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Gold Rush Alaska Jimmy Dorsey Interview

I, Edwin Waters recently did a interview with Jim Dorsey of Gold Rush Alaska, the television reality show about Gold Mining that airs on the Discovery Channel.

Jimmy Dorsey

Oregon Gold : How has the response been on the street after appearing on the show?

Jimmy Dorsey: I think overwhelmingly positive. A lot of people want to know what I am doing next and want to know what is happening with my family.

Oregon Gold : Do you think you were portrayed poorly or wrong in the edit of the show?

Jimmy Dorsey : I understand the need for creating a character. I think my inexperience in mining and the construction field is not something that they created. You never see me actually turn a wrench. They cut out about ninety percent of the positive things I do.

Oregon Gold : Was the show scripted?

Jimmy Dorsey : Sure. Every formatted documentary is scripted. It is scripted from the beginning. They knew exactly what they wanted to see out of the program. Even me leaving was scripted, but in the way in which it happened was not. The plans were made, but the footsteps were ours. They actually direct you into these situations. It became very real. That is why I actually got my ribs broke. There was a fight…not even a fight…I was assaulted by Greg. He broke my ribs. That was very real, but it was also in the script for episode four which ended up being episode six, that I would end up leaving the show. They kind of push you towards, making these things happen. They would tell me to say ” We’ve got get gold in seventy hours” so I say “We’ve got to get gold in seventy two hours”. Then they would say “What are you going to do if you don’t get gold in seventy two hours?” And I am like “I don’t know you just told me to say seventy hours.” Then they said “What are you going to do if you don’t get gold?” They push you towards saying I was going to leave if we did not find gold. It was never my intention to leave. My plan was staying the entire summer and seeing it out.

Oregon Gold : Was it more about making the show or was it about getting the gold?

Jimmy Dorsey : You cannot really separate the two. I did not think we had a good show unless we got gold and I was not making very much money from the show; nothing substantial, so for me I did not think we would get a second season once we got gold and I did not think I would be able to feed my family once we got gold. It was very real for me. Real Estate has really devastated me in the last year.

Oregon Gold : Do you consider yourself pretty good at gold panning?

Jimmy Dorsey : At this point yeah. When I first started gold panning I did not even classify any of the material. So yes, I have gotten gold and I now have panning down. I did some mining after I left the mine.

Oregon Gold : Are you a better miner now, than what you appeared to be on the show?

Jimmy Dorsey : Yes, now I am taking classes in Nevada at a school of mining. I am learning about gold mining. I am not done with gold mining.

Oregon Gold : A lot of miner friends who are on my Facebook page want to know about the equipment. Was that equipment made to not work for the purpose of the show, or was it just poorly constructed equipment?

Jimmy Dorsey : It was poorly planned. The shaker was bought from a auction for fifteen thousand dollars. There was some incompetence there to modify that shaker. These guys were kind of playing around with it… It was a pretty old machine. I think it was built in 1967.

Oregon Gold : Do you think there would have been a better outcome if the group would have invested in better equipment from the start?

Jimmy Dorsey : Absolutely. I said from the beginning…I was actually at Sandy airport saying “Why are we taking this thing to Alaska?” I did not understand why they would want to go on the Discovery Channel with such poor equipment… We also did not have enough water to be running the equipment properly. The equipment demanded eighty gallons a minute and we had about thirty.

Oregon Gold : On your website you state that you are going mining again. Are you going to Alaska?

Jimmy Dorsey : I don’t know. I am looking at a mine up north. There a couple hard rock mines in Oregon that I am looking at. We are performing assays and I am talking to investors right now.

Oregon Gold : Did you receive any money for appearing on the show?

Jimmy Dorsey : The deal with Todd Hoffman was one thousand dollars per episode. At the time of me leaving he had paid me a total of three thousand dollars.

Oregon Gold : How do you feel about Todd?

Jimmy Dorsey : To be honest, today I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry that he threw away a lot of relationships that he has ruined in his pursuit of fame and gold.

Oregon Gold : Do you think that Todd should have done more research on even the most basic principals of mining?

Jimmy Dorsey : Absolutely. One thing I have learned from my studies in Nevada and working with lots of miners is that representative sampling and assaying is key… Finding out how many ounces per ton, is what you do first. Then you decide…what machine you are going to use for that material… Porcupine has gold that is forty to sixty mesh size and you need to have the right machines to get that size of gold out.

Oregon Gold : There is one episode that sticks out in my mind when the equipment is being loaded onto the flat bed and the chain snaps. You made the comment “that could have killed somebody” and Todd went off on you and told you to keep your mouth shut. Was that scripted or was that Todd?

Jimmy Dorsey : That was Todd. That was him… A lot of it was about camera time. When you put a camera in front of people, they get jealous.

Oregon Gold : A majority of the public think that the family members should have stayed at home. What do you think of that?

Jimmy Dorsey : We were going to church across the river and there were a lot of kids that grew up in that valley, so I will agree that we should not have had the kids that close to the operation…that we built our house in the wrong spot…the day I decided where to actually the build the house, I went for a walk…and there was a really big black bear grazing right where I wanted to put my house. So that was too far way. We were in a pretty remote area…this was an area where people have not lived in many years. Plus there is safety in numbers. We packed everybody in real tightly. As far as my family. I plan on bringing my family next year. I don’t leave my family. There is no reason to.

Oregon Gold : Is there anything else you would like to share with the public?

Jimmy Dorsey : …The platform this has afforded me is huge. My family is going to show the face of the mining industry. We can change things by opening natural resources here in Oregon and Alaska. I want to show how mining can be good for people…that is my plan…We need to show that mining can be safe and it can help our economic problems here in Oregon. I am getting pretty involved in the mining community.

Special thanks to Jimmy who took the time to do this interview.

Coyote Creek, Golden Oregon

Near the town of Wolf Creek (a town so-named for the creek that runs through it, also known for gold) is a small ghost town known as Golden, Oregon. It is easy to find and not far from I-5 in northern Josephine County. I recently took a trip to see for myself  this historical mining site on December 20, 2010.

Coyote Creek

Coyote Creek

Coyote Creek was first settled and mined around the 1840’s by white prospectors. The gold was very fine and made it hard for the men who worked the area to make a decent salary. When news of other strikes reached those working the  diggings, the area was abandoned for other areas including new strikes in Idaho. When white men left there were around thirty primitive cabins perched on upper Coyote Creek. Most miners did not stay long because it was a hard living.

Golden Oregon

Edwin Waters at Golden, Oregon

For ten years, from 1862-1872, Chinese worked the area.  Five Hundred Chinese men had moved into the area under the supervision of a contractor who had possession of the claims. The Chinese laborers made ten cents per day plus rice. Don’t feel too sad for the Chinese. This was actually a decent living at the time. A lot of gold was reported to be recovered by the Chinese, until they were driven out by white men who returned to the area in 1872.

Golden, Oregon

Golden Oregon

Merchantile at Golden

White men returned to the area and started using hydraulic means to recover the fine gold. William Ruble was struck at how efficient the process was and bought up most of the land around Coyote Creek. In 1879, large parcels of land was sold to William Ruble, both a minister and a miner. His family was struggling, so he decided to build a town. Golden was first called Goldville. The first post office was established in 1896 with Schuyler Ruble as the first postmaster. William Ruble is known to have stated “You know there is gold right under your feet , but without a more powerful way to extract it your dream will die.”

The Ruble’s could not move soil fast enough to make a profit and during the summer when the water levels dropped they could not work at all. Rather than giving up William and Schuyler Ruble invented and patented an invention known as the Ruble Rock Elevator, which increased gold production.

Golden is reported to have been a town with a population of as many as two hundred souls and there was no drinking allowed. It was a close knit and religious community. In 1900 the Bennett store was erected and in 1915 a stamp mill was built. The post office closed in 1920.

The town of Golden is now owned and managed by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation. The former mining area has been transformed into a natural wetland and is owned by Josephine County. I do not know if you are allowed to mine at Coyote Creek. The town itself is registered as a historic site.

Golden Oregon Church

Black Cat Mining Review

Black Cat Mining is mainly a online gold prospecting merchant. Most people do not know that Black Cat Mining  also has a store located in Harrisburg, Oregon. Harrisburg is located on Highway 99 East between Eugene and Corvallis not far from I-5.

Black Cat MiningBlack Cat MiningBlack Cat Mining

There has been a bit of confusion by some who have visited oregongold.net. OregonGold.net has no ties to Black Cat Mining, other than I do shop there frequently and I do advertise for them.

Eathan Mertz is the small business owner who owns Black Cat Mining and BlackCatMining.com

Eathan Mertz

Eathan Mertz of Black Cat Mining

I bought my Proline dredge through his store, where he let me make payments until I had it paid off. I also bought a Garret Ace 250 metal detector from him as well, not counting all the smaller items I have acquired. He carries several books and the Mining Journal Magazine. I have nothing bad to say about Black Cat Mining. Eathan is a very trustworthy guy.

I recently did a in-store interview with Eathan of Black Cat:

OG: How did you become involved with gold prospecting?

Eathan: I am originally from southern Oregon and my family had claims on Graves Creek. I found my first nugget when I was around eight. There was always vials of gold and black-sand in my Mothers hutch and I found it interesting. When I was older I was doing internet consulting and I really liked watching the gold shows, and I started going out.

OG: What is the best selling item this time of year? (December)

Eathan: This time of year it is rock tumblers and rock-hammers. Sluice boxes sell also, but tumblers are the most popular.

OG: What model of metal detector do you use?

Eathan: I have three. I have a older White’s Goldmaster V-SAT, a Garret Ace 250 and a Tesoro Lobo Supertraq. I bought my first detector after saving up my spare change for a couple of years. I thought it was irony to save my change to buy a metal detector to find more change.

OG: What is your preferred method of prospecting?

Eathan: I absolutely love taking a gold pan out and going crevicing, but dredging is pretty amazing. Just being out there in the outdoors and in the wilderness is half of it. Going home with some gold  is good too.

Gold Nugget

The gold nugget Eathan found when he was around eight years old.

If you happen to stop by Black Cat Mining tell them that Oregon Gold sent you. If your not in the neighborhood they do have online sells as well, just click the banner at the top of this page.

Mining Relics At Gold Hill, Oregon

Mining Relics

The Beeman-Martin House, home of the Gold Hill Historical Society’s museum. The museum is located at 504 1st Avenue in Gold Hill, Oregon and is open Thursday – Saturday, from Noon til 4 PM. For more information, please contact the society at: P.O. Box 26, Gold Hill, OR 97525, Phone: 541-855-1182

The Gold Hill Historical Society has done an excellent job preserving the mining history of the famous Gold Hill Mining District through their museum which is located in the Beeman-Martin House on First Avenue in downtown Gold Hill, Oregon. The house was originally built in 1901 by Josiah Beeman who leased and later purchased the well known Lucky Bart Mine which was located on nearby Sardine Creek. The Lucky Bart was first discovered in 1890 by Bartholomew Signorritti and Joe Cox. Beeman obtained the mine in 1892 and did well enough that he was able to build a fine two story home (which had the first indoor plumbing in Gold Hill), and was to stay in his family until 1993 when his descendants offered it to the Gold Hill Historical Society for the purpose of establishing a local museum. According to the society’s official history, the old building is presumed to be haunted after several members of their staff reported hearing heavy footsteps upstairs and there were numerous instances of the opening and closing of doors, objects being moved and pictures being “thrown” off the walls. The society affectionately refers to their ghost as “Willie”, but he did not introduce himself to me.

In addition to the usual things we see in local history displays, the Gold Hill Historical Society, has devoted a more than usual amount of space to local mining history. Though this is not only fitting and probably to be expected of such a famous gold mining district, it is not by any means typical of local historical societies here in Southern Oregon, many of which seem to regard mining as little more than a novel curiousity, if not a dirty little secret. Yet even in a town where some residents have actually began to organize against what little small scale mining does take place within their community, the volunteers here seem to take great pride in explaining how Josiah Beeman built this house with the gold he took out of the hills above Sardine Creek and how much gold was actually recovered from the nearby streams and hills. In Gold Hill, mining history finally takes center stage and although the displays
and efforts of these volunteers is still very much a work in progress, in no other place open to the public in Southern Oregon will you see as many local mining relics gathered together in one place. Admission is free, but I’m sure they appreciate donations.

Starting on the first floor of the Beeman House, we are gradually given a taste of local mining history with a set of pocket scales from the 1860’s here, an old vial of gold there and a photo here and there, but once we reach the gift shop, we are instantly confronted by all sorts of trinkets pertaining to local mining, ranging from gold panning concentrates to old photos of mines, from post cards to refrigerator magnets and right up to square nails that were saved from some old ore carts that must have rotted away on a nearby hillside somewhere. A look on the gift store book shelf and what we actually find is that the majority of their offerings have something to do with mining. For example, you can buy copies of Tom Bohmkers books on gold mining in Oregon here in the shop, booklets on panning gold and mining history, as well as copies of the Diary of Charles Anderson who was a placer miner on Foots Creek in the 1880’s.

In the stairwell (which Willie is said to frequent), we can find a number of revolving kiosks that are stuffed with local information hand outs that visitors are free to take home to study. Included are maps of the old Gold Hill Mining District, handouts on gold panning, a brief overview of local mining history, tidbits about old mining camps and much more.

From here, we head downstairs into the basement and are met with a large mining display that looks more like an old timers basement than it does a historical display. Unlike other museums, you can actually touch a lot of this stuff. Included are old mining tools, rusty gold pans, framed location notices, mining claim maps, mineral samples, miners lights and helmets, old photos, gold dust bags, a reproduction of a gold brick which was found locally and more. In one display case, there’s even a pretty nice mounted nugget that was taken from a local creek.

From here, we can go outside onto the back porch and get to the really good stuff, including the ore cars, the chilean mill, an ore crusher, several monitors, rocker boxes and of course, the 5 stamp mill from the famous Lucky Bart Mine. A brief tour follows.

Chilean Mill Trapiche

Chilean Mill

The Chilean Mill or “Trapiche”, was an improvement of the arrastre. This one was manufactured in California around 1910 and was used at the Brush Creek Mine near Downieville, California. The Rue Family brought it to their mine on Butte Creek near Eagle Point, but never used it. It is powered by electric engine and belt, seen at lower left. This machine may be the only one of its kind in Oregon. A look inside the Chilean Mill. Heavy weights were attached to the chains which were drug across the ore and slowly ground the mineralized quartz into a fine powder so that the gold could be easily separated by washing. These machines were not very efficient and worked very slow, making them suitable only for small operations.

ore crusher

This ore crusher was a big improvement on the arrastre and far more portable than a stamp mill.

rocker box

Rocker Box. The hopper appears to have originally been a fruit box.

ore car

The builder of this homemade ore car ingeniously used rounds of wood (possibly cedar) for wheels. The body looks to have been hand-hewn with a from from local timber.

Pack rat Mine Ore Car

The ore car from the Pack Rat Mine is a little more modern.

ore bucket

Ore buckets were lowered into mine shafts, filled with ore and then hoisted up top where the material could be processed. These served the same purposes as ore cars which were used to transport ore from an adit or tunnel.

5 stamp mill

This 5 Stamp Mill from Josiah Beeman's Lucky Bart Mine may be the only surviving and intact stamp mill in Southern Oregon. This one was manufactured by Union Ironworks of San Francisco in 1892 and was shipped to Oregon that same year. Built of heavy timbers that are about one foot thick, the mill is a truly imposing structure nearly 20 feet tall.

View of the mill battery. The round rods are called “stems”, while the spool shaped pieces are called “tappets”. The curved “fins” beneath the tappets are the “cams”. The bar with the horse-shoe shaped tip that is at an odd angle appears to be a “latch finger” (four more are laying at the base of the mill, uninstalled). The latch fingers, also called “lifters”, “latch bars” or “finger bars”, are used to “hang up” the tappets into place when the millman wished to stop the machine. To accomplish this, he would take a “cam stick”, which was a wooden wedge with a piece of belt on its upper side (to prevent slipping) and grease on its underside, and he would place this on top of the cam. This forced the cam to rotate at the top, which would raise the tappet higher. Once the tappet reached its peak, he would push the latch finger into place underneath tappet. This stopped the stamp from dropping without shutting the engine down and he would then repeat this process with the remaining stamps. (Note that the tappets are in the down position). As you might imagine, millmen could often be easily identified among mining crews just by counting their fingers, because if he wasn’t careful it was very easy to get his fingers or an entire hand pinched off while locking the tappets into place!

stamp mill

Stamps that crushed the ore to release the gold.

Unlike other stamp mills, this one did not rely on amalgamation plates and mercury was apparently not used at the Lucky Bart. (This is supported by DEQ reports on the site of the Lucky Bart, which have yet to turn up any mercury in the soils). Once the ore was crushed to powder, it was washed down the metal slickplate and then onto what appears to have been an early shaker table which was powered by a belt and pulley. A set of belts and wheels (which are really pulleys) make the stamps rise. Gravity makes them fall, crushing the ore.

Though this stamp mill was probably originally powered by a waterwheel, later on, this John Deere tractor engine provided the power. This engine was manufactured in 1936, so long after Josiah Beeman gave up his interest in the Lucky Bart in 1916, this stamp mill was still hard at work. When you consider that this is a tractor engine and that the top of its smokestack is about 5 feet high, it gives you a little bit of an idea of the size of this stamp mill.

All in all, a visit to the Gold Hill Historical Society is well worth the trip and a fine way to spend part of your day.

Kerby Jackson

Josephine County, Oregon


From Tom Kitchar, Waldo Mining District

BACKGROUND: Back in 2005, right after Oregon DEQ issued their new 700-PM permit for suction dredge mining, a coalition of 3 environmental organizations (NEDC et al.) filed a challenge against the new permit in the Oregon Court of Appeals claiming among other things that the new permit wasn’t restrictive enough. Shortly thereafter, the Eastern Oregon Mining Association (EOMA) filed to intervene in the NEDC challenge, and, filed a challenge of their own against the permit; claiming it was the wrong permit in the first place.

EXPLANATION: DEQ’s suction dredge permits (i.e.; the earlier 700-J and the 700-PM) are issued in part under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pursuant to Section 402 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and are “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System” (NPDES) permits. These types of CWA permits are required for any discharge from a point source that causes an “addition” of “pollutants” to the “waters of the United States”; and are typically required for such facilities as municipal sewage treatment plants and other large-scale industrial plants that discharge into waters.

However, under the CWA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has jurisdiction over the discharge of “dredged materials” through their Section 404 permitting program. Add to this, the CWA clearly states that if one is permitted by or under the jurisdiction of the USACE, no EPA Section 402 NPDES permit is required (i.e.; one or the other, but not both). This concept was most recently decided in June of 2009 by the U.S. Supreme Court when they ruled in the case of COEUR ALASKA, INC. v. SOUTHEAST ALASKA CONSERVATION COUNCIL (Nos. 07-984 and 07-990) 486 F. 3d 638:

“…a two-permit regime is contrary to the statute and the regulations.”

So which is the legally correct permit? We believe that if the discharge from a suction dredge or other forms of in-stream mining even falls under the CWA (which is doubtful), then it would be under the jurisdiction of the USACE, and not the EPA; for the following reasons:

1. There is no “addition” of anything. 100% of everything being discharged by a suction dredge is already present in the water. The courts have consistently ruled that for a discharge to be an “addition”, it must come from an outside source (such an onshore operation discharging into the water). Nor does the dredge change, in any way, the bottom sediments passed through the dredge (i.e.; the dredge does not cause the turbidity – the turbidity is caused by the movement of the streambed material and is present before the material and water even enter the intake nozzle).

2. Streambed sediments, when returned to the stream they came from, are not “pollutants”.

3. Many if not most all small streams, creeks, gulches, etc. are not “waters of the United States” but instead are waters of the State of Oregon.
THE 2009 COURT OF APPEAL RULING: On December 23, 2009, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled on EOMA’s challenge to the 2005 700-PM permit in EOMA’s favor. The court declared the permit invalid, because it did not specify what discharge was being permitted by the permit. The court stated that the discharge from suction dredges consisted of streambed sediments, and water. The court stated that discharges of streambed sediments were under the jurisdiction of the Army Corp, not the EPA . . .
And then they defied all logic (and the U.S. Supreme Court June 2009 ruling) and said that suction dredges also discharged turbid wastewater, and those discharges were under the jurisdiction of the EPA! The court ended by saying that suction dredging needed both a 402 and a 404 permit!

EOMA promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was promptly denied. EOMA then filed a petition for review of the Appeals Court decision with the Oregon Supreme Court. On September 17, 2010, the Oregon Supreme Court agreed to hear the EOMA appeal (and, unfortunately, the NEDC appeal too); with briefs due in a matter of weeks, and a hearing scheduled for mid-January 2011.

However, on September 27, 2010, the State filed a Motion to Dismiss the EOMA & NEDC appeals on the grounds that the 2005 700-PM permit had expired and had been replaced, making all appeals moot. EOMA then filed arguments against the State’s motion to dismiss. At this time, we are waiting to hear from the court to see if they will dismiss the case, or not.

MINERS CHALLENGE THE NEW 2010 700-PM PERMIT: On September 27, 2010, the Waldo Mining District (WMD) et al. filed a petition in the Oregon Court of Appeals challenging the new 700-PM permit on the grounds that it too is another NPDES permit. On the same day, EOMA et al. filed a petition in the Circuit Court of Baker County challenging the new 700-PM permit on the grounds that it is a NPDES permit; that DEQ failed to properly consult with the affected parties while drafting the permit as required by state law; that DEQ failed to recognize the use of water for mining is both a beneficial use and a public necessity, and that such use is “granted” (under state law); plus several other reasons.

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Folks, the WMD and EOMA need the financial support of every suction dredge miner in Oregon. We are fighting for YOUR RIGHTS to mine… not just ours! DEQ says there are (or were) approximately 2,000 permitted suction dredge miners in Oregon. If each of you donated just 2 dwt of gold, or $100.00, we would have more than enough funds to see us through this litigation. WE (WMD & EOMA) are actively fighting to keep what happened in California from happening in Oregon (i.e.; a prohibition on dredging).



Waldo Mining District
P.O. Box 1574
Cave Junction, OR 97523

Eastern Oregon Mining Association
P.O. Box 932
Baker City, OR 97814

Help us win…. Or forget dredging in Oregon!

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