Monday, May 31, 2010

The Lost Dutchman Mine Inc.

May 24, 2010 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Shortly after World War I, George Miller met Dr. Robert Alexander Aiton. The medical doctor had a strong inter-est in mine development and promotion. Aiton was looking for a mine and the right prospector to promote when he met Miller and his partners, John Hluper and Ernest Martin. Aiton found Miller's story about gold in the area interesting. The question remains to this day. Did Aiton know there was no gold or did he really believe there was gold in the area? Either way he became the fundraiser for the corporation he named the Lost Dutchman Mine Inc.

Dr. Aiton appointed Miller president of the company, Hluper, vice president and himself, secretary-treasurer. Aiton also had another man working for the Lost Dutchman Mine Corp. Inc. who was named James G. Simpson. He was in charge of data and publicity. Aiton set up an office at 33 N. Second Ave. in Phoenix and had stock certificates printed and on sale for the Lost Dutchman Mine Corp. almost immediately. Aiton had a prospectus printed to encourage people to purchase stock in the rich Lost Dutchman Mine. He called the character of the mine, "the richest gold strike of re-cent years in Arizona." The Arizona Gazette ran an article on August 20,1920, revealing a rich gold discovery at the Miller Mine. The article was titled "Rich Strike Made In Lost Dutchman." Aiton also printed the results of an as-say sample that revealed gold ore that had approximately five ounces of gold to the ton. The sample was called No. 1 Red Ore. The sample was a rhyolitic breccia containing iron and manganese oxides. The oxides were limonite and pyrolusite. The assayer was Charles A. Diehl.

I often visited with Diehl in the mid 1950s while attending high school, to talk about gold mines and treasures in Arizona's Mountains. He told me the Miller Mine was salted. However, he further stated he didn't know who was responsible for the salting. He stood by George Miller's character and integrity claiming he Was an honest man. ("Salting" a gold mine was done to make a worthless claim appear rich and rewarding with the sprinkling of a little gold dust to show prospective buyers.) Dr. Robert A. Aiton claimed an old prospector rediscovered the Lost Dutchman Mine. The prospector's name was George Miller, who was now president of Aiton's company the Lost Dutchman Mine, Inc. Aiton was 64 years old at the time the Arizona Republic article appeared in 1920 about his problems with the Arizona Medical Board since his arrival in Arizona Territory in 1899. Aiton, whose home was in Superior was an excellent promoter. He raised sufficient capital for the development of the Miller Mines (Lost Dutchman Mine Inc.). By mid-1921 there was a head-frame, power station, and five-man crew working at the mine. A shaft had been sunk and a drift driven 150 feet into the earth. Aiton was so convinced there was gold at the site in 1921 he told in-vestors they would strike the main vein soon. Investors continued to pour money into the operation and Aiton continued to talk about riches beyond belief. Aiton had an excellent promotional pamphlet printed for investors.

The operation continued for five years off and on, but never produced any valuable ore. There had been no gold from the very beginning. However, George Miller and John Hluner's property. The Lost Dutchman Mine Inc. failed.

Who was Dr. Robert A. Aiton? He was born in Illinois in 1858, came to the Arizona Territory in 1899 and eventually moved from Phoenix to Superior with his family. He and his wife, Rose, had four sons and five daughters. Aiton had practiced medicine through out central Arizona and was one of Arizona's pioneer doctors. However he was often in conflict with the Arizona Board of Medical Practitioners.

Aiton became involved with the Miller Mines when he was 62 years old, shortly after 1918. He and Rose lived in Superior until the time of his death on Monday, February 17, 1928. He is buried in Superior.

George "Drakulich" Miller died on April 6,1'936, and was buried by a group of cowboys on a small wind swept hill above his mine. John Hluper died in 1934 and was buried at the mine also. Ernest Martin died in 1927 and was also buried on the mining claims. Miller wanted to be buried near his prospecting partners Hluper and Martin.

This was the story three old men in their twilight years hanging on to a dream of golden riches and in their final days saw hope in the promotion skills of Dr. Robert A. Aiton. They never found their bonanza, but they did leave us with an epic tale of dedication and survival in the middle of a wilderness.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Superstition Gold Stories

May 5, 2010 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

There are more stories about lost gold and large gold caches within the boundaries of the Superstition Wilderness Area than contained in all the treasure books of the Americas. But the United States Geological Service reports no profitable deposit of minerals are available within the wilderness area, with the exception of perlite or similar building material that results from deposit of welded volcanic ash a common product of a volcanic eruption. Many years ago there were reports from the USGS that reported deep-seated mineral deposits below 5,000 feet. Apparently none of these deposits proved economical or profitable to work after a Canadian company did some deep-seat drilling near the old JF Ranch. One drill site penetrated the earth's surface some 8,700 feet without favorable results.

Their names have been lost with time, but these men are miners in front of Lost Dutchman Mine No. #1 head frame near Tortilla Ranch, c. 1926.
Now, how about the many gold stories told. I have heard the story of Jacob Waltz and his mine since I was a child. Oh yes, his mine was so rich you could carve pure gold out of an eighteen inch vein with a knife. Also there was enough gold in sight at the mine to make twenty men multi-millionaires. These tales from the 1890's continue to fascinate men and women today. Sometime around 1920 Dr. Robert Alexander Aiton claimed he was opening the Lost Dutchman Mine, Inc., some sixty miles east of Phoenix. Newspaper articles of the period attested to the rich ore discovered at the Miller Mine (Lost Dutchman Mine.) By 1929 this story proved to be a stock scam and finally witnessed its' own demise.

Another interesting story involved a World War I veteran who discovered a cave in the Superstition Mountains filled with gold nuggets. Charley Williams disappeared in the Superstition Primitive Area in 1935. Williams, a crippled veteran was reported missing January 5, 1935. For several days it was feared Williams was dead. On January 8, 1935 Williams emerged from the mountains with a pocket full of gold nuggets and a strange story of how they were discovered. Williams told how he entered a cave and bumped his head. As he sat on the floor of the cave he scooped up these golden pebbles. As it turned out they were gold nuggets. When the nuggets were analyzed they turned out to be dental gold. The U.S. Government confiscated the nuggets under the U.S. Gold Act and planned to prosecute Williams for hoarding gold. Williams had more than five ounces of gold. The U.S. Government kept the illegal gold and Williams was not prosecuted. This was basically the end of the story.

Early in the 1950's another treasure story jumped up on the Southwestern stage. This story involved a strange set of stone maps found near Florence Junction. According to those who claimed they could interpret these stone maps, the maps supposedly led to a bonanza of gold. These maps have since fueled many horrendously fraudulent claims that helped relieve many investors of their hard earned savings.

First, there was Clarence O. Mitchell, (Travis Marlowe) and his M.O.E.L. Corporation in the 1960's. The infamous M.O.E.L. Corporation was followed by Robert Simpson "Crazy Jake" Jacob, and his claim of discovering several metric tons of gold bullion in Squaw Box Canyon. Jacob was eventually convicted of fraud and sentenced to ten years in prison. He also admitted at his trial he never had such a treasure in the Super-stition Mountains. The Arizona Attorney General's office estimated Jake relieved his investors of more than eight million dollars over a period of nine years. Robert Simpson Jacob was a man with a "golden tongue."

There were several incidental purveyors of the Peralta Stone Maps after the M.O.E.L. Corporation and Robert "Crazy Jake" Jacob. Many of these individual believed in the credibility of the "stone maps." Unfortunately investors have lost millions of dollars being involved with people who claim they have solved the "mystery of the Peralta Stone Maps. Charles "Chuck" A. Crawford was a big promoter of the Stone Maps and claimed to have located the "end of the trail" in the Upper La Barge Box at the old mining claims of Roy Bradford. Bob Corbin and I visited his site in the early 1980's. Chuck and his investor were convinced they had found the hidden gold of the Peralta family. Chuck never really had a job; he used his investor's money to promote his own agenda. Ironically Crawford's legacy continues today even after his death.

To this day investors continue to invest money in the Stone Maps. Ironically if the stone maps were authentic the United States Government would have confiscated them years ago under the national antiquity act. If they were authentic we would be looking at them in the Smithsonian Museum under early American history. Yes, there is a remote possibility that there might be deep-seated gold veins within the Superstition Wilderness, but for the most part what little bit of gold that is found in the wilderness is microscopic and of no real economic value. For those who insist on throwing their money away on tall stories about lost gold in the Superstition Wilderness Area all I can recommend is don't plan on writing it off on your taxes. There is no legitimate mining operation going on in the Superstition Wilderness Area presently. As far as the record shows the only Trove Treasure permit ever issued for the wilderness area was to Ronald Feldman of the O.K. Corral in 2004 for a dig near Iron Mountain.

The history and legacy of this mountain continues to attract those who dream of riches even beyond the scope of Frank J. Dobie's book Coronado's Children. We all probably have dreamed about discovery a lost gold mine or treasure, but the reality of these dreams is nothing comes easy in this world of work. Wealth is generated by hard work and good planning.