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Lost mines are a very popular form of lost treasure legend. The mine involved is usually of a high-value commodity such as gold, silver, or diamonds. Often there is a map (sometimes called a "waybill") purportedly showing the location of the mine. Common reasons given for the mines being lost include:
  • The mine is discovered and worked by a recluse who refuses to divulge the location, and dies before revealing the location.
  • The mine is worked by native peoples who refuse to divulge the location to others.
  • The mineral deposit is discovered in a remote location, and upon returning to the area the discoverer cannot find it again.
  • The discoverer dies of hunger, thirst, or exposure shortly after discovering the deposit, and his body is found with rich ore specimens in his possession.
  • The discoverers are killed by hostile natives. Sometimes the natives cover up the entrance to the mine.
  • In Spanish colonies in the New World, many lost mines were supposedly worked under the direction of Jesuit priests before their sudden expulsion in 1767.

Some lost mine legends have a historical basis; some have none. But the lure of lost mine legends is attested by the many books on the subject, and the popularity of publications such as Lost Treasure magazine.

List of lost mine legends

Legends of lost mines are probably worldwide. Those listed below are just a sampling.







  • Chivor mine, an emerald mine lost for 200 years, then found again.



  • In the 19th century, gold fever was prevalent in the Ural region near Ekaterinburgmarker. There are many legends of the lost mines, for example in Mamin-Sibiryak's stories.
  • There are many modern stories of lost diamond mines in the Yakutia region of north and northeast Russia

United States


The Agatha Christie Poirot short story "The Lost Mine" features the topic of a map revealing the location of a lost mine in Burmamarker being stolen in London, and its carrier murdered.

See also


  • - Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie collected many tales of lost mines of the American Southwest in the collection Coronado's Children. The title refers to those who followed the legends of hidden riches, like Coronado did in the 17th century.

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