Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lost Dutchman Claims Another Fortune Hunter

The caption on the reverse reads: "Where fortune hunters still seek the famous "Lost Dutchman Mine" with its multi-million dollar horde of pure gold. As seen along highways 60-70-80 & 89 in Arizona."

Some of these fortune hunters aren't so fortunate. Last week AZCentral ran a story about a man from Colorado named Jesse Capen who recently disappeared in the Superstitions while searching for the Lost Dutchman Mine. You can read that story here. Rescue workers have found his Jeep and camping supplies and he's been gone over a month. For some reason the story felt the need to quote his mother's concern that he was bitten by a rattlesnake or injured/eaten by a bear. The sad truth is that he probably became lost and dehydrated, but they haven't found him yet so I suppose it's ok to keep our fingers crossed. Here's another warning against venturing into the wilderness unprepared.

The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine is a fantastic legend. The story evolved into various versions, but the core of the tale focuses on a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz. In 1891, Waltz delivered a deathbed confession to his nurse, Julia Thomas, claiming that he had discovered a mine and revealing the location. Searches turned up nothing.

In 1931, treasure hunter Adolph Ruth was shot and killed searching for the mine. He disappeared and his remains were later discovered with two bullet holes in his head. Ruth's demise ignited the subsequent frenzy of interest in the Lost Dutchman Mine. Many treasure hunters have entered the Superstitions looking for the mine; they've produced no gold, just stories.

Most likely, there is no Lost Dutchman Gold Mine in the Superstition Mountains. Jesse Capen chased foxfire from a folktale. In doing so, he may become part of that tale, immortalized in the Lost Dutchman Legend along with Waltz, Ruth, and others. It's an unhappy way to write your chapter, but apparently there are no happy chapters in the Lost Dutchman Legend.

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