SunWest Blog

Superstition Mountains Local Legends

The entire Valley of the Sun has a long history that predates American history, and indeed, the naming of Phoenix is credited to Darrell Duppa, one of the area’s first homesteaders, who described it as a city born from the ruins of a former civilization. The Superstitions Mountains also have their folklore and history for both the homesteaders and the Native American tribes that populated the area. Here’s a look at some of the stories.

Located just East of Apache Junction, Arizona,the Superstition Mountains are home to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. In a classic Old West legend, a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz supposedly discovered a large cache of gold in the mountains. According to the story, Waltz revealed the location of the mine to a caretaker on his deathbed in 1891. Several people since then have claimed to have found it, but none of the claims have ever been verified. Several would-be golddiggers have gone looking for the mine over the years, and some have even perished in the wilderness.

A few centuries before that, the region was inhabited by the Apache Indians and they considered Superstition Mountain, the highest peak in the area, to be sacred ground and home to their Thunder God. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the late sixteenth century, they, too, were searching for gold, the famous Seven Cities of Gold. Upon learning that the area did, in fact, contain gold, the Spaniards were intent on exploring the area in utter disregard for the Apache’s beliefs. The Apaches claimed that the Thunder God would take revenge upon the Spaniards for trespassing on holy land, but they were determined to explore. At that point, Spanish explorers began to disappear. The conquistadors urged the men to stay together, but more men continued to disappear, only to be found dead later. The conquistadors finally fled the mountain and dubbed it, Monte Superstition.

To this day, hikers and explorers traverse the wilderness, either in search for gold or adventure or both. For more information on the legends of the area, go to