Is gold hidden in the rugged Superstition Mountains of Arizona?

Superstition Mtns, a large desert mountain in Arizona

Superstition Mtns, home of the Lost Dutchman mine

Jacob Waltz leading a mule through a ridge in the mountain

Jacob Waltz searched for gold


The Superstition Mountains in Arizona cover 160,000 acres of desolate, rugged terrain. According to legend, somewhere hidden in these mountains lie the richest deposits of gold in America—the Lost Dutchmen’s Gold Mine. The exact location of the Lost Dutchmen’s Mine remains a mystery. It was supposedly discovered by a German prospector named Jacob Waltz in 1876. Today, the lost gold would be worth over 200 million dollars.

According to historian Tom Kollenborn, the Superstition Mountains were an unlikely place to strike it rich:

“Jacob Waltz was a student of mining and he knew what he was doing. The old timers were very, very astute to the fact of geology. They knew what they were looking for. If you’re going to go out in these mountains anywhere and look for gold, you really want to go places where it has been found. Superstitions would be an exception. You wouldn’t go in there.”

A hand grabing a piece of gold ore out of a wooden container

Jacob revealed the gold ore he’d stashed

But Waltz did prospect in those rugged mountains and apparently he was rewarded. When Waltz was 80 years old, he decided to hide his mine to protect it. He dug a hole six feet deep at its entrance. He then laid in two rows of logs and topped them with dirt and stones. Waltz, who was nicknamed “The Dutchman”, bragged that you could drive a pack train over the entrance to the mine and never know it was there.

Several months after Waltz closed up the mine, he got pneumonia and was taken to the home of his friend, Julia Thomas. According to Clay Worst, a member of the Superstition Mountain Historical Society, it was on his deathbed that Waltz revealed he had gold from the mine stashed under his bed:

“And he said, that’s what I’ve been living on all these years. They took out the box, they opened it and their comment was my god that’s rich. He said, it’s a vein. He said there’s enough in sight to make millionaires out of 20 men.”

Walt Gassler with a mustach and salt and pepper hair

Walt Gassler

As his end drew near, The Dutchman gave Julia and a local miner, Rhinehart Petrasch, clues to the mine’s location. But Waltz died before he could give them a map that showed exactly where the mine lay. According to Clay Worst, the only directions Julia and Petrasch had when they ventured into the mountains were the verbal clues Waltz had given them on his death bed:

“He said the setting sun shines into the entrance to my mind and glitters on the gold, so it must have faced to the west. He said you take the first gorge on the south side from the west end of the range. He said that you can see Weaver’s Needle to the south, from above my mine. Julia and Petrasch were so anxious to get in the mountains, they actually went in mid-summer when the mountains were hotter… And it must have been a real ordeal for them.”

Julia invested everything she owned into the expedition, but she returned penniless and never attempted to return to the Superstition Mountains. Rhinehart Petrasch continued to search for the mine for the next 50 years. But when he realized he would never find it, he took his own life.

A hand over a map detailing where to find the gold ore

Walt drew a map of where to find the gold

Almost 100 years later, a modern-day treasure hunter claimed that he had found the mine. His name was Walt Gassler. Using clues handed down from Jacob’s death-bed description, Gassler had spent most of his free time looking for the legendary mine. But when his health began to fail, Walt contacted two other prospectors. One was Bob Corbin, who was then the Attorney General of Arizona:

“He wanted to get together with me so that we could perhaps go with him and continue looking for the mine and with his directions after he had died. And he gave me his notes as well as a map as to where his camp was and where he believes the mine to be.”

A paper that highlights the writing 'Brown back pack'

Walt should have been discovered with a backpack

Two months later, Gassler called Bob’s partner, Tom Kollenborn, a local historian. According to Kollenborn, Gassler claimed that he had finally located the Dutchman’s mine:

“Walt Gassler was convinced that the mine existed from the clues that he had. Some of those clues he would not reveal. And the next morning, his wife took him out to the trail head and dropped him off.”

Walt hiked alone into the Superstitions, never to be seen alive again. Three days later, his body was found by a ranch-hand, Don Shade. An autopsy proved he had died of a heart attack.

Then, one month after Walt’s death, Tom Kollenborn had a surprising visitor:

“He said he was Roland Gassler, Walt Gassler’s son. And he says, well you know my dad found the Lost Dutchman in the Superstitions and he got out this gold and showed it too me. It looked very similar to the gold that allegedly came out of the Lost Dutchman mine.”

Roland wanted to use the map and notes in Tom’s possession to retrace his father’s steps. Tom obliged Roland and gave him the manuscripts. Two months passed and Tom never heard whether Roland’s search was successful. Then one night while giving a lecture, Tom was approached by a different stranger who claimed he was Roland Gassler:

“And my jaw dropped 10 foot to the ground, because it wasn’t the same guy. I said I ought to ask you for a driver’s license or something. I said you’re the second Roland Gassler I’ve run into in the last couple months.”

The man showed Tom an ID that confirmed he was indeed the real Roland Gassler. It became clear that the first Roland Gassler was an imposter who only wanted Walt’s map. But where did he get the gold ore sample? When Walt died, the Sheriff’s report listed a backpack among his belongings. But the real Roland Gassler never received it. Don Shade, the man who found Walt’s body, also remembered seeing the backpack, and he noticed a stranger in the area that day:

“There was another man in the area at the time. When Tom Kollenborn later gave us a description of the man that came to him and showed him some gold, it jibbed up with the man that we saw in here.”

When Jacob Waltz died, he left a trunk of ore, a list of clues, and a legend of lost treasure which has captured the dreams of three generations. The Superstition Mountains have been reclassified as a federally owned wilderness area. Some believed that the fake Roland Gassler may have been in the mountains when Walt died and stole the backpack with its precious ore. If the mine were found today, by the fake Roland Gassler or anyone else, all the gold would belong to the government. But this does not prevent modern prospectors from still searching for the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack and season three with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.



  1. Ramiro Valdez

    The first problem to the many who reject the truth is going to be History of the Spaniards who occupied the mountain top and their story of how they tried to dig into the canyon wall in search of the vein in order to mine the necessary gold to take back to Spain in a short amount of time. The second one is the Jesuit priest that was with them who drew a cipher map of the mountain top that describes the area of their location on the mountain and the trail that lead to the goldmine. The next is the Peralta’s stone map that not only points, but directs you to cross the Salt River crossing that faces towards the north away from the superstitious mountains. The needle points like a compass towards the northeast and the three tree pines define a waterhole located about 90 miles towards the northwest which ciphers the number of miles you have to travel towards the northeast to locate the mine. The stone map also outlines the three square miles where you will find the rock horse located on the east side of the Sierra Ancha mountain range. Jacob Waltz becomes your next problem because he took position at the same Salt River crossing that faces north on the Salt River valley cutting the time need to reach the goldmine in half. That’s the reason you never caught him. All his clues lead to the same place which stands to reason why your having such a hard time with the superstitious mountains. But that’s not all because he revives the Spaniard historical story by telling you where the fort once was as a marker in searching for the lost goldmine which defines the exact location of their fort. The Spaniards never made it out of the area alive, except for the priest. Waltz ‘s clues talks about traveling northeast to reach the top of the Sierra Ancha mountain where you could locate the highest saddle in the area which over looks the Valley, needle, four peaks and so on. He would personally climb to the saddle in order to spy on the rock horse located on the eastern summit of the mountain range. He would then climb down below the saddle onto a look out where he would wait hours until he was sure it was safe because he was by himself. The instructions to the trail he gave to his friends had nothing to do with climbing up to the saddle. He gave them the original instructions that Peralta gave him which was to follow a trail that led them over the southern part of the range into a gorge. Instructions given by Waltz were based on his clues. The trail started at the Salt River crossing headed northeast towards the first waterhole. Then to the second waterhole which was next to the military trail that went north passing through a farm and a mile further he would exit the trail cause it took a turn towards the south. At that point he would continue towards the east in the direction of Aztec Peak. As he came down the mountain range he would run into a gorge. After crossing the gorge he would enter the rock horse area where he would climb up to a lofty ridge trail ( that is made up of rock cause your traveling on top of a ridge ) for a 1/4 of a mile angling towards the north. The right side of the ridge top contained a large reddish hill that resembles a sombrero. Once he got passed the edge of the sombrero he would take a right turn entering the head of the rock horse area that led down into narrow canyon towards the north filled with scattered trees of different kinds. As my granddaughter would say “it is spooky”. At the end of the narrow canyon you will find the so called tributary smaller canyons. Choose the one on the northwest side which will take you a few hundred feet towards the hidden canyon entrances. There will be two incline funnel shaped access entry points into the hidden canyon, which is not a very large canyon but considerably dark without sunlight. The second or last funnel towards the north hides the goldmine. You won’t be able to enter the hidden canyon through the last funnel because it’s is too steep of an entry You could look into the funnel, to spy like Jacob did when he shot all those Indians, but then you have to choose to climb the wall from the bottom up or the top down. You won’t be able to see the entrance of the goldmine from any direction until you circle the northern side of the ledge and look up. There is an entry point to the ledge so be careful! There are more problems for those who refuse to except the truth because the second stone called the priest stone carries Templar ciphered navigational directions where the priest points to the same location and gives the sea level altitude and description of the two funnel shape entry points. The other half and the rest of the stones describe a story belonging to a group that came from Virginia. Who were called upon by the priest in hopes of helping the natives defend their lands which contained goldmines during the revolution. This group disappeared like the Spaniards by the hand of the northern Apache. Don’t fight the truth cause there is more truth against you that you haven’t heard. This talk is geared more towards those who are unprepared and don’t know any thing about mining but insist on finding the location of the goldmine. It is not going to protect you from accidentally dying? It’s just good to know you were going in the right direction. Those who love mining will die happy even if they don’t find the goldmine because they love what they do. So I don’t worry too much about them. But know! My momma is calling and I need to go take care of other things that need mending too. So I bit you good luck! On your quest! My friends! Until then count me out! ……………. … …


  2. daniel trittin



  3. Ramiro Valdez

    Some of the stories you have heard are not all true? It is the reason why there is so much confusion? The part that is true is that the goldmine does exist, but it’s location is not in the superstitious mountains! That is the lying part of everyone’s story that claim that they found that goldmine in the superstitious mountains! The stone map leads you to the gold mine, all the clues as well as the three maps that Jacob Waltz drew? The first map for the venture was claimed by Dick Holmes. All the clues we’re supposed to be used with the three maps. The first map was supposed to lead you to the saddle towards the east located on top of thunder god mountain. The Arizona Reporter story of the Dutchman’s goldmine posted the photo under images that gives away the location of the saddle on the right upper hand of the photo. The second map which Rhinehardt Petrasch had was the saddle looking back at the needle which would to assure them that it was the right saddle. The third map was the eye of the needle which is located at the summit base of thunder god mountain towards the northwest. The final map was the stone map which belonged to Julia Thomas. It described the the eye of the needle in reference to the goldmine which is hidden in the rock horse canyon which is the only canyon that you are going to find in front of the saddle on the summit base of the thunder god mountain? You will never find this gold mine in the superstitious mountains.


  4. Bill Blaski

    I believe this is Aztec gold. I believe Montezuma made his way back to Utah and In doing this buried cache of gold deposits. Jacob Waltz found one of those.


  5. Joseph Dwayne Litz

    I found it. I also own claim. Mystery solved


  6. Bill Blaski

    I would love to go prospect the Superstition Mountains. Is this doable?, or is this govt land.


    • Jacob Waltz

      Stay off my claim!


    • Daniel

      It’s doable. Buy a claim, or register a new claim on ground that’s not already claimed by someone else, or stay in the park areas and search. My claim is at the base of the mountain. I’ll be heading there in April. I also have the rights to a mine, and a claim just northwest of my superstition claim. Do it while you can. Laws change rapidly regarding casual mining.


  7. Jerry Roesch

    My grandfather Walter claimed to have also found the treasure. He prospected the superstition mountains in Apache junction. Not sure what year. I want to say late 70’s. My grandmother Ruth swears by it she dropped him off at the base of the mountain. My grandfather revealed to me the location. When I asked him why he didn’t expose his find? He claimed the government would just take it.


  8. Harold Cohn

    The Lost Dutchman Mine is in the Tonto National Forest, You need a Treasure Trove permit to search for it.


  9. Anonymous

    Why didn’t UM ever mention Curt Gentry’s book The Killer Mountains or the Oklahoma P.I. That claimed his group had found the mine and it was played out?


  10. Bill Blaski

    Anyone know if this is public property or public trails in the area?


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