Saturday, April 6, 2013

Goler's Legend

{The first mining stories out of the El Paso Mountains in the Western Mojave talk of discoveries in the narrow canyon known today as Goler Canyon or Goler Gulch. There are many different versions of the original story.}

Between 1867 and 1869, a German prospector named Goler on his way from Death Valley to Los Angeles is supposed to have stopped at a spring to have a drink of water and rest for a while. While taking a drink from the spring he looked into the water and saw gold nuggets lying there. Because he was worried about the Indians he did not stay long enough to investigate the area completely. He gathered up a few samples and continued on to Los Angeles. Goler tried to take a short cut and lost his way. When he realized he was lost he climbed to the top of a small hill and drew a map of the site to mark the location. To mark the location where he made the map he took his rifle and stuck the barrel in the ground and left it there so he might find it when he returned. Then he met Grant Cuddeback, a former prospector turned rancher. Cuddeback helped Goler organize an outfit to go back and find the gold three separate times before they found gold in Red Rock Canyon, where they mined for several years. Goler, still convinced he could find his gun and the spring, left the group.

{Throughout the years that followed, freighters coming back and forth from the successful mining camps north of Mojave, told stories of seeing a lonely man and his burro prospecting in the eastern El Paso foothills. While camping at Mesquite Springs, Freighter “Slate Range Jack” ran into Goler with more nuggets said to have been found 5 miles to the east of them. Many a man outfitted himself with prospecting supplies and headed into the Western Mojave in search of “The Lost Gunsight Mine” or “Goler’s Lost Gold." Unfortunately, the Mojave desert turned out to be riddled with many canyons that fit the description of the one on Goler’s map, and no gun could be found at the entrance to any of them. In 1893, when a bonanza was finally found in a dry narrow gulch in the Southern El Paso Mountains, many believed that this was the site of John Goler’s lost mine, and named the camp that grew up around it}

In March 1893, twenty six years after Goler left his rifle, the Goler Mining District was formed. A spring, which was a mile and a half up the canyon, is considered to be the spring Goler drank from when he found the gold nuggets. In the fall of 1893 a stage line was put into operation from the Goler diggings to connect to the stage line that came from Owens Lake to Mojave. This stage lone connected with the Mojave Line at Red Rock Stage Station. When some men would reach this point they would leave their teams and wagons to follow the “gold fever.”

Fifty years after Goler left his gun as a landmark, it was found on a cattle ranch about twenty miles north of Mojave, owned by Mrs. Rhoda Munsey and her son Will. Even after being left out in the elements for so many years, the words and dates on the gun left no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was the old Spencer Repeating Rifle right where Goler had left it so many years ago.

Above excerpted from Desert Country (2002) by Bob Powers and

Patty's takeaway from Goler's story is that everyone who found gold in the Mojave thought that they were finding Goler's lost claim. The Canyon in Death Valley is called Goler, but so is the mining village of Goler Gulch which is in Kern, not Inyo County. And, Mesquite Springs where he was supposedly seen with a handful of nuggets isn't near either one of these places. He is an enigma, or a legend. A dirty, dusty sasquatch or leprechaun who guards the entrance to untold, lost riches.

So now you know!


Patty is Dead said...

Thanks to Patty's mom for the 411. She knows Patty is "in to" Death Valley. She doesn't know about the "M" stuff! sssssssssh

Unknown said...

Super cool! Thanks! :) I love stories like that.

sbuch113 said...

Enjoyed thanks.....
My dad was interested in the mining history of California.
Our family spent many a weekend exploring ghost towns and abandoned mine sites all over the Owens Valley and Death Valley areas.
This was back in the 60's and early 70's.
Great memories.....

Farflung said...

This is a classic Western tale, which will amaze and amuse for all time. A veritable smorgasbord of semi-believable data points, which like a hot dog, can be enjoyed as long as you don’t think about it too much. Yes, there’s an emblematic undertone to with the hot dog analogy because the mental imagery amuses me, and because I’m hungry.

Let’s start with a valley named ‘Death’ with some lizards called ‘Monsters’, and throw in some belligerent natives to round out this foreboding environment. Whew, I’m sure not going there anytime soon, that’s for sure.

Now the story needs to become compelling, where disbelief is suspended, and some primal desire can be stimulated. A stash of unclaimed and unimaginable wealth is always a crowd pleaser. So since it is in Death Valley, the old prospector should be associated with borax… wait a sec… no that’s not sexy enough, and no one knows what the hell potash is used for, let alone what it looks like. So it’s going to be the star of all yarns: gold.

By now the average listener or reader is hopelessly hooked and ready for the next chapter. So the prospector is relieving himself at the side of the trail, and notices something shining in the…. hold on…. no self respecting legend has ever made a serendipitous discovery while urinating. In fact, the only stories involving that activity were with some boy in Brussels and Pat Garrett. I know, he’s drinking from a spring, that’s it, he’s drinking from an unknown spring, around Death Valley, then notices the tell tale glitter of gold at the bottom of the pool. This is universally believable since no one understands about the density of gold, and they recall how James Marshall discovered gold shining in a California river. No one cares that Marshall discovered the gold in an area where extensive excavation took place as part of the construction of a saw mill. Nope, the gold was on top and glittering away.

Now that the gold has been discovered, the area suddenly becomes hazardous with Indians patrolling the vast empty wasteland, and menacing the man near the unknown spring, filled with gold. He must depart this mysterious area AND take a ‘short-cut’, which he’s not familiar with.

While fleeing legions of Indians, in an area populated with extremely small groups or tribes, with no reputation for hostility, the miner becomes disoriented. Taking full advantage of being lost and running from certain attack, our hero draws a map and marks the site with his only form of protection. Then Goler arrives in town. After spending the rest of his life searching, Goler never found that gold, and it’s still waiting for someone to just dig it up. Some say Goler’s ghost still wanders aimlessly throughout California, and can be heard moaning and repeatedly calling, “where’s my gold, do you have my gold?”

After the telling of this story, the group begins to leave when a shrill scream is heard. For when the front door was opened…. a bloody hook was found hanging on the outside knob. Now I may have fumbled on a few lesser important elements, but that’s the overall formula to follow when crafting a bit of lore.

Patty is Dead said...

as always, Farf, you RULE.

Unknown said...

Made me laugh out loud Farflung, thankyou.

orwhut said...

German = Deutsch man = Dutchman

Germans seem to have a special talent for misplacing their mines.

HellzBellz said...

@Orwhut....NO, NO, No, !!!! Not Treu ! ! A DutchMan is somebody from the NETHERLANDS. And is NOT Deutch/German ! ! A mistake verry often made, a mistake that WE Dutch(Netherlands/Holland) sure DONT like at all !!

orwhut said...

Sorry Hells,
The mistake is so common over here that there's no getting around it. If an American with German heritage, I can get over it, you can too.

orwhut said...

Perhaps I should have said, In popular American English, German = Deutsch man = Dutchman.
I was aware that the true Dutch are from the Netherlands. Over here, we have, Pennsylvania Dutch, the Dutch Fork, (where my people settled), and the Lost Dutchman's Mine, all incorrectly named because someone confused Deutsch with Dutch. There's just no getting around it.

HellzBellz said...

@ Orwhut,...Just foolin around a bit, No hard feelings whatsoever. We Dutch got used to the Mix-Up they make all over the World. Germany is our NeighBour Country and I crossed paths with a lot of Germans, and I am so glad to be Dutch, and not being Deutch. In general they are different then us Dutch. Oh Yes I do know some more Dutch American mix-ups...Double Dutch,The Dutchy (Joint)and ofcourse the Flying DutchMan. Btw Did ya know New York used to be Dutch before invaded by the Brits ?? Harlem (NYcity)is a city in Netherlands..Haarlem. Also in Canada there are Dutch names,...Vancouver is named by a City called Couvorden here in Netherlands. And there is much more......Yeah the Dutch were all over the World centurys ago, fact we invented slavery. The slavery laws were made in Middelburg in time of V.O.C. as shiptrading,...MidddelBurg is a Medieval City in Netherlands. Sorry this is not Manson related, but I wanted this off my Chest..LOL !!

orwhut said...

It's good to know you were just playing around.
Yes, I knew about the Dutch founding of New Amsterdam. Americans used to learn about that and the two Peters around 4th grade. The Peter with the wooden leg , Peter Stuyvesant, I think, fascinated me when, I was a boy, and made him easier to remember.
One day, I decided to find out where 'Old' Zealand was located. I don't remember the exact answer but, I did find out that you guys provided the name for New Zealand.

Patty is Dead said...

HellzBellz! Good 2 c u. xxx

HellzBellz said...

Hi Pattys, All owkay ???