Sermon Illustration Library

Breyfogle's Lost Mine

Illustration Information
Breyfogle's Lost Mine
James H. Stirling
Signs of the Times, October 1960; via Signs of the Times E-mail Newsletter, July 26, 2006.
Submitted By
Scott Severance
Submitted On
January 12, 2007
Last Modified
January 13, 2007

Famished with thirst, the weary traveler scanned the horizon once more for a trace of life. Charles Breyfogle had come to Death Valley in 1864 seeking rich deposits of silver ore rumored to lie in this area, but now his dreams of wealth had disappeared. Where could he get a drink of water?

Suddenly across his bleary vision swam a glimpse of something green. Did this mean water? He quickened his stumbling pace. A reddish hill slope lay before him, and as he struggled up it he kicked a rock. When he looked down at it he could scarcely believe his eyes. The rock was yellow with gold! All around him was float rock with rich streaks of the yellow metal. A nearby ledge showed the ragged teeth of a quartz vein with more golden tracings. This was a bonanza!

There was enough gold in sight to make Breyfogle the wealthiest man in the world. But what could he do with it? Death was near. More than gold he needed water and food. He picked up a few pieces of the yellow ore and trudged on to the green bush he had seen, only to find that no water was near after all.

For many days thereafter he wandered in a kind of stupor, checking his course at night by the north star, eating occasionally of bunch grass and drinking brackish water where it could be found. Not until he had walked some two hundred miles was he discovered by a rancher.

In friendly hands once more, he regained his health and was able to tell his story. Those who heard Breyfogle and saw his ore samples were deeply impressed. As soon as he was strong enough to travel again they went with him in search of the golden ledge.

But Breyfogle had no clear memory of the route he had taken after leaving the site, and could not find it. Again and again he went back, each time with a different partner. They found hundreds of reddish hill slopes, but never the right one. The story of Breyfogle's Lost Mine spread far and wide. Year after year men set out in search for it. Other deposits of gold and silver were found; but never one that corresponded with Breyfogle's description. His name became a symbol for prospecting; "breyfogling" expeditions and "breyfoglers" combed Death Valley and nearby deserts. Yet a hundred years of search have not uncovered the elusive mine. Undoubtedly many have come near it without recognizing it.

The Lost Breyfogle Mine is but one of the many lost mines which have frustrated desert prospectors for years. The desert is replete with stories of men who had riches at their finger tips, but who for one reason or another could not get out with it, or find their way back there.

More tragic, however, is the experience of people for whom happiness and peace of mind, the wealth of the spirit, lie just out of reach. Though forever seeking pleasure, they never find happiness.

If you are a "breyfogler" of this sort, there is a way that has been marked out plainly by the unerring Guide. "Seek Me," He says, "and you shall find Me; when you seek for Me with all your heart, I will reveal Myself to you." Jeremiah 29:13, 14, Moffatt. "Indeed," the apostle Paul says, "He is close to each one of us." Acts 17:27. He can give you "beauty for ashes," and "the oil of joy for mourning." He will turn none away, nor leave any disappointed who seek His way to the abundant life.

True happiness for you may be closer than you think. If you have not yet given your heart to God, He is waiting for you now. Accept Him into your life, and the true riches of life, now at your finger tips, will become yours to enjoy.