The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine of Arizona’s Superstition Mountains

The Lost Dutchman Gold mine

The most famous of all lost mines in the USA is the Lost Dutchman gold mine. So many books, articles and even movies have been done on it that it is questionable whether anything could (or should) be added to the volume of material already available. I have never published anything on it, for what is there to add? Every angle of this legend continues to be hotly debated today, with many participants divided into camps of “true believers” and “skeptics”, and these positions are very much set in concrete. Unfortunately for anyone new to this whole world unto itself, there is no “mine detector” available to help sort out the grains of truth hidden in a mountain of fiction, speculation and wishful thinking.

A major problem with the Lost Dutchman legend is the sheer quantity of pure BS that has been blended and pureed into the mass, giving rise to some of the most wild speculations imaginable. There are sources that claim it was a whole group of secret Peralta mines, that the Aztecs had it, the Templars, the Jesuits, and others. The evidence to support these ideas are thin in my opinion, not enough to make any conclusions at least. The story of the Lost Dutchman is traceable to a man named Jacob Waltz, also known by various spellings in the sources as Walz, Walzer, Walsh and so on. Waltz wrote his own name spelled like the dance, Waltz, and was not “Dutch” but German in origins. It became common practice to call him “Dutch” because of the way a German pronounces the name of Germany, it is “Deutschland” rather like “doytch” -land, so to Anglo ears it must be Dutch. Some skeptics claim that Waltz never existed but he is a historical figure and is fairly well documented.

The skeptics dismiss the story of his having a rich gold mine, saying it was all a story, it was gold he stole from a gold mine he worked at, (fill in the blank for which mine, the Vulture being commonly pointed to as it has similar ore, or the Mammoth, the Bulldog etc) or even gold bars he had filched from somewhere. This is nonsense. When Waltz died, he had a candle box full of ore specimens beneath his deathbed. According to the man who took possession of it, the gold was a gift to him, to finance his search for the mine; the man was Dick Holmes. Holmes spent many years hunting the mine and sold off most of the gold along the way, but a very few examples of it still exist. This is important for establishing the existence of Waltz’s gold deposit.

There is no evidence Waltz ever worked at the Vulture mine, we can lay that accusation to rest – author Helen Corbin did research this matter and found no record of Waltz being employed there. There is not even a bit of proof that Waltz ever worked at the Bulldog or Mammoth either. Waltz did by Vulture ore and processed it to recover the gold, as many prospectors did in the early days of the Vulture mine, but we will return to this shortly.

The linkage to Peraltas is very tenuous – for yes there were Peraltas in Arizona, and they did at one time own a rich gold mine they named the Valenciana. They sold the Valenciana and went into business, having had trouble with Apache raids. The problem is there is no record of any Peraltas ever owning any property of any kind in the Superstition mountains, where Waltz’s gold mine is supposed to be.

The “true believers” of the Peralta legend point to Massacre Field, where a number of human remains were found in the 1860’s by Cavalry scouts. One of the scouts was convinced the human remains were a lost party of Peraltas who were ambushed by Apaches. The other scout and the officer in charge of them believed the remains to have been Amerindians, and there is reason to believe this for the Pimas and Papagoes were very frequently at war with the Apaches, and a missing party of Amerindians would not likely get recorded, while a large missing party of Mexicans very likely would have been reported to the authorities. A key factor behind the one scout’s belief was that he spotted a gold tooth in the skull of one of the remains, so concluded it HAD to be Mexicans or Anglos, which seems sensible – however this is not good grounds. Even such a wild Indian marauder as the Apache Kid had a gold tooth, for one thing that the ‘Europeans’ brought to the New World that the Amerindians appreciated was dentistry. Other items supposedly found are pointed to as absolute proof of Mexicans, such as sandals (used by various tribes of Amerindians also) gold ore (believe it or not, a fair amount of mining was done by Amerindians themselves, especially in Sonora and Arizona where the Opatas and Southern Pimas were fairly successful miners). Two of the versions of of the Lost Dutchman, allegedly traceable to Waltz, include a story of his having obtained the mine from Peraltas, but there is a third version not popularly known which includes no such element. So bottom line, we just can’t PROVE that any Peraltas ever had any kind of mines in the Superstition mountains, while it may be possible and perhaps one day someone will turn up conclusive evidence for the time being this point is not overly important.

What we can trace is that Waltz was seen selling small amounts of gold in various places in the years after his having filed on a homestead entry in what is today Phoenix, including Florence, Tortilla Flat and at a jewelers in Phoenix. He did give a large amount of gold to his friend Julia Thomas to help her save her business when her husband left her with huge bills to pay. There is a draft of gold ore sent to an alleged sister of Waltz in Kansas of some $7000, a sizable sum for the day. This gold, and the gold found in the candlebox beneath his deathbed, came from somewhere. The ore was examined by an expert who stated it was unlike the ore from any other known source. Gold ore is a bit like fingerprints, in that the ore from any deposit is unlike the ore of any other deposit. A good geologist can identify the source of gold ore by examining it. Author Thomas Glover did assay tests confirming that Waltz’s ore is indeed unlike any other known source, meaning this is an unknown deposit.

Buried in letters and interviews done with old timers still living in the Great Depression, when writers were put to work interviewing the pioneers to get their stories before they were gone forever, is a slightly different version of Jacob Waltz and his mine. The story that emerges is not as exciting, mysterious and dramatic as the stories we get from Julia Thomas, Reinhard Petrasch or Dick Holmes, but is interesting on its own. Waltz made Florence his “base” for supplies and services, for what reasons we can only surmise. In Florence he hired another Dutchman who happened to be a carpenter, to build him a small portable drywasher. According to these “Pioneer Interviews” Waltz then took the drywasher and went prospecting in the Superstition Mountains, where few prospectors or miners would venture for several reasons – it was at the time a known Apache haunt and considered a good place to lose your scalp, and the geology of those mountains is not particularly promising to find gold deposits, or at least not to find gold deposits worth bothering with.

The story of the Lost Dutchman mine will forever be popular among treasure hunters, and many thousands of people will feel that “pull” to head into the Superstition mountains to see if they can piece together the puzzling clues and be the person who finally solved the mystery. Many have claimed to have already found it, pointing to various places which seem to fit the extensive list of “clues”, yet in virtually every case, none have brought out a sample of the ore which could be matched with the existing examples. The ore is the only evidence that can ever seal the case, sorry to those claimants who point to clues but only that curious and beautiful ore is an absolute evidence. Many have claimed or proposed that the mine was worked out, that nothing exists of the ore, yet this is unlikely in the extreme, for even around the most played out old gold mines, it is possible to find small bits of the ore remaining – it is virtually impossible to remove ALL of the ore. Also the nature of the existing samples points to a type of gold deposit which would not “play out” in a short time, as it is large grained, white quartz matrix, and large gold particles indicating a type known as “hypothermal”. Most rich gold veins in Arizona are not of this type, being epithermal or mesothermal, which produces colored quartz and small to tiny gold particles, but are also shallow in depth and quickly play out. Hypothermal deposits generally run to great depths, some have run to over a mile. Besides, the Dutchman himself said that the vein was in fact quite large, that he had to cover a long seam of it and that there was enough gold left showing inside the mine to make millionaires of twenty men – stated when the price of gold was set at $20.67 per ounce!

Waltz had a partner, a man named Jacob Wisner, also spelled variously as Wizer, Wiser, Weiss, and so forth. Wisner was also a Dutchman, and worked with Waltz for a short time at the mine. Due to an unfortunate incident in which a mule destroyed their provisions, Waltz had to go to buy more food. While he was gone, Wisner was ambushed by Indians, believed to have been Apaches. Wisner managed to escape, but was hit and hit bloody shirt was left behind. Waltz found the shirt on his return, and concluded that his partner had been killed. Wisner for his part, believed the Apaches must have gotten Waltz. Wisner ran and eventually crawled out to the friendly Pima Indian villages on the river, where he was found by some women who took him to Doctor Thorn Walker <EDIT – had mistakenly written Thorn, which is incorrect and a related lost mine>  but the good doctor was unable to save him. The arrow wound in Wisner’s shoulder was too far gone, and he died in a few days. Before dying, he gave a map to the doctor. Doctor Walker however was given a rich silver mine by the grateful Pimas he had helped, and never bothered to look for the gold mine. Waltz was haunted by the loss of his friend for the rest of his life. With the passing of Dr Walker, another chance for the gold mine to become located also slipped away.

One short paragraph on the controversial Peralta Stones, thought by some to be maps to lost mines in the Superstitions. Whether these stone curiosities are genuine or fraudulent, the man who found them (a policeman named Tumlinson) used them to search the Superstition Mountains for years without any success. Many others have also tried using them as maps to find treasures, also with equal lack of success. Just my opinion but these stone “maps” are not going to prove helpful to you as maps to treasures.

If someone were to find it, and it proved to be within the Superstition Wilderness Area, then the discovery was in some ways a waste of time and effort, for the area is closed to mineral entry so you could not legally file a claim on it. If you illegally started mining it, you could be arrested and all the gold seized by the government. You might be able to legally pick up a small piece of the ore and bring it out as proof of your find, (and I suggest this to be your plan, as the ore is the only thing that will settle the matter) but if you are trying to find a gold or silver mine to work for profit, I suggest you search elsewhere, outside of any “Wilderness Areas”. After all, there are over 300 lost mines in Arizona alone, if finding a lost mine is your quest, and hundreds more in other states of the west. The “fame” of being the one who found the Lost Dutchman will prove a fleeting honor with mixed benefits. On the other hand, the large city park known as the Superstition Mountains Wilderness Area is indeed very haunting and beautiful, if unforgiving to the careless or stupid, you could hardly choose a more gorgeous place to go hiking and exploring, which have benefits it is hard to put a price on.

Here are a few sites to get you started.

100 clues to find the Lost Dutchman

Over 60 Treasure Maps – does one lead to the Lost Dutchman Mine?

A web site with photos of the Peralta Stones, supporting their being genuine

An article arguing against the Peralta Stones

MUCH more is available online and in numerous books, just do your own legwork (research) and make your own conclusions.

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.

~ by Oroblanco on October 20, 2009.

4 Responses to “The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine of Arizona’s Superstition Mountains”

  1. Excuse me for being OFFTOPIC – what WP theme are you using? It looks cool.

    • Sorry for not getting back to you sooner on this question, it is ChaoticSoul – perhaps appropriate even in the name? I had forgotten what theme it was, had to go look it up.

  2. I have always been intrested in the legend of the Lost Dutchman. I noticed the hole used for the picture on your website looks alot like the spot on Google Earth when you enter the demensions Longitude and Laditude suggested by another site. Is there a reason for that you want to share. Thanks John

    • The photo at the top of the page is the entrance to our mine in California we own, so any resemblance to anything you see posted elsewhere about the Lost Dutchman in AZ is purely coincidental. The picture is somewhat distorted (stretched sideways) in order to make it work with the format required to fit in the banner space as well. That mine is a bench placer in caliche, not a hardrock mine (lode) though the caliche can be as hard as concrete. The original photo is unfortunately on my old (dead) computer or I would post it so you could see the un-distorted appearance; just a neat old mine tunnel. Tunnels do not show up well in satellite photos, somewhat better in aerial photos as they get a sideways look but still not good.

      I have looked at the site found by my wife and I, in satellite photos as well as aerial photos, it does not show. I do not know why. One thing to remember about the Lost Dutchman gold mine is that it was a lode mine, that is gold in quartz not a placer of any kind, so if a mine looks like the one you see in the banner top of my page here, chances are that it is not the Lost Dutchman since this mine is not a lode mine. If you look at the sides of the tunnel you can see that it resembles conglomerate or sandstone, with rounded pebbles etc. Lode gold should have veins of quartz in a host rock, not rounded pebbles ever. Good luck and good hunting John, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.

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