The Lost Arch Mine

On a withering summer day in the year 1883, a man named Amsden staggered into the little town of Goffs in the last stage of exhaustion, his pockets loaded with gold. Some weeks previous he had departed from Needles with a local prospector on a secret mission into the Turtle mountains, approximately 40 miles southwest of Needles. When he had been revived sufficiently to talk he told about his find—a find so rich that gold nuggets could be had for the mere trouble of picking them up. Amsden stated that they were too intent on adding to their hoard of gold to notice their diminishing supplies of food and water until they found them nearly gone. Taking what gold they could carry and a scant amount of water, they started to make their way back to Needles.

Somewhere along their return journey the prospector succumbed to the heat and Amsden was forced to continue on without a guide. According to accounts, the two emerged from the Turtles on the western side, but when Amsden had to carryon alone he headed down a long wash toward the Santa Fe railroad tracks and finally reached Goffs.

In the hope that Amsden might divulge information leading to the source of his gold, he was given every attention while he was recovering, but as soon as he was able he departed for his home in the East, taking his secret with him.

With the exception of the Lost Pegleg mine the Lost Arch mine probably has been more sought after than any other of the Iost mines of the California deserts. One possible explanation aside from the reward of a tub of gold awaiting the finder, is its apparent accessibility from a point of habitation. Another attractive feature was that the searcher had some definite landmark for which to seek. Once the arch was found, he could assure himself that the finding of the gold would be a simple procedure.

AIfred R. Thompson of Los Angeles, who worked in the general store and post office at Goffs during the early 20’s, indicated that hardly a week passed while he was there that someone did not arrive to try at finding the arch. One such fellow he remembers came all the way from Panama. So secret were his outfitting operations that no one knew of his intentions until he was seen starting toward his goal on a midsummer day, pushing all of his belongings in a four-wheel baby carriage. Fortunately, he was headed off before heat and thirst could claim another victim.

The arch lies almost at the foot of a huge castle-like butte which rises to a height of several hundred feet. The butte has served for years as a beacon for the few prospectors who have ventured into the area. As prominently as the butte stands out, none of the authentic maps of the region, such as Blackburn’s or those of the U. S. Geological Survey, mention it. The inside measurements are approximately six feet high and ten feet long, a size which makes the arch visible from nearly a mile distant when approached from the north. On the south side a ridge prevents its being seen until the observer is nearly upon it.

On the north slope leading down from the arch and about one-half mile from it, a huge saguaro cactus grows. The saguaro is not a rapid grower and its large height near the arch indicates that it must have been of landmark proportions as far back as 1883, when the mine is said to have been discovered.

Since it has defied finding all these years, it seems reasonable to assume that it will remain in safe keeping awhile longer. And to those of you would pass up a nice clue to a tubful of gold for a handful of carnelian or opals, there will be plenty of those, too, for all who venture into the area.

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