Pegleg Smith Monument


Borrego Springs, California

Thomas "Pegleg" Smith's story sounds fascinating, until you realize it sounds suspiciously like every other dubious story ever told of a "lost" gold mine! The details may vary, but the generalities are always the same: Prospector stumbles out of desert, displays gold nuggets, gives vague directions to the mine, people wander in the desert for years searching for the mine but never quite seem to find it. Pegleg's story has one redeeming feature: everybody admits it's a bunch of hooey and just has fun with it! In fact, an annual "Liar's Contest" is held to see who can come up with the biggest whopper about Pegleg or just lost gold in general. An official plaque has been erected by the state (see text below), but the real monument is a rockpile with an inviting sign: "Let those who seek Pegleg's gold add ten rocks to this pile." Since 1947, when the pile was started, it has grown to an impressive size. Pegleg's gold may be as ephemeral as the desert wind, but his monuments will be here for a long time to come.


Thomas L. Smith, better known as "Peg Leg" Smith, 1801-1866, was a mountain man, prospector and spinner of tall tales. Legends regarding his fabulous lost gold mine have grown through the years. Countless people have searched the desert looking for its fabulous wealth. The gold mine possibly could be within a few miles of this monument.


Plaque placed by the California State Park Commission in cooperation with Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce, October 9, 1960.

Directions: About 8 miles northeast of Borrego Springs, at the intersection of Henderson Canyon Road and the Borrego-Salton Seaway (Highway S22).

Last visited: March 2010.

Standard disclaimer: Sites are described for entertainment purposes only, as they were at the time of my last visit. I can not vouch for the current condition of the site or its accessibility.

Revised: April 3, 2010
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