Entries for the ‘Oregon Gold News & Misc’ Category
James Harness recently did a local newspaper interview for the local newspaper in Bend, Oregon. The whole article is available for .75 cents at The Bulletin. Here is an excerpt from that article:
REDMOND — A few years ago, James Harness had nothing.
“I had tried to save a failing business that I had started. It got to where I couldn’t even work, my pain levels were so high. I had no doctors, no medication. And I just folded. All the walls came crashing in and I was down to nothing,” he said.
Harness, 55, is faring better now, having become a star on the Discovery Channel reality series “Gold Rush,” which follows a group of men from Sandy as they hunt for gold in Alaska.
Just a couple of years ago, it was a far different story. “I was on my last legs. Didn’t have a lot of money. I had applied for disability (compensation).”
He was living in Sandy, where he was presented with a chance to be on the show.
“I was mainly doing stuff for the Hoffmans just to have a place to stay. And then they came up with this other deal, going gold mining. Because they knew I was down and out, they offered it to me, and I didn’t have a lot of other choices,” Harness said. “They came to and asked me, ‘Can you build this stuff?’”
If you’re familiar with “Gold Rush,” you know who the Hoffmans are: Todd Hoffman, who secured the claim at Porcupine Creek and is the leader of the mining project, and his spirited father, Jack Hoffman, who mined gold in Alaska in the 1980s.
Harness knew the men for about four years before heading to Alaska with them and other members of the crew.
In spite of chronic back pain — partly from being rear-ended in a car accident — he went. Harness would be the crew’s mechanic, playing a crucial role in building and keeping machinery functioning.
Because Todd Hoffman had reached out to a production company looking for reality show ideas, the venture would become the Discovery Channel reality series “Gold Rush Alaska,” condensed to “Gold Rush” for the just-concluded second season.
According to the Discovery Channel, it’s the No. 1 show in the 9 p.m. time slot on Fridays — that’s including both cable and broadcast TV — scoring especially high ratings among men.
In Alaska, the Hoffmans and crew found some gold over two seasons, falling just shy of a stated goal of finding 100 ounces this year.
A third season has been announced. Harness has no plans to be part of it.
The Bulletin met with Harness two days before the airing of a “Gold Rush” special titled “Revelations.” A teaser clip Harness had seen hinted at someone’s departure and left him very concerned about how the show may depict his exit.
“It insinuated that Todd fired me, which never happened,” Harness said. “It shows him making a comment that ‘I guess this is where we part ways.’ Yet I’m not in the frame. I’m not there.”
Harness and the rest of the cast don’t see episodes before they air, and Harness said he had no plans to watch “Revelations.”
In fact, he said, he hasn’t watched a full episode since the series premiere in December 2010, so different was it from the reality he remembered.
“It truly is not the way I remember it, and it distorts my memories … I get mad, because it’s different from what I remember. The real important things I feel should have been in there weren’t.
“For every 40 hours of filming, you might see two minutes of it,” he added. “And sometimes it’s what you leave out that’s important.”
Christo Doyle, the executive producer of the show, told The Bulletin, “We capture the story and tell it as 100 percent honest as we can, and that’s what plays out (in the special).”
“Throughout season two, Harness and the rest of the Hoffman crew had a lot of fallings out. There was tension there, and what we do is we capture the story as it unfolds.
“They were not getting along, there (were) a lot of issues there. We captured those issues, and what you’re going to see in the special … is those issues play out.”
Doyle and others associated with the show are often asked if “Gold Rush” is scripted. The answer is no, he said. “We do not script a single thing. We’re a fly on the wall telling the story here.”
Yet, Harness said, “I don’t care if it’s falling down or killing yourself, they want to see it again and get two shots of it. … It’s really hard to have a competitive business and put everything into that — trying to make a profit you built out of the ground — and yet try to do a TV show at the same time. They collide constantly. It slows you down so much, there’s no way to succeed. You’re doing two different things at the same time.”
No matter how it’s put forth on the program, Harness is adamant that his departure was by choice. He’s not coming back for a third season because, he said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
This confirms what Jimmy Dorsey told OregonGold.net in a recent interview and backs up other evidence that OregonGold.net has uncovered.
On the evening of the season two finale of Gold Rush Alaska, Jimmy Dorsey posted on his Facebook account the following comments:
“I made $30000 gold mining last summer in four months! Gold rush… you guys are a joke!” found on his wall.
“I made 30k last summer in four months, Gold mining. Dorsey won.” posted on the Gold Rush wall. He then went on to say in the comments of that post “Did they censor me yet? There is the proof.”
He even wrote to Greg Remsburg: “I got more gold and more money than u did mining this last summer. U lose”
As a friend of many of the players on Gold Rush Alaska, and as the webmaster of oregongold.net, I am not playing sides and I always enjoy people finding the gold. The Hoffman crew did much better from the previous season. Personally I want to say “good job”. I have been following everybody from the show the best I can and Jimmy Dorsey has improved himself as gold miner. The fact that he made $30,000, while the Hoffman crew made $8,000 per share shows just that. It probably makes Jimmy Dorsey feel a lot better after they basically made him look bad in season one of the show. I don’t blame him for wanting some vindication.
Jimmy Dorsey claimed he would get “more gold” in the coming summer, when he was interviewed in the now famous interview with OregonGold.net claiming the show is scripted. It was Greg who broke his ribs in his final episode.
The Triskett Gang underestimated the citizens of Sailors’ Diggins, which became a fatal error when they went on a shooting spree downtown. But the $75,000 they stole has never been recovered.
By Finn J.D. John — Posted with permission from the Author. The Author has a very interesting website at www.offbeatoregon.com
The amount of shooting done in Sailors’ Diggins by the Triskett Gang
suggests they likely were using the then-new cap-and-ball Colt revolvers
such as this 1848 Dragoon model. Remember, this incident happened
well before brass cartridges were invented; each shot had to be loaded
by hand with a ramrod. (Image: Hmaag/Wikimedia)
After a former Oregon farmer found gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, people from Oregon raced southward to start grubbing it out of the ground. The next year, people from the East Coast raced westward with the same idea.
By the year after that, it was getting to be hard to find a good patch of “pay dirt” that didn’t already have a miner or two working it. New prospectors might spend years poking around little mountain creeks before finding one worth working, and prospecting was hard work.
Increasingly, people started to realize there were actually several different ways a fellow could work the diggin’s:
One could look for gold the old-fashioned way, of course. But one could also go into business selling stuff, at inflated prices, to prospectors; many Oregon farmers got very rich this way.
There was another way, too. One could simply make a five-dollar investment in one of those new-fangled .44-caliber Colt Dragoon revolvers, then go find a successful miner and rob him.
Meet the Triskett Gang
There was one particular group of frontier rowdies who opted to follow this path. They were known as the Triskett Gang. This name sounds a bit like a Disney movie from the late 1960s — maybe as a sequel to The Apple Dumpling Gang? — but in reality, these guys were anything but lovable. They were named not after a yet-to-be-invented Nabisco snack cracker, but rather after brothers Jack and Henry Triskett. In their little band were three other thugs: Fred Cooper, Miles Hearn and Chris Slover.
The story of the Triskett Gang’s last day is a bit fuzzy. I haven’t been able to track down a solid source for the details. A visit to the Josephine County Historical Society in Grants Pass would probably be very helpful in firming up the details. But here’s the gist of the story:
Desperados on the run
In early August of 1852, the Trisketteros were on the run. They’d robbed a few people in California, as guys like them are wont to do, and were heading north with some armed, angry citizens on their tails, trying to lose themselves in the wilderness for a while.
They arrived one afternoon in a little town called Sailors’ Diggins, which today is a ghost town known as Waldo. About five miles north of the border with California near the present-day town of Cave Junction, Sailors’ Diggins was essentially an overgrown mining camp, but it was booming; at a time when the entire state of Oregon had fewer than 10,000 occupants, Sailors’ Diggins was home to several thousand. The mountains nearby were especially rich, and on that particular day, almost every able-bodied man was out working them.
The five bandits quickly found the saloon, went inside and started drinking their stolen gold. After a time, nicely sozzled, they wandered out onto the street. Probably they were contemplating the need to get out of Sailors’ Diggins immediately; a town that size would be the first place the posse would check when trying to get a fix on them.
Maybe it was this thought that made Fred Cooper snap. Bandits aren’t known for self-discipline. Maybe he wanted, more than anything, to hang around that saloon all afternoon, leisurely drinking and flirting and maybe hiring some female companionship for the evening — all those things that bad guys dream about doing with their ill-gotten gains. Maybe he was standing there outside that nice little saloon just getting madder and madder at having to leave, plunge into the woods and start poking around for a tree to sleep under.
Maybe. Nobody knows, really. What is known is that instead of heaving a heavy sigh and heading for the city limits, he pulled his pistol and, without a word, gunned down a random citizen who was walking down the street minding his own business.
Gunning down innocent bystanders
The rest of the gang leaped into action, if that’s the right word. The five of them stormed down the street simply killing everyone they saw. At least two women were raped as well.
Then, as they were leaving town, they paused, hustled down to the assaying depot and cleaned it out — roughly $75,000 worth of freshly mined gold. This they loaded onto two stolen horses and left town.
A mob of angry citizens takes up the chase
Now, Sailors Diggins was right in the middle of the mining action. Many of the miners could hear the gunfire and knew something was very wrong. By the time the Triskett Gang was leaving town, they were starting to arrive, probably with loaded weapons in hand. The 17 dead bodies still bleeding in the streets were their wives, children and aged relatives. You can imagine how they reacted.
All it took was one well-hidden survivor to yell, “They went that-a-way!” and the posse was off.
Weighed down with almost 250 pounds of gold, the bandits weren’t moving very fast, and the posse soon caught them up. The gang members must have been surprised by how quickly the angry citizens got on their trail. After a short pursuit, the bad guys turned at bay on the top of a little hill just outside O’Brien.
Gunfight to the death; but where was the gold?
I haven’t been able to learn much about the ensuing firefight. Presumably at least a few of the miners were killed; after all, the Triskett Gang were professional gunmen, and were able to pick the place where they made their final stand. I also don’t know if the bad guys tried to surrender. It’s certainly possible they didn’t; all they had to look forward to was humiliation and hanging.
In any case, when the shooting stopped, four gang members were dead, one was dying — and there was no sign anywhere of the 250 pounds of gold dust they’d hijacked from the depot.
To this day, that gold has never been recovered — or, rather, if it has, whoever found it was remarkably discreet about it. Treasure hunters still come to the O’Brien area to look for it. Most of them assume the gang hid it somewhere on the hill where they made their stand.
But it’s far more likely they squirreled it away earlier, when they first realized they were being pursued. It’s a lot harder to run from an angry posse when you’re leading a pack horse.
If that’s the case, it could be almost anywhere in the woods between Waldo and O’Brien, probably within a few dozen yards of the road. The stash would be worth about $5.5 million today.
(Sources: http://www.gwizit.com/treasures/oregon.php; http://www.josephinehistorical.org; Marsh, Carole. Oregon’s Unsolved Mysteries (and their “Solutions”). Peachtree City, GA: Carole Marsh Books, 1994; Friedman, Ralph. In Search of Western Oregon. Caldwell, ID: Caxton, 1990)
The Discovery Channel announced a new gold mining television show that premiers on January 27th, 2012. Bering Sea Gold as it is called is based out of Nome, Alaska and deals with ocean dredging of the Bering Sea. I have met a handful of guys who do this for a living, so I believe I will find this interesting to watch. I do know that without fail at least one person every dredge season washes up on the beaches of Nome every year, having lost their life in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea.
Miners mentioned in the above posted Bering Sea Gold videos are named… Steve Pomrenke, Shawn Pomrenke, Vernon Adkison, Zeke Tenhoff and Scott Meisterhiem.