Monday, May 25, 2015

Hiking the Superstitions

May 18, 2015 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The Superstition Wilderness Area offers more than 140 miles of improved system hiking trails.
Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Arizona. The Superstition Wilderness Area, a part of the Tonto National Forest, offers more than 140 miles of improved system trails. Two of the most popular trailheads are First Water and Peralta. By far, Peralta Trail Head receives more visitors and hikers during the winter season than any other trailhead.

The turnoff to First Water trailhead is located northeast of Apache Junction on State Route 88 (Apache Trail) some 4.7 miles. Turn right on the First Water Road (FS 78) and drive 2.6 miles to the trailhead. Equestrians are restricted to the lower parking lot while hikers use the upper parking lot.

The upper parking lot often fills during the winter months and the lower parking serves for as an overflow parking lot. The Tonto Forest no longer requires a daily parking fee at either.

If you choose First Water as your final destination there are several hikes that can be enjoyed, depending on your physical ability. Hiking southeast along the Dutchman’s Trail FS 104 from First Water toward Brush Corral is an easy hike. Forty years ago the Barkley Cattle Company maintained a brush corral in the center of this large valley flat, hence the name.

This large valley flat is known as Boulder Basin. The distance between First Water Trailhead and Brush Corral is about 5.5 miles. From Brush Corral, Weaver’s Needle is visible to the south. This 4,553-foot spire dominates the mountainous region east of Superstition Mountain. According to legend the “Dutchman’s” mine is hidden somewhere within view of this prominent landmark.

Weaver’s Needle was named after Paulino Weaver, a mountain man, trapper, guide and prospector. Weaver was born in Tennessee in 1797 and died near Camp Verde, Arizona Territory in 1867.

Weaver first arrived in the area about 1830 and was involved with the gold rush to the Bradshaw Mountains in central Arizona in 1863. He earlier guided Captain John Phillip Cooke and the Mormon Battalion across Arizona to California from Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1846. Weaver’s Needle was named in his honor in 1853. The “Needle” was a prominent landmark along the Gila Trail and the oldest Anglo-American named landmark in the region.

From Brush Corral, a hiker can walk on to the base of Weaver’s Needle on the Dutchman Trail FS 104 and visit Ed Piper’s old campsite. Not much remains at the site today, but in the early 1960’s this was a bustling prospector’s camp. Look to the east and you will see a large boulder and carved on this boulder are the letters W – A – T – E – R. East of this boulder you can find what’s left of Piper’s spring. The spring in this canyon was once protected with a concrete cover protecting the precious water from contamination. The hike from Brush Corral by way of Granite Pass to Piper’s Camp is a challenging hike. Most of the 3.2 miles is an uphill grade.

Another beautiful hike is up East Boulder Canyon. Many trails begin or meet at the Brush Corral area. It is best to carry a wilderness map if you are not familiar with the area or acquire a copy of Jack Carlson and Elizabeth Stewart’s book, Hiker’s Guide to the Superstition Wilderness.

There are many books written about the Superstition Wilderness Area. You might check with the reference desk at the City of Apache Junction’s Library for a bibliography on the Superstition Wilderness Area. There are several bibliographical sources about the Superstition Wilderness on the Internet.

Another challenging hike is from Brush Corral. This is a walk up and over Bull Pass on the north end of Black Top Mesa. The climb up Bull Pass is extremely steep and requires a person to be in top physical condition. The view from Bull Pass is spectacular and well worth the effort.

Once in Bull Pass, a climb to the top of Black Top Mesa can be rewarding. At the south end of Black Top Mesa are located the legendary Spanish Hieroglyphic (sic). If one chooses to continue down the eastside of Bull Pass and into Needle Canyon the scenery is spectacular and history abounds in the area. Wildlife can often be observed in the small tributaries that drain into Needle Canyon.

Hiking of Needle Canyon provides a nostalgic step back into the history of prospecting in the area. Glen Magill, Al Morrow, John Pierce, Edwin Buckwitz, Joseph Roider, Sims Ely, Jimmy Anderson and many more searched for gold and treasure in Needle Canyon.

If you choose to make some of these hikes we suggest you let somebody know where you are going and when you expect to return. Be sure to take enough water and carry a map of the region. These hikes are recommended only during the winter months (November to March) because of the extreme desert temperatures during the summer months.

I would suggest before trying a wilderness hike that you consider Lost Dutchman State Park for your first trip. The park has very well maintained trails that guide you beneath the western façade of Superstition Mountain. You might also consider the hike up Siphon Draw from Lost Dutchman State Park. However, we would suggest the Siphon Draw hike for only experienced hikers.

Good luck and enjoy your hike into this Sonoran Desert wonderland.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Peralta Stone Maps

May 11, 2015 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The topic of the Peralta Stone maps is one of the most interesting subjects associated with the Superstition Mountain area. The maps continue to mystify and confuse those who try to interpret them. These four stone maps have probably created more controversy than any other topic involving the Superstition Wilderness Area. The greatest amount confusion involving these maps is associated with their origin and whether they are genuine or not. The origin of these stone maps is dubious at best and still causes heated discussions among historians and treasure hunters. Stories about the stone maps vary from storyteller to storyteller as to their authenticity. Many periodicals have been written about the Peralta Stone Maps over the past three decades without any conclusive or sound evidence pointing to their true origin or meaning.

Old “Doc” Ludwig G. Roscrans told me he saw the stone maps about three weeks after they were discovered near Florence Junction in 1949. He said he talked to the Mexican bracero (laborer) who had discovered the maps originally and then sold them to a tourist from Oregon. Today there are many versions of that story.
The stone maps were unearthed near
Florence Junction in 1949 by a
Mexican bracero (laborer).

Bob Ward took me to a location east of Black Point, pointed to a hole and said that was were the stone maps were recovered. Bob arrived in the area about 1958. The strongest oral evidence suggests the maps were discovered near Black Point. However, all of this information is based on subjective testimony.  

The stone maps are an excellent piece of art in many respects. It is obvious whoever carved the stone maps was familiar with carving stone. There are those who claim the stone maps are made of material that cannot be found in this area. The stone maps, according to some, are made out of soft sandstone more conducive to the Colorado Plateau region in northeastern Arizona than the desert areas around the Superstition Wilderness Area.  However, there are some very soft pseudo-sandstone rocks near Oak Flats between Superior and Miami that might have yielded the material for these maps.

According to Robert L. Garman, a Mexican bracero who worked for John Hart building a fence near the north bank of Queen Creek east of the highway (U.S. Highway 60-70), made the original discovery. The fence was aligned east to west near Black Point. The bracero, while setting posts for this fence, noticed an unusually large flat stone in the side of his posthole. He worked the stone lose and found it had cryptic writing on it. He also recognized a Spanish word. He noticed the rock was covered with Indian petroglyphs and some Spanish markings. Not understanding the significance of his discovery the Bracero hauled the stone to Florence Junction, a few miles away. He planned on selling the stone to a passing tourist for a few dollars.

He arrived at Florence Junction after walking and lugging the flat stone some three miles.  He borrowed a water hose at the service station and washed the stone off carefully preparing it for a curious tourist. He found such a person in Robert G. Tummilson of Portland, Oregon. Tummilson, a retired police officer, examined the rock and decided a fair price would be $10.00. This was almost a week’s wages for the Mexican laborer. Tummilson was now the proud owner of a stone with some cryptic writing on it.

After this interesting purchase, Tummilson continued his journey on to Phoenix to visit his brother. Once at his brother’s house Tummilson decided to wash the rock thoroughly and re-examine it. Tummilson and his brother immediately recognized this was no ordinary petroglyph of Native American origin, but some kind of coded map in Spanish. The two brothers were convinced the stone slab was Spanish or Mexican in origin.

The so-called Peralta Stone Maps have changed hands several times over the past fifty years. These mysterious slabs of rock have been called frauds by historians since their discovery in 1949.There are other interesting scenarios about the origin of these stone maps.

There are claims the stone maps were found on the Gila River near Dos Lomas. If indeed these stone maps were found by the Tummilson brothers as they claimed and if a Mexican bracero actually found them, why wasn’t the discovery better documented with more photographs, notes and field sketches. Tummilson was a retired police officer trained in accurate note taking and crime scene preservation. The same type of training also applies to a point of discovery. The lack of evidential commitment at the discovery site of the stone slabs seriously damages the authenticity of the discovery. There is a counter argument to evidential commitment at the site. It could be, according to Garman and others, Tummilson wanted to control all of the information disseminated about the stone maps. This is not a sound argument in itself because Tummilson had no idea what he had discovered. He did not know if they were authentic or fraudulent.

Robert L. Garman did not provide all of the foregoing information. Some of the information came from “Doc” Rosecrans and others interested in the stone maps. Doc Rosecrans had a copy of the photograph of the maps on Tummilson’s car given to him by Tummilson himself. Tummilson died and the stone maps eventually changed hands. The stones emerged again in the early 1960’s. There were very few people who knew about the stone maps existence prior to1962.

Clarence O. Mitchell met Tumilson’s widow and was able to convince her he could decipher the stone maps. Once Mitchell had the stone maps in his possession he decided to form a stock investment corporation based on solving this mystery. Mitchell and his wife organized the M.O.E.L. Corporation in Nevada and began a stock selling campaign among their friends and close associates. The M.O.E.L Corporation soon flourished when Mitchell convinced investors he needed money to search for the treasure indicated by the stone maps. According to documents Mitchell and his wife raised more than $70,000 over a two-year period. They were so successful in Nevada they decided to branch out into Arizona.

Mitchell began searching the Superstition Mountain area for the site he believed was indicated on the stone maps. He was very secretive about all of his operations in the Superstition Mountains. Mitchell received a big break when he convinced a naïve freelance writer to tell his story in Life magazine in 1964. This July, 1964 article brought unbelievable notoriety for Mitchell and his now famous Peralta Stone Maps. A photograph in the article showed Mitchell crouched down behind a rock hiding from people he claimed were trying to find his treasure site.

The article revealed for the first time public photographs of the stone maps. Certain markings on the maps were covered with black tape. These photographs fired the imagination of this nation’s treasure hunting society.

Early in 1965 Mitchell released a book he wrote under the nom de plume Travis Marlowe titled Superstition Treasures published by the Tyler Printing Company, Phoenix, Arizona. By late 1968 Mitchell had milked his golden cow just about dry. Mitchell made many investments in the Tucson area when he moved there from Apache Junction. He and Tummilson’s widow donated the stone maps to the Flagg Foundation who in turn loaned them to the Arizona Mineral Museum. Finally, both Arizona and Nevada ordered Mitchell to decease selling stock in the M.O.E.L. Corporation or he would be indicted for fraud.

The so-called Peralta Stone Maps did not go away. The Flag Foundation asked to put them on display. They appeared at the Don’s Club Trek, First National Bank, Arizona, Arizona State Mineral Museum and finally the Mesa Southwest Museum.

The Mesa Southwest Museum returned the stone maps to the Arizona State Mineral Museum in Phoenix in the early 1990’s. The State Mineral Museum continued public display of the maps helped to perpetuate their legacy. Eventually the Stone Maps were taken off public display at the Arizona State Mineral Museum.

Today the Peralta Stone Maps are on display at the Superstition Mountain Museum in Apache Junction. They will be on display there until 2017.

Barry Storm, in 1967, wrote an article for Treasure Hunters, in an attempt to decipher the Peralta Stone Maps. At this point you must remember, Barry Storm was the “Dean of the Treasure Hunters” in America. Storm’s feeble attempt to explain the stone maps led to more confusion and consternation among those who knew the stone maps were probably a fraud. Storm’s work was followed by a variety of writers, photographers and filmmakers using the stone maps as a factual source for treasure hunting in the Superstition Mountain area.

More than ninety per cent of the fraudulent schemes involving the Superstition Mountains are perpetrated with the so-called Peralta Stone Maps. Those seeking a huge return on the investment they had made or the super greedy who are often caught up in schemes such as those perpetrated by the use of the Peralta Stone Maps. Con artists are always looking for something to lure their investors. The only con artist successfully prosecuted by the law for using the stone maps in a fraudulent manner was Robert Simpson Jacob better known as “Crazy Jake.” Jacob and his various schemes have become legendary in the Apache Junction, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Scottsdale areas.

“Crazy Jake”, as he liked to be called, operated a base camp in Squaw Box Canyon in the early days (1965-1978) then moved his operation to the western edge of Peter’s Mesa just above Squaw Box Canyon.

When Robert Simpson Jacob was indicted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office in 1986, it is estimated he had defrauded more than thirty million dollars out of the private sector. Investigators for the Attorney General’s office were able to document some nine million dollars Jacob had acquired. Today, little or none of this money has been found or accounted for. Jacob spent the rest frivolously it is believed by the investigators. Jacob was sentenced to ten years in prison and fined $145,000. He was released from prison in 1991 after serving three years.

Jacob, like those before him, could see the opportunity the stone maps presented. They were impossible to disprove therefore making their authenticity more believable. Historians, college professors, scientist and layman have all tried to explain the origin of these dubious artifacts. Some of the simplest questions about them cannot be answered. For example, how old are these stone maps?

Attorney General Bob Corbin was in Washington for a meeting and he talked to a friend of an FBI analyst who said the maps were at least one hundred years old, however Bob never observed any documentation supporting this statement. He was just told that the stone maps were investigated when M.O.E.L. Corporation was being investigated for fraud.

Dr. Charles Polzer, Jesuit historian at the University of Arizona (now deceased), believed the stone maps were a total fraud. Polzer told me personally no amount of research can convince him the stone maps were authentic. However, research has developed some interesting leads, but none of them can be properly documented. An early Arizona periodical had a brief story about some stone maps being found in some mountains in southern Sonora or northern Durango in Mexico. These maps were never linked to the Superstition Mountains or Arizona.

A small segment of Arizona historians believe the stone maps may have been used by the Baron of Arizona, James Addison Reavis, to help verify the legitimacy of his land grant claim to much of Arizona and New Mexico territory in the 1880’s. Reavis was a meticulous organizer and planner. He was also an expert forger. He changed documents in Spanish and Mexican archives to coincide with his claim to the Peralta-Reavis Land Grant a decade later. It would not have been difficult for him to have planned or used stone markers for his fraudulent Spanish land grant. There are several historians who suggest the stone maps may have been markers for such a purpose.

Still other stories exist as to the origin of these notorious stone maps. Fifty years ago it was rumored that a cowboy who lived along Queen Creek carved the stone maps and buried them near Black Point to confuse treasure hunters. This old cowboy did a lot of stonework for Clemans Cattle Company at the old Upper Fraser Ranch known today as the Reavis Ranch. The story is this old man was a stone engraver at a cemetery back East and gave up the job to become a cowboy in the West.

Finally, if indeed the Peralta Stone Maps were authentic, the United States Government would have confiscated them under the Antiquities Act. Today, if indeed, they are as old as many claim they are and of Spanish origin, they would be in a museum in Washington D.C. If these stones were what so many claim they would be a national treasure.

As you can see this is just another explanation for the infamous and notorious Peralta Stone Maps. The stone maps have created as many enemies as they have friends. The Peralta Stone Maps will survive as long as there are those who follow in the “Footsteps of Coronado’s Children.”

The Peralta Stone Maps are currently available for viewing at the Superstition Mountain Museum at 4087 N. Apache Trail (State Rt. 88), Apache Junction, AZ 85219-3845. For more information call 480-983-4888

Monday, May 11, 2015

An Affliction

May 4, 2015 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness Area has fascinated and mesmerized those who have walked and rode the trails within the towering spires and deep canyons of this region. The terrain can overwhelm you with beauty, isolation, tranquility, vastness and pure ruggedness. These 159,780 acres of wilderness continue to attract gold and treasure hunters as prospectors continue to wander the trails of the Superstition Wilderness Area in search of gold.

Bonanza gold, worth about $470,000 per ton.
Some claim it looked a lot like Jacob Waltz gold
from beneath his death bed— If that story is true.
Most of the gold they searched for was in their minds according to “Doc” Rosecrans, an old time prospector of the area now deceased. He spent forty years living along the Apache Trail and occasionally hiked into the Superstition Wilderness to explore a hunch. He published a small book on the Dutchman’s Lost Mine in 1949. His book wasn’t much of a success—however, it did get him the threat of a lawsuit from Barry Storm, another author on the topic.

Prospectors and treasure hunters still wander the region in search of gold or treasure, but for the most part, their way of life is slowly disappearing. Strict forest service regulations and the withdrawal of the wilderness from mineral entry has all but ended prospecting and mining in the region. The only mining that might possibly exist in the wilderness area today is totally illegal.

Contemporary writers, weekend explorers, and the curious continue looking for facts and information associated with events that occurred decades ago. Such research and discussions has been opened to the public through various forums about the Superstition Mountains and the Lost Dutchman Mine on the internet or worldwide web. You might say a new type Argonaut has arrived on the landscape for the wilderness area.

The three most controversial topics are the location of the Dutchman’s Lost Mine, the Peralta Stone Maps and the tragic death of Adolph Ruth. These topics continue to attract a wide range of interest among readers on the internet or the worldwide web. The internet has changed the way we view and research material today. A forum about the Dutchman’s Lost Mine can be factual or it can be fictional depending on its source. When someone claims they have found a lost gold mine how do you know they are telling the truth? A simple question might be; where is the gold?

If that person were to produce gold then there would be some interesting repercussions from those interested in where the gold was found. The next question would be; did you stake a claim? Would any person in their right mind stake a claim on rich vein of gold? Probably not!

A claim notice would be an invitation for everyone to come and look at your rich gold mine. I believe this explains the dilemma you’d be in. I believe most old timers would not tell anyone about their discoveries in the hills. This behavior could easily explain all the confusion associated with the Dutchman’s lost mine today.

Jacob Waltz, the legendary “Dutchman”, may or may not have had a gold mine. Nobody knows for sure. When he died on October 25, 1891, a candle box of high-grade gold ore was found under his bed. This gold proved to be of bonanza quality. The discovery of this candle box of rich ore created a controversy that continues to linger to this day. Where did this gold ore come from? How much was there, 24 lbs., 48 lbs.? Men and women have searched the high peaks and deep canyons of the Superstition Wilderness Area for the source of this gold ore to no avail. There is no guarantee as to the source of this gold ore found under Waltz’s deathbed.

The Dutchman’s lost mine continues to be a tale about a lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. To many folks, the mine is a figment of somebody’s imagination that continually draws in more dreamers each year. Since the early 1920s more than 170 individuals have claimed they found the fabulously rich Dutchman’s lost mine. The roll of discoverers lists the names of men like Glen Magill, Barry Storm, Robert Simpson Jacob, Charles M. Crawford, and many, many more that allegedly found the mine and reaped its profits.

Most of those profits were monies they conned out of innocent and naïve investors. I have watched this vicious cycle for more than fifty years and witnessed the destruction and heartache it has caused to innocent people. Arizona Attorney General Robert K. Corbin successfully convicted and jailed a couple of these crooks. Most notable was Robert Simpson Jacob. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for his part in a criminal conspiracy.

Now you ask is there a Dutchman lost mine somewhere out in the rugged Superstition Mountain region? I have dreamed of finding this mine, but I have never found any evidence to really suggest the mine existed. Everything is based of subjective hearsay. Actual facts about this lost mine just don’t exist. Even the alleged rich gold ore found under Waltz’s bed is based on hearsay information.

Yes, there are alleged pieces of this gold that supposedly exist today. The documentation supporting this alleged gold ore is nothing more than hearsay. Even I am guilty of signing an affidavit some thirty years ago  verifying that I saw the gold ore and jewelry “Brownie” Holmes claims belonged to Jacob Waltz. Again, even witnessing such a thing is still subjective information at best.

A very distinguished gentleman once said Waltz’s gold ore is what dreams are made of— meaning who knows for sure where that gold came from that was found under his bed. Dreams help build subjective ideology. Let’s face it, if you have spent a lifetime searching for the gold of Superstition Mountain there has to be something meaningful to the story.

Maybe my father had it all figured out when he said, “Yesterday’s adventures are today’s memories.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Wilderness Treasure

April 27, 2015 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Pictoglyphs in Hieroglyphic Canyon near King’s Ranch
on the SE slope of Superstition Mountain.
The Superstition Wilderness Area is a significant treasure trove of ancient archaeological sites belonging to the Hohokam and Salado cultures. Mixed among the Hohokam and Salado cultures are the more contemporary Apaches and Yavapais.

The Apache and Yavapais use of the Superstition Wilderness Area was more superficial than that of the Hohokam and Salado. Both the Hohokam and Salado cultures built mud and stone structures. Remnants of these structures can still be found throughout much of the area. Circlestone, Roger’s Canyon Cliff Dwelling, Castle Dome ruins, Mound Mountain ruins and Garden Valley are classic examples of these types of structures. 

It is difficult to estimate when early man first occupied these lands in what is known today as the Superstition Wilderness. Many archaeologists suggest ancient cultures were using the region for gathering and hunting subsistence as early as 350 B.C. There are lithics or stone tools that suggest a primitive hunting culture may have existed in this area 8,000 – 10,000 years ago. The Salado probably arrived on the scene around 800 A.D. These architects of mud and stone left several excellent examples of their work in the region. Their architectural ingenuity created structures that have survived the ravages of time.

More damage has occurred to the Salado cliff dwellings in Roger’s Canyon during the past thirty years then in the previous eight hundred years. This damage results from modern man’s ignorance to the fragility of these ancient structures. The ruins were in almost perfect shape at the turn of the century. When I first visited the site with my father in 1948 the ruins appeared as if the inhabitants had just moved out the day before.

Another interesting prehistoric ruin in the region is Circlestone. This 136- foot in diameter circular stonewall still defies complete explanation. The ruin is located on a grassy knoll. The elevation of the knoll is 6, 010 feet above sea level. Knowledge of the ruin’s existence has been with us since the territorial days when early miners and cattlemen first visited the region. Elisha M. Reavis was one of the first Anglo-Americans to mention Circlestone.

The theories associated with this structure are numerous; however actual explanations with supporting documentation are unavailable. Early visitors to the site believed Circlestone was a Spanish corral or fortress. Others believed the site was once used as an early U.S. Army’s heliograph station connecting the military post of Arizona Territory in the early 1870s. Not until the 1970s was the site accepted as an ancient Native American archaeological site. Today Circlestone remains as one of the major enigmas of the Superstition Wilderness Area. The discovery of surface potshards and fetishes has created interesting speculation about Circlestone. Mr. Sam Henderson, an earlier superintendent at Casa Grande National Monument, has suggested the site may have been used as a trading center or even a special ceremonial site. Other archaeologists have suggested the site may have been celestially oriented and used for ceremonial purposes.

Garden Valley was farmed by a small group of Hohokams probably a thousand years ago when the climate conditions were more favorable. This large valley flat has more than 200 acres of arable land when there is a sufficient supply of water. Today mesquite and Chain Cholla are the climax vegetation in the area because cattle growers over-grazed the area. Cattle are no longer part of the setting and vegetation has climaxed over most of the valley.

A ruin was located in the center of the valley. This structure probably housed up to thirty individuals while small caves on the fringe of the valley contained other families. Prior to 1930, the valley floor was literally covered with stone tools used by the ancient inhabitants who cultivated this special parcel of land. 

Late in November of 1931, the Arizona Republican co-sponsored an archaeological expedition into the region. The expedition was led by the City of Phoenix archaeologist Odds Halseth. The expedition undertook selective collecting of surface artifacts and documented the location of each artifact before it was removed.

Odds Halseth, Harvey Mott and other members of the archaeological expedition made a cursory inventory of surface artifacts they did not collect. Several hundred lithics were inventoried on the surface, recorded, and left in place. Today, only a few of these lithics remain on the floor of Garden Valley. They all have been carried off by collectors during the past 70 years.  My father and I often walked through Garden Valley on our way to Second Water. Sometimes my father would take a side trip and show me the metates and manos (grinding stones, see illustration). They were still quite numerous in the late 1940s. The lithics and potsherds of Garden Valley were indicative of the Hohokam culture.

There is considerable evidence to suggest the Pimas gathered and foraged in the area long before 1500 A.D. The Pimas gathered the seeds of many plants common to the Superstition Mountain region, including the cacti fruit and the seedpods of various legumes such as the Mesquite, Ironwood, Palo Verde and acacia. Another important plant was the Jojoba.

The Apaches and Yavapais probably moved into these rugged mountains around 1500 A.D. Both constructed temporary rancherias or farmsteads in locations such as Garden Valley, Frog Tanks, Dismal Valley, Rock Tanks, Reavis Valley, along Tortilla Creek and many of the tributaries draining into the Salt River. 

Most of these rancherias or farmsteads were destroyed during the U.S. military campaigns against the Apaches and Yavapais between 1864-1868.

The Apaches and Yavapais used many of the caves and undercuts along Fish Creek Canyon, Tortilla Creek, La Barge and Boulder Canyon when they were pursued by the Army from Fort McDowell. The Native Americans often stole cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and mules and took them to the more accessible caves to be slaughtered for food. Bones of these animals have been found in caves along La Barge Canyon and Tortilla Canyons. It is estimated there are more than 2,500 archaeological sites within the boundaries of the Superstition Wilderness Area. During the past fifty years I have recorded hundreds of sites on several maps. 

I am carefully inspecting the ruin at Roger’s Canyon Cliff Dwellings in this 1975 photograph.
The Superstition Wilderness Area is a fantastic artifact and heritage trove of ancient cultures that existed here for the past 1,000 years or so. It will take archaeologists a century or more to develop a systematic history of the area. Until that time the National Wilderness Act will help to preserve this valuable resource for future archaeologist and scientist to study. Hopefully, visitors to the area will understand the importance of not disturbing these archaeological resources within the wilderness area. Educating the public about the significance of this resource is a very important mission of the Tonto National Forest.