Pegleg's Lost Mine

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Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by adminme » Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:43 am

The famous legend began during a trapping expedition down the Colorado River in the late 1820s or early 1830s. Pegleg and his party had acquired a large number of pelts during their trip and selected Pegleg and another member of the trapping party to take the supply of pelts across the desert to Los Angeles for sale.

During their journey through the desert, Pegleg had gathered some pebbles which he found on top of a butte in the Colorado Desert. The butte was one of three, thus entering the significant landmark of three buttes in most versions of his story. He gathered the black pebbles thinking they were copper and carried them to Los Angeles where he later discovered they were gold. The gold is believed to be near the Anza Borrego desert in southern California

For more information on Pegleg Smith and Jacob Waltz http://www.desertusa.com/magnov97/gold/nov_gold2.html

In the future posts we will explore the claim that the gold was found or was it just a tall tale.

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by Goldseeker » Tue Jul 07, 2009 12:56 pm

Are you a mind reader??.. :lol:
I was just thinking of that
I remember reading that someone, I dont remember when...1968???? sent a black encased nugget to Desert Magazine, claiming to have found the lost placer, and took out a small fortune, over $100,000 at the time if I remember, of course at today's prices.... :shock:
I dont remember the issue that was in, but it was definitely desert Magazine, and I recall that they believed him at the time.

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by Jim_b » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:39 am

This is the story on that guy and I will post more about this in the future I spent every weekend in the desert for 7 years checking out this story, and found many interesting things I will post in the future here is how it all started.

Image

One sunny day in February 1965, the mailman delivered an unusual package with the regular subscription fees and manuscript submissions received daily at the office of Desert Magazine. The small package caught the eye of the editor. Little did she know that the contents of that package would spur a modern day gold rush that would last for years to come.
The package contained a short letter, a manuscript and two gold nuggets sent by a man who claimed to have found Pegleg's lost mine. Following is a reprint of the letter contained in the package.

Dear Desert Editor:

Although the enclosed story has no byline, I believe it and the photographs will be of interest to you. After you have read the story, you will understand why the reasons for my remaining anonymous are too obvious to enumerate.

You have my full permission to publish the story and this letter if you wish. They may be of minor interest to the readers of Desert Magazine.

More important, I am also enclosing two of the Peg Leg's nuggets. One is still black, exactly as found, and the other has had the black copper oxides removed by the process mentioned in the story and is now native "gold" in color. You will have these nuggets to show one and all who have doubted the story of Peg Leg's black nuggets. You may keep them with my compliments for Desert Magazine's collection of desert artifacts, in this case you can start a new collection of items from lost mines that have been found.

Very sincerely yours,
The Man Who Found
Peg Leg's Black Gold

To read the letter click on this link.http://www.desertusa.com/magdec97/gold/pegleg2.html

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by Goldseeker » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:47 am

You, Jim B are a fountain of knowledge... :)
Ever find any significant gold out in the desert?

I have a couple of leads but I wont put them on the computer... :o

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by jim_dusa » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:32 pm

I found this article in a publication called the Desert Scrap Book written in 1945-67 The articles was written in 1956 so it may be more accurate information on the real story


Where Is Pegleg Smiths Lost Mine

"This is the puzzling question which has caused many a fortune hunter to search the desert. Somewhere near three buttes that rise from the burning sands the gold lies easy of access. Wealth waits for the man who can find the spot where seventy years ago a party of weary and thirsty trappers camped over night.
"The story of the lost mine has been told many times, but it has remained for one who is interested in the older West, to sift the facts, and this is the first authentic story ever pieced together;

T'was in the Year of 1836...
"In the year 1836 a man named Smith, and known as "Pegleg" Smith because he had lost one of his natural legs, with a party of trappers came from St. Louis to the head of the Colorado River. They followed down that stream to the mouth of the Gila River and then struck of across the desert. From Yuma their course was in a southwesterly direction, across a wide stretch of desert, utterly devoid of vegetation, and with no sign of water or life of any kind. They traveled for three days toward some low hills, but as they pressed on they appeared to recede and be always about the same distance from them, At nightfall on the fourth day, however, they made their camp at the very base of the southernmost of the hills.
"In the dim, fading light they could faintly discern the tops of three small buttes to the northward, toward which a deep canyon led. They were nearly out of water, so one of their number was sent to explore the canyon to see if by any chance a spring of water was there.
"Before long he had climbed to the top of one of the buttes, but had not found a drop of moisture. While at the top of the hill, however, he discovered many loose pieces of black metal, with here and there pieces of some metal showing on the surface of them. He gathered several of the pieces, having the impression that the yellow metal was copper in its native state.
"The trappers camped at the base of the hill that night, and in the morning, by the clear light, they described a high mountain to the northwest. Their supply of water was almost gone, and they felt that their only hope was in reaching this high mountain before what remained of the water had been entirely consumed and they perished from thirst on the burning sands of the desert. The man who had picked up the pieces of black metal on the hilltop gave no thought to them, and the one thought was to reach the mountainside and find water.
"That night they came to the mountain, which all day had seemed just a short way off, and found a spring of cool, clear water. They were saved, and they thought of little else. The mountain was named 'Smith Mountain,' in honor of Pegleg, who was the first to discover it, and it bears that name to-day.
"At Temecula, where the trappers first stopped, they were told the pieces of black metal found on the three buttes were gold, but the proof was not conclusive until they reached San Bernadino and submitted their find to an expert. Even then they did not realize the immensity of their discovery. It must be remembered that this was before 'the days of old, the days of gold, the days of '49.

Golden Days of '49 . . .
"After the discovery of gold in California and the rush of adventurers from all over the world to the new Eldorado, Smith began to consider. Eventually he became imbued with the idea he had made a great discovery, and he went to San Francisco where he organized an expedition to seek for the three buttes in Southern California where fabulous wealth was hidden. Fully equipped for a long stay on the desert the expedition left Los Angeles and started in a southeasterly direction for Smith Mountain where he last water was to be had, but before reaching the springs some Indians who had been brought along to pack the supplies decamped quietly in the night-time with all the provisions and most of the camp equipment, and the expedition was forced to turn back.

Pegleg Smith, disheartened by the catastrophe, left his followers in San Bernadino, and nothing was ever heard from him again, so far as history tells. Whether he again attempted to locate the three hills of gold and lost his life on the burning sands, or whether he abandoned the quest and left the country for good, is not known.
"From this time on the story of Pegleg and his discovery began to spread and to assume fantastic forms. Every one who related it told it differently. However, there were those who knew and appreciated the real facts regarding thre find and who never gave uo the idea of some day making a journey across the desert in search of the gold they knew must be there.

"The next authentic piece of history concerning the Pegleg has to do with an Indian employed on the ranch of Governor Downey, which is known as Warner's Ranch, and stretches from the foothills below Smith Mountain to the desert on the south. This Indian was wont to steal away from the ranch on many occasions when he would be fully equipped for a long journey and sometimes on his return he would display a quantity of gold. It was in the form of black metal, generously sprinkled with free gold, and readily passed for currency at the country store.
"The Indian was never very particular whether he got the full value of his nuggets or not. He often remarked he knew where there was plenty more. It was known that he used to enter the desert by way of the San Felipe Canyon, which would take him in the very direction of the three buttes, described by Pegleg Smith and his comrades after their first trip over this region, when the discovery was made.
When Downey Was Governor ...

"All the circumstances eventually came to the ears of Governor Downey, and he went to the ranch for the purpose of interviewing the Indian, but before he reached there the Indian had gone away to Anaheim and there he was killed in a quarrel over a game of cards. Governor Downey closely questioned the squaw of the Indian and succeeded in getting her to describe as best she could the route taken by her brave on his mysterious journeys to the desert. She said that the Indian got his last supply of water at the foot of Smith Mountain at the identical spring where Pegleg and his comrades found water after leaving the three buttes on the morning of their discovery. She said that he always left Smith Mountain at daybreak and traveled toward the sun and at about three o'clock in the afternoon he would come to the place where 'mucho, mucho gold' was to be had.


"Since that time it is hard to separate the reliable stories of Pegleg's discoveries from the unauthenticated ones and the purely imaginative ones. In 1860 a man named McGuire organized a party of six in San Francisco to go to the Pegleg mine. He claimed to have been there, and showed a number of very valuable gold nuggets to substantiate his assertions. He had certificates of deposits on a San Francisco bank showing that he had plenty of money, and said he had obtained them by depositing nuggets like those he carried. The six adventurers went through the San Felipe Canyon on to the desert, and that was the last ever seen of them. Their bleached bones clearly told the story of the fate of that expedition.

Lost Prospector's Black Nuggets ...
"Fifteen years after this a prospector, in making his way from Arizona to California, wandered far from his way, and became lost on the desert. After he had traveled about for two days he saw, away off in the distance, some low-lying hills, and made his way to the foot of them. In search of water to quench his terrible thirst, he entered a little canyon, and made his way through it to the very top of the little buttes. Here he found a number of black nuggets, and believed that they were gold, but water was more precious to him than gold at that time, and he descended to the desert again and finally crawled on to the foot of Smith Mountain, where he, too, found the little spring of life-giving water.
"As soon as he was able to travel, this man came to Los Angeles to organize a company to go with him back to the desert, but the hardships he had undergone had been too much for him, and he fell ill. When he learned that he was going to die he confided to Dr. De Courcey, his physician, the particulars of his discovery, and placed in his hands two thousand dollars' worth of gold nuggets, which were those he had picked up during the few months [sic] he stayed on the top of the little butte.

"After the death of the miner, Dr. De Councey spent some time on the desert attempting to locate the vast treasure, but he did not succeed, and finally, he, too, died.

"At Flowing Wells, on the edge of the Colorado Desert, the Southern Pacific road has a station, and the agent of the road here some time ago reported tha an Indian squaw came to his place one day and showed a quantity of gold nuggets. She guarded them jealously, knowing well their value, but would not talk freely nor tell where she found them, but would point to the direction of Smith Mountain, in line with which would be the three low hills mentioned by Pegleg Smith. This reticence on the part of Indians on this coast is general among them, for they were told by the Jesuit priests, that the Great Spirit would punish them if they ever showed a white man where there was gold located.
"Only three months ago a man came across from the Banning side of the desert to a point about twelve miles above Yuma, and stopped at a mill near the river to obtain water and rest. He told the engineers at the mill that he saw many queer things on his trip, and took from his pocket a handful of black nuggets which he said he thought might be lead by the weight, but concluded they were iron pyrites and laid them down. After he went away the mill man picked up one of the nuggets and with a file removed the coating. Then he discovered it was pure gold. He started in pursuit of the man, overtook him and learned from him that he picked up the nuggets in a gulch where the wind and the sand had driven him for shelter, and where he remained all night. He said that there were carloads of that stuff there. The black coating over the gold obscured from him the value of the find as it had from many others both on the desert and in the Klondike country.

"The nuggets which this man picked up were just like those which Pegleg Smith's comrades found, just like those the Indian brought to Warner's Ranch, and just like those which McGuire brought to San Francisco. G.W.J. 1906
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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by Desert Cruiser » Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:00 pm

Jim B. I'm hoping you continue this topic with more info on Pegleg and particularly more on the guy that supposedly found Peglegs gold. Waiting........

Don.....

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by Desert Cruiser » Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:34 pm

And in the meantime if anyone has the drive to do so -- here's several years (some with months) of the old Desert magazine that have articles on the Pegleg Lost Gold.

1946 Unknown month
1962 Unknown month
1965 March
1980 June

Interesting reading.

Don....

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by jim_dusa » Sat Aug 08, 2009 7:16 pm

Did Pegleg's Gold Belong to Peralta?

Intesting article by Robert Buck in 1966 June issue. The author thinks the gold Pegleg found may have been scattered over these hills in the Colorado Desert by some other means! Is it possible that this is what became of the cargo of the ill-fated Peralta expedition?

Here is a link to the story http://www.desertusa.com/mb3-photos/Binder2.pdf

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by Desert Cruiser » Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:50 pm

Boy I finally got to read that. The really funny thing is this. We lived in the Ca. foothills just off of Rt. 26 near Rail Road Flat for 16 years before moving to AZ. We dredged all along the Calaveras river both the north and south branch. Down in Jenny Lind there are placers mines all along 26 at different spots that nobody knows anything about except that they were worked for a second time in the 1920's, nobody knows who first worked them. Actually I've seen a lot of these gravel piles and often wondered how much was left behind but like the article says, it's all private property now. Very few people would be willing to allow a prospector access, I've asked!

As for the mine site on top of the hill where the "white oak" (probably what we called the Live Oak that doesn't loose it's leaves in the winter) I've never been there but I've been close along the river prospecting with a small dredge. The Calaveras is noted to produce a lot of gold, and I can vouch for that. And another thing I've seen up there is a lot of old mine shafts (glory holes, mostly) that are so well hidden that you could walk right next to them and not know it if your poking around around in every bush along the way. We've found some neat artifacts by doing that. Mostly old tools and even an old porcelain jar used to pour the gold into in a kiln (made in England). Boy this story brings back memories and makes me wonder if the hypothesis might not be correct.

Jim B: Are you ready to go looking for the black nuggets yet. let us know when?

Don....

Jim Hatt

Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by Jim Hatt » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:22 am

Hey Don,

Does anyone have any photos of those black nuggets? I have read a lot about them over the years, but I've never seen any photos.

Jim

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