The Peralta Massacre

It is said that the powerful Peralta family had been operating several successful gold mines in the area of the Goldfield and Superstition Mountains during the mid 1800’s, and that they were making frequent trips home to Mexico to deliver their gold. 

In 1848, while the United States was in the process of taking possession of the lands to the north of the present-day Mexican border, the Peraltas brought in a large group of miners and made a last minute push to recover all the gold they could before they lost their mines.  Legend has it that while these men were returning to Mexico with their mules loaded with gold, they were set upon and massacred by marauding apaches.  The raiding party supposedly took the mules, and the saddle bags, but they left the piles of useless gold rocks behind. 

There were reports in 1912 or 1913 that a couple of prospectors found a substantial amount of gold ore at the site of this massacre, $18,000, a considerable amount of money in those days!  To this day there are people who insist that this area is still haunted by the spirits of the miners, and the Massacre Grounds are a popular hiking destination on the western end of the Superstition Wilderness.

Of course, as with almost all the stories about the Superstitions, there are experts who dispute the origins of this story, or whether it happened at all.  There are no records of the Peraltas mining in this area, but they did mine in California, and they fraudulently sold huge areas of the land around here after their mines failed. But in spite of these “facts” true believers will tell you that these experts just want to keep others from delving any deeper into the mountain’s history.

In the 1950’s , sandstone maps supposedly leading to some of these mines were found in the area, and now have become part of the legends of the Superstitions.  Copies of the maps are now on display at the Superstition Mountain Museum.

Legend has it that a few of the Peraltas survived the massacre, and that one of them showed Jacob Walz, the infamous Lost Dutchman, where the mine was…but that’s another story!




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