Speed Phillips Tells Tall Tales about His Prospecting Days

Mar 26, 2014

Speed Phillips never made much money, but prospected for gold all his life. Both his grandfathers were “forty-niners” in California, one seeking his fortune as a dairy farmer and the other as a builder.

Speed lived in a cabin up Foot’s Creek in Jackson County, Ore., when he wasn’t chasing gold in Nevada. When money ran out, he worked his Foot’s Creek claim, and once found a huge nugget. To finance his prospecting, Speed sometimes choked logs and patrolled power lines. There was a story at the time about a lost vein of gold in the Applegate. Speed said he found it, marked the location and took a sample to his cabin to assay it.  It was hot!  But Speed said he never could relocate the elusive vein. In 1965, Speed, accompanied by his white burro, Jack, won a blue ribbon at the Britt Festival parade in Jacksonville as the best-dressed Western man. Speed said he always dressed like that. Speed enjoyed the attention he and his mule received in parades and at home, where for years neighbors visited regularly to listen to his endless supply of tall tales.

  Source: Fitzgerald, Arlene J. "Prospector Roamed Oregon, Nevada for Ores." Rogue River Times 8 Oct. 1965: 4+.