Prospector’s Luck Find
A prospector came into Durango, Colorado, one day in 1905, bowed down by the weight of a sack full of extremely rich gold ore. He was in urgent need of some money and could not wait for the ore to be shipped and smelted and returned from the Denver mint as coin. After having the specimens of the ore assayed, he showed the assayer’s reports and offered the sack of ore for sale. While displaying it to possible cash customers he related how he came by it.
When prospecting in the Bear Creek region of the eastern Nettleton district, about 30 miles from Durango, he had accidentally found the tunnel of an old mine. He realized some mystery hovered over the mine, for there was evidence that it had been abandoned suddenly and probably involuntarily, many years ago. All around on the floor and on the ground outside the tunnel were heaps of gold ore, of the same kind he had in the sack. The ore was very high grade and the vein, which he did not take the time to locate must have been only a few feet away. Inside the tunnel were the skeletons of three men, bleached snow white and covered with dust. The prospector cagily avoided telling any landmarks to get back to the tunnel. The prospector was eager to sell the ore quickly so he could return to the mine with an adequate supply of provisions and the necessary equipment to make a thorough survey as to the extent of the gold vein.
In the late spring of 1918, Pedro Martinez visited Durango with a quantity of the same kind of ore, teeming with gold. He had the same story to tell, skeletons and all. Before Martinez could return to the mine or file a claim on it he fell ill with the flu and died.
In the fall of 1938 a sheepherder brought into Durango a sack of gold ore which was recognized by old timers as the same sort of rich ore brought in by Martinez. The sheepherder told the same tale, identical in all details. Local people decided that a story checking three ways and standing up through so many years must have some basis in fact so several townsmen grubstaked the sheepman to lead them to the three skeleton mine. The expedition was quickly begun and as quickly abandoned. The guide could not find the way back. The mine is believed to be around bear creek where it flows through the eastern Nettleton district, about 30 miles from Durango.