|THE HAUNTED SUPERSTITION MOUNTAINS|
|<---The Superstition Mountains towering above the ghost town of Goldfield|
| The Superstition Mountains lie just east of Phoenix, Arizona. This chain is about 40 miles long and 15 miles wide. Weaver's Needle is a famous landmark in this chain. It rises to over 4500 feet. The sorrounding land is at an elevation of about 1500 to 1800 feet. The mighty mountains rise to elevations of over 6,000 feet. Many of the mountains go nearly straight up, and seem impossible to climb. The Superstitions have been claiming men's lives since the first men set foot in them.
The first Spanish conquistidors arrived in 1540 with Coronado. They were looking for the "Seven Golden Cities of Cibola." Strange things started to happen when they got to the Superstitions. The area Indians told them that the mountains were full of gold, but that it was the home of the Thunder God. They said the Thunder God would kill all who set foot on his sacred land. The Spanish ignored the warning and proceeded to climb up the trails and look for gold. The Indians would not accompany them because they were to scared to set foot in these mountains. As Coronado and his men continued on, they noticed that if a man strayed away from the group for only a few minutes, he would disappear. A group would search for the man. He would be found mutilated and decapitated. This happened to a few men before Coronado decided it was to dangerous and left the mountains. He named them Monte Superstition. The name has stuck ever since.
Some of the next people to settle in this area was the prospectors of the mid to late 1800's. Jacob Waltz was one of these men (see Lost Dutchman Gold Mine story). While he mined these mountains in the mid 1870's, nothing semed to happen to him. But his partner Jacob Weiser disappeared. Some speculate that Waltz killed him, or he was killed by Apaches, or he died by the strange forces that exist in these mountians. During this era, many miners disappeared in these mountains, never to be seen again. At this time, the legends of the mountains were brushed off. Many thought the missing men had been murdered by other prospectors protecting their claims, fallen to their deaths, or just left the area for good. It is in recent years that we come to understand that there is more to this than meets the eye. The Indians were onto something. There were starnge forces and/or occurances that seemed to happen with regularity in these mountains.
The deaths that happened since records have been kept can't even be counted. We can can chalk up the deaths of the Peralta party (100 to 400 deaths, depending on the source) to Apache Indian attack. Since then, the Apaches have been removed out of the area. Many records of unexplained deaths have happened since 1880. These are a few:
In 1880, two soldiers just discharged from Ft. McDowell found gold in the Superstitions on their way to the Silver King Mine to get a job. When they reached the mine, the superintendant was immeadiately interested in their find. He went into a partnership with them. They returned to the Superstitions to find their discovery. Two weeks later, no one had heard from them and a search party was sent out for them. They were found in these mts. with bullets in their heads.
In 1881, Joe Dearing managed to find the same mine. He needed to excavate all the rocks and debris out of the old mine. This would take time and money. He went to work at the Silver King mine to earn enough money to finance his endeavor. A week later he was killed in a mine cave in.
Another man named Eliha Reavis, known as the "Madman of the Superstitions," lived on the Superstitions since 1872. The Indians left him alone because they feared men who were crazy, strange or mad. He was said to run naked through the canyons at night firing his pistol at the sky. In 1896, his decomposed body was found with his head severed. That same year, two Easterners were looking for the lost mine and were never seen again.
In 1910, a woman's skeleton was found high up on Superstition Mountain. She was found in a cave and she had a little bag of gold nuggets in her possession. It was not known what happened. In 1927 and 1928, people going up certain trails had big boulders rolled down on them from above.
In June of 1931, Adolph Ruth left the east for the Superstitions. He claimed he had an old Peralta map of the lost gold mine. A few days later his campsite was found in order, but he was nowhere to be found. In December, his skull was found with two holes in it on Black Top Mountain. The rest of his body was found a month later about 3/4 of a mile away. The treasure map was nowhere to be found.
In 1937, Guy Frink found rich gold deposits in the Superstitions. In November of the same year, he was found shot in the stomach beside a trail. He still had a small sack of gold ore beside him.
In 1947, James Cravey made a highly publicized trip into the Superstitions. He was dropped into La Barge Canyon by helicopter, next to Weaver's Needle. When he failed to hike out as planned, a search party found his camp, but no sign of him. The next February, his headless skeleton was found a good distance from his camp. It was tied in a blanket. His skull was about 30 feet away. Three Texas boys hiked into the Superstitions in the late 1940's and were never seen again.
In 1951, Dr. John Burns was found shot to death in the Superstitions. In 1952, Joseph Kelley went looking for the lost gold mine. He was never seen again. In 1954, his body was found by Weaver's Needle. He had been shot from directly above. The same year, two California boys hiked into the mts. and were never seen again.
In January of 1956, a man sent a search party to look for his brother, who went in search of the lost mine. He was found with a bullet hole in his head. In October 1960, a group of hikers found the headless skeleton of Franz Harrier near the base of a cliff. In January of 1961, a family picknicking near the foot of the mountains found the body of Hilmer Charles Bohen. He had been shot in the back. Two months later, Walter J. Mowry was found shot to death in Needle Canyon.
In the fall of 1961, the search began for Jay Clapp. He had prospected the Superstitions off and on for 15 years, but hadn't been seen since July. Three years later, his headless skeleton was found. He was identified by his two cameras with his initials scratched into them. Many more have happened, but these are justa few of the strange occurances that have happened in the Superstition Mountains.