Monday, March 7, 2016

Last Great Search for the Lost Dutchman Mine

September 24, 2011 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Time has a strange way of eroding away one’s memory of events that occurred five decades ago.  A few days ago I was perusing some old periodicals about the last publicized great search for the famous Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains east of Apache Junction. The story that caught my eye revealed interesting events that happen here some fifty years ago.

On April 8, 1966, the Associated Press announced to the world the discovery of the legendary Lost Dutchman Mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona by a group of Oklahoma prospectors. A private detective named Glenn D. Magill led the group. The name Magill soon became a household word among those who were knowledgeable about the Lost Dutchman Mine. Some believed Magill had found the Lost Dutchman Mine while others doubted the claim of the Oklahoma detective.
Curt Gentry’s book “Killer Mountain” is
an account of Magill’s search for
 the Lost Dutchman Mine with a
 little exaggeration.
The book is available at the City Library.

Magill’s claim made front-page news throughout the United States. What an exciting story it was! Finally, the gold of Superstition Mountain had been found and many old timers who believed in the mine had been vindicated. Inquiries from around the nation poured into the small hamlet of Apache Junction. A Tucson radio station recorded a program at the mine site and later aired the program over their station. The program included interviews with the discoverers of this world-famous lost mine. Robert K. Corbin, a noted searcher for the Lost Dutchman Mine, who visited the site and was interviewed on radio.

The real story behind Magill’s discovery is how he became involved in the search for this legendary lost gold mine.

Glenn D. Magill was introduced to the initial search for this mine when he was a family man with a struggling business enterprise and bills to pay. Searching for a lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona was the furthest thing from his mind.

Magill was born in Indianola, Oklahoma on October 16, 1927. His grandparents were Oklahoma pioneers, “Sooners”  who were originally involved in the Great Oklahoma Land Rush.  Magill grew up in Oklahoma City and as a youth was intensely interested in adventure. His dream for high adventure never waned, but as an adult he had a career  and a family to care for. These responsibilities prevented him from leading a wanderlust way of life.

Magill’s first introduction to the Lost Dutchman Mine occurred in an Oklahoma City theater in 1950. At this theater he saw the Columbia motion picture titled, “Lust for Gold,” starring Glenn Ford and Ida Lupino. The film was based on Barry Storm’s book “Thunder God’s Gold” published in 1945 at Tortilla Flat, Arizona. This more or less fictional version of the Lost Dutchman Mine story did little to invoke Magill’s desire to rush off to Arizona to search for this famous lost mine. Magill found the film to be a great adventure, but did not take it very serious. It was Hollywood’s way of presenting the facts about a lost mine, which Magill seriously doubted existed.

For the most part, Magill forgot about the Lost Dutchman Mine until an attorney friend of his in Dallas, Texas, contacted him. The attorney informed Magill he had a client in Denver, Colorado, who wanted someone to research the Lost Dutchman Mine to determine if it actually existed. The attorney asked Magill if he would be interested in examining some papers and documents about the lost gold mine in Arizona. Magill agreed to examine the material and assumed at the time his examination of the papers or material was not a paying job. After all, who hires a private investigator to search for a legendary lost gold mine? The attorney agreed to send the material to Magill for his thorough examination.

A few days later a package arrived for Magill. He returned with the package to his office and placed it on a file cabinet intending to open it immediately. The package was temporarily forgotten and remained unopened for several weeks. Under normal circumstances, Magill would have opened the package immediately, but in this case he thought he was doing a favor for a friend without payment so he attended to other matters that were more pressing of his immediate attention.

A few weeks later the Dallas attorney called Magill to inquire about what he thought of the papers he had sent him.  Magill apologized for not having examined them, but explained to his friend that he had been extremely busy.  Magill further advised the attorney that he was examining the information as a favor and was not expecting to be compensated for it.  The attorney explained to Magill he would indeed be paid for his time. A few days later a check arrived for $1,500.00. From that day on Glenn D. Magill, private detective was actively investigating the existence and location of the Lost Dutchman Mine.

This was a considerable earnest fee for a struggling private investigator in Oklahoma City in 1964. Magill now knew his client in Dallas was very serious about proving or disproving the existence of the Lost Dutchman Mine.

Magill’s investigation of the Lost Dutchman Mine led him across the United States, coast to coast, and into rustic old files searching for documents and information.  The more Magill investigated and researched the more he believed there was something to the story about a lost gold mine in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

Magill’s campsite on Bluff Springs Mountain became a center of intense activity for many years after the Associated Press International’s release in 1966. Magill tried to keep his trips into the mountain’s secret and out of the public limelight. This proved to be nearly impossible.

The general public believed or wanted to believe the Lost Dutchman Mine Exploration Corporation had at last found the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine. Prior to 1966 Magill had used a helicopter to pin point what he believed was the exact location of the Lost Dutchman Mine. He had methodically exhausted every clue he had obtained through research and then made his decision as to the precise location of Jacob Waltz’s bonanza.

Magill found what he thought was Waltz’s gold mine, but there was no gold bonanza to remove. Until the day of his death October 19, 1993, Glen Magill believed the Lost Dutchman Mine existed. He believed he had not pinpointed its exact location correctly.