By Signe Schloss
There’s a story that grabs some by the heart and doesn’t let go, leaving dreamers and death in its wake. While the details change, the search for hidden treasure has historically led adventurers in search of El Dorado, The Fountain of Youth, the Holy Grail, and, in more recent times, the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.
As the legend goes, years and years ago, back when the American west stretched for miles between wooden storefronts, a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz discovered a bounty in the Earth’s crust (someone got the German and the Dutch confused, hence the name Lost Dutchman Gold Mine). Some say he learned of the gold veins from his Apache mistress, and was forced to flee the wrath of her tribe. But he kept coming back to the mine to excavate its riches.
Suddenly one fateful spring, Waltz was caught in a flood and developed pneumonia. A woman named Julia Thomas took him into her care, and Waltz provided her with enigmatic clues to the location of the mine. Despite Thomas’ efforts, Waltz eventually died, and the secret of the mine may have perished with him, as no one has managed to find it since.
It is long believed that the mine is located in the Superstition Mountains, and if you decide to brave the curse that supposedly guards it, keep these clues in mind:
To get to the mine you have to crawl through a hole.
You can see the Old Military Trail from the mine, but you cannot see the mine from the trail.
You can see Weavers Needle in the Superstitions by climbing up a short distance.
The sun sets on the gold in my mine.
There is a face looking up at my mine.
(clues from here)
Or, if tracking down lost treasure isn’t really your thing, check out the Superstition Mountain Museum for an in-depth look into the folklore that surrounds the storied landscape. Even Elvis couldn’t resist the lure of these lands, and the King filmed his western flick Charro! at the nearby Apacheland movie ranch. Now, there exists an Elvis Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the museum where you can pay respects to the icon, or even hold an impromptu wedding, depending on your mood.
While many visitors come for the legends, the nature surrounding the mountains is gorgeous, and there’s plenty of hiking to satisfy anyone looking for a trek in the outdoors.
As if the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine wasn’t enough, there’s a legend in the Apache tribe that the Superstition Mountains harbor a hole leading to the Lower World. So while you marvel at the visual history of this scenic point, beautifully illustrated by the ancient petroglyphs carved into the rocks, try not to fall in.
Signe is packing her bags now. Find her on Society6.
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