Miguel Peralta was a descendant of Pedro Peralta de Cordoba (Governor of Santa Fe in 1608) and heir to the land that contained the Superstition Mountains. In 1845, while exploring the family lands, he discovered a vein of almost pure gold on Superstition Mountain. He made himself a map and based the location on a peculiar peak he called the Sombrero. He returned to Mexico and gathered up a workforce and returned to his mine, which he referred to as The Sombrero Mine.
The peak he called the Sombrero was called the “Finger of God” by the Mexican workers. Later explorers called it by the name it is still known as today, Weaver’s Needle.
Peralta had brought a substantial workforce to the mine. For three years they pulled out tons of gold. They shipped much of it to Sonora.
Meanwhile, the Apache were unhappy with the miners. Not only were they defiling sacred ground, but also some of the Apache women were regular visitors to the camp. In 1848, Mangas Colorado and his braves joined Cochise and his braves for an attack on the miners.
Peralta found out about the Apache plans. He withdrew from the mine and established a makeshift fort higher up on the mountain. He then went to great pains to hide the mine, so that on his eventual return, the gold would still be there. He is said to have buried a substantial amount of the gold and loaded what ever they could carry on their burros.
The Indians were reluctant to attack such a strong dug in force. Peralta knew they could not stay forever, so he planned to get his force together and move out one morning before dawn, with the hopes that the Apache would not he ready for this move.
One of the workers was in love with an Apache girl. Knowing they were leaving the following morning and he would never see her again, he snuck out to meet her. He was captured by the Apache and during the night was “convinced” to reveal Peralta’s plan.
The Apache set up an ambush and waited at the northwest end of the mountain at the foot of sheer cliffs. At dawn, the unsuspecting Mexicans were moving out with the burros laden with gold. They were caught completely by surprise. There were no survivors. In 1850, US Army Troops came across the remains of the party. The area is still known as Massacre Ground.
This left three treasures to be claimed: The buried gold, the burros, and the mine itself.
Many believe that there never was any gold buried. There are no records of it ever being found or any detailed search.
In the 1850’s a couple of prospectors named Hurley and O’Connor found three of the backpacks. They secretly took them to the mint in San Francisco and turned the gold in for $37,000. It was wise of them to not broadcast their find around Apache Junction. The area was lawless and carrying gold could mean your life. They made more visits and found more of the backpacks. Some of the locals started to look at them with suspicion and the Apache were still a force to be reckoned with, so they discreetly moved out of the area. They both died old and rich.
The last known backpack find was in 1914 by C. H. Silverlocke. The backpacks were discovered in the area known as Goldfield. No one knows exactly how many backpacks there were or how many were found. Could there still be more out there?
Or course, the mine is the source for all this wealth and has been searched for continuously from 1850 to today. Many believe the “Lost Dutchman Mine” is Peralta’s Vein (the Lost Dutchman Story is presented separately in the Arizona listings).
It is to be noted that a Charles Hall of Denver bought up some claims in the area for the very high sum of $50,000. He was an experienced prospector and noticed some evidence that heavy lodes had been transported over a hill. He also noticed a boulder that looked out of place. He thought this could be evidence of Peralta or the Dutchman’s finds. He brought in equipment and men and pulled out over three million dollars worth of gold. A boomtown sprang up to support the miners with gambling, drink and women.
Goldfield Ghost Town
The Apache believed that the gods would deal with these men. One day the clouds opened up. Massive flash floods swept through the mining camp and obliterate all traces of the mine. The original shaft was buried under tons of rock and sand. No one has yet to find the vein, although there is no doubt it is out there.