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The Lost Gunsight Mine in Death Valley

The legend of the Lost Gunsight Mine dates back to the year 1849 when a group of men in 107 wagons were traveling to California from Utah. Captain Jefferson Hunt was initially guiding the wagons to the gold fields by taking the most known route. However, some of the members did not agree to take the regular path and decided to take a much shorter way through the desert which they believed would take almost 20 days lesser to reach their destination.

The Division of the Parties

Even though Hunt warned them about the hardships they could face through Death Valley, the group divided themselves into many smaller companies such as Captain Towne and Jim Martin party, The Jayhawkers, the Manly-Bennett party, the Wade and the Brier party. The smaller groups once again took different routes to cross the desert, some traveling through the Panamint Mountains and some walking through Death Valley. After several days of exhaustion, starvation and dehydration the parties finally reached the White Sage Flat where they all camped.

The Discovery of the Gunsight Mine


Many variations exist about who actually found the famous Gunsight Mine. One of the variations talks about the Towne and Jim Martin party that was crossing by the Furnace Creek Wash to the Panamint Mountains who made the discovery. It is said that one of the members of the party came across a small outcrop while hunting for small game with a rifle that was rich in pure silver. The person with the rifle also tripped and damaged the gunsight. When all the groups arrived at the White Sage Flat, the party showed them the silver they had discovered and also told them that there was a lot left behind.

The extremely worn out group hardly seemed interested about the discovery at that time and only wanted to focus on survival and therefore carried on their journey. Due to unfavorable conditions they even slaughtered the oxen for food, and had to walk all the way. It took them about four months to travel through the desert before they finally reached Mariposa. Captain Hunt’s party had arrived at California by now.

Also Read: The Lost Opata Mine – Hidden Silver Cache

How The Gunsight Mine was Lost

After the group recovered from their frightful journey, the person whose rifle was damaged made a new gun sight using the pure silver that was discovered on the hill. Hence, the mine was given the name The Gunsight Mine. This incident spread like wildfire as it was considered one of the most flourishing possibilities for prospecting.

Shortly, a man named Turner who was a member of the Towne and Jim Martin party and present at the time of the discovery was eager to go and look for the mine. As he went back to the desert, he failed to locate it and arrived at a large farm which belonged to a man named Dr. E. Darwin. Turner shared the tale of the Lost Gunsight Mine to the doctor. In 1850, Turner and the doctor decide to go together to look for the mine but they could not locate it.

A number of other prospectors also attempted to search for the hillock rich in silver but the mine could never be found again and is now famous as the Lost Gunsight Mine.

Also Read: Lost Mines in Death Valley – Breyfogle’s Gold

And: The Lost White Cement Mine of Mono County, California


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