Monday, October 2, 2017

Dutch Hunter's Rendezvous: The Story Continues

September 25, 2017 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

The intense interest in the Dutchman’s Lost Mine and the Superstition Mountain continues to prevail today. Men and women from around our nation come to Arizona hoping to find their fortunes. Most find nothing, while some lose their fortunes and others are lucky to get away without the loss of their lives. Sadly, some make poor choices and eventually end up dead. Death or injury is no stranger to the unprepared and inexperienced in this rugged mountain range east of Apache Junction. Prospectors have died from extreme weather conditions, from gunshot wounds, from falls, drowned in flash floods and from natural causes. Ironically the rugged Superstition Mountains are far safer than the streets of Phoenix or the highways of Arizona.

Since the early 1880’s, men and women have searched these rugged mountains for gold and lost mines. The most significant lost mine stories center around an old German immigrant name Jacob Waltz. His mine was allegedly located near a prominent landmark called Weaver’s Needle, just east of Superstition Mountain.

Maintaining a camp in these mountains can be difficult at best. The trails are rough and steep, making it difficult to deliver supplies. Also pack trains (horses or mules) are a very expensive method in which to move needed items into the wilderness. Also all camps are limited to fifteen days by forest service regulations. Camps cannot be established within a quarter-of-a-mile of a water source. This can make camping very difficult in the dry season when water is scarce. One can easily get disoriented in these mountains if they don’t have map reading experience. The lost have died trying to find their way out of the mountains. No one is immune to the dangers that exist in these mountains; however caution and common sense will protect most from serious injury or death.

Each year I am amazed at the people who become involved in the search for the Lost Dutchman Mine. There is a continuous list of new prospectors who are searching the mountains for clues. Many years ago, a businessman and prospector named Joe Ribaudo, who lives in Lake Havasu City, decided he wanted to see the Dutchman 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 and south of the Coke Ovens along the Gila River, east of Florence. The first gathering was small with thirteen attending in October of 2005; however there was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea. The next year, the rendezvous was moved to Don’s Camp. This was accomplished with the help of Don’s member Greg Davis. The camp is located at the base of Superstition Mountain near the Peralta Trailhead. Each year the activity is held at the end of October. The gathering has grown. It is a gathering of individuals that are extremely interested in the Superstition Mountains and its many tales and stories. This event has attracted old timers as well as contemporaries anxious to learn the stories of Superstition Mountain.

Clay Worst and friends at the Dutch Hunters Rendezvous.
The third year, Joe handed over the organizing of the “Dutchman’s Rendezvous” to Wayne Tuttle and Randy Wright. Greg Davis continued to make the arrangements for the Don’s Camp for the rendezvous. Joe and his wife Carolyn retired as camp hosts. They will still greet you and say hello. The scheduled activities include a variety of options. Friday night includes sitting around a campfire and entertaining each other by telling stories about the mountains. There is usually a guided hike on Saturday. After dark on Saturday, everyone gathers around the large Ramada to listen to a couple of guest speakers or a program. This gathering at the Ramada is planned also for Friday evening this year.

I have attended for the last six years, and I think it was an excellent opportunity to meet a variety of people from all over the United States who were interested in our history. As I look back, I should have made an effort to attend and report on all of these events. Please don’t get this event confused with Lost Dutchman Days in Apache Junction. This has nothing to do with this particular event or the Apache Junction Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, there were three days of this event. The interested, the curious and the very serious showed up for the event last year. Some of the individuals drove from Texas, California, Oklahoma, New York, New Hampshire and several other distant locations. The organizers should be proud of their accomplishment. I didn’t personally count each and everyone in attendance, but I would estimate there were about sixty to seventy people attended last year’s “Dutchman’s Rendezvous” at Don’s Camp.

A number of old time Dutch Hunters attend, and, of course, they are legends in their own right. Many authors who have published books about the Superstition Mountains and the Lost Dutchman’s mine attend. I am not sure who are the guest speakers this year; however I am sure they will be interesting. Wayne made a big improvement a couple of years ago by adding a sound system.

The Dutch Hunter’s (Dutchman’s) Rendezvous is an open event, so everyone is welcome. This year’s event is scheduled for October 27, 28 and 29, 2017 at the Don’s Camp just below Peralta Trail Head. There will be guest speakers on Friday and Saturday night at the campfire gathering. The camp is primitive, so you need to bring what you need to be comfortable. Be sure to bring water, food, and bedding if you are spending the night. There is no charge for camping. For more information you may email Joe at

If you’re interested in attending, drive out to Don’s Camp on Friday or Saturday and visit. The camp is located about eight miles east of Highway 60 on the Peralta Trail Head Road. Turn off Highway 60 east of Gold Canyon at the traffic signal into the Peralta Sub-division and drive east through the sub-division onto Forest Service Road 77. The last two and half miles can be a little rough, so slow down. The road will be rough and unmaintained in places, but easily passible. Occasionally the road is maintained. For more information contact Wayne at zentull @ aol .com.