A semi-mythical treasure of the American Southwest.

In 1845 Don Miguel Peralta discovered a rich vein of gold in the Superstition Mountains north-east of Apache Junction in what was then the Arizona Territory. Over the next few years the Peralta family mined this gold and shipped it back to their native Sonora. However, the Superstition Mountains were held sacred by the local Apache (the real ones), and in 1847 they amassed a force to expel the Spanish from their lands. Having learned of the Apache plan, the Peraltas made preparations to abandon their mine, taking care to conceal the entrance, but were attacked as soon as they set out. The Peralta family was routed in the ensuing fight, with only one or two survivors. Following these events, the Superstition Mountains became a magnet for prospectors and treasure hunters searching for the Peralta Mine.

Jacob Waltz, "The Dutchman", was actually a German immigrant (think "Deutsch man") born around 1810. While most of the stories concerning him are apocryphal, certain parts of Waltz's life are well documented. He was a career prospector. After coming to America, Waltz hunted for gold in North Carolina, Georgia, and California. He did meet with limited success during his early career, earning enough to get by, but never making a significant find. Then in 1863 Waltz moved to the Arizona Territory. He prospected around the territory, occasionally working in other men's mines when money got tight. At some point he is said to have paired up with another German, one Jacob Weiser. Later, the duo is known to have made forays into the Supertitions.

From this point on Waltz's story is a bit less definite. One story says that while in Phoenix he saved the life of one of the surviving Peraltas during a knife fight and was told the location of the mine in return. Other accounts claim that Waltz and Weiser found the Peralta mine on their own, possibly murdering a group of miners who had found it before them. In any case, around 1868 both Waltz and Weiser began showing up in Phoenix, paying their way with gold nuggets.

Over the next several years Waltz and Weiser made several more trips into the Superstition Mountains, sometimes disappearing for months at a time, but always returning with an additional quantity of gold. After one of these trips Weiser didn't come back. Although it is speculated that Waltz may have killed his partner, these were two old men mining gold, in the desert, particularly a desert well stocked with very angry native americans. It's quite possible that Weiser died of other causes. Many attempts were made to discover the exact location of Waltz's source of gold, but he proved very wily, giving only oblique hints to its location and deftly shaking those who tried to follow him there. When Jacob Waltz died 1891, he took the secret of his gold with him.

Since Waltz's death many people have tried to find the "Lost Dutchman's Mine". And although the Apache no longer kill those who venture into the Superstition Mountains, the desert has proven hazard enough to take quite a few lives. It's possible that Waltz never even found a mine. Dead Peralta mules, scattered during the Apache raid while laden with gold, were found as late as 1914, and there are stories that Waltz and Weiser actually stole their gold from a commercial mine they had worked in. Whether or not it ever existed, the legend of the mine has proven an enduring one.

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