Most people in the U.S. are familiar with at least the term, “The Lost Dutchman Mine”. The story has been told and retold countless times in countless versions. The subject will not be touched here. However, there is one piece of the Dutchman story that stands out, and that is of the Peralta family, and the Peralta mines. In fact, the Lost Dutchman story begins with a Peralta, no matter which version is told. The legend that is told is that a Peralta-led party of about 400 people were slaughtered on the north side of Superstition mountain in spring-early summer of 1848. 5000 U.S. Marines had entered Mexico City in September of 1847, and the war ended February 2, 1848. The story is told that the Peralta Party hid the mines before being slaughtered as they were packed up to go back home.
After learning what is presented within and other information, the author believes that three groups of people were attacked by over 1000 Apaches while assembling in the area that is now the trailer parking lot near the First Water Trail head. The people from the mill, the mines, and the women and children from Hackberry Spring, were “getting in line” to begin the trek around the west side of the mountain. The rifleman (snipers), had come down from the surrounding hills, and all was in general commotion; it was then that they were attacked, probably from nearby Weekes Wash.
Since Jacob Waltz passed in 1891, a plethora of stories, maps, and “findings” came out of the woodwork, many of them directly from Mexico. There is one BIG problem with all of this information….. most of it has no geologic basis, except for some attempts to connect the mines to Goldfield or some diggings on the eastern side of the Superstition wilderness. Without the geologic evidence indicating a great deposit, the most important feature being the alteration of the surrounding rock, there can be no mines.
Many historians have known that the Peralta mines were a “big deal”, and they have been called the greatest mystery of the western U.S.. How could an entire mining district “disappear”???
The discovery of the mines by the author began on a “whim”. A mining claim was staked by the author on a barren quartz outcrop near First Water Road just for the sake of being able to say “I staked a mining claim”. A few more adjacent claims were staked over the next few months as a sneaking suspicion developed that there was something really big in the area because of the mineralization, alteration, etc.
The rest of the story is nearly unbelievable, but here goes:
The controversial “Peralta Stone Maps” were read about on the net, and on a notion, a picture of the “Trail Stone” was brought out to an area north of the claims where some striking natural landmarks were observed. These landmarks matched the stone map with surveyed accuracy, and directed the map viewer to 2 short ridges that were at the time on unclaimed ground. It was reasoned that it was statistically impossible that the match could be by coincidence. After great debate, knowing almost nothing about the geology, the ridges and more were staked. Regardless of feeling foolish on more than one occasion, the research continued. During more than a decade of hobbyist research, the geology fell into place piece by piece and the physical evidence mounted.
As the geologic model and physical evidence was revealed, the maps and stories that have appeared during more than a century could be separated like wheat from chaff, and they were. The mining district slowly revealed itself in all its glory, out in the open, at the foot of the Superstition Mountains, with “El Sombrero” in full view, just like the Spanish and Mexican stories told.
Incredibly, the 2 ridges were indeed found to contain a large amount of ore, of a type that no one suspected; Volcanogenic Massive Sulfides.
Below is a Google Earth photo of where the suspected mines are located (so far). It is very ironic that one is located about 100 feet from the bench at the end of sidewalk at the Needle Overlook.
In his book, “The Lost Dutchman Mine of Jacob Waltz”, Dr. Thomas Glover unveils the convincing evidence he found concerning the famed Peraltas and their subsequent massacre. He did this with genealogic research and by interviews with descendants of the Peralta mining family.
To end this introduction, here is an excerpt from an article from a 1893 edition of Phoenix Herald and Republican :
“Over on the north side of this wonderful mountain so peculiar in shape, standing like the ruins of some great walled city with its tall spires and huge monuments, there has been discovered an ancient mining camp. Whether this mining was done by the Indians and Mexicans of the last century, or whether the operations date to years when de Vaca and Black Stephen started from the coast of Florida to find the gold fields toward the setting sun, may never be known. It is certain, however, that there are shafts and tunnels and drifts and stopes and the clearly-defined walls of a great mine. On the dumps are found tons of rock which without doubt came out of these workings.
These evidences of early mining led a party of prospectors some five years ago to follow down the trail of the hills till they found gold much richer than was found by the Indians or Spaniards, or whoever they may have been. These prospectors who risked their lives in the face of the dangerous Apaches who lurked about the hills some five years ago, were not as careful gold hunters as those of later years. They had but little time to look for gold, so sharp needs be their watchfulness for the coming Apache”