No, I am not mistaken here. California has its own Superstition Mountain (the singular is correct here) and like its larger and imminently more famous counterpart in Arizona (the Superstition Mountains) this small volcanic range is the center of a persistent treasure legend of gold found and then lost.
Superstition Mountain is a short drive (15-20 miles) northwest of El Centro and about the same distance northeast of Plaster City in southeastern California’s Imperial County. Once you’re away from the irrigated fields surrounding El Centro you’ll find hard-core desert, and lots of it.
No “Will o’ the Wisp”
This sets the geographic scene for you. But what of the waybill I speak of in the title of this post? Once read and then researched and studied, it may very well lead you to riches in the form of raw gold.
This treasure tale is no “will o’ wisp” either…there is substance to the leads contained herein. So listen closely.
“A Single-Blanket, Jackass Prospector”
Hank Brandt (his real name) was what was once known as a “single-blanket, jackass prospector” (once a term of high honor for prospectors) of the old school, prowling California’s southeastern desert areas in search of precious metals. It’s said that Brandt had at one time or another worked the dry placers close in to the Colorado River near La Paz and Ehrenburg, Arizona and the “Potholes” district on the California side of the river.
Eventually Brandt ended up spending the majority of his time searching for gold and silver on the California side of the Colorado in locations like the Cargo Muchachos, the Chocolate Mountains, and Superstition Mountain. It was at this latter location that sometime in the 1930s (as best I can determine) Hank found what he was looking for…gold, and lots of it.
Over a Million Dollars in Gold
How do I know this? Because for eight consecutive summers when the heat of the desert became too much to bear, Brandt showed up at various locales in the Imperial Valley and sold off an average of $4,000 in raw gold each time. (Note: Whether this gold was in the form of placer flakes and nuggets or free-milling gold ore is open to debate. But it was natural gold, that much is known. J.R.)
Perhaps $4,000 in gold doesn’t sound like much in today’s world. But when Brandt dug out his gold the spot price of gold per troy ounce was $35.00. At this price Brandt’s gold equalled nearly 143 troy ounces or $143,000+ at today’s gold prices.
So in eight years Hank Brandt brought in over a million dollars worth of gold from the Superstition Mountain region (that’s not small potatoes in my book). To top things off, before his death the old prospector bequeathed $16,000 in gold to a close friend.
There’s more to come in a subsequent post, including “directions” to Brandt’s mine. Until then be safe and good hunting to you.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: “Jesse James and the Knights of the Golden Circle: the Albert Pike Connection (Part 4)”
© J.R. 2010
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