Saturday, June 6, 2015

"The Lost Dutchmen Mine" Season 2 Episode 1

The episode "The Lost Dutchmen Mine" first aired on December 24, 1977 . It was written and produced by Terry A. Landau.

Only 3 months passed between the end of season one and the start of season two. Obviously they were trying to build off of the popularity of the show and not lose momentum. I find it interesting that they chose to begin on Christmas eve! Season two now tells us the series is produced by Andy White. The same disclaimer and voice over that came into being during season one is here.

Nimoy introduces us to Arizona's Superstition Mountains. He tells us a little tale dating back to 1860 when a miner known as "The Dutchmen" staggered toward someone's home after having been tortured by Indians and walking for days in the blazing sun. This event is beautifully recreated.

The Dutchmen reported he had found a mine filled with large nuggets of gold. He was never strong enough to return and the secret of the mine's location died with him. Nimoy tells us these mountains have become a "beacon for adventurers" starting with Weaver's Needle.

Nimoy explains that many believe this area contains "magic powers". Now for some history. Spanish Conqusitadors explored this area in search oft he legendary place known as "Cibola". They believed it was made up of seven cities made of gold. They tortured Native Americans looking for the cities. The Apache people who live here, tell stories of a city underground whose entrance is kept secret and guarded by snakes and lightening bolts. Now the stock footage of Indians singing and dancing. While this plays we hear that the Dutchmen claimed his partner was murdered by the Apache. Perhaps he truly did find this hidden Kingdom? Nimoy reminds us that gold has an effect on people, almost mesmerizing them.

Gold has been sought after for centuries by humans. It has become a universal symbol of wealth. Nimoy tells us that since The Dutchmen's death, no old gold mine has been discovered in the Superstition Mountains. Despite this, stories and legends persist. Treasure hunters continue to look for The Dutchmen's lost mine.

Nimoy explains that some new technology is helpful for treasure hunters today, but that intuition seems to still be a part of their hunt. Nimoy tells us about retired Science professor Pat Bowl who found $13,000 worth of gold in the Superstition Mountains. Hardly the mother lode The Dutchmen claimed, but a nice little find.

We next hear about the 1878 Gold Rush in Bodie, CA. Nimoy explains how it went from nothing to a bustling hive of activity once gold was announced.

The town grew almost instantly, but only lasted two years.By 1882 the town was nearly abandoned. Today it is ghost town almost untouched since 1882.

Nimoy explains that this type of thing happened often among the gold rush towns of the west. Today many treasure hunters still wonder if gold that was untapped remains in the western hills. We now meet Robert Blair who has written a book about the lost Dutchmen's Mine. This book is called Tales of the Superstitions: The Origins of the Lost Dutchman's Legend. Blair explains that there is some mineral evidence that gold is still hidden, or else treasure hunters would have given up by now. 

Blair discusses how treasure hunters also are drawn by braving the wild environment and animals to find the treasure. Blair tells of an event in 1931 that drew the public's attention. We hear the story of Adolph Ruth, a Washington bureaucrat who traveled into the Superstition Mountains looking for the Dutchmen's Mine. He was confident, but very unexperienced and perhaps naive. Six months later, other adventurers found Ruth's skull. His mysterious death did not persuade others it was too dangerous. We hear that hundreds have died looking for the mine. Some have died from lack of water, others under mysterious circumstances. Packmaster and Guide Jerry Crater has led many adventures looking for gold.

In a very colorful narrative, Crater tells us about the type of people he encounters. He explains they are often fanatical. They believe they will find gold. The odds are 10,000 to 1, but that doesn't seem to stop them. We meet prospector Jay Heston. Heston has found gold, but he does not believe the Dutchmen's mine exists.

Prospectors often use dynamite to find gold. This is a very dangerous method and often leads to injuries or even death. The Mountains are marked with holes where prospectors have been looking. Back to the Apache. People looking for the mine, can't help but connect with the Apache. Phillip Cassadore, an Apache spiritual leader is interviewed.

Cassadore also has a vast knowledge of the history of his people. Cassadore explains how the legend of the mine connects to his people. He says the Apache story of the underground city is probably true and how the legend of the mine came to be. While Cassadore talks, the stock footage of Indians singing and dancing plays. He seems to believe carrying the correct stone and reciting the traditional prayer is the only way to find the hidden entrance. They believe looking for gold is not a valid reason to violate the cave. So if he knows where it is, he's not saying. Next we are introduced to Glen McGill who is a private investigator in Oklahoma. McGill believe the mystery can be solved with the right techniques. He was hired in 1963 to find the mine. McGill claims to have found the mine in 1966. but not gold. In 1976, his return trip was documented. McGill has spent thousands in his 14 year search for the gold. He is confident he will eventually find it. I actually feel bad for this guy. He doesn't look like he is ready for outside strenuous activity. An older man who is overweight and a chain smoker, I fear looking for this mine may have killed him!

One final story. Prospector Milt Rose tells us he spoke with three men who were with the Dutchmen when he died. Rose is quite old in 1977, and so it is plausible. They drew him a map like th eone the Dutchmen had drawn for them. Rose says he found the mine and got about $18,000 worth of gold out of the mine. Rose says it is located in a canyon about 4800 feet. I'm happy to report we also get a final quote from the colorful Packmaster Jerry Crater. "My personal opinion is that there's more gold in my back teeth than in these here Mountains. I just don't believe its here."

"Dutchmen hunters have never been popular among the Apaches who still regard the Superstition Mountains as sacred. The environmentalists don't like gold seekers either. They want to preserve the mountain as a wilderness area. The Apaches and the environmentalists have won their case in Congress. In 1984 the Superstition Mountains will be off limits to treasure hunters and prospectors. Passing a law is one thing. Banishing a dream is another." Nimoy delivers a poetic conclusion as usual. Does this mean the mystery of the mine will never be solved? Maybe!

This was an ok episode. The production was decent, with good reenactments and location shots. The "mystery" doesn't feel all that mysterious or creepy to me. They tried to hint at times that it may be some large mystery with the references to the seven cities of gold and the Apache stories. Gold fever is powerful and exists throughout the west even today. I have traveled to Sacramento, California and studies the gold rush there so I have decent sense for it. But for a series that purports to investigate the strange and mysterious, I don't buy it for the "lost mine". I doubt any type of gold is there and I would guess the Dutchmen may have have been affected by his ordeal into believeing he had found a mine rather than reality.

You can watch this episode "The Lost Dutchmen Mine" below.

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