Quartzville is an old ghost town located in Linn County, near Sweet Home in the state of Oregon. Gold was first found here on September 5th, 1863 by a man named Jeremiah Driggs. More than a thousand people called Quartzville home during a small gold boom that followed. During this time Sweet Home grew and became the supply point for Quartzville. During that time all supplies and the gold that came from Quartzville traveled between the two towns. Everybody gave up and left sometime around 1870.
In 1888, mining resumed, only to be abandoned again by 1892.
There are no standing buildings at the Quartzville town site, just some unpaved roads that show up on a Forest Service map, most of which have been taken over by tree’s. I scoured the townsite with a metal detector, but it was pretty obvious I was not the first one there, as I did not find anything other than modern scrap.
Quartzville recieved it’s name for the quartz mines located beyond Quartzville. The mines are privately owned and dangerous, as every winter a lot of water makes it’s way into the mines and weakens the rock. I ventured back into the mines, but I did not mine. Way back in one of the mines, I found a palm sized black opal, however when I struck it with a hammer, I found it was wet and I destroyed what could have been a nice find for someone the future, once the gem had hardened. Mining stopped because it was unprofitable.
Quartzville is located on the Quartzville Backcountry Byway. There is free recreational panning and prospecting at the Yellowbottom recreational site. Most of the gold found here is very small. There is also a lot of pyrite. The nice thing is the motherlode was never found and makes for a good mystery or adventure.
At first glance it would appear that the Albany Mine just above the old town site is the would be source of the gold found in the area, however, gold is found in tributaries on both sides of Quartzville Creek. It is my opinion, that several smaller quartz deposits scattered through-out the area that are a result of this, and a few yet to be unearthed or located. Based on the amount of gold and size of the gold (mainly flour gold) in the creek itself, would seem to tell the story that if a new deposit was discovered, it would produce little per ton and would probable be unprofitable to mine.
If you live in the area it is a great place to hone your skills and to have a little fun, and to find a little color, but you most likely will not find your riches here.
A good metal detector around the miners tailings may help you find a gold specked piece of quartz left behind or overlooked by the old miners, but do not accept too find much.
There is free camping along the road in many places, where you can stay for up to two weeks at a time. But it may be hard to find a good spot during the peak summer months.
The United States government thought that this area might be profitable. During the construction of the Green Peter Dam the U.S. government secretly processed tons dirt and ore in and around Quartzville creek, before they filled the reservoir.
During the winter time, snow may block your way depending on how far up you plan to go.
Another thing about Quartzville Creek…It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, the water is always very cold.
Sept. 5th, 1863 Sept. 5th, 1863