Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Real Gold is in the Heart

Gold is in men's hearts, not the mountains

Rummaging through my library this week I found a book I had not seen in nearly 60 years. It was about our favorite state, Arizona. Nothing like walking around in the wilderness. Either the Catalinas or the Superstition Mountains would be our ideal home. In Old Tucson (southwest of Tucson) we saw many a western movie in productions. And meeting Geronomo's son on the Pima reservation.

The Catalinas are between our home in the copper company town of San Manuel and the ever-exciting historical city of Tucson. These mountains are not known for ghost or lost gold mines, but the earliest visitors sure looked for it from time to time.

Every summer we held a young people's retreat in the highest point in the Catalinas, Mount Lemmon. The Catalinas were named by Italian Jesuit priest Eusebio Francisco Kino 1697.

The Superstitions are a range of mountains in Arizona located to the east of Phoenix. The Superstition Mountains have a desert climate, whereas the Catalinas are forests. It is in the Superstitions that the famous Lost Dutchman Mine was located.

According to newspaperman Oren Arnold the mine was first discovered by a young Mexican who was fleeing from Don Miguel Peralta, whose daughter he had been courting. In the 1840s Carlos (the fleeing lothario) saw the bonanza, "the most dazzling human eyes ever beheld."

Carlos loaded up bags of gold and headed back to Mexico to buy forgiveness from Señior Peralta and regain his love. Carlos died in a rainstorm-swollen river on his way home.

The next and better known character to take the venture into the Superstition Mountains, was Jacob Walz, known as Snow Beard, the Dutchman (Arnold said he was German) who claimed the mother lode. As time passed it became known as the Lost Dutchman Mine. Jacob Walz (or: Waltz, Wolz or even "Miller"?) shot the three Mexican youths who showed him the mine, and five other men, one his own nephew, to protect the secret of the mine.

In 1954, Oren Arnold, a Texan by birth, wrote a book "Ghost Gold," which demanded a re-read. One day in the 1870s, Walz set out from about where Roosevelt Dam is now located. He was headed for the Salt River but decided to take a short-cut through the Superstitions. Roaming Apaches shot arrows and nicked his arm. He fled farther into the mountains and came upon a camp of three Mexicans.

When they told them of their gold mine, "Eet ess La Mina Sombrera! Eet ees ours." In time Walz shot the three Mexican youths, and five other men, one his own nephew, to protect the secret of the mine. He had been in Arizona for ten years and this was the first time he discovered gold.

In the Preface to the book "Ghost Gold," Arnold wrote: "True? Of course these stories are true! ... Richest gold lies not in the mountains but in the heart of men. The fascination of lost gold is not in the finding or even the searching, but in the meditating, the day dreaming, the telling."

Arnold, when ask his motivation for writing, said: "Money! Exactly as Shakespeare was motivated." Arnold believed that "humor is the calisthenics of the mind. A wholesome sense of humor is every bit as important as a sense of morals."

Jacob Walz made trips to small towns to show off his gold. It made him the envy if every man who ever searched for gold. Often, for fun, he would give false clues to the location. No one ever found the mine before or after his death.

He revealed the whole story of the mine on his Phoenix deathbed in 1891 to Dick Holmes. He gave Holmes a map and said to find a palo verde tree, with only one one limb, pointing to Weaver's Needle. "Dick Holmes," Arnold writes, "spent 28 years trying to find the property. He died a disappointed man. His widow and sons have hopes of locating the bonanza some day."

"Ghost Gold" also includes advice on how best to go about making your own trip into the maze of canyons of the Superstitions, should you, too, "have an urge."

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