Thursday, June 15, 2017

History Channel follows the trail of the Lost Dutchman Mine

Nowhere in the US is there an area as full of legend, history and intrigue as the Superstition Mountain range in Central Arizona. Producers of 'Legend of the Superstition Mountains' on The History Channel feel they have shed new light on “an enigmatic land with a cursed history.”

The show follows Dutch hunter Wayne Tuttle on his 40-year search for the Lost Dutchman mine.

Epithermal gold ore
The mysterious mine is not only said to be extremely rich in gold, but it is also cursed, leading to strange deaths, as well as people who go "missing” when they attempt to locate the mine.

For more than 120 years, the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine has been told and retold.

The famous matchbox made from ore found under the deathbed of Jacob Waltz.
When the Spanish arrived in 1540, the region around the Superstition Mountains was inhabited by the Apache, who considered it to be sacred ground, as it was home to their Thunder God. Led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the conquistadors cared little about the Apache customs or beliefs, wanting only to find the legendary "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola.”

Learning that the range did hold gold, the Spaniards were intent upon exploring the area. The Apache however, refused to help them, telling them that if they dared to trespass on the sacred ground, the Thunder God would take revenge upon them, causing tremendous suffering and horrible deaths.

The Indians called Superstition Mountain the 'Devil’s Playground.'
In the 1840s, according to the Denver Post, the Peralta family of Mexico mined gold out of the Superstition Mountains, but Apaches attacked and killed all but one or two family members as they took the gold back to Mexico. Some 30 years later, Jacob Waltz — nicknamed "the Dutchman," even though he was German ("Deutsch") — rediscovered the mine with the help of a Peralta descendant, according to legend.

Jacob Waltz made periodic trips into the Superstition Mountains and returning to Phoenix with small quantities of bonanza gold ore. He was known to shoot anyone following him through the rugged mountains east of Apache Junction, Arizona.

Waltz died in Phoenix, Arizona Territory on October 25, 1891 without revealing the source of the rich gold ore ... some found beneath his death bed.

The clues to Waltz's gold mine still ring clear ... "No miner will find my mine." "To find my mine you must pass a cow barn." "From my mine you can see the military trail, but from the military trail you can not see my mine." "The rays of the setting sun shine into the entrance of my mine." "There is a trick in the trail to my mine." "My mine is located in a north-trending canyon." "There is a rock face on the trail to my mine." These and many other clues have fired countless imaginations for more than a century.

This time of year, David Bremson sees plenty of rescues in the Superstition Wilderness.

"Most of the body recoveries we've done out of the Supes have been Dutch hunters" Bremson said. A Dutch hunter who got lucky twice was Robin Bird, the woman who went searching for the fabled gold and ended up flirting with death before she was rescued. Bird also had to be rescued previously while doing the same thing.

This time, she was found lying in the mud along the Bluff Springs Trail. She was unresponsive and suffering from hypothermia and severe dehydration. But Bird was not the only hiker who needed help. Rescuers found three men who had gotten lost in the Superstitions.

They had met Bird on the trail and asked for directions, and she steered them wrong.

A 21-year-old Arizona State University student was rescued after he failed to return from a hike. "This is not an unusual amount of rescues" Bremson said. "It's fairly normal." Rescuers ask people to point to their map and show where they got lost, Bremson said.

"Well, none of them have a map. People are becoming more and more isolated from the outdoors because of the amount of time they spend indoors."
In 2009 Denver bellhop Jesse Capen disappeared after heading off to find the Lost Dutchmans' gold mine. 3 years after finding Capen’s Jeep, wallet, backpack and cellphone, volunteers from the Superstition Search and Rescue finally located what they believe is Capen’s body.

“We call ‘em Dutch hunters out here,” said Superstition Search and Rescue Director Robert Cooper. “They’re infatuated with all the lore and the history of the lost Dutchman mine and he was part of that.”

The body was found in a crevice roughly 35 feet up a cliff face in the southern portion of the Superstition Mountains, near the 4,892-foot Tortilla Mountain. Capen, 35, had made finding the treasure an “obsession”.