Thursday, October 23, 2008

Legends of Lost Gold: Pegleg's Gold Found? (Part 1)

(Pegleg's gold was found within the circle. Or was it?)

In my previous post, "Legends of Lost Gold: the Lost Pegleg Mine," I recounted the basic outline of this persistent treasure myth. In closing, I also alluded to the fact that at least one individual claims to have found Pegleg's lost mine (in the mid-to-late 1950s, as best I can determine), subsequently recovering most, if not all, of those mysterious "black nuggets" that Pegleg stumbled across in the vast desert wasteland west of Yuma.

Mining Equipment
Treasure Hunting
Gold Concentrators

Black Nuggets and Desert Magazine

I know what many of you are thinking and I thought the same myself, that any "yahoo"out there can claim just about anything and many do when it comes to treasure. But this unknown gentleman is said to have provided three of Pegleg's "black nuggets" to the former editor of Desert Magazine (a popular periodical when I was a child and young man) as proof positive. These nuggets assayed out as 70% gold and 30% copper, and were blackened by a coating of "desert varnish."

Hmmmm. Do you remember (see my earlier post) Pegleg's reaction upon finding his black "pebbles" in the desert near the "three buttes?" After using a knife to scrape some of the desert varnish off them he stated that they appeared orangish-yellow and because of this he figured them to be copper. Interestingly enough, I have prospected and mined quite a bit in the Colorado Desert near Yuma (part of the area where Pegleg's lost mine is said to be), and many times I recovered coarse pieces of desert gold that were more orange than yellow, a good sign that gold is alloyed with copper.

The Discovery of Pegleg's Gold

The following is an abbreviated/edited version of the finding of Pegleg's lost gold as related to the former editor of Desert Magazine by the lucky finder himself:

A Weekend Getaway in a Jeep

"I'd driven my jeep for a weekend of fresh air and rock hunting in the desert. Saturday I drove my jeep as far as I could up a wash and camped. Sunday morning I hiked about 2 miles through uneven terrain gathering rock samples along the way. About 11:00 a.m. I sat down to rest on top of a small hill that was covered with smooth, water-worn pebbles. I idly began flipping the small pebbles down the hill like I was shooting marbles."

"It Was Black and Rounded"

"The eighth or tenth pebble I picked up was very heavy, so heavy in my hand I decided to examine it more closely. It was black and rounded on the edges and about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Hefting it I realized that for the weight of its small size it must be metal and heavy metal at that. I used my pocketknife to scrape the pebble's surface and when I saw the yellow glitter I dropped it and then picked it up again with trembling hand. I don't know how long I sat there paralyzed with that black gold nugget in my hand."

"This Was It!"

"I'd lived in the Southwest most of my life and I'd read the Pegleg story in Desert Magazine some years before, but had forgotten all about it. As my numbed brain started to function again I realized the area I was in was part of the Pegleg country described in the story. This was it! I'd found the black Pegleg gold! The next thing I remember was scrambling wildly on my knees among the pebbles, grabbing them up by the handful and hefting them for the heavy ones. In the next two hours I found seven more nuggets, that later weighed out between a half ounce on up to nearly two ounces."

"Pegleg Hill" and Three Absolute Decisions

"Forcing myself to stay calm, I retraced my route back to the jeep by placing stone markers every 50 feet or so. By the time I arrived back at the jeep it was late afternoon and despite my acute hunger, I rolled up my sleeping bag, snatched up a couple cans of food, and head straight back to what I had already named 'Pegleg Hill.' It was still there, exactly as I had left it."

"It wouldn't be fair to say that I slept that night, for I didn't. I lay there awake, my mind racing. During that sleepless night I arrived a three absolute decisions: (1) I would return to the jeep a second time and be positive I could find my way to the hill again; (2) I would mark the spot where the jeep was, turn it around and measure exactly by the speedometer the distance to the next road and the main highway, and draw myself a map to mark the distances on it; and (3) I would return home and find out if the black nuggets really were gold."

I am already finding a few inconsistencies or, more specifically, some very pointed questions to ask about the finder's story. Perhaps you too are thinking the same thing. Either way, it will have to wait till my next post on the "finding" of Pegleg's Lost Gold Mine.

Until then, may good fortune smile on you.

You can read more on Pegleg's gold and the "finder's" discovery story at:

(c) J.R. 2008

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