A quiet fascination has troubled me for the past thirty-five
years. As a boy, I lived in Chandler,
Arizona. In the early 50's all the mountains in Arizona seemed remarkably
close, as there was no air pollution. I
was always able to look at the Superstition Mountains and make mental notes of
By 1955, my father bought a new home in Apache
Junction. It was at this time I met
Barney Bernard, the author of a book about the Superstition Mountains and the
Lost Dutchman Mine. My father was doing some construction work on Barney's home
and I was helping him. This gave me the opportunity to enjoy several long talks
with Barney. He first introduced me to the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mines.
By 1957, I was making many trips into the Superstitions
which lasted several days. I learned the different canyons and their
names: First Water, Wiskey Springs,
etc. I also learned the many trails
with their Spanish names. I have spent
many years learning about and finding different places in the Superstitions and
have developed a great love for the mountains that has lasted until this day.
In this book I will share with you many of the mysteries
which I have uncovered, from the early Spanish conquest to the Dutchman and
beyond. Because Barney Bernard shared his secrets with me, I also will share
mine with you in hopes you may come to appreciate the rich history and beauty
of the Superstition Mountains.
From between the twin peaks of Popocateptl and Ixtaclhuatl,
the Spaniard gazed down upon the valley below. The year was 1519 and the moment marked the first time Spanish
eyes had ever beheld the city of Tenochtitan, the site of the mighty Aztec
Within the massive stone walls, the ancient Indian
civilization flourished. In the fields
below, corn, beans, tomatoes, and squash grew abundantly. Tanned leather and
beautiful cotton textiles were being traded in the marketplace. The buildings exhibited a mastery of the
arts of carpentry and masonry. But, amidst all the majestic splendor, the
vision that embedded itself into the mind of Hernando Cortez was that of the
exquisitly crafted models of birds and fish--for they were solid gold! Riches, all to be claimed for his
The fact that the Aztecs, under the rule of Montezuma II,
forced tribute, as well as occasional human sacrifices, from the neighboring
tribes was, undoubtably, reason enough for Cortez to find them easy
allies. In 1521, Cortez led his Spanish
troops, aided by these vengeful, rival tribes, to topple the Aztec empire.
Montezuma II was killed, the great city destroyed, and the survivors made
subject to Spanish rule.
By 1522, a new city stood upon the once sacred ground of
Tenochtitan. Under the guidance of Cortez, now governor, it would grow into
what is now known as Mexico City. In 1535,
Spain declared Mexico a viceroyalty, and to encourage settlement and
Christianization, began the practice of bestowing land grants. Noblemen, military men, and the church
landowners were entrusted with these responsibilities. At the same time and with great zeal, they
began to ravage the land of its mineral wealth, sending the spoils back to
In 1536, another explorer, Cabeza de Vaca, was sailing home
after traveling with Panfilo de Narvaez to Florida. Tragedy struck and Vaca found himself, along with three other
shipmates, the only surviviors as their vessel wrecked onto the coast of
present day Texas.
The small band trekked through what is now New Mexico to
finally reach the Spanish frontier of Mexico.
With them they brought stories of great cities of gold lying in the land
to the north. The people began to wonder if the old Spanish legend of the seven
cities of gold, in the lost region of Cibola, were really true.