Peg Leg Smith Liars Contest now 1st Saturday in March
March 2, 2019
American Legion Post #853 (a few miles away from the original site)
4515 Borrego Springs Road
Borrego Springs, Ca 92004
Contact Phone- 760-767-3130
The contest begins at dusk at the Borrego Springs American Legion Post, 4515 Borrego Springs Road.
While the event first began in 1916, and is located at the California Registered Historical Site of the Peg Leg Smith Monument, California State Parks recently acquired the land upon which the event has been held for over 100 years.....and has regulated this fantastic event out with impossible to meet costs and related obtrusive requirements. Thus the event has been forced to move to a new location a few miles away.
I'm am and have been the ‘Chief' judge (big deal) for the event since 1982, and am authorized to provide this information and request.
Every year on the first Saturday of March (previously in April 1970s-2018,) story tellers from all over the globe compete in the annual Peg Leg Smith Liars Contest.
Sign up is on arrival at the contest site. Presentations are done in order of sign up. Stories should be of no more than five minutes in length (another little joke). They should be about lost gold and/or Pegleg Smith.
Costumes and other original touches are always appreciated by the crowd and
Thomas L. Smith, better known as 'Peg Leg' Smith 1801-1866, was a mountain man, prospector, and spinner of tall tales. Legends regarding his lost gold mine have grown through the years, and countless people have searched the desert for its fabulous wealth. The mine could be within a few miles of this monument.
All comers are welcome to enter the contest. Sign up is on arrival at the contest site, which is held at the Pegleg Smith memorial, about seven miles east of Borrego Springs on Route S-22. Presentations are done in order of sign up. Stories should be of no more than five minutes in length (another little joke). They should be about lost gold and/or Pegleg Smith. Costumes and other original touches are always appreciated by the crowd and judges.
The event is not at this location currently, but was started here: California Registered Historical Landmark NO. 750 PEG LEG SMITH MONUMENT
Plaque placed by the California State
Park Commission in cooperation with
Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce,
October 9, 1960.
L. Smith, better known as 'Peg Leg,'
(October 10, 1801–1866) was a mountain man,
prospector, and spinner of tall tales.
Legends regarding his lost gold mine
have grown through the years, and
countless people have searched the
desert for its fabulous wealth. The mine
could be within a few miles of this
monument. Smith served as a guide for many early
expeditions into the American Southwest,
helped explore parts of present-day New
Mexico. He is also known as a fur
trapper, prospector, and horse
Born in Crab Orchard, Kentucky, Smith
ran away from home as a teenager to work
on a flatboat on the Mississippi River
until reaching St. Louis, Missouri where
he began working for John Jacob Astor as
a fur trapper with other mountain men
such as Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and
Smith later accompanied Alexandre Le Grand's expedition into New Mexico as a scout, later learning several Native American languages. During the expedition he was shot in the right knee by a local Indian and had to use a wooden leg from which he later earned his nickname. Following the expedition, Smith became a successful fur trapper despite his handicap, later relearning how to maintain his balance while riding a horse.
By 1840, with the decline of the fur trade, Smith began kidnapping Native American children to sell as peons to Mexican haciendas. When the local tribes began searching for him, Smith fled to California, where he would become a horse thief for the next decade.
In one incident, Smith guided around 150 Utes under the leadership of Walkara across the Sierra Nevada, stealing at least several hundred horses from Mexican ranchers. Joining Jim Beckwourth and "Old Bill" Williams, Smith helped establish the largest horse theft operation in the Southwest until authorities eventually forced the gang to break up in the late 1840s.
Smith traveled to the Chocolate Mountains (and possibly the Santa Rosa Mountains, or the Borrego Badlands) where, after several years of prospecting, he was forced, by local tribes, to escape the area. Claiming he had discovered a large amount of gold-bearing quartz, Smith sold maps and claims to other prospectors of a mine known as the Lost Pegleg Mine until his death in a San Francisco hospital in 1866.