AZentertain: Arizona Gold Rush
The search for the Lost Iron Door Mine of the Santa Catalinas
By Robert E. Zucker
The legend of the lost Iron Door Mine of the Santa Catalina Mountains is one of those stories that may have some base in fact and history.
While buried treasure have been told for generations, there have been no archaelogical excavations in the area to disprove the legends.
But, there have been pieces of evidence and documentation to point to some possibilities that could have spawned the lost mine legend.
This information is found in the comprehensive book on the legends and history of the Catalina Mountains– "Treasures of the Santa Catalina Mountains." Read sample pages and download free PDF.
The lost Iron Door mine, made famous as the Iron Door Mine of the Catalinas in the 1920s, could have also been the Lost Escalante Mine, an old Spanish Jesuit mine, dated from the 1700s. Read how the legend started.
During the late 1880s through the 1930s, countless newspaper articles in the Arizona newspapers publish stories of people who claim to have found either a lost city, the lost mine or other great treasures in the Santa Catalinas. Included in this report are links to the those articles.
But, the exact location of either the lost city or lost mine with the Iron Doorhas never been fully disclosed or documented.
Either they have never been found, the secret has been taken to the grave, or passed on by word of mouth. Maybe a few might still know of its actual location.
"Treasures of the Santa Catalinas" is
NOW Available on Amazon.com
Read sample sections from the new book Treasures of the Santa Catalinas: Unraveling the History and Legends of the Iron Door Mine, Lost City and Lost Mission by Robert E. Zucker.
Claims of secret mining operations, a lost civilization that once inhabited the great Cañada del Oro basin, the gold rush of the 1800s and the famous Mine with the Iron Door book and movie still spur the imagination. The real hidden treasure may have already been discovered and carted off. But some remnants of this "rich mine" in the Catalinas may still be buried away. Some of the naturally occuring gold deposits may still be undiscovered.
Today's technology can define once and for all whether the legends have any substance using metal detectors, ground penetrating radar, re-exploration of the area to unravel the mystery.
There are actually two mysteries.
The legend of the Lost City in the Santa Catalinas is in a different location from the lost mine, made famous during the 1920s as the Iron Door Mine. This page examines the Lost Mine legend.
Some of legends name an Escalante who was an associate of Father Eusebio Kino, the missionary who founded Jesuit missions from Mexico through Arizona and California. This time period is about 1702.
The legend says that the mine was located deep within the Santa Catarina mountains somewhere along the Cañada del Oro.
Escalante worked this mine using the local natives as slaves in the mines.
There was some type of settlement, a city, nearby that sustained the workers and also served as a mission. This may be the long, lost city of the Catalinas.
The mine produced vast quantities of gold- much of which was taken to Spain.
When the Jesuits were expelled in 1767, they left behind their riches. The bars of gold were hidden behind an "iron door." Thus, the Mine with the Iron Door.
Areas deep in the interior of the Cañada del Oro basin, could have been in operation up until the time the Jesuits were expelled in 1767, or later, from Pimeria Alta- as this land was called by the Spanish. The U.S. Bureau of Mines conducted a mineral study of the Santa Catalina and Coronado National Forest and reported that:
"Gold placering in Canada del Oro ("gold gulch") was undertaken in the northern Santa Catalina Mountains by Spaniards as early as the mid-1700's. The canada drainage flows northward from its headwaters in the central Santa Catalina Mountains through about 9 mi of the Forest Unit, then crosses the Unit boundary and turns south, flowing parallel to and mostly outside of the Forest Unit." (1, p. 24).
1700s: The Escalante Mine is the Iron Door Mine
The legend of the Lost Escalante Mine, also known as the Iron Door Mine, has survived for hundreds of years. Read more about the Lost Escalante mine
1880s: Rediscovering the lost mine
Read the original newspaper articles digitized by the Chronicling America Newspaper Project, a National Endowment for the Humanities project of the Library of Congress. Select a link to open the newspaper page in a new window. Choose from several viewing formats from PDF to JPG.
1. "Mineral Appraisal of Coronado National Forest, Part 5." U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau ofMines, MLA 25-94, 1994. Funded by a program between U.S. Bureau of Mines, U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Forest Service to assist the Forest Service in incorporating mineral resource data in forest plans as specified by the National Forest Management Act (1976). USBM_MIA_025-094. 177 pages.
2. "Spain in the West a series of original documents from foreign archives, volume III," "Kino's Historical Memoir of Pimeria Alta," Kino, 1683-1711. By Herbert Eugene Bolto, Ph.D., published 1919, The Arthur H. Clark Company. Vol. 1 page 364. http://ia700409.us.archive.org/ more versions of this document: http://www.archive.org/details/kinoshistoricalm00kino
3. "Lost Mines of the Great Southwest, Including Stories of Hidden Treasures," by John D. Mitchell and "Lost Mine WIth the Iron Door," in Desert Magazine, July 1952.
"Treasures of the Santa Catalinas" is NOW Available on Amazon.com.
Read sample chapters from the new book "Treasures of the Santa Catalina Mountains" with over 600 pages and more than 1,200 footnotes to the source materials.