The Story of the Lost Peg Leg Mine

    This mine is perhaps one that has been searched for more than any other lost mine in the South area of California. The Lost Peg Mine is not actually a mine but rather a placer deposit and its attraction remains to be its most interesting point. The actual name of this person Peg Leg was actually Thomas Smith and he was not a prospector or a miner. He was simply a man that travelled and roamed around the west at the beginning of the 1800’s. He had no preference over white men and Indians and throughout his lifetime stayed with either one. In 1829 Peg Leg decided to go on a journey with his friend Maurice Le Duke. In this trip both men crossed the Colorado River however it is not exactly clear what route they decided to take and it is something that gold seekers have been asking them selves for a long time now. The two men had already been out on their journey for around three days when they realized they noticed they did not have a sufficient amount of water on them. The weather in the area was becoming hotter and they soon saw they were going to have to turn back or were going to end up dead. On top of this fact, they had to encounter a very bad sandstorm. The sandstorm threw them off of their trail and at this point they started to get desperate due to the need they had for water. Peg Leg is said to have climbed one of the buttes that were close by in his desperation for water. Tired from his unsuccessful searching, he sat down to get some rest. At that point, he noticed that the butte was covered with black rocks that were the size of walnuts. He picked one of the rocks up and was impressed at how heavy they were and decided to put a few in his pocket. His idea was to get somebody to check them and see what they were once they got back into civilization. The two friends ended up spending the night in the butte and then the following day they found a spring. Once they were all rested up and had refreshed themselves, they started to head back to Los Angeles again. As they were on their way, Peg Leg found out that the heavy black rocks he has put in his pocket were gold. However, he didn’t go back to look for more gold right away. There are people that believe that he was simply too preoccupied with other things and there were not a great deal of places money could be spent during those times. Los Angles used to be a very small town of merely one thousand people. Then twenty years later when the rush to the Mother Lode occurred, Peg Leg realized what he had given up. He went back to the desert to find his abandoned fortune but he was not able to find it ever again. The landscape had changed and it was probable he simply could not remember the exact spot after twenty years. Peg Leg used Warner’s Hot Springs as a base while he was on his search, and he centered in Borrego Valley. A few years afterwards, Peg Leg stopped the search and went up north to reside with the Indians. It is said that Peg Leg then became a gambler and bandit and always boasted about the fortune he had held in his hands. Peg Leg died at the age of sixty five in 1866. The legend of Peg Leg lives on though and it is not known how many men risked their lives in hopes of finding the lost treasure.