Chapter two: legend of the superstition mountain
as related by the old chief of the Pima Indians to James R. Bark, many years ago.
One time long, long ago, the Pima, Maricopa, Papago and Apache Indians became very wicked, which worried the Good Spirit (who was the God of the Rain) very much; so the Good Spirit told the Pima Medicine Man that he was going to bring rain for many, many days, and many, many nights and cover the whole country with water, and destroy all life, with the exception of two of the very best of each specie, as it was impossible to tolerate the wickedness of the Indians as it then existed.
The Pima Medicine man told a few of his friends, and they proceeded to collect what animals of their herds as they could in so short a space of time, and started driving their horses, cattle, sheep, etc. to the highest mountains in sight, which were the Superstition mountains. Also, dogs and cats, and even birds of many kinds followed them.
Before they reached the mountains it began raining, but they succeeded in reaching the top with their herds, although it kept on raining until all the surface of the surrounding low country was covered with many hundreds of feet of water. The rain would cease for a time, then start again, and again cease, which is the cause of the different streaks which one can see on the west face of the mountain. The Good Spirit, realizing at last the great amount of rain it would take to cover the highest peaks of the Superstition mountain gave it up, and going to the top of the mountain, he turned all living beings into stone, with the exception of two of each specie; and the stone men, women, and children, and all of their animals are still there; and if an Indian went to the top of the main range, he would be turned to stone even at the present time.
The old chief apparently became very much excited, and asked in an awed voice, "Didn't you ever hear the Good Spirit who still lives in the Superstition mountain speak?" Knowing to what he referred, I replied, "Yes," and asked him why the Spirit spoke now, and he said it was to let the Indians know he was still watching over them.
In reference to the voice of the Spirit of which the old Chief spoke, I will say that in 1892, when I first took charge of the cattle ranch in the Superstition Mountains, we would frequently hear an explosion apparently coming from about the center of the main range. This sound could be heard for a radius of at least ten miles, and sounded as though made by an immense charge of dynamite. There was no mining in the mountains, and many times the cowboys and myself have tried to locate it, even sleeping out in the mountains in the hopes of getting on its trail the next morning, but we always failed to locate it. The explosions were much more frequent in cloudy weather. The sounds were often heard until I left the mountains in 1912, but since then I have been informed they have gradually diminished.
As to the stone images--there are certainly many curious shaped stones up there, and anyone with a vivid imagination would certainly see a resemblance to all kinds of animals, as well as to human beings, some standing, some lying down, and some in groups.
There must have been a superstitious belief about these mountains by some previous tribe of Indians, as one day about twenty-five years ago, I climbed to the highest peak on the southwest corner of these mountains, and on top of this peak there was a small olla filled with very small arrowheads and little round shells with a hole in the center of each; also many beads of different kinds of semi-precious stones. The olla had eroded away, and left the bottom heaped with the arrow heads, etc. I recovered about 800 unbroken heads. Many were broken from exposure to the elements, and I still have a few in my possession.
The professors in the Smithsonian Institute came to the conclusion that the arrowheads were an individual offering to their Diety by some ancient tribe of Indians. There is now an exhibit in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. a sample of all the above find.