Treasure hunters the world over are forever fascinated by the possibility of finding buried treasure. Our history books, and even story books, are filled with tales of people hunting for such treasure, armed with mining and digging tools, as well as a not-so trusty map, and usually finding a load of trouble instead of gold.
One such tale is that of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, which is supposedly within the Superstition Mountains, located east of Phoenix. These particular mountains stretch 160,000 acres across the desert. Somewhere in those mountains is said to be a treasure of gold that would be worth several hundred millions of American dollars, which was hidden away by Native Americans thousands of years ago.
Ever since the stories have been told, people have been out searching these mountains for the treasure. While many of those people return home dirty, tired, and poor from the expedition, there are just as many who don’t come back, forever lost in the mountainous terrain.
There are many people who are of the opinion that this supposed treasure is just a wild goose chase. However, just as many people believe in it, and hope to find it one day. The trick is to, of course, find it.
If you are interested in the story of the Superstition Mountains and the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, click ‘Start Slideshow!’
The Superstition Mountains are in Arizona, and are commonly called “The Superstitions” by the local people. The mountains cover about 160,000 acres of barren terrain, and have a maximum elevation of about 6,266 feet. They are considered to be the largest set of mountain ranges in the area surrounding Phoenix.
The entire area surrounding the Superstition Mountains, and the other natural features, is called the Superstition Wilderness Area. These other features include the Weavers Needle, which is a prominent landmark and popular rock climbing destination. It sits behind and to the east of the mountains. There is also the Miner’s Needle, which is a popular spot for hiking.
What is the Superstition Mountain Museum and what does it have to do with the legend? Keep reading!
The Superstition Mountain Museum was created to help others experience the legend and the lore of the mountains. It also houses many of the artifacts of the Lost Dutchman mine, and they are out for display for all to see. The museum is located along the Apache Trail in the foothills of the mountains.
The Apache Indians believe that within the mountains is a hole that will lead down into the underworld, or what is better known as hell. They also believe that the winds that come from the hole are the cause of all the dust storms that plague the metropolitan region.
What secret is believed to be hidden with the Superstition Mountains? Click ‘Next’ to find out the details!
According to the legends, what is considered to be the richest deposit of gold is located within the Superstitious Mountains? This secret is known as the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. It’s thought that this gold mine is linked to the ancient golden cities that were originally built by the Native American tribes of the American Southwest.
It has been 300 years since the first hints of this gold mine became known to people here in America. Throughout this time, there have been many would-be treasure hunters who have tried looking for the fabled gold. Many of those people have died trying, and many more have been driven mad while up in the mountains.
Does the gold mine have a curse on it? Keep reading to find out!
Many have said that the reason why so many people don’t make it back from the mountains is because the gold mine has a curse on it that will attack the people that go hunting for it. There is even some that believe that the curse affects anyone who even goes near the mountains with no intention of finding the mine.
One such example is that when the Roosevelt Dam was built, they used stones taken from the Superstition Mountains, and 22 people were killed during the construction of the dam. Also, when the dam began working, the first water that came flowing out of the dam was saved, and reportedly used to Christian the USS Arizona battleship, which became the most disastrous loss during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
Where did the stories of treasure hidden in the mountain actually start? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
The Conquistadors and the Fabled Cibola
The story starts with the Apache Indians and the arrival of the Spanish back in 1540. The Apaches considered the Superstition Mountains as a sacred area, and also thought that it was home to their Thunder God.
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led the Spanish expedition to the area. Coronado and the other conquistadors cared very little about the Apaches’ customs, and promptly attempted to take over the land. It is believed that Coronado was under the impression, brought about by overheard talk from the Apaches, that there was the legendary Seven Golden Cities of Cibola hidden in the mountains.
Did Coronado find the Golden Cities of Cibola? Keep on reading to find out the details!
When he found out from the Apache that the mountains did in fact have gold in them, golden cities or not, the conquistadors were insistent on exploring the mountains in search of them. The Apache, however, refused to help them saying the Thunder God would take revenge on them should they trespass on the sacred ground.
The Spaniards refused to believe them and went exploring anyway. Not long after their explorations started, men began to go missing. It got so bad that they were warned to not stray very far from the rest of the group. However, this did not stop men from going missing, just to turn up dead hours later with mutilated bodies. The Spaniards finally believed the Apache’s warnings and fled, refusing to return.
What did the Apache do when more explorations started? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
The Apache’s Warnings
It wasn’t until a century and a half later that anyone else dared to go exploring in the Superstition Mountains. A Jesuit priest named Eusebio Francisco Kino came to the area originally just to help establish Christian missions, but found out about the tale of gold, and became enthralled by it.
It is known that his explorations unearthed some promising sources of gold, but it is unknown whether he actually found the legendary gold mine. This discovery, of course, fueled the legends of the gold mine even more. However, his explorations enraged the Apaches, and they vowed to no longer allow trespassers on their lands.
Who was it that decided to test the Apaches on their vow, and make an exploration attempt? Keep reading!
It was in 1846 when Pedro, Enrico, Ramon, and Manuel Peralta chose to risk getting the Apache angry by making a trip to the Superstitions for the legendary mines. The group was successful, and they returned home laden with gold, already planning for more trips.
However, when they returned, while they were able to find more gold, this time they were attacked and killed by the Apache. During this massacre, the pack mules ran away and the gold they were carrying spilled everywhere.
What happened when an Army doctor earned the trust of the Apaches? Click ‘Next’ to find out the fascinating details!
A Greedy Thorne
20 years after the massacre of the Peralta family and their comrades, an Army doctor named Dr. Abraham Thorne from Fort MacDowell in Arizona came to help take care of the Apache Indians at a reservation near the fort. Through his work with them, he slowly earned their respect and trust.
The Apache chose to offer him a chance to be led to the gold that was in the Superstitions. They blindfolded him and took him on a 20-mile trip. It was here that he was given an enormous stash of gold. Unfortunately, his new-found wealth made the good doctor greedy.
What happened to Thorne when he tried to find his way back? Keep reading to find out the details.
When Thorne was inside the mine, he was allowed to remove the blindfold, and given permission to take as much gold as he could. With the blindfold off, Thorne took in his surroundings, and attempted to memorize the surrounding area. He was blindfolded again for the return trip to the reservation.
The doctor wanted to try and find his way back to the gold mine. So, he and a few of his friends rode back to the desert. They were able to find the place again. However, they were unable to take away any of the gold. The Apaches had found them, and killed them all before they could get away.
Who was the friend of the Peralta brothers who attempted to find a new way to the mines? Click ‘Next!’
The Jacob Waltz Story
In 1870, a friend of the Peralta brothers named Jacob Waltz heard about the story of the gold mines. He was a talented miner and geologist, and figured that there may be a way to the mines that bypassed the Indian trails. He studied the clues and mapped out a possible route. He was soon rewarded.
Waltz, who was given the nickname “The Dutchman” at some point in his life, managed to find what he considered to be the perfect place to mine for gold. He quickly found what many would consider a large amount of gold. He continued to mine this spot throughout his life, never telling anyone about it.
What happened when Waltz was too old to continue to mine for the gold? Keep reading to find out!
When was about 80-years-old, he decided to close up the mine. He dug up a six-foot deep hole at the entrance to the mine. He then proceeded to lay down two rows of logs, and followed with piles of dirt and rocks.
Not that long after, Waltz came down with pneumonia, and had to be taken care of by his friend, Julia Thomas. When he was on his deathbed, Waltz told Julia all about his mine. He claimed that he had gold hidden under his bed that came from this mine. When he showed her the box with the gold in it, he told her that there was still plenty of gold left in the mine.
Before he died, Waltz told Julia, as well as another friend Rhinehart Petrasch, clues to the whereabouts of the gold mine. However, he passed away before he could give them a proper map. Julia and Rhinehart only had his clues to go on. Even with this, Rhinehart was able to draw a rough map to the location.
What happened when Julia and Rhinehart attempted to find the mine? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
One of the things that Waltz told them was that he thought the mine faced to the west because the setting sun always shown into the entrance of the mine and caused the gold to sparkle. He also added that they were better off traveling from the west to the south side of the range.
Julia and Rhinehart were so anxious to get started that they chose to head out there mid-summer, which is when the Arizona desert is at its hottest.
What happened when Julia and Rhinehart ventured out the mountains? Keep reading to find out!
Unfortunately, Julia used up most of her savings to fund the expedition, and it ended up being for nothing. Waltz’s recollection of the location of his mind was apparently faulty. They were unable to find the mine. Julia returned home penniless, and never made another return trip to the mountains.
Rhinehart, on the other hand, continued to make attempts at finding the mine, never wanting to give up. He spent the next 50 years hunting for the mine, and it was only when he realized that he would never truly find it did he take his own life.
There was another attempt at finding the mine, but not until a century later. Click ‘Next’ to read about it.
A Century Later the Story Continues
It would be 100 years later, when the story picks up again. Treasure hunter Walt Gassier claimed that he found what is now known as the Dutchman’s Mine. Using the clues that were handed down over the years from Jacob’s deathbed, Walt spent a lot of his spare time looking for the mine.
However, his health was beginning to fail, so he told fellow prospectors Tom Kollenborn and Bob Corbin about his notes and his map that he created. However, Walt didn’t give them all of his notes. He was still convinced he could find the mine himself. On his last trip there, Walt hiked alone towards the trails, and sadly had a heart attack. His body would be found three days later.
What happened when Walt’s son made a surprising visit? Continue reading to find out the details!
About a month after Walt’s death, a young man visited Tom Kollenborn claiming to be Walt’s son Roland Gassier. He claimed that his father had told him about the gold, and Roland hoped that with Kollenborn’s help he could piece together the clues. Kollenborn obliged and gave Roland his father’s notes.
However, this story takes an interesting turn, when yet another man comes to Kollenborn claiming to be Walt’s son.
Which man was the real imposter? Click ‘Next’ to find out the startling discovery!
This man showed IDs that showed that he truly was Walt’s son, Roland. It was now obvious that the previous man was an imposter. But how did he know so much about Walt and the gold mine to pull it off so convincingly? This was easy for them to figure it out
When Walt’s body was initially found, the sheriff’s report showed that they found a backpack filled with Walt’s belongings. This stuff was supposed to go to Roland, but was never given to him. Someone must have seen it after the report was made, and stolen it.
What do people think happened to Walt’s backpack and what about his legacy? Keep reading to find out!
Many people believe that the man who pretended to be Walt’s son, Roland, was probably in the mountains the day that Walt died. He probably found the backpack and its contents. He waited for the police to find him, and then made off with the contents.
Jacob Waltz, “The Dutchman,” died leaving behind a box of gold, some clues, and an incredible legend of lost treasure that is still being hunted down to this day. No one knows if this gold mine actually exist, but many are ready and willing to die trying to find it
Plenty of lives were lost due to hunting for the Dutchman Gold Mines. Click ‘Next’ to continue reading about it.
Lives Claimed by the Superstition Mountains
In the beginning of the 1900s, two prospectors named Silverlock and Malm came to the Superstition Mountains hoping to find gold. They sunk over a dozen shafts into the mountainside, but found very little gold. What little they did find was thought to have been remains of the scattered gold from the Peralta Massacre.
Little was heard from them until 1910, when Malm went to Mesa, Arizona claiming that Silverlock was trying to kill him. Lawmen went and arrested Silverlock, decided that he was obviously insane, and sent him to an appropriate asylum. Later on, Malm was sent to a county poor farm. They were both dead within two years.
What happened to veterinarian Adolph Ruth, who went missing in the Superstition Mountains? Keep reading to find out!
In June, 1931, Ruth, a would-be treasure hunter, went up to the Superstition Mountains. He had obtained a map years earlier that showed where the mines could possibly be. He arrived in May, and managed to convince two cowboys to take him up to the mountains. They left him there around June 14th.
When the cowboys realized that nothing was heard from Ruth in several days, they went searching for him. They found his campsite abandoned. They looked for him, but he was never found. It wasn’t until months later that a skull with two holes in it was found, and later identified as Ruth. His body wouldn’t be found for another month.
The mountains are now government property. What happens if the gold is found? Click ‘Next’ to find out!
The gold within the Dutchman’s Mine has still not been recovered, even 300 years later after Waltz died. There is still no 100% proof that the mine even exists, or that there was still gold left in it as Waltz had originally claimed.
It is thought that if there is still gold in the mountains, it would be worth about $200 million in U.S. money by today’s market value for gold.
Did the government take hold of the mountains? Keep reading to find out!
In recent years, the Superstition Mountains have been reclassified as federally owned wilderness. This means that, unfortunately, if the gold mine was ever found, any and all gold found within would automatically belong to the United States government. You wouldn’t be allowed to keep any of it.
However, for many treasure hunters, this doesn’t stop them from wanting to find the gold mine. It is the thrill of the hunt and pure curiosity that keeps them searching for this legendary mine.
The History Channel has made a documentary series about the Dutchman’s Mine. Click ‘Next’ to read all about it.
History Channel’s “Legend of the Superstition Mountains”
The History Channel had started a documentary series about the Superstition Mountains and the legend that aired in 2015. This series followed Wayne Tuttle and his crew as they followed the clues and maps to try and find the mine. He says that he has bene searching for the mine for 40-plus years.
Tuttle says that it is difficult to follow clues and maps made from the accounts made by Waltz. Some of the trouble comes from instances such as when the clue references a rock face. Does the rock face mean a rock that looks like a face, or is it a flat rock that faces the mine?
Can Tuttle still continue searching for the mine now that he is older? Keep reading to find out!
Even though he is now 40 years older than when he first started hunting for the mine, Tuttle thinks that he is still capable of hunting for it. He admits that he is a little slower than he used to be, but he figures he is more patient and cautious than he used to be.
He believes that he will continue until he no longer can safely do so. He figures that even though he will be sad when he no longer can, but he figures he will be at peace with it as well because he has had so much fun trying.