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Thread: Did the "Lost Pegleg Mine" ever exist?

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  1. #1

    Feb 2013
    146
    40 times
    Prospecting

    Did the "Lost Pegleg Mine" ever exist?

    There is a spring in East Mojave Desert that Pegleg Smith named after his spouse or lady friend, and where he carved his name in a rock near-by. The location of the site can be researched by people who wish to spend the time and effort, which I did. After searching the area and the geology around the spring, it is clear that no gold was or is in the area that could be called a "mine:" at best there are some prospect holes, and some gold flakes, but nothing even remotely like a mine. I was disappointed, but not too much, that there is no gold at or near the spring.

    Naturally I have read what I could about Smith and the stories about his gold mine. On a probability scale of from 0 to 1,000 regarding if he even had a gold mine like the stories describe, I would rate it a 32. I.e., the mine never existed.

  2. #2
    us
    Fortune Favors the BOLD, while Karma Favors the Wise!

    Jan 2006
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    Desertphile,

    The "Peg Leg" is not a mine. It has been referred to as a mine many many times over the years. The ONLY thing Thomas L. "PegLeg" Smith found was a hilltop covered in black coated rocks, a bunch of which turned out to be gold nuggets with some kind of black coating (from the description it is not Desert Varnish but black oxides formed in the approximately 10% copper in the black gold nuggets. He found them when climbing a hill to get a look over the top of a dust storm getting his bearings while leading a party from Yuma to Los Angeles. He searched for about twenty years before giving up and opening a small General Store near San Francisco.

    The possibility of his story being true (to me) is very high. If he would have made it up, he would not have spent all those years tying to refind his wealth. I know of a couple of places where black covered gold nuggets have been found SouthEast of the Salton Sea.

    If you want to read the best book on the subject, read "Golden Mirages" by Philip Bailey.

    Best of luck - Mike
    My Motto: "KEEP AT IT!"

    ............... ALWAYS REMEMBER: When you make a typo, the errorists win...................Aloha Snackbar!

    Check out 1ORO1.COM

  3. #3
    um
    Nemo me impune lacesset

    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
    Tesoro Lobo Supertraq, (95%) Garrett Scorpion (5%)
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    Nice post Mike - and have to 'ditto' your statements. I would also point out that it actions speak louder than words; a man that had simply made up a story of a lost gold deposit, would never go hunting for it himself. Smith went searching repeatedly. The fact that he went searching for it himself, speaks volumes to me about whether it was real or not. Others reported seeing the black gold nuggets in Smith's possession, and there are several natural ways in which gold can become coated with something that blackens. I have to respectfully disagree with your classification Desertphile, of course it is just my opinion but I am 100% convinced that Pegleg Smith did find a rich gold deposit that he was then unable to relocate.

    Please do continue, and ditto on the book recommendation as well.
    Oroblanco

    oops almost forgot, beer for our amigo Gollum can't forget the beer!
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
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  4. #4
    Charter Member
    um
    Dec 2008
    3,599
    1953 times
    There is no doubt Golden Mirages is a classic! And it covers a good deal more than the Lost Peg-Leg. Properly it should be a "prospect," not a mine. Agreed.

    "Jesse Rascoe" wrote a nice little pamphlet on the subject. I think the best biography of Peg-Leg is Templeton's The Lame Captain; The Life and Adventures of Pegleg Smith (1965). I've mentioned it before, but I think one of the most under-rated (or, at least, little known) sources is Ralph L. Caine's Legendary and Geological History of Lost Desert Gold (1951). It deserves a wider audience.

    Probert lists almost 10 pages of references - the literature is vast. Or, at least, half-vast.

    Good luck to all,

    The Old Bookaroo
    Make America Think Again

    Do you have good books in good condition you are never going to re-read? Clean 'em out!
    Operation Paperback collects gently used books and sends them to American troops.

  5. #5
    us
    Fortune Favors the BOLD, while Karma Favors the Wise!

    Jan 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Bookaroo View Post
    There is no doubt Golden Mirages is a classic! And it covers a good deal more than the Lost Peg-Leg. Properly it should be a "prospect," not a mine. Agreed.

    "Jesse Rascoe" wrote a nice little pamphlet on the subject. I think the best biography of Peg-Leg is Templeton's The Lame Captain; The Life and Adventures of Pegleg Smith (1965). I've mentioned it before, but I think one of the most under-rated (or, at least, little known) sources is Ralph L. Caine's Legendary and Geological History of Lost Desert Gold (1951). It deserves a wider audience.

    Probert lists almost 10 pages of references - the literature is vast. Or, at least, half-vast.

    Good luck to all,

    The Old Bookaroo
    I hadn't heard of the second two books. THANKS! I just ordered both from Amazon.

    Mike
    My Motto: "KEEP AT IT!"

    ............... ALWAYS REMEMBER: When you make a typo, the errorists win...................Aloha Snackbar!

    Check out 1ORO1.COM

  6. #6
    mx
    Nov 2004
    Alamos,Sonora,Mexico
    14,603
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    Hi ORO de Tayopa,There is an area west of Caborco , along the US Border with a dry lake that has similar black coated gold. I have posted on this before.
    Last edited by Real de Tayopa Tropical Tramp; Jul 26, 2015 at 12:45 AM.
    Oroblanco likes this.
    "I exist to live, not live to exist"

  7. #7

    Jul 2012
    Holmes County Ohio
    Tesoro Lobo
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    I remember reading in an old issue of Desert magazine, where a photographer claimed to have found the small hill, and systematically cleaned it out. As proof he sent several nuggets to the Desert editor, Conrotto I think.

    Of course it could have easily been a rouse to stop people from looking, I have no idea.

    Great story, though.
    Two rules in life: Don't sweat the small stuff.

    It's all small stuff.

  8. #8
    us
    Fortune Favors the BOLD, while Karma Favors the Wise!

    Jan 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gold Maven View Post
    I remember reading in an old issue of Desert magazine, where a photographer claimed to have found the small hill, and systematically cleaned it out. As proof he sent several nuggets to the Desert editor, Conrotto I think.

    Of course it could have easily been a rouse to stop people from looking, I have no idea.

    Great story, though.
    Maven,

    I have all the stories Desert did on The Lost Peg Leg. Pegleglooker (on TNet) interviewed someone that told him magazine sales had slowed down, and they made up the story to help sales. Who knows.

    Mike
    My Motto: "KEEP AT IT!"

    ............... ALWAYS REMEMBER: When you make a typo, the errorists win...................Aloha Snackbar!

    Check out 1ORO1.COM

  9. #9
    Charter Member
    um
    Dec 2008
    3,599
    1953 times
    gollum: I look forward to your review of Caine's book. It is a rare combination of scientific geology, legend and story, and experience on the ground. I'll say I don't know of another book quite like it.

    There are a several fur trade histories with history and background on Pegleg - but Templeton's is the only complete biography I am aware other. Published, anyway. There is a good thesis that wasn't, to my knowledge, printed for the general public.

    Good luck to all,

    The Old Bookaroo
    Make America Think Again

    Do you have good books in good condition you are never going to re-read? Clean 'em out!
    Operation Paperback collects gently used books and sends them to American troops.

  10. #10
    us
    Fortune Favors the BOLD, while Karma Favors the Wise!

    Jan 2006
    Arizona Vagrant
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    Bookaroo,

    Can't wait to read'em!

    Mike
    Shortfinger likes this.
    My Motto: "KEEP AT IT!"

    ............... ALWAYS REMEMBER: When you make a typo, the errorists win...................Aloha Snackbar!

    Check out 1ORO1.COM

  11. #11
    us
    El Dorado: Gold is where you find it.

    Apr 2015
    Valley Center, CA/Yuma, AZ
    480
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    Mike, Oro, and Bookaroo, You are all, IMHO, absolutely correct regarding Pegleg's "mine".. There was never a Lost Peg-Leg “mine” as such. Every time it was “found”, it was just gold laying around on the ground. That is why I did not include either the mine sought by Adolph Ruth or the Hank Brandt mine in the spreadsheet I posted on the “Pegleg’s Black Gold Nuggets” thread of this sub forum. By the way, welcome back, Bookaroo. Your posts are always interesting and informative, and I, for one, am glad to see you are back.

    Coffee, tea, beer, or the beverage of your choice?



  12. #12
    Charter Member
    um
    Dec 2008
    3,599
    1953 times
    Shortfinger:

    Thank you for your kind words. It has been a very warm welcome, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!

    Yes, it's clearly a misuse of the word "mine." Unless you accept the old Western definition: "A hole in the ground with a liar standing next to it."

    Good luck to all,

    The Old Bookaroo
    Make America Think Again

    Do you have good books in good condition you are never going to re-read? Clean 'em out!
    Operation Paperback collects gently used books and sends them to American troops.

  13. #13

    Dec 2012
    on the rocks - so cal county line
    Gold bug pro / Whites coin master II
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    There have been first hand accounts claiming they have cleaned out the source of were black nuggets have been found .
    This might be true , after all a placer patch is what it could have been .
    Now that the dirty work is done all's that is left is the digging

  14. #14
    us
    Fortune Favors the BOLD, while Karma Favors the Wise!

    Jan 2006
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    SHORTFINGER,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    1. The mine sought by Adolph Ruth was the Lost Gonzalez Mine (or The Phantom Mine). It is real, but it is not the mine Gene Reynolds claimed in his book "Borrego 13". Gene's "Mine" is actually only a 25 foot deep prospect.

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    2. The Hank Brandt Mine is a real mine that is likely somewhere on Fish Creek Mountain. Most stories put it in The Superstition Hills (just East of Fish Creek Mt), but I have been all over North-South-East-West of the Superstitions. Nothing even close to the description.

    Mike
    My Motto: "KEEP AT IT!"

    ............... ALWAYS REMEMBER: When you make a typo, the errorists win...................Aloha Snackbar!

    Check out 1ORO1.COM

  15. #15
    us
    El Dorado: Gold is where you find it.

    Apr 2015
    Valley Center, CA/Yuma, AZ
    480
    1908 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by gollum View Post
    SHORTFINGER,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    1. The mine sought by Adolph Ruth was the Lost Gonzalez Mine (or The Phantom Mine). It is real, but it is not the mine Gene Reynolds claimed in his book "Borrego 13". Gene's "Mine" is actually only a 25 foot deep prospect.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    2. The Hank Brandt Mine is a real mine that is likely somewhere on Fish Creek Mountain. Most stories put it in The Superstition Hills (just East of Fish Creek Mt), but I have been all over North-South-East-West of the Superstitions. Nothing even close to the description.

    Mike
    Mike,
    The kind words are deserved. There are several people here on TNet that I always look for their posts, and you are one. Obviously very well read, and you have also been (and still are) ‘boots on the ground”. I think I may have seen that “prospect hole” once, but I stayed away, since there was someone already there at the time. Obviously, since I didn’t go there, I can’t say for sure. But maybe. I have spent some time in the Fish Creek area, but haven’t found anything of substance as yet (not that I would say anything if I had). Haven’t gotten to the Superstition Hills yet, but from what you have said, it looks like I may not have to, although it might be worth a look in that area as well, since the black gold nuggets seem to be pretty well scattered over the entire SoCal desert area, based on all of the reported findings. They could be in any number of washes in the area, although probably in small quantities.

    JB

 

 
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