Pegleg's Lost Mine

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by oroblanco » Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:45 pm

Hola amigo Roc2Rol,

Thank you for sharing that, and dang it Ed now you have given me more ideas, I have to go look up something I read somewhere and can't remember where, not even the title. Hmmmmm......
Roy

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by gollum » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:14 pm

Hey All,

Someone asked for pics of black nuggets. Here is one from George Mroczkowski's Book:

Image

I have spent a lot of years in the Anza-Borrego Desert. Probably not a 100 yard square piece of that area that I haven't set foot on (maybe in some of the Southern parts). I spend most of my time there between Borrego Badlands and South Side of Fish Creek Mtns.

I have been all over the "out of bounds" areas of the Carrizo Impact Area on the North Side of Superstition Hills (they're not REALLY mountains).

Image

I have spent some time along the West Side of the Chocolate Mtns. Mostly in the area of Bat Cave Buttes. I do agree that if the Chocolates ever get opened up, there will be a stampede. Right now, taking a vehicle in there would not be wise. LOOOOOOOOONG way to a call box if you break down. Also of concern may be meth labs out there. I would recommend a horse or mule.

The reason I mention meth labs, is because in some areas I have found evidence of cookers using old mineshafts for making meth. I should think the VERY last thing anyone would want to do would be to accidentally wander into a meth cooker's lab. He's already high, paranoid, and most likely armed.

Best-Mike
Last edited by gollum on Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by oroblanco » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:21 pm

Mike - thank you for posting the photos, especially of the black nuggets. I had read a rather far-out idea on the possible origins of such a surface deposit of gold and can not find it, but essentially the idea was they were meteorites and the black crust was from the burning from entering the atmosphere.

Also, one quick question - do you know if it is legal to metal detect for meteorites <specifically> in Anza-Borrego state park? I know detectors are illegal but thought perhaps this might be a loophole. Thank you in advance,
Roy

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by gollum » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Hey Roy,

If the Park Rangers catch anybody using a metal detector in the confines of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, they will most likely confiscate your detector, your vehicle, and get search warrants for your home, go there and take all your research materials in order to build a case against you for attempted theft of historical artifacts. I have had this discussion several times with different park rangers I have gotten to know over the years.

The only two REAL possibilities (to me) for the black coating of the nuggets would be:

1. A chemical reaction of the copper portion of the nuggets with the atmosphere (the black nuggets are supposedly 70% gold, 15% silver, 10% copper, 5% other)

2. Desert varnish. I doubt desert varnish though, because it ONLY forms on exposed surfaces, which means that the underside would still be gold.

Best-Mike

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by oroblanco » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:12 pm

Mike you forgot!

#3 - black paint!
:lol: :D

I am kidding, of course - while someone certainly could paint some gold nuggets black, then try to pass them off, this would not explain where these stories of black-crusted nuggets originated. The copper seems a logical answer. I wonder if anyone has ever found green-crusted nuggets?
Roy

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by gollum » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:20 pm

Well,

Not black paint for the REAL nuggets, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut:

Look carefully at the picture of the black nugget. Look closely at the wrist. Do you see the black overspray? HAHAHA I can't say for absolutely certain that the black nugget in the picture was spray painted, but I think it is VERY likely!

Best-Mike

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by oroblanco » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:15 pm

Dang Mike good catch, that does look a bit like paint overspray on the arm. You remember what our amigo Pegleglooker had turned up, that the whole story of "the man who found Pegleg's gold" might have been a hoax? That doesn't disprove the original Pegleg gold (to me anyway) but that photo sure does raise suspicions now that I notice that 'overspray'.

Pegleglooker was supposed to be tracking down the truth of the matter on the magazine article/letters and he did say he got in touch with Choral Pepper's daughter but could not tell what he had learned. If it was all a hoax, then the clues from that article are pure red herrings.

Mike, I would like your opinion on Mitchell's story of where he found black nuggets? According to him, the black coating would crack and come right off by simply hammering the nuggets, very different from the "Man who found Pegleg's Gold" complicated directions. Thank you in advance,
Oroblanco

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by gollum » Sat Mar 06, 2010 6:01 pm

Roy,

I know of five places where black nuggets have been found. Some as recently as the 1950s. That place is constantly under about three or four feet of blowsand. The time to hunt that spot is after a big storm when the blowsand has been removed.

Another spot on the East side of the Chocolates is a very good candidate. I don't think it could be the original Peg Leg Site, but I have good info that some came from the place.

The only spot I'll actually name is Amboy Crater. Risk of getting caught detecting there is WAY too great to take the chance, so its' not on my list of places to spend any REAL time.

As far as the coating, I'll stay with my previous post. Its' tough to tell with Mitchell. Some of his stuff has been proven to have a factual basis, and some are just yarns to fill pages of his books.

GRAIN OF SALT MY FRIEND, GRAIN OF SALT! HAHAHA

Best-Mike

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by oroblanco » Thu May 13, 2010 11:12 pm

Hola amigos,

The black-crusted (or painted, heh heh) gold nuggets brings to mind one of the problems with searching for the lost Pegleg gold. There has been a fair amount of debate about just who Pegleg Smith really was, with two main candidates being the usual choices; the first being Thomas L. Smith, a mountain man, trapper, accomplished horse-thief and teller of tall tales, who was reported as being the person in possession of black crusted nuggets, and a later, John G. Smith, <also seen as John O. Smith> who was also a peg-legged Smith but a veteran of the Civil war who brought in some very rich gold ore, not black crusted nuggets. The problem is that both of these Peglegs found their gold in the same general area, and when a treasure hunter sees an old article, letter etc that mentions "Pegleg Smith" we can't be sure just which Pegleg the story is referring to!

The fact that there are TWO Pegleg Smiths has certainly served to muddy the waters for anyone trying to find either of these lost mines, when the 'clues' and landmarks for the two become confused and mixed we can end up looking for a set of landmarks that never existed! The later Pegleg found his gold in 1871, much later than the original black-crusted nuggets and was lode rather than placer but unfortunately too many of us treasure hunters do not know enough of the art of prospecting to take notice of such a basic and extremely important difference as lode or placer.

This "other" Pegleg lost gold mine has been reportedly found several times in the late 1890's and early 1900's but it seems that none of these treasure hunters were able to return to the mine. It must be in a place that is either so remote or looks so much like too many other places that makes it tough to pin the spot down.

Wiki article on Thomas L. Smith, the "original" Pegleg of the black-crusted gold nuggets story
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_L._Smith

Desert Magazine article, on the John G (or John O) Smith
http://www.scribd.com/doc/2149995/19461 ... 6-November
Another good article on the lost Pegleg
http://www.klaxo.net/hofc/drsb/t111.htm#pl3

This kind of mixing of different lost mine legends has done more to KEEP those mines lost than if an army of Indians had buried them! Do a bit of research on any lost treasure amigos, before you just accept what the "public version" tells us - for all too often there are several different legends that have been blended into one, making it almost impossible to find.

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find those black gold nuggets!
Oroblanco

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Re: Pegleg's Lost Mine

Post by historik951 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:33 pm

Hello Everyone,
First please let me say that although I am new here, I'm not new to the Pegleg yarn. I have searched and researched this story for over 6 years. As I am a single person I have a ton of time to search this story out, and have done just that. LOL One of the most common mistakes in this story ( and just about any other treasure related tale ) is the " layering " of multiple accounts from a variety of writers through the years. Desert Magazine's first article about pegleg appeared in Aug 1940 and was written by John D Mitchell. It was however not the first thing written about pegleg in the magazine. In Randall Henderson's " Just between You and Me " from April 1939, Randall talks about reading about the 200 peglegs hidden in the desert by Harry Oliver. To TRULY dissect this yarn one must first realize that there was more than one pegleg.
The most recognized one, is Thomas L Smith who simply was a trapper in the early to mid 1800's. He has a very colorful past and gained notoriety due to his association with some of the most famous trappers of the day. Thomas was with a party that did find gold and it was this story that started the tales of " golden bullets". He was camped at the convergence of the Colorado and Virgin rivers ( Lake Mead ) sometime around 1829-30. The leader of the group was a trapper named George Yount, who was sometimes referred to as Dutch George. One morning a couple of people from this party went exploring and came back with some nuggets of an unknown ore ( remember gold wasn't discovered in California until 1849 ). Thomas looked at it and declared it to be " native copper " and promptly made bullets out of it. This is the only time Thomas actually had real gold in his hands from the " desert ".... There is a newspaper clipping from the San Fransisco Alta dated April 26, 1854 that describes Thomas L Smith taking a party back to find the gold, but returned 2 months later and that no color was ever found. But for the better part of 20 years he told anyone about his story of lost gold for drinks, food and just about anything else they were willing to pay. Take in consideration the amount of gold talk there must have been in the bay area after 1849. Along with every easterner coming out to stake his claim and looking for stories of gold, this must have made him very popular. In fact the San Fransisco Alta ran another article about the life and times of Thomas l Smith on March 2, 1858 talking about his trapping days and how he lost his leg... no mention of gold. So any story that is associated with Thomas L HAS to be taken out of the overall search, even Philip Bailey in Golden Mirages said he wasn't THE pegleg Smith of gold fame.
The REAL pegleg Smith was just a average Joe like the rest of us, he worked as a guide helping people to get to Los Angles or San Diego. It is most likely that he plied his trade from the late 1850's to possibly the mid 1870's, he would have most likely met people at Yuma and offered his service to them. The Butterfield stage line was now out of business and the thought of crossing the desert without a guide must have been a frighting thought for emigrants back then. Bailey ( Philip Bailey author of Golden Mirages ) is said to have found as direct of a connection that you can get. He interviewed a local sheriff named Charles Knowles who talked about a chance meeting of a man named Price in Idaho. Knowles didn't know it at the time but he actually knew Price, you see Price's son helped save Knowles from drowning when he was just a child. Knowles was born in 1865 and was 20 years old at the time of the meeting. Price said that he and Pegleg worked as guides out of Yuma, taking people to Warners or the coast, but he had quit the job a month before Pegleg found the nuggets. However when Pegleg came into town he met up with his old partner and shared the story of how he had found the black nuggets.
According to Price Pegleg left Yuma with a small party following " the usual route through Carrizo and Vallecito ", which most likely was the abandoned Butterfield route. If you are going to lead people through the desert, I'm sure you want to take the safest route possible, and the old Butterfield route would most likely would have offered that to Pegleg. Price then continued his story with, " they made about 2/3 of the distance to Carrizo without mishap and camped on New River, a few miles east of the Slough Lakes " ( this would have put them west of Calexico ). The distance from here to Carrizo would have been about 21-22 miles ( as the crow flies ), and because of this distance and type of terrain Pegleg wanted to get a early start ( best to travel when its cooler ). But when they woke the mules had wandered off during the night and it took some time to round them up. After they started the trip, around mid afternoon they ran into a bad sandstorm and it became very difficult to stay on the trail. As Bailey says it " About the middle of the afternoon Smith saw they were in for a bad sandstorm, and an hour later it was blowing so hard they could barely make headway against it. ". That would mean that they traveled about 14 miles away from New River, but the next statement ( to me ) is the biggest clue. " even the gap to Carrizo was so badly blurred that Smith was not sure they were headed for it." Which tells me they must have been close to the gap itself, and the lastly, " it was not until they began to ascend a gradual slope that kept getting steeper that Smith knew for certain they were off their course. They had wandered into one of those long,ramp-like canyons north of the trail "
So this tells me that they must have entered Barrett Canyon, it is the only ramp-like canyon in the area, however just how far up did he go ??? According to Price Pegleg stated " he climbed up the ramp -for some distance- to a small butte; it looked like it sat on a ridge, so he went to the top, hoping he would get a better view of the country. But he saw nothing except badlands ". " While up there he noticed that the ridge was a sort of hog-back made by 3 or 4 buttes connected by saddles." Pegleg knew then it was going to be a long trip to Carrizo, and on his way coming down he slipped, so being more careful and watching where he was walking he noticed " some queer lookin rocks, big as walnuts ". So he put a couple in his pocket and headed for Carrizo. That night they rested and they next day while on his way to Vallecitos he knocked a couple of rocks together and that is when he realized it was gold.....
This would also explain why it hasn't been found, since this area is a old bombing range and that entering it could result in death, or finds up to $2900 each, there are not many willing to go into the area. Besides the hill could have been obliterated, and the gold blown in all directions.... I have read just about everything I could find on Pegleg and this is the earliest account that I could find. Bailey's book was published in 1941 but he researched the stories for over 20 years prior. That would mean that he was able to talk to " original old timers " and get the most direct story. No disrespect to other authors, but most of their writings are reworks of previous accounts. I have not been able to read about another direct account from any other writer. But I am always willing to listen to any other theory....

Enjoy
Historik951
PLL

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