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Lost Dutchman Mine - Page 2

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The next person to come across the mine was a man named Dr. Abraham Thorne. In 1865, Thorne was working as an army doctor at Fort McDowell, Arizona. During this time, the Apache had turned their wrath against the Arizona settlers and the U.S. Army. As the Indians were subdued by the soldiers, a reservation was established near Fort McDowell, where Thorne began to provide his services. Thorne earned the respect of tribal leaders as he cared for the sick and injured, and after curing several Apache of an eye disease, he was offered an opportunity to be led to the gold in the Superstitions in 1870. However, Thorne had to agree to be blind-folded for the 20 mile trip. When the doctor agreed, he was taken to a place that was allegedly near the mine, where a pile of gold ore had been stacked near the base of the canyon wall.


Allowed to remove the blindfold, Thorne found himself in a canyon where a large unusual rock pinnacle loomed to the south. The Apache let him pick up as much as he could before the doctor was once again blind-folded for the return trip. Thorne sold the ore for some $6,000, making him a wealthy man. However, some time later legend tells us that Dr. Thorne determined that he would try to find the place again. Gathering up a few of his friends, the group amazingly stumbled onto the mine’s location. After filling their saddle bags with as much gold as they could carry, they started to Phoenix, but never lived to enjoy the wealth. They were discovered by the Apache, who killed them before they could escape with the gold.


Fort McDowell

Old Fort McDowell, photo by Tom McCurnin, courtesy Ghosttowns.com





Alleged photo of Jacob WaltzIn the 1870’s, Jacob Waltz (or Walz,) who had befriended one of the Peralta heirs, was allegedly told the location of the mine. Waltz, a German immigrant, who had relocated to Arizona some years previous, worked as a prospector and owned a homestead on the northern side of Superstition Mountain.


However, before relocating to what is now Pinal County, Arizona, Waltz worked at the Henry Wickenburg’s Vulture Gold Mine near Wickenburg, Arizona. While there, he met an Apache girl named Ken-tee, who despite the fact that Waltz was almost 60 years-old, became his mistress. Later, Waltz was suspected of high-grading ore from the Vulture Mine and was dismissed.


It was then that the pair moved near the Superstition Mountain range. Another version of the tale states that Waltz actually learned of the mine’s location from Ken-tee. In retaliation, the Apache, who were convinced that ken-tee had betrayed the site of their secret shrine, they attacked Waltz and his Indian mistress, seizing Ken-tee and cutting out her tongue. Waltz; however, was able to escape and before long was running a saloon in Tortilla Flats.


However, by 1877, he and another man by the name of Jacob Weiser (or Wisner,) returned to the Superstitions. Not long after, the miners began to pay for supplies in nearby Phoenix with high grade gold ore, but they never stated where it was coming from nor ever filed a claim.


A few years later Weiser disappeared without a trace. Speculation was rampant, with some saying he was killed by Apache and others alleging he was killed by Waltz.


For the next ten years, Waltz would often appear in Phoenix, with saddlebags filled with some of the richest gold ore many had ever seen, before disappearing once again in to the Superstition Mountains.


People often asked of him the obvious questions -- Where was the gold coming from? Where was the mine? To these, Waltz would give contradictory statements and directions. When people tried to follow him out of town, he would "lose” them in the many clefts and canyons on the peak.


In the Spring of 1891, Waltz’s homestead was caught in a flood and he was saved from certain death by two brothers named Herman and Reinhardt Petrasch. Having taken on a terrible chill, he was attended to by a woman named Julia Thomas, who tried to nurse him back to health, but Jacob had contracted pneumonia.


He sent friends back to his home to see if they could find gold that he had kept there. Though the house was gone, searchers were later able to locate five sacks of gold worth about $15,000. Delivering it to Jacob, it was placed under his sick bed. Through the summer, he lingered in a wasted condition, giving clues to his caretaker, Julia, and to his rescuers, Herman and Reinhardt Petrasch. But, his condition was worsening as he suffered a stroke and was paralyzed to the point that he could barely speak.


Miner's Prospecting by Frederic Remington

Miner's Prospecting by Frederic Remington, late 1880's.


Undaunted; however, Julia and the Petrasches made an expedition into the Superstitions that summer, trying to find the mine. But, after five weeks, the three returned with nothing. Jacob finally died on October 25, 1891. The legend continued to grow and soon the lost mine was referred to as the "Lost Dutchman,” as many at the time confused the Germans with the Dutch.

Julia Thomas, having invested everything she owned into the venture to find the mine, never attempted to find it again. Herman Petrasch accused his brother, Rhinehart, of not paying attention to Jacob’s bedside clues and the disagreement led to their never speaking again. Separately, however, they both spent much of the rest of their lives looking for the lost mine.


The legend of lost mine, as well as the tales of its curse, continued to grow over the years as more and more stories were told, relating mysterious deaths, disappearances, and small gold finds.


In the summer of 1880, two men, recently discharged soldiers from Fort McDowell, showed up in Pinal, Arizona looking for work at the Silver King Mine. When they showed a bag of gold ore to the Silver King Manager, Aaron Mason, the manager was stunned see how rich the ore was and immediately began to ask where they had found it. The soldiers replied that the ore had been picked up while crossing Superstition Mountain, where they had also spied an old mine. Mason bought the ore from the men, outfitted them and entered a partnership with the pair to share in the profits.


The two, sure that they could find the place, then headed towards Weaver’s Needle, but after two weeks had not returned. Mason sent out a search party, who found the nude bodies of both men, shot in the head.



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