Hola amigos – I am writing this post because of the continuing controversy over whether there is any real evidence of the famous Lost Dutchman’s gold mine. Quite a few people have made skeptical statements on some treasure forums including Treasurenet, THunting dot com, DesertUSA and a few others. It is an easy thing to say that THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF THE LOST DUTCHMAN’S MINE – demanding that those whom are convinced the mine exists, must present a case to prove it does, for our skeptics entertainment and amusement. Let us see if that statement about NO EVIDENCE is really fair and accurate.
For starters, we have the famous matchbox. frequently mistaken for a cigarette lighter due to the resemblance, but it really is a matchbox, made from thin slices of very pretty ore which is clearly loaded with gold. There is a clear trail of documentation establishing that the gold ore from which the matchbox was made, came from Dick Holmes, and was made by a jeweler in California, along with cuff links, a tin pin and if memory serves one or two other small pieces of jewelry. Dick Holmes stated that he obtained this gold ore from a candle box, given to him by Jacob Waltz on his deathbed, which Waltz was keeping under his bed at the time.
Now if Dick Holmes was simply lying about where he obtained that gold ore, which unfortunately he was forced to sell off virtually all of it to finance his own search for the mine, then why would Holmes then have spent the rest of his life searching for it? Then told his own son Brownie, that there was such a mine, and Brownie then proceeded to spend his entire life hunting for the mine – along with his partner Clay Wurst. If Holmes was really lying, then the actions he, his son and his partner all did for a century plus, does not make any sense.
We know for a fact that Jacob Waltz was a real person, as was Julia Thomas and Reinhardt (“Reiney”) Petrasch whom was the informally adopted son of Julia. It was a fairly common practice to adopt children without bothering with courts and hearings in those days, although Julia and Reiney ended up contacting Reiney’s blood father and brother to assist in the search for that mine. See Julia and Reiney had been friends with Waltz in his last days, and Waltz actually died in one of Julia’s rooms. If there was no such mine, then why did both Julia and Reiney then go searching for it? Julia sold off her business to finance her search, and when they had no success, partnered up with Reiney’s father “Old Man” Petrasch and his brother Herman. They too spent the rest of their lives searching for the mine. Does that make sense that all of these people would go searching for a lost gold mine, if it were not based on facts?
We also know that Jacob Waltz had come originally from Germany, that he had become an American citizen in California before ever coming to Arizona. He had worked at others gold mines in Grass Valley CA and found or helped locate at least three good gold mines in the Bradshaw mountains around Prescott area, named the Big Rebel, General Grant and Gross Lode. Waltz even signed a petition for Army protection from the marauding Indians while he was prospecting and mining in the Bradshaws.
We also know that Waltz SOLD all of his claims in the Bradshaws and staked a homestead claim (or pre-emption, I don’t have the document in my hands) in Phoenix in 1868. He worked on the Dutch Ditch, built himself a small but respectable adobe home, and raised chickens. He would ride his mule (or some say burro) into town to sell and swap eggs for things. We know that he was concerned about his last days, and signed an agreement with his neighbor Andrew Starrar (or Starrar, don’t have reference books in hand) to care for him if his health should go bad, in exchance for his homestead and I think something like $50 paid by Starrar to Waltz. This agreement is dated August 8, 1878. Unfortunately Starrar died before Waltz, so that agreement was pretty much nil.
Some have proposed that since Waltz made that agreement with Starar, this proves that he had no gold mine, since he would have been able to afford to live like a king and have servants if he really had all that gold. That is making several assumptions – one that Waltz would have dug out as much gold as possible, hoarding up a fortune as that is what many people would do. Based on his actions, I would say that Waltz simply was not greedy, had dug several thousand dollars in gold that he probably intended to hold on to regardless of his situation concerning his home, as a sort of ’emergency fund’. I have known older folks whom have had stashes of money, silver and gold that they kept and retained even after losing their homes to nursing facilities, and held on to that reserve as long as they possibly could. Remember there was NO Social Security in 1891 when Waltz died.
I have also heard that argument proposing that Waltz had simply saved up rich specimens of gold ore from all the different mines he had owned or worked in, as a sort of gold savings account. In support of that contention, the statement given by Herman Petrasch in an interview done when Herman was then quite old, that his brother and he had both seen the gold in the candle box, and it was a wide assortment of different types of ores, including even gold in chalcedony which would be very rare and peculiar. The problem there is that this would require Waltz to be packing around that savings account pile of gold ore from California to the Bradshaws to Florence to Phoenix, and then there is a much bigger problem in that Herman never saw Waltz while alive. He made several other erroneous statements in that same interview, including his insistence that Waltz’s real name was Walzer. We know from the documents signed by Waltz that he spelled his own name W-a-l-t-z not Walzer or any other spelling. Perhaps Herman really believed what he was telling the interviewer, people can mis-remember things especially after decades, even convincing themselves that the mistaken memory is true.
Waltz had Reiney go to his farm and dig up a number of small cans and tins when he learned that Julia was in financial trouble, about to lose her bakery/ice cream parlor. While we do not have the records from Goldman’s store where the gold was sold, we do have evidence that Julia’s debt was paid from the proceeds. One source had that sum at over $4000, others now say it was more like $1800. Either way it was a sizable sum for 1890-91. If Waltz had no gold mine, where did that gold ore come from?
So we have at a minimum, in this case, a German immigrant prospector, whom had proven his abilities as a prospector in the three gold mines (the Big Rebel, General Grant and Gross Lode) and had sold all three before he moved to Phoenix. Waltz was seen by a number of persons over the years selling small amounts of gold, AFTER having sold those three mines and moving to Phoenix. Mitchell reported about a sale of two burro loads of ore sold in Tucson, witnessed by Colonel Poston, George McClarty, Charlie Brown and a man named Myers, (Mitchell says that Poston and Myers bought some of that ore) and attempted to trail him back to the mine, but lost him near the Whitlow ranch on upper Queen creek. A man interviewed in the Pioneer Interviews done during the Depression years as a way to put writers to work, whom we only have the name as “Old Frank” a carpenter, stated that Waltz had come into Florence to buy supplies and hired him to build a portable drywasher. He stated that in those days, it was, quote “no big secret” that Waltz had a rich gold mine up in the Superstitions. The mine only became a secret later, when Waltz quit going to the mine and stayed in Phoenix, raising chickens, a few hogs, making wine from his grape vines, and was said to be a regular fixture in Lukes Brewery. According to Mitchell, Waltz made his last trip to the mine in 1884, and brought out some $500 worth of ore.
I realize that many of our skeptics would prefer to dismiss all such witness statements as hearsay, worthless and unscientific. I must disagree and point out that while eyewitness testimony has been under attack in our courts in recent years as being so unreliable, however it IS still considered evidence, and you can be convicted of murder on eyewitness testimony. If we wish to start attacking eyewitness testimony, then by extension, virtually everything we know is open to doubt and the same attack, for even scientific tests are “witnessed” by the scientists, who may or may have a bias, and we have taken their word as to their results in experiments.
Next let us look at the possibilities and probabilities concerning whether a rich gold mine, capable of producing the somewhat unusual gold ore we can see in the matchbox, COULD even exist in the Superstition mountains.
Many of our skeptics like to point to the three mineral studies done by the USGS, when they were given the task to examine the grounds in order to exclude any mineralized areas so that the remainder could then be made into a Wilderness Area. (By that term I mean the official legal designation, not just saying ‘a wilderness type area’ but the legal sense only) By that Wilderness Act all known mineralized lands must be excluded. The results of those several examinations and sampling tests done by USGS geologists, are now public record, and they are very un-promising for gold. However ONE of the tests done by the USGS was the so-called Mercury Vapor test, which is actually testing the air over the mountains, and this test had rather surprising results – for it indicated that it is probable that a large gold deposit is located in the Superstition mountains, possibly quite rich and possibly quite deeply buried. A careful reading of these several reports (I know of three, two are available online) will disclose that their sampling tests DID find gold in a number of places, as well as silver, copper and lead, and even uranium. But the driving force and goal of those studies was to create as large a “Wilderness Area” as possible, so most of these otherwise tantalizing test results are ignored.
Tom Kollenborn, who now publicly states that he does not believe there ever was a Lost Dutchman gold mine, wrote a very good article on the geology of the Superstition mountains. Most of the official Wilderness Area is actually three large volcanic calderas, and most volcanic type rocks are generally very poor types of rock to find precious metals in. There are a few small areas of plutonic rock and even sedimentary rock also in the Wilderness Area boundaries, and most of the mineralized indications are along the edges of those boundaries. There are known mines (silica) inside the Wilderness Area too, as well as Dacite mines and at least one Mercury mine. These areas should have been excluded by the terms of the Wilderness Act but anyway basically most of the Superstitions are most unpromising for gold.
However – there are quite a number of places in the Superstition mountains, that indicate hydrothermal activity. The most easily visible signs are veins and float pieces of Chalcedony and Quartz, for these minerals are only formed by hydrothermal activity. We also know that you can pan out black sands and even GOLD in a number of places in the Superstitions, including inside the Wilderness Area boundaries. Outside the boundaries, we find even more intriguing and promising indications – including over 30 silver mines in the old Randolph or Rogers district, which is centered mainly on Rogers canyon and where the now famous Pit mine is located. To the east, there are a number of silver and copper mines, and a number of active gold placer claims on Pinto creek, which can be traced right back into the Superstitions and Iron mountain specifically. One version of the Waltz story has it that his mine is located on a side canyon of Pinto creek by the way.
Along the south side of the Wilderness Area, even the USGS geologists, doing their best to include as much land as possible in the Wilderness Area so as to satisfy the preservationists and block further expansion of the ever-expanding suburbia, had to admit there are a number of promising silver occurences, as well as some copper mineralization. According to the Arizona Bureau of Mines publication, Arizona Lode Gold Mines and Gold Mining, in Arizona, gold is always found in association with copper. So the fact that copper indications are found along the south border of the Wilderness Area, is actually a good indication that gold may be found there as well. This is even partially proven out, by the fact that right on the south edge of Superstition mountain itself, we have the old Palmer gold mine, which did produce some gold.
On the Northwest side of the Wilderness Area, across the highway in the Goldfield hills and coincidentally the same ground that Julia and Reiney trekked across in their second attempt to find Waltz’s mine and cache, there are several good to excellent gold mines. Some were very large producers of gold, like the Black Queen and Bulldog. The fact that we have these rich gold mines, SO close to the Superstitions, is also a good indication that there is an excellent chance for gold veins to exist inside the Wilderness Area as it is physically close. In fact a vein of gold has been discovered running from one of those gold mines, directly under the highway and extending inside of the Lost Dutchman state park! Don’t go digging for it or you will find out how our justice system works however. This is very solid evidence that gold veins exist inside the Wilderness Area for an actual vein is KNOWN to exist that runs into it.
A friend of mine, (whom is now a TV star) Sarge, aka Sgtfca or simply Frank Augustine, along with his partner Woody have proven beyond all doubt that gold can be found in the Superstitions for they have shown it to many people and even posted photos online for anyone to see. It is real Superstitions gold, and shows clearly that it is also linked with copper, visibly.
There are several other mining activities that have been carried on in the Superstitions over the years, which produced some gold. Plus we have the incident with two men named Silverlock and Malm, who found an old rotten pack saddle and some piles of rich gold ore, which they sold and made a tidy sum. These two men then spent the rest of their lives searching for the source of that gold without success, and one of them landed in an insane asylum, however it is a matter of record that they found a pile of rich gold ore, and inside of the Wilderness Area boundaries.
There is also the story of a prospector name Kochera, who said he found a small amount of rich gold ore much in the same way as Silverlock and Malm. Some have believed this ore to be one and the same with that of Waltz, but it does have enough differences to not be from the same vein.
The hydrothermal activity in those otherwise unpromising volcanic calderas and associated flows (and ash layers) are exactly what forms quartz gold deposits. We can look at the Vulture gold mine for some parallels with the situation in the Superstitions, for a recent study of that mine, even though the main vein seemed to be cut off, actually is still there and runs to an unknown depth but over a considerably larger area the deeper you go, although on the surface when first discovered, there was not much to see. This is the same type of vein that produces the type of gold ore we see in the famous matchbox, and this type of gold vein does not occur in pockets or small lenses as does the far more common Epithermal type gold vein. So the chances of this kind of gold vein having been quietly found and all worked out, are practically nil.
We also know that Dick Holmes had an assay done on the ore, required by Goldman’s store before they would agree to buy it, and this assay was performed by Joe Porterie. The assay result came back at some $110,000 in gold per ton, along with about two ounces of silver per ton. Now our skeptics will point out, that jewelry ore was probably not like most of the ore in the mine, and I agree – however the assay was not done on the jewelry, it was done on the average ore in that candle box, because it was going to be purchased and Goldman’s did not want to pay top price for all of it, if one piece happened to have a lot of gold and the rest did not. The fact that the assay came back with a very high gold to silver ratio is also very much in keeping with the geologic type of gold vein the matchbox ore had to come from, for the other types of gold veins (Epithermal and Mesothermal) generally have a lot more silver with the gold, or we could say a higher silver to gold ratio.
I will go out on a limb here and say that we should ignore the description of the mine itself, as we get it from both the Holmes and Julia/Reiney versions, which includes a huge funnel shaped pit and a tunnel below it on the ridge. There are several reasons to discount it; first, if the mine had such large physical features, the odds are that it would have been found by now and not be lost – just as we have the Silver King mine which also was a lost mine at one time. Next, the amount of logs or timber, and labor needed, for Waltz to have closed in the mine shaft/pit, would likewise be huge. He was working alone remember, with but a few burros or mules to help and did not have reason to spend a lot of time in those mountains for the Apaches were still very much on the warpath right up until 1886, by which time Waltz had quit venturing into the mountains except for possibly one attempt near the end of his life. I am digressing but anyway another and bigger reason to discount these features is the fact that we have virtually the identical description found in an older story, involving a lost Peralta silver mine and two men named Ludi or Ludy. This story dates to about 1860, before Waltz had even moved into southern Arizona. Over time this lost SILVER mine morphed into a gold mine, but we have seen this happen with other lost mine stories as well, and is easy to understand as the story is told and retold, a ‘rich silver mine’ becomes a ‘rich mine’ which then must be a ‘rich GOLD mine’ for Anglo treasure hunters and prospectors are almost always more interested in gold than silver, while the Mexican and Spanish were very much interested in silver not just gold.
The alternate version of Waltz’s gold mine, description is a shaft perhaps no more than a dozen feet deep, and with an opening no larger than a barrel. We might notice the similarity to what was found at the somewhat similar Vulture mine, which also did not look like much on the surface but the vein grew larger as excavation proceeded. This amount of mining activity would not have produced many tons of ore, and will fit very well with the reports of Waltz being seen selling a couple of burro loads, or $500 worth, or even the highly controversial Wells Fargo shipping receipts for $250,000 worth. That value may have been overstated for insurance purposes, but would still have been an impressive amount of gold, however when compared to the known assay done for Holmes, this would have been a bit over two tons of ore! A surprisingly small amount of rock will make a ton, less than a cubic yard in fact. So two and a half tons of that $110,000 (at the old $20.64 per ounce price, more in a moment on this aspect) ore will easily account for ALL of the gold attributed to Waltz! This is all the more reason to believe the mine had rather little actual mining done in it, for had it included a huge funnel shaped pit and tunnel, the amounts of gold recovered should have been many times this amount we can account for. In fact two and a half tons of ore, in a shaft three feet or so in diameter, would not even quite make twelve feet deep. This is just the description we have in that alternate, and not widely accepted version of the lost Dutchman’s gold mine.
Thank you for your indulgence, my apologies for having to use so many words to sum up the case for the Lost Dutchman gold mine. There is MUCH more, and a great deal of false, erroneous and unrelated information, maps etc that is all mixed into the lost Dutchman legend today, and it is almost a Herculean task to try to sort it all out. I hold it as a maxim that in researching anything historical, it is best to stick to the oldest sources available and avoid the later and newest sources. The oldest sources have had less time for errors and falsehoods to have gotten mixed into the original facts. In the case of the Lost Dutchman at the root we have a German immigrant prospector whom had found several good gold mines before moving to Phoenix; his closest friends certainly all believed he had a secret gold mine in the Superstitions and spent their lives and their fortunes seeking it. There was almost certainly a box of rich gold ore left from Waltz’s mine, which then was made into the matchbox and other jewelry. These items are not fantasy but solid fact. Just because no one has found the mine in over a century (with one possible exception) and SO much false, erroneous and even deliberately fake information has been added to the original story, does not make the original story false. We could point to a simile with president George Washington, long after his death many stories were attributed to him, including the cut down Cherry tree and “I cannot tell a lie” – stories which had little basis in fact but there really was a man named George Washington who saved our country in its darkest hour and won our independence from Britain. Not trying to say Jacob Waltz is like George Washington, just to illustrate that despite false information being added to a story does not mean that the original story is not true.
We owe debts of gratitude to authors and researchers including Helen Corbin, Dr. Thomas Glover, Garry Cundiff, Greg Davis, Joe Ribaudo, Paul Shimek and others too many to list, through whose efforts we now know to be fact that Jacob Waltz really existed and many other facts that were just treasure stories before. We should also be thankful to the old treasure writers like John D. Mitchell, Pierpont C. Bicknell, Sims Ely and even Barry Storm, for having preserved the tales for us to read and search for the lost mine ourselves. After all, had those treasure writers not written and published the stories, would we even know about the Lost Dutchman gold mine today? I doubt it.
Don’t take my word on any of this – do your own research, buy or borrow some books that include excellent research on the Lost Dutchman “legend”, visit the courthouse in Phoenix and look at the records for yourself. Talk to a geologist, ask about hypothermal type gold veins and what characteristics are known for gold ore from that type of gold deposit. Don’t expect some online treasure hunter is going to do this homework for you, just to prove to you that the lost Dutchman gold mine certainly exists.
Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.