This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Why there are no photos of the Lost Dutchman


If you're an Arizona history fan, you've heard of the Lost Dutchman. He was an old prospector who found a fabulous gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. And yes, he really existed. His name was Jacob Waltz, and you can even go visit his grave at the Pioneers' Cemetery at 15th Avenue and Jefferson. But no one really knows exactly what he looked like, and for good reason.

I collect old photos of Phoenix and the people who lived there, and since I have photos of just about everyone from John Alsap to Dwight Heard, sometimes people ask me if I have a photo of the Lost Dutchman. And when I say that I don't, even though a lot of people have claimed to have it, I can tell that they're disappointed with me. But it doesn't really surprise me. Time-travel with me.

Yes, there was a lot of gold around territorial Phoenix. Those aren't just tall tales! The really big stuff was northwest of Phoenix, especially around Wickenburg, but the entire Salt River Valley was worth taking a look for gold. And people found it!

The Lost Dutchman would have been pretty typical of the type of man that was constantly searching for gold. Now, hold your nose and let's walk up to one of these guys. Yeah, they weren't too concerned with their personal appearance! Chances are pretty good that they're wearing the same clothes that they slept in, under the stars, for months and months. Hopefully you're getting a better picture of Jacob Waltz in your mind. Now imagine how unlikely it would have been that he would have posed for a photograph. Personally, I can't imagine him going into a photography studio in Phoenix and smiling for the camera. And if anyone had shown up anywhere near him with one of them-thar new-fangled Kodak cameras (not that it was likely), they probably would have been lucky not to get shot at!

So, since I'm a volunteer at the Pioneers' Cemetery Association, and I supply photos of the famous Phoenix people buried there, I drew a cartoon of the Lost Dutchman for them. It's the best I can do.


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