Nestled in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, my hometown is rich in western myth and tradition. My hometown is what everyone thinks of when they think of the Wild West. From ten gallon hats to horses, rodeos to Wranglers, my hometown is the epitome of Cowboy Heaven. If watching Westerns on Saturday is your idea of fun then my hometown is for you.
The official mascot of my town is Jacob Walsh, better known as the Lost Dutchman. According to legend, Mr. Walsh was a crazy prospector who spent his days searching for gold throughout the Superstition Mountains. One day, Walsh brought a huge chunk of gold to the local weighing office. When asked where he found it, Walsh proclaimed he had a secret gold mine and that the piece was just a small bit of the gold. Walsh died a short time later taking the secret location of the goldmine with him to the grave. To this day tourists and adventurers still flock to my hometown to see if they can find the Lost Dutchman’s hidden treasure. Some return brokenhearted, others don’t return at all. One thing is for sure, no one has found the goldmine yet.
If hunting for gold isn’t your bag, maybe visiting the Goldfield Ghost Town is more your speed. Now renovated into a tourist attraction, Goldfield Ghost Town offers a little of everything any buckaroo could want. You can visit the world class steakhouse and saloon or watch a staged gunfight in the center of town, pan for gold flakes in a babbling brook or tour an abandoned mineshaft. Goldfield Ghost Town definitely adds to the western ambience of my hometown.
Another tourist attraction that might spark your attention is Apache Land. Apache Land is a little movie studio that made its hay day at the height of the 1950s and 60s when Western movies were being churned out faster than people could watch them. Some of the movies filmed at Apache Land were, Charro with Elvis Presley, The Gambler with Kenny Rogers and A Time for Dying with Jack Palance. If Westerns are your thing then Apache Land is definitely a must see.
Now that we’ve panned gold at the ghost town, visited an old movie studio and heard a little about the Lost Dutchman, its time to head to the festival named after good ole Jacob Walsh himself. Lost Dutchman Days is a festival held in late February to honor Jacob Walsh and take pride in my hometowns roots. The festival has a parade and rodeo along with a carnival. Finally, the festival is often topped off with a performance by some of Country Music’s top artists. After all the tourist traps and festivities have left you yearning to get back to nature, fear not; my hometown also offers Jeep tours deep into the heart of the Superstitions. These relaxing yet bumpy trail rides will take you as far away from civilization as you can possibly get without leaving your cell phone’s range. From Weavers Needle to Canyon Lake, you can see the Sonoran Desert the way Mother Nature intended it.
Yes, my hometown may feel small and country, but it is attached to one of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation. Part of the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area, Apache Junction, Arizona is my hometown.