Monday, April 29, 2013

Hidden Canyon

April 22, 2013 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

There are many stories about unusual places in the Superstition Wilderness Area. Since the late 1940’s, Hidden Canyon has been a mysterious place we have heard stories about and wanted to visit. For many years I believed this canyon to be nothing more than a big, windy story. The reason being I couldn’t locate it. Also I have had several individuals tell me they have been there, but couldn’t give me directions to its location for a variety reasons. Another friend said he knew where the canyon was and he believed it was named after Bill Hidden, an old time prospector of the Superstition Wilderness Area who often camped there.

Some time around 1963, I came across a contemporary map sketched by some Dutch hunter named Darrel Warren who claimed his grandfather had drawn the Barlett-Warren Map describing the location of Hidden Canyon. I thought at first, this was just a coincidence. I ended up with a copy of this map and filed it away. Thirty years later, Greg Davis located another copy of this map and gave it to me. I examined both maps and found there were several discrepancies in the two maps indicating more than one author.

The names of historical landmarks have a way of being changed for various or obvious reasons. Each generation will often start on a campaign of changing local landmarks. A good example of such changes is city and county street names. Such roads as Idaho, Meridian, Ironwood and Lost Dutchman Boulevard all had different names thirty years ago. Does anyone remember where Wilson Drive was, or how about Transmission Road, or County Line Road and Moeur Road?

Not so many years ago a gentleman from eastern Texas contacted me concerning the location of a street in Apache Junction his grandmother once lived on in 1946. He told me his grandmother buried a couple of quart jars full of gold coins. He knew this to be true because his grandparents were Depression era people and didn’t trust banks. They retired in Apache Junction at the encouragement of Julian King and the street they supposedly lived on was called Rattlesnake Lane. Unfortunately, the name of the street his grandmother lived on is lost in the pages of Apache Junction history.

Tracing down landmarks that have been changed is a major undertaking. If names are changed they should be properly archived somewhere so references can be made back to them. If the East Texas man’s story was true there are a couple of one-quart fruit jars full of gold coins near Rattlesnake Lane in Apache Junction, Arizona.

The same fate is exactly what happened to Hidden Canyon. The name Hidden Canyon probably originated unofficially and was a name used by prospectors and cattlemen around the turn of the 20th century.

According to Floyd Stone, Hidden Canyon was used in the early days to corral range horses in before a roundup. The canyon supposedly was located in what is now known as Horse Camp country east of La Barge Canyon. The canyon had a narrow entrance, but opened up into an area of about 40 acres. There was a small stone cabin with a tin roof and corral within this small valley. The site was located near the base of an intermittent waterfall. There was a small water seep that provided a dependable water supply year-round. This was an ideal site for a prospector or range cowboy to set up camp. Down through the decades this site has been forgotten.

As far as I know, Hidden Canyon remains lost to this day. Often I think this story has been confused with the Lost Adams Diggings located in Eastern Arizona or Western New Mexico. There were stories about a lost gold mine associated with this site, just like the lost gold on Rattlesnake Lane in Apache Junction.
My father always said there was a very thin line between legend and truth. Actually he called it a thin gray line. After all isn’t that what legends and tales are about?