The Lost Dutchman

Ch. 4:  The Lost Dutchman
Phoenix, Arizona

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Our Story:

Former businessman Mick Cray has given up everything, business, love, and self-respect, in pursuit of his father’s dream: to find the cursed lost gold mine of Jacob Waltz, the “Dutchman” who came as a prospector to the area near Phoenix, Arizona in the late 19th century. When his father’s former secretary shows up like a ghost from the past, her ability to decipher his father’s notes and tackle the Superstition Mountain passes leads them both to more success – and failure – than either one could have predicted.

The Real Story Behind The Lost Dutchman

Though many lost mines have been sought in the American West for two centuries, the legend of the Lost Dutchman has proved to be the most enduring and most attractive: as its name suggests, it has remained hidden for over a century despite the efforts of perhaps thousands of treasure-seekers who have given up great sums of time and money — and in some cases, their lives — in their quest to find it. Even after all this time, many of them remain inspired by the fact that a number of elements of the story have a basis in historical fact.

 The “Dutchman” — or person of German descent — in question appears to have been an actual immigrant named Jacob Waltz (or Walz) who arrived in Arizona with a wave of prospectors in the 1860’s. In one version of the story that was circulated after his death, he had been exploring the Superstition Mountains with Jacob Weiser (or Weiss; the name is suspiciously close to Waltz’s) when the pair stumbled upon — or were led to — a rich vein of gold ore. They extracted some, but when they attempted to return, Weiser was killed either by belligerent locals or by a jealous Waltz. In some versions of the tale, Waltz confessed on his deathbed to having killed several other people in an attempt to hide the mine’s exact location.

 If Waltz had gold fever, his other choices in life did not necessarily show it: after Weiser's death, Waltz bought a small plot of land along the Salt River and built a little adobe cabin on it, dying of pneumonia in 1891 several months after it had been flooded. But while Waltz did not flaunt any wealth, there are nevertheless some indications that it existed: records show that he cashed in $7,000 worth of gold to wire funds to his sister in Lawrence, Kansas in 1887, and he provided some financial help to others, including a Phoenix-area bakery owner named Julia Thomas and her adopted son.

 After the old man died in Thomas's back shed while she was tending to him, the baker told the Arizona Spectator that she and her son planned to find a hidden mine using information provided by Waltz. That search seems to have been unsuccessful — if indeed it was ever undertaken — because Thomas soon was selling treasure maps to others for just a few dollars.

 The story might then have been dismissed as a get-rich-quick scheme, if it had not been for the mysterious disappearance of mine-seeker Adolf Ruth in 1931. His remains were found the following year, along with a note claiming that he had found the mine, and other evidence of homicide. As soon as the news of Ruth’s death was reported, speculation arose that there might indeed be something in the vicinity worth killing for — and this news was particularly welcome during the Great Depression. At least one other man has disappeared in similar circumstances over the years, and other treasure-hunters have reported being attacked.

 Not surprisingly, other lost-mine stories of the American West have become associated with that of the Lost Dutchman over time, creating confusion over the location and exact history of the mine; but avid Dutchman seekers such as former Arizona Sate Attorney General Bob Corbin and his family have used modern research techniques to glean the essential outlines of the story, and they remain convinced that the historical evidence points to a very real, and very lost, Dutchman mine.

The Chapters: 12 Lost Treasures

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