Trail Markers

Trail markers and trail signs are abundant in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. Many people have used them as both directional and mis-directional tools in the Supers. The groups that have or could have left these trail markers in most cases are as follows:

  • Native Americans
  • Mexican miners.
  • Jesuits and Franciscans.
  • Early Spanish explores
  • Past and current prospectors.
  • Cowboy, guides and ranchers.
  • Meso-American cultures
  • Trickster’s and pranksters, both past and present, attempting to mislead searchers.

Arcana Exploration has discovered at our Alpha site some of the most significant carved trail markers ever found in the Superstition Mountains.

Davey and Rodger at Tortilla Flat.
Davey and Rodger at Tortilla Flat.

Early one evening on our way back to Apache Junction after traversing the death-defying road (two women in a van almost ran us over the edge), while passing Apache Lake, we decided after that near fatal ride to take a pit stop on the way back. We all needed a cool one. About twenty minutes later, on the drive back to Apache Junction, Tortilla Flats appeared through the Tahoe’s windows.

Miraculously the SUVs front wheels suddenly made a hard-left turn and came to a to stop right in front of the Superstition Saloon. It was early evening and it was still 102 degree. After escaping near death at the hands of Thelma and Louise, that might have been the best beer I have ever had. The Saloon is at Tortilla Flats, the site of the old Pony Express way- station. To the new followers of the Dutchman legend if you ever make it to the Supers make sure you stop here; the food is quite good, and it is an historic place. The fella in the photo with the Russian motorcycle was traveling cross country on his bike from Los Angeles to the Florida Keys.

Photo shot by Arcana Exploration
The Superstition Saloon, Tortilla Flats, Arizona – Rt. 88

This place is out in the middle of nowhere. If you are ever lucky enough to make it here, try to imagine what Rt.88 (the Apache dirt trail) must have been like back in 1863. When you are there look off to the side of the road, down into cactus and brush and try to imagine Old Jacob on foot leading a couple of small burros to his Alpha mine site and it is 108 degrees. Keep in mind that at any moment a band of Apaches could appear, and take his burros, provisions and oh, yes, his scalp.

…continued: Clue 24

Trail Marker Types in the Superstitions

1. Cactus trail markers. To me these are the most problematic, and therefore the least reliable. It is known that many have been marked, and some people say some have even been planted in straight rows to mark direction. Let me first cover the markers planted in a row; this is very unlikely. A half – life Saguaro will flower approximately 2 million seeds per year, but for every 1 million seeds only 1 seed will take to root. After that only one in three will live to maturity. The conditions must perfect, for the one in (1) million to root and reach maturity. First it must take to soil under a bush or tree with good shade and must have some rainfall in the first 6 months. Saguaro do not produce a flowering seed until half-life at 70 years, they can live to a max of about 150 years. So, planting seedlings or young Saguaros in row, and having all or most reach maturity just does not equate, and therefore is something I discarded straightaway.

On Google Earth, one thing you can see when canvasing across the Superstitions are the shadows of Saguaro cacti, the shadow is black and one of the things that does stand out on GE imaging. In the last five years while doing searches on Google Earth, I have found dozens of cases where there are so many Saguaros clumped together that the odds reflect the number, and that Mother Nature, contrary to popular belief, on occasion does provide straight lines especially where Saguaros are concerned. Also, if any were marked over 200- 250 years ago, they died off over a hundred years ago. When you consider growth rates and the height at which a cactus would have been originally marked, there are all kinds of factors that must fit together for it to be a meaningful trail marker, and that is very rare when it happens. My belief is that any Saguaros that have had meaningful markings perished long ago. Most of what you find today have been marked by twentieth century hunters sending people on wild goose chases

Of course, there are a few, possibly done by prospectors in the twentieth century, that were left by legit Dutch hunters. I decided early on not to waste even a minute on this group of hunter cactus markers because as far as we know they never found the Dutchman’s mine, so why should I follow their mistakes when there are better more reliable clues?

Monument marker, with possible arrow that has tumbled to the ground.

2. Monument markers. In some remote, hard to reach areas you still can find evidence of monument markers, and we believe we have found two. Look at the photograph on this post. This is one marker we have found in an area where there are no visible trails. It is the sort of feature you could easily walk right by. Our guys walked about twenty feet from this feature 4 or 5 times and did not notice it, and then one day while coming down, Rodger, Davey and Matt altered their pathway slightly and walked smack dab right at the marker pictured on the here.

There are no overhangs adjacent to this area so it is very unlikely that these stones would have rolled up from the right side and propped themselves up in such a fashion. Also, in clue 18 I mentioned that there may have been a stone arrow on top of the monument at one time that has fallen onto the ground. Look on the ground to the right of the monument stacking, and there appears to be to be a rough-cut arrow. It is also possible that these are two separate stones laying in such a fashion as to appear to be one stone forming an arrow. My guys did not notice the possible arrow stone at the time. After we got back to central Ohio, I was going through all the GoPro footage late one night and noticed it.

On our next trip our guys are going to take stills of this and turn it over and see if it has been worked. This is near the Alpha site; it is in a place where you first go up and then back down.

Juan de Onate 1598 expedition, 195 miles north of the Superstition mountains.

3. Painted and carved trail markers. These are all throughout the Superstition mountains and may be more about story telling than about leading you to something. Many of these are very old and are of mesoamerican form and stylization. There also are very early Spanish conquistador era drawings /paintings in the Pimeria alta and surrounding areas. It has been suspected that Juan de Onate may have entered the Superstition mountains on one of his journeys into the southwest. I have some thoughts on this, that I will share on a later post when I discuss early Spanish explorers. In the images below you will see a moniker found on a rock wall, near the Colorado River and very close to the route you would use if you were making your way to the Superstition Mountains.

Above you see pictured Onate’s moniker; he used this to mark and record areas of penetration and discovery. I will discuss Onate and other early Spanish explorers in our book.

Arcana Exploration has information that directly links very early Spanish and or very early Jesuits, or both, directly to our Alpha site location. This is one of our most important findings, but this will not be revealed until our book is released, so please do not ask any probing questions about this.

Juan de Onate 1550 – 1626
Explorer – conquistador – colonial governor

Onate was married to Isabel de Tolosa Cortes Moctezuma, granddaughter of Herman Cortez. Onate’s family linage was of the highest order, and he certainly would have had access to almost any information the early Spanish had on their first knowledge about gold in the in the Superstition mountains. I have reasons to believe they knew of gold in the Supers earlier than most people believe. On his 1588 expedition there is a void in his journals, at the point and time, he reached the lower Colorado River valley. When he reached this area, he sent an expedition party out, on an extended probing expedition most likely to the east, but there are no records on exactly why and where they traveled. Onate who kept a very good journal, appears at this juncture to have suddenly decided to omit a clear timetable and the exact purpose for the probing expedition. What is most interesting to me is that there is very little information in his journal about their probing journey? Considering his usually concise recording of events, one must consider that this was on purpose, but why? This is something that warrants additional research.

Another View of hat on the mountain, La Sombrero.

4. Chiseled stone markers. These are the rarest of all the trail markers. The authentic ones are extremely important since there is little interpretation needed to determine what they are: an arrow is an arrow, and an X is an X. A Jesuit M is an M, but if it has a box underneath, it means ‘mine treasure near.’ Arcana Exploration for the first time ever, (M with box below) has discovered this form of trail marker in the Superstition Mountains. It is at our Alpha site and it gives you chills when you think who may have done this marker. The workmanship is of skilled stone mason (most certainly Jesuit). Arcana Exploration has cataloged 5 chiseled-into-stone directional arrows, and 2 free-formed arrows that are affixed into stone. One affixed arrow is in a small boulder, and the other affixed arrow is just above eye level in the side of a cliff. It leads you forward into a very smallish valley. All the arrows except one are on the pathway leading up to the Alpha site. It is important to note that as the path twists and turns, the arrows flow with the path and unmistakably lead you continually forward and upward. As I have stated before, the middle of the path has collapsed and fallen into the small canyon, and I am sure there are most likely some arrow markers down in the rubble below. One other thing I need to mention is that these arrows are in a very remote, almost inaccessible area, and even before the earthquake this area was hard to reach. The farther up you get the more visible they are. Lower in the gulch, you must be looking for them and know what you are looking for. This is all by design, and absolutely a Jesuit trait taken to the nth degree.

All these chiseled arrows have a fit and finish that could have only been done by a highly skilled mason. These are of the highest caliber, and the most intact trail markers I have seen, recorded within the Superstition Mountains. For this reason alone, I am sure they were done by Jesuits.

There is a second chiseled marker I will share with the next post. This marker is the M marker and is highly complex and could have only been done by the Jesuits. There simply is no one else that had the skill or used these trail markings other than the Jesuits. It could have been done by the Franciscans—they had the skill set and were in the area for a short time—but it is more likely than not Jesuit. In the next post I will share a composite drawing of this (the M with a box below, plus two directional arrows below the M) most important trail marker. Because of a contractual agreement I will not show photos of this until it is displayed in our book.

On the next page for the first time Arcana is displaying one of the actual arrow markers found on our site, I will give details about this feature at a latter date.

Clue 24 trail marker at the Alpha site.

Photo taken on site by Arcana Exploration

Please keep in mind going forward that the clues will not always be specific to the Lost Dutchman Goldmine. And yes, before you ask, what I am saying and have been saying since the first post is that this is the story of a secret and special place that has been known to a few select and secretive groups and persons, spanning multiple centuries.

Here amongst this vast maize of volcanic interior, fixed and clinging to a mountain side, flanked on one side by a very small almost invisible ledge, is an Alpha mine, like a small birds nest perched in the middle of a forest of giant oaks concealed by the natural elements, it obscures itself from all beasts of pray especially man.

Comments (12)

  1. JP Moser


    Hello and again congratulations on finding the special place very few us have been to . Just a little info for you, the trailway to our special place did at sometime either had a land slide and or an earthquake. The trailway has partly fallen in one place do to a person making the ledge fall in. Your team has been there quite a few times, but be very carefull that trailway was partially booby traped the first time I found the area. I don’t mean to scare you or your team, just be aware of the trailway. Have good times on your up coming trip to AZ. Please respect that awesome place.

  2. Colin


    I’m an Aussie and have been following LDGM for years. I think your logic is both factual and facinating. Its great reading and I believe in what and how you are presenting it. I wish I was there and helping out. keep up the great work. I want the book.

    • Jim


      Great and good luck in the search. Where and when can I purchase your book – should be a best seller!

      • Reply

        Jim Thanks for following our team. We are finding more at the site than expected. When we our done the book will be done hopefully, this winter we need one more trip but Cov-19 is keeping us from flying, lets hope we have a vaccine soon. Be safe Jeff.. .



    Hi Jeff do you have a general time frame when your book will come out? Im looking forward to it now At first I was not. Just before your book is released, I would like to guide a small group (3 or 4) people to the mine. That would help me recoup the money Ive spent on trips to the Superstion mts. I have been offered quite bit of money from 2 people to guide them to the mine site. I was never planning on doing that, but I think I will only just before your book comes out. You also need to recoup your moneys spent, and book should do that. I dont want to impede on your hard work you have done and are still doing. If you have a general date of the book being released, if you could let me know I can plan for 1 last adventure. Thank you

  4. Reply

    I have a relative in Florance, AZ. If you draw a straight line due north from Florance you’ll be close to the mine.


  5. Joseph Gessel


    Hello I just wanted to tell you the picture of the arrow on the ground was perfect in the midday sun you caught it perfectly that’s all and to a
    Good Journey to you all and may the Dutchmans burial grounds be memorialized ; hopefully one day Nikola Tesla’s work will be recognized as well.

  6. Reply

    Thank you Joseph Hopefully when we can share our story, we will have the funds to see old Jacob gets a befitting grave site. Sad as it is few people know, who Tesla was. Edison is well known, in part because of Tesla’s coat – tails.

  7. Eathan


    Reading all the way from Australia,
    keep up the good work, finding it very interesting. Any more pages to be added?
    also will be very interested in purchasing a book. loving all the history.
    kind regards Eathan.

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