In the spring of 1863 a prospector by the name of Breyfogle and a companion passed the Vegas ranch, now Las Vegas, Nevada, on a prospecting trip in the mountains to the south. Breyfogle returned alone to the ranch several days later in almost a perishing condition from thirst and hunger and a fractured skull, but bringing some specimens of very rich ore.
Breyfogle stated that he and his partner camped at a small spring on the side of a high mountain and one day three Indians came to them and told them of a rich gold mine about three miles away. Breyfogle went with the Indians to get samples of the ore, leaving his companion at the camp. Upon his return an Indian walking behind, felled him with a blow on the head and when he regained consciousness, he had a badly bruised head and a fractured skull. The Indians had left him for dead. Breyfogle returned to his camp and found his partner dead and the camp robbed of provisions. He then returned to the Vegas ranch, making the trip in three days without food. Some of the ore was left with Mrs. Stewart, the owner of the ranch, and it has been seen by many prospectors and described as being a pale yellow carbonate ore full of black silver sulphides, horn silver and rich in gold. Ore samples from the mine may also be seen to this day in the old mining camp of Austin, Nevada, and there are living men who knew John Breyfogle who discovered and lost the mine. Breyfogle was never right in the head after receiving the blow and although he was repeatedly grubstaked by different people to hunt for his lost mine, he was never able to locate a place that even looked like his old camp grounds.
It is now believed that Breyfogle's camp was found years later at a small spring in a canyon in the McCullough Mountains about 14 miles northwest of the little town of Searchlight. Parts of cooking utensils and several pieces of the rich ore, like the sample left at the ranch were found near an old campfire by the spring just below the summit of a high mountain.
Old-timers in that part of the country now believe that the mine was later discovered and worked for a short time by an old Mormon from Salt Lake City. This old man made several trips to the McCullough Mountains and each time returned with several burros loaded with rich ore. When he failed to return from his last trip, searching parties found the old Mormon and all his burros shot to death on the bed of a dry lake on the west side of the McCullough Mountains. The old man was very tall with white hair and long white whiskers and searchers sometimes call the Breyfogle the Lost Mormon mine.