Jacob Waltz’s gold mine continues to draw visitors

Third grade students at Desert Vista Elementary are participating in the American History Film Project, a multi-disciplinary project teaching kids to research, report, plan, act, interview, draw, film and edit for a video. The nationwide project encourages children to take pride and ownership of their own local or state history. Videos are then uploaded and shared with all participating classrooms, providing insight into the pockets of regional history and culture from all around our nation.

The following is the second in a series of reports we would like to share with you as students launch their budding media careers.

There are many tales about the Superstition Mountains. These mountains are the setting of legends based on some facts and some exaggeration. Some of these stories make people chuckle and others tell of mysteries not yet solved. Hi, my name is Campbell, and I will tell you about one of the most famous tales – the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine.

First, let me tell you some facts about the Superstition Mountains and Jacob Waltz. The Superstition Mountains are 1,708 square miles. They are a mountain range. You can find copper and gold in these mountains. People mine in the Superstition Mountains because they think there is a lot of gold. Throughout history, gold was mined in these mountains several different ways. One way is called placer mining and another way was underground mining. Today, the way people mine is similar to the way people mined back then. Mr. Waltz mined using placer mining. Mr. Waltz was born in Germany around 1810. Mr. Waltz came to America from Germany around 1839 and to the area that is now Apache Junction around 1872. There is very little factual information about his youth. Today, we know facts about Mr. Waltz because of papers found with his name on it.
Now, let me tell you the legends that involve mining in the Superstitions and Mr. Waltz. Most of what people know about Mr. Waltz starts when he came to mine in the Superstitions. Like most miners, he didn’t want people to know about his mine. Waltz was great at spreading false information and this caused some of the legends. The reason why he spread information is because he didn’t want anybody finding his gold mine.

According to Jim Swanson, a local historian, “Many people tried to follow the old prospector to his mine in the Superstitions, which is known as the Lost Dutchman Mine, but Mr. Waltz managed to escape them all,” said Mr. Swanson. People today don’t know the exact locations of where Mr. Waltz found his gold (due to his stories), but there are a lot of theories and stories going around.”

Mr. Waltz died in 1891. While Mr. Waltz was on his deathbed he told his caretaker, Julia Thomas fake or vague details about where his mine was and how to find it. Julia believed what Mr. Waltz told her. After he died, she sold everything she had and went to look for the gold mine. She asked her friend Rhinehart Petrasch if he would go with her. He said he would only go if his brother Hermann could go with them, too. They never found Mr. Waltz’s mine. When Julia got back she had nothing because she sold everything she had in order to go on a treasure hunt. In order to get money Rhinehart talked Julia into making fake maps that were supposed to lead to Mr. Waltz’s mine. That got them quite a bit of money. These maps, along with Mr. Waltz’s false stories, keep the legend about the Lost Dutchman Mine a secret.

Today, people still mine in the Superstitions and they try to find Mr. Waltz’s mine. Will anyone ever find his mine? That is the mystery yet to solve.

Editor’s Note: Campbell Merryman is a student in the Apache Junction Unified School District.