The Goldfield Mountains are the lesser known cousin of the more popular Superstitions. They are just to the north and east of Apache Junction and separated from the Superstitions by a small level valley. The Goldfields are also where the gold was found, not the Superstitions. The Goldfield Mining District as the area was known centered mainly in this valley stretching from the base of Superstition Mountain and into the Goldfields. The Bulldog and the Mammoth mines were the big producers during the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s. Between 1893 and 1986, more than 60,000 ounces of gold and 21,000 ounces of silver were produced in the area.
Back in 1893, after Jacob Waltz (of the lost Dutchman mine fame) died, a flash flood uncovered a rich vein of gold in this little valley. Prospectors discovered this and soon sunk a shaft to follow the gold. the ore body was 30 feet wide and 200 feet long. Then another flash flood in 1894 submerged the workings and closed the mine. It was reopened again in 1910 and was worked for a few more years. Then the ore started running out but some diehards kept at it until about 1973. The main mine shaft went down 1000 feet with a number of drifts. This was known as the Young Mine, the Goldfield mine and the Mammoth Mine. Today the tourist attraction mining town of Goldfield sits on or near the old mine site.
The Bulldog mine was just a few miles away. Again prospectors found a surface outcrop and dug a shaft to follow the gold vein underground. It was discovered in 1892 and produced until 1942. The main shaft went down 100 feet with several drifts. Some other shafts were dug nearby. Today the shaft has been sealed and the only thing left is a small tailings pile. The Bulldog was also known as the Mary Jane. Several mining claims were filed in the same immediate area.
Back right up against Superstition Mountain the Palmer Mine opened up in about 1910 and was worked until 1942. Production was small with the main shaft sunk down about 215 feet deep. Today the site is nearly obliterated with just a trace of tailings and covered with vegetation. This mine is best remembered by the mining promotions the owner conducted to squeeze funds out of eastern investors.
Prospectors were encouraged by the early success of the Bulldog and Mammoth Mines and dozens of prospect holes were dug all over the northern slopes of the Superstitions and throughout the valley and into the Goldfields. Today hikers can stumble upon several of these but there isn’t much to see except a few open vertical shafts, some surface junk (mostly pieces of old boards and a few tailing piles). Many of the shafts have been backfilled and /or fenced off. Mother Nature is slowly reclaiming the land.
Today some small scale and recreational mining still takes place in the Goldfields. The old Bluebird mine right along the Apache Trail is for sale and the Wasp mine appears to be a working small scale leaching operation. A few people take their metal detectors out and nugget shoot but mostly find old nails, bottlecaps, cans, and bullets. Some still pan the black sands in the washes and they might find a few flecks of flour gold. If you wander around out there you can still find old claim markers and old prospect holes. Be sure not to prospect on any current mining claim though.
The Goldfields are a great place to hike but there are few developed trails. Some jeep trails venture into the area and into the popular Bulldog Canyon and these can be used to access the more remote portions of the Goldfields. Take your gold pan with you. You never know, there could be a speck of gold out there with your name on it.