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Lost Dutchman’s Mine Legend in the Superstition Mountains

Many have tried and many have died

Documented by Timothy Draper

Categories & Site Details: Famous Treasure Stories, Gold, Gold & Doubloons, Mining Legends, Mysteries, Spanish History, Treasure Sites in America

Day 1

Almost everyone either knows or has heard of the Lost Dutchman Mine. It is said to be one of the most famous treasures in America. The legend says there are millions of dollars in gold in those mountains. Treasures In America spent several months researching and planning this trip. Here’s our story.

Treasure hunting at Superstition Mountains Arizona

 

It started out as an exciting day for us all on February 25th, 2016. We had a 7-hour drive ahead of us and we wanted to start early. We arrived at Shaun’s house at 7:30 am in St. George Utah. This was our first stop for the day. Todd, Ryan, Shaun and I were the first to meet up. We loaded the truck and made our way to Mesquite, Nevada. There we met up with Antonio and made our way down to pick up Dave in Logandale, Nevada. At this point, we split into two separate trucks and we were on our way to Apache Junction. The drive there was full of excitement and anticipation, we discussed our individual plans and got pumped up while listening to our favorite music. We made a few stops along the way to do a little sightseeing and to fill our stomachs. I felt very excited to see the town I grew up in, it’s been years since I’ve been back to Phoenix Arizona. After a few hours of guy talk and singing along with many songs on the radio, I knew we were getting close to where we could see the famous Superstition Mountains from a distance. I kept saying, “Pretty soon guys, it’s coming up here. Pretty soon.”

When we saw it for the first time, it was like there was already a feeling of accomplishment. We’ve arrived! “We did it, we’re here boys,” I said. When we arrived at our base camp, we were greeted by my cousin Courtney, who had set up the two trailers for us. He had back surgery that morning but was determined to see us and show us how to work and manage the camping trailers. We were set up, for sure, the most comfortable base camp I have ever had in my treasure hunting days. After an hour or so of unpacking the trucks, we headed to the grocery store to buy enough food to last us the next few days. That night, we sat around the campfire and planned out the next day. We had a very aggressive trip planned and we needed to stay on task and reach our goals if we were to see and research everything we had planned for. This was a scouting trip for us and that meant we needed to get to know the area, and also put some legends and theories to the test. “Time for bed boys. We have a lot to do tomorrow.”

Day 2

I felt something shaking my legs as my eyes slowly started to open. Where am I? What’s touching me? Then I heard a familiar voice say, “Wake up! We’re in Arizona! Let’s go, get up, it’s 7 a.m.” I spent a minute or two getting my eyes to focus on the trailer and my surroundings. Dave! It was Dave that was waking me up. He had this excitement in his voice like a kid on Christmas morning. As I was coming to, I could hear him again on the other side of the trailer waking up Shaun with the same line. Even though I was so tired at first, I felt myself becoming wide awake within seconds as I remembered where we were, and what was on the agenda for the day.

I jumped out of bed, had a good stretch to shake off the night and I quickly got dressed and headed outside. I could hear the rest of the crew talking about how beautiful the sunrise was and I didn’t want to miss out. As I stepped out of the trailer, I could see that Ryan was loading up the truck with his camera and filming gear, Todd was getting his gold pan and metal detector packed up for the day, Antonio had his backpack sitting in front of him, and Dave was leaning against the truck with that look on his face, the look that clearly expressed the excitement that we were all feeling. I felt proud of them! I felt proud of myself! I was happy that everyone was just as excited as I was to be here and to get going. We were all on the same page and we all knew it. We took a few pictures of the sunrise and quickly finished uploading the two trucks.  We stopped by the closest gas station to buy some coffee and drinks along with a few snacks for the journey. We were heading out for the day and we were ready! We had a hike scheduled for the day and we needed to secure our boat rental for the next day. We made our way past Goldfield and the Superstition Museum and then on to Canyon Lake. The road that led up to Canyon Lake was a winding road with many switchbacks. We wanted to be there now, and it seemed like it took forever.

Timothy Draper and Antonio Mendez at Canyon Lake Arizona

ToddAntonio and I were in one truck, while Shaun, David, and Ryan were in the other. It took about 30 minutes to get to our first destination, Canyon Lake. Let me push pause here for a minute. I’d like to rewind a bit to explain why we’re here so that you may understand a few things. Yes, the famous Dutchman mine and it’s glory Legend is well known, but that’s not exactly the real reason we’re here. Indeed, we will keep an eye out for clues on it, but we have other things on our agenda to do and look for in our time here. We’ve spent months preparing this trip and I have spent years researching this area. There’s more to this trip for us than it may seem. We’re here for more than what the average person has heard or studied by looking up ‘The Lost Dutchman Legend.’  Treasures In America have been in contact with many historians, geologists, researchers, and treasure hunters alike that have spent years researching and studying this area. After careful consideration, we agreed that we believe we have many clues, evidence, and time phases of history that go back for a very long time in this area. Even before the Dutchman story ever came about, and these things are right down our alley. I wish I could explain more about the specifics, but remember, a good treasure hunter keeps his closest secrets close and doesn’t reveal too many pieces of the puzzle.

We reached Canyon Lake and we stood there in awe when we saw it. This area is truly a beautiful place, one for the record. After carefully scoping out the area, we headed down the road as there was so much to do and only so much daylight. As we arrived at the area that we wanted to pan and search for long lost mines, we noticed very quickly that the road we had located on the map, wasn’t much of a road at all. We had only planned on hiking about 2 miles that day to reach the area we were interested in. We had a team meeting at the trucks and decided that we were here to explore and find evidence, so even if a 7-mile hike was what it was going to take then so be it.

We had hiked about 3 miles in and decided to take a break in a small meadow. After a few minutes, we noticed that the area looked like it had been worked. It seemed to be a man-made meadow, flat like a work area for a mine perhaps. That’s when we split up into two teams. Todd wanted to pan for gold in the area with David, while Ryan filmed it. Shaun, Antonio, and I wanted to press on to look for these mines/prospects, a few more miles away. We turned on our 2-way radios and both teams wished each other luck as we separated. The crew I was with reached the area of interest and we noticed a couple of old looking rock monuments off the trail. I knew we were about 1/2 of a mile away from the mines but the rock monuments needed to be researched and explored. Here, we decided to split up again. I told Antonio and Shaun to be mindful of man-made structures and I was on my way once again. I reached the spot but unfortunately, I only found a few clues to these prospect mines, but no mine dump or mine openings. The day was getting later, faster than I had wanted it to, so I abandoned my search to head back to Shaun and Antonio. When I reached the spot I had left them, I noticed that they weren’t answering my hollering for them. I took a break to wait and listen to them. About 40 minutes later I could see them making their way back down a steep hill. When they finally reached me, back at the trail, Shaun pulled out his camera and said, “You have to see this! Look what we found high up on this hill.” Deep off the trail, with no sign of modern-day trash, footprints, or graffiti, they found Indian ruins. It was a small cliff dwelling that we still need to investigate to determine the time frame of use. What an awesome find! I looked at a few of the pics they had shown me and we were able to pinpoint the area with our GPS. We were feeling pretty good as we made our way back to Todd, Dave, and Ryan.

When we all met back at the trucks, we had many stories to tell each other. It turned out to be that we were about 6.5 miles into the Superstition Mountains, and we were sunburned, hungry, and tired. We got in the trucks and made our way back down the mountain. When we got back to base camp, Todd and Ryan stayed there while Antonio and Shaun left to scout an area of interest for climbing. Dave and I raced to Mesa city to get his tanks filled with oxygen before the store closed at 8:00 pm. When I say race, I’m not kidding.  We didn’t know where we were going, we had very little time to get there, and had just arrived barely 5 minutes before the store closed. That night, we sat around the campfire to talk about our day and to plan the rest. There’s still a lot we need to do in the next couple days.

Day 3

We woke up early to get everything packed up and ready for the trip to Canyon Lake, Arizona. We had rented a boat and Dave was preparing to go diving in the lake to look for clues and lost history. We were anxious to get breakfast and packing up the equipment out of the way that morning because we wanted to get Dave down into the water. There were a few nerve-racking thoughts going through my mind about the dive because this was the first trip that Dave had dove with us with his scuba gear. We had spent many months planning and prepping for this but yet, the outcome was still unsure. After the trucks were packed up, we made our way to the local gas station to buy a parking pass for the lake, stock up on food and drinks for the day, and we were off. The Superstition Mountains were so beautiful and green that morning and we couldn’t wait to get to the dock so we could accomplish all that we had planned to do for so long. When we arrived to the lake, we went straight to the boat rental shop to pay for our boat. During that time, the rest of the team transferred all the gear from the truck to the docks. Between Ryan’s filming gear and Dave’s scuba equipment, it seemed like there was tons of equipment to unload.

Dave was so visibly excited and filled with energy, we decided to have a ‘sit-down’ interview with him in hopes to capture his thoughts and excitement on film before heading out onto the lake.

In preparation for this trip, we had scouted out (by the use of Google Earth and Topo maps) and selected a few areas of interest we wanted to be sure to check out. After some time on the lake, we had located and made our way to our first area of interest. It turned out to be a very narrow and shallow canyon, but it seemed to be a great spot for Dave to make his first attempt to dive. Now let me remind you, this was late February and even in Arizona, this water was COLD! But this was an important part of the game and Dave was determined to get down in there so he could see what the visibility was. It was something we needed to do on this scouting trip so we could know for sure what equipment we needed to bring on the next trip.

There can be all kinds of clues to be found and explored under the water e.g., possible man-made structures, old trail routes, treasure symbols, and much more. But, in order to discover any of that, we first had to see how clear the water was.

After a few attempts of going under, Dave could tell that his visibility was very slim. He explained to us how in some areas, he couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of him. This was a challenge and disappointing for us, but now we know what to expect so we could plan for the next trip. We also were able to see how diving for clues at this location would take more advanced equipment than what we had brought with us this trip. Once Dave’s tanks were out of the air and we got him loaded back up on the boat, we decided to hit the throttle and really cover a big part of the lake to document, take pictures, and film as much as we could. Luckily, we had two boats out on the lake with us which helped for filming and spreading out the team so we could cover as much of the lake as possible in a shorter amount of time. It was a lot of fun to make some wakes and sight-see the lake. Canyon Lake is a very pretty place and we can’t wait to come back for another trip and try again. We have the information we need now to be more successful next time. It was a job well done.

Treasures in America scouting out the area of Superstition Mountains

A Spanish Arrastra — After docking the boat, no time was wasted in loading up the truck to head out to our next destination, a possible lost Spanish arrastra site within the Superstition Mountains. We parked the trucks in the area we were to search, only to find that there were a LOT of people around. There seemed to be some kind of a school outing or a fundraiser going on. We had no idea what lied ahead, so I changed into my hiking clothes, boot’s, and put my handgun on my hip and we were on our way down the trail. It was a fairly short hike, only 1 1/2 miles to the search area. Like I’ve mentioned before, we had spent several months on the web and reaching out to people to narrow down a small search area so we were pretty confident we were in the area we wanted to be. When we reached our destination area, we found an old abandoned ranch and it’s remains. The area was flat, in a type of cove surrounded by tall cliffs, there was a running stream very nearby, everything met the criteria that we would expect an arrastra to be in.

We searched around the area, leaving no stone unturned. As we followed the stream for about a half mile, I looked around to see how everyone else was doing, the team was spread out walking in an orderly fashion to cover and search the best that we could. We ran into a couple of hikers along the way and I asked them some questions, trying not to give away too much information about the importance of what we were seeking. We spent at least 2 hours looking and we had had no luck, not a clue! There’s a good chance it’s there waiting for someone to find it, but as I’ve mentioned before, this was a scouting trip and we couldn’t spend any more time on it. A scouting trip is a way for us to cover a lot of ground and to look for evidence of many possible clues in an area of interest. We go to get a good idea of what we are up against for the next time. Each scouting trip, we hope to find enough clues to get us to want to come back. You see, treasure hunting and historical research take a lot of time, dedication, and research. We try to stay focused on sites that seem promising, and not all of them do. But in this case, the area of the possible arrastra looked right for Spanish mining activity and we still believe that it’s there, but we didn’t find any clues of it this time. We don’t know if we were in the right place.

We decided to abandon our search because we were losing daylight and we still had to get to the next destination where Shaun and Antonio needed to reach a peak to do some climbing. We hopped in the trucks and headed out as quickly as we could. Within 20 minutes, we had our gear and were back on the trail. We soon found an area that Ryan and I thought would be a great spot for Antonio to do his interview. Everyone else went ahead to prepare for the climb.
We met up with Shaun and the rest of the group and they were set up and ready to climb. It was a good challenge for them.

Good job guys! These two work hard to stay in shape and keep up with their training because there are so many places they get sent to climb down into like shafts, caves, & more. After we packed up the gear and hiked back down to the cars we decided to go to the famous Lost Dutchman Mine restaurant. The day was over and we needed to wind down, no better way than sitting at a dinner table, talking about our day and our accomplishments. The Prime Rib was very good and it’s a fun atmosphere.
Stayed tuned for the 4th-day blog, our last day. There’s still more, Todd’s interview at Goldfield, Ryan’s film at the Superstition Museum, and more. Stay safe out there and Find Your Adventure!

Day 4 

Treasures in America packing up and heading home for the Superstition Mountains

When waking up in the morning I could feel hesitation to get up and then I realized that it was because it was time to pack up and go home. I slowly made my way out of the trailer and the team was sitting around that campfire and it seemed that everyone felt the same way, no one wanted to go home just yet.  After eating breakfast I called my cousin Court and talk to him we were ready to pack up. He then explained that he was hurting from surgery he had on his back a few days prior and that he wouldn’t be able to help us load everything up. I told him don’t worry about it. We’ll pack and clean up and bring him his trailers. The thing that happened next is very common for Treasures in America’s attitude towards things. When I told the team that we were on our own and that we had to figure out how to pack up the equipment, they all said, “Let’s get to Work.” After a few hours, we finally had everything ready to go. Antonio was in Court’s truck and one trailer and Shaun hooked up the other trailer to his truck and we were on our way. Court only lived about 12 miles away. Once we got to Courts house we parked the two trailers and had some coffee with him. We all thanked him for his hospitality and for everything he did.

Court, you made this trip possible and you did it during the time of your surgery and I want to say thank you. This was one of my best trips yet! 

Once we were on the way home all the team members were very excited about the trip. This was the moment that I knew that TIA was going to become more than just a group of treasure hunters. I knew that we would go far and do it together. This was the trip that started it all!