Some tell a story, some teach a lesson, some send chills down your spine while others make you smile. There is nothing like a mysterious tale to captivate a traveler. Arizona is full of history and with that history comes legends and superstitions and Hoodoos, oh my! Here are some of our favorite stories from our trip.
The Little People
There are several different legends about the Little People of the Superstition Mountains. Some are spooky but our favorite one makes us laugh every time we recall it. These miniature spirited chain smoking little leprechauns guard the Superstition Mountain’s hidden gold mines. They patrol the mountain on the backs of rabbits. While rarely ever seen, if you are fortunate enough to catch one you will be rewarded with a few nuggets of their hidden treasure.
Jacob Waltz and The Lost Dutchman Mine
Legend has it that German immigrant Jacob Waltz, “the Dutchman,” knew the location of a rich gold mine. On his deathbed he gave the directions to the mine to his nurse. The location and details were quite like a puzzle and to this day the mine has never been found. Many have tried and even lost their lives looking for the legendary mine.
Seventy-five Apache warriors were camped on Picket Post Mountain when they were unexpectedly attacked by the US Calvary. They were taken by surprise and fifty of the Apache warriors where shot. The other Apache warriors retreated to the side of a cliff, now known as Apache Cliff. Rather than die at the hands of the white men they jumped from the cliff to their death. When the families of the Apache warriors found their dead loved ones at the base of the cliff they began to cry. As the tears fell to the ground they hardened into the black stone that is known as the Apache Tear. Legend says that anyone that possesses an Apache Tear will never weep again as the Apache women and children cried enough tears for all of those that mourn.
The Jumping Cactus gets its name because of the ball shaped stems that easily break away and “jump” on any near by victims. The spines that grow from the stems are extremely sharp and painful and difficult to remove from clothing or from the bottom of a shoe. These cactus really do jump, ask me how I know…
During another battle between the Apache Indians and the US Calvary, the Apaches had a heads up on the Calvary. The Apaches had collected baskets of the spiny stems and as they were being chased by the Calvary they poured the baskets out behind them. The painful spines became lodged in the Calvary’s horses feet and the Apaches were able to escape.
Here’s a short video about the jumping cactus from Brave Wilderness. Ouch! Jumping Cactus Attack!
Watch Out For the Hoodoos
We met a man that volunteered at the Superstition Mountains Museum and he told us many of the legends of the area. As our conversation ended he left of with one last warning for our upcoming hike, “Watch out for the Hoodoos.” As we hiked we came across many a Hoodoo. As the sun is coming up at dawn or setting at dusk large rock formations take on an eerie feel as shadows and light fall on large rock formations. It feels as if a menacing giant is watching you. If a rock or even worse, a boulder, comes tumbling toward you, know that the Hoodoos are watching and are not pleased with you trespassing.
Arizona is rich in history and intriguing tales. No trip is complete without a good story to retell at home. These stories remind you of the memories made exploring the world with the ones you love. Upon returning from Arizona and getting on into “real” life we couldn’t wait to get to the library and load up on books about Arizona and the Superstition Mountains. We can’t wait to get back there again!