The Gate

September 9, 2001



I am of the opinion that it isn’t until middle age that the care and detail which past generations took in recording information are properly appreciated.  The experiences of life highlights the importance of recording information in a way which facilitates the retrieval of the encoded information especially if the information is not “common knowledge” and easily remembered. Who of us has not experienced the distortion and loss of memory regarding concepts that are not properly documented?  I have discovered that trying to explain the complex structure of the Superstition Tablets is a daunting task. It is difficult to understand a time when a good days travel was about 14 miles when we regularly traverse distances by car at 60 plus miles per hour or by airplane at 600 miles per hour. It is even more difficult to understand why it would be necessary to hide valuables in almost inaccessible places when we simply go to our local bank and get a safety deposit box to save such valuables. When I have given presentations on the Superstition Tablets and the Robinson/Reyes theory of the Tablets, I try to make this point about the ability to reliably retrieve the encoded data by noting that, when they were created, it was probably with the intent that the individual who created them was not necessarily going to be available for consultation when they were going to be used, even if he would be available to personally transmit the information encoded. I joke that if you send someone on a long trip over rough country to fetch something that you had better make the map accurate enough that he is able to find the location or inaccurate enough that he can never get back!


From the appearance of the Superstition tablets shown below, it is evident that they contain an enormous amount of information:







Figure 1  Large stone face #1 (HORSE Stone)






Figure 2  Large stone face #2 (PRIEST Stone)









Figure 3  Smaller stone 1 face #1 (THREE Stone)






Figure 4  Smaller stone 2 face #1 (CAVITY Stone)




Figure 5  HEART Stone



In my previous research material on the Superstition Tablets, I have demonstrated how the Robinson/Reyes theory of the Tablets provides a coherent explanation of the symbols on the Tablets (appendix A explains the Robinson/Reyes theory of the Superstition Tablets).  It was shown how one symbol (the cross   ) on several of the tablets knitted them together into a comprehensive connected series of maps:




Figure 1 Geophysical alignment


Using the theory, it was demonstrated how it would be possible to give the Tablets to someone anywhere in the world and with a short tutorial give them the capability to navigate to the area defined by the Tablets.


The analysis showed the encoding of the latitude and longitude of a reference point - the junction of the Gila and San Pedro rivers:



Figure 2  Gila river and San Pedro river junction 



 to be 33 degrees north latitude by showing how the two 3's on the tablet relate to the reference point:



Figure 3 HORSE Stone illustrating LATITUDE indication



and 270 degrees longitude by showing the position of the reference point in relation to the whole tablet  (in the 1800's, Spanish longitude reference was from Tenerife in the Canary Islands as the Meridian longitude 0 degrees and the longitude increased to the East):



Figure 4  HORSE Stone showing  LONGITUDE  Definition




Furthermore, it was shown that the theory was able to translate a set of the symbols on the Tablets with enough accuracy to isolate a buried object on the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument to within 10 feet. The key to this rendering of symbols was noting the accurate portrayal of the Casa Grande Ruins by one of the symbols. The Casa Grande Ruins at the Casa Grande National Monument is a single structure which at one time was three stories high.  The ground floor of the structure is largely intact except for the collapsed north-east and south-east corners of the building. The present day floor plan of the Casa Grande Ruins  and  the symbol for it are shown below along with the floor plan overlaid on the symbol:



Figure 5 Casa Grande and symbol comparison





 The presence of this object was independently verified by a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) study performed by the University of Arizona, who generated the following GPR image of the object which is buried at a depth of six feet :




Figure 6 Buried object at Casa Grande National Monument



 After several years of negotiations with the National Park Service(NPS) (1988-1996), it was not possible to obtain permission from the NPS to have the object excavated and determine if there was any actual correlation between the buried object and the Superstition Tablets (appendix B discusses the interpretation of the associated symbols and the results of the GPR study). 


While the Robinson/Reyes theory of the Tablets seems to be extremely robust as theories of the Tablets go, the whole concept rests in a sort on limbo because no external or independent supporting evidence such as historical documents, etc. has ever been supplied.  The basic reason for this fact is that the present author (Richard A. Robinson) is a computer system analyst by profession - not a historian. The approach to studying the Tablets has been one which basically asks and attempts to answer the question “What is the information encoded in the Tablets and how can it be retrieved?” The only interest of this  question is the content of the Tablets not the forces which were responsible for its creation! Certainly some historical knowledge of where they were found and possibly the nature of the circumstances under which they were created would help to answer that question but only marginally so. The historical linage and legal status of the Tablets are extremely important for many reasons but not to understand the information encoded in them. The same could be said of many documents - take, for example, the Declaration of Independence of The United States of America. The only requirement to understanding the content of the document is the knowledge of English; however, much more knowledge is required to understand the “historical linage and legal status” of the document. Not possessing that level on knowledge regarding the Stone Tablets, it would be a grave mistake to wander into that arena or to provide some amateur opinion.


The reason that the title of this essay is  “The Gate” is because the intent is to focus on only one symbol on the Superstition Tablets which according to the present theory is the entry point or gateway into the Superstition Mountain - thus the title.  I also intend to present some research work performed by another researcher, Greg Davis, and show some independent map sources that appear to have symbols which closely resemble this symbol and discuss this resemblance. The symbol is on the HEART Stone:






So, to review the directions given on the Superstition Tablets regarding the entrance into the southern side of the Superstition Mountain observe the highlighted trail in the following figure which accentually denotes the directional path from the Casa Grande Ruins to the Superstition Mountain.




Figure 7 Trail into Superstition



This trail, as envisioned in the figure,  traverses the stone tablet alluded to as the THREE stone in the Robinson/Reyes theory of the Superstition Tablets onto the CAVITY stone and then onto the HEART stone. The book Superstition Tablets, Window to Lost Treasures delineates this trail in minute detail.


Originally the symbol under discussion:     was thought to represent the massive southern wall of the Superstition Mountain and suggested the trail entered the mountain according to the following highlighted topographical map:



Figure 8 Suggested trail



There are a number of issues that belie this suggested trail - some of which are:


            An older trail exists - which goes up the east side Miners Needle.


Several old map of the area (although the history and reliability of the maps are in question) shows that the entry trail goes on the west side of Miners Needle (of course, this is the present author’s interpretation of the map).


A reassessment of the trail on the Tablets especially at the point of entry into the Superstition Mountain accords the possibility that the trail could go up the west side of Miners Needle.


Greg Davis Research Director of the Superstition Mountain Historical Society has actually documented a trail which goes up the west side of Miners Needle.


New research by this author has uncovered a better interpretation of the symbol which demonstrates more accurate directional information that eventually takes a path which enters the Superstition Mountain on the west side of Miners Needle.



The prod to re-examine the original hypophysis about this entrance started in November 1998.  I was reading the book Mystery Gold of the Superstitions by Robert L. Garman (1975), a man who had prospected and treasure hunted the Superstition Mountains for a great many years.   In the book, he relates a story of an incident which happened to him in 1946.  In this story, he and a friend are checking out the geology of some rock formations on the west side of Miners Needle when there is an attempt to ”bushwhack” him.  He and his friend manage to allude the would be bushwhackers by scurrying up to the ridge above Miners Needle and then circling around further to the west and back down an arroyo to safety. 


The story is accompanied with an intriguingly amateurish drawing which depicts the details of the incident which is shown in the following figure:



Figure 9 Drawing depicting episode





The point of the story which interested and surprised me was not only the seemingly relative ease of traversing the west side on Miners Needle but also the existence of two arroyos on the west side.  Mr. Garman did not mention that they were following an existing trail or that one existed on the west side of Miners Needle.


The Robinson/Reyes theory of the tablets never considered that a trail existed going up the west side of Miners Needle although there exist at least two versions of a map which I have interpreted to indicate that the trail into the Superstitions enters on the west side of Miners Needle. These maps are the MAPA DEL DESIERTO - the map found in the book The Killer Mountains by Curt Gentry -  and the BARK-ELY map a copy of the map is found in The Curse of the Dutchman’s Gold by Helen Corbin (page 116 in the paperback edition). These maps appear to be essentially the same map and my interpretation is illustrated in the following figure:



Figure 10 Details of MAPA DEL DESIERTO



As can be seen, this interpretation indicates the trail into the Superstitions is on the west side of Miners Needle.  In February 1999 during a discussion with Greg Davis on a different matter, I happened to comment on my dilemma regarding this point.  Greg commented that there was indeed a trail on the west side of Miners Needle which he had photographed and documented in his usual methodical manner.  I planed an immediate trip to Arizona to look at Greg’s documents.


I found the information that Greg had compiled about the trail on the west side of Miners Needle scintillating! Here was documented a trail, which not only seemed to be very old, but one which appeared to fulfill the requirements of the interpretation of the MAPA DEL DESIERTO - namely that the trail went to the west side of Miners Needle!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                       


Greg Davis’s basic approach to documentation is to photograph an area in minuscule detail and to mark up a topographic map of the area with “view” lines that show exactly where the photograph was taken from and also the view shown in the photograph. In this particular case of the trail on the west side of Miners Needle, he would show the entire trail to be explored and where he was on that trail when the picture was taken.  The following marked up topographic map is an example (Miners Needle and Miners Summit are at the far right of the map):



Figure 11 view marked on map



A closer look at the marking technique shows an arrow pointing to the location and red “view” lines indicating the panorama seen in the ancillary photograph:



Figure 12 Markings



The picture associated with this map is: 





Greg labeled this photograph:



Figure 13 Label




The cactus in the background seems to have been purposely marked near it’s base - although without closer inspection it is possible that the “pinched” areas were caused by freezes or perhaps droughts. Here is a closer look at the markings:



Figure 14 Marked cactus?



The cactus appears to be relatively young since it has no arms (which don’t start growing until about 60-70 years), it appears to still have its needles and the base does not look aged. An interesting question is - if the cactus was purposely marked when was it done? The trail in question is not presently a “well known” trail in the Superstition and - at least to my knowledge - there are no documented references to the trail.


A potentially more exciting “trail marker” that Mr. Davis documented was found further up the trail.  This find is another cactus which in this case has some arms broken or cut off. Because of the number of cactus that I have encountered in my research with marking and cut off arms which coordinate closely with a trail I am researching (e.g. giving directions about which arroyo to take when the arroyo splits, etc.) ,  I have recently formed the opinion that in the eighteen and nineteenth century that the Spanish and Mexicans used this technique to give directions regarding the trail. This find of Greg’s appears to fall into this category. Take a look at this cactus in the following figure:



Figure 15 Cactus trail marker?



Let’s take a closer look at several features of this cactus other than it’s impressive height which alone is indicative of a very old cactus probably in the neighborhood of 200 years.



Figure 16 Cactus features




Feature #1 are the arms which are missing.  These arms have either broken off naturally or were removed by human agents.  While a more detailed examination of the cuts and a measure of the alignment of the missing appendages  will be required, I am suggesting that they were removed by human agents from preliminary inspection of Greg Davis’s photograph and the judicious placement of this cactus and the potential directional information conveyed from the missing limbs.  Feature #2 along with the height of the cactus gives an indication of the age of the saguaro.  The brownish base and lack of needles on the cactus indicate a very old saguaro.


This is all and good; however, how does this relate to this symbol under discussion?





Interestingly enough it has to do with some new graphic display software. One of the features of the new software is that it can display Digital Elevation Model (DEM) maps (e.g. 7.5 Topographical maps) in Terrain format and allow one to traverse an area in a three-dimensional manor. While playing with the software to become familiar with it, I came upon an interesting aspect of the southern entrance into the Superstitions which clarified my understanding of the directions of the southern entrance of the Superstition Tablets. Utilizing the new software, another possibility for the symbol became evident.


I was showing off the capabilities of my new toy to a dinner guest and had located to a position a little north of the Quarter Circle U and displayed the terrain with the following artificial coloring and lighting shown in the next image (latitude, longitude and elevation(Z)shown at bottom are of the “view” location.):










The point being made becomes clearer if Coffee Flat Mountain is removed and the symbol is inserted:



Figure 17 Correlation between hills and symbol



Interesting huh! It’s something easy to miss - but with this interpretation the symbol and directions have much more meaning. The “hill” in the middle is actually slightly higher but looks smaller because it is further away. The trail where Greg Davis found the stone marker is the arroyo that starts at the end of the hills!


What started to interest me thought - after this insight - is how the drawing on Map B in The Killer Mountains and the BARK-ELY map drawn by Tom Weedin as shown in The Curse of the Dutchman’s Gold by Helen Corbin  also indicate the same “three hill” structure to the west of Miners Needle. While the “sources” of these maps - and for that matter also the Superstition Tablets - are suspect, their ostensible indication of a common entry point into the Superstitions does cause one to ponder.



Figure 18 Map comparison