Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Desert Lands

August 31, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The Superstition Wilderness Area and the desert that surrounds it is a vast region of a delicately balanced eco-system. There is no eco-system in the world more fragile than a desert environment except for the high latitude tundra. Humankind has for centuries played a major role impacting the Upper Sonoran Desert.

The various Native American groups have used the region for several thousand years in subsistence hunting and gathering modes. Their use of these fragile ecosystems mildly impacted them. Many of the ancient archaeological sites found in the area today are a mute testimony to the existence of these cultures. The ancient sites are rapidly disappearing as the desert continues to be developed. Most development allows no desert greenbelts at all for minimal survival of fauna and flora in the Sonoran Desert, unless you want to call a golf course a greenbelt. It is a tragic sacrifice for what we get in return. Our gift in return is more air pollution, more traffic, more water quality problems and more crime.

Early prospectors searched for mineral wealth in these mountains long before the tales and myths of lost gold and treasure emerged. There is some evidence that suggests early Mexican prospectors from Sonora and along the Gila River may have entered the region of Superstition Mountains as early as 1799.

The first American miners penetrated the area about 1863. These were small parties of prospectors coming down from the Bradshaw Mountains near Prescott during the winter months. Once silver was discovered in the Pinal Mountains in late 1860’s the Anglo-American population began to grow in the area. The miners and prospectors were soon followed by the cattlemen. The early years of the cattle barons were totally unregulated. Thousands of cattle roamed the canyons and mountains of the Superstition Wilderness Area.

One of the earliest of the cattlemen was Robert A. Irion. He arrived in the area with a herd about 1878 from Wyoming. His ranch was located half-way between Miami and Superior at what we call Sutton’s Summit today. Irion brought beef on the hoof to feed the miners at Globe and the Silver King. He was followed by other cattlemen like Jack Fraser, Ed Horrell and W.J. Clemans. Fraser started his herd with three hundred head of cattle won in a poker game at the Silver King Hotel. When Fraser sold out to W.J. Clemans in 1909, more than 5,000 head of cattle roamed the Superstition range. All of this activity severely impacted the fragile Sonoran Desert ecosystem. Regulated grazing was introduced to the Superstition Wilderness with the formation of the Tonto Preserve in 1909. The purpose of the preserve was to protect the watershed of the Salt River drainage system rather than the fragile ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert. The creators of the Salt River Drainage Basin feared overgrazing would cause severe soil erosion therefore destroy the drainage basin planned for natural runoff. When Roosevelt Dam was completed in March of 1911 the Salt River had finally been controlled. Flooding was prevented along the river. Water storage for the Salt River Valley was then reality.

After the turn of the century and the death of Jacob Waltz, of Lost Dutchman fame, hundreds of treasure hunters, gold prospectors, and promoters searched the area for gold. Their efforts produced several books and a few permanent scars on the land. Their unique history still survives to this day, but in reality did little damage to the Sonoran Desert. Those permanent scars are now monuments to the determination and tenacity of those who searched for gold and treasure, right or wrong.

The cattlemen, prospectors, miners, and treasure trove hunters for more than a hundred and twenty years have impacted the Superstition Wilderness Area. The hundreds of holes produced by these people not only scared the landscape but also created dangerous pitfalls for the innocent or novice adventurer. Their many trails lead from one place to another and then to no where.

During the mid-1960’s the wilderness received yet another kind of human impact. The impact caused by the recreationist. This group fell into two large categories, the hikers and horsemen. The overuse and the improvement of the trail system for these recreational users created a critical management problem for forest service. These new trail systems impacted the terrain to such a degree the trails were visible from space, the air and high vantage points.

The shear numbers of recreationists who use the Superstition Wilderness have heavily impacted the trailheads, trails, water sources, and campsites. This impact dramatically affected the fauna and flora. Stone rings used for campfires are found throughout the wilderness even though the forest rangers have a campaign to reduce them.

There are areas where the vegetation is totally denuded, even in isolated and remote locations. There are three modern forms of litter found throughout the wilderness since the 1960s. They are filters from cigarettes, pop-tops from cans and gum wrappers. These are monuments to contemporary human occupancy and use of the region in the 20th Century. Maybe in the 21st Century we will realize how important open space and desert greenbelts will be to future generations. If we don’t recognize the importance of desert greenbelts most of the upper Sonoran Desert life zone will be lost to our society and future generations.

If we are to maintain the beauty and solitude of this urban wilderness and the desert around it we need to examine our priorities and express concern about what is happening to our lifestyle here in the desert. Apache Junction has become one of the most unique areas in the Salt River Valley (in addition to Scottsdale) to make an attempt to preserve portions of the Sonoran Desert. How important is this desert lifestyle? Ask any real estate agent about property values adjacent to forest service lands in the Apache Junction area.

The desert has always been a part of our lifestyle. If we are to enjoy this beautiful desert we must educate people on how to care for it and how delicate it really is. We must also learn how to preserve it for the future. This we must do now. The City of Apache Junction has taken an initiative to protect natural areas in greenbelts. Hopefully the citizen’s of our community will support these attempts to preserve the desert for future residents of our unique desert community.

Recently a business magazine of international significance (BusinessWeek) ranked Apache Junction as the fourth best city in the United States to retire in. Believe me we will need these desert preserves for future generations who will be living here in the desert.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Apache Trail in a Model-T

August 24, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Phil Rauso recently called me up and asked me if I would like to go for a ride in his Ford Model T over the Apache Trail. He included an invite for breakfast at Tortilla Flat. This call was on Monday, August 17, 2009. I met Phil at the legendary Bluebird Mine and Curio shop on the Apache Trail about four miles northeast of Apache Junction at 7:30 a.m. My expectation was riding over the Apache Trail in a ninety-five year old vintage automobile designed by Henry Ford.

When Phil arrived with his car I was astonished at its condition. The radiator, lights and trim were highly polished brass. The black paint on the vehicle was absolutely spectacular. It was the original Ford black with several coats of lacquer.

The vehicle was actually called a “Hack Cab”. The car had been used to transport people from the train depot to hotels in Chicago between 1915 and 1927 when the car was finally retired. Phil and Debbie Rauso purchased the car in Chicago from a museum, brought it to Arizona and restored it. “Hack Cabs” could carry six people because they had a special body design. Actually the “Old Geezer”, a nickname Phil had for the car, started out as a Ford Model T pickup. The body was removed and the “Hack Cab” body was put on the frame. Phil’s plan for the “Old Geezer” now was to make trips over the Apache Trail and once again give tourist the thrill of riding over the famous mountain road in a vintage vehicle such as the Model T Ford.

Phil arrived at the Bluebird Mine and Curio shop at precisely at 7:30 a.m. I loaded my camera and tripod into his Model T and we were off and running at about thirty miles an hour. Our plan was to stop at Tortilla Flat for breakfast and return to the Bluebird Mine. We stopped briefly near Canyon Lake and took some photos of the “Old Geezer”. We arrived at Tortilla Flat about 9 a.m. and sat down for breakfast. The car attracted a lot of attention on the road and at Tortilla Flat. Few people could believe Phil was driving this ninety-five year old car over the Apache Trail. The car was quite valuable and many people just couldn’t imagine him doing this.

After breakfast at Tortilla Flat and several discussions with curious tourist we planned to depart. Now remember, we were in an old Model T Ford that was totally open. The sun was quite warm and the temperature was beginning to climb. We were two bold men when we decided to do the infamous and legendary Fish Creek Hill with the Model T on a warm summer day. If we had picked a cool winter day the traffic would have been impossible. Phil had been told the “Old Geezer” would never pull Fish Creek Hill. If we went down the ten per cent grade we could never get the car back up the hill on its on. We had our challenge, “Do Fish Creek Hill.

We departed Tortilla Flat about 10 a.m. driving east toward Mesquite and Rye Creek. On the paved road the “Old Geezer” did fine, however we didn’t know for sure how the car would perform on the unimproved portion of the Apache Trail (State Route 88). Here we were riding along an officially designated Arizona historical road in a 1915 Model T Ford Hack Cab. As we drove along the paved portion we thought about the many almost weekly headlines from the 1920’s— Headlines about the horseless vehicles that were tested on the infamous ten per-cent grade of Fish Creek Hill. Many of these cars passed the test, but many of them also failed. Some old Fords had to back up steep hills because of the location of their fuel tanks.

The pavement finally ended some five miles east of Tortilla Flat and we were now on a rough dirt road filled with potholes and washboards. Now the “Old Geezer” began to shake and rattle like a bucket of bolts. The Model T suspension let us feel each bump and hump. I commented that we were now experiencing a 1915 ride over the Apache Trail. Phil certainly agreed with my comment.

We soon understood why the old timers wore dusters and goggles. The first real grade on a rough dirt road began as we passed the Tortilla Ranch Trailhead and climbed to the top of Fish Creek Hill arriving at the vista parking lot. Once on top, we stopped and looked down. Just for a moment, you have to wonder if we were not making a mistake taking a car this old down Fish Creek Hill.

We started descending the hill. Phil placed the car in its lowest gear and often braked as we drove down. We finally reached Inspiration Point about one third of the way down. We stopped here to stretch our legs and catch our breath. What breath-taking scenery there was from Inspiration Point! It was here I got out of the car with my camera and started walking down Fish Creek Hill toward the bridge. I wanted to find a good vantage point to take photographs of the car coming down the hill. For a moment I thought about walking down Fish Creek Hill. When my Uncle Riley Brunson use to freight for the Packard Store in Tonto Basin my Aunt Elise walked down Fish Creek Hill because my uncle thought it was to dangerous for her and the children to ride. He felt teams and wagons were too unpredictable to risk his family.

I thought about Aunt Elise as I walked down Fish Creek Hill. At some point I got back into the old Model T and watched carefully as Phil skillfully negotiated the hill. From Inspiration Point to Fish Creek Bridge is about one mile. At five miles per hour it took us a while to get to the bottom. We crossed Fish Creek Bridge and stopped for a breather. We rested and had a drink of water before our planned climb up Fish Creek Hill in the old car.

Phil started “Old Geezer” but the car died on us. He tried several times. All of a sudden I could envision us hiking up Fish Creek Hill and back to Tortilla Flat. Finally the old car started and kept running. I jumped in and we began a historic climb to the top. This is probably the first 1915 Model T to climb Fish Creek Hill in eighty-five years or more.

Climbing the hill in “Old Geezer” I was on the outside looking down into Fish Creek Canyon. The side of the canyon is a graveyard of rusting old hulls of cars that didn’t make it. Some of the cars were a thousand feet below the road’s edge. The old Model T was doing great on the climb back to the top of Fish Creek. My heart probably was running faster than the engine; after all if we went over the side I would be the first one over. It is always more fun to be first, right?

It was a slow climb to the top, and for the most part uneventful except for the beautiful scenery and spectacular vistas. The “Old Geezer” climbed Fish Creek Hill without any problems at all. It was quite an experience to ride in a ninety-five year old car on the Apache Trail all the way from the Bluebird Mine and Gift Shop to the Fish Creek Canyon Bridge and back.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Apache Junction Dance Pavilion

August 17, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The recent press coverage about the legality of outdoor dancing at San Tan Flats (Pinal County at Ellsworth Road and the Hunt Highway) reminds me of the interesting times in the early days of Apache Junction.

In 1923, George Cleveland Curtis started his roadside business at the “Y” of U.S. Highway 60 and the Apache Trail when there wasn’t much out here but Creosote bushes, Palo Verdes, Saguaros, Jack rabbits, coyotes and rattlesnakes. Curtis depended on the traffic along the Apache Trail and U.S. Highway 60 for his business.

Curtis eventually sold gasoline, towed broke-down cars, served food, cold drinks and sold trinkets to make a living for his wife, Aruroa and their three daughters. The highway was paved in 1928 and this changed things considerably and brought a lot more traffic down U.S. 60. The construction of Mormon Flat Dam (1923-1925) and the Horse Mesa Dam (1925-1927) increased business for Curtis.

Curtis was always looking for another ingenious way to generate revenue for his business. First it was a zoo of desert wild animals, then sometime in the late 1920s he decided to build an outdoor dance pavilion. The dance pavilion became a very popular weekend site for young couples from Mesa and Tempe. Curtis invited many different bands to play at the Pavilion. One of the most popular bands was Merrill Robbins’ “Flat and Sharps” western band from Glendale, Arizona. For many years I was led to believe Merrill Robbins was related to Marty Robbins even though Marty Robbins’ real name was Martin Robinson. Marty Robbins was born in Glendale in September of 1925. Yes, Merrill Robbins could have encouraged Marty Robbins as a young lad to become interested in the guitar. However, others have reported Marty taught himself the guitar while he was in the Navy during World War II.

Again this is what legends and myths are made of.

Now back to outdoor dancing in Pinal County. Many people have questioned the situation that developed at San Tan Flats. Others have presumed outdoor dancing was legal for years because of the outdoor dance pavilions at such places as Riverside Park, Encanto Park and, of course, the Apache Junction Pavilion in the late 1920s and through most of the 1930s. Most individuals with common sense understand how disturbing loud outdoor music can be for a home in a residential area. However, when a business has been approved and then new rules are applied to control or shut down that business it is very difficult for the general public to accept. The noise issue in residential areas becomes quite moot when dealing with other factors that create noise.

What about airplanes, noisy exhaust systems on cars and motorcycles? Motorcycle exhaust systems are known to vibrant the walls of homes as they go by. Sometimes the noise decibels far exceed hearing safety standards for those individuals impacted.

Some of the earliest outdoor dancing occurred here in Apache Junction on Curtis’ dance pavilion in 1920’s and 1930’s. Also outdoor dancing was performed at the “Theater in the Hills’ in 1935. More than 5,000 people attended the 1935 production of “The Legend of Superstition Mountain.” Outdoor dancing was common at the Top of the World, a once popular place half way between Superior and Globe. Even the Mormon town of St. Johns had an outdoor dancing pavilion for dancing in the middle of town.

My wife and I love to dance and we have been dancing off and on for almost fifty years. We often dance to several western bands in the valley, also up at Globe and even St Johns occasionally. Dances were often scheduled in Superior and the Martin’s often took old Hermann Petrasch to the dances so he could play his fiddle. His ties to the Dutchman’s Lost mine are well known by historians.
Outdoor dancing still occurs in Arizona and it is still popular.

Dancing has been around since human beings have existed and outdoor dancing in Arizona has been popular since pioneer days, even in Apache Junction at the base of Superstition Mountain. Well, old time prospectors attended these dances in Apache Junction and told stories about the mountains. Curtis’ dance pavilion was probably the first gathering place for storytellers of the Old Lost Dutchman mine in the Apache Junction area. My father and mother attended some of Curtis’ outdoor dances and listen to old timers tell stories about the old “Dutchman” and the gold he allegedly found in the Superstition Mountains.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Origin of the Lost Mine?

August 10, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Historians believe the first prospectors in this area were Mexican miners from northern Sonora. Between 1790 and 1830 Mexican farmers and miners moved up into what is now Arizona territory by using the river routes. The Mexican miners may have worked this area from 1825 thru 1850. Most of the Mexican miners probably came from the Gila and Santa Cruz river areas.

The first Anglo-Americans arrived on the scene about 1863 from the Bradshaw Mountain region. These prospectors wanted to get out of the cold mountains and onto the warmer desert for the winter months. They found the Apache a major problem and soon retreated back to the Bradshaws. The Mexicans tried to erase any prior record of their work hoping to protect their gold mining operations in the area. The Mexican didn’t have the resources to really develop mining in the Goldfield area and the hostilities kept prospectors and miners out of the area for a few years. When the first prospectors from Mesa City arrived in 1881 it wasn’t long before claims began to show up in the area.

Ed Jones staked one of the earliest gold claims in 1881. The claim was named the Lucky Boy. William A. Kimball staked another claim at the Boulder-Buckhorn in 1886. Later, Anglo-Americans worked the veins of gold in the area that had been worked previously by very primitive mining methods used by the Mexican miners.

The area was opened to mining soon after the Indian Wars came to a close. The Army brought the Apaches under control in 1886. The surrender of the famous war leader, Geronimo, at Skeleton Canyon in Southern Arizona ended the Indian Wars in Arizona.

A newspaper article appeared in the Arizona Daily Herald in 1879 describing an incident that occurred west of Superstition Mountain prior to the closure of the Indian Wars. The incident involved two Mexican brothers who had been attacked by the Apache. One brother was killed and the other escaped. The surviving brother carried out a bag of rich high-grade gold ore. These brothers were named Peralta.

Both Oren Arnold and Barry Storm knew this story and had information about the incident. Many contemporary historians believe this is the origin of the legendary Peralta story and their many gold mines in the Superstition Mountains.

Oren Arnold always said, “Don’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story.” Oren wrote quite a story about the Peraltas in his book “Superstitions Gold.”

Barry Storm was a researcher who bent the facts toward his way of thinking. Even earlier writers such as Pierpont Bicknell picked up on the Peralta story of 1879. Bicknell did not let the truth stand in the way of a good story either. Bicknell’s January 13, 1895 story in the San Francisco Chronicle was an important contribution to the legitimacy of the Lost Dutchman Mine story therefore creating a foundation for the Peralta story. One inconsistent fact based on another man’s reputation followed by another began to weave a story of lies eventually produced a legend.

Yes it is true, miners and prospectors have been digging gold out of the region between Superstition Mountain and the Oroahi (Goldfield) Mountains since 1850. Some claim the old Kimball Mine (Palmer Mine) produced around 3,000 ounces of gold in the late 1880’s. Between the years 1886-1892 various prospectors and miners mined a little gold from the Gold Fields, but not enough to make the area a major producer of gold. However, in 1892 a real productive gold vein was discovered in the Goldfield mining area. This was the Black Queen.

One vein after another was discovered leading up to the Mammoth Mine in 1893. The Mormon stope produced $3,000,000 worth of gold between the years of 1893- 1897. This mine proved the Goldfield area a worthy gold producer in Arizona Territory.

During the period 1880- 1910 the entire area was considered a part of the Superstition Mountain region. Little is known about the region before 1880 until about ten years ago when an old Mexican family journal was found in Phoenix. This journal revealed some very interesting information about the Salt River Valley and what the Mexican community did to survive.

Many families raised goats as subsistence animals. They herded these animals around the fringe areas of the developing irrigated fields in early Salt River Valley. Some families moved on eastward along the Salt River. Two Gonzales boys and two Peralta boys were herding goats along the Salt River near a camped group of Pima warriors that hunted Apaches in the Superstition Mountains. They told the boys there were no more Apaches in a lush valley just west of the mighty bluffed mountain. The boys started herding their goats toward the valley. While their goats grazed they found small outcroppings of gold. There wasn’t much gold in these outcroppings, but enough to keep them interested in digging. When they returned home and told their families about their discovery they were warned not to tell anyone. The Mexican families knew they would be murdered for something as precious as gold.

The Mexicans from along the Gila, Santa Cruz and the Salt Rivers continued to work these outcroppings in the Goldfield area for several decades before the first prospectors arrived in the area around 1880’s. At the first sign of the Anglos the Mexicans began to conceal their mines along Weeks Wash and in the surrounding valleys, they then abandoned the area. Eventually the Anglos discovered the Goldfields. The old Mexican families never had enough capital to develop what they knew existed and belonged to them near the Superstition Mountains.

The gold claims and small mines west of Superstition Mountain became part of the Superstition Mining District some time during the late 1880’s or early 1890’s. The pounding of a large stamp mill could be heard across the desert from 1893-1897. The mill provided considerable gold bullion for its investors. Stamp mills are very interesting pieces of machinery. A visit to the Superstition Mountain Museum on the Apache Trail (State Route 88) near Mountain View Road will give an idea of what a stamp mill looked like. They have a real one on display at the museum grounds.

One of the richest prospects discovered in the valley between Superstition Mountain and the Oroahi (Goldfield) Mountains was the Bull Dog mine. Many clues to the Bull Dog fit the story of the Dutchman’s Lost Mine. Clues such as an eighteen-inch vein, a pointed peak, brushy draw, three red hills, back from the northwest end of Superstition Mountain, and on a ledge above a wash.

Did Bicknell, Arnold or Storm make up their stories or did they base them on facts of the day? There is little doubt in the minds of historians today about these men being the perpetrators of the legendary Dutchman’s lost mine story.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Robert K. Corbin's Legacy

August 3, 2009 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Robert K “Bob” Corbin acquired his interest in the Dutchman’s lost mine as a young man. He read an article about the mine in Life magazine when he was in the Navy. From that day on he wanted to visit the Superstition Mountains and look around.

He made his first trip into the mountains in the summer of 1957, departing from Tortilla Flat and hiking south through some really rugged country. When he and his friend finally returned to Tortilla Flat through Surprise Canyon they were completely beat. Bob remembers the water faucet at Tortilla Flat more than any of the terrain he walked through or any single item at the “Flats”. That day, he made a rule he would never go into the Superstition Mountains during the summer months and especially during the month of July. His blind determination to see the land of the Dutchman’s lost mine could have cost him his life that hot summer day.

Robert K. Corbin was born in Worthington, Indiana on November 17, 1928. After completing high school Bob joined the United States Navy in 1946. He completed his tour of duty with the Navy and returned to Indiana. While a freshman at Indiana University he wrote a theme for a class about the Dutchman’s lost mine. He worked his way through the Indiana Night Law School. One of Corbin’s reasons for moving to Arizona was his interest in lost mines and treasures. This research kindled in Corbin a keen interest for the Dutchman lost mine and the Superstition Mountains of Central Arizona. Bob, like many others, decided Arizona was a rapidly-growing region and his future lay in the desert.

Corbin’s first trips in the late fifties, after the almost disastrous trip south of Tortilla Flat, were into the vicinity of Weaver’s Needle. After a few trips into the area he became acquainted with some of the local prospectors. Corbin met Celeste Maria Jones and her prospecting party near the base of Weaver’s Needle in 1958. A somewhat cautious friendship developed between Corbin and Jones. Bob Corbin and Joe Robles, one of his friends, began grub staking Jones and her operation in 1959, mostly for the novelty of it rather than the expectation of any actual financial return. Corbin was fascinated with the prospectors, their stories, and the lore of the area. He ventured into the mountains every opportunity he had on the weekends. He wanted to further explore this mountainous wilderness and enjoy its beauty, peace, and solitude.

It may have been the possibility of finding something that drove Bob and was so important to him. Searching the Superstition Mountains for years gave him time to relax and think about the future. If he didn’t find the mine; but he had a great time looking for it.

Bob Corbin grew politically with Arizona. He was appointed Maricopa Deputy County Attorney in 1958. He served in this office from 1958 to 1960. He was elected Maricopa County Attorney in November of 1964 and served in that position from 1965 until 1969. He was elected to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in 1972, and ran for State Attorney General in November of 1978. He was elected Attorney General served the State of Arizona in that position until retirement in January of 1991. Bob Corbin was one of the most popular State Attorney Generals in Arizona history, holding that office longer than any other elected official.

As Attorney General of Arizona, he was respected as one of the best law enforcement officials in the American Southwest. Bob was extremely proud of the fact he is a board member of the National Rifle Association and also served as President of the association. Bob Corbin has served the public with total devotion to the fact “the law is the law.” For that reason he was one of the most respected public officials in Arizona history. Bob has received many local, state and national awards for his dedication to public service.

I first met Bob in 1980 when I invited him out to Apache Junction to talk to my class titled “Prospecting the Superstitions.” I don’t recall how this meeting came about, however we became friends. Bob and I rode in the Superstition Mountains for more than twenty years together.

We made several pack trips into the mountains to such places as the Reavis Ranch, Circlestone, Upper La Barge Box, Boulder Canyon, Horse Camp Mesa, Peter’s Mesa, Angel Springs, J.F. Ranch, Top of Superstition Mountain, and many other destinations within the Superstition Wilderness Area. Our trips included checking out many old time clues and stories about the Dutchman’s lost mine, however most of the clues did not produced any real results.

I am not sure we really cared; we just enjoyed the great outdoors and the seclusion the region offered.
What can I say about Bob Corbin? First and most importantly I can call him a friend, and he has never relinquished his love for the history and lore of Arizona and the Superstition Mountains. I have met many men in my life, but few as honest and straight as Bob Corbin. While Attorney General of Arizona he kept his cool in some of the most trying events in Arizona history. The most celebrated case is the U.S. Supreme Court case involving the Miranda.

Another case that comes to mind was the Don Bolles’ case. He was also involved in the impeachment trial of Arizona Governor Evan Mecham. Another interesting case was the prosecution of Robert Simpson Jacobs, known locally as “Crazy Jake”. Jacob claimed to possess the richest gold mine in the world somewhere in the Superstition Wilderness Area. Jacob was convicted of fraud; bilking people and corporations out of millions of dollars. The AG’s office estimated Jacob defrauded citizens of Arizona out of more than eight million dollars.

You might not agree with Bob Corbin’s conservative views; however his integrity as an honest politician was well known by Arizonians. He is a strong believer in the United States Constitution and the laws of this nation. Mr. Corbin sincerely believed the “Law was the law.” If he was wrong he would admit it.

What is Bob Corbin doing today? He retired in 1990 and has been enjoying retirement in his beautiful home near Prescott. He always dreamed of living in the cool pines when he retired. He enjoys prospecting around the Bradshaw Mountains. Life has been wonderful for Bob until recently when he lost his beloved wife Helen after forty-nine years of marriage, however he has three wonderful daughters to help him through this difficult time in his life.

Nobody ever totally readjust to such a lost, but Bob has had the courage to carry on under very difficult and emotional circumstances. You don’t see his pain visually, but you know it hurts him deeply. Bob is making a positive effort to readjust to life without his beloved Helen. When such tragedy strikes we must be able to move on and his beloved Helen would have wanted Bob to do so.

Bob Corbin is one of most interesting men I have ever known who actively searches for the Dutchman Lost Mine in the Superstition Wilderness Area. Over the years he has shared his time with Apache Junction on several occasions. He was Grand Marshal for the Lost Dutchman Day’s parade when he was Attorney General for Arizona. He has given talks for various community service organizations in Apache Junction over the years. He has participated in several community events during the past four decades.

Just recently (early May of this year) Bob Corbin accompanied me on a six hundred mile trip to West Texas to look for a lost gold mine with a mutual friend of ours from England. Peter Gardiner had told us about a lost gold mine in West Texas and off we went. Bob, at eighty years young, really enjoyed this fantastic adventure. We found no gold mine, but we found some wonderful new friends in West Texas.

If you are interested in reading more about the trip to West Texas you can find the article archived in Kollenborn’s Chronicles on-line. The article is title “Gold in West Texas.” 6/29/09.