Arizona’s Superstition Mountains have been a magnet for generations of adventurers and treasure hunters. Many who come to the mountains seeking riches never return. In the 17th century, a miner called the Dutchman (Jacob Waltz) came out of the Mountains more dead than alive. Something had kept him going when others would have given up. He had been tortured by Indians and seen his partner murdered. For days he had traveled alone under the blazing sun. What was the secret that gave him the strength to survive? It was the treasure. Great nuggets of gold. The Dutchman said he found a mine full of it. He would never be strong enough to go back to it and the secret of the mine went to the grave with him.
Since then many have ventured these mountains to find the said treasure and have failed for different reasons, this explorer tried his luck too, but what happened to him is not easy to guess. Also, did he manage to find that treasure or not?
The Apache Thunder God
The Superstition Mountains are assumed to be cursed by the Apache Thunder God. Men are known to have been inhumanly murdered here, die mysterious deaths or simply vanished into thin air. There are some skeptical people who believe that the mines or the gold do not exist in the first place but there are others who have lost their lives in trying to seek these mines. This, however, did not discourage this one adventurer and he went ahead to venture the territories which are supposed to have been cursed. Did he find the tressure of did he too became another victim of these ruthless mountains?
The Centre Of A Magic Circle
The search for gold begins at the Weaver’s Needle. Some explorers believe that it is the center of a magic circle that contains the untold wealth of a lost civilization. Inexplicable magic powers have been attributed to the area. The Lost Dutchman Goldmine could well be the most well known and mysterious Goldmine in the history of America. People have been trying to find the mines since the 19th century, the time they weres supposed to have been discovered. 8000 people annually are reported to make an effort to find the mines and most of them never return.
The Lure And The Curse
The shiny element that is gold has always attracted and hypnotized mankind with its luster. It has driven them to steal and even kill. The gold mine, hidden somewhere deep in the secrets of Arizona’s Superstition Mountains have not surprisingly lured thousands of people towards it and these men have either lost their sanity, become delusional or died.
Today we bring you the story of one of these men, named Ron Feldman, who was ambitious like his fellow explorers. He had seen men fail before him but he still was determined to find this unexplored uncharted territory.
Caves Guarded By Spells And Snakes
The community of the Apache Indians is known to be the first settlement here. The Apache have always related differently to the superstitions. They say that the mountains hide a sacred cave protected by a curse and guarded by rattlesnakes charged with lightning bolts. Some say that the Dutchman tore his gold from the walls of the secret Apache cave. The Dutchman did claim that his partner was murdered which could have been an act of Apache vengeance. The natives, however, did not stay in peace for long. Invaders came and tore their civilization apart to possess gold.
Hungry And Brutal Spaniards
Spain’s conquerors penetrated the mountains looking for the legendary kingdom of Cibola. They believed that Cibola was composed of 7 cities made of pure gold. The Spaniards even resorted to torture to pry information from the natives. The Indians revealed to them that it was indeed true they the mountain contained gold but they were adamant in refusing to provide any kind of help to the invaders as they were afraid that Thunder God would punish them or an intruder. Sometime later even the Spaniards admitted that the place was under some protection or cursed.
Grotesque Result Of Invasion
For hundreds of years, Spanish travelers had tried to discover the mines and innumerable explorers were found to be dead in and around the Superstition Mountains area. The interesting and the disturbing thing is that they were not just dead; their bodies had been brutally mutilated and in some cases, the heads were decapitated. The reasons could not be found for this. Who was mutilating these bodies? Was it the Thunder God or the Apache people? To prove his countrymen wrong, Don Miguel Peralta, a Spaniard went to the said location to find the gold. However, he did not know that his overconfidence came with a price.
The Peralta Family
The Apache had come to develop a hatred for the Spaniards because of their incessant invasion in their native region. It was during this time in 1845 that the Peralta family, like many others, came to Arizona, looking for gold. Even though they owned a profitable ranch in Sonora, Mexico they decided to get into the gold mining business to make more money. It is said that Don Miguel found the gold mine and that too without any hassle. He was surprised by the fact that the place was not really cursed and he tried to remember the path which led to the mines so that he can come with troops to extract the metal. However, some kind of curse did work.
Fear After Success
Yes, Don Miguel did find gold and yes nothing happened to him the first time. He extracted gold which is estimated to be of millions of Pesos. These Spaniards, gluttoned by their new found gold were enjoying their victory. Little did the know that the native Apache Indians were planning an onslaught. Don Miguel’s intuition warned him about the Apache’s anger and he decided to leave making sure to erase each and every clue that led the way to the mines. However, he was too late.
Massacre Of The Century
Just when Don Miguel and the soldiers he had brought along were ready to leave, having collected everything of need they were attacked by a group of Apache warriors who sneaked into their hiding place and murdered 148 men. Sacks of gold were carried by donkeys on their backs who ran in various directions because of fear and confusion. Some of them fell into ditches, so jumped from the cliffs. Years later donkey skeletons were found along with sacks of gold filled to the brim. 2 people from the massacre survived who returned to Mexico and later played a huge role in the future finding of the mine.
The Peralta Stones
Don Miguel managed to clear out all signs and traces of how to reach the gold mines but he left a small number of clues which could later guide him to the location in cases he wanted to return there. The clues included Spanish carvings on three slabs made of slate. These slabs had directions to the caves in Spanish and enrapturing engravings of a magician, a donkey, and a heart. It is believed that the three form some kind of a map when put together which leads to the mine. However, even before the clues were decoded, there was one more man who tried his luck by going to find the mine…
The Kind Purpose Of Dr. Thorn
It was long after the Peralta massacre that another man tried to venture into the cursed Apache territory of the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine. This man was called Dr. Thorn who served as an army doctor when the fight with the Apaches was going on. It was Abraham Lincoln’s idea to create a peace treaty and offer a place to the Apache Indians where they would not be bothered by anyone. As part of this treaty, Dr. Thorn went to live with the natives only to provide them with medical services. Little did he know that he was unconsciously playing a part in upholding the mystery surrounding the lost mine.
One of Us
Dr. Thorn proved to be an angel in disguise of a doctor for the Apache natives. He helped the sick to recover, delivered babies and made people aware of the importance of hygiene. He became an essential part of the community with everyone needing him whenever they faced any physical setback. He had become so important that the natives started respecting him as one of them. After spending many years in the community he made friends. The elder members were so pleased with his services that they decided to reciprocate his dedication with an unexpected gift.
One Day Gold Spree
Dr. Thorn’s services paid off in such a way that the elders of the Apache community decided to reward him in a way he could only have dreamed of. As a gift, they decided that they would take him to the location of the lost goldmine but only for a little while. He would obviously be guarded by the Apaches and would be taken on the condition that he was blindfolded so that he could not retrace his steps and return to the place. The blindfold would be removed so that Dr. Thorn is able to enjoy the riches the place had to offer and bring back as much gold with him as possible. However, the elders miscalculated and did not think this would happen…
He Gathered Clues
When his blindfold was taken off, Dr. Thorn got down to business and started accumulating as much gold as he possibly could. However, after a while, his eyes opened up to the scenery around him and he tried to find some mark which would later help him reach the place again. He noticed a unique, large and sharp rock in the vicinity; he recalled its description and that rock today is what we know as the Weaver’s Needle, the magic circle. Dr. Thorn was not able to return but it was after him the famous Dutchman made his way to these mountains.
The Famous Dutchman
Just like everyone Jacob Waltz’s attraction towards North America was its promises of wealth and riches. This German had heard the tales of hidden gold in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona and somehow in 1860, he found himself at the right place. It is not clear what happened but it is commonly believed that the Dutchman saved a miner’s life. Little did he know that this act of bravery will lead him exactly where he wanted to be. It turned out that the man he saved was none other than one of the two soldiers who had previously escaped the Apache assault. This would prove to be a major source of information for our Dutchman.
Golden Pay Back
To show how grateful he was, the gold miner whose life Jacob saved, revealed his longest hidden secret with him- the route to the gold mine Arizona’s Superstition Mountain. Years of wandering around in search of treasure finally paid off and Waltz was one step closer to his dream. He followed the route directed by the soldier and finally found the area. He started mining and soon he found himself collecting nuggets of pure gold. He used to carry his loot on his donkey to the town but soon people started suspecting him.
A Rich Man in Town
Initially, the sporadic appearance of this German who came in with loads of nuggets of golds to buy food and drinks baffled the people of the town. With time, the town people started making guesses and came to the conclusion that the Dutchman had finally found the lost goldmine that was rumored to exist in the Superstition Mountain. Naturally, people pressured him into revealing the location of the mine but he either gave them wrong directions or when they followed him- tried to jerk them off by taking rough and rugged paths. However, by now he had understood he could not handle the pressure alone…
Time To Double Up
If a lot of people came to know about the exact location of the mine, things would have gotten out of hands and Waltz realized that really well. If he had to do something about it, he could not do it alone. Giving up the secret of this literal gold mine was a huge risk but he had to take his chances and trust someone. After pondering a lot on the matter he decided to let his friend Jacob Weiser know about the mine and help him protect its secret. Their plan was to accumulate as much gold possible from the mines and create multiple traps for people so that they could not find it. They did not calculate though that their plan could lead to a horrifying tragedy.
Two More Soldiers
Around 1880, two unrecognized soldiers entered into town with a great amount of loot. They eventually made their way to the Superstition Mountains where they intended to ask for a job in mining from Aaron Mason, Silver King Mine operator. But what they did was show him their loot and propose to make him a partner. The plan was this- the two soldiers with their good memory were capable enough to find the mine again but the mining business was supposed to be taken care of by Aaron Mason. But what horrific fate awaited them, they could not have known.
After leaving the town the soldiers headed towards the infamous mountains. A couple of weeks had passed and there was no sign of their return. No traveler saw them either. Worried, Aaron Mason organized a search party which went looking for them and found one of the soldiers shot dead at point blank, a bullet through his head. His partner was found in a similar state the next day. The possible explanation was that the Apache killed them but Jacob Weiser, the Dutchman’s friend had also vanished and people started blaming Waltz for all the murders. But was he the one to be blamed?
Dutchman Died With The Secret
The accusations against Waltz were left unproven. He went on to extract gold and enjoy his riches for over 20 years. And all this while he managed to keep the mine a secret. He died of natural causes and as a rich man. Sacks full of gold nuggets were found under his bed after he died. People tried to gain some knowledge of the location of the mines examining the gold but no one could trace them to their origin. They finally believed that the Dutchman had indeed found the mine and exploited it to his profit. The secret of the mines died with him but fortunately or unfortunately, history repeated itself.
After Dutchman’s death, the mine was renamed The Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine because no one was able to find it after him. Another set of rumors came in which said that he had never really found the mines but hoaxed people into believing he did so that he could use it as a cover for some illegal activity he was undertaking. All sorts of stories started coming in. Some believed that Waltz was a decoit who actually looted people who were traveling on the rough terrains. But all this never stopped people from looking for the mine supposedly full of gold.
Turning Into A Myth
After Waltz’s death, the stories of the goldmine started turning into a myth. It turned into a popular legend which attracted scores of explorers and treasure hunters in search of the rumored mines. The Peralta family and the Dutchman were like ancestors for these new aspirants of gold. But the curse of the Thunder God was working again and everyone who went there never came back. Bodies turned up mutilated and decapitated. Now that the Dutchman was dead, who was killing all these people? Was the place really cursed?
Landscape Was A Death Trap
Hiking or trekking on the Superstition Mountains is not an easy task, there are fatal climbs and injurious jumps along the way. The terrain is a mix of narrow passageways, slanting and steep peaks, plateaus and numerous cliffs. To this day, its areas are unexplored by humans because they are so hard to access. The make of the area alone is responsible for hundreds of deaths that have occurred here. But murdered humans with their heads decapitated cannot be explained by the contours of the mountains. Some say that the search and failure to find gold drives men crazy here which either leads them to kill one another or oneself.
Madman Elisha Reavis
A famous case of a man, who was driven to lunacy in the Superstition Mountains is of Elisha Reavis who is known as the “Hermit of Superstition Mountain.” He had been living in the mountains for over 20 years, from 1872-1896, growing fruits and vegetables and leading a solitary life. Apaches believed that he possessed some dark energy and chose to maintain their distance from him. One day he too was found decapitated near his home. Rumors believe that he found the gold mine and was killed by the same mysterious force that claimed everyone’s life. However, it was the following case of madness that drove people to question the existence of something weird in the mountains.
Silverlock and Malm: A Tale of Madness
In 1900, two treasure hunters named Malm and Silverlock wandered the Superstition Mountains looking for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. They stumbled across some gold that was scattered and could have been from the Peralta massacre but they encountered failure when they tried to locate the mines. They kept searching every inch of the mountain for the next ten years but only met failure. The mountain broke them and their friendship down and led each of them to their unfortunate fates.
Insanity Kicked In
When they failed for 10 consecutive years, Malm made his way back to town and in a state of incoherence which made no sense kept accusing Silverlock of trying to kill him. Police tried to help him and make sense of his babbling but after a lot of trials, they only came to the conclusion that Malm had lost his sanity. He was consequently admitted to a mental institution.
Silverlock followed the same fate and was admitted into asylum too where they both died after a couple of years. The mountains claimed these two lives too and the mystery surrounding them only intensified.
Adolph Ruth—a Death that Stirred the Nation
In 1931, the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine made the news again as a tragic event shook the entire nation. Erwin, Adolph Ruth’s son found himself in the possession of maps of mines which were in the Borrego Desert region in San Diego County while working in Mexico. This map was supposed to lead to the lost gold mines in Arizona. Since Adolph was a self-acclaimed treasure hunter, his son trusted him with the custody of the map.
Overconfidence Comes With A Price
Adolph was old and had an old leg injury which he had acquired at some previous gold hunting expedition but he was sure that he could locate the mines that no one was able to find after the Dutchman. With his injury and given the history of deaths in that terrain, Adolph had been warned by many to rethink his decisions but he was adamant and ignored all warnings. He went in the wild and for six months there was no sign of him. Sometime later, his things were found scattered in the wilderness and among them was a note in his handwriting with said, “Vini, Vidi, Vici.”
Another Bullet-Pierced Skull
Ruth had been gone 2 weeks now and when there was no sign of his return from the excursion, a search party was sent looking for him. But they failed to find him. Six months after this incident the Arizona Republic reported a human skull that was shot with two bullets. Just after some time, the rest of the headless body was found in the area near Adolph Ruth’s possessions. A pistol was also discovered but it was completely loaded. One thing, however, was missing. It was the map to the mines.
A checkbook was found by the authorities among Adolph’s possessions which happened to contain an elaborate description of the location where he discovered the mine. The famous Italian saying, “Vini, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) was also written on the checkbook. The conclusion that the authorities came to, was not accepted by people because it simply did not seem possible.
Authorities Claimed Suicide
The Case investigator made an official statement stating that Adolph Ruth had committed suicide. However, people could not accept this verdict because all the evidence led to the contrary observation. He had been shot in the head, twice and those shells were not even found, the map was stolen- the obvious conclusion was that he died because he had located the mine and some other person took possession of the map. Another death would lead the police to believe that Ruth’s death was not a suicide but a murder…
James A. Carvey
James A. Carvey was navigating the Superstition Mountains from a helicopter, trying to locate the lost gold mines. He got down near Weaver Needle from where he was supposed to take an idea of the area around and return to the helicopter. But he did not return.
The search party that was sent to him could not find him either. A few months after his disappearance his headless rotting body was found hidden in the stones, tied in a blanket- miles away from where he was supposed to have camped. His skull was found within 30 feet of his body. Why were bodies being mutilated so and the bigger question was, who was doing it?
Modern Day Exploration
In the past 70 years, the search for the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine in the Superstition Mountains has claimed at least a hundred lives. Two recent expeditions too ended in tragedy. Jesse Capen from Denver, Colorado wanted to find the mines and became obsessed with the idea. He went to the mountain a lot of times but in 2009 he did not return. After three years, his mutilated remains were found.
Man Who Did Not Give Up
Three other explorers named Ardean Charles, Malcolm Meeks, and Curtis Merworth met their deaths in 2010 while they were on the lookout for the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine. There is one man remaining who have not given up after listening to all these horrific consequences and is alive to tell his tale.
The idea of rediscovering the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine possessed every single thought that went through Feldman’s mind. Every treasure book he read talked about this infamous mysterious place which eluded every explorer and he tried to turn the dream of finding this place into a reality.
30 Years Of Perseverance
Patiently for 30 years, Ron Feldman studied the terrain and the nitty gritty of the possible location of the goldmine. He did a thorough research and tried to understand the terrain of Arizona like the back of his hand. His patience finally paid off and he gained an insight that no other explorer except the Dutchman had.
Eye Of The Tiger
Any Help Welcome
Feldman went looking for the widow of Ted Cox, a gold hunter who claimed that he knew Jacob Waltz personally and said that he had discovered the mine before he got bedridden. Selflessly, the widow shared valuable information with Feldman and his sons and they went in the direction of a Spanish Bullion.
Into The Wild
Feldman packed up for a 2-year journey in the Superstition Mountains. The men figured out the location of the mine with the massive amount information they had amassed. They located a tunnel and with the help of experts, they went on to excavate that tunnel for the coming 9 months. The Archaeologists that Feldman consulted gave the date of the tunnel to be as old as the times of the Spanish conquistadors. Feldman could almost feel the gold within his reach.
Government Steps In
Once Feldman was sure that the tunnel that he found had been dug by Spaniards he appealed to the government to provide him with adequate resources to continue his digging. He became the first one to have received a legal permit to carry on with his work in the Superstition Mountains.This gave him the advantage to take as much time as he wished and proceed cautiously.
Till today Ron Feldman has not been lucky but he is confident that he will soon have found the Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine which is responsible for hundreds of deaths and driving men crazy. All we can do is wait to know whether the Goldmine is real or a myth.