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It Is Told...
     More than one hundred fifty years ago, it is said that an event took place in the Arizona desert which would begin one of this country’s most persistent legends of lost treasure ever told, and certainly one of the most passionately sought. Beneath the pale, jagged cliffs of Superstition Mountain’s north-west end, a group of hardy Spanish and Mexican miners, on an expedition led by Don Miguel Peralta, met with death after a long, running battle with the Apache. Scattered among the ravaged bodies of men, horses and burros was the gold taken from their rich Sombrero Mines.
      Over the century, thousands of people have scoured the rugged Superstition Wilderness for the source of this gold. Many sacrificed all their worldly possessions, and even their very lives in this quest. While some searchers through history have claimed to have found specimens of this extremely rich ore, only one man is believed to have been privy to the secret of Peralta’s gold. His name was Jacob Waltz.
Jacob Waltz was a German Immigrant who spent most of his life as a miner and prospector. In his latter years he settled onto a section of land just outside of the young town of Phoenix, Arizona where he farmed, raised chickens and hogs and occasional hired out as a laborer. Inspite of his apparent poverty it is known that Waltz had rich gold ore that he claimed came from a mountain range 30 miles east of Phoenix. It has been suggested that Waltz discovered this now-famous gold during the early 1870’s. When he died in 1891 he left behind a candle box (or soap box) containing samples of the precious ore—ore so rich that if the mine is ever discovered it would indeed be among the richest deposits in the world!
       It is believed that before Waltz died, he revealed the general location of the mine to his friend, Julia Thomas, a Mulatto woman who owned an ice cream parlor in Phoenix. Waltz and Julia were friends and later took care of Waltz during his final days. After his death, Julia, convinced she could locate his mine, sold her ice cream parlor to outfit an extravagant expedition into the Superstition Mountains. Whether Waltz intentionally directed Julia to the mine as a gift for her kindness, or whether she created the clues around hints given up during conversations with Waltz, is subject to debate, but in spite of her diligence to locate his mine, Julia’s quest was unsuccessful, to say the least. So, while she may not have located the rich trove of her old German friend, she does hold the distinction of being the first ‘Dutchman’ hunter in the century-old saga of the Lost Dutchman Mine.
     During the years preceding her death in 1919, Julia subsidized her existence by selling hand-drawn facsimiles of a map she claimed had been given to her by Waltz. (Other accounts of the map’s origins, as well as clues to finding the mine, claim that Julia received the information by means of ‘visions’). Accompanying this map she offered an incredible tale of how old Jacob Waltz and a partner, one Jacob Wieser (spelling of the name varies), came into the mine through a chance meeting with a descendent of Miguel Peralta, who bore the same name as his ancestor. The details of Julia’s story varied over the years, as did the details she drew on her maps. Since her death, it has become nearly impossible to determine fact from fiction.
       Adding to the misinformation is the fact that the period of history between the years 1890 and 1920 was a time when romantic sensationalism built careers and towns of a young, fast-growing nation. Easterners and Europeans alike were hungry for any news out of ‘Indian country’ and journalists fueled their reader’s imaginations with stories of heroic deeds of settlers and miners and life in the wild, wild, west. What facts Julia Thomas may have been in possession of were embellished upon by writers of the time, or discarded completely for more ‘incredible’ events with which to hold their reader’s interest. So much exaggeration and fabrication has been published that today it is argued whether Peralta and the Sombrero Mines, or Waltz’s mine, ever existed at all.
Jacob Waltz was an actual historic figure. His gold also was real (some of it still exists in the form of jewelry). He lived, prospected, farmed and died in the wild Arizona Territory of the late 1800’s. However, the greater mystery may be in legend of Don Miguel Peralta—the presumed foundation of the Dutchman Saga. In fact, did the Peraltas of legend exist at all?  Many believe they did not, and if not, neither do they believe that Waltz’s mine exists—because it is purportedly one of Peralta’s Sombrero Mines, albeit the richest of them!
       There are many camps of thought concerning Waltz’s gold and where it came from. One group supports a theory that he high-graded the ore while working as a miner in the Vulture mine near Wickenburg, or somewhere else. Still others claim it was a cache or storehouse he had found, not an actual mine. It has also been suggested that Waltz may have worked a vein of ore that would be rediscovered and filed as the Bulldog Mine shortly after his death. This mine is just west of Superstition Mountain near where the town of Goldfield would later be established. The Bulldog had been worked on a small scale prior 1892 and is believed to have been a Mexican operation, originally.  Many aspects of this mine correlate with the description of Waltz’s mine and the ore he had in his possession (e.g. gold in white quartz from a vein 18 inches wide). However, samples of the ore Waltz presumably left beneath his bed when he died (now belonging to a private collector) have been studied by assayers and geologists who are in agreement that Waltz’s gold came from ‘no known mine’ in Arizona nor vicinity. It is unique unto itself. Therefore, neither the Lost Dutchman Mine, nor the richest of Peralta’s Sombrero Mines (both one and the same), has been located.
        To prove that the Sombrero Mines were, in fact, real would lend substantial confidence to the legitimacy of the legend. Such proof would also open the door for continued research into the details surrounding Peralta’s demise and Waltz’s connection to the mines. Yet, in spite of the tale’s tenacity to endure the scrutiny of time, researchers have been hard pressed to provide evidence that would prove these certain Peraltas ever existed nor mined in Arizona in the early to mid 19th century—until now.
In 1988, while researching history in the Fort McDowell area, I discovered peculiar outcrops and formations closely resembling those seen on a map known today as the ‘Peralta-Ruth Map’ or ‘Profile Map’ I made these discoveries in a region known locally as Red Mountain, about ten miles northeast of the city of Mesa, Arizona where the Salt and Verde Rivers converge, respectively.
Red Mountain, officially named Mount McDowell on USGS topographic maps, is located in an area that was once casually referred to as the ‘northern extreme’ of the Superstition Range. My discovery of the landmarks resembling those drawn on the Peralta-Ruth map launched a personal six-month-long investigation, during which I not only identified all the landmarks called for on the Peralta-Ruth map but also the mines, the ‘house with cave,’ and the tunnel. This same quest also introduced me to the all-consuming power of obsession known as ‘gold fever’.
       The discovery of these mines and landmarks, being in indisputable conjunction with the map (which is claimed to have once belonged to the Peralta family), supplied the evidence needed to re-evaluate the legend’s authenticity—a location shown on a map that could be proven. Further, this discovery supplied me with an alternative explanation as to where the aging Waltz may have acquired his gold. Claims that he traversed the hostile, deadly interior of the Superstition Wilderness of the 1800’s are subject to question. The Red Mountain region precisely fits the Peralta map, it matches the clues given in the Dutchman legend, and it may be the location of still other tales of lost treasure such as Geronimo’s cave of gold and the treasure of ‘Montezuma’s Head’. Red Mountain has stood quietly unobserved by historians and Dutchman hunters over the last century, but is, in reality, a prime location for such historical events to have taken place. It is secluded, has plenty of water, located at junction of trails for those traveling along the rivers, is easy to defend, possesses natural shelters and, most importantly, contains minerals. Today, the recreation areas set up along the river at the base of Red Mountain and Arizona Dam Butte are well known destinations for residents of the city who hope to escape the oppressive summer heat. Since olden days, this location was a destination for many travelers, from native tribes to Spaniards to prospectors who left their mark behind in the sandstone rock. Protecting these histories is one reason that hiking is not permitted today. Even some of the rock writings that were visible in the late 1980s have now been vandalized; the photos presented here are the only record left.
       The primary purpose of this work is to provide evidence that Peralta and the Sombrero Mines of legend were, indeed, real, and thus, so is the mine or cache to which Waltz alluded. As the reader will see, Waltz’s mine may be found high on a ridge of Arizona Dam Butte above the other mines and the ‘unfinished tunnel’ shown in this book. While the total expanse of territory these Peraltas mined cannot be known, and while some of their expeditions likely took them into the proper Superstition Range in search of mineral, this book will attempt to show through the its evidence that the original Sombrero Mines were at least founded at Red Mountain. It is the intention of the author to give this information to the public as evidence that the Peraltas and their Sombrero Mines did exist at a sacred place called Red Mountain—a place where spirits still walk and treasure goes beyond gold and material wealth.