So he said that they had always figured that this had jus'
fallen over. It had been kind of an upright vein, and that it had kinda undermined and
fallen over. When they dug down on it, why of course it'd run out. And they figured if
they trenched across the other side of the little wash, why they might hit it. So they
always figured-on comin'back.
But there was another strike up north somewhere and they
took off and went to that, and they never got back until about 1910.
Whv, one of these guys by the name of Ed Lieb, he came
back and looked it over, and where they had taken this ore out, they had a burro corral,
and they had a bunch of burros in there. And they were minin' some bull quartz which
didn't run hardly anything at all in gold, about a hundred yards west of there. And he
figured, "Well, we can't get this property, it's already filed on. Why, might as well
forget it. And maybe someday, we'll come back.
So he took back, and went back home, and then he later
bought a hog ranch up near Kernville.
This Fred Latham knew this Ed Lieb pretty well, and he was
around prospectin', looking' for a stake, and it was in the Depression when money was hard
to get. And he stopped and talked to this Ed Lieb, and Lieb done told him about goin' on
this trip and about the ore they'd taken out way back in 1897.
And he says, "Why doncha. look for that?" he
said.,"Fred, you might find that and trench across and make yourself a little
So Fred said, "Well, I might do that."
So, he knew Judge Nosser. Course, Fred was on the tramp;
he was hitchhikin'. Freight train, any way to get there. Those days, they had a railroad
that ran from Kramer Junction to Randsburg. So he went down there and got a ride on a
freight train and talked to Judge Nosser.
Judge Nosser said, "Why, sure I'll take you down
there, and we'll see if we can find it.' 'Cause he was quite a noted minin' man, that
Looking for a grubstake
And he told me this story, and he said, "Well, how'd you like to grubstake
me and," he said, "If we find anything, we'll jus' split it."
So, I was jus' a kid, you know, 17, and full of adventure.
So it sounded good to me. And I went in, talked to my dad about it. And he said,
"Well, you got money in the bank," he said, "if you want to stake him, and
it shouldn't cost you much," he said, "go ahead. " He said "I'll feed
him. He can stay out in the bunkhouse with you, and he can eat with the family.
This was during the weekend before my Christmas vacation.
It was Friday, and we had Saturday and Sunday to prospect. So we got up at daybreak the
next morning And I had a motorcycle and a Model T Ford, at that time, and he drove the
Model T Ford, and I drove the motorcycle. I like the motorcycle, 'cause I could, you know,
scout around and look the country over.
And we looked oh, several places where I'd thought there
might have been a tripod at one time, and couldn't find a thing. It didn't look very
My dad got kinda interested in it then. He said, "Why
don't we jus' go up and talk to this Ed Lieb," he said. That maybe we could get some
more information, and we can find it.
And, boy, and that tickled me, you know. And Fred Latham,
he liked that. He thought we might have a chance then.
My dad, he worked seven days a week, so we had to leave
when he got off at four o'clock. We left and went up to Kernville, and, of course, it was
after dark when we got there.
We got up there, and he was there, this Ed Lieb. Had this
big hog ranch, and Fred Latham had tipped us off.
"Now," he said, "this guy's got an awful bad habit," he said.
"Every other word is a cuss word." And he says, "He chews tobacca and it
runs all over him." He says, "He's old, pretty near 80." And he says,
"He spits that tobacca juice out, and he cusses."
And my dad said, "Well, just accept him like he
So, Fred introduced us to him, and he seemed jus' an old
timer, you know, an old time prospector.
But he'd chew this tobacca, and he had a tooth out in
front, and he's spit that tobacca out through those two teeth, I'll swear, at least 15
feet and maybe further. There was this knothole in the floor. And he'd go right over and
most of it would go right on through that knothole.
And boy, he was right. Every other word was a cuss word.
Every other word. I never in my life ever heard a man swear like that man did. And he
didn't even realize he was doin' it.
And anyway, we asked him then about this place.
And he told us, "Well," he says, "as I
remember, when we went back up there in 1910, we had, a little trouble findin' the place
even then." But he said, "We went by a spring on the east side of Muroc Dry
Lake, then we went kinda east, and maybe a little south. And he said, "We passed a
belt of Yucca trees, giant Yucca trees. It was real sandy. " And he said, "When
we got through that belt of Yucca trees, why, there was some little low granite
hills." And he says, "It was kinda in the middle of those hills where we had
found this gold."
But the moment he told me that, I knew exactly where it
was at. And I'd remembered that years and years ago, when I was just a kid (I had a
motorcycle when I was 13) and I'd rode over there, and I remembered a hole there that they
claimed they'd taken twenty-two thousand out of. And there was a tripod over it. It
answered the description to a tee, and I was just about certain that's where they got this
So, I told Fred, "That's all I need to know. I can
drive right to it. "
Prospecting in the snow
It was real bad weather comin' back. It looked like it was gonna rain or snow.
The next morning we got up early at daybreak, looked out the window, and there was three
or four inches of snow on the ground. And, oh man, I was discouraged, 'cause I wanted to
And Fred said, "Man," he said, "maybe we'd
And I said, "Oh, no, we can make it."
We had a real hearty breakfast. And then, he got in the
Model T Ford, and I got on my old Harley- Davison motorcycle, and away we went.
Well, we got out as far as the Muroc Dry Lake, and boy,
when we hit that Dry Lake, it was just slick as glass. And I'd ride a little ways, and
down I'd go.
But we finally got across the lake. It was sandy, but we
made it up through the sand, through the greasewoods.
When we got close to this place, well, boy piled off of my
motorcycle and started prospectin', you know. Them little hills looked good.
Fred didn't. He was an old time prospector and he really
knew what he was doin', and he jus' went right to where they'd taken this out. And in
about 15 minutes, he says, "Joe, I found it."
Gold in a skillet
The old timers used a little egg skillet to do most of their pannin' in, and so
he got this little egg skillet out, and we had another bigger pan and a canteen of water.
And he filled that little pan full. And he got a couple of flat rocks and crushed this
stuff up where it was pretty fine, and started pannin'. He got her down where he had about
a tablespoon full of stuff. then he rocked that pan back. and man, he had a tail o' gold
three or four inches long. And some of that gold, oh, it was just terrific.
And so, then we jus' started digging down, and pretty
quick we hit a little vein about six inches. Beautiful, red hematite. And, man, you could
just see the gold in it.
We got out, I guess that first night, a hundred pounds or
two hundred pounds. Pretty small vein, but it made ore pretty fast.
So we went back, and then we came back again Sunday. I
couldn't go with him. He had to lay around. Next week, though, was my Christmas 'vacation.
And boy, by the time of the end of Christmas vacation, why we'd worked it all out. It went
right down and pinched out.
Fred was a real good miner, and he said, "I don't
think it fell over," he says, "it jus' pinched out."
But we did try doin' a little trenching across to see. It
jus' was one of them veins that filled in from the top, and that's all there was to it.