Peglegs Black Gold Nuggets

Lucky Baldwin

Full Member
Nov 16, 2013
132
308
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
thanks for the welcome, Shortfinger.

i've been glued to this thread and the peg-leg story for the last few days. seems like an easy one to figured out, lol.

maybe those 3 hills get buried in the sand like the old mission in baja does... then again... wouldn't it be funny if the spanish pearl ship ran aground on top of them... talk about a 2fer!

i did run across this version of the original find late last night. i know i have no proof that this is the real version... it just sounds 'right' to me. so for what it's worth, here goes

bullets1.png bullets2.png bullets3.png


bullets4.png bullets5.png bullets6.png

"little dark red hills" hmmmmm
 

Shortfinger

Hero Member
Apr 7, 2015
569
2,474
Valley Center, CA/Yuma, AZ
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
thanks for the welcome, Shortfinger.

i've been glued to this thread and the peg-leg story for the last few days. seems like an easy one to figured out, lol.

maybe those 3 hills get buried in the sand like the old mission in baja does... then again... wouldn't it be funny if the spanish pearl ship ran aground on top of them... talk about a 2fer!

i did run across this version of the original find late last night. i know i have no proof that this is the real version... it just sounds 'right' to me. so for what it's worth, here goes

View attachment 1224034 View attachment 1224035 View attachment 1224036


View attachment 1224037 View attachment 1224038 View attachment 1224039

"little dark red hills" hmmmmm

Interesting story, it seems to possibly be one of those composites that show up from time to time in the newspapers. Any idea of when it was published? My feelings on the "original" Smith discovery are that it was located much farther north, in the vicinity of the Virgin River. Of course, since it is lost, who knows?

JB
 

Lucky Baldwin

Full Member
Nov 16, 2013
132
308
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
i've found two copies of this story. the one i posted is from The Caldwell Tribune (caldwell, idaho territory) june 19,1897. the same story also appeared in the nov. 19, 1896 issue of the Phillipsburg Herald (phillipsburg, kansas). haven't been able to find the original New York World article tho.

i think the original writer made a couple of mistakes. it makes more sense to me that the party left santa fe and trapped down the rio grande to just west of victorio peak (truth or consequences area). from there they traveled west over the divide about 30 miles to the headwaters of the gila. then trapped down the gila to the confluence with the colorado at yuma. from there they trapped up the east bank of the colorado (not the gila) to where they forded the river and headed west across the desert...

he also talked about the "old gov't trail to puma". i'm sure that was supposed to be yuma.

i liked this version because some of the other versions have given me questions. for example, the sandstorm story. why were they moving in a bad sandstorm? all the desert movies i've seen, when they see the sandstorm coming, everyone hunkers down, covers up and tries to ride out the storm as best they can. + in the movies i've seen about the dust bowl years, no one is out in the storm. looks to me like it would be tough to breathe. so why was peg-leg moving in a bad sandstorm?

i never thought this might be a compilation of stories tho. what makes you think that?
 

Shortfinger

Hero Member
Apr 7, 2015
569
2,474
Valley Center, CA/Yuma, AZ
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
i've found two copies of this story. the one i posted is from The Caldwell Tribune (caldwell, idaho territory) june 19,1897. the same story also appeared in the nov. 19, 1896 issue of the Phillipsburg Herald (phillipsburg, kansas). haven't been able to find the original New York World article tho.

i think the original writer made a couple of mistakes. it makes more sense to me that the party left santa fe and trapped down the rio grande to just west of victorio peak (truth or consequences area). from there they traveled west over the divide about 30 miles to the headwaters of the gila. then trapped down the gila to the confluence with the colorado at yuma. from there they trapped up the east bank of the colorado (not the gila) to where they forded the river and headed west across the desert...

he also talked about the "old gov't trail to puma". i'm sure that was supposed to be yuma.

i liked this version because some of the other versions have given me questions. for example, the sandstorm story. why were they moving in a bad sandstorm? all the desert movies i've seen, when they see the sandstorm coming, everyone hunkers down, covers up and tries to ride out the storm as best they can. + in the movies i've seen about the dust bowl years, no one is out in the storm. looks to me like it would be tough to breathe. so why was peg-leg moving in a bad sandstorm?

i never thought this might be a compilation of stories tho. what makes you think that?

Well, first off, there seem to be many (at least 3) Peg Leg Smiths associated with this legend). The earliest reference to the trapping trip and “black” gold nuggets that I have seen was in “Hutchings California Magazine” from 1861. This was the first Smith, T.L. Smith. This trip seems to have occurred in the late 1820s or early 1830s, depending on where you look. There, the story goes that the trappers were near the confluence of the Virgin and Colorado Rivers (currently under Lake Mead). No mention was made of any sand storm or hills in this account. This gold was reported to be found in a wash, and was originally thought to be copper. It very likely had a high percentage of copper in it, hence the “black” color. The second account, from John (O, G, or Q) Smith. This is the one with the sand storm. There is a very clear and concise account of the story in Bailey’s “Golden Mirages”, supposedly related by John Smith’s former partner Price, through Charles Knowles who was interviewed by the author. This account has the sandstorm, and 3 hog back buttes or hills, although they are reported to be black hills. This discovery occurred in the early 1850s.There is also a 3rd “Smith”, whose name may actually be George Ham or Bacon, who found either a “bust up” or “black” pebbles near 2 black hogback buttes, 2 days travel out of Yuma, probably in the Chuckwallas or Chocolates. This was also (probably) in the 1850s. There are a couple of reports of “black” nuggets being found on or near a hill or hills covered with brown hematites, which probably give rise to the “red” hills in your story. The clearest is a find by John Mitchell in the 1920s, which obviously occurred after your story came out, but there is at least one earlier report from a mule driver between the Chocolates and the Salton Sink area. Since the story you found was in the 1890s, which is well after the deaths of the principal Smiths (all 3 of them) and it combines elements of at least 3 different stories, it is likely, IMHO, a composite story. All of the stories I have referenced are somewhere on the Peg Leg threads, so you should be able to find them to see what I am talking about. I did do some summarizing, so I may have missed a few points, but I think I’m pretty close. However, your newspaper account was interesting anyway, and your theory is not without merit, as some of the reported of the finds (and there were several, at least 17, some very recent) were in the area you indicate. I actually created a spread sheet and posted it in one of the Peg Leg threads covering all of the “finds” I was able to reference in any way. My opinion is that there are many small deposits of “black” nuggets scattered around several areas in SoCal here, most often covered with sand, but occasionally uncovered. If you get lucky, you just might find some.

JB
 

Lucky Baldwin

Full Member
Nov 16, 2013
132
308
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
that's very interesting, thanks for the summary!

"My opinion is that there are many small deposits of “black” nuggets scattered around several areas in SoCal here, most often covered with sand, but occasionally uncovered."

years ago when i was a kid, i remember an old timer had a theory about the peg leg nuggets. his grandfather had come out with the rush and 3 generations of his family supported themselves by gold mining. he taught me a lot about reading the hills. was kinda like eagle down's hermit pete, except he liked beer not wine :)

it was after high school and i got a job for the summer working in the garage at yosemite. one of the guys i worked with was my age and was born and raised in el portal. he introduced me to all the old timers down there. we used to sit on the wooden porch in front of the old el portal general store and drink beers with them. their stories were better than TV lol.

he said the "big blue lead" (the ancient tertiary river that provided most of the gold rush's placer gold) can be followed all the way from alaska to the tip of south america. he was sure that the big blue lead is the pishon river mentioned in the Bible. in Genesis chapter 2 it says: "10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there." in those days the world was one continent. God split the continents when the world was covered with noah's flood. he said when baja split off from the mainland and tried to move north it was stopped by the gigantic granite batholith of the sierra nevadas. this caused uplift of the sierras. it also caused baja to rotate towards the west which stretched the land now covered by the desert southwest. it also rotated the transverse ranges 90 degrees so that they run east-west now, where originally they ran north-south like all of california's other ranges. during this 'stretching' the bed of the pishon river was split into many pieces were it crossed what is now the southern california desert. he said that when the flood waters receded and over the years since, the area eroded and the small chunks of the pishon's riverbed, which were cemented gravel and more resistant to erosion, became the tops of small buttes. eventually, most of the streambed overburden was eroded away leaving the gold exposed on tops of the small mesas. in conclusion he told me "the peg leg's deposit is one of those pieces of the pishon's riverbed, but the peg leg's deposit isn't the only one." he suggested that if im ever down there, to check the tops of all the small mesas i find.

i'd like to look for this one sometime... except, it seems wherever you look down there, either a ranger is pointing a gun at you or a plane is dropping a bomb on you...
 

Shortfinger

Hero Member
Apr 7, 2015
569
2,474
Valley Center, CA/Yuma, AZ
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Well, Lucky, there are a few areas where neither are common. IMHO, the Big Blue Lead theory has a lot of promise as to where the black gold came from, and would explain both the nuggets on the buttes and mesas, and the ones scattered in the washes.

JB
 

Dad2all5

Newbie
Apr 13, 2016
2
3
Palm Desert, California
Detector(s) used
Fisher F2, Bounty Hunter
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Totally agree with your theory. I search dry wash areas in the hills and have found come small nuggets over the years.
 

audigger53

Hero Member
Mar 27, 2004
909
3,203
Severn, Maryland
Detector(s) used
None
Primary Interest:
Cache Hunting
When you were talking about what to have, when away from camp, always bring a 1/2 roll of toilet paper and a rock hammer for a Cat Scratcher, to make your hole. Learned that the hard way also. lol
 

audigger53

Hero Member
Mar 27, 2004
909
3,203
Severn, Maryland
Detector(s) used
None
Primary Interest:
Cache Hunting
8. Look behind you for landmarks for the way back. Learn to use a Lensatic compass and check your USGS 7.5 min map.
9. 2 small flashlights that use the same batteries(AA or AAA). When one gets dim use the other to put in new batteries. It gets really dark out in the mountains when there is no moon. Almost like being in way down in a cave. carry extra batteries, enough for 2 reloads.
10. Toilet paper for those emergencies and also works good for starting a fire. Put it in a Ziplock baggie.
11. Matches or cigarette lighter for making a fire. (also in the baggie)
12. 3 shots from a gun, delay and 3 shots is a call for help. Carry spare rounds.
13. Some kind of rain gear, 30 gallon trash bag works good for the top 1/2 and takes little room.
14. Some kind a food you can carry and munch on. Bread doesn't pack very good cross country, so for get the Peanut butter. Doritos do pretty good if you have the water to wash them down. Granola Bars have the same problem. BUT snack packs of sliced peaches work out good. Most of my hunting was not where there was much water to drink. IF you are in an area that can have beavers, carry a "Good" filter for the water. Probably more but I'll have to check what I use to stuff into the daypack. Just figure that you may be gone all day and maybe most or all of the night when you leave. Those nifty space age blankets weren't too bad, but they tore easy.
 

Old Bookaroo

Silver Member
Dec 4, 2008
4,168
3,193
This is probably a longcut on the trail to Pegleg's black nuggets.

We've read the story of "Poor Tom Cover" (although I would very much like to obtain a copy of The Riverside Press & Horticulturalist November 15, 1884 article about him and his untimely demise).

Earlier in life, was it Tom Cover who caused John Bozeman - of the Bozeman Trail and Bozeman City, Montana Territory - to sun his moccasins?

Perhaps:

The Real John Bozeman With sneaky ways and low morals

Perhaps not:

Historians find new suspect in John Bozeman murder mystery | Crime and Courts | bozemandailychronicle.com.

Speaking of missing newspaper articles - I'd also like to read the Los Angeles Mining Review piece published February 11, 1899.

Good luck to all,

The Old Bookaroo
 

pegleglooker

Bronze Member
Jun 9, 2006
1,857
219
Banning, California
Detector(s) used
ace 250
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
I might have that article Old Bookaroo, I'll check when I get home late tonight.... If I do I can email it to you...

PLL
 
OP
Oroblanco

Oroblanco

Gold Member
Jan 21, 2005
7,833
9,743
DAKOTA TERRITORY
Detector(s) used
Tesoro Lobo Supertraq, (95%) Garrett Scorpion (5%)
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #274
I might have that article Old Bookaroo, I'll check when I get home late tonight.... If I do I can email it to you...

PLL

Any chance you could be enticed to scan it and post it here for all? Thanks in advance, and if you can't that is OK, free time is always at a premium so we understand.

:coffee2: :coffee: :coffee2:
 

pegleglooker

Bronze Member
Jun 9, 2006
1,857
219
Banning, California
Detector(s) used
ace 250
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
If I do find it, I can scan it, but it will have to be Thursday or Friday before I can get time to scan... But I'll let everyone know if I find it tonight....

PLL
 

Top Member Reactions

Users who are viewing this thread

Anderson Detector Shafts
Top