Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Now For Something Completely Different

The Lost Dutchman Mine
Somewhere in the shadow of Weaver's Needle (photo source) in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona is hidden the one of the most famous gold mines in the Western United States. Complete with curse. It is a story that has fascinated me since I was a child.

The gold had been known since at least the 18th century when it was mentioned as part of a huge Spanish land grant. The mine had been first lost in 1848 when the first party from Mexico to work on site in earnest were massacred. Left behind were vague hints to the mine's location and, even more tantalizing, burros that ran off during the massacre and died in the mountains still heavily laden with gold.
It 1864, 400 Mexican miners returned to search for the gold. Apaches attacked and kill all but one man at a place in the Superstition Mountains called the Massacre Grounds (right).

In the 1870's Jacob Waltz, a German immigrant, rediscovered the mine with the help of the sole survivor of the previous massacre. Waltz's partners were killed, either by Apache raiders or by Waltz himself, and the "Dutchman" had the gold all to himself. Waltz didn't work the mine constantly, the Apaches made that too dangerous. Periodically he would trek into the mountains and he always returned with gold. The Dutchman died in 1891 at the age of 83 taking the secret of his mine's location with him. But, he left clues.

Now began the treasure hunt for the Dutchman's gold which continues today. Waltz left behind clues which have been embellished in following years to the point of being worthless. There are scores of maps, almost all fake. The most interesting are these stone tablets (above) said to date back to the original Mexican owners of the mine. Nobody has been able to make sense of any of the maps, although this fellow claims to have solved the puzzle.

The Curse
Of course, when I was a kid I was hooked on the curse. The Superstition Mountains were sacred to the Apache, it was home to their Thunder God. Apparently the earliest Spanish Conquistadors who were searching for Cities of Gold named the range the Superstitions because of the stories and odd events they experienced there. The curse is that any white man who trespasses on the mountains and steals from the Thunder God will suffer a horrible death. In addition to mysterious deaths, the Superstitions are said to be visited by UFOs, ghostly apparitions, and wormholes called Sipapoos.

More than you ever wanted to know: Jacob Waltz bio, a complete telling of the story, the supernatural Superstitions

1 comment:

PoliShifter said...

Almost makes me want to go look for it.