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From the Archives: Gold prospector 'Lucky' Blackiet

‘Lucky’ Blackiet is one of those great characters who appear, then disappear, from the pages of the Los Angeles Times.

The photo at left above accompanied a short story on Blackiet in the April 6, 1934, Los Angeles Times:

A broken pair of buggy wheels accounted for the visit to Los Angeles yesterday of "Lucky" Blackiet, 79 years of age and hale and hearty after a lifetime spent prospecting the West from lower California to Alaska.

Blackiet, who says he has made and lost eight fortunes, one of them amounting to $5,000,000, will be on his way again as soon as he gets his wheels and, once on his way, "try and find me."

Last June, "Lucky" baffled the combined talents of the United States District Attorney's office and Department of Justice with the question of whether or not he was subject, as a miner, to the $100 limit placed on gold "hoarding" by Presidential decree. Federal officials promised to obtain an opinion from Atty.-Gen. Cummings but Blackiet says he hasn't found out yet.

"They admitted I could sell gold to a foreign country," says the grizzled prospector, "but when I asked them 'Well if I can sell it, why can't I keep it?' that seemed to stop 'em.

"Only knowin' common sense, myself," adds Lucky, "I can't answer it either."

An earlier June 16, 1933, article reported that Lucky – then named "Lucky Blacky" – had inquired at the federal building regarding hoarding gold. He did not get an answer.

In 1936, Blackiet was back in the news. He reported meeting the missing New York Judge Joseph F. Crater near his homestead at Santa Ysabel, four miles from Warner Hot Springs in northern San Diego County. After he disappeared on Aug. 6, 1930, in New York City, sightings of the elusive Crater were reported all over the world.

For several days in August 1936, Blackiet led a search party of police and journalists around the desert. Judge Crater was not located.

In a July 24, 2005, Times article headlined ”A Judge Crater Nugget with a California Twist,” staff writer Cecilia Rasmussen reported on the search.

Los Angeles Times staff photographer William Snyder made the above image of Lucky during the search for Crater. Snyder's photo was published in the Aug. 30, 1936, Los Angeles Times and then accompanied Rasmussen's article.

This post was originally published on Oct. 9, 2014.

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