Case File: The Lost Dutchman Mine
Location: The Superstition Mountains, Arizona
Description: The Superstition Mountains in Arizona cover 160,000 acres of desolate, rugged terrain.
History: The Lost Dutchman Mine is possibly one of the famous lost treasures in history. According to legend, somewhere hidden in these mountains lie the richest deposits of gold in America-the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine. The exact location of the Lost Dutchman's Mine remains a mystery, but almost 100 years after the Dutchman sealed it up, a modern-day treasure hunter claimed that he had found the mine. Using clues handed down from Jacob's death-bed description, Walter Gassler spent most of his free time looking for the legendary mine, but when his health began to fail, Walt contacted Bob Corbin, who was then the Attorney General of Arizona and Tom Kollenborn, a local historian, but one day, Walt hiked alone into the Superstitions, never to be seen alive again. Three days later, ranch-hand Don Shade found his body. Walt had died due to a heart attack.
One month after Walt's death, Tom Kollenborn had a surprising visit from a man claiming to be Roland Gassler, Walt Gassler's son, who produced a gold brick from his father's possessions as "proof" of his identity. Since it looked very similar to the gold that allegedly came out of the Lost Dutchman mine, Tom obliged him and gave him the manuscripts. Two months later, he was approached by the real Roland Gassler. It's believed that this imposter might have stolen the gold brick from Walt; Don Shade who had found Walt's body, remembered seeing the backpack with him, and a stranger in the area that day.
Since then, the Superstition Mountains have been reclassified as a federally owned wilderness area. If the mine were found today, all the gold would belong to the government, but this does not deter other treasure hunters from searching for the Lost Dutchman.
Background: The Lost Dutchman Mine was founded by a German prospector named Jacob Waltz in 1876, but he died of pneumonia before he could show anyone where it was. Nick-named "The Dutchman," Jacon gave his best friend, Julia Thomas, and a local miner, Rhinehart Petrasch, clues to the mine's location. 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. 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 fifty years, but when he realized he would never find it, he took his own life. Today, the lost gold would be worth over 200 million dollars.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the March 15, 1989 episode. The case was also mentioned on the show Disappeared, featured in an episode about missing prospector Jesse Capen.
- Lost Dutchman Mine on Unsolved.com
- The Superstition Mountains Museum
- Lost Dutchman Mine on Wikipedia