The Lost Cabin Mine -(s)-

•September 14, 2013 • 2 Comments

For many years, the most famous lost mine in the USA was the Lost Cabin mine.
Lost Cabin?

Long before the Lost Dutchman gold mine grew to become the most well known lost mine in America, several other lost mines were the object of many a determined search, numerous newspaper articles and even books.  Many lost their lives in the search, for the western wilds were not quite the same as they are today.  The lost Pegleg Smith, Breyfogle and even before these the silver mines of Jonathan Swift were being hunted, and the lost Cabin mine was (arguably) the most famous of the 1800s.

One of the problems inherent in hunting the Lost Cabin mine is that there are in fact several of them!  There was one in Colorado, found and lost more than once, or the lost cabin mine of the Black HIlls, also found by happenstance repeatedly only to be lost again when the finders could not return to the site.  Then there is the lost stone cabin of the Bear Lodge country, the northwestern portion of the Black Hills, which was lost by the owner himself when he made a  trip out for supplies and on returning, could not find his cabin or his mine.

The famous one however is somewhere in the Bighorn country of Wyoming, and with a small area in adjoining Montana where the mountain chain extends into that state.  Like the others, it too has been found on several occasions, in fact there is even a place named Lost Cabin (Wyoming) for a long abandoned cabin found there with the skeletal remains of two prospectors, whom had apparently fallen into quarreling and killed each other, but the location of their mine has not been found.  Several famous frontiersmen have claimed that they had seen the lost Cabin mine, including the renowned Kit Carson himself – but he was convinced that the mine and cabin were in the Black Hills, not the Bighorns.

Geologically, the Bighorn mountain range is very similar to the Black Hills, however missing the gold deposits.  That there is gold in these mountains however is not a matter of dispute, just not generally in paying quantities.  The Wyoming legend has it that seven Swedes had first discovered the mine, built themselves a cabin to live in for winters are severe in these mountains, set up a flume to divert the water from the stream at a waterfall, only to be suddenly ambushed by hostile Indians who killed all of the men but one.  The lone survivor struggled across country for three nights, traveling only at night, to arrive at Fort Reno, where he told the sad tale and showed some of the gold he had recovered.  In spring, joined by a larger force of new partners, they set out to return to the mine.  Unfortunately for them the plains Indians were then at war, and the party was not heard of for some time.  Later, their remains were found, as they had been attacked and killed to a man by the Indians.  None survived, and the secret of the location of the mine and the cabin were lost to the grave.

Others have stumbled across the remains of the cabin, which the Indians had burned, then trekked out to report of their discovery; this was reported in newspapers several times in the last hundred years, however in each case, the party that found the mine and cabin, was then unable to relocate the site on returning.

The Thoen Stone

The Thoen Stone
(from the Rapid City Journal article at )

Could the legend of the Thoen Stone be linked to the lost Cabin mine?  The Thoen stone was found in South Dakota on Lookout mountain near Spearfish, in 1887.  The stone was inscribed on both sides in English, which I will post:

“Came to these hills in 1833
seven of us
all died but me Ezra Kind

Ezra Kind
G.W. Wood
T. Brown
R. Kent
Wm. King
Indian Crow

killed by Indians beyond the high hill
got our gold June 1834″

The reverse side read:

“Got all of the gold we could carry
our ponys all got by Indians
I have lost my gun and nothing to eat
and Indians hunting me.”

Evidence that others had been mining in the Black Hills well before the official discovery of gold in 1874 turned up for decades, picks, shovels, even guns of old type (flintlocks) were found by early miners.  Clearly someone had been mining there, which does support the story found on the Thoen stone.  Researcher Frank Thomson carefully checked the records and found evidence supporting the names listed as belonging to men who went west searching for gold in 1832, and were never heard of again, with the exception of “Indian Crow” which may not have been a name, rather a Crow Indian.  The Crow tribe owned the Black Hills prior to the invasion by other tribes, and were usually friendly with the ‘whites’ so it would not be a great surprise if a Crow had acted as guide for Ezra Kind’s group.

The Thoen Stone makes no mention of any cabin, but it is logical that they should have some shelter built.   Could this be the lost Cabin mine?  True, the survivor of the seven Swedes who went into the Bighorn mountains is fairly well documented, which would point to the lost Cabin mine being in those mountains rather than the Black Hils, but then too, Kit Carson himself claimed that the mine and cabin were in the Black Hills, that the route in from the south, had a point where you would turn east to the Black Hills rather than west to the Bighorns.

Perhaps the truth is that there really are several lost Cabin mines; that it was not unusual for prospectors living on a wild frontier to build a cabin for shelter, and this becomes part of the story when the mine is lost.

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the Lost Cabin gold mine – and send me photos of your find!


An update

•March 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hola mi amigos,

My apologies for not posting something here sooner, or I should say for not posting something interesting here for so long.  As you may know, Beth and I have been fairly  busy since last fall, but now spring is arriving and we will be back in our usual haunts with more time to spend online.  Not a lot of internet access in the deserts, though we now have a way to get online occasionally if there is enough of a cell signal and the batteries are charged up.  Anyway have new stories to tell, will try to post something good for you when we are back online.  In the meantime, I did post something on my old blog, just to kind of explain what and why we do what we do, which has been tough to try to explain to many friends and relatives.  In case you don’t have that link here it is:

It has been a most pleasant winter for us, many discoveries and adventures.  Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.

Roy ~ Oroblanco


Epitaph for Old Treasurenet Forum, R.I.P.

•March 29, 2012 • 13 Comments

Rest In Peace Old Treasurenet

Rest In Peace old Treasurenet Forum

So long old friend

The largest and what was the best site on the internet for talking with fellow treasure hunters and prospectors has gone through a change of ownership and a major metamorphosis, but not a positive one.

With over 32,000 members, Treasurenet was the most popular treasure forum on the internet for some time.  I had joined it about 1995, but after a couple of years left it due to the hostile attitude of a couple of members, but those members were thrown out and I re-joined the site in 2005.  I do not hesitate to confess that I spent many an evening reading the fascinating and entertaining posts from our fellow treasure hunters, and swapped stories and great information.  More than once, an evening visit to Treasurenet to catch up on the latest treasure gossip was a high point on an otherwise dark day.  In that membership were many very experienced and knowledgable experts, most of them happy to offer helpful advice for the asking.

We knew that the site was likely to get sold as the owner needed to sell it, but never expected that anyone would “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” for a site that is SO popular and has many thousands of visitors, generates income from advertising and some of the members even paid for a ‘charter’ sort of membership.  We were in that last category.  It would not have been a great surprise to see some changes made, but not the complete change that was done – for the new owners pulled the plug on the site, left it down for a day or so, then put it back up online under a completely different operating system known as “V-bulletin” which is the one used by most forums on the internet.  No polls or survey questionnaires had been sent to the members to find out if they liked the old system or would they prefer a new one, or what features or functions they liked or disliked, just suddenly one night it is gone, then reappears as a different creature entirely.

The old forum operating system was known as “phpBB” <I believe>  and is open source, meaning that if you are a capable programmer, you can make modifications to the operating system to suit the needs or wishes of your customers, or in this case members.  Did the buyers not notice that the operating system and format on Treasurenet was different from all the rest, and the huge membership?   Couldn’t they see a connection there, that the operating system the new owners hate so much, might have been one of the main attractions for the members and visitors because it was SO easy to use?

Probably they could see that and knew it, for they openly stated they were confident they would not lose more than one to three percent of the members and new ones would replace them, so the old ‘true blue’ members were really just a number in an equation for them with no more meaning or factor than the number in a telephone number.  The new owners do not know the members (nor vice versa) and did not make any effort to get to know them; from what I can judge, they do not appear to be treasure hunters or prospectors, nor arrowhead hunters or bottle diggers, not coin roll hunters or armchair adventurers – they are what is popularly termed “technogeeks” who like forums for the computing challenge not for talking with treasure hunters.  The members and their wants simply do not matter to them, unless it is some widget in their beloved V-bulletin system that they can then tweak and diddle.

I can only speak for myself, and did not like the new format and system at first glance but thought I would give it a little time, maybe the new owners would see this is a mistake and go back, or at least change the format enough to come as close to duplicating the old, user friendly and easy system as was possible.  I noticed that some other members were posting grumbles and complaints, which the new administrators and moderators seemed to be scrambling to correct and adjust – but only where it involved tweaking some part of the new format, not replacing the popular tools found in the old system.  When we asked what was so wrong with the old phpBB system, we were told that it “had to go some where” and was so bad, so insecure.  I did not catch the lies they were giving at first, but when I asked them about one of the main functions that I used a great deal (and did not realize how much, before that moment) a tool that would allow you to pull up a list of all the threads that you had posted in which had gotten new posts in ONE click called “new replies” or “unread replies” the new owners and managers had no idea what I was even talking about.  They did not know it because they had never even tried the old system they had killed and said was so horrible.  Hmm.

Then the nasty and sarcastic remarks from the supporters of the new owners toward any member that made a complaint started to grate on me; for in the supporters view, if you love the new format they were happy, if you hate it then you must not be smart enough to run a remote for your TV.  Not a great public relations method for dealing with unhappy customers.  Apparently the new owners are not aware of the old principle of KISS= Keep It Simple Stupid –  for they have quite a complicated system for the users now.  That attitude and crystal clear policy from the new ownership, that we members have to either love it or leave it because they have killed the old and widely popular Treasurenet and refuse to even consider the idea of returning to the popular format really rubbed me the wrong way.

The new owners and moderators repeatedly kept saying “give us more time” or “wait a week” but then I noticed they admitted that no more changes were going to be made, period.  The repeated requests for “more time” are just a game, waiting for the members to “get used to it” or get left behind as they said in so many words, not a time period for them to try to undo the giant mistake of changing the format and system.  I guess we were supposed to be stupid and not see the game.

Probably I should have simply quit the forum outright, but if I do, I will lose contact with a large number of friends.  So I left my membership active only so I can have a way to keep in touch with those friends, but will certainly not renew a charter membership and just as certainly will not spend much time there, as I find myself getting angry at just trying to find the various discussions that I was interested in and participating in.   The all new Treasurenet is definitely not the old animal, not by a long shot – it is more complex, much more fiddling and diddling with the settings and controls are involved just to use it, and some of us have only limited amounts of time to be online.  I don’t need to go to a treasure forum to get angry and frustrated.  I don’t think that I am the only member feeling much the same way either.

If you would live to visit the all new Treasurenet, here is the link;


I can’t recommend it for anything but headache or heartburn, but if you love to fiddle with lots and lots of settings and tweak adjustments, it may be fun for you.  If you want to try to have a discussion that is treasure related however, brace yourself for a lot of aggravation.

There are other treasure forums of course, some are pretty good – looks like it might fill the ticket for treasure hunters, or the old Lost Dutchman Gold Mine forum that seemed to have gone less active in recent years may revive with interest and new members.  Lost Treasure magazine has a forum again too, so there is hope for us treasure hunters to have places where we can swap tall stories or ask questions and tell jokes that non-treasure hunters could not understand.  We can’t very well get together around the campfire, even though that would be really great.  But I just wanted to acknowledge what a great web site the old Treasurenet was, it is all too true that you never know what you had until it is gone.

The old Treasurenet was great while it lasted, I really enjoyed the time I spent there and the great people I got to talk to.   It is now history and will never return.  Rest in peace good old Treasurenet, many of us will remember what a great spot you were for a gathering of the treasure hunters.  Sad to see you gone.

We will miss you!

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.
PS almost forgot, here are the links for some of the other forums, – this one is getting HIGH MARKS in my book, wish I had paid more attention to it sooner, but with limited time to be online, I can only really follow one forum and keep up so did not see how great this one is before now:

Lost Treasure magazine forum – the BEST treasure magazine period,(don’t take my word for it read it and see!)  the forum is still growing,

Lost Dutchman Gold Mine forum, an oldie but a goodie, LOADS of Dutchman info you won’t find elsewhere, a bit more focused on the Lost Dutchman, Peralta Stones and the Superstitions than others but worth checking out

DesertUSA a forum that covers all aspects of our beautiful desert southwest, including gold and treasure hunting but also camping, hiking, exploring, gardening etc; a smaller group but much good information; I had personally dropped out of this one due to a difference of opinion but have returned with no regrets

There are many, many others out there, I am only scratching the surface.

Legends of Lost Silver Mines in Pennsylvania?

•January 19, 2012 • 10 Comments

Legends of Lost Silver Mines in Pennsylvania – could they possibly be TRUE?

Stories of lost mines, ledges and glory holes full of precious metals are rather pervasive, most every area has at least one such story. One of the poorest parts of North America for such stories is the Keystone state.

The geology of Pennsylvania is not of the right sort for the discovery of rich veins of gold and silver, great wealth in coal, oil and even such mundane mineral products as limestone have been the rule. Yet the state is not utterly devoid of gold or silver either; in the southeastern part of the state one mine produced almost all of the known gold production for the entire state, mostly as a byproduct of copper mining, and a couple of silver mines produced a little silver. Enough nickel was also mined to be used by the US Mint to make the now obsolete three cent nickels, so if you are lucky enough to own a three cent nickel, chances are it has Pennsylvania nickel in it. Not one of the three cent silver pieces of course.

Even so, despite the wrong sort of geology over most of the state, why then do we find there are indeed several stories of long lost silver mines? Pure hogwash, made up to earn a free beer in a tavern, or entertain the children, or cover up some illicit activity like making moonshine, perhaps? Perhaps, but there is evidence and documentation to support the fact that there are indeed several lost silver mines scattered across the state. Not massive veins like the famous Comstock mind you, but small deposits and these are not against the rules of geology by any means.

The actual records from the colonial period show that these mines were known to the native tribes that lived in and contested over the land. There is even some suggestion that two of the mines were known to the French, whom were secretly mining them and slipping back to Canada to convert the silver into cash.

Silver medallion struck from silver mined out of the Wheatley silver-lead mine in Chester county PA

PA Silver Wheatley Medallion

PA silver medallion from the Wheatley mine

A bit of study in the field of geology would help any treasure hunter or prospector setting out to look for one of these lost silver mines. Silver does not often occur in nature in the pure form, because of the fact that it is much more chemically reactive than gold or platinum, yet it does occur in native (natural) form, often alloyed with a little gold and – or copper. The ores of silver quite often do not look anything like silver, and then too some silver minerals do look silvery and metallic, like galena. Galena is mostly lead, but very often in nature some or almost all of the metallic lead in the matrix has been replaced by silver. Galena is silver colored and cubic in form, and rather heavy. You can find small pieces of it in many streams around the state, and while in many cases the presence of this metallic mineral in such a place where no metallic minerals ought to be can be explained by the actions of glaciers, which broke off the minerals from a distant location (generally to the north) and transported it to the south where it then deposited it when the ice finally melted away, to leave us puzzling as to how this out of place mineral ended up where we find them.

Most ores of silver are black, grey or brown in color; usually tending to be heavy and often sooty, so could be mistaken for a low grade coal vein from a distance. Silver can also occur in a quartz matrix just like gold or copper does, or uncommonly in the form of a heavy, sticky blue or bluish clay. The famous Comstock mine in Nevada was discovered first as the blue clay, which was giving the gold miners headaches by clogging up their sluice boxes. Only when some prospector finally had the blue clay itself tested by fire assay did the secret come out, that it was loaded with silver. The blue clay may be what the ore decomposes into, but I am specularing on this point.

Silver ores are commonly found intruded into limestone rock, showing up by the stains it makes in the surrounding rock; sometimes it will form a stain on the surface of the rock without the actual ore showing on the surface, and the staining is commonly called a “gossan” in prospecting parlance. I will return to the prospecting tips in a moment.

From what the stories tell us, these lost Pennsylvania silver mines are not going to be easy to find. In several instances, the Indians went to some lengths to conceal the very existence of the mines, so well that in one case, even though several colonists had seen it and been to the mine, after it was concealed they could not locate it again. Silver, unlike gold, does not usually form a placer downhill and downstream of the host rock. When rock containing native gold is worn down and decomposed by nature, the tiny bits of gold get transported down hill and then down stream by the actions of nature, allowing the prospector to be able to take his gold pan and take samples along the streams and then hillsides, and thus pinpoint the location of the gold vein. No so with silver! Except in very rare instances (I know of only two such in all of North America) due to the fact that silver will react with other minerals chemically, as the host rock decomposes, the silver forms chemical bonds and is invisible so to speak. It can be there and not be visible in a gold pan. What can a prospector do?

Don’t throw out the gold pan, it is possible that you might find tiny specks of native silver in some stream that could conceivably lead you to the vein; at least one of the lost silver mines of Pennsylvania had native silver in it , and silver is quite a dense metal. I am using the term ‘dense’ to refer to the fact that it is quite heavy, about the same as lead, this density is usually termed by prospectors as specific gravity; that is how heavy any particular element or mineral is when compared to an equal volume of water. So gold has a specific gravity of around 19 (it varies due to the other metals commonly alloyed with gold in nature, usually silver and copper) lead is a bit over 11, while native silver usually runs 10.4 to 10.6. This natural heaviness (when compared to water and many other materials) is helpful for panning, for most country rock and sand, while heavier than water, are much lighter in comparison to silver. So you could find a silver vein by testing with the ancient tool known as the gold pan – and don’t let anyone fool you, the gold pan is still used by prospectors, geologists and mining engineers today for it works very well.

As these silver mines were covered up and concealed in the colonial period, there has been plenty of time for nature to help with the concealment; trees would have had over 200 years to grow right over top of them, the natural erosion and deposition of soils would further assist in erasing the traces of the mine. If the mine were originally a shaft sunk into the rock (as one actually was, more in a moment) it is quite possible that nature has entirely filled in the shaft with earth by now and could even have a huge tree growing out of it. A tunnel could have caved in, leaving no trace except for a slight depression on the flank of a mountain, and unfortunately the hills of Pennsylvania have a great many wrinkles to help hide them.

Don’t let this discourage you! A careful search, using the tools of prospecting, geological reports, satellite imagery, research of the colonial records and even family histories, stories told around the campfires or even something seen by a hunter could be the key to lead you to finding a silver mine!

Now suppose you have found a suspicous looking vein or lense of rock, that is dark or grey and heavy; how can you test it for silver without having to break off a sample, crush it to quarter inch size or smaller and send it off for a fire assay? A fire assay is the best bet and highly accurate, but they cost money and you certainly can’t afford to send off every rock you find to have it assayed, for if you are that wealthy you would not be out hunting for a long-lost silver mine in the first place! Fortunately there are some simple ways you can test for silver without having to spend a lot of money.

One trick is to grind up your sample to a powder, then take a piece of copper that you have rubbed until it is shiny clean, and then rub that piece of copper around in the powdered ore sample. A copper wire will do, or a piece of soft copper pipe (don’t use the hard copper pipe as it is alloyed, and may not work as well). Very often, if silver in present in the sample, it will turn the copper white. If this occurs, then take another sample and get a fire assay done.

Another way is to try primitive smelting, if you have a bellows or a charcoal forge, in which case you would again want to grind the sample to a powder and heat it on a shovel or other iron receptable to nearly a white heat; any silver that can be extracted by heat alone will melt out before the shovel will melt because silver has a lower melting point than iron or steel. One more method is to put a hunk of the ore sample on your shovel, heat it very hot and then drop it into a bucket of water; supposedly if silver is present in the rock, it will form a grey scum on top of the water; however personally this method has never worked well for me but it might work for you.

Lastly, make sure you get permission of the landowners before you start looking for the lost mine, for most of Pennsylvania is private land and you don’t need to get arrested for trespassing, or worse a load of rock salt in your breeches! Just kidding but do ask permission before you search and it will save a lot of problems. Don’t be surprised if you get chuckles from a non-treasure hunter if you explain what you are looking for, for most people think that anyone who would go looking for lost mines or buried treasures is a little loopy, but with a little luck, and a lot of diligence, you may well have the last laugh. Besides, the search is an experience that those who live inside of boxes and never step off pavement can never know.

Nice photos of some silver ores

A free online book on prospecting for gold and silver 

Historically, the Wheatley mine and the Pequea mine both produced some silver, the Pequea silver mine near Conestoga in Lancaster County was worked from before the Revolutionary War to 1875. A minor amount of mining was done about 1900. The ore is silver-bearing galena in the Cambrian Vintage Dolomite. Production is unknown. The Wheatley mine started operation in 1851. Primarily a lead mine, for economic reasons Wheatley billed the operation as a lead and silver mine. Concentrations of silver in the galena ore were assayed at between 15 and 120 ounces per ton. That would be pretty valuable ore today, so get out there amigo and find some silver!


PS – one other thing about using that gold pan in your search, don’t be surprised if you find some GOLD in there too for those glaciers brought down gold from the north, as well as DIAMONDS!  If you see a shiny, greasy looking pebble that will scratch your knife blade there is a good chance it is a glacial diamond, over 50 of them have been found in PA over the years, and a brassy yellow metal needs no further explanation.  Good luck and good hunting, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.

Online museum of Pennsylvania minerals, including silver;

The Curse of the Lost Dutchman

•December 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I am taking the liberty of plagiarizing the title of Helen Corbin’s excellent book, The Curse of the Dutchman’s Gold, (1991) not to be funny or anything of the kind, rather as a compliment.  I am not trying to sell books for Amazon either, please feel free to get your copy from any retailer who offers it, or from your local library.  It is well worth your time and money.  I would make it required reading for anyone interested in the story of the infamous Lost Dutchman gold mine, along with several other source books which I will add at the end of this post.


The interest in the Lost Dutchman gold mine remains high after over a century of searching.  More than one treasure hunter has invested years of his life or even a lifetime in the quest.  The location could not be more un-inviting, for it is supposed to be located in the craggy recesses of the Superstition Mountains in southern Arizona, one of the most rugged pieces of terrain on the planet.  Laws have been enacted to protect the mountains and keep them in a nearly pristine state, making it nearly impossible for a modern treasure hunter to search effectively, and even more difficult to ever law claim to the mine if he or she should be so lucky as to actually find it.  Over 100 have lost their lives in those mountains, it is not a place to be careless or take foolish chances; yet hundreds of people hike through the range on a regular basis without incident and no worse for it than perhaps a few cactus thorns.   But do not let this fact lull you into thinking there is no danger, for such a simple thing as a twisted ankle, miles from any help, could become a deadly serious situation.


What is it about this particular lost mine legend that holds such fascination for people?  It is very far from being the only lost mine in the southwest, or even in Arizona for that matter; there are quite literally hundreds of stories of lost mines in Arizona alone.  Most of them are little known or even obscure, and few treasure hunters are willing to spend a moment of time even researching them.  Yet this story of the mine of Jacob Waltz keeps its attraction; luring men and women to exert themselves and spend their money to hunt for it, in spite of the terrific legal hurdles that would entail finding it, in spite of the dangers and the extreme odds against finding it at all.  Yes, some 100 different people have all claimed to have found the lost bonanza over the years, but in the last 50 only one had an ore specimen with gold, and even that story is questionable.  In the early days of Dutch-hunting, as this pursuit is commonly called in the community, quite a few men made claims of having found the mine and had actually found a rich gold mine – in every case it was NOT the lost mine of Jacob Waltz (the ore did not match) but at least they had found an actual gold mine; many of our modern claimants have only found a place that fits the various “clues” or spotted an anomaly on a satellite photo that seems to fit the stories.  Did someone find it by a satellite image?  We can not know without an ore specimen, and a comparison done by a qualified expert.


On a personal note, my wife and I have gone looking for this lost mine on a number of occasions, without finding it of course.   There are a number of forums on the internet where people interested in the subject frequently gather to discuss it, yet even so, if one is not careful about how your words are phrased it can come across as someone pretending to be some  kind of an “expert” on the lost mine which will rub folks the wrong way.  I certainly do not wish to make any pretense at being an expert on the Lost Dutchman mine, so dear reader please keep that in mind while reading these words, and please do your own research; never take the word of someone just at face value for when the subject of the Lost Dutchman is at stake, some people will not hesitate to try to mislead you.  I have no such intention personally, but my views could very well be quite mistaken so don’t take my word as final on this.


The curse of the Dutchman’s gold may be real.  Several of those whom have claimed to have found it, died before being able to tell anyone where it is.  Once you visit those haunted mountains, you too may well be infected with something akin to Gold Fever, for you will feel a sort of “pull” for you to return to them again and again, even without finding any gold at all.  While most of the area is officially and legally a federal Wilderness Area, which has severe restrictions on any kind of prospecting or digging, there really is something indefinable and even beautiful about them.   In truth it is not really a “wilderness” – for most of the area was pastureland where cattle roamed and real cowboys worked; prospectors had little cabins and camps, and the hand of man left an imprint in many places, which certainly does not fit the definition of a wilderness by the terms of the Act that made the mountains practically off-limits for us.  It is really a man-made “wilderness” but don’t try to argue it with a US Forest Ranger.  A reasonable person might well just write the whole thing off as an impossible dream, yet even knowing all the problems, risks and potential legal squabble should you find the mine, many of us cannot resist the urge to return.


As for experts on the Lost Dutchman gold mine, there are a handful of real ones.  Clay Worst, Bob Corbin, Tom Kollenborn usually top any list, along with Dr Thomas Glover, and a few others are still around for us to bother with questions.  My wife and I have been lucky enough to have met all of them in person, thanks to the efforts of Joe Ribaudo and his wife Carolyn, for they started the now annual Dutch Hunters Rendezvous held at the Dons Club camp outside Apache Junction.  Joe and his wife are two of the most gracious and friendly people imaginable, and served as hosts for the first several rendezvous, which has now grown beyond what two people could act as hosts for.  Joe deserves a lot of credit for founding this tradition, a rendezvous of treasure hunters with simple rules to prevent problems and rather similar to the rendezvous of the Mountain Men of old.   For anyone interested in the legend of the Lost Dutchman, I highly recommend attending one of these annual meets, scheduled for the third weekend in October each year.


Is there gold in the Superstition mountains?  I have to say yes – a qualified affirmation to be sure, for it is not a case of the gold being available just anywhere throughout the range, but small traces of gold can be panned out in a number of places.  One such place is Fish creek, but before you start counting your millions, I should add that the amount of gold in that picturesque and rugged creek bed is very far from enough to pay you wages.  Two government studies done on the geology of the range came up with the most  discouraging sort of conclusions, and it is certainly true that the rock types you see over most of the range are hardly the right type to find rich gold veins.   Only one test showed any hint that supports the theory of a rich gold mine, a mercury vapor test, which type of test will not serve to pinpoint the location at all, but it did hint that a rich gold deposit may lie under the Superstitions, perhaps deeply buried.


Now dear reader, before you get a few treasure maps and start hiking, take into consideration that the man who had the gold mine, namely Jacob Waltz, never made any map to the mine.  All of the maps available to the public have been tried and tested by several treasure hunters before us, and none were successful in leading to the fabulous gold mine.  The clues and directions are almost as questionable, for it seems almost a certainty that something in them is wrong; perhaps something has gotten garbled, or mis-remembered or even deliberately falsified to throw off competitors.  Your search ought to be based on solid ground and there is precious little in this legend that fits that standard.

Get the best topographic maps you can, and yes satellite images and aerial photos to study the area before you set off.  Don’t go in the summer – the heat is a very real killer, and temperatures can get well over 100 degrees F in the shade, and there is precious little shade anywhere in the Superstitions.  Study a book on geology so you know what gold looks like and what the ores look like, so that you won’t be fooled by finding one of the numerous old empty prospect holes dug by earlier Dutch hunters, for there are quite a few of these and they fool people all the time.  The damage done by the early treasure hunters helped to cause the very restrictive regulations we now have, for they were not hesitant to use dynamite in the quest, blasting away where there was no trace of any gold.  Don’t expect that you are just going to walk up and stumble onto the mine, for old Jacob Waltz worked hard to conceal it – it may even have trees or cactus growing on top of it by now.  Trails criss-cross the wilderness and while some lead you somewhere, others are old cow paths, game trails and so on but it is just possible that some ancient or well hidden trail might lead to the legendary Peralta mines or at least to the camp of the Dutchman.  It is not going to be an easy task by any measure, and if you are easily discouraged then you should forget this subject right now.


Here are a few book suggestions to get you started, to go along with Helen’s excellent book mentioned above; if you can read these and not feel the urge to visit the Superstition mountains, you are a stronger person than I am.  There are hundreds of other books and articles available, many of which are very good, and at least one movie “Lust for Gold” starring Glenn Ford and Ida Lupino.

The Lost Dutchman Gold  Mine by Sims Ely <Sims is quite possibly our best source, as he actually interviewed friends of Waltz>

The Golden Dream (The Lost Dutchman Mine of Jacob Waltz Pt 1) by Dr Thomas E. Glover <Dr Glover is the only living person to have done any kind of scientific tests on surviving ore specimens)

The Holmes Manuscript (the Lost Dutchman Mine of Jacob Waltz Pt 2) by Dr Thomas E. Glover

Superstition Mountain; A Ride Through Time by Tom Kollenborn <Tom is a local historian and geologist, spent his life in these mountains along with his partner Bob Corbin, a regular gold mine of historical information>

Hikers Guide to the Superstition Wilderness: With History and Legends of Arizona’s Lost Dutchman Gold Mine by Jack C. Carlson and Elizabeth Stewart <they have hiked pretty much every inch of the trails and this guide could save your life!>

And the ‘grandaddy’ of them all,

Trail of the Lost Dutchman by Barry Storm; Storm may not be a fact filled source but did more than any previous author to popularize the legend, and his books are a great read.   May be a bit difficult to find a copy but worth the effort.


Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, and should you be the lucky person to find the Lost Dutchman gold mine – please save me a specimen of that rich ore!  Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.





Could the Lost Dutchman, Black Maverick and Doc Thorn mines be one in the same?

•December 5, 2011 • 1 Comment
Rich specimen of gold in quartz

Gold in quartz

The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, could it really be the same as the Black Maverick, or Doc Thorn?

Every once in a while, someone comes forward with a theory that links the famous Lost Dutchman gold mine with other legends of the southwest, or even farther afield.  Among the legends that have been so linked, includes the most famous lost mine group of Mexico, Tayopa, or the group of mines associated with the Jesuit mission at Tumacacori, or the lost Adams.  These examples all have quite different histories and other important differences not to mention the general locations are quite far apart.
Rarely do we ever hear of anyone proposing other lost mine legends as being one and the same with the lost mine of Jacob Waltz, mines which are not believed to be located in distant regions and with interesting similarities.  There are lost mine legends that fit this bill, such as the lost Doc Thorn (also spelled Thorne) mine.

The story of Doc Thorn goes that he was captured by Apaches (or in one version by Navajos) and in return for successfully treating a number of them for sickness, was then blindfolded and led to a narrow, rocky canyon where he was allowed to pick up all the gold he could carry on his horse.  He noticed the ore vein in the canyon, a white quartz loaded with visible gold, around a foot thick, which ran from the floor of the canyon up onto the side.  According to the story, he could clearly see the outline of Four Peaks on the horizon, and he believed that he could return to the spot quite easily.  He was mistaken and never managed to find it again.
Then there is the lost Black Maverick gold mine.  The story goes that a Yaqui Indian working as a cowboy for a ranch located on the east side of Four Peaks was chasing a maverick black bull, and as he lariated the young bull the animal’s foot broke through a covering on top of an old mine.  (One version has it that it is the cowhand’s horse that puts a foot through rather than the bull.) The logs which had made up the cover had rotted.  The mine was not large nor deep, perhaps a dozen feet or so, and had a vein of white quartz loaded with visible gold, about a foot thick.  When he returned to the ranch and showed samples of the ore, others tried to entice him to lead them back to the mine but he could not be swayed.

Other mines which have some interesting similarities are the Lost Pick, which had that same description of the ore and vein, and drew the name from a rusted pick head found nearby.  The Pima Gold legend is also similar, but the location being near the top of a ridge is quite different, and the finding of two skeletons is another point of variance.  Another mine with some notable similarities, but located in fairly distant country is the lost gold mine of Squaw Hollow.

Is it possible that others had found the same gold vein as Jacob Waltz, perhaps coming in to it from a different direction, and thus on returning and telling of the find, creating what appears to be a separate and different lost mine legend?   I strongly suspect this is the case.  I did a careful point by point comparison a few years back and came to the conclusion that the Black Maverick is very likely the lost Dutchman, Doc Thorn’s ledge is quite possible, and the lost Pick may also be the same mine.  The fact that the locations where these mines are supposed to be are not all concentrated in one spot may be due to the routes taken by the people who discovered them; and we really don’t know where any of them are truly located.  We don’t even know which side of the Salt River they might be on for that matter, for you can easily see the prominent mountain Four Peaks over a vast area.

Thinking that the Lost Dutchman is one and the same with the Black Maverick has not proven to be any help in locating the mine, at least not for me.  My wife and I have gone looking for most of these lost mines in the belief they were a separate mine.  In retrospect perhaps if we had kept the various clues associated with Waltz’s mine in mind, we may have noticed something that could lead to a discovery.   In earlier days of Dutch-hunting, a fair number of treasure hunters were of the opinion that the lost Doc Thorn was the same mine as that of Jacob Waltz, the differences in description being attributable to the fact that Thorn had visited it years before Waltz had been to it, which explains why there was no mine shaft or other indications of having been worked.   Today this idea seems to have fallen out of favor, though perhaps without good reason.

This theory could be completely wrong, and the western states as well as northern Mexico have many hundreds of lost mines and ledges which are certainly not related, so it could be oversimplifying to be associating several lost mines with the Dutchman’s.  Thousands of people go searching for the Lost Dutchman every year, with the others one rarely ever encounters a treasure hunter or prospector actively looking for them.  About the only thing which could ever prove this theory true and settle the question would be when someone should find the lost Dutchman mine, and then some comparisons could be made with the various points concerning the Black Maverick, Doc Thorn, lost Pick and perhaps the Pima and Squaw Hollow as well.

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.  And should you find the Lost Dutchman gold mine, please let me know if you find a rusty pick near by?

The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, A Warning

•May 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Superstition Mountains Arizona
The most famous lost mine legend in the USA is probably the Lost Dutchman of Arizona.  The location where it supposedly is hidden, is one of the most beautiful and possibly most dangerous places in our country.

Now I don’t wish to sound like some kind of fear monger, but the Superstition mountains wilderness area is not a place to be flippant or careless.  I would not even be writing this but all too often we find new articles, magazines and books that proclaim the author has found the Lost Dutchman gold mine and includes directions on how to get to his (or her) location.  All well and good, for all that matters, but the problem is that some of the readers will try to follow those directions in the belief that they are going to arrive at the infamous lost gold mine.  Some of the routes that these authors prescribe for their readers to follow, in order to get to their sites, are a good hike; some routes are downright dangerous and could lead to death.

The list of people whom have died in the Superstitions mountains is pretty long already – so please dear reader, if you are heading in to those mountains and are trusting the written words of some author (online or otherwise) who claims to be leading you to the lost gold mine, do some research on what sort of terrain you are heading into.  Go prepared, do not trust what these writers will tell you for a good and safe route.  Especially those that are trying to propose a route by using satellite or aerial photographs as a guide.  These fellows have mistaken stream beds for trails, and vice-versa.  The satellite photos do NOT give you any idea of what that terrain is really like to try to travel across.

One last word of caution to you treasure hunters, and I have no wish to discourage you at all but consider this; these fellows whom are proclaiming to the world over the internet and other media, that they have discovered the famous Lost Dutchman gold mine, what are their reasons for making these claims?  Ask yourself this, if you found it, would you go proclaim it to the world, and try to give directions to any and all to get to it?  Then there is the matter of proof – for in the case of the great majority of these self-proclaimed finders of the Lost Dutchman gold mine, they never show any photos of any gold vein nor any gold, not even a decent ore specimen.  They like to give the excuse that it is illegal to do any mining in the Wilderness Area, but there is no law about taking photos.  So do your homework, do not trust the routes that some stranger on the internet and always go prepared whenever entering any wilderness area.

I have tried discussing these issues with several of these internet persons who claim to have found the Lost Dutchman gold mine and are urging the public to go look at their sites, and my warnings to be cautious, end up with making enemies out of those claimants.  I am not their enemy, just don’t want to see any more people end up dead or missing due to the trust of these stories being broadcast.  If you are one of those people, reading my words now – I hope you will realize that I am not your enemy, I want people to go explore and search for the lost mine too but don’t want to see more tragedies.

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