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  1. #1
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    Nemo me impune lacesset

    Jan 2005
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    Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    <From the Los Angeles Herald>

    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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  3. #2
    Charter Member
    us
    Sep 2007
    Tennessee
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    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    Thanks for posting this. I know I have read this somewhere but could not find it in my files so I went off searching the net for a copy. So far I have not found the article but I think I found the reason that no one has found the mine. This headline from the March 16, 1893 issue of the San Francisco Morning Call explains it.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The creeks are all cowards and run underground and whiskey is so scarce that you can’t use it to wet down dry jokes. –The Irish Lord 1897

  4. #3
    um
    Nemo me impune lacesset

    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
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    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    Good one!
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  5. #4
    us
    I deal in reality

    Mar 2010
    Maryland
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    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    Well, here we go. In my younger days I looked for Pegleg gold. The area was several miles west of Plaster city and a tad north. I was camping with a fire and an old desert rat wondered in. I shared my dinner with him. I told him I was looking for the Pegleg mine. With a well weathered smile he said it was the wrong time. Peglegs mine was actually a old volcanic cone that had thrown out gold "balls" covered with manganese. He said the desert sands covered and uncoverer it from time to time and this was not the right time. At that he wondered off! The next morning I packed up and left.

  6. #5
    um
    Nemo me impune lacesset

    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
    Tesoro Lobo Supertraq, (95%) Garrett Scorpion (5%)
    5,132
    662 times

    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankn
    Well, here we go. In my younger days I looked for Pegleg gold. The area was several miles west of Plaster city and a tad north. I was camping with a fire and an old desert rat wondered in. I shared my dinner with him. I told him I was looking for the Pegleg mine. With a well weathered smile he said it was the wrong time. Peglegs mine was actually a old volcanic cone that had thrown out gold "balls" covered with manganese. He said the desert sands covered and uncoverer it from time to time and this was not the right time. At that he wondered off! The next morning I packed up and left.
    Thanks for sharing Frankn - and perhaps that old-timer wasn't so far off base. If shifting sands/dust do periodically cover and un-cover this gold placer, it would explain why someone could find it, then be unable to return to it. I am reminded of the Pearl ship of the desert, which is likewise covered and un-covered by the winds according to one theory.

    A friend of mine told me of a 1920's car that is buried in sands in Wyoming; he found it one day while working building fence and had to take cover for a nasty wind storm blew up. When the winds died down, there sat the car - looking nearly showroom new. He took note of the spot and when he got free time, went back to retrieve it. Unfortunately in the meantime, the winds had again shifted the sands and re-buried the car. Across the pond, there are numerous stories of strange things buried in the Sahara desert, which are occasionally uncovered and re-buried by mother nature. Recently a whole Persian army was discovered, long believed to have been a fictional story written by Herodotus, now shown to have been true; the army had been sent marching south to invade Ethiopia by the Great King of Persia (Cambyses if memory serves but I welcome any correction, ) but a terrible wind storm blew up and literally buried the whole army. Folks whom have never been through a sandstorm cannot imagine how terrible they can be, nor how the sands can be piled so quickly.

    Anyway thanks again, and if this tip is correct perhaps the best times for searching for Peglegs gold is to wait for right after wind storms, especially unusual ones which come from different directions than 'normal'.

    I hope you will share more stories of your adventures amigo, and look forward to reading more from you.

    Good luck and good hunting Frankn and everyone, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  7. #6
    Charter Member
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    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankn
    Well, here we go. In my younger days I looked for Pegleg gold. The area was several miles west of Plaster city and a tad north. I was camping with a fire and an old desert rat wondered in. I shared my dinner with him. I told him I was looking for the Pegleg mine. With a well weathered smile he said it was the wrong time. Peglegs mine was actually a old volcanic cone that had thrown out gold "balls" covered with manganese. He said the desert sands covered and uncoverer it from time to time and this was not the right time. At that he wondered off! The next morning I packed up and left.
    This is about as exact as one can get.... GREAT JOB!!!!! The area to the W of Plaster city and " a tad N " is where I have been saying it is for awhile. This is very near the old Butterfield Stage Route and close to the Carrizo Impact Area. I have met a old Desert Magazine writer who has had access to this area since the 70's ( he sent some GREAT pixs ). Timing is also KEY.... if you wait till just after the Sana Ana winds come through and get in the right location you have a good shot at finding... All you have to do is not get blown up from the unexploded ordnance...and if you get caught out there the fine is $2900 PER PERSON..... GOOD LUCK !!!!

    PLL

    Here is a sample of one of the pixs....

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #7
    um
    Nemo me impune lacesset

    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
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    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    UXO - <Un-eXploded-Ordnance> YIKES!!!! A $2900 fine is one thing - but..."boom" is quite another!
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  9. #8
    mx
    Nov 2004
    Alamos,Sonora,Mexico
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    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    I presume that you don't include beans in your camp diet? Down here you will be lucky to have them and tortillas plus a bit of non 'old sock' coffee.

    Sheesh this modern generation is certainly getting soft, where is that old Mountain man spirit? Hostiles be damned.

    Don Jose de La Mancha
    "I exist to live, not live to exist"

  10. #9

    May 2007
    Whites DFX series with 9" coil and 18" coil.
    214

    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    Quote Originally Posted by pegleglooker
    ................
    This is about as exact as one can get.... GREAT JOB!!!!! The area to the W of Plaster city and " a tad N " is where I have been saying it is for awhile. This is very near the old Butterfield Stage Route and close to the Carrizo Impact Area. I have met a old Desert Magazine writer who has had access to this area since the 70's ( he sent some GREAT pixs ). Timing is also KEY.... if you wait till just after the Sana Ana winds come through and get in the right location you have a good shot at finding... All you have to do is not get blown up from the unexploded ordnance...and if you get caught out there the fine is $2900 PER PERSON..... GOOD LUCK !!!!

    PLL

    Here is a sample of one of the pixs....


    A $2,900 dollars fine for being there?.... For crying out loud.... Not only is the unexploded ordinance bad enough, but the fine itself is just outrageous....

    I swear it, the rich just keep getting richer and they just keep finding ways to make it harder for anyone else to make it in this God forsaken little rock...
    "GIVE ME MY TREASURE!!!!!

  11. #10
    Charter Member
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    Re: Where is Pegleg Smith's Lost Mine

    Hey gang,
    A couple of years ago a friend of mine and I got as close as we could. While we were there a ranger was giving a Jeep a ticket for crossing the line, there were 3 people in the Jeep. And remember the fine is $2900 EACH !!!!!!

    PLL

 

 

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