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The Lost Padre Gold Mine in New Mexico

In 1797, when the work of the Spanish missionaries had almost come to an end, there was an old Spanish soldier who was at his death bed. A priest named LaRue at Durango in northern Mexico was looking after the soldier who told the priest about the existence of a rich gold deposit discovered by him somewhere in the mountains of El Paso. Later this deposit came to be known as the Famous Lost Padre Mine.

The Location told by the Dying Soldier

While giving details about the location of the gold deposit to LaRue, the soldier explained that it was a day’s journey northward of El Paso before three small peaks became visible. Once the peaks were in vicinity, the route would turn towards the mountains on the east. As the very first mountain range is approached, at the bottom of one of the peaks would emerge a little spring. This particular mountain was the source of the rich gold deposit. After a while the soldier expired and later, the village of Durango was severely affected because of drought which led to a famine.

Discovery of the Mine by the Padre

placer goldAfter analyzing the devastating situation in Durango, LaRue decided to move towards the north and recommended the villagers also to do the same. He also intended to look for the mine that the soldier had informed him about and along with the others migrated towards the north.

Traveling along the River Rio Grande, they reached La Mesilla close to Las Cruces from where the three peaks could be seen. They then traveled towards the east through the desert of Jornada del Muerto and reached the San Andreas Mountains.

For the next few days they prospected the area and found a spring at the bottom of a mountain exactly how the soldier had explained. The Padre and his party quickly set up a colony at the Spirit Springs located in the County of Dona Ana and began searching for the gold.

After a dedicated search, the men finally discovered a very rich gold vein situated inside a cavernous canyon southwest from the springs. As they made their way through the mountain into the canyon, they noticed that the concentration of the gold ore kept increasing.

Also Read: Gold & Silver Mining in Mexico

And: Red Hill Treasure of Pinos Altos, New Mexico

The padre soon entrusted a number of Indians as well as monks to excavate the gold and convert it into bars. For the next two years all the gold was stored in a large natural cave within the mountain. The news of LaRue’s extensive mining operation of gold soon reached the Spaniards in Mexico. The Spanish men hurriedly organized an army of men to go and look for the gold as well as find LaRue and his party.

As soon as the padre got the information from his community about the Spanish army coming to look for them and the gold, he quickly got the entrance to the mine sealed and hidden by his men. When the army reached the place and ordered the priest to tell them about the location of the mine, he declined to tell them. As a result, the priest and his followers were tortured to death. The Mexican army had to return back discontented as they could not find the gold even after their vigorous efforts.

A number of prospectors who came to New Mexico in search of the Lost Padre Mine but none have been known to relocate it. As of now the mine still remains hidden somewhere.

New Mexico Gold Prospecting


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