"Pegleg Was A Liar" - The Pegleg Smith Chronicles, Continued

Springfield

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Springy,

I know you will enjoy the book.

The thing I look for in a LOST Treasure/Mine Story is what did the person that this happened to do after they lost it? If they kept looking for it for many years, then I put a bit more credence in the story. I have read some in which the finder simply went on to find the next one. REALLY? You find a ledge of exceedingly rich gold ore, then you lose it (but you know the general area it was located in), and then just move on? NO WAY!

Best - Mike

I finished the book today - loved it. There were plenty of good desert gold stories collected from, in many cases, people who were there when the events happened - people who were looking for the gold. Besides the 'lost ledges', there were many other great stories about the early days in the Colorado Desert and the characters who made it happen. I spent part of the winter of '85 camping in that country - I wish I'd known about some of these stories then. I remember at the time that 'anything could be in those hills'. Tough country.

Of course, a major focus of the book is the Lost Pegleg Mine, and this book ought to be considered the bible on the subject. I learned a lot of facts about the subject that were presented in a very convincing way. I'm now a believer that Smith found black gold - in fact, it seems likely there could be more out there beside his discovery.

Bailey is a great writer - too bad he didn't write more - that I'm aware of anyway. I rank him in the same league with Dobie and McKenna.
 

Oroblanco

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was it written some place that black nuggets could have came from the Aboy crater or the general vesinitiy ?


That is one theory, a distinct possibility, that they came out of the Amboy crater. If you look through some of the older posts where we discussed it earlier, I think there is more on that idea.


Please do continue,
Oroblanco
 

gollum

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One of the lost treasure stories is about a guy who found gold stuck to volcanic cinder material. It was very hot and he breathed in too much of the sulfur fumes from an outgas. He died on his way to town. Nobody has ever been able to find the source. There are several volcanic cones in the lower Mojave Desert.

Best - Mike
 

donnygamble

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I love stories like this one. It gives me hope that even I could possibly find a big score one day. I know that the chances of finding some secret stash or hidden treasure or next to nothing, but the allure of it all is what makes it so much fun. I love reading the stories and trying to piece together the bits of information that is available. Maybe some day I will actually find a hidden treasure that is worth the time and energy. I can't imagine how challenging it must have been for someone with only one leg back then. It's amazing to consider what he accomplished. More than most two legged people in the world today.
 

UncleMatt

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This type of extremely well-known lost mine legend is why I tend to be much more interested in the little-known, more obscure stories that survived the mineral rush days of the late 18th and early 20th centuries. The more obscure tales are every bit as compelling and much, much less likely to be as majorly corrupted as the iconic ones have become. Jogged by a discussion on another TN thread, I recently re-read Golden Treasures of the San Juan, by Cornelius, which contains some great stories about the mining camps in SW Colorado. These are locally known stories that have become legendary in a limited region - unlike the Pegleg story that has become almost mythical throughout the entire west.

We know Smith was renowned as a liar, drunk, braggart, horse-thief and irreconcilable BS-er. This forms a pretty fine mesh through which his story needs to be filtered. My guess is that, if there's any truth to Smith's story (or Adams' lost diggings yarn too, as another example), he vastly exaggerated his find to inflate his reputation - it's easier to get free drinks that way. As time went by, who knows what he'd say next? Maybe Pegleg did show some gold nuggets to folks. If so, I wonder if the nuggets in his possession weren't the same ones allegedly given to him by George Yount in the 1820's. Yount's discovery was reported in Hutchings California Magazine, (Feb. 1861, Pg 331) and supposedly was made in a dry arroyo off the Colorado River, two miles upstream from the mouth of the Virgin River.

Temple Cornelius is my literary mentor. I even met his extended family members, and stay in touch with them. I have spent my last 3 summer vacations exploring his tales in the book you mention. I have focused on the Neglected Mine high grade story, about a cook who found a high grade cache while walking from the Neglected Mine to Durango, CO. I have hiked the area extensively, and have posted a lot of photos in other threads. The problem is the area is very difficult to move around in, due to extremely thick brush, fallen timbers, and slopes that are steep enough that if you started falling, you would never stop. Soon the metal detecting will start, as I have been able to utilize the given landmarks to create a map that shows only the area where all the landmarks can be viewed. It leaves me with about 18 acres of area to detect, most of which is covered with the aforementioned obstacles. I was even able to locate and photograph the old pack animal road to the mine.

Note: I attempted last summer to get as close to the Neglected Mine as I could without trespassing, as it is on private property (patented mining claims). While eating lunch at a lower altitude next to the road, a truck passed me hauling an excavator on a trailer. When I got to the access road to the Neglected, I immediately noticed fresh tracks from the excavator climbing up the road. I guess they are doing some work up there to see if the mine can be revived and made operational. Wouldn't that be a hoot!
 
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lastleg

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Matt

Do you know if Neglected mine ore is free milling or locked up in tellurides? Stephen Voynick's
excellent book "Colorado Rockhounding" describes the ores of the Mayday and Idaho mines but
I can't find a mention of the Neglected. Perry Eberhart's "Guide to the Colorado Ghost Towns and
Mining Camps" says this: "Emery, a small camp around the Neglected Mine at the head of Junction
Creek, no information available on how the names Emery and Neglected came to be. In fact there
was little available on either." The last revised edition was in 1974.

Evidently Perry had not read Temple's awe inspiring book of 1961.

Regarding Pegleg's desert varnished nuggets: Desert Magazine carried lengthy articles on the legend
culminating with someone finding the right hill. He sent the mag samples and satisfied most of
the doubters. He remained anonymous of course. Desert's editions are online and full of treasure
leads in the far western region.
 

UncleMatt

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Temple claimed it was very rich Sylvanite ore, which is a gold-silver telluride.

But in the same story via Temple, the Neglected Mine's cook Mr. Sommers said the highgrade stache he found from the mine consisted of "...nuggets of all sizes in that batch of highgrade, all the way from the size of a pea to as big as a hen's egg."

Which leaves one wondering. Did Temple not understand what Sylvanite ore was? Or was the cook simply lying? Temple spent a lot of time in the mines, which I verified with family members. He should have been well versed in ore types by description, reputation, and sight. As with so many treasure tales, the reader is left to decide.

I like this tale because I can drive to it! Once you get there, though, you are immediately in the thick of things on that slope. If you aren't in peak physical condition, I wouldn't even try it.
 

UncleMatt

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2012-08-20 13.30.03.jpg
 

lastleg

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What I would like to know from Colorado nugget hunters is how sylvanite registers on the Infinium
and Gold Bug. It would be a shame to have the wrong beeper for this job. See if you can find an
ore sample to test with.
 

UncleMatt

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As far as I know, tellurides do not register with metal detectors, as the gold is not in an elemental form in the ore. It is present in a different chemical composition with other elements, that do not conduct electricity or electromagnetic fields in the same way. I was operating from the perspective that the cook did indeed see free gold in the high grade ore cache he found and hid that day.
 

lastleg

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At the southwestern limit of the Colorado Mineral Belt the La Plata Mts have five general types of local
mineralization including Chalcocite veins, Proustite (ruby silver) veins, Telluride-bearing replacement
bodies and veins, low-grade chalcopyrite veins with small amounts of Native Palladium and Platinum,
and pyrite-rich Sulfide veins and replacement bodies containing Native Gold and Silver.

Ore minerals are chalcopyrite, pyrite, galena, sphalerite, tetrahedrite, chalcocite, and the tellurides
sylvanite, calaverite and petzite. The primary gangue minerals are barite, quartz and calcite. In a
few mines small amounts of mercury were found. (Voynick)

Let's hope the highgrade cache has enough native gold to be detectable. Wish I could help in this
search as it sounds so truthful. But like you said it awaits only the tireless.

Matt, I went through my purty rocks this winter and found some nice silver specimens from Creede.
I hope to get up there this summer and look for more.

Good hunting
lastleg
 

UncleMatt

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Tireless indeed! I read where this cook supposedly moved 12 sacks of ore 300 yards through this kind of terrain, and it makes my whole body hurt just thinking about that! I lost a hat I owned for over twenty years in this bramble! It is difficult to move around, even with no pack or sack of gold ore to carry. I imagine if you had a bunch of gold to focus on, the effort might not seem so great though!

Also, it is possible that there was free gold in the vein WITH the sylvanite. They are not mutually exclusive, as far as I know. Temple mentioned several examples of ore in his various stories that fit that kind of situation exactly!
 

UncleMatt

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By the way, has anyone heard from Old Bookaroo? I miss his posts! I wrote him some time ago with concern, and inquired about his status, but got no reply...
 

gollum

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How sad that more lives are effected with the Ruse of Scam Artist .

Before making statements like that, you might want to read up some more on that story. I recommend a book called "Golden Mirages" by Philip Bailey. If he was such a scammer, then why did he spend about twenty years of his life searching for those three hills? No, he wasn't lying about the black gold nuggets. I personally know of about five (black coated gold nuggets) that have been found in different areas of Anza-Borrego.

Mike
 

sdcfia

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Before making statements like that, you might want to read up some more on that story. I recommend a book called "Golden Mirages" by Philip Bailey. If he was such a scammer, then why did he spend about twenty years of his life searching for those three hills? No, he wasn't lying about the black gold nuggets. I personally know of about five (black coated gold nuggets) that have been found in different areas of Anza-Borrego.

Mike

I agree with Mike. I used to be very skeptical about Pegleg Smith too, but that Golden Mirages book changed my mind. I believe Pegleg was telling the truth about the black nuggets.
 

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