The Superstition Mountains are seeing a dramatic increase in "treasure" hunters in the mountain range near Phoenix, Arizona. Not only do visitors to the area continue to search for the mythical Lost Dutchman’s treasure, but rescue teams are continuing their search for another sort of prize: three men who went treasure hunting last Tuesday and have not been heard from since.
In a bizarre twist, one of the men had to be rescued from the Superstition Mountains last year while searching for the same treasure.
The three men from Utah informed their families they were leaving for a few days and staying at one of the Phoenix hotels near the mountains, but since then communication stopped. Their SUV was found at a trailhead command post, and the men are believed to be lost, reports the local Phoenix media Azfamily.com.
Six teams of helicopter pilots, hikers, horseback riders and rescue human and cadaver scent dogs have been out in the search for the three.
The Superstitious Mountains are part of the Tonto National Forest and are open to the public throughout the year. There are numerous trails that lead around the mountains and the Lost Dutchman’s state park. Some are lengthy and difficult, others are short and easy to follow, with some water pools weaving through.
Treasure hunters have been searching the Mountains for centuries in hopes of finding a gold mine that is promised to exist there in the legend of the Lost Dutchman. The mythical story of a possible treasure hidden in the Superstition Mountains lures treasure hunters even during extreme weather, when there are few visitors.
The story of the Lost Dutchman begins with a prospector Jacob Waltz, who was a rich German with a buried gold mine in the mountains east of the Apache Junction in the 1880’s. Legend says that the "Dutchman" (who was indeed really a German) returned to the Mountains with ‘quantities of bonanza gold ore,’ according to the Superstition Mountains Museum website.
Several readers of the Azfamily.com news site were angered with what they saw as a waste of their tax dollars spent on extensive search efforts, and expressed the thought that the ancient myth needs to, as one reader put it, 'stop killing people.'