The Lost Tenderfoot Mine

Written by on May 17, 2016 in Southwest Legends - Comments Off on The Lost Tenderfoot Mine

The Gold Rush in American started in 1849, when James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. News of the discovery swept the Nation like a fever. Nearly 300,000 men headed west to stake their claim. Sadly, very few actually struck in rich. Many gave up and began prospecting in other western states, as even more men poured in from the east to search as well. Geologically, the southwest’s tremendous volcanic activity and mountainous terrain offered plenty of places to hunt for the illusive veins of quartz that are gold-bearing rock.

Gold fever caused some rather eccentric behavior in the prospectors who were lucky enough to find the precious metal. They took roundabout paths to their gold mines, going to great lengths to throw off anyone who might try to following them. The more cautious individuals buried mine entrances to keep others from jumping their claims. In some cases, the poor devils died before ever telling anyone where their lucky strike happened or just failed to note accurate locations in the excitement of the find, thus the legends of lost mines, hidden hoards, forgotten treasures and golden cities were born.

In 1880, gold rush fever struck Breckenridge, Colorado. One of the many newcomers was a tenderfoot who knew almost nothing about finding gold, yet Lady Luck smiled on this young innocent. Somewhere in the mountains above Breckenridge, the lucky lad stumbled upon a small vein of wire gold (the famous Wire Patch Mine on Farncombe Hill was one of the richest mines in Colorado history likely lay less than 5 miles away). At any rate, the young fellow proceeded to wrestle roughly 20 pounds of gold from the vein. Wire gold is given this name because the gold appears as thin wires snaking through fractures in the native stone.

The town of Breckenridge went wild when the young fellow returned to sell his gold. Sadly, the young prospector, although he swears he surveyed his surroundings and fixed his location on the mountain, just couldn’t locate the find again. According to him, he could see Warrior’s Mark Mine to the east and Breckenridge to the northwest from his mine. However, neither the tenderfoot, nor the horde of gold-seekers who followed him into the mountains ever found the treasure trove again.

From the young fellow’s description, some experts believe the Lost Tenderfoot Mine is on Bald Mountain, while others fix its location on Red Mountain. In either case, somewhere on one of those mountains, a wire gold mine exists and waits to be rediscovered.

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