Archive for February, 2012

Superstition Mountain Historical Society

February 28, 2012

The Superstition Mountain Museum displays the artifacts, history and folklore of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction and the surrounding region. Archaeological evidence indicates that prehistoric people lived in the area some 9000 years ago. Later the Salado, Hohokam and Apache Indians came, followed by Spanish explorers and Mexican gold miners. Trappers migrated to the area and were followed by cattlemen and farmers.  In modern times, people have searched for Jacob Waltz’s Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. However, the “Dutchman,” took the secret of his mine’s location to his grave.

The twelve-acre Superstition Mountain Museum site offers exhibits and reproductions of 19th Century businesses including a Wells Fargo office, a stagecoach stop, a barber shop and an assay office in addition to the Lost Dutchman Mine exhibits. Whether or not the mine exists is up for debate but Jacob Waltz who started the story was a real person. Waltz, born in Germany around 1810, emigrated to America around 1839. From New York City he traveled to the goldfields of North Carolina and Georgia. He filed his Letter of Intent to become a citizen of the United States on November 12, 1848, in Natchez, Mississippi. Two years later he arrived in California where he prospected for several years.

In 1863, Waltz headed for the Bradshaw Mountains in the Arizona Territory. In 1868, he declared Possessory Rights on 160 acres of land along the bank of the Salt River. Waltz died in Phoenix on October 25, 1891, at the home of Julia Thomas. Shortly after his death Thomas and the Petrasch brothers, Rhinehart and Hermann, searched the Superstition Mountains to find Waltz’s rich gold mine but found nothing. Barry Storm’s Thunder God’s Gold, published in 1945 probably raised more hope in the hearts of prospectors. Storm suggested that Waltz’s mine was a Lost Peralta Mine. Over the years, many people claim to have found the Dutchman’s Lost Mine but none produced any gold. The United States government closed the Superstition Wilderness Area to mineral entry at midnight on December 31, 1983, to comply with the National Wilderness Act. The museum has copies of maps including the famous stone maps, which purport to show where one may find the gold.

In the late 1800’s, the Cavalry played an important part in Arizona military history. The uniforms, saddles and flags on display have appeared in two Presidential Inaugurations and stood Honor Guard in the capitol rotunda. There is an outdorr amphitheater made of rock slabs taken from the facing of the original Roosevelt Dam. Don’t miss the Hacksaw Tom road agent exhibit for a really scary story.

The Elvis Memorial Chapel is a movie memorabilia museum which shows movies that were filmed at Apacheland. The chapel survived two fires in 1969 and in 2004 which destroyed the Apacheland Movie Ranch. It was donated to the museum. El Charro, which starred Elvis Presley, was filmed at Apacheland. The other major building that was spared in the fires is the “Audie Murphy” so called because it was used in several movies where the famous cowboy hero appeared. In the barn one can see wagons, buggies and stage coaches along with a cowboy bunkhouse.

The 20-stamp ore crusher was donated in 1989 by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jones of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It took twenty-eight days for five men to disassemble and move the mill to Apache Junction. Adjacent to the stamp mill is the Arizona Territorial Mint Complex where metal collector tokens are made for sale.

The Superstition Mountain Gift Shop features beautiful handcrafted Native American jewelry purchased locally from a select group of artists. Here the tourist can find many Arizona and Southwest books, many of which include the legends and lore of the Superstition Mountain area along with excellent children’s titles

Superstition Mountain Museum 4087 N Apache Trail  Apache Junction, AZ 85219

Tel: 480-983-4888  Web Site: http: www.superstitionmountainmuseum.org