Lost Dutchman Mine - Page 4
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In 1945, a book about the
Lost Dutchman Mine was written by Barry Storm, who claimed to have narrowly
escaped from a mysterious sniper. Storm speculated that Adolph Ruth might
have been a victim of the same sniper.
In June 1947, a prospector named James
A. Cravey made a much-publicized trip into the Superstition canyons by
helicopter, searching for the Lost Dutchman Mine. The pilot set him down
in La Barge Canyon, close to Weaver’s Needle. When Cravey failed to hike
out as planned, a search was started and although his camp was found,
Cravey was not. The following February, his headless skeleton was found in
a canyon, a good distance from his camp. It was tied in a blanket and his
skull was found about thirty feet away. The coroner’s jury ruled that
there was "no evidence of foul play.”
In 1949 a man named James Kidd
disappeared in the Superstitions.
In February 1951, Dr. John Burns, a
physician from Oregon, was found shot to death on Superstition Mountain.
The "official” ruling was that the death was accidental.
In early 1952, a man named Joseph
Kelley of Dayton, Ohio was also searching for the lost mine. He vanished
and was never seen again. His skeleton was discovered near Weaver’s Needle
two years later. The shot in his skull was ruled an accidental shooting
That same year, two California boys,
who were hiking on Superstition Mountain, also vanished. Unfortunately,
for these two, nothing was every found of them.
In 1955, Charles Massey, who was
hunting with a 22, was found shot between the eyes by a heavy-caliber
rifle bullet. The coroner ruled it an accidental death resulting from a
In January, 1956, a man from Brooklyn,
New York reported to police that his brother, Martin Zywotho, who he
believed was searching for the Lost Dutchman Mine, had been missing for
several weeks. A month later, the missing man’s body was found with a
bullet hole above his right temple. Although his gun was found under the
body, the death was ruled suicide.
In April of 1958, a deserted campsite
was discovered on the northern edge of the mountain. At the campsite were
a bloodstained blanket, a Geiger counter, a gun-cleaning kit, but no gun,
cooking utensils, and some letters, from which the names and addresses had
been torn from. No trace of the camp’s occupant was ever found.
In 1959, two men by the names of
Stanley Hernandez and Benjamin Ferreira, thought they had found the
"jack-pot.” However, what they actually discovered was pyrite, more often
called "Fool’s Gold.” But, these two were sure they had found the elusive
mine. Whether out of greed or, some kind of dispute over how they would
handle their new found wealth, Hernandez killed his friend Ferreira.
That same year, Robert
St. Marie, who was attempting to drill a hole all the way through Weaver’s Needle, was
killed by prospector Edward Piper. Two months later, Piper was found dead.
The cause of death was said to have been a "perforated ulcer."
Two more men who were hiking in the
Superstitions that year became involved in some kind of dispute. Lavern
Rowlee was shot by Ralph Thomas, who reported that he had been attacked by
Rowlee and shot the other man in self-defense.
In October 1960, a group of hikers
found a headless skeleton near the foot of a cliff on Superstition
Mountain. Four days later, an investigation determined it belonged to an
Austrian student named Franz Harrier.
Five days later, another skeleton was
found, which was identified the next month to be that of William Richard
Harvey, a painter from San Francisco. The cause of death was unknown.
In January, 1961, a family picnicking
near the edge of the mountain discovered the body of Hilmer Charles Bohen
buried beneath the sand. Bohen was a Utah prospector who had been shot in
Two months later, another prospector
from Denver named Walter J. Mowry was found in Needle Canyon. His
bullet-ridden body was removed to the coroner’s, who ruled it a suicide.
Five days later, another skeleton was
found, which was later identified as William Richard Harvey, a painter
from San Francisco. The cause of death was undetermined.
In the Fall of 1961, police began
searching for a prospector by the name of Jay Clapp, who had been working
on Superstition Mountain on and off for a decade and a half. Clapp had
been missing since July. After a thorough search, the hunt was called off.
Three years later his headless skeleton was finally discovered.
In 1963, a man named Vance Bacon, also
working to tunnel through Weaver’s Needle, fell to his death. Allegedly,
there were rifle shots and indications of foul play.
The follow year, brothers, Richard and
Robert Kremis, were found dead at the bottom of a high cliff. That same
year, an elderly couple was found murdered in an automobile.
In 1970, a seasoned prospector named
Al Morrow was killed by a boulder that fell into a tunnel that he was
In 1973, Charles Lewing shot Ladislas
Guerrero at a mountain campsite. Lewing claimed self-defense.
In 1976, a prospector
named Howard Polling was found dead of a gunshot wound. The following year
another man named Dennis Brown, was also found dead of a gunshot wound.
In 1978, a man named Manuel Valdez was
murdered in the Superstitions.
Two years later, in 1980, the skeleton
of a man named Rick Fenning's was found.
In 1984, a prospector named Walt
Gassler, who had been searching for the Lost Dutchman for most of his
life, was found dead in the Superstitions. In his pack was gold ore, later
discovered to be identical to that of the rich ore Jacob Waltz had found
Are these many deaths part of the old
curse? Does the Lost Dutchman Mine really even exist, or is it nothing
more than a "tall tale” perpetuated throughout the years? Scientists say
that the Superstition Mountains don’t contain the type of mineral deposits
that produce gold. So, if any of the earlier tales of gold founds are
true, where did it come from? Some historians believe that any gold found
in this rugged terrain was probably hidden there, perhaps even having been
the fabled lost Aztec treasure.
There are literally dozens of
different variations of the lost mine tale, and almost as many reports of
people actually having found the mine, leading to it being the most found
and lost again mine ever. These many variations and tales; however, only
add to the intrigue of the "Lost Dutchman” enticing hundreds
treasure-hunting hobbyists, as well as seasoned prospectors, to continue
to search for the elusive gold.
Weaver's needle in the Superstition Mountains,
The superstition Mountains can be seen behind
these old buildings in nearby
Arizona. April, 2007, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
The Superstitions are now a federal
wilderness area and
State Park, so even if the gold were found it would have to be surrendered
to the government. This does not deter the many seekers – the
search, itself, is simply to intriguing.
The lost mine is thought to be located
somewhere near Weaver’s Needle, the main landmark of the Superstition
Mountains, even though the area has been diligently search by hundreds of
people. Jacob Waltz said the mine was a large funnel shaped pit.
The Superstition range covers
approximately 160,000 acres of desolate, rugged terrain, so arid that only
a bit of desert vegetation and a few sparse strands of Ponderosa Pine are
all that grows.
Be well prepared if you plan to join
the thousands of others who have searched for the lost mine, as conditions
can be harsh in this rugged terrain. Temperatures during the day can
easily climb to more than 100 degrees and at higher elevations can drop
into the freezing temperatures at night. Searchers should never enter the
wilderness area by themselves, should take plenty of water, and pack
lightly in order not to overexert themselves.
If these many tales of intrigue are
not enough, yet other reports suggest that the area is haunted, most
likely by the many who have died there of mysterious deaths.
of America, updated April, 2017.
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