Monday, October 22, 2012

Dutch Hunter's Rendezvous 2012

October 15, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

We are now well into the 21st century, and the intense interest of lost mines in the Superstition Mountain area still prevails. Men and women continue to come to the Superstition Wilderness Area hoping to find their fortunes. Most find nothing and others are lucky to walk away.

Adventurers and prospectors have been injured or died from extreme weather conditions, from gunshot wounds, from falls, drowned in flash floods, dehydration and sun stroke to name a few.

Since the early 1880s men and women have searched these rugged mountains for lost mines and treasure. Gold is the natural magnet that attracts the modern day adventurer. The most significant lost mine story centers around a German immigrant name Jacob Waltz. His infamous mine was allegedly located with a 2-mile radius of Weaver’s Needle, a prominent landmark east of Superstition Mountain.

Each year I am amazed at the people who become interested in the search for the Lost Dutchman mine. There is a continuous list of new prospectors who are searching these rugged mountains for clues.

Several years ago a businessman and prospector named Joe Ribaudo, who lives in Lake Havasu, decided he wanted to see the Dutchman’s legend carried on by some kind of annual gathering. He came up with the idea of the “Dutch Hunter’s Rendezvous.” He held the first “gathering” just west of Twin Buttes along the Gila River east of Florence.

This first “Dutch Hunter’s Rendezvous” was small with only thirteen people attending in October of 2005. However there was a lot of enthusiasm Dutch Hunter’s Rendezvous 2012 for the idea. The next year the rendezvous was moved to the Dons Camp with the help of Dons member Greg Davis. The camp is located at the base of Superstition Mountain at a site at the end of Peralta Road.

Each year the activity has been held toward the end of October and has continued to grow.

The third year Joe Ribaudo handed over the organizing of the “Dutchman’s Rendezvous” to Wayne Tuttle and Randy Wright. Greg Davis continued to make the arrangements for the Dons Camp for the annual rendezvous. Joe and his wife, Carolyn, remained camp hosts providing some shade and cold water.

The scheduled activities include a variety of options for attendees. Friday includes sitting around various campfires and telling stories about the mountains and the many characters that searched for gold there. There are usually two hikes Saturday morning. One is a very difficult hike over rough terrain and the other hike is over much easier terrain and gentler slopes. After dark on Saturday evening everyone gathers at the Ramada to listen to a couple of guest speakers.

I attended last year for the first time and found it an excellent opportunity to meet a variety of people from all over the United States who were interested in our local history of the mountains. This event is not connected with the Chamber of Commerce or the Superstition Mountain Museum. Last year’s Rendezvous included
three days of events. The interested, the curious, and the very serious showed up for the events last year. They traveled from such distant places as Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas, California, New Hampshire, New York, Illinois and other states. The organizers of this event should be proud of their accomplishment. I would estimate approximately a hundred people attended last year and the event is growing.

Noted Dutch hunters, historians, and authors attend this gathering. Many of the authors have published books on the history of the area.

Over the years Clay Worst, Bob Corbin, Jack San Felice, Bob Schoose, Gregory Davis, Jack Carlson and Dr. Thomas Glover have attended the event and added their signature to it.

The “Dutch Hunter’s Rendezvous” is an open event, so everyone is welcome. This year’s event is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 26, Saturday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 28. The guest speaker will be Dr. Thomas Glover.

There is no admission, no charge for camping, and all activities are free, based on first come first served. The gate will not be open until Friday morning. The camping is primitive, so you should bring what you need to be comfortable.

Be sure to bring water, food, tent and bedding if you plan on spending the night. If you don’t bring a tent you will have to sleep outside or in your vehicle. There is no electricity or running water. There are restroom facilities. For more information you may email Randy Wright at Djui5 at yahoo dot com.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day of the Cowboy

October 8, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The 2012 “Day of the Cowboy will be held Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14, at the Gold Canyon Golf Resort, 6100 S Kings Ranch Rd., Gold Canyon. You may call 480- 671-5599 for additional event information.

A national holiday that recollects the “Day of the Cowboy” is somewhat interesting and unique. The cattle industry was a wild and rough business in the early days, 1850 thru 1930. These eighty years of cattle ranching, roundups, trail drives, rodeos and even motion pictures played a role in shaping our image of the American cowboy. All these roles helped formed that cowboy image so personified by many of us. When we think of cowboys we think of cattle, horses, the open range, a ranch house, corrals, windmills, Stetson hats, chaps, spurs, boots, lariats, saddles and etc. Today, we mill around within an imaginary image of the “Old West” many us believe still exist, to some degree.

I can only speak from my experiences as to what cowboys are really like.

When I was a young man I dreamed of being a cowboy based on the images portrayed on the silver screen. I knew cowboys were good, honest and respectable men. They always defeated the bad guy and won the heart of the ladies. Hollywood had created the perfect image of the American Cowboy. This persona has accompanied me throughout my life.

My image of the American cowboy was shattered when I accepted a job on the Quarter Circle U Ranch in the mid 1950’s. I expected the cowboys to be a hero in all aspects, however, I soon found out this
was not case. Real cowboys were only human, they were not the demigods I thought they were. The real cowboys I met around Globe, San Carlos, Tonto Basin and Apache Junction were of a different breed. Most of them were rowdy, wild and often careless. They drank far too much alcohol, cussed too much and were often not too dependable.

Some of the best cowboys I ever saw were Apaches on the San Carlos Reservation east of Globe. Floyd Stone, owner and operator of the Tortilla Allotment, hired Apache cowboys to work his ranch. Most were really good cowboys. Elmer Pope, an Apache cowboy, could rope a wild cow on the run in the roughest country east of Superstition Mountain. But Stone always had a problem of keeping his San Carlos cowboys sober.

Cowboys such as John A. Bacon, Bernard Hughes, Charlie Weeks, George Cline, Billy Garlinghouse, Slim Ellison, William A. Barkley, Billy Martin Sr., Billy Martin Jr., Duane Reese, Wheeler Reece, Bill Bohme, Royce Johnson, Jack Reeder and many more were real cowboys in our area that have left the legacy of the cowboy and cattle ranching in central Arizona. They were all good men.

First, and most important, a good cowboy has to be honest and dependable. These are the star attributes of a cowboy’s character because they were often left in charge of corralled animals that needed to be fed and watered daily. By all means, not all cowboys are good cowboys. Any rancher can testify to that. Most cowboys are hard workers and they also play hard. Most of them love cowboy or country music. They would rather talk about cattle, horses, saddles, horse trailers or pickup trucks. Now, your old time cowboys wouldn’t be caught dead listening to some of the music we call Country-Western today.

As a young man, I dreamed of someday owning my own cattle spread. Of course, it was nothing but a dream. However, I did work on one of the true legendary cattle outfits. The old Quarter Circle U Ranch belonged to William A. Barkley and William Thomas Barkley. I worked for the Barkleys in the twilight years of this legendary Arizona cattle ranch. This was during the late 1950’s.

To this day, I cherished those years I spent becoming what I am today on that old cattle ranch. Life on that ranch certainly shaped my character, but also strengthened the values I had learned from my mother and father. More than fifty years ago I sit astride a wild ranch pony and chased wild cattle across the mountains and desert east of Apache Junction. In those early days there was not much in Apache Junction but a “filling” station, and a few desert dwellers who lived in mobile homes.

To find the old Quarter Circle U Ranch you had to drive out Highway 60 some nine miles and turn east toward Don’s Camp. After driving another eight miles you arrived at the Quarter Circle U Ranch. This
ranch was really isolated and had no communications with the outside world. The old ranch had no electricity and little running water. Conditions were very primitive, but I learned to cope with my new environment.

My parents thought I was insane working in such an isolated place making little or no money. I could never convince them I had found my calling. I wanted nothing more than be a cowboy. My dad had wanted me to go to college and make a career for myself. I suppose I was a disappointment when all I could talk about was the Quarter Circle U Ranch and the cattle I cared for.

Like all good things my cowboy job ended one day when I was severely injured by a large Brahma-mixed bull. I lay in a hospital bed for several weeks and realized my father and mother were correct and I needed a new direction in life. I eventually returned to college and embarked upon a new career with the life of a cowboy always in the back of my mind.

Now, friends, that is why I continue to this day wearing my cowboy hat, western shirts and jeans. Deep down in my soul I am still that young cowboy who worked on the Quarter U Ranch so many decades ago. The “Day of Cowboy” honors this magnificent persona of the American West.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Machete Man

October 1, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

I have ridden the trails of the Superstition Wilderness Area for  more than 50 years and have been witness to a variety of unusual events. Sometime during the 1970s most of the livestock was removed from the wilderness lands in the Superstition Mountain region and the removal of livestock led to the brushing up of the trails. It wasn’t long before I started seeing trails that had been brushed out (cleared).

The trail I remember in particular was the old West Boulder Canyon Trail. I couldn’t imagine a sincere Dutch hunter doing such a thing. Brushing a trail would be like advertising exactly were one would be going in this rugged terrain. Someone had done an enormous amount of physical labor clearing this particular trail.

There were a couple of prospectors working the West Boulder Canyon area at the time that I was familiar with. One was H.V. Baun and the other was old Don Shade. Shade had a spot of interest in Old West Boulder Canyon and Baun was interested in a location just above the stone corral in West Boulder Canyon.

At the time I was convinced neither Baun nor Shade would have brushed out three miles of trail. It had to be someone who was far more ambitious then these two men and more physically adept.

Late in September of 1979 I was riding my horse “Crow” into West Boulder Canyon. I wanted to photograph the old stone corral in that canyon. As I rode along the trail I noticed it was brushed out quite well and easy to ride along without snagging cat claws or cactus. Someone had definitely cleared the trail and made riding much easier. Cattle going to and from water once kept the trails quite clear of brush and cactus. Since the cattle had been removed, the trails had become overgrown. This particular day was quite warm
and I was really surprised when I came upon a man cutting brush along the trail. He was wearing a yellow cap and red shirt. He was swinging a large military machete and cutting brush and cactus here
and there clearing the trail. I called out to him.

He was very friendly as I approached. Then I recognized the man to be Monte Edwards, an airline pilot, who was a part time Dutch hunter. He spent most of his spare time in the Superstition Mountains looking for the Lost Dutchman Mine.

Mr. Edwards was a command pilot for Delta Airlines. He flew international flights in the DC-1011 later in his career. At first I was amazed to see him out here in the mountains alone. He was totally self-sufficient. His backpack contained everything he needed. He told me his pack weighed 60 pounds. At the time Monte Edwards was in top physical shape. I soon learned he had been a major in the United States Marine Corps and flew F-86 Sabre Jets during the Korean PoliceAction in the early 1950’s.

Monte Edward hiked the trails of the Superstition Wilderness Area for more than thirty years. He spent a majority of his time photographing pictoglyphs and markings on rocks in the area. He had hundreds of photographs and precise GPS locations for all the markings he had found in the Superstition Wilderness Area. To this day nobody has duplicated his work. His work was a monumental task. He was always asking me about any markings or pictoglyphs within the Superstition Mountain area. I would give him some directions to a site he had never photographed. He would then go find it. He always surprised me with his tenacity to search out and find a marking or pictoglyph in the region.

One day Edwards and I were visiting and I asked him why he brushed the trails so much and worked so hard at it. He told me he sat for hours in a cockpit five days a week. He explained that he needed to get out and do some good hard manual labor to stay in shape. He told me cutting and clearing trail was good physical exercise for him. There was a logical explanation for the “Machete Man” after all.

I am certain his work will appear in some museum in the Southwest someday. His work was unique and special in annals of Southwest history.

Monte Edwards was born in Lewiston, Idaho on November 16, 1932 and attended Colorado Western College at Gunnison, Colorado. He searched the Superstition Mountain region from 1963 until 1989 and passed away on May 6, 1990.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Anderson & Curtis

September 24, 2012 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

George Cleveland Curtis should be known as the founder of Apache Junction and his contemporary, Jack F. Anderson, as “The Father of “Apache Junction.”

Jack Anderson certainly speculated on the future growth of Apache Junction and would have succeeded if he had not passed away in his youth. It was Jack Anderson who dreamed Apache Junction would someday be a major community in the heartland of Arizona. However, it was Curtis who braved the uncertainty of success when he established a small business on a homestead some sixteen miles east of Mesa,
Arizona in 1923.

By late 1923 Curtis was well situated at the junction of State Route 88 and U.S. Highway 60-70. This was a time when cow trails and wagon tracks covered much of the Arizona desert. Cutis’ endeavor included pumping gasoline for the Union Oil Company, servicing automobiles, selling groceries, and lunches to the few customers that traveled the lonely desert roads. Curtis laid claim to 160 acres under the Homestead Act and local ranchers were quite apprehensive about his claims to the land he settled on.

When construction was approved on Mormon Flat Dam in late 1923, Curtis saw a slight boom in his business. This sudden prosperity provided the needed capital to expand his growing enterprise even more.

Curtis was a very clever entrepreneur who realized he had to draw the public to his business. This led to the construction of Arizona’s first licensed zoo. Curtis soon found problems in trying to gain title to his homestead land because of prior claim. He fought this case to the Supreme Court and finally
emerged the winner.

Curtis tangled with George U. Young about the naming of Apache Junction. Young had suggested the junction of SR 88 and U.S. Highway 60 be called Youngsberg Junction after the name of his mining interest at Youngsberg (Goldfield). Eventually the site was named Apache Junction from Curtis’ original suggestion.

For several years Curtis leased his property to numerous parties who were not successful with the business. Finally in 1940, he leased his property to Jack F. Anderson. Anderson expanded and improved the property making it profitable during the war years 1941-1945. At the close of 1945 Anderson exercised his option to buy the property from Curtis.

Jack F. Anderson was an energetic man who visualized a future for Apache Junction. He recognized that this desert climate was well suited for tourism and retirees. By 1948 the first subdivisions of land were organized and lots sold. The future of Apache Junction looked very bright.

Always lingering in the shadows of the Superstitions was the legendary gold mine belonging to Jacob Waltz to attract people to the area. However, the attraction was not the legend, but the climate and magnificent scenery. It was the latter two that brought forth the multitudes who settled on the desert floor at the base of Superstition Mountain.

During the 1950s veterans were allowed to homestead parcels of land east of the junction of State Route 88 and U.S. Highway 60-70. This act converted a large section of public lands to private ownership permitting the eventual building of homes and an economic boom for Apache Junction. One of the earliest settlers of the area was Barney Barnard, well known for his tall tales about the Superstition Mountains.

Jack Anderson’s dream for Apache Junction was becoming a reality by the mid-1950s. Apache Junction had a post office, fire station and a sheriff’s sub-station. Anderson was the first president of the Apache Junction Lion’s Club.

The Lion Clubs was the leader of community affairs in those days. Anderson believed in the welfare of children and was instrumental in the organization of a Little League Baseball program in Apache Junction. His support of community projects earned him the respect of many people. His efforts helped create a modern community in the desert at the foot of Superstition Mountain.

Jack Anderson also wanted to support some kind of a community event through the Lion’s Club to attract people to the area. The Apache Junction Lion’s Club sponsored the first Burro Derby in February of 1958. The event was a big success.

On October 11, 1955, George Curtiss died. Just a year and  a half later on June 8, 1957, Jack Anderson died suddenly while vacationing in California. Both men were true pioneers in founding of Apache Junction. Both had gambled on the future of this land near the base of Superstition Mountain and had won.

Our community is a fitting monument to this kind of pioneering spirit. Sometimes we need to be reminded of our roots and how this community came about.