Monday, July 5, 2010

Our Museum: A Special Place

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

The community of Apache Junction lies nestled beneath the towering facade of world famous Superstition Mountain. This giant monolith and the infamous Dutchman's Lost mine has carried Apache Junction and Arizona into the limelight of national and international news for numerous decades.

The history and legend of this mountain has motivated more than a hundred authors to write books on the subjects of Superstition Mountain, the Dutchman's Lost Mine, Lost Peralta Gold or the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.

Television cameras have broadcasted these stories across the airways of the nation and the world. Not too long ago, Arizona Senator John McCain commented on the unique history of this mountain wilderness and how proud he was about having a part in helping to preserve the historical society, once it was area for an A & E documentary as he stood at the base of Superstition Mountain Lost Dutchman State Park on Wednesday, January 21, 1998. Tourists, residents, and visitors are still fascinated with the history and legend of this mountain.

The idea of a museum being constructed and dedicated to the history of Superstition Mountain and the Dutchman's Lost Mine was conceived seventy years ago. However, this idea wasn't put into action. In mid-November of 1978, the idea of a museum in the Apache Junction area again emerged from idle conversation. This discussion generated the energies of individuals who wanted to fulfill the dream of a museum about Superstition Mountain and the adjacent area.

The greatest obstacle for the historical society, once it was formed and incorporated, was finding a building to display artifacts and exhibits. Finally in the spring of 1989, Mr. Robert Schoose and partners, at the Goldfield Ghost Town Tours, Inc., offered the historical society a home for the museum. The agreement included a two-story 3,500 square foot building on an ideal location in the ghost town overlooking the Apache Trail and with Superstition Mountain to the east. The grand opening of the new museum took place on Saturday, January 30, 1990 after many months of hard work.

The historical society members gathered a variety of items to represent the history of the region. Some of the items included Hohokam stick figures, an excellent mineral collection, a 1904 Apache Trail road marker, maps, books, gold specimens, era items such as an 1898 bicycle, a 20 stamp gold mill for crushing gold ore, and etc. The museum captures a sequence of time from the prehistoric to contemporary in a very small space. The museum also contains a collection of art and photographs of the region. The museum book store has one of the finest selections of reading material on the Superstition Mountain and Arizona.

Museum displays contain a variety of topics ranging from history to geology, fauna to flora and maps to legends. The museum was both entertaining and educational.

Eventually the museum outgrew Goldfield and the board of directors decided to move the facility to the museum's thirteen acres near Mountain View Road and the Apache Trail. The ground breaking for the new museum occurred on Friday, at 3:00 P.M. on January 3, 2003. The grand opening of the new museum was held on Thursday, at 4:30 P.M. December 4, 2004.

The Supersitition Mountain Lost Dutchman Museum is located 3 1/2 miles NE of Apache Junction at 4087 N. Apache Trail. Get a feeling of what the Old West was really like. The museum has a variety of exhibits and is open 383 days a year.
The primary goal of this museum has been to preserve and present the history, geology, flora, fauna and lore of the Superstition Wilderness Area. This new museum has an outstanding collection on the history of this region. Men like Jack Anderson, George Curtiss, Barney Barnard and even my father dreamed of Apache Junction someday having a museum dedicated to Superstition Mountain and the Lost Dutchman Mine. A group of modern day visionaries made this museum a reality by 1990. The opening of the new facility in 2003 has insured a future for the preservation of Superstition Mountain and Lost Dutchman Mine history and legend.

For more information about the museum call (480) 983- 4888, write the Superstition Mountain Historical Society, P.O. Box 3845, Apache Junction, Arizona, 85117 or email to