Believe it or not, it was not the knowledge of rocks that led to the discovery of the core claims of the Molly Marie Prospect; it was a map. A stone map. About 20 years ago, a mining claim was filed on a virgin barren quartz outcrop just north of First Water Road. This was done as something to strike off the “bucket list”. Little was known of the geology of the area, but it seemed very strange that a significant quartz outcrop in the area, barren or not, would be untouched.
John Wilburn’s pamphlet, “Goldfield Mining District Geology and Ore Deposits” was a great start towards learning the geology. More mineralized ground was discovered and a few more claims were staked, on a hunch. All of the claims were partially staked on breccias, but at the time, the breccias were not even recognized. Then, on an uneventful day north of the claims, on un-staked ground, a peculiar sight was seen………….
It had been noticed that while driving down First Water Road at daybreak, a tiny hole could be seen though the top of a mountain a few miles to the north. The hole can be seen from almost the entire length of First Water Road on the north side of Superstition Mountain, and it disappears early in the morning :
From a vantage point on a small ridge on the un-staked ground it was noted that a conspicuous spire of rock north of Government Well looked like an enormous horse’s head as the sun was sinking in the afternoon. From this same vantage point, the tiny hole could also be seen, but only because its location was known. Here is what the spire of rock looks like in the afternoon:
The Peralta Stone maps were recalled that were seen on the web, and in particular, the Horse Stone and the Trail Stone maps. Connecting the dots, it seemed conceivable that the “3” on the side of the horse on the “Horse Stone” was the same as the “3” on the Trail stone map. Below is a collage of the Peralta Stones. For clarity, drawings of them are shown; there are 3 main stones, and one of them has a heart insert. The largest dimension of any stone is about 15 to 16 inches. They were found in 1949 near Florence Junction on the south side of Superstition Mountain and are displayed at the Superstition Mountain Museum today. The one on the left below is the Trail Stone map, the middle is the Heart Stone, and the one on the right is the Horse Stone:
A paper copy of the Trail Stone was brought to the same vantage point, and the concept became a reality. The map appears to be pointing to an area that was 2 short ridges, and on one of them was the vantage point.
It was uncanny how a small 100’ movement on the ground could be recognized on the piece of paper when it was aligned to the tiny hole in the mountain and the top of the spire(the ear of the horses head). Having been a surveyor, it was pretty certain that whoever made the Trail stone had great knowledge of the surveying method called “triangulation”. When the triangle was created with the corners being; the vantage point, the spire, and the tiny hole on a google earth photo, its angles matched exactly a triangle created on the Trail Stone map. Below is a link to a google earth photo with the Trail Stone inset:
The 2 short lines on the trail stone inside of the “blessed area” (marked with the sideways cross) correspond to 2 short ridges on the ground. All disturbed areas that tested positive seismically later on as filled-in pits are on these 2 ridges of breccia. The “F” shape on the far right of the stone corresponds to the distinctive cliffs of Hackberry Spring that can be seen from Google Earth in the photo above and they are at the same bearing from the two short ridges on the stone.
Another interesting feature is that the trail stone was made according to the magnetic north present in 1848, not true north, hence rotation is necessary to match the Google Earth photo as shown in the inset in the photo above.
The Trail map shows the outline of Superstition Mountain looking north, and it tells the user not only to look for a hole in the rock on the north side of the mountain, but to look for a tiny hole. The large hole in the map screams out the importance of finding the hole in the rock (or mountain). The tiny hole in the stone next to the large one is the precise locating point. The “3” signifies the horse’s head, and the point on the 3 is the precise locating point for the tip of the horse’s ear.
The purpose of the stone map was likely to be used as a pattern to trace out paper maps as needed.
During the investigation, the location of the mountain with the tiny hole was scaled, and photos and GPS readings were taken.
After the match of the Google Earth photo and the Trail Stone map was known, the remaining portions of the 2 ridges were staked with more mining claims, and even more of the surrounding area was staked without knowing much at all about the geology. It was reasoned that it was statistically impossible to have the 3 prominent physical features match the Trail Stone map by coincidence.
The breccia was still not recognized, and the process of learning the geology occurred during the years afterwards in bits and pieces. The seismic work of the 2 ridges was done in 2 sessions in later years.
The Heart Stone map was another piece of the Peralta Stone maps mystery. Shortly after learning the significance of the Trail stone, the east-facing cliff behind Government Well revealed itself…as a huge heart.
The mountain was ascended (from the north side), and a paper copy of the trail map was brought along. Here is a photo from the top of the Mountain looking towards El Sombrero. The parking lot below is for the Needle Overlook. The short ridges can be partially seen on the far right of the photo.
If you look carefully to the lower right in the photo looking down from the tiny hole that is shown above, another hole in the rock can be seen. This hole can be seen from Highway 88 driving past the Needle Overlook and it looks like this from the highway:
The paper copy of the Heart Stone was positioned on the edge of the cliff in the trough of the heart. The holes in the rock (the tiny hole and the one above) lined up perfectly with the ones on the map, and El Sombrero (Weaver’s Needle) was precisely aligned with the pointed symbol on the bottom of the heart stone.
Here is a photo of the heart stone and a Google Earth Map before alignment:
And here is a photo after alignment:
It was a strange feeling to be standing on the top of that cliff knowing others had stood there 165 years before. It was not imagined then that further research would reveal that the area indicated on the Trail Stone map was a great IOCG gold deposit.
One of the unsolved mysteries of the Stone Trail Map is the symbol that surrounds the 2 short lines that represent the ridges. For years, this puzzle has been thought of occasionally. Finally, it was realized that it symbolizes a filled in pit, and that you had to empty it to find the treasure inside. Below is a clip of what the symbol looks like filled and set upright, , and what it looks like tipped on the map.
This matches what has been learned about the ridges by seismic testing; there are many pits that have been filled in, and the alteration of the surrounding rock (black chlorite) further betrays their existence.
Recently (August, 2018), another tour of the Superstition Mountain Museum was taken, and a thorough examination of the Peralta Stone Maps was made. It was noticed that on the top edge of the Horse Stone the name “Miguel” was finely chiseled about 1/2″ high.
Note, the Horse stone is much harder than the other 2 and had to be chiseled, not carved. It has been a mystery who created the Stone Maps, and it seems very clear that it was Don Miguel Peralta.
Miguel is reported by many sources to be the only survivor or one of two survivors of the 1848 massacre where approximately 400 people were killed in the Peralta mines area.
In October, 2018 a large outcrop of rock was found on the Prospect that is called Metalliferous Mudstone. This is a type of exhalite of VMS and IOCG deposits that forms in the close proximity to vents on the ocean floor (see Exhalite page). A piece of it is shown sawn in the photo above. After comparing the rock to the Peralta Stones in the Superstition Mountain museum, it is highly likely this is the same material that the Trail Stone Map and the Heart Stone are made of. As can be seen in the photo, it is very carveable, and since this was picked off the top of the outcrop, is very weather resistant. After seeing the 2 Stone maps in question, it can be seen that a very special type of rock was used to make them, because they were carved, not chiseled, with high accuracy, and there is no chipping on the edges of the carved lines. The Museum was given the 2 rocks shown in the photo.
Please see the “Seismic Work” page for more information about the Peralta Stone Maps.