Roger’s Trough was located adjacent to the Silver Chief Mine. The Roger’s trough trailhead is fairly easy to reach. Just head north from SR60 to an unimproved road 172 east of Florence Junction SR79. Any 2-wheel drive vehicle with decent clearance can make this leg of the journey, but a 4-wheel drive is preferred.
The drive is slow and bumpy. It is not recommended that you make this journey in June as Dave and I did. We encountered very few off road vehicles this day. And absolutely no hikers – only mad dogs and Englishmen brave the Arizona noonday sun.
We made plenty of stops along the way for photo ops. Keep your eyes open for wildlife sightings. We saw three roadrunners that day, plenty of squirrels and lizards. The rattlesnakes are all smart enough to hide from the heat. Dave’s Jeep Cherokee does not have efficient air conditioning, so we relied on 2-60 AC – 2 windows down and 60 miles per hour. Well, more like 6 miles per hour.
We passed not a few mining claims, all marked with white posts in the ground. These are all placer claims. Placer mining is simply running topsoil through a sluice to find gold, no digging or excavating allowed.
A windmill marks an old corral by a now defunct ranch. The area is private property, so treat it with respect as you pass through. The windmill is no longer functional, but a solar panel has been installed to operate the pump that keeps the waters tanks filled to capacity.
It is illegal to camp near these watering holes, whether natural or man made. And don’t be an asshole and shoot the tanks, that is simply immoral in a land that depends on the little bit of water that can be squeezed from the aquifers.
There are still many cattle ranched in this region. These watersheds provide a commodity that is really more valuable than gold!
Just past the watering hole is a stone structure that is believed to be what is left of a water sluice used in placer mining.
As we continued our drive, Dave pointed out the many landmarks that are part of the Lost Dutchman lore.
The mine shaft is now filled in, and it is extremely difficult to get to. The story I am familiar with is that a mine shaft was discovered that contained two piles of gold bricks. Some say it was Peralta gold. Other claim it was stashed by Jesuits, although that has been pretty well debunked.
We are not Dutch hunters, or even gold hunters. That is best left to the younger generation. I am more of an amateur historian. And I love exploring.
We made our way to the Roger’s Trough trailhead. The trailhead has a primitive parking area and is well marked. I saw five gallons of water left in containers under the shade of a tree marked “public”. Don’t be a douche – bring your own water. That water might save the life of a novice.
The trailhead takes you to an intersection. If you head west, the trail takes you to Reavis Ranch and then to the prehistoric cliff dwellings of the Salado civilization. There are many Indian sites along the way if you know what to look for.
East is the Pinto Trail. Follow Pinto Trail and you will see a concrete cistern that used to be fed by the aquifer near the mine shaft. Follow the iron and PVC water pipeline and you will come to a non-trail to the abandoned mineshaft that allegedly held the Treasure Trove.
I have a few scars and lost some blood clawing and climbing my way to the shaft which is now filled in and covered with dirt and rocks.
I had climbed to over 5,000 feet, and the photos I took are uninspiring. The history and the stories are what the trip was about for me. This story might change as I edit it with any feedback on factual errors from Dave. We had a quick lunch and then proceeded on the next leg of our journey.