A Powerful Draw for Treasure Hunters
Although New Mexico is best known in treasure-hunting circles for the Victorio Peak and Lost Adams Diggings treasure tales, the "Land of Enchantment" is also home to a number of other lost mines and treasure troves. The Lost DuPont Mine is but one of these lesser treasure entities, but it still exerts a powerful draw for many would-be treasure hunters.
New Mexico is no stranger to gold and silver strikes, with many areas of the state home to precious metals districts and old mining regions. In the early 1880s prospectors fanned out though much of the northern and northwestern portions of New Mexico and, in some instances, made significant strikes. One of these was an extensive placer gold strike in the Tusas Mountains near modern-day Hopewell Lake.
F.D Thompson and Harris Dupont
Two of the miners who participated in the Hopewell strike and worked at the so-called "Copper City" mines were F.D. Thompson and Harris DuPont. In 1883 unsubstantiated reports of rich gold quartz veins in the San Pedro Mountains* some 60 miles southwest of the Hopewell District filtered back to Thompson and DuPont. They decided to leave Copper City to prospect for better ground and perhaps a chance at hitting the "big one."
(*Note: These San Pedro Mountains are not the same San Pedros southeast of Santa Fe that were the scene of much placer gold activity in the 1830s during the "New Placers" strike. The San Pedros of the Lost Dupont Mine legend are found in the northwest quadrant of the state and are a good distance from the State Capital. J.R.)
(Landscape near Cuba, New Mexico.)
For all apparent purposes it appears that Thompson and DuPont were blessed, or at least extraordinarily lucky, because it didn't take very long for them to stumble upon a rich ledge that was literally more gold than quartz. Since both of the men showed up at various times in the villages of Cuba or Lagunitas for supplies and to sell small amounts of their rich ore, most treasure hunters think their mine was probably in the San Pedro Parks area.
Tension and Distrust
For over a year the "pards" worked their rich ledge of gold in the San Pedros without a hitch. But the long months of brutally hard work and isolation created unresolved tension and distrust. Thompson and DuPont began to argue constantly and dire threats were made. Eventually things boiled over and in a fit of rage, Thompson shot DuPont dead.
Filled with sadness and remorse, Thompson left the mountains and the immense wealth still unworked in the ledge of gold quartz. Although unverified, some say he returned to the San Pedro Mountains to rework the mine but was never able to find it again. Thus, the legend of the Lost DuPont Mine came into being.
A Legend With Possibilities
This lost mine legend has distinct possibilities since both Thompson and DuPont were actual persons who were prospecting and mining in northwestern New Mexico at the time (1883-1884). As always, further research is needed to uncover additional clues.
Who knows, perhaps I'll give this one a shot since I live in Northern New Mexico. But if you beat me to the Lost DuPont Mine, do me a favor will you? Leave me one chunk of rich gold ore so I know I at least made it to the right location.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "General Braddock's Gold"
(c) J.R. 2009
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