Many believe that The Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine is a myth, while others are certain of its existence. However, all unanimously agree that the legend of a rich goldmine tucked away in the southwest of the United States, called The Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine, has some enigmatic mystery behind it.
The Superstition Mountains, east of Phoenix, Arizona, close to Apache Junction, is commonly thought to be the location of this secret mine. People look for the mine every year, and there are numerous stories about how to find it. Bizarrely, in the hunt, some have passed away.
Jakob Waltz, a German immigrant who lived in America between 1810 and 1891, is credited for discovering the mine and keeping the location a secret. An American word for a German was “Dutchman” (“Dutch” being the English cognate to the German demonym “Deutsch” and not a reference to the Dutch people).
Perhaps the most well-known abandoned mine in American history is The Lost Dutchman’s. As of 1977, the Lost Dutchman’s narrative had been printed or mentioned at least six times more than two other reasonably well-known tales, The Story of Captain Kidd’s Lost Treasure and The Story of The Lost Pegleg Mine in California, according to Arizona place-name expert Byrd Granger.
Since at least 1892, people have been looking for the Lost Dutchman’s mine, and one estimate states that 9,000 people try to find it every year. Robert K. Corbin, a former Arizona attorney general, is one among several who have searched for the mine. Would you like to find the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine? Read on!
Early History of the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine
The region had been shrouded in mystery for a long time before gold was discovered in these rocky cliffs and mesas. Superstition Mountain was a sacred ground to the Apache Indians since it was the residence of their Thunder God when the Spanish first arrived in the area in 1540.
The conquistadors, led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, were unconcerned with Apache practices or beliefs and focused on discovering the fabled “Seven Golden Cities of Cibola.”
The Apache had informed the Spaniards that gold was in the range, and they were eager to explore it. The Apache refused to assist them, warning them that the Thunder God would exact punishment on them if they dared to trespass on the holy place, resulting in excruciating anguish and horrifying deaths. The Indians knew Superstition Mountain as “Devil’s Playground.”
However, the Spaniards remained adamant and started their exploration. Men started suddenly disappearing almost soon, to the point where warnings were issued to only wander a few steps from the rest of the group.
However, other men continued to vanish, only to be discovered later dead, with their heads severed from their bodies.
The conquistadors eventually left out of dread and refused to return to the peak, which they called Monte Superstition. The myths had started.
A century and a half later, Jesuit priest Eusebio Francisco Kino was seduced by the legends after hearing of the wealth of gold in the superstitions. His purpose was to construct missions and convert the Indians to Christianity. He started exploring the area in the first decade of the 1700s and discovered various gold deposits.
Although it is unknown if he discovered the legendary Dutchman’s Mine, his explorations did turn up the sought-after dazzling metal, feeding the Superstitious myth about gold. These expeditions, however, only served to inflame the Apache, who started to prey on intruders.
Different Lost Dutchman’s Mines?
According to Robert Blair, “at least four mythical Lost Dutchman’s goldmines, including Jacob Waltz’s renowned Superstition mine, have been found in the American West.”
Two Lost Dutchman’s mines are rumored to be in Arizona, one in Colorado, and one in California or Colorado. At least as early as the 1870s, there are reports of these other Lost Dutchman’s mines. A “Dutchman” was reputedly found dead in the desert in Wickenburg in the 1870s alongside saddlebags containing gold.
This location is considered the first Lost Dutchman’s mine in Arizona. Wickenburg is located about 180 km (110 mi) northwest of the Superstition Mountains. According to Blair, “fragments of this mythology may have joined the Jacob Waltz mining legend.”
Tales Involving the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine
Granger claimed that although “truth and fantasy merge in the tales,” there are three critical components to every tale:
“The first are legends about the lost Apache gold or Dr. Thorne’s mine; the second are legends about the Lost Dutchman, and the third are legends about the soldiers’ lost gold vein. The most thorough telling of the Lost Dutchman’s narrative combines all three traditions.”
According to Blair, each of these three central narratives contains some elements of reality, even though popular history frequently diverges significantly from the authentic version. Other theories contend that the mine is submerged beneath Apache or Roosevelt Lake.
Granger discovered 62 different versions of the Lost Dutchman’s tale in 1977; some are minor, while others are significant and present the story differently.
Lost Apache gold or The Tale of Dr. Thorne
The Apache tribe is alleged to have a very profitable goldmine in the Superstition Mountains in this tale, which are two interrelated stories. This tale occasionally refers well-known Apache Geronimo. According to most narrative variations, the Peralta family located the mine and started mining the gold there, only to be assaulted or killed by Apaches in the alleged Peralta massacre in or around 1850.
Years later, a doctor named Dr. Thorne tends to be an injured or ill Apache, frequently thought to be a chieftain and rewarded with a journey to a lucrative goldmine.
He is led there by the Apaches while wearing blindfolds and is permitted to gather as much gold ore as he can carry before being directed away from the location once more while wearing blindfolds. According to reports, Thorne is either unable or unwilling to recollect his steps.
Who Found the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine?
The family name “Peralta” served as the basis for several myths in the American Southwest, most likely because Pedro de Peralta had served as the Spanish Governor of New Mexico (in the 1600s).
James Reavis attempted to claim that the King of Spain had handed the Peralta family a barony and Spanish land grant that covered a sizable portion of Arizona and New Mexico, including the Superstition Mountains.
According to the narrative of the Peralta Massacre, Apaches ambushed a mining expedition that the Peralta family had sent into the mountains. Some locally found carved stones are known as “Peralta Stones,” and some believe the Spanish writing and rough maps hint at the site of a goldmine owned by the Peralta family in the Superstition Mountains.
However, some think the stones are modern fakes. Due to a paucity of historical documents, it is still being determined whether the Peralta family ever owned land or mines in or around the Superstition Mountains.
The running of a goldmine in the Superstitions by a family named Peralta is a plot device of 20th-century novelists, Blair argued, claiming that the Peralta element of the narrative is untrustworthy. In the 1860s, Miguel Peralta and his family did run a prosperous mine, but it was in California, not Arizona, close to Valencia.
The mine made roughly $35,000 in less than a year, which Blair called “an excellent return” for a small goldmine to make in such a relatively short time. In 1975, the Peralta mine’s remnants were still visible.
But as time passed, the Peralta Mine lost money, and Miguel Peralta eventually turned to fraud to replace it. Based on a deed initially issued by the Spanish Empire in the 18th century, Dr. George M.
Willing Jr. paid Peralta $20,000 for the mining rights for a vast tract of property measuring around 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km2) in southern Arizona and New Mexico. When Willing discovered that the deed was utterly false, trouble ensued.
Willing made numerous attempts but was never successful in getting his money back from Peralta. This land grant served as the foundation for the James Reavis land scam in Arizona (Reavis joined Willing in business and persisted in trying to establish the validity of the land grant for many years after Willing’s passing).
Following the resurgence of interest in the Lost Dutchman’s mine in the 1930s, Blair suggested that this Peralta story—well-known to Arizonans—was finally integrated into the Lost Dutchman’s account, albeit in a highly distorted form.
Since the Peralta family genealogy and other supporting documents for the land grant (and a barony connected to that land) were found to be forgeries, James Reavis, “the Baron of Arizona,” was found guilty of fraud.
This raises doubts about the original purchase of the land grant by Dr. George M. Willing Jr. (the transaction had supposedly occurred at a primitive campsite to the southeast of Prescott without the benefit of the typical documentation; instead of a notarized deed, the conveyance was recorded on a piece of greasy camp paper bearing the signature of several witnesses).
Before a detailed examination of the records or the chance to cross-examine him in court, as was eventually the case with Reavis, Willing passed away in 1874.
True Story Behind the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine
Don Miguel Peralta of Sonora, a Mexican cattle baron, received the Superstitions and about 3,750 square miles of Arizona as part of a land grant in 1748.
The area was home to numerous silver mines and a productive goldmine. This was the mine’s first official mention in writing. The Peralta family and their workers occasionally ventured into Arizona during the following century to carry out quantities of ore.
They kept these mining excursions to a minimum since they were conscious of the Apaches’ discontent and did not want to provoke the vicious Apaches.
Enrico, Pedro, Ramon, and Manuel Peralta, four of the original grant’s descendants, decided to enter Arizona once more in 1846, risking the “curse” but also the anger of the Apache.
They soon made their way back to Sonora with loads of riches and plans for another journey. Pedro was the only one eager to return to Arizona the following year when the Mexican-American War was in full force since he was anxious to recover as much gold as he could before the United States annexed their properties.
The invasion of their sacred places in the meantime incensed the Apache. In the winter of 1847–1848, the Peralta miners heard that the Apache might attack, so they prepared, hid the mine’s entrance, and started to return to Mexico on burros and wagons loaded with gold.
However, they couldn’t succeed. The Apache struck them down. The gold was spread all over the place as the pack mules dispersed. Prospectors rushed to the region for years afterward, looking for the mine and the Mexican gold that had leaked during the murder.
Three dead mules with complete pack saddles that contained roughly $37,000 worth of gold are believed to have been discovered in the 1850s by two prospectors.
For the following 16 years, the Peralta family avoided working in the mines even more. Enrico Peralta led 400 soldiers and returned to the range in 1864. He would die after that. All but one of the miners were ambushed and slaughtered by the Apache on the mountain’s northwest side in a region now known as “Massacre Ground.”
The Peralta family never returned to the mine; over time, all maps and information about its location were lost.
The Dr. Thorne Story
Another element that raises questions about the account is Blair’s claim that Dr. Thorne was never employed by the Army or, for that matter, the Federal Government in the 1860s. Blair claims that the story’s beginnings can be traced to a physician named Thorne, who practiced independently in New Mexico in the 1860s.
Thorne asserted that Navajos captured him in 1854 and that it was during this time that he found a valuable goldmine. Around 1858, Thorne spoke with three American soldiers about his assertions. The three troops searched unsuccessfully for the gold.
This anecdote was gradually included in the Lost Dutchman’s narrative.
The Tale of The Lost Dutchman
Jacob Waltz and Jacob Weiser, two German men, appear in this story. Blair countered that there was a good chance that there was never a second Weiser and that Waltz was transformed into two persons as the story of the Dutchman’s mine developed through time.
Blair argued that depending on whether the German(s) are supposed to have acted forcefully or calmly, there are “hawk” and “dove” versions of this event. Jacob Waltz discovers a rich goldmine in the Superstition Mountains.
According to most versions of the narrative (in many versions of the story, they rescue or help a member of the Peralta family and are rewarded by being told the location of the mine). Marauding Apaches assault Waltz, who is hurt, but he manages to live long enough to warn Dr. Walker about the mine.
Waltz claimed to have confessed to Julia Thomas on his deathbed and drawn or described a rough map leading to the goldmine.
The Bulldog Goldmine near Goldfield, Arizona, according to John D. Wilburn’s book Dutchman’s Lost Ledge of Gold (1990), closely matches Jacob Waltz’s account of the site of his “lost mine.”
Wilburn added that the Superstition Mountains, which are of igneous origin, do not contain gold, according to geology. (However, in specific versions, the “mine” is a cache that the Peraltas placed there.)
Narratives Relating to The Soldiers’ Lost Gold Vein
Yet another version of the story claims that two (or more) American Army soldiers found a vein of practically pure gold in or around the Superstition Mountains. The soldiers are said to have handed over some of the riches but were then slain or disappeared.
Typically, this narrative is dated to around 1870. According to Blair, the tale may have origins in three American soldiers’ attempts to find gold in a region of New Mexico, based on a supposedly real story that Dr. Thorne of New Mexico told the men.
The Legendary Jacob Waltz
The fundamental aspects of the story—that Waltz claimed to have discovered (or at least heard of) a rich gold vein or cache—are supported by other evidence, according to Blair, who cited proof of the real Jacob Waltz.
Blair compared the several versions of the Lost Dutchman’s story to the game of Chinese whispers, in which the original account is corrupted in numerous retellings of the tale. Blair claimed that this central narrative was misrepresented in later stories.
There was a Jacob Waltz who did indeed immigrate to the United States from Germany. The earliest known record of Waltz in the United States is an affidavit from 1848 in which he identified his age as “approximately 38 years old.”
In Württemberg, a man named Jacob Walz was born in September 1810. Blair hypothesized that this Waltz, who Americanized the spelling of his family name, might be the same Waltz who became known as the fabled Dutchman. The gravestone in the illustration bears the birth year of 1808.
Waltz moved to Arizona in the 1860s and remained there for most of his life. He pursued prospecting and mining but needed more success in either endeavor.
The Sterling Narrative by Estee Conatser states that Jacob Walzer sold $250,000 in gold to the U.S. Mint during the 1880s and had $1500 when he died in 1891, an alternative interpretation that more accurately fits the lost mine legend.
Waltz owned a 160-acre (0.65 km2) farmhouse in Phoenix in 1870, where he ran a farm.
Waltz’s property was destroyed by a devastating flood that struck Phoenix in 1891. Waltz later became unwell (he was rumored to have contracted pneumonia during the flooding). He passed away on October 25, 1891, after being cared for by a friend called Julia Thomas (she was usually described as a quadroon).
At what is now known as the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, Waltz was laid to rest in Phoenix.
Blair was confident that Waltz told Thomas about the location of a purported goldmine. The Arizona Enterprise began covering Thomas and other searchers’ efforts to find the lost mine whose place Waltz had revealed to her as early as September 1, 1892.
Following the failure of this attempt, it was claimed that Thomas and her companions were charging $7 for each map leading to the mine.
When Adolph Ruth Passed Away
The story of the Lost Dutchman’s mine would likely have been little more than a footnote in Arizona history as one of the hundreds of “lost mines” claimed to be in the American West if it weren’t for the death of amateur explorer and treasure hunter Adolph Ruth.
Ruth vanished in the summer of 1931 while looking for the mine. About six months after he disappeared, his skull, which had two gunshot holes in it, was found. The discovery made national headlines and increased interest in the Lost Dutchman’s mine.
Ruth’s son Erwin C. Ruth was reported to have learned of the Peralta mine from a man named Pedro Gonzales in a similar tale to some of the earlier ones (or Gonzalez). Gonzales reportedly received legal assistance from Erwin C. Ruth in 1912, saving him from an almost certain jail sentence.
Gonzales, who claimed to be descended from the Peralta family on his mother’s side, informed Erwin about the Peralta mine in the Superstition Mountains in return and showed him some ancient maps of the area.
Erwin told his father, Adolph, who had a lifelong fascination with abandoned mines and recreational exploration. While searching for the elusive Pegleg mine in California, the elder Ruth had fallen and severely fractured multiple bones. He walked with a cane and had metal pins in his leg.
Ruth went out to find the vanished Peralta mine in June 1931. After arriving in the area, Ruth spent several days at Tex Barkely’s ranch to prepare for his excursion. Barkely advised Ruth to give up his hunt for the mine numerous times, pointing out that the Superstition Mountains’ terrain was hazardous even for experienced hikers, let alone 66-year-old Ruth, in the sweltering Arizona summer.
On the other hand, Ruth disregarded Barkely’s advice and left for a two-week sojourn in the highlands. Ruth didn’t show up when he was supposed to, and a quick search turned nothing. The Arizona Republic published a story in December 1931 about the recent finding of a human skull in the Superstition Mountains.
Dr. Ale Hrdlika, a renowned anthropologist who was provided multiple images of Ruth and Ruth’s dental records, analyzed the skull to see if it belonged to Ruth. According to Curt Gentry, “Adolph Ruth’s skull was positively recognized by Dr. Hrdlika. The two holes [in the skull] appeared to have been made by a shotgun or high-powered rifle being fired through the head at almost point-blank range, leaving the small hole where the bullet entered and the large one where it departed, he continued after analyzing the holes.”
Human remains were also recovered nearly a quarter mile (1.21 kilometers) from where the skull was discovered in January 1932. The remains were unquestionably Ruth’s, even though scavengers had dispersed them.
Numerous of Ruth’s belongings were found at the site, including a gun (complete with all of its rounds) and the metal pins used to repair his shattered bones. However, it was claimed that the Peralta mine’s map was missing.
Interestingly, Ruth’s checkbook was also found, and it contained a message he had written claiming to have found the mine and providing specific directions. “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” Ruth wrote as his closing line in his letter.
Ruth’s death was the subject of no criminal investigation by Arizona authorities. They contended that Ruth had most likely passed away from heart illness or extreme thirst (though, as Gentry wrote, “One official even went so far as to speculate that Adolph Ruth may have killed himself.
“This hypothesis did not ignore the two holes in the skull. Still, it was unable to explain how Ruth had been able to bury the empty shell, remove and bury the empty shell, and then reload his gun after shooting himself in the head.”
According to Blair, Ruth’s relatives and “those who hung onto the more romantic murdered-for-the-map account” disputed the Arizona authorities’ findings.
Blair claimed that “the national wire services picked up the story [of Ruth’s death] and ran it for more than it was worth,” potentially seeing the intriguing tale as a welcome diversion from the depressing news that the Great Depression was otherwise known for.
Further Looks for The Mine
The Superstitions for the Lost Dutchman Mine was the subject of numerous expeditions and solo searches during the 20th century. Glen Magill, a private investigator from Oklahoma City, organized several trips in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He claimed to have located the mine on at least two occasions but later admitted he was either mistaken, or the locations were “played out” or devoid of gold. His effort was one of the most professional and serious-minded. The Killer Mountains by Curt Gentry is a book that details Magill’s exploits.
Waltz was a “placer miner,” and while the gold pieces he had were in quartz, the Superstition Mountains are volcanic, which is one argument against the reality of the “Lost Dutchman Mine.” Last, Ruth’s purported mining directions came from a newspaper article from 1895.
Additional Deaths and Disappearances
There have been several other fatalities and disappearances in the Superstition Mountains after Ruth’s passing. Some people looking for the mine have vanished in likely wilderness mishaps.
J.A. “Tex” Bradford, a mining electrician from Globe, Arizona, went in quest of the “Lost Dutchman Mine” in January 1933; by October 1933, he had been gone for nine months.
Barry Storm, a pen name for John Griffith Climenson, wrote a book in 1945 called Thunder God’s Gold about the Lost Dutchman’s mine and claimed to have narrowly escaped from a mystery sniper he called “Mr. X.” Adolph Ruth might have fallen victim to the same sniper, Storm added.
July 3, 1947, On June 19, 1947, retired photographer James A. Cravey, age 62, hired a helicopter to drop him off in the Superstition Mountains to search for the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. Cravey was never seen again. On June 28, 1947, Cravey said he would leave the mountains on foot. Prospector James A. Cravey’s decapitated body was supposedly found in the Superstition Mountains in the middle of the 1940s. He had allegedly vanished after venturing out to locate the mine of the Lost Dutchman.
Denver resident Jesse Capen (35) went missing in the Tonto National Forest in late November or early December 2009. Shortly later, his tent and automobile were discovered unoccupied. He had previously visited the area and was known to have been fascinated with finding the mine for years.
In a crevice, Capen’s body was discovered in November 2012 by a neighborhood search and rescue group. In the episode “The Dutchman’s Curse” of the television show Disappeared, the case was discussed (along with others).
Hikers Curtis Merworth (49), Ardean Charles (66), and Malcolm Meeks (41) went missing on July 11, 2010, while searching for the mine in the Superstition Mountains. In 2009, Merworth got lost in the exact location and needed to be rescued.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office suspended their search for the missing men on July 19. They most likely perished in the summertime heat. Three sets of remains thought to belong to the missing men were found in January 2011.
How to find the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine?
Though the exact location of the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine is a mystery, some sources say that the mine can be located by solving a riddle (given below). It mainly involves a place called Weaver’s Needle. Many treasure hunters have looked for the shadow of the Needle, which is said to point to a rich vein of gold.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals have been looking for gold in the area surrounding Weavers Needle. Weavers Needle has a significant side split that gives the impression that it has two tops rather than just one. Only the side can be seen from here.
Four pitches can be used to climb Weavers Needle. The second pitch is more of a class 4 scramble, and each pitch is graded at 5.0 or less. The path is historic. Thus, there are many chances for protection with conventional equipment.
There is no charge to hike to Weavers Needle, camp there, or climb it. Climbers with extensive experience frequently free-solo and rappel from the fixed anchors at the summit. Despite the climb’s relatively low rating, it is not suggested for the novice or experienced climbers. According to the Dutchman’s own words, The Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine can be found by solving the given riddle:
“No miner will find my mine.
To find my mine, you must pass a cow barn.
From my mine, you can see the military trail, but from the military trail, you cannot see my mine.
The rays of the setting sun shine into the entrance of my mine.
There is a trick in the trail to my mine.
My mine is located in a north-trending canyon.
There is a rock face on the trail to my mine.
It lies within an imaginary circle whose diameter is not more than five miles and whose center is marked by Weaver’s Needle.
If you pass three Red Hills, you have gone too far.
You can see Weaver’s Needle to the south and Four Peaks to the north, where Four Peaks looks like one peak.
The setting sun shines through a break in the mountains and glitters upon the ore and shaft.
You have to climb a short way from a steep ravine to see
Weaver’s Needle to the southward from above the mine.”
Are you brave (or desperate) enough to seek this cursed but precious treasure? Can you solve the riddle and find the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine? Good luck! Because you’re gonna need it!
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