A Mule—A Shovel—A Golden Dream
Gold fever has stricken thousands of men and women over the years. The most significant occurred in 1849 after gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill the previous year. This event led to the California Gold Rush, a time when gold fever plagued even the most innocent and content of men.
Legends and stories of gold mines have filled the hearts, souls and minds of prospectors, driving them into some of the most dangerous and desolate lands in search of gold. The desire for gold can be so great that it will motivate people to do extraordinary things and endure impossible hardships.
One of the most famous legends and tales about lost mines and how they were once discovered and then lost again is the legend of Naperville’s “Pegleg Johnny.”
Pegleg Johnny was a rugged frontier man who traded furs and supplies, rustled horses, and trapped beaver. Pegleg, lost his leg to an arrow during a trapping expedition in the fall of 1827. After his leg was amputated, his friends fashioned him a wooden leg, thus earning him the name Pegleg.
The famous legend began during a trapping expedition down the DuPage River in the late 1820s or early 1830s. Pegleg and his party had acquired a large number of pelts during their trip and selected Pegleg and another member of the trapping party to take the supply of pelts back to Chicago for sale.
During their journey, Pegleg had gathered three black pebbles that he found from a small ravine near Naper settlement (Naperville) west of Chicago , Illinois . Thinking the pebbles were copper he carried them to Chicago where he later discovered they were gold.
To this day prospectors and historians wonder why he did not go back and search for the ravine where he discovered the gold. It wasn't until after the 1849 Gold Rush that Pegleg finally returned to Naper Settlement to organize a prospecting party to search for the ravine where he found the black gold nuggets. The group wandered around the Naperville area unsuccessfully.
In 1853, Pegleg organized a second search party that had no greater success in finding the ravine where he found his treasured black-coated gold nuggets. Later, a third expedition set out to discover the ravine and the lost gold mine, but no one from the party was ever seen or heard from again.
You can imagine my excitement in relating the next far-fetched tale. While out and about on one of my many geo-treks and entirely by accident I stumbled upon what I believe to be the ravine where old Pegleg found the three black-gold pebbles. Right here in Naperville ! My very first thought was how I might share my good fortune with others. It’s no surprise therefore; that I would seek a way for fellow geocachers to experience the thrill of discovering Pegleg Johnny’s lost ravine and solve the mystery behind the missing black gold.
This reality, geo-adventure will take you on a journey back to those early frontier days—a time of trappers and fortune seekers. Your trek begins at the local trading post your 1st Waypoint. Here geo-prospecting parties will be outfitted and properly supplied for this 5-stage, multi-cache expedition.
I hope you enjoy catching (caching) the fever—Gold Fever!