Superstition Mountain is believed to have great treasure hidden within. Many people have tried to find it but have never succeeded. It is difficult to explore because of its dangerous cliffs and plateaus. It’s a treacherous mountain and many adventurers never come back.
Those who have discovered its whereabouts usually met with an accident. The people, who were able to get away safely, never returned. Just as the men were about to form a party and return, something always happened to them. They would get sick and die or get in a fight and get killed, or something mysterious would happen to them. Now you know how this mountain got its name.
It all started in 1540 when a conquistador by the name of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado went to southern Arizona, searching for the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola. When he asked the Apaches for help, they admitted that the mountain held an abundance of gold, but they refused to help because they feared the great Thunder God. This land was sacred ground.
As the Spaniards explored the mountain, looking for the gold, men began to vanish. No one knew where they had gone, but the Apaches told them the great Thunder God had destroyed them. At first they didn’t believe it until they found the bodies of a few men. They had mysteriously died. This frightened Coronado’s men and they refused to continue searching. When Coronado realized his men were right, he finally gave in and named it Superstition Mountain. It didn’t take long before word was passed from one generation to the next that it was an evil place. And the name stuck.
In 1845, Don Miguel Peralta went searching for the gold and discovered a large amount hidden in the mountain. He couldn’t believe his luck and named it Sombrero Mine. The area looked just like a sombrero. It had a point like a hat with a wide brim. But others thought the peak of the mountain looked more like an index finger pointing toward the sky, so they named it the Finger of God. But that’s not the name it goes by today. When an explorer named Paul Weaver scratched his name in the rock below the tall spire, its new name became Weaver’s Needle.
Don Miguel Peralta had discovered the richest gold mine in all Western history and began shipping it back home to Mexico. When the Apache noticed what was happening, they became angry because they had trespassed onto sacred ground and were stealing what was theirs. In 1848, they decided to drive the foreigners off their land. When Don Miguel found out they were preparing for a battle, he quickly concealed the mine and headed home with his mules and wagons packed to the brim with gold. But it was too late. The Apache warriors were ready for them. They massacred all the Spaniards.
What happened to the gold they were carrying in the wagons? It spilled all over the mountain. As time passed, different prospectors have found the remains of broken wheels and the bones of burros. In fact, in 1914 a man named Silverlocke discovered $18,000 worth of gold that was found in a rotted leather pack that had been on one of the burros.
Why is it called the Lost Dutchman Mine today? Jacob Waltz was born in Germany. In 1845 he came to America, searching for his fortune. Why did they call him the Dutchman if he wasn’t Dutch? His nickname was probably taken from the German word: Deutsch. Germany is called Deutschland. So people could have gotten confused and thought he was Dutch.
Many years passed when he finally settled in Arizona and worked for some miners. The Indians labeled him Snow Beard, because he grew a long white scraggly beard. Soon he began hearing stories about Superstition Mountain from the Indians. They told him about the great Thunder God who was protecting all the gold inside the mountain. This made him quite curious. When he asked about it, he found out that Don Miguel Peralta had discovered this gold mine years ago but covered it up so no one could find it. This intrigued him greatly.
In 1870 he became good friends with a real Dutchman named Jacob Weiser and they went in search of this lost gold mine together. One day they showed up in Phoenix, buying whiskey for everyone, celebrating their great fortune with golden nuggets. These men had struck it rich. No one knew where they’d gotten it. They wouldn’t reveal its whereabouts but many suspected they had found the Sombrero Mine. Some say that they stumbled upon it and others say a descendent of Don Miguel Peralta had a map and sold it to them. No one knows for sure. For the next ten years, they continued bringing in gold nuggets. When Jacob Weiser disappeared, Waltz became paranoid and took extra care to not allow anyone to follow him to the mine.
What happened to Jacob Weiser? No one knows for sure. It was either Apaches or gold seekers trying to get information out of him. In 1891, Waltz was finally going to show his girlfriend where the mine was but never had a chance. He died during the night and took the secret with him. That’s why it’s called the Lost Dutchman Mine.
The Apache Indians say a Thunder God protects the mountain. Each summer the great Thunder God roars his loudest, creating thunderstorms like no other, announcing his control over the mountain.
The mystery behind Superstition Mountain was the inspiration for a mystery novel: Desert Intrigue. This novel is the fourth book in a series of mysteries. The John and Julia Evans mystery series includes Anasazi Intrigue, Mayan Intrigue, Montezuma Intrigue, and Desert Intrigue.