Tom Kollenborn: 1938-2018

Tom Kollenborn | Via Facebook

Tom Kollenborn, an Arizona cowboy, author and historian whose work focused on the Superstition Mountains and the legend of the Lost Dutchman gold mine, died in late September. He was 80.

Kollenborn died of cancer, a longtime friend told The Arizona Republic.

Kollenborn's interest in the Superstitions, which are east of the Phoenix area, began early in his life. As he recounted on his website:

In the early spring of 1948, I was introduced to the Superstition Mountains at First Water by my father. We hiked into East Boulder Canyon then over into Needle Canyon near John Pearce’s old camp. We spent the night and hiked out the next day. I was ten years old and this was my first real introduction to the mountains. The story, the rugged mountain and the serenity of region capture my imagination for the rest of my life.

He would go on to write numerous articles and books about the Superstitions, the Apache Trail and the Lost Dutchman legend. (That legend holds that a German prospector named Jacob Waltz discovered a rich gold deposit in the Superstitions, but died before divulging its location. Since then, countless people have tried to find the site.)

Kollenborn lived in the Apache Junction area. He wrote a regular column for the Apache Junction News, and as recently as last year, he was participating in a History Channel documentary about the Lost Dutchman myth.

"The Apache Junction area has lost a local legend with the passing of Tom Kollenborn,'' Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy told The Republic. "He leaves behind a void that cannot be filled by another person, but thankfully we will always have his written word that is larger than life."


It is a shame that the cottage industry surrounding the Dutchman legend in Apache Junction is keeping this lie going that the mine is in the superstitions. It is costing people their lives. The mine is not in the Superstition Mountains.

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