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Entries Tagged ‘Baker City’

Where to Pan for Gold in Oregon – Beginners Guide

WHERE TO PAN FOR GOLD IN OREGON
To find gold, you should go where gold has been found before in northeast Oregon,
southwest Oregon, and the Western Cascades. These areas have many streams and rivers
that can be successfully panned for gold.

FEDERAL LANDS
Mining claims on Federal land are not open for gold panning unless permission has been
granted by the owner. However, four areas have been set aside on Federal land in Oregon
for recreational gold panning:

Area 1. Quartzville Recreational Corridor:
Located in the Western Cascades, Salem District, Bureau of Land Management (free
site). The Salem District Office address is 1717 Fabry Road SE, Salem, OR 97306, phone
(503) 375-5646.

Area 2. Butte Falls Recreational Area:
Located in southwestern Oregon, Medford District, Bureau of Land Management (free
site). The Medford address is 3040 Biddle Road, Medford, OR 97504, phone (541) 770-
2200.

Area 3. Applegate Ranger District:
Located in southwestern Oregon, Rogue River National Forest (four fee sites where there
is a charge of a dollar a day for panning in areas adjacent to campgrounds). The
Applegate Ranger District address is 6941 Upper Applegate Road, Jacksonville, OR
97530, phone (541) 899-1812.

Area 4. Wallowa-Whitman National Forest:
Located in northeastern Oregon (free sites). Forest Supervisor is located at PO Box 907,
Baker City, OR 97814, phone (541) 523-6391. Recreational gold
mining in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest are listed below:

Most campgrounds and major roads are withdrawn from mineral entry in order to keep people from tearing them up or destroying them. Currently they do not have an area specifically set aside for mining but there are lots of places on the forest service lands that are open and checking with your local Forest Service office would be a great place to start.

Camping, but “no mining” within the camp sites themselves:

a. Eagle Forks Campground, 9 mi northwest of Richland, T. 8 S., R. 44 E., Pine Ranger
District, Halfway, OR 97834, phone (541) 742-7511.

b. McCully Forks Campground, on McCully Forks Creek just west of Sumpter, T. 9 S.,
R. 36 E.; Deer Creek Campground, on Deer Creek north of Phillips Lake, T. 9 S., R. 38 E.

b.1. Powder River Recreational Area, on the Powder River just below Mason Dam, T.
10 S., R. 39 E.; all located in the Baker Ranger District, Baker City, OR 97814, phone
(541) 523-4476.

c. Antlers Guard Station, on the Burnt River, T. 11 S., R. 36 E., Unity Ranger District,
Unity, OR 97884, phone (541) 446-3351.

In addition, gold panning is permitted on nearly all streams and rivers running through
campgrounds on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and USDA Forest Service (USFS)
land in Oregon.
Maps showing locations of campgrounds may be obtained from local BLM and USFS
offices; from the Nature of the Northwest Information Center, 800 NE Oregon St. #5,
Suite 177, Portland, OR 97232, phone (503) 872-2750; or from the BLM Oregon State
Office, PO Box 2965, 1515 SW First, Portland, OR 97208, phone (503) 952-6002.

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

  
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