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Deschutes County Oregon Gold

All the counties that surround Deschutes County contain gold. The question here is how much gold and is it easy to get to? The county has a very volcanic history and much of the landscape is covered in hundreds of feet of basaltic lava flows. The lava flows in geologic time are relatively young rock. Because of the geologic features it usually make this county a strike out instead of a gold strike. With that said, there are a few gold claims in the county. If they are producers or not, that is unknown and maybe they were claimed for recreational purposes. I really have no idea to be honest. I post the information. What you do is up to you. This is where real prospecting comes into play.

The only recorded gold claims that I could find is found in Buckhorn Canyon between Sisters, Oregon and Terrebonne, Oregon at approximately Lat. 44.33233 Lon -121.33835 Please don’t go claim jumping. I only mention the coordinates to give you a place to start if you plan on doing some prospecting in this county. Please respect the claim owners rights.

Gold-field bandits’ stolen loot still hasn’t been found

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

Waldo, Oregon

The town of Waldo, f.k.a. Sailors’ Diggins, in the 1890s. This image was
made well after the town’s Gold Rush heyday, when the Triskett Gang
came through town and shot it up . (Image: www.oregongold.net)

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.

Waldo, Oregon 1950's Ghost town

When photographer Ben Maxwell visited Waldo (Sailors’ Diggins) in
1954, he found not much remaining of the ghost town that once was one
of Oregon’s largest towns . (Image: Salem Public Library, Ben Maxwell

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

Barn in Waldo, Oregon 1950's Ghost Town

One of the few buildings still standing in 1954 when Ben Maxwell visited
the ghost town of Waldo. (Image: Salem Public Library, Ben Maxwell
collection )

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)

Bering Sea Gold

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.

The Quartzville Gold Mining Con Man

In 2002 and 2003, I spent several months exploring the area around Quartzville, in Linn County. At the time I was looking for new quartz deposits that might be hiding up there in the mountains. During that time I did some metal detecting in the area, including the old Quartzville town property. You could clearly see the layout of the roads from the difference in the size of the trees, and if you looked hard enough the outlines of old foundations and some old timbers. The area of my exploration was north of the old town site.I did not have any good finds that day. I have heard of people finding nuggets there, but I usually just pass it off as “mythology”. Anyways regardless of what people or lack of what people have found there, does not affect this story about one of the greatest gold mining scams in Oregon history.

When I returned in the summer of 2005 I noticed a “No Trespassing” sign, blocking all access to where I wanted to go, which was on up the forest service road that cuts through the townsite. I did however notice many changes in the area, including the land looked like it was ripped up from one end to the other and changes were apparent. The area was obviously bulldozed and some harvesting of some of the tree’s had been done in the area. I did not venture too far because of the No trespassing sign, but I could see some of the changes from the road.

Gold Mining Con Man David Ross Nonnemaker

David Ross Nonnemaker

The Gold Mining Con Man is now known as David Ross Nonnemaker, who ran under the business names of “Western Sand and Gravel” and “Western Mining”. People who have met him says he is a fast and very smooth talking man. This obviously wasn’t his first scheme. Nonnemaker had allegedly obtained money from investors to develop mining operations and harvest timber in the Quartzville area, but had no authority to harvest or mine there. He was a claim jumper in other words.

He apparently came up with this scheme and planned it all from prison, collecting information from the internet. He found that the owners of the old townsite were “Absentee” owners. Victims included people from Nevada, Missouri, California, New York, Oregon, Alaska and as far away as Germany. Not only did he try to mine the area, he also sold off the timber from the site, making as much as $1,000,000 from timber sales from Weyerhaeuser, who did not connect the dots. Other timber companies also bought from him. He definitely made more from timber sales, than what he ever found in gold.

He had what appeared at first, to be proper documents and permits, but eventually his over-jealous and ambitious scheme got the best of him, as his operation drew the attention of law enforcement and of the USFS. Once the so-called permits and paperwork were checked up on, the truth was known and the arrest was made.

The amount of money collected from investors was enough to buy the large equipment he needed for the operation. The impact that he had on the people he came in contact with is the sad side of the story…the people he stole from. He was convicted to five years in prison. He was ordered to pay restitution of over $300,000 to people caught up in the scam and $900,000 to two victims in theft cases. The whole scheme was a very ambitious operation and will go down as one of, if not thee most infamous gold mining schemes in Oregon history.

Gold Rush Alaska Dorsey Interview Audio

I recently turned down the National Enquirer who wanted to buy the tape of the Jimmy Dorsey interview and the knowledge and evidence I have gathered. I refused.

The interview was conducted the week he left the show on television. Gold Rush Alaska is on Friday nights on the Discovery Channel. I am still contemplating publishing the full interview. The evidence is mounting that Gold Rush Alaska is scripted. I am actually withholding even more information that I may save for another time.

Here is a snippet:

To back up Jimmy Dorsey’s claims are the townfolk of nearby Haines, Alaska who were given lines to read as the camera’s rolled.

The following excerpt is from the Chilkat Valley News

When the question was put to borough facilities director Brad Maynard, he was enthusiastic. “I said, ‘I think it’s great.’ I kind of came up here on a pig in a poke. A lot of people came up here like that,” Maynard recounted.

Crew members then told Maynard that’s not what they wanted to hear and the interview was re-shot. “So I told them, ‘I think their chances at success are miserable and I think they’ll fail,’” Maynard said. “They had their own lines they wanted me to say… They pretty much had it scripted.”

Another piece of evidence is a post that has since been deleted from Dakota Fred Hurts Facebook page:

Fred Hurt: “What has America become? A crowd of blind haters, sucked into the contrived, misrepresented portrayal of “Reality TV”? The editors should be held accountable for altering words, and, deleting critical information that sheds a whole new light on the facts. Before the season started, I voiced great concern about how I was portrayed last year, and insisted Discovery clarify WHY the Hoffmans were going to the Yukon. 99% of that clarification was deleted from the show. The Hoffmans asked to be released from their lease. The owner, embarrassed both personally and professionally by the Hoffmans, immediately put the claim up for sale. He had 3 offers to buy the claim. Had Discovery aired this filmed sequence, and divulged what the Hoffmans knew, the public would have a totally different opinion. I am only giving out this information, possibly in violation of my aggreement with Discovery, because of the serious nature of death threats to me, both direct and implied. If the FBI has to get involved, so be it. This is what America has become. A crowd jerked around by overzealous editors, eager for ratings. You are focusing on the wrong person. I have NO control of the way it gets edited.”

Click here for the original interview

Click here for Todd Hoffmans reaction

Also check out a recent article I wrote about Dakota Fred Hurt and his purchase of the Porcupine Creek claim.

Edwin Waters, oregongold.net

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