Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The Peralta Stones: Key to the Lost Dutchman’s Mine?

The Superstition Mountains of Arizona, the Legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, and the Peralta Stones are inextricably linked. The entire story supposedly began in 1748 when the Peralta family are said to have started mining silver and gold in the Superstition Mountains. With the Mexican War of 1848, law and order disintegrated in the area and the Apache Indians grew increasingly hostile, attacking the miners almost continuously. It is said, that disaster finally overtook the Peralta family in September 1848 with a general massacre by the Apaches. Following this massacre the Apaches controlled the Superstition Mountains until 1865.  Supposedly after the massacre of 1848 the Indians filled the mine shafts and disguised the remains.

Jacob Waltz, the “Dutchman” enters the picture in 1871 with his partner Jacob Weiser.  The two immigrants supposedly purchased a map drawn by the original Peralta family and located the mine “within an imaginary circle whose diameter is not more than five miles and whose center is marked by the Weaver’s Needle.”  Weiser soon vanished...the victim of either, Indians, desperados, or Waltz, depending on which story you want to believe. The Dutchman continued working the mine, carrying the secret of its location to the grave with him in 1891.

 For over fifty years after the death of the Waltz, treasure hunters followed the ambiguous clues that the Dutchman left behind as to the whereabouts of the mine, such as these helpful clues:

“No miner will find my mine. To find my mine you must pass a cow barn. From my mine you can see the military trail, but from the military trail you cannot see my mine. The rays of the setting sun shine into the entrance of my mine. There is a trick in the trail to my mine. My mine is located in a north-trending canyon. There is a rock face on the trail to my mine.”

Something significant changed in 1949 when the so called Peralta Stones were discovered in the desert. A Mexican bracero (a legal migrant laborer) was digging fence posts near Black Point, in Pinal County, when he came across a large flat stone.  He dug the stone out only to find that it was covered in strange writing.  He recognized a Spanish word, Indian petroglyphs, and some Spanish markings.  In all, the bracero dug up three stones carved with writing and a crude map. The bracero hauled the curious stones into Florence Junction, three miles away, where he washed them, and prepared to sell the curious stones to any willing tourist who might come along.  
Robert G. Tumlinson (or Travis E. Tumlinson depending on who is telling the story) of Portland, Oregon turned out to be that tourist.  The bracero pocketed the equivalent of a week’s wages, and Tumlinson drove off with the stones.  Tumlinson went on to Phoenix, to visit his brother.  The two brothers thoroughly washed the rocks and examined them, determining that what they were looking at was some kind of coded map.

There a number of variations on exactly how, where, and by whom the Stones were discovered, but many “Dutch Hunters” believe that the Stones refer to the location of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine and that they were carved by the Peralta family. The Stones consist of two red sandstone tablets and a heart-shaped rock made of red quartzite. Each red stone block is carved with lines and one long line. When the two blocks are placed side by side and the stone heart is inserted the long line has 18 dots pecked into it. This style of map is known as a Post Road Map and it is a style used in Mexico and Spain during the period of the Mexican-American War. Inscribed on one the stones is the date 1847, and one stone contains a sunken relief of a heart, into which the heart-shaped stone fits perfectly. The back of the stone that the heart-shaped stone fits into has the outline of a cross carved into it.

Apparently, Tumlinson spent a number of years in the Superstition Mountains trying to track down clues from the Stones.  The Stones emerged again in the early 1960s, after Tumlinson’s death.  One Clarence O. Mitchell persuaded Tumlinson’s widow that he could decipher the stone maps.  Mitchell organized the M.O.E.L. Corp. in Nevada and began a stock selling campaign among his friends and close associates to raise capital for the treasure expedition. Mitchell raised more than $70,000 over a two-year period. Eventually Mitchell ran into difficulties with the Securities and Exchange Commission for over selling the number of shares the corporation had issued.  The corporation was forced into bankruptcy.

In 1964, freelance writer Richard B. Stolley sold a story about the stone maps to Life magazine.  The article provided the first public photographs of the Peralta Stones (although certain markings on the maps were covered by black tape).  These photographs inflamed the nation’s imagination.

In 1967, Barry Storm, the “Dean of American Treasure Hunters”, wrote an article for Treasure Hunters in an attempt to decipher the Peralta Stone Maps. This article was followed by a variety of other writers, photographers, film makers, and con men who have since used the Peralta maps as a factual source for treasure hunting in the Superstition Mountains.

So the real question is, “Are the Peralta Stones real or fakes?”  Do they present genuine clues, or phony clues?  For more than seventy years the Peralta Stones have been the subject of heated controversy.  Over this time period those who’ve studied the maps have remained firmly and pretty evenly divided into two separate camps: (1) those who believe, and (2) those who do not believe. It does not appear that this will change anytime soon.

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