the past few decades. Helen Corbin wrote an excellent book titled Senner’s Gold that has added a lot of information to this story. I first heard about Al Senner and his Superstition Mountain gold cache in the summer of 1955 while my father was [a] patient at Fort Whipple near Prescott, Arizona. As I recall, my mother and I lived on Washington Street in Prescott while my father was in the Fort Whipple Hospital undergoing treatment for silicosis. 

Our next door neighbor was an old lady named Katie. She may have been in her eighties that summer. She hired me to cut her grass and clean up her yard. One day we were talking and I mentioned my father. I told her we use[d] to go into the Superstition Mountains looking for the Lost Dutchman Mine. Her eyes brightened up and she told me there was no Dutchman mine, but she knew about a miner’s gold cache high on Superstition Mountain. This is when she told me the story of her life’s greatest love, Alfred Senner.

She had met Al in the spring of 1893, fell in love and almost immediately he had gone to work at the old Mammoth Mine at Goldfield. Basically she told me the story of how Al had “high graded” rich gold ore from the mine and hauled it to the top of Superstition Mountain to cache it. “High grading” means a miner is stealing gold from the mine that employs him.

Al had taken the gold in order to win Katie’s hand in marriage. She told how a deputy broke Al’s arm when he was eventually caught high grading gold from the Mammoth.

Somehow Al mounted his horse, she said, and rode south to Florence. Once in Florence Al found a physician who cared for his severely broken arm. He eventually found a grubstake to prospect for gold, but was actually returning to the site of his cache on Superstition Mountain. 

Once Al was able to travel again, he mounted up and, with a pack mule, headed for the old Three R Ranch. He talked to several old timers about how to get a horse on top of Superstition Mountain. An old cowboy who worked on the Triangle F Ranch told Al how to find his way to the top of Superstition Mountain. 

Senner eventually made it to the top of Superstition Mountain just under Summit 5024. He spent a cold March night on a ledge high above the Sonoran Desert. A large winter storm struck the mountain and may have led to Senner’s demise on Superstition Mountain. The question has always remained did Senner find his golden cache or is it still on the mountain. Katie said Al didn’t return and she heard nothing more about the gold. I am sure she didn’t tell me everything, but I wouldn’t have expected her [to].

Former Arizona Attorney General Bob Corbin and I made several trips to the top of Superstition Mountain in the 1980s. Many years ago a skeleton was found near the base of the cliff in the canyon next to Monument Canyon. It is believed this skeleton might have been Al Senner’s. The only thing Bob Corbin and I proved was we could ride to the top of Superstition Mountain horseback and that Al Senner could have done the same.

The Mammoth Mine was one of the most high-graded gold mines in the territory, even to this day an occasional gold cache is found in the area. Senner’s reason for high grading was very logical. A man’s loved for a woman can lead him down different paths in life. Carrying his cache to the top of the mountain was very clever. When he hid the cache he could observe the entire area that lay below him for people who might have been following him.

If he made two trips a month, carrying thirty pounds of gold high-grade per trip, he could have easily cached 1200 pounds of high-grade gold ore on top of Superstition Mountain in a two-year period. The story of Senner’s Gold continues to fascinate treasure hunters and storytellers around [the] country.

For more information about this interesting story read Senner’s Gold by Helen Corbin. The book is available at the Superstition Mountain Museum and Pomack Mining Supplies in Apache Junction, Arizona. For more information call the museum at (480) 983-4888.