Lost Gold Mines

Writing on the Treehouse Wall


Since the beginning of time man has had an obsession with gold. This fact has led to one of the most significant events to take place in the United States, the gold rush of 1849 in California. When gold was discovered at Sutter’s mine people started flocking to the state to make their fortunes in mining. But finding the gold to mine proved to be harder than many men had originally thought. Even today many believe it is easier to find a lost mine than to discover a new location.

There are many stories and legends of lost mines and many of these legends are based on facts which lend them certain credibility. But like any story told and retold, it changes over the years and details get changed or simply lost. So where there may have been a credible story of a lost fortune, we now have legends with so many variations they are sure to remain merely stories we pass along to our children.

Two of the most famous tales of lost treasure are Peg Leg’s Lost Mine and The Lost Dutchman Mine.

The story of Peg Leg’s Lost Mine starts with a man by the name of Thomas Smith. Smith lost his leg due to an unfortunate injury he obtained on a trapping expedition, thus earning him the name Peg Leg. The legend begins in the late 1820’s with Peg Leg and another member of a trapping party setting off for Los Angeles to sell their supply of pelts. While on their journey through the desert, Peg Leg had gathered some heavy black pebbles he came across on top of a butte in Colorado. He had gathered the pebbles thinking they were copper but he later discovered they were gold. Unfortunately for Peg Leg he did not immediately return to the Colorado Desert to make his fortune. He waited 20 years before he returned in search of those valuable black pebbles. But despite repeated attempts, Peg Leg was never able to locate that butte he had found so long ago.

Now where as Peg Leg’s Lost Mine is really just a placer deposit, The Lost Dutchman Mine is an actual mine, (rumored to be, anyways). This mine is believed to be located in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. The various stories of this lost mine vary so greatly it is impossible to tell which one is the more accurate version. But the most popular ones center on a man by the name of Jacob Waltz.

Waltz claimed to have located an extremely lucrative mine once owed by a family by the name of Peralta. He allegedly worked the mine and possibly hid caches of gold in the Superstitions. There are records of Waltz transporting and selling gold valued up to $254,000. And on his deathbed he is rumored to have told his nurse Julia Thomas the location of his secret mine. But despite many attempts, The Lost Dutchman Mine has never been found.

But not only has the mine never been found, many lives have been lost in the search for this elusive treasure. It is estimated that up to 150 lives have been forfeited to the Arizona desert since the legend of the mine surfaced. And not all of the deaths are blamed on the elements. Many of the men that have died are believed to have met with foul play, and several of the treasure hunters tell tales of being followed while on their quest for gold, thus adding to the mystery and superstition that surround these mountains.

Who knows if any of these legends are true, but they make for fun stories to tell your children. What child doesn’t dream of finding hidden treasure? And who knows, maybe someone will put some of these stories to rest by actually finding some amazing treasure. We can dream, can’t we?

Colorado Desert                            Gold Ore                         Superstition Mountains


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