There is a place in Mesa were the developments along a large power line have taken a less than desirable situation and turned it into place to go. The space that normally sits unused and unkept has been transformed into a beautiful walk and home to plants, birds and critters alike. The neighborhoods have contributed plants that grow native to the region and the people along the route help to maintain the area. While my longtime friend from high school (Linda) and I walked the trail, we enjoyed the experience with humming birds, hawks and even a silver fox and parrot. Many of the plants have labels to let you know what you are seeing and the backyards flow into the space, extending their yard. With the warm weather and recent rains the cactus are beginning to bloom a month early. What a great idea!
Two weeks in Lost Dutchman ends too soon. This is such a nice park and the proximity to the mountains makes it one of our favorite. Even a rain storm transforms the desert into a new experience with smells you can hardly believe and a burst of nature from flowers to animals, the landscape comes to life. The only good thing, we are leaving to spend two weeks in our favorite AZ park, Catalina near Tucson.
Located just east of Phoenix Arizona is a mountainous region where people sometimes go... never to be seen again. It is a place of mystery, legend and lore called the Superstition Mountains. We are camped at it's base in the beautiful Lost Dutchman state park. According to history (through story and recorded), there exists a gold mine like no other that has ever been seen. It has been dubbed the “Lost Dutchman Mine” over the years and thanks to its mysterious location, it has been the quest of many an adventurer... and a place of doom to many others.
The Apache Indians were probably the first to set eyes on the mountain, followed by the Spanish conquistadors, the first of which was Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540 seeking the legendary “Seven Golden Cities of Cibola”. When he reached the region, the local Indians told him that the mountain held much gold, although they refused to help the Spaniard explore it. They were in fear of the “Thunder God”, who was said to dwell there, and who would destroy them if they dared to trespass upon his sacred ground.
When the Spaniards tried to explore the mountain on their own, they discovered that men began to vanish mysteriously. It was said that if one of them strayed more than a few feet from his companions, he was never seen alive again. The mountain became a legendary spot to the Spanish explorers who followed.... and was regarded as an evil place.
The first man to discover the gold of the Indians on Superstition Mountain was Don Miguel Peralta, a member of a prominent family who owned a ranch near Sonora, Mexico. He discovered a vein of rich gold here in 1845 while searching for the treasure described to Coronado. He described the mountain’s most outstanding landmark as looking like a “sombrero”; thus he named the mine the “Sombrero Mine”. He used the rock as a place to etch his name with a knife. Subsequent prospectors discovered the etching and dubbed the landmark “Weaver’s Needle”. The name stuck and nearly every reference to the lost mine uses the Needle as a point of origin. Peralta gathered men and material to work the mine. Soon, he was shipping millions of pesos in pure gold back to Sonora.
The Apaches were angry over the Spanish presence on the mountain and in 1848, raised a large force to drive Peralta and his men from the area. Peralta got word of the impending fight and withdrew his men from the mine. They would pack up all of the available burros and wagons with the already mined ore and return home. Because he planned to return someday, Peralta took elaborate precautions to conceal the entrance to the mine. The day they planned to move out the Apaches attacked and massacred the entire company of Spaniards. The pack mules were scattered in all directions, spilling the gold and taking it with them as they plunged over cliffs and into ravines. For years after, prospectors and soldiers discovered the remains of the burros and the rotted leather packs that were still brimming with raw gold. The area, dubbed “Gold Field” became a favorite place for outlaws and get-rich-quick schemers, searching for the lost gold. The last case of anyone finding the bones of a Peralta mule was in 1914 by a man named C.H. Silverlocke.
The next discoverer of the Peralta mine was a man named Dr. Abraham Thorne. Early in his life, he was befriended by, Kit Carson. Later in life this association afforded him the chance to become an army doctor at Fort McDowell.
On the Apache reservation near Fort McDowell, Thorne came to live and work among the Indians. He made many friends and earned respect from the tribal leaders, caring for the sick and injured, delivering babies and teaching hygiene.
In 1870, the elders in the tribe came to him with a proposal. Because he was a good man and a friend of the Apache, they would take him to a place where he could find gold. Blindfolded, Dr. Thorne was led away on horseback and at the end of the cloth was removed and he was in an unknown canyon. He would later write that he saw a sharp pinnacle of rock about a mile to the south of him, likely Weaver’s Needle. There was no sign of a mine, but piled near the base of the canyon wall was a stack of almost pure gold nuggets. He picked up as much of it as he could carry worth $6,000 and became another strange link in the mystery of the mine’s location.
The Dutchman, Jacob Walz, a Germany born in the early 1800’s, heard about the riches and adventure in the US south west. There have been a number of stories about how Walz found the “lost” mine. According to some, he stumbled upon it by accident. But the most accepted version of the story is that he was given a map to the mine by a Mexican don whose life he saved.
At some point in the years that followed, Jacob Weiser (Walzs partner) disappeared without a trace. Walz was always around, at least part of the time. It was said that Walz had the richest gold ore that anyone had ever seen and for the rest of his life, he vanished back and forth to his secret mine, always bringing back saddlebags filled with gold.
By the winter of 1891, an old Mexican widow named Julia Elena Thomas became romantically involved and Walz promised to take her to his secret mine “in the spring”.... but she never saw it. The Dutchman died on October 25, 1891 with a sack of rich gold ore beneath his deathbed. They never found the mine.
There is no way to guess just how many people have died in pursuit of the gold in the Superstions. The death toll of the Peralta Massacre varies between 100 to 400, and murders attributed to the Dutchman, Jacob Walz. There are also a number of people who were slain by the Apaches after they were found searching the mountain for the mine. And the search continues...
After a month off the grid it is nice to spend time in a resort with nice amenities like a swimming pool and spa, laundry room, billiard room, mini golf, craft room and even a wood shop. Don spent a few days with us at the beginning of the week so he had a chance to see life in a regional park and resort. Meridian is an RV resort which means there are no park models, much nicer for us RVers. A good representation of our winters as we move through the south west. The resort has the "bucket list lifestyle" with clubs of every type to keep the folks involved. What our sailing buddies call adult daycare.
As if Gary isn't tall enough, he stands on a rock to make Don look short!
This was a nice week with warm weather for Don (Gary's brother) to visit. We explored the two lakes in the area and took a few nice drives to Lost Dutchman Gold Town and Gold Canyon. And even though both brothers are in there 50s, boys will be boys forever (I can see Brian and Scott in the future on the one shot). A good time was had by all!