One of the most intriguing and romantic Arizona legends is the story of the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine. This was (maybe still is) a fabulously rich deposit of gold in the Superstition Mountains, near Phoenix, discovered by Jacob Waltz in the late 1800s, then lost again when the exact location of the mine went with the Dutchman to his grave.
Couple of problems with that …
Waltz was German, not Dutch. (German immigrants called themselves “Deutsch,” the German word for … German.) And he apparently lost more than one mine. There are at least three other Lost Dutchman mines: another in Arizona, one in Colorado, and one in California. Jacob got around, it seems, but was better at finding mines than keeping track of them.
But that hasn’t stopped tens of thousands of treasure hunters from following their golden dreams into the Superstitions trying to find Jacob’s trail. Some of them never came back. (That part’s no legend. The Superstitions are rugged.) Even today, hopeful hikers from all over prepare for their quest by setting their GPS for AZ, clothing themselves in what they think will be appropriate for desert mountains, and come here to search for the mine and get a taste of legendary Arizona.
Arizona clothing that says something about Arizonans
Here’s the thing: There’s something about Arizona that puts a passion in some people. Particularly people who live here. It’s not the gold so much anymore, so maybe it’s overcoming the challenges of living here. Like dust storms that show up in some parts of the state more often than rain. Or that sirens passing on suburban streets are often echoed by howling coyotes. That many people pay to have their dogs trained to avoid rattlesnakes. That the state capital, Phoenix, saw more than 50 days of 110+ degree heat in 2020. That most of Arizona’s plants have teeth.
And how does The Great Seal of the State of Arizona express that? Ditat Deus.
Of course, that’s printed above a picture of a miner with his pick and shovel, standing outside a mine entrance. Nice to think it might be the Dutchman himself, and he finally found his way back.
AZ clothing for AZ pride
Mike, Stephen and Nick are three of those passionate Arizonans. And in 2013 they channeled their passion into the Arizona clothing company, State Forty Eight.
Growing up in Arizona, Mike Spangenberg noticed something: At sporting events, there were always at least as many caps and shirts in support of the opposition as there were for the home team. That’s because most people in Arizona’s metropolitan areas are, unlike Mike, from somewhere else. But it wasn’t just about team loyalty. The same was true all around town. He could find lots of other states represented on clothes, but Arizona? Not so much. Usually just thin, imported T-shirts in the drugstore, under a sign saying “3 for $10.”
Mike decided people who live here, even if they moved here from other, less legendary states, might like to be able to show their Arizona pride with Arizona clothing. So he and his partners created a source for AZ clothing that’s all about AZ, and called it State Forty Eight.
The inspiration for the name is obvious, of course, and it’s proudly displayed on our logo: the company name inside the unmistakable shape of the state’s borders. But State Forty Eight isn’t about the logo. We’re not our brand, our stuff. Like our mission statement says, “State Forty Eight represents a lifestyle, a sense of community, and is an expression of pride.” Our Arizona clothing is as much about Arizona as it is about the clothing. It’s about the community that inspired us.
That’s why State Forty Eight is also the name of our foundation. The foundation is what allows our business to work to “enrich and strengthen Arizona through thoughtful partnerships, inspired community action, and investment in the changemakers of tomorrow.” The State Forty Eight Foundation isn’t about our business, but you could say it’s why we got into business. Because it’s about our community.
What we didn’t expect when we started State Forty Eight, and what we’re more grateful for than we can say, is the community that’s been inspired by our Arizona clothing; a community of sports fans and explorers, kids and influencers; the consistently laid-back and the 24/7 fashion-forward. Sure, they shop our stuff, online or at one of our retailers. But then they stay in touch, with us and with each other. They’ve found they can gather around State Forty Eight because we’re a homegrown brand that allows them to show their pride and to inspire others to do the same. Sure, we’re selling them AZ clothing. But we know it’s not us. It’s them. It’s you. It’s Arizona.
According to the legend, Jacob Waltz found a treasure here. And so did we, with the community — with the passion and the support of people who are part of the legend that was and always will be Arizona.
That’s how we really struck it rich.