Treasure of the Cursed Superstition Mountains
- The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine (1)
- The Lost Aztec Treasure (2)
- Read also: The Lost Mine of Juan Mondragón
Let me tell you about the very rich mine of the late Juan Mondragón. Thousands and thousands of people are searching for that mine and nobody has been able to find it. I wish someday it would be found, so that it could provide a living for everyone..
- The Lost Adams Diggings
R.G. Babcock and Norman's Story of the Painted Rock
A certain "Norman" told author R.G. Babcock the story of an old Blackfoot Indian about a large horseshoe shaped outcropping of sandstone, called Painted Rock. The entire inside walls of this natural amphitheatre were heavily painted by former Indian visitors.
When this Norman was a boy of about 10 or 12 years old, an old Indian came to his school to talk about Indian customs. He claimed to be 100 years old, and he said he was a Chief of the Blackfoot tribe. His name was Horse Eagle. He was full Indian dressed with buckskin fringed trousers, beaded vest and war bonnet.
There were many parents in the audience and Horse Eagle said he had a story about Painted Rock and proposed that all those interested would travel to the rock, wich was well known by all of them, being the site of many picnics. Many of the listeners at the school made the trip and they assembled in the amphitheatre of the rock. There, Horse Eagle told them that when he was a very young boy, his father took him on a journey west. They met a large group of Aztecs coming up out of Mexico, they joined the group and entered California up through the Imperial Valley.
After many days of traveling north, they came to the Painted Rock where the Aztecs exposed a cave, into which men could ride on horseback. At the top of the Painted Rock was a sacrificial altar, which - in the words of Horse Eagle - "was used for human sacrifice when he was there with his father". The shelf Horse Eagle showed to the villagers, was stained brown in a manner that seemed to verify his story. He said that when the Aztec party left the area, they resealed the entrance to the cave. According to Horse Eagle, the Aztecs were at war with the local Indians, because they were earth worshippers.
"All the ceremonial material was sealed in the cavern," Norman said to R.G. Babcock. He made no mention of any treasure...
"The old Indian visited us and told his story somewhere around 1925 to 1927. He did look old enough to make him the 100 years he claimed to be. I don't know what he stood to gain by a lie. His plea that the state take up the matter seemed to lend credence to his story."
Norman also had read some accounts of Indians carrying with them a large amount of material, coming up from Mexico and disappearing into the Superstition Mountains, northeast of what is now Phoenix, Arizona. "I have heard of another legend where Indians from Mexico went into the Superstition Mountains and never came out again.It would have been good if Painted Rock had been your answer, but due to the small size and verbal description of the cavern and its content if such exists, I'm afraid you'll have to seek elsewhere," Norman wrote to Babcock.
MAYAN and AZTEC artifacts, the jungle, haunting music performed on a clay Mayan flute...
The Mexican Connection
A skirt made of macaw feathers found in 1954 in a Utah cave confirms that there were "at least" trade ties with Mexico. Archaeologist Lyndon L. Hargrave examined the skirt and concluded that it was probably made in the 12th century by a Mexican Indian. It could have arrived in Utah by one of several trade routes. National Geographic had a picture of the skirt with its red and blue feathers still having their vivid colors.
The macaw feathers probably came from Yucatan, several hundred miles south of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City. Babcock states they were "found in Utah several hundred miles farther north of where I believe the Aztec treasure now lies. If the treasure now lies in a cave in Arizona then it appears they just followed known trade routes-at least in part-while travelling north back to Chicomoztoc."
According to Rosalee's letter, the Indian Chief Coatl said that it was the "house of God Sacred, it is forbidden". But Chief Coatl had the right to enter without fear. If the treasure was Aztec and Coatl had the right to see it, Coatl was propably Aztec too. In that case, in the year 1896 there had to be an Aztec tribe in the area!
"In the Mexican Republic there were numerous tribes and classes of people who wanted nothing to do with the Spanish authorities or anyone else," Babcock states. "To be left alone was their greatest desire, so they withdrew from the mainstream and fled to the impenetrable mountains to continue in their native ways. They are not receptive to outsiders and it is dangerous to invade their territory unless particularly invited by their elders. In this case Fleming and Hinkle were accompanied by the Chief and obviously invited."
On the Peralta Trail, in the Superstition Mountains
"How do I find the Aztec Treasure?"
... Babcock asked himself. Rosalee's letter had an unusual amount of descriptive terminology: "Trees in blossoming with strange yellow bark and twisted snake-like roots that made walking difficult..."
"The trees were a challenge and willows were my first suspect," says Babcock, "but after more research fast water and canyons didn't fit them. I stumbled around with the "trees" thing for several months. Then, exhausted, one night I folded an Arizona highway map and there on the back I noticed a picture of that elusive tree, the Arizona State tree, a Foothill Palo Verde, blossoming. I found a chart showing where Palo Verdes grow. It included about one eighth of the state of Arizona, a bit of California and lots of Mexico. My Palo Verde maps, however, indicated that the trees would not grow below 500 feet elevation and the top of the California Superstition Mountain was only 750 feet above sea level. It seems difficult to imagine a deep canyon on "top" of that Mountain and with water flowing through it. That certainly didn't match the area of Norman's story. Geological survey maps helped show where there were deep canyons. Altar Valley and the Vulture Mountains were good prospects. Altar Valley seemed close to Coronado's route, as did the Catalina Mountains, and it is my opinion that Coronado was following an old Aztec trail, sort of, perhaps unknowingly."
"The Taos, New Mexico, area could be the home of one of the seven Aztec caves, and Coronado's expedition to the area is also evidence of this possibility. This would have been the area where the Aztec migrants came from, as the deserts ate up the southwest, so quite naturally would have been the area most often talked about down in Mexico."
Babcock worked on locating caves, studied cave formations, geology, geologic cave structure, causative factors in cave making, areas where caves could and could not be found. At some point he was zeroing in on the Superstition Mountains, just outside modern-day Phoenix...
Hieroglyphics Trail, Superstition Mountains
The Legend of the Seven Cities or Caves and Aztec Artifacts in the United States
The Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca was on a ship that wrecked on the west coast of Florida. The survivors built several smaller craft while stranded there and then tried to sail the overloaded boats along the gulf coast to Veracruz, Mexico. This wasn't a good idea, since only four men - including Cabeza de Vaca - and no boats reached what is now known as east Texas. They traveled westward through what is now New Mexico and the southeast corner of Arizona, then southwest to Culiacan.
In 1538, barely 20 years after the conquest of the Aztec, Cabeza de Vaca heard the story of the Seven Cities of Cibola (= The Land of Buffalo) from some native people along the way. The cities - rich in gold, silver and precious stones - had to be found somewhere in the north. But the "cities" could also be "caves".
"For all the information that can be had on this subject, that is Indians, mystery treasure and lost gold mines in the Superstition Mountains," Babcock suggests reading A Motif Index for the lost mines and treasures applied to redaction of Arizona legends, and to lost mine and treasure legends exterior to Arizona, by Dr. Byrd Howell Granger. "She has included 339 legends, all of them supposedly from the Arizona area."
At about the same time, captain Cristabol de Gusman, a servant of Cortez, had a confrontation with the Yaqui Indians near the Yaqui River. On entering the battlefield the leader was easily recognized as an elderly man wearing a black robe studded with pearls. He carried a gold and mahogany "staff of office" with an elaborate carved handle. There were also some priests in black robes.
Babcock points out the correlation between the Yaqui and Aztec clothing and artifacts: "This seems to be evidence of the Aztec passing through this area and probably trading some artifacts for food."
In the spring of 1984, Treasure Found came out with a story of Aztec vidence in the Anza-Borrego Desert (Imperial Valley of California): "The head of a statuette was found some years ago that appeared to be the head of an Aztec rain-god known as Tlaloc. Legends gleaned from local Indians pointed to several hundred Aztec warriors carrying Montezuma's treasure into the north end of the local (California) Superstition Mountains." After packing the treasure deep into the cave the warriors were slain "so their spirits would protect it".
"I'm sure now that there is some truth in the many legends of the Southwest," Babcock says, "and though some of the Aztec treasure may be in the California Superstitions it was more likely that the treasure described in Rosalee's letter was in the Arizona Superstitions. The Aztec traveling the Imperial Valley in the 1830's (or before as in Norman's story) may be the origin of this story and the statuette's head may be further evidence they were there. Maybe we are looking for seven distinct caves and one of them is in the Anza-Borrego Desert!"
Babcock flew to Phoenix, rented a car and drove to Tucson. He followed the trail of that other famous explorer - Francisco Vázquez de Coronado - and spent three days driving and comparing Palo Verde with locations on his map. He had a great time seeing Arizona from Benson (no Palo Verde) to Gila Bend, then south of Tucson a few miles and back to Phoenix.
"Two books on the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine pointed out the similarities between it and the Aztec treasure. Both had Palo Verde trees in close proximity. Not everyone believed that the Dutchman had a gold mine. Some fine lady in the map section of the library on the University of Arizona, Tempe campus, first put me wise to that."
Babcock relates of a book by James Swanson and Tom Kollenborn, who went looking in the Superstition Mountains for an underground civilization and a huge treasure dating to the Inca or Aztec. Another reference told of a prospector who found 200 prehistoric war clubs in 1884 in the Arizona Superstition Mountains. These hardwood clubs were up to 20 inches long and carved with a hand grip on one end much like that of a policeman's: "They were carved and painted with crude artwork. Anyone who has seen pictures of Aztec war clubs might well imagine where these came from."
On the mule trails of the old Spanish routes were 300 Mexican straw sandals found, and some pieces of old Spanish armor. "Could it be armor that the Aztec picked off the western causeway after the battle with Cortez?"
According to Babcock, the treasure could have been carried north by Aztec men accompanied by younger boys and girls who discarded the extra sandals and war clubs after the treasure was safely deposited in the cave and the slaves were sacrified. The Aztec warriors and priests could have returned then to some mountain retreats in Sonora, Mexico where they propagated their culture. The "Peralta Map" of the Dutchman came from Sonora. There were stories about the Dutchman helping one of the Peralta family to win a fist fight, and being rewarded with a copy of the map.
In the Sierra Madre on the western side of Mexico lives a native group of people, known as the Huichol Indians. They speak in a language similar to Nauhatl, which was the common tongue of the Aztec. The Huichol still practice an ancient religion of myth and magic. To become a shaman it is necessary to learn the sacred traditions of the Huichol, including: meditations in the mountains, sexual abstinence, chanting for days and pilgrimages to sacred places...
Weaver's Needle, Bluff Spring Mountain and the Curse of the Thunder Gods
Babcock looked at the flow charts for the Salt and Verde Rivers from 1891-1900 and discovered that in 1891 there was ten times as much rainfall as in the following years. "The high water in 1891 obviously washed the top-soil out of the canyons, leaving the Palo Verde trees clinging by the tips of their roots. Could there be any other reason that the trees had, "twisted snake-like roots that made walking difficult"as mentioned in Rosalee's letter?"
In May 1984, Babcock rented a plane and flew over Weaver's Needle in the Superstition Mountains, just outside Phoenix: "I saw deep canyons with steep walls and Palo Verde blooming at the bottom. Shivers went up my spine. Fleming, Hinkle and Coatl could have been down there on this same day 88 years before."
"Among the many Indian legends of the Superstition Mountains, was one held by the peaceful Pimas who farmed near the Superstitions. They were afraid to go into the mountains and feared the reprisals of wrathful gods. They believed that those who ventured in never came out. Legends held by the Apache Indians included one that the People of the South once lived in the eastern end of the Superstition Mountains. Their leader was a very pompous person who ruled over a village located behind a peak named Middle Rock. (...) The great chief and ruler over a very large population which included large cities, extensive plains of this country, was a man called Montezuma, according to the Pima version (the Phoenix Gazette in 1893). This Montezuma, having some premonition that his people were about to suffer from some calamity, caused them all to assemble on the plains at the foot of the mountain (Superstitions). He then waved his wand, the mountain opened and his people entered. The stone gateway was then closed. This great chief and his people, to this day, dwell in the interior of this rugged mountain."
Babcock relates another legend, about a leader of the Aztec who loaded the treasure of gold and ornaments on the backs of countless slaves and took it north out of the reach of the invaders. After a long journey, they buried the slaves and the treasure within "a mysterious mountain that rose mightily from the desert floor."
Now, there may be two graveyards in Bluff Spring Mountain near Weaver's Needle in the Superstitions... and neither of them belongs to the Apache! If anyone who locates the Lost Dutchman Mine is cursed by the Thunder Gods, this curse may in fact apply to anyone trespassing the secret and sacred burial ground of the Apache. In Rosalee's letter hower, a "small dark mound" was mentioned, with "bones of many men"... and this was obviously a pile of Aztec sacrificial victims!
A certain Marjorie E. McNulty of Dunsmuir, California wrote in 1934 to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce that she had been in a "bone yard cave" as a captive, in 1907. In the same area, in 1879, two Mexicans were captured by more than 50 non-native Indians. One Mexican was tortured and killed in a cave while the other escaped.
"There are several reasons to believe the Aztec treasure may actually be in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona," Babcock concludes. "The preponderance of legends, with so many symbolic associations and topographic anomalies; the mystery of missing or murdered persons, on this particular mountain and at the times of the year that correspond to the primary Aztec ceremonies; and the sporadic pockets of gold that have been found."
Jacob Waltz, the Dutchman, and the Peraltas could have been searching the northwest corner of Bluff Spring Mountain. "The Peraltas came to this location, possibly with the intent of finding the Aztec treasure, using what is known as the Peralta-Ruth map, a picture map that was apparently obtained from an Aztec Indian in approximately the 1840s."
First, the Aztec treasure was secured or hidden in Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). After Cortez arrived, the treasure hunt started... but in secret. "The people were questioned for clues. The Spaniards ransacked and searched in a sly and sneaky manner. A discovery was soon made that the treasure had originally been buried in the base of the great pyramid, upon which stood the twin temples of the war-god and the rain-god. Later it had been moved to Montezuma's second palace, probably for greater security and sealed into a chamber where Cortez accidentally found it. Of all the authors I've read, only one bothered to mention the treasure having been originally buried beneath the pyramid."
The "hollow space under the pyramid" of Rosalee's letter was perfectly compatible with the Aztec history and way of thinking. The "hollow space under the pyramid" (in the cave) may not have been large enough to contain everything the Aztec brought. Perhaps the "piles of gold in grains and nuggets" were stacked outside. "In that case those who have discovered gold in the Superstitions, including the Peraltas, Apaches, or the Dutchman could have first come to the piles of gold and looked no further. That's assuming they all got into the Aztec cave to get what gold they had. This supposed separation might be an explanation, since none of them ever exhibited any Aztec artifacts."
"When Geronimo was captured in 1886, he tried to buy his way out of prison with gold ore that some say was hidden in a cave, but it may have been some other cave. His attempt failed and Geronimo was asked how the Apaches came by so much gold. He said that the Apache found it."
The Apacches gave Dr. Thorne, who did much to help the Indians around Fort McDowell, a bunch of gold ore at a rendezvous near Weaver's Needle... Some investigators believe the ore given to Dr. Thorne had come from the backpacks of burros and mules that fell into the hands of the Apache Indians after they massacred most of the Peralta party.
Jacob Waltz began living with his Apache girlfriend Ken-tee in Mesa, in an Indian style hogan some 13 miles from the Superstition Mountains. They both disappeared a short time later, but returned after several weeks with two burros loaded with gold ore for which they received $9,000. Not long after this, the Apaches came to Mesa on a raid, some say for the sole purpose of capturing Ken-tee and punishing her for telling Waltz about the Peralta mine. Her Indian captors cut out her tongue, and Ken-tee died in Waltz' arms.
Dr John D. Walker, another white man who married into and lived among the Pima Indians and who was a close friend of Jacob Waltz, was convinced that Ken-tee betrayed the tribal trust and showed Waltz the location of the mine. Walker believed that the gold could be used to help educate the Indian children and so he contacted Geronimo who said he couldn't (or wouldn't) help. He sent Walker to Cochise who told him that US Army Doctor Thorne, or Great White Medicine Man, did not receive gold that the Apaches took from a mine; it was gold that the Apaches had taken from the Peralta burros that were captured.
"Cochise also informed Dr. Walker that the Apache had watched the Peraltas hide the big hole from which they had recovered all their gold. He said that it was well hidden and on penalty of death by torture his people were forbidden to reveal it to the white men."
Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona
El Sombrero, Horseshoe Shaped Twin Peaks and Great Pyramids
R.G. Babcock firmly believes that the so-called Peralta Map was the motivating factor in the Peraltas coming to the Superstition Mountain area. He also believes they got the map from an Aztec Indian in the Sonora area.
"The Peralta Map is really just a picture. It is possible that the originator couldn't read, write, or understand a map as we know it, but had been to the area and remembered seeing Weaver's Needle on the right and the profile of an Indian on the left, while looking south. Most of the writers I have read believe Weaver's Needle to be the "El Sombrero" mentioned on the Peralta map. Of course, it does look somewhat like a hat, but in my opinion, Weaver's Needle is on the right and is marked "S. Cima," which translates "Holy Peak." Since the map brought the Peraltas to the Superstition Mountains, it seems that something out there was thought to be a "Holy Peak" long before the white man arrived in the area. Nothing comes close to that when compared to Weaver's Needle. El Sombrero is on the left of the picture and appears to be higher, which might only indicate that it is closer to the artist. I don't believe El Sombrero and Weaver's Needle are one and the same. Below the Sombrero is a cave with a housein it. It doesn't take much imagination to see the cave as the mouth of a profile, since you already have a hat or sombrero. Having established these two obvious points, it is only a bit harder to see a nose and an eye. It was my belief that I could walk up to the area and make out the profile. How many have tried this?"
In September, 1984, Babcock and his son climbed up through Fremont Saddle and followed the ridge east and north, hoping to walk right up to Weaver's Needle from the south and then look down on the profile.
"We walked out on a ridge that dropped off 200 feet on three sides and had to stop. In the Peralta Map is a ridge called Escardadea that appears to be the one we were on. We strained our necks looking north to see the profile or maybe El Sombrero, if it was still there. It had been my contention that the top of El Sombrero may have fallen into Needle Canyon in an earthquake in 1887. Its absence then causing others to suppose that El Sombrero is Weaver's Needle. In the "map," El Sombrero looks higher, but the words "Sierra Masalta" on the base of "S. Cima" (Weaver's Needle), mean highest mountain, so when the picture was drawn showing the sombrero as being taller it must have been because it was closer. The correction was immediately made in writing in Spanish, and probably by a Peralta. Why else would it have been drawn this way?"
They could only see what looked like the white tilted rim of a sombrero with the top missing. On that trip they proved the accuracy of the map on several points, but were not able to see the profile that so many talked about. In December, Babcock rented a helicopter and filmed and photographed the Needle Canyon himself, looking for the profile and a cave or ledge with a house in it.
The famous treasure hunter Celesta Jones was looking for a crevasse on or near Weavers Needle, because she believed Montezuma's treasure and some people were living in Weaver's Needle. Maybe it ressembled in some way Victoria (Victorio) Peak, located on the US Army missile range in the White Sands area of New Mexico, with its mysterious web of caves, discovered by "Doc" Noss in 1937 and loaded with uncut and cut gem stones, garments, robes, swords, coins, crowns and 16,000 "ancient" gold/copper bars. There were small adobe smelters inside the peak too and corridors with chambers on either side where there apparently lived a lot of people.
Babcock didn't find the profile he was looking for in Needle Canyon, so he went up Bluff Spring Canyon with his video recorder and camera. Much of the terrain matched the general description of Rosalee's letter.
"Is it possible that Weaver's Needle is S. Cima (Holy Peak) and is the pattern on which the great pyramid and temples in Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) were built?" Babcock was asking himself now. "Why do most pyramids the world over have only one room or temple on top, when they have one at all, but in Mexico many have two?"
This was the case with the great pyramid in Tenochtitlan and when you look at Weaver's Needle from the east, you'll get a quite similar picture. There are a lot of twin temples in northern Mexico, and Babcock began to wonder if each twin templed pyramid in Mexico represented a twin peaked mountain in the north.
The Painted Rock was horseshoe shaped and opened to the north. It had a sealed cave and human sacrifices were offered on the southeastrim of the horseshoe. Bluff Spring Mountain near Weaver's Needle wasalso shaped like a horseshoe and opened also to the north. Could there be really seven caves, located near a mountain with twin peaks?
Victorio Peak hided propably another Aztec cave: "There is another peak right near Victorio that is called Geronimo Peak so we have dual mountains if not twinpeaks in the White Sands area. However, Victorio Mountain itself actually has two peaks, though not nearly as pronounced as Weaver's Needle."