History of Apache Junction

Apache Junction is a city full of rich history, located in Maricopa and Pinal Counties. The desert town was named in 1978 for its junction of the Apache Trail and U.S. Route 60. The discovery of the city is centered on the Superstition Mountains and the legend of Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

Apache Junction boasts generations of regional lore. The Superstition Mountains, commonly called “The Superstitions” have always been a place of intrigue and mystery. Apache Indians believe that the hole leading down into the underworld is located in the mountains and that blowing winds from that hole are the cause of severe dust storms. The most infamous legend regarding the Superstitions involves the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. Because of this legend, the mountains have been blamed for many the disappearances and deaths of mine-seekers and hikers including:

  • 1931: Explorer and Prospector Adolph Ruth
  • The mid-1940s: Prospector James A. Cravey
  • 2009: Prospector Jesse Caper
  • 2010: Hikers Curtis Merworth, Ardean Charles, and Malcolm Meeks

But legends and lore are typically only that. A German immigrant named Jacob Waltz (1810-1891) claimed to have discovered a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains. Waltz refused to reveal its location until he became gravely ill and disclosed it to the woman who cared for him, Julia Thomas. Since 1892, over 8,000 fortune hunters, television shows and government figures like Former Arizona Attorney General Bob Corbin have looked for the fabled stash of gold to no avail.

Apache Junction is also home to Goldfield Ghost Town. In 1892, gold discovery in the area sparked a population boom of over 4,000 residents. It was one of the richest gold mines in the United States at the time, but when the gold mines emptied out, the town died in 1898. In 1921, anxious prospectors who had heard of the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine entered the town with new hopes and technologies and the town bubbled back to life slightly. Again, the gold veins dried out and the town died a second time in 1926. Eventually, the town was renovated as a tourist attraction and still boasts a few of Goldfield’s earliest buildings. Don’t miss the narrow gauge train, mine tours, stores and the famed steak house at Goldfield.

For a complete guide to Apache Junction, including a full directory of businesses and events, visit www.apachejunction.com.