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ARIZONA

The Lost Four Peaks Gold Mine

THE TALE


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The Four Peaks area comprises the southern portion of the Mazatzal Mountains, an extensive range that forms the western boundary of the famous Tonto Basin. The Four Peaks have always been an important landmark in this part of Arizona. Nearly 8000 feet high, they dominate the skyline. From the highest peak, one has a panoramic view of the Superstition Mountains rising up less than 10 miles to the south. To the north, the rugged peaks and ridges of the central and northern Mazatzals seem to go on forever.

Hidden by the intervening peaks, the historic site of old Fort Reno lies about 14 miles north of the Four Peaks area. The Reno Road, built in 1867, connected the fort to the network of military posts springing up in Arizona during the late 1800's. Fort Reno was constructed on the eastern flanks of the Mazatzal Mountains, overlooking Tonto Creek to the east. The Mazatzal peak known as Mount Ord rises only four miles to the northwest of the old fort. Beyond Mount Ord, the mountains march away to the northwest.

During the 1800's, the Mazatzal Mountains were in the middle of Apache country. The Tonto Apaches wandered these mountains in search of game, but occasionally found something else. For years, rumors had circulated of a hidden Apache gold mine in or near the Mazatzals. The local Tonto Apaches always seemed to have plenty of gold nuggets for trading. During the 1850's, the famous Dr. Abraham Thorne was led to an Apache gold mine by friendly Tontos. Although blindfolded for most of the way, Thorne insisted till the end of his days that the mine was in the Salt River country. In 1853, Francis X. Aubry saw local Apaches making bullets out of gold!

Many prospectors have searched the Mazatzals for the lost Four Peaks gold mine. Unfortunately, most of them ended up dead. At least two accounts place a rich gold-bearing quartz deposit somewhere along the western flanks of the Four Peaks. In one case, a pair of prospectors discovered the lode but were later killed by Apaches. In the other, a cowboy stumbled on the gold deposit while searching for cattle. He was never able to find the mine again.

MINING HISTORY

Historically, the Mazatzal Mountains have produced very little gold. The nearest mining districts are Goldfield, which is located just west of the Superstitions, and the so-called "Mazatzal District", which is located just south of the site of old Fort Reno. The Mazatzal District lies about 12 miles north of the Four Peaks area.

Like most of the mining districts in Arizona, the Goldfield District was first worked by Spanish and Mexican prospectors. When the Americans entered the area, they rediscovered most of the old mines and made a few new strikes of their own. American prospectors filed the first claims at Goldfield in 1886, but the first really big strike didn't occur until


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1893 when the Mammoth Mine was discovered. The Mammoth lode was amazingly rich. It consisted of native gold in corroded, oxidized quartz. A mining camp quickly sprang up. It came to be known as Goldfield, but like most boom towns, it was short-lived. In 1897, the mines were forced to close down by an act of nature. A huge downpour flooded the mine shafts.