Monday, July 30, 2018

Are We All Americans?

July 23, 2018 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

A special flag that had been draped over the coffin of a World War II veteran buried at Arlington National Cemetery was flown atop Superstition Mountain each Memorial Day from 1982 to 1992.

The recent headlines that illustrated the danger of being a correspondent, columnist or employee of a newspaper were really a reminder and struck home for me.

I have never really considered myself a correspondent, but maybe a storyteller of history and legend. When I read the news about the massacre at The Capital in Annapolis, Maryland, I couldn’t help but have part of my heart and soul torn from my body.

During the past fifty years, I have worked with many news correspondents from all over these United States and the World talking about Superstition Mountain, its history and legend. Now I wonder what has happened to America after this tragedy. We, as a nation, must wake up. We are not conservatives, independents or liberals—we are Americans first. We all bled the same color on many battlefields, no matter our race, religion or politics.

We are all Americans who believe in the Bill of Rights and the first ten amendments of the United States Constitution, which protects those rights.

Each and every one of us should know them by heart. Today, the First Amendment protects our religion from government persecution, gives us the freedom of speech, freedom to peacefully assemble, freedom of the press and separates the government from any control or form of religion.

First of all, and most important, we are all Americans. Americans have the right to disagree; but to take our disagreements to a violent level—we do not have that right. Too often these disagreements lead to violent altercations that end in death.

What has changed in America during the past fifty years? Have we become so dangerous in our interactions with others today that we are all at risk?

Freedom of Press is one of the most important parts of a free and open society. Reporters try to report the news by interviews and research. Most newspeople do their very best to report the news accurately with interviews and photographs.

Anytime a government tries to censor the freedom of the press, they are moving toward a dictatorship or an authoritarian type of government where the Bill of Rights is no longer part of that government.

If you don’t remember the Bill of Rights, you should take the time to review it on your phone or computer, or go to the library and read it.

Today, many people talk about the Second Amendment as the only amendment of the Bill of Rights. I am also a strong adv
ocate of the 2nd Amendment, but some people should not have firearms in our society today.

They claim that without arms, we would have no rights. Of course that depends on who has the arms. There are many dictatorships in Central and South American controlled by those who have the guns. There are many people in our country today that would suspend the Bill of Rights if they could.

One of the most important rights is the Freedom of the Press. This is the right to know what is going on, from the White House to down the street. Transparency is important in government, so Americans know what is going on in their country. This information is supplied by those who work for the various news agencies, and these are the eyes and ears of America, not social media as many people think. More phony news comes from social media than anywhere else. Yes, some news sources are biased, but we as Americans have a choice and selection of our source of news. This country is being torn apart by extremist and phony politicians. Somebody needs to stand up and say, “We are all Americans.” It is most important that we are Americans and believe in the “Constitution” of the United States of America. “United we stand, divided we fall.”

With all my heart and soul, I want to believe those staff members of The Capital did not die in vain for doing their jobs of reporting the news.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Point of Reference

July 9, 2018 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

I have spent nearly seventy years in the Superstition Mountain area. I first arrived hear with my dad in 1946-47. My dad was always fascinated about the area, because of his best friend Bill Cage. Cage worked at the Christmas Copper Company as a blacksmith. He’d been a blacksmith all his life, and he loved to tell stories about his experiences looking for gold in the Superstition Mountains, as they were called in those days. Today we call the area the Superstition Wilderness Area. When I first worked in the area, they called it the Superstition Primitive Area. This designation was first established in 1939. The Tonto National Forest knew this region as a multi-use for many years.

I was born in 1938, on the eve of this area being designated as such. Also, in April of 1938, the Phoenix Don’s Club dedicated the “Dutchman’s Monument” in Apache Junction at the “Y” intersection for the Apache Trail and then U.S. Highway 60. Highway 60 today is known as the “Old West Highway” and “Superstition Freeway.” How things have changed in the last fifty years or so.

Not too many years ago, I remember George “Brownie” Holmes, talking about the past seventy years of his life and legendary search of the Washington D.C. Dr. Adolph Ruth in the early 1930’s. Well, I can talk like that now. I can remember so many different interesting historical events that occurred in these mountains. The word “history” is defined as a “chronological record of significant events, often with an explanation of their causes.” The word historia is French, but of Greek origin. Most of my writings are very chronological and pay attention to dates.

Yes, George “Brownie” Holmes’ life was a chronological history of the Superstition Primitive Area, the land of “Multi-use”.  As I recalled, “Brownie” drove a stage over the Apache Trail, he worked for William Augustus Barkley on the Quarter Circle U for many years, and he searched the Superstition Primitive Area for the Dutchman’s Lost Mine believing until he died in 1980, the mine existed.

The discovery of Ruth’s skull in December 1931 placed “Brownie” Holmes’ photo in almost every major newspaper in America.
You might say “Brownie’s” life was an epoch on the history of the region. I was most fortunate to interview “Brownie” and talked to him on the phone on many occasions about the mountain, the people associated with it and the infamous Dutchman’s Lost Mine. Holmes’s chronological history of the infamous Ruth case and events associated with it are of historical significance today. “Brownie” Holmes led the Phoenix Archaeological Expedition that discovered the body of Dr. Adolph Ruth on December 10, 1931, and ended one of the longest searches in Superstition Mountain history.

I continued my father’s interest, but enjoyed recording the history of the people who lived in this rugged land.  Today, July 9, 2018, I will celebrate my 80th birthday.
Yes, George “Brownie” Holmes was very friendly with me, and we often talked in his later years. He always displayed equivocal comments when it came to clues about the Dutchman’s Lost Mine in the Superstition Mountains.  This was certainly the type of behavior you would expect from individuals who believed they might know where this rich mine was located.

Like “Brownie” Holmes, Clayton Worst and others, the secrets of this legendary mine have been kept for more than a century. Bob Corbin gave up his search and now believes the mine was in the Bradshaw Mountains near Prescott. Clay continues to believe it is still out there in the “Wilderness.” Ironically, because of my father and Bill Cage, I have never believed this rich gold mine existed deep in the Superstition Mountains. Yes, lots of gold was mined in the Goldfield area and along the eastern fringe of the Superstition Wilderness Area. Even old Bob Garman found placer gold along Hewitt Canyon, but not enough to make a living on. Bob took me out to Hewitt Canyon and showed me there was placer gold in the area.

I will never find a lost gold mine, because I just don’t believe in them. My real gold is gathering and recording history, and I hope some day it will be valuable to others. I have made my contribution in books I have written, journals I have kept and letters I have collected from all over the world. All of this proves to be a worthwhile “point of reference” to the history of this region.

Yes, I make mistakes, and I hope you research it and find the correct answers. That is what history is all about. I have certainly found my gold of Superstition Mountain.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Bull Riding Comes to AJ

July 2, 2018 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Wow, I would have never believed it, but bull riding has come to Apache Junction. Not a bull riding machine, but professional rodeo bulls and bull riding cowboys on a weekly basis. This Apache Junction event occurs every Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. at the Hitching Post on the Apache Trail and Lost Dutchman Blvd.

8 seconds on one of these bad boys is what it takes to qualify for a score. Photo taken at 2018 Lost Dutchman Days by Krista Paffrath.
You might ask: “What does bull riding have to do with the history of the Superstition Mountains?” Well my friends, this is a gathering of people who are interested in cowboys, cowgirls, bull riding, trail riding, horses in our area, and even some storytellers who like to talk about the old Lost Dutchman Mine.

The professional bull riding idea emerged almost three years ago when the owner of the Hitching Post, Mehmood Mohiuddin decided he needed something to help preserve the cowboy tradition and attract business. He thought, why not professional bull riding?  Eventually, he made contact with a young man who had a professional bull riding circuit in the Salt River Valley. He had small bull riding arenas around the valley, with one located in Cave Creek, and now the prospect of one  in Apache Junction. He brought in real certified PRCA bucking bulls and riders for Saturday night programs. Also, they sponsored calf and sheep riding on Thursday nights for the younger ones and some amateur riders that are new bull riders. Many members of the Apache Junction cowboy community loved the idea and bought into it.  Mo, being an entrepreneur, liked the idea and invested. However, local homeowners disagreed with this activity along the Apache Trail, because it included all kinds of cowboys, including singing cowboys and concerts. Now here is the other side of the story.

The Apache Trail—from Apache Junction to the old site of the Fish Creek Lodge—has been a commercial avenue since 1909.

Today, we have Tortilla Flat, Canyon Lake, Dolly Steamboat, O.K. Corral Stables, Lost Dutchman State Park, Bluebird Mine, Goldfield Ghost Town Tours, Superstition Mountain Museum, Hitching Post, Filly’s, Cowboys Up and others who cater to the flavor of the old “Cowboy West.” 

Residents that move here should recognize the fact the “Apache Trail” is now a very commercial avenue with between six and nine thousand cars using the Apache Trail (SR88) on a daily basis during the winter months. Alt
hough there is always room for compromise, commercial ventures should not be over-regulated because of residential demands.

In 1986, I was involved with a committee to designate the Apache Trail as a historic highway and to preserve it as it was for the future. Few people stood up in support of this designation back then. Residential homes should not be constructed near a commercial avenue such as the Apache Trail and most land planners know this. Traffic, noise, dust and pollution are associated with the increased volume of traffic and visitors to the area by means of the Apache Trail.

Some years ago, the city of Apache Junction decided not to use the symbol of the iconic burro and prospector for their focal point. It was decided that the cowboy would be far more fitting. The funding was found and the “Cowboy” became the center of the Focal Point and Apache Junction.

The old prospector and burro retired and the cowboy image replaced them symbolically.

The cowboy image at the focal point was adopted by the city in favor of the traditional prospector.

My friends, the Hitching Post has become as cowboy as you can get in Apache Junction. You can slow progress down, but you can’t stop it.