National Geographic : 1970 Jan
just down from three weeks of seeking silver in the snowy mountains. In Ballarat's only store, Richmond was in earnest conversation on mining with George Fox, a heavy-equipment operator. Fox, who was developing some mineral claims of his own, agreed with Richmond that prospecting in the Panamints was a hard proposition. "Heartbreak Ridge they call that range," Fox said. "Those mountains are full of faults. You usually hit one before you can follow a vein very far, and then you spend every nickel you've got trying to find out which way the vein slipped. "But someday, someone will strike the mother lode, and when they do, it'll go deep." I could understand the fever that has been pulling men into these mountains since forty niner days. It was a forty-niner, in fact, who set off the first rush. While struggling through Death Valley, he had wedged a handy flake of rock into a slot on his rifle barrel, to replace a lost sight. Later he discovered the little flake to be almost pure silver. Despite a stampede of searchers, no one ever found the "Lost Gunsight Mine." Legends of lost mines continue to this day; one has even added a new word to the lan guage. In 1863 Charles Breyfogle found rich gold ore, but he was fleeing for his life at the pie throng the valley on a November weekend to cheer burro races, wolf down hearty breakfasts, sing around campfires, and learn the human and natural history of Death Valley. 87 EKTACHROME (CN.G .S .