Apr 27, 2011, 08:07 PM
Lost Pegleg Mine “Rediscovered” (in 1909)!
Pegleg Mine Rediscovered
Prospectors Tell of Find and Rush Back After Riches
Covina Argus January 9, 1909
San Bernardino, Jan. 8 – For eighty years a myth of the silent desert, a golden mirage that has lured hundreds to lonely death amid the waterless wastes, the “Pegleg” mine, more famed in the folklore of the frontier than the treasures of Captain Kidd or the sunken galleons of the Spanish main, has been discovered.
That is the story that was told in a few hurried sentences today by Samuel Ferguson and John Blodgett, prospectors, who, only pausing long enough to purchase provisions, plunged back into the trackless dunes on the return trip to the mysterious three black buttes from whose precipitous sides “Pegleg” Smith, scout, guide and Indian fighter, picked the first handful of golden nuggets in 1830.
from The San Francisco Examiner, February 21, 1892
reprinted in Desert Magazine May 1954[/i]
Ferguson and Blodgett exhibited samples of the typical “Pegleg dust.” This is black and shot-shaped gold and there is not an old timer on the frontier but could tell it at a glance. The prospectors declare they have made the find and that they can return to it. It is in the very heart of the desert, they declare, about eighty-five miles west of Warner’s ranch. They have marked their route, they say, and can find their way back without difficulty. Much excitement has followed the announcement.
But others have found the “Pegleg.” Time and again its shot-like gold has been brought to the bars and hotels of the old frontier by haggard but joyful desert men whose months of search among the burning sands and alkaline sinks had been rewarded. But not one of these has ever been able to return. So well established is this fact that among the fast disappearing races of border men the “Pegleg” has taken on a supernatural aspect. Scientists have said that the configuration of the landscape is changing constantly owing to winds and the shifting of the sand that that to this is due the failure of the successful ones to retrace their way to the fabulous riches. But the descriptions of all who have dipped their fingers in the “Pegleg’s” wealth tally exactly with that as given by Ferguson and Blodgett.
Will these men be able to return and profit by their discovery? Is being asked, and the old timers are shaking their heads in silent dissent.
No other thing in the great Southwest is so mysteriously romantic as the “Pegleg” mine. Crossing the desert from Yuma to San Bernardino in 1850, “Pegleg” Smith, who was one of the first guides and trappers to locate the great Santa Fe trail, found himself lost in the trackless wild. Three black buttes rose on the horizon and to these he directed the steps of his tired horse.
Halting at its base, he dismounted and climbed the slope of one, seeking to gain a view of the country. Toiling up the slope, Smith was attracted by the peculiar appearance of the shotlike rock which covered the surface of the hill and gathered up a handful of the stones. They were heavier than lead. Laying one against his wooden leg, he hacked the pellet in half with his knife and it was gold.
Smith was far too experienced a frontiersman to give way to excitement. He went on to the top, ascertained the lay of the land and returned to his horses. He filled his saddle bags with the black, incrusted gold and went on, finally arriving in San Bernardino. He exhibited the gold and told his story. Hundreds rushed into the desert to locate claims. Scores died and all failed. For years it was believed Smith could have successfully led the various parties that he took out, had he so wished. Then the feeling grew that he had lied.
But one day a soldier who had deserted from Fort Yuma and had been lost in the desert, reached San Bernardino. He was crazy from exposure and the tortures of heat and thirst, but his pockets bulged with “Pegleg” gold. In lucid moments he told of the three black buttes, but he did not know the way back. There was another rush into the desert and another harvest of death and failure.
A squaw took “Pegleg” gold to Phoenix and described the three buttes and her awful suffering while lost in the silent druoth [?].
A cowboy who had followed cattle that strayed from the range came back afoot, after he had been given up for dead. He had “Pegleg” nuggets in his handkerchief, but he did not know the way.
And thus it has gone on. Just as the “Pegleg” seemed about to fade and be forgotten there always has come authentic revival in the form of shotgun nuggets, and someone who has seen the three black buttes but who is fated never to visit them again.
And so when Ferguson and Blodgett plunged back again into the desert, after cashing in their “dust” and replenishing their “outfit,” the oldtimers who have witnessed the dawnings and the wanings of many “Pegleg” discoveries shook their heads sadly and merely commented, “Wait and see.”
= 30 =
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Apr 30, 2011, 04:27 PM
Nemo me impune lacesset
Re: Lost Pegleg Mine “Rediscovered” (in 1909)!
A suggestion to our moderators, perhaps this thread ought to be moved into the Pegleg forum? Thank you in advance, and thank you Old Bookaroo for posting it.
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