If you’re the type of person who loves stories about unsolved mysteries and hidden buried treasure, you’ll love the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.
The Legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine
The legend begins in the 1840’s, in the Superstition Mountains, during the time of the Apache Wars. During that time, the Peraltas, a wealthy Mexican cattle ranch family from Sonora, Mexico, had developed many gold mines in the area, and they would often go on “gold runs” to bring the gold back to Mexico.
One day in 1848, on a gold run, the Peraltas were ambushed by the Apaches. Almost all of the family members were killed, except one or two who escaped. Some people say that the Apaches brought the gold back to the mine and hid it there, but nobody knows for sure.
Many people went looking for it after that, but nobody found it. Then, in the 1870’s, a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz (who was nicknamed The Dutchman) came along. As the story goes, Waltz either stumbled across the mine, or he did a favor for one of the surviving Peralta family members, who them told him where to find it. The Dutchman and his partner, Jacob Weiser, worked the mine for years after that, and supposedly hid several caches of gold in the mountains.
Weiser was killed by the Apaches, but The Dutchman lived until the age of 83, until he died Phoenix in 1891. There were rumors that The Dutchman told location of the hidden treasure to a neighbor of his who took care of him in his old age, and, to lend credibility to the story, after he died, they found a box of very high-grade gold ore in a box under his bed. His neighbor went looking for it, but she never found it.
Is the story of the true? Nobody knows for sure, but a new clue surfaced in 1949, when a hiker tripped over a sharp edge in the dirt one day. When he dug it up, he found four flat stones with a crude map written on them, as well as drawings, and phrases, and a date: 1847… one year before the Peraltas were killed by the Apaches. Many people think the Peraltas drew the maps, so they are called “The Peralta Stones.”
Clues continue to pop up every now and then, which continue to keep the legend alive. For example, one time, someone found a bottle floating in the Salt River with a note inside that said they were trapped in the lost Dutchman’s mine and needed help. The note also had a map drawn on it. But when rescuers went looking for the person, they did not find anyone. And they also did not find the mine.
The Lost Dutchman State Park
The Lost Dutchman State Park is located on AZ-88 (aka The Apache Trail), north of Apache Junction, just about a mile north of the Goldfield Ghost Town. Unfortunately, you can’t go treasure-hunting in the park anymore because the federal government outlawed digging in the Superstition National Wilderness Area in 1984. However, you can go hiking and camping, and you can even rent cabins, too. Pets are allowed, but they must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times. If you go, be sure to bring plenty of water for both you and for your pets!
You can pick up a full hiking trail map at the Lost Dutchman’s State Park visitor’s center, but here is a list of the most popular hiking trails:
- Native plant trail (0.25 miles)
- Discovery Trail (0.7 miles)
- Prospector’s View Trail (0.7 miles)
- Jacob’s Crosscut Trail (0.8 miles)
- Treasure Loop Trail (2.4 miles)
- Siphon Draw trail (4 miles)
The Lotst Dutchman State Park: https://azstateparks.com/lost-dutchman
To rent the cabins at the park: www.azstateparks.com/cabins
The Superstition Mountains Museum: http://superstitionmountainmuseum.org/exhibits/
Note: The Peralta stones are kept in the Superstition Historical Society, but if you want to see the replicas of the maps and drawings from the stones, they are kept in the Lost Dutchman Museum.