The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine
Finding The Mine Part 2
By Mr X
In Part I of this article, the author told the story of how he learned of the mysterious Peralta Stones, which appear to offer significant clues, in fact, a map, to the location of the fabled Lost Dutchmans Mine of Arizonas Superstition Mountains. He tells how he spent years attempting to follow those clues, searching through rugged canyons, ledges and peaks in the mountain range, until he finally came upon a location a high ledge near the junction of two canyons which seemed to hold the answer to the puzzle.
Over the next few months, I made several trips onto the ledge, searching for evidence of anything revealing. The Peralta Stone map (second map hidden on the stones.) indicated that I should use a compass and draw a diagram with two starting places, but it gave no measurements, and I couldnt find even one starting place.
I did take home some rock samples from a lava flow, and I asked a neighbor, a geologist, to analyze them. Two weeks later, he got back to me, full of excitement. The lava flow, he said, had come from parts of the magma "hydrothermal deposits," he called them that could contain all the metals, including gold. If there were volcanic vents in the area, we should be able to find hydrothermal deposits. I remembered a small ledge halfway down the canyon wall. It kept catching my eye. I would have to find a way to investigate it.
Perilous Climbs and Rattlesnakes
On the next trip, my neighbor came with me, and we planned to reach the small ledge. It was fifty feet nearly straight down from the top of the canyon. We didn't have rappelling equipment, but did have a safety harness. Since my neighbor was young and hardy, he would do the climbing. We tied a rope to the harness, wrapped it around a rock so I could feed him slack while he climbed. It would be safe.
He climbed down, then back up, finding nothing, but the experience left him enthralled. "I don't believe I did that," he said. That afternoon he wanted to explore the floor of the smaller canyon, but I could see that it was too rough for me. I headed back for camp. When he returned, he said, "It was a lot rougher than we thought, but I found a cave that went about 30 feet back, with a roof blackened by smoke from past campfires." I asked if he had climbed inside. He said, "It looked like a place for the rattlesnakes to hibernate, and all the gold in the world couldn’t get me into that cave."
A Period of Disappointment and Frustration
As things now stood, I had identified eight major landmarks suggested by the legends about the Lost Dutchman and five more major landmarks revealed by the maps on stone. At this time I was almost certain I was looking for the Lost Dutchman, I had located all 13 landmarks on the ground. I knew that there are two separate trails which led to the same site. I had reduced the target area to a 100-yard-diameter circle on the ledge near the junction on the canyons, but I still didn’t know precisely where to dig. I could see from the maps that there was supposed to be a crescent on the canyon wall just above the site, but I simply couldn’t find the crescent or anything else of any use for that matter.
My clues took me only to the ledge, no farther. It had been drastically modified, its appearance changed, by an earthquake in 1887. Using the map from the Peralta Stones over the next year, I made an inch-by-inch search of the ledge. I tried, unsuccessfully, to apply my diagrams to every landmark. Once, I thought I had found the site because I found a heart which was a natural rock formation. Then I found another heart. And another one. And another one. That just confused issues. This became a period of disappointment and frustration. I couldn’t even find the stone eyes which my wife had photographed earlier, unwittingly, and which had tipped us off to the approximate location of the mine. The only thing I could see now was a vague face with possible squinting eyes.
Meanwhile, my neighbor, the geologist, had found another teasing clueseveral fragments of a broken old historic jar, but not enough pieces to account for the entire vessel. It had apparently been placed in a small bend in the canyon wall, well protected beneath an overhang. How did it get broken? What happened to the missing fragments? Could it have contained one of the old Dutchman Jacob Waltz’s caches of the gold? Could someone have found it beneath the overhang, broken the jar, and taken the gold?
An unusual cool front came to the Superstition Mountains in September. I went back to the ledge. This time, to my surprise, I could see the stone eyes and face, perfectly clear when lit by sunlight falling from the right angle.
I made camp, encouraged. One morning, just as I left to camp to make my way to the ledge, helicopters flew directly toward me. My first thought was, "Why are they after me?" To my relief, I realized that the choppers were all of different sizes and colors. None was black. They passed over me and began circling something about five hundred yards away. More helicopters arrived, bringing the total to twelve, four from local TV stations, several from rescue agencies, and the rest from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. One circled above me and hovered, checking me out, then ignored me. I learned later that a stake bed truck carrying 31 illegal aliens had overturned, killing one and injuring several more. Uninjured passengers had scattered and hidden in ravines. They must have thought the entire U. S. Army was after them. I hiked on toward the ledge.
I intended to investigate a small cave 30 feet up the canyon wall, just above a lava flow. It looked like an easy climb, but there were no safe places to hook a safety device. I attached metal rings for 30 feet along one end of a rope and tied it off at the top of the canyon wall, then dropped the ringed end over. When I got to the place where the rope came down, it was 10 feet off to one side. I had to climb back to the top to move the rope over to the correct position. The rings worked fine, and the climb went well. It was, in fact, exciting, but the cave only went back four feet and it contained nothing.
During this time, I would get a jittery feeling when on the ledge. My metal detector went crazy. My compass wouldn’t work properly. My electric watch stopped three times. My calculator failed. On returning to camp, everything worked properly. I thought it was a strong electromagnetic field. I mentioned it to my wife. She and a friend said later that, "The Indians had put a curse on the place." I told them if one Indian could do that, then another Indian could remove it and that I had Indian blood and would make the attempt. On the next trip, I half heartily did a chant to some unknown god and from that day forward, I never had another problem with my equipment.
One cloudy day, I walked out to the center of the ledge to take a break from my intense search. For some reason, I looked up, and there about 20 feet above me, up on the canyon wall, I saw the crescent for which I had been searching. I could only see it from a certain angle and while out away from the wall. It ran through a place where a large piece of the wall had broken loose, leaving an overhang that shaded a large space below, making it difficult to see on sunny days. It was directly below where I thought the missing trail marker should have been. The curved arrow on the map pointed directly at it. Had I seen it sooner, I would have saved a lot of time and effort, but at last, I had found the starting place for a diagram which should take me to the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.
More Disappointment and Frustration and a Concession
Using the information and instructions from the stone map, I drew a diagram on the ground. For some reason, I had a nagging doubt in the back of my mind. Something felt wrong, but I disregarded it and proceeded. The diagram, I thought, indicated the exact site where I should dig, and I went to work. Within 30 minutes, I had hit a boulder that must have weighed three hundred pounds.
Frustrated, I headed back toward camp. While crossing a rock slide, I paused. The next thing I remember is being in the rocks four feet below. I still don’t know what happened. Checking myself over, I found two small bruises on my body and a large one to my ego.
Boulders, rock slides and a fall made me realize that I couldn’t go on alone. I had to have help and some heavier equipment. Over the next few months, I recruited four honest men for my crew. I could not have made a better selection. Each one was a character. None would flunk an IQ test. They got along. They worked hard. They made good conversation. They told good yarns. One was even a chef with a love for cooking over a campfire, a major asset in any treasure hunt.
One of the four, my nephew, was the only one not acquainted with the rest. His name, like mine, is Louis. When I introduced him to the others, I said his name is Louis, too. Our compadres started calling him "Louis 2," and when he said something to me about it, I told him he was lucky. I could have done it properly, and he would have been forever more known as "Louis Also."
Digging for Gold
The best time in a long search for a lost mine is when a hard day’s work is finished, and you have just eaten a great meal. Dark has fallen, and you are sitting by the campfire with good friends. You make good conversation. You listen to the coyotes yipping. You look up at the stars, which seem so low you believe you can reach up and touch them. It is at that moment when you know gold, fame and fortune are just incidentals. What you are experiencing right now is what it is all about. This scenario happened many times over the next few years.
As time passed, we assembled come-a-longs, six-foot pry bars, chains and cables. We dug in earnest, with high expectations. It was hard and slow going. Small rocks were everywhere. We had to use picks to break up hardpan before we could shovel it out. Since we were working on a steep slope, we had to cut a trench from the hole out to the downside of the ledge and keep the trench level with the bottom of the hole. This allowed us to roll the boulders down the trench and out of the way. We removed many boulders up to eight hundred pounds.
Anytime I could get two or more men together, we went out and worked. A year passed. We had excavated a hole 18 feet deep, 15 feet wide and 18 feet long. Finally, we could go no deeper. We hit a lava flow. There was no mine shaft. Something was wrong. Reluctantly, I conceded that it had to be my diagram.
The Search Renewed
Over the next few months, I tried everything I could think of to re-do the diagram. Nothing worked. One weekend, one of my crew and I went out just to see if we could find anything anything! I had missed. There was nothing we could see, but we did find a site which just might better fit the description the old Dutchman was supposed to have given of the mine entrance. The two of us began to dig, and the more we dug, the better the new site seemed fit the description, raising new doubts about our original location. This underlined my uncertainty.
After returning home, I recalled the doubt that had nagged me the day I laid out the original diagram. It was simply too loose. It left too much room for error. I had counted on the mapmaker as a perfectionist. I decided to redo my diagram from the beginning. Originally, while working with the photographs and drawings of the stone maps, I had enlarged some parts of the images to make them easier to use. I used tracing paper and a copying machine. Now, I just enlarged the picture of the entire map. Checking the data, I found that I had gotten the direction of one line off by three degrees. This should have prevented the diagram from fitting together, but unfortunately, that line fell on a compass reading listed on the map, obscuring the misfit.
After I made the corrections, I realized another piece was missing. After much searching, I found it disguised as something else. It was hidden so well in plain sight that it was almost invisible. When I inserted the piece, the diagram fit together so well that not a single measurement was necessary. Everything was done with a compass. There was no room for error. Not one of the crew has ever mentioned my mistake.
Laid out on the ground, the diagram pointed to a spot at the base of a room-size boulder on the downhill side. Fifteen feet away, on the uphill side of that boulder, lay a place which fit the Jacob Waltz’s description of the mine entrance. I am now convinced that this is the location of the mine. All we had to do was dig...
Mexican miners were supposed to have started a horizontal shaft which led to the vertical shaft of the mine, and this was where I had come to believe that the map leads. In any treasure story, I mused, someone inevitably leaves something valuable behind, and this one would surely prove to be no exception. I thought that anything the Mexicans left, such as tools and equipment, would have been placed in the unfinished mine shaft and the shaft sealed. Something on the map led me to believe that there are other mines in the area, and a map leading to those may even have been left in the shaft. As for the gold that was supposed to have been left, who knows?
One morning in the spring of 2001 when we rounded a point on the ledge, I was captivated by wildflowers such as we had never seen before. There was a cornucopia of colors, mostly orange poppies, interspersed with every shade of blue and white. One of the crew counted 28 different species. I asked if he could name all of them. He said that just counting them was hard enough.
We had read and heard about rattlesnakes being all over the Superstitions, but it was six years before we saw a single rattler. It was about 30 feet from where we were working. All of us agreed it was light green. None of us had ever seen or heard of a green rattlesnake. After some research we learned they do exist but are uncommon.
Generally, there is very little wildlife on the ledge. We saw some tarantulas, scorpions and lizards, but mostly we saw birds (they didn’t have to walk to get there). Hawks and turkey vultures were always with us, using the air currents in the canyons to soar. Sometimes they would be above us and sometimes far below. I never saw one of them flap a wing.
In camp, it was different. We saw deer, rabbits and the coyotes. They would come within yards of the camp. Once, I saw a ringtail cat, another time, a Gila monster. One night I was awakened by something rattling our gear. I got up and could not see anything, so I made sure the food was secure and I went back to sleep. A few minutes later, it happened again. This time, I saw what it wasa skunk! When awakened in the middle of the night I tend to have an attitude, but I am of the opinion that threatening a skunk is a losing proposition. I let the skunk leave with its dignity, and I went back to bed with my attitude.
We used a rope to raise and lower the heavier tools up and down the canyon wall. We managed to land them 30 feet from where we were working. This saved us carrying them the half mile out and around the point and onto the ledge. Once, we needed to take a 40-pound chain home, so we tied it to the rope and ascended to the top. One of the crew pulled it up the 120-foot wall. When he got the chain up, he was exhausted. He plopped down on a rock. Immediately he was back up and hopping around. What had happened was apparent. There was a limb of a bush extending out over the rock. Underneath the limb was a small prickly pear cactus, sticking straight up into the limb. This was what he had sat on. Around the campfire that evening, we held a serious discussion about whether a cactus can laugh. The opinions were divided. Some said they heard giggling coming from under the bush. Others said that with all the commotion the victim was making and us laughing so hard, it was impossible for anything else to be heard. The victim abstained with a lame excuse. He thought he had been bitten by a green rattlesnake.
We had two places to dig, one on the uphill side and one on the downhill side of the room-sized boulder. We dug first on the downhill side. Underneath it was the logical place for a horizontal shaft, and the map indicated that we should dig there. This place was 10 feet uphill from the large hole we had dug earlier, and our new tailings would fill in the old hole. A few feet down, we encountered a ribbon of hard, plaster-like stuff. It was only three feet long, three feet deep, and six inches wide. We had no trouble breaking it up, but at about six feet, we found large stone slabs broken from the room-sized boulder during an earthquake. Just the slabs alone weighed at least three tons. They had dropped four feet when they broke loose. We were able to work around them until we reached a depth of 10 feet. There we discovered a really large slab, wedged between the huge boulder at the top and the large slabs underneath. It blocked up everything.
We decided to move to the top hole. When we dug down 10 feet, we encountered the hard plaster-like stuff again only this time it occurred in mass, not in a ribbon. The further down we dug the larger plaster deposit got, closing the hole enough that we had no more room to work. It would take power tools to get through that stuff. (Subsequently, I checked with experts who told me that the deposit could have formed over the last 100 years.) We moved back to the lower hole, and we managed to dig down another four feet, around the locked jumble of boulders but we couldn’t find a way to break the lock. That is, unfortunately, where we stand today.
I believe there is a 95 percent chance of the mine being located at this spot, but it may take core drilling and explosives to find it. Due to age and health problems, I am no longer able to participate in the arduous work required to continue this task. I have asked the crew if anyone want to replace me as the leader. None wants the job.
Perhaps we’ll never know if the room-size boulder and the crescent mark the site of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.
The Peralta Stones
The history of the Peralta Stones is somewhat blurred. We know they were found sometime between 1949 and 1960 near Florence Junction, Arizona, and on June 12, 1964, Life Magazine published pictures of portions of them. They remained in private hands for several years, possibly changing hands on more than one occasion. Sometime later, the ownership came into dispute. After a court battle, the stones were awarded to A. L. Flagg Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to minerals and rocks. The stones reappeared in a museum in Mesa, Arizona, where they remained for several years. Stickers with the word "Secret" typed on them were placed over parts of the stones to hide certain information from public view. At some point, a replica set of stones was made. It replaced the original set in the museum. The original set was then placed in a back room at Arizona Mining and Mineral, where, as far as I know, they remain today.
When a person spends as much time and comes to know as much as I do about this map on stone, he learns a lot about its creator, clearly a man who was highly intelligent and well educated. Moreover, he had an inordinate amount of common sense. He apparently also had training in military tactics, ship navigation and astronomy. He was an experienced mapmaker. Of all the people alive in the world at any given time, I believe that the ones with the ability to create such a map could be counted on one hand. The ones who would be able to read it would number less than 200. Less one in fifty could understand it even it were explained.
This has very little to do with intelligence. It requires the proper training and talent, but most of all, it requires a person with the proper mindset. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, this map ranks as a 10. After studying many published attempts to solve the map’s puzzle, I have seen none which has had more than two things correct. It requires a full understanding of everything on it. This is a detailed map with everything needed to solve the puzzle. The map has been carved onto the stones at two different times, using different symbols and methods that give the same information. The first carving has largely been ground off, leaving only traces of information.
The side of the stone with the word "DON" on it and the reverse side of the heart stone have not been redone. The only thing from the old map that applies to the new map is the word "DON," the Spanish word for "gift," in this instance. The map was created in a way that would preclude anyone other than an intended person or persons from following it to the destination.
The map was designed to be used with a compass, but every compass reading in the map requires an interpretation, mostly through mathematical formulas. Some of these formulas are fairly evident. For instance, 8 - N means north minus 8 degrees. Others, for instance, a big letter "F" on the first map stone stands for the word "Fahrenheit." It means that the interpreter should use "degrees." There are four formulas which are so cleverly hidden that they are almost impossible to find. The heart stone was intentionally broken to hide a cross that was carved on reverse side. The long part of the staff pointed at three small man-made depressions that formed a triangle. This was part of the old map. It cannot be used to solve the new one. The only thing on the back side of this stone that applies to the map is the six zeros. When the stone is reversed and reinserted, the figure one million appears, meaning "very rich." The misspelling is cryptic. At the end of the trail, the map is a sketch of the outlying country with the landmarks detailed. Since this is an ongoing operation, I will record the balance of the map’s puzzle on a computer disk which I will make public at a later date.
I have made clearly evident those instances in which I have offered my opinion in this article. Otherwise, I have made the story perfectly objective. Nothing is added. The Lost Dutchman landmarks I have discussed are those most frequently mentioned in books and articles. Longtime searchers for the mine refer to them as "traditional clues." Throughout our operations, we have adhered strictly to the laws and regulatory polices governing the area.
The Lost Dutchman is believed to be a lode gold deposit. Lode gold occurs within the solid rock in which it was deposited. Even with a map, prospecting for lode deposits of gold is not a relatively simple task. Today's prospector must examine not only rocks, but also broken rock on mine dumps and exposures of mineralized rock in accessible mine workings. Gold, if present, may not be visible in the rock, and detection will depend on the results of laboratory analyses.
Editor's Note 2010
Mr. X has died, and did not finish his work. There were lots of questions - 176 pages of them and many were answered by Mr. X. Here is a link to the questions and answers compiled together; this is a PDF file.
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