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Entries for the ‘Southern Oregon Gold’ Category

Oregon’s Biggest Gold Nugget: The Collins Nugget

If you trawl the internet for information on gold mining in Oregon, sooner
or later, you’ll find mention of the Armstrong Nugget. This huge lump of
placer gold was discovered near what is today the ghost town of
Susanville, Oregon in 1913 by George Armstrong. This big monster weighed
in at 80.4 ounces. Today, its gold value alone would fetch over $80,000
U.S. dollars. The Armstrong Nugget is currently on display at U.S. Bank in
Baker City in Grant County, Oregon. Most online sources claim that the Armstrong Nugget was the biggest gold
nugget ever discovered in Oregon, but it isn’t so.

In fact, here in Josephine County, on the opposite side of the state, a
number of larger gold nuggets have been discovered near what was refered
to as Sailors Diggings. One of them, pulled out of Sucker Creek, weighed
over 15 pounds. That’s a big chunk of gold, but it’s still not the biggest
nugget that Oregon ever produced.

In 1859, a little Irish fellow by the name of Mattie Collins was mining in
the high bank along the East Fork of Althouse Creek when he uncovered a
huge lump of almost pure gold that became known as the Collins Nugget.
Mattie’s find weighed in at a whopping 204 ounces (approximately 17
pounds. At today’s gold prices, the Collins Nugget would be worth over
$200,000, but typically a nugget will fetch a significantly higher price.

The Collins Nugget is the largest single hunk of gold ever pulled from the
Oregon lands, but unlike the Armstrong Nugget, it doesn’t survive today.

As was always done in those days, Mattie took his find to the smelter at
Jacksonville, sold it for $3500 and then drank himself into poverty.

~ Kerby Jackson

Jackson County Oregon Gold

Oregon gold mining had it’s very beginnings in historic Jackson County. The first gold discovery in the county was in 1852 on Jackson Creek. Jackson County is a placer miner’s dream. The county produced over 500,000 ounces of placer gold. Each summer sees very many amateur and professional gold dredgers trying to strike it rich.

As 49ers from California moved north, gold was first found on Jackson Creek.

As 49ers from California moved north, gold was first found on Jackson Creek.

Applegate River

There are numerous hydraulic placers along this river. Below the old hydraulic mines is an excellent place to dredge as most of the mines lost 40% of the gold that went through the sluices. Also try the tributaries Forest, Sterling, Humbug and Thompson Creeks. All of these streams were excellent producers.


In the Ashland area, all the creeks have Oregon gold in them. Some of the better locations are Bear, Ashland, Anderson, Wagner, Arrastra Creeks and Yankee and Horn Gulches.

Central Point

At Willow Springs on Willow Creek there were some very nice placers.

Elk Creek

Near the head of Elk Creek in T31S R2E section 29 is the Al Sarena (Buzzard) Mine. Elk Creek has produced considerable amounts of placer gold.

Gold Hill

All the area creeks produce gold. Some of the better locations are: Foots Creek, Sam Creek, Galls Creek, Sardine Creek, Kane Creek, Evans Creek and Pleasant Creek. The Gold Hill pocket near the top of the hill was the most famous of all gold pocket discoveries. It had the mass of nearly pure gold in a very few cubic feet of earth. Numerous other pocket locations in the area.


Along Jackson Creek as written above had spectacular discoveries. Also along Sterling Creek. Almost all the creeks in the area contain gold.


Along Bear Creek there were some extensive early placers, still being worked today.

Curry County Oregon Gold

Ocean beaches along the entire county, but especially North and South of the mouths of the Chetco River and the Rogue River, in blacksand deposits you will find placer gold and platinum. All regional streams (gravel bars, benches, terraces), placers formerly worked and still yielding colors and nuggets to the seasonal gold panner.


Gold Beach area ocean beach blacksand deposits was once extensively worked for its rich placer gold and platinum. Port Oxford area beach blacksand deposits also contain placer gold and platinum (fine to very fine). The Sixes River on the inside of Cape Blanco, in section 4 of township 32S and Range 15W, you will find the Madden Mine which was a large lode gold producer.On the north side of Cape Blanco, the beach deposits of blacksand on both sides of the Sixes River contain placer gold and platinum.

Cape Blanco

Cape Blanco circa 1850

Chetco River

Northeast of Brookings to headwaters of the Chetco River, located at township 38S and range 10W, center in section 26 you will find the Frazier Mine which was a rich producer of lode gold associated with pyrite. The Golden Eagle Mine was a hydraulic placer gold operation.. Near the head of Slide Creek the Golden Dream Mine was a large lode gold operation. In the center of section 23, the Peck Mine was a good producer of lode gold. Near the edge of section 35, the Young Mine had rich pockets of free gold. In section 10, the Hoover Gultch Mine, worked intermittently since 1900 for its lode gold.

Illinois River

The old mines and prospects along the lower Illinois River also had rich gold deposits with a by-product of copper.

Lobster Creek

Gold is found throughout Lobster Creek, located 10 miles east of Gold Beach, up to Rogue River. It is actively being worked at a place called “Old Diggings”. There are nice nuggets and flour gold dredged up every year. Most areas are claimed, so permission is required to work these areas.

Rouge River

The Rouge River gravel bars, benches, terraces from Marial, in the northeast corner of the county to its mouth at Wedderburn has abundant placer gold deposits. Around the Agness area on the Rogue River gravel bars, benches and terraces had rich placer gold deposits. Near Marial, to the southwest by 1 mile, in section 17 and 20 of township 33S and range 10W, you will find the Mule Moutain Group of mines which consisted of 11 lode mines, 1 placer mine and mill site. If you go to the northeast 2 miles in the northwest 1/4 section 3 and the northeast of section 4, you will find the Mammoth Mine which was a rich lode gold producer. The Marigold Mine was also a rich lode gold in quartz mine. Near Saddle Peaks (reached by rough trail), is the Paradise Mine which produced free gold.

Sixes River

Along the South Fork of the Sixes River and heads of Salmon and Johnson Creeks there are numerous extensive placers that have been worked. If you go east on a dirt road to the head of Rusty Creek you will find the Big Ben Mine which was a rich lode producer, with lead and silver. Also in the area is the Combination Mine, which was a rich lode gold producer as well. There is also a BLM mineral withdrawal area setup at the old ghost town of Sixes. The area is set up for recreational mining using pans, sluices, and dredges up to 4″ hose diameter.

A view of the Sixes River

A view of the Sixes River

Panning the Sixes River

Panning the Sixes River

Douglas County Oregon Gold

Douglas County has produced some nice gold in the past. The Myrtle Creek and Cow Creek areas are great producers.

Last Chance Creek

At the headwaters of Last Chance Creek, in township 32S range 4W section 34, is the location of the Puzzler Mine, which was a rich lode mine.

Quines Creek

On Quines Creek, in the W 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of section 1 township 33S range 5W, is the location of Quartzmill Mine. This was also a productive mine.


In the Glendale area along Cow Creek there was numerous old hydraulic placers. The gravel bars, bench and terrace gravels all contain placer gold. There were many area mines that were rather productive. The BLM has a section that is withdrawn from mineral entry that is open to recreational gold panners only.

Myrtle Creek

If you go east and northeast of Myrtle Creek, in the drainage basins of North and South Myrtle Creeks you will find some extensive placer ground. On Lee Creek and Buck Fork there was over 50,000 ounces of placer gold recovered. On Letitia Creek, a tributary of South Myrtle Creek, in the NW 1/4 section 20 township 29S range 3W is the Chieftrain and Continental Mines which recovered over 100,000 ounces of Oregon gold.

South Umpqua River

This river is great for fine particles of gold. Especially in the upper part of the river. Dredging usually produces match head sized nuggets, but usually you will find fine particles. Gold is on the bedrockĀ  in the sand bars, especially in spots that have rust color around them.

South Umqua River with bedrock showing

South Umqua River with bedrock showing

Coos County Oregon Gold


Near the town of Bandon, the ocean beach black sand deposits produced rich placers and they are still being worked today at a profit. These beach sands produced platinum and of coarse Oregon Gold. East of Bandon, the elevated marine terraces as high as 170 feet have been worked for the ancient black sand deposits and are said to be rich. North of Bandon, all the way to Cape Arago, in the black sand is very fine placer gold and platinum. Also North of Bandon by 10 miles in township 27S, and range 14W, in section 10 you will find the Seven Devils Mine. It was worked for gold and platinum in the early days and for chromium in 1942-43. In Coos Bay on the ocean beaches North and South of the Coquille River produce platinum and oregon gold in black sand deposits. Near the town of Powers you will find the Independence Mine which was a large lode mine.

Coquille River

In the regional streambed, bench and terrace gravels around Myrtle Point you can find placer gold in the Coquille River. Along the South Fork of the Coquille River, on Poverty Gultch, you will find the Coarse Gold Mine. North of Poverty Gultch you will find the Salmon Mountian Mine.

Steamer dispatch on the Coquille River, Oregon circa 1910.

Steamer dispatch on the Coquille River, Oregon circa 1910.

Cow Creek

Eden Valley on the upper west fork of Cow Creek there were many large placer operations that had rich gold deposits.

Cut Creek

If you go North of Bandon 6 miles you will find Cut Creek. It can be found by taking Seven Devils Road. This was the location of the Pioneer Mine, which consisted of an ancient elevated beach terrace black sand deposit that was sluiced until around 1915 and still occasionally worked for its placer content. Near by is the Eagle Mine.

Sweat Creek

Sweat Creek is located in section 36 of township 31S and range 10W and was a substantial producer of gold and platinum in placer deposits.

Whiskey Run Creek

At the turn of the century Whiskey run Creek was the scene of a very large Chinese placer operation. Today the beach sands and the creek itself have a lot of fine gold. Whiskey Run Creek is located about 6 miles northwest of Bandon on Highway 101.

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