In 1861, Henry Griffin discovered gold in Griffin’s Gultch and the great finds of Baker County began. Baker County is responsible for two thirds of the gold found in Oregon. Extremely rich placer deposits and discoveries of near-by lodes have generated over 2,000,000 ounces of gold produced in Baker County.
The Connor Creek District
Connor Creek district produced over 100,000 ounces of lode gold and 10,000 ounces of placer gold to date. Along Connor Creek you can find some very rich placers. Also on Connor Creek you will find The Connor Creek Gold Mine which produced free gold associated with pyrite.
In Blue Caynon, there were some rich early day placer gold deposits.
If you go south of Baker a few miles you will find Griffin Gulch. This was the site of the first gold discovery in Baker County. The Baker District alone produced over 37,000 ounces of gold. Half of that came from placers.
If you go southwest by 4-6 miles from Baker you will find the Dale Mine in the west 1/2 of section 22. The Dale Mine produced free milling gold. In upper Washington Gultch, in sections 20 and 29, you will find The Stub (Kent) Mine which produced lode gold. At the south end of Elkhorn Ridge in most stream gravels you will find some placer gold.
West of Baker by 6 miles in Township 9S and Range 39E you will find Salmon and Marble Creeks. These creeks had rich early placers, especially by the Nelson Placer. On Salmon Creek, above the Nelson placer diggings, in the SW1/4 section 8 you will find the Carpenter Hill Mine. This was a large producer lode mine. In NE1/4 section 7, in McChord Gultch you will find the Paine-Old Soldier Group of mines (Yellowstone). These mines had a total production of 100,000 ounces of lode gold.
East of Baker by 10 miles, near Virtue Flat, you will find the Virtue District. This district produced over 100,000 ounces of lode and placer gold. All area gultches leading up to the Virtue Mines and White Swan Mines containing abundant placer gold. There are a lot of other productive mines in the area. e.g. (the Brazos, Flagstaff, Hidden Treasure, Carroll B. Cliff, Cyclone, ect.)
Northwest of Baker about 15 miles on the north side of Elkhorn Ridge in upper drainage of Rock and Pine Creeks is the Rock Creek District. The district produced over 60,000 ounces of gold. On the North Fork of Pine Creek, you will find the Baisley-Elkhorn mine. This mine was a principal producer discovered in 1882, with over two miles of underground workings. Two miles west of the Baisley-Elkhorn mine in the Rock Creek drainage is the Highland and Maxwell mines, which were also major producers of lode gold. The Chloride Club, and Western Union mines were all minor producers.
The Homestead district is located on the east end of Route 86, 67 miles northeast of Baker. The Homestead district is on the Snake River. Here you will find the Iron Dyke Copper Mine which has a total gold production of around 35,000 ounces of gold as a byproduct of the copper mine.
23 miles southwest of Baker on US 30, you will find the Burnt Creek District. This district had a total production of at least 50,000 ounces of lode gold and 3,500 ounces of placer gold. You can find gold in all Burnt River tributary streams and gulches. Shirttail Creek was especially rich.
Southeast of Durkee by 6 to 12 miles, you will find the Weatherby District, straddling US 30 along the Burnt River. North of the highway, along Chicken and Sisley Creeks was some very important placers and lode mines to Oregon gold mining history.
If you go Southwest from Durkee about 15 miles to the ghost town of Rye Valley, at the heads of Basin Creek and the south fork of Dixie Creek you will find a very rich area that produced over 200,000 ounces of gold out of both placer and lode sources.
Fifty miles west of Baker you will find the Greenhorn District. This is located near the ghost town of Whitney in the east part of the Greenhorn Mountians, with some overlap into Grant County. This district produced over 90,000 ounces of lode gold and 15,000 ounces of placer gold. Most of the streams and gultches around Winterville, Parkerville, and McNammee gultches have had productive placers.
52 miles east of Baker on Route 8, near the old ghost town of Cornucopia at the head waters of Pine Creek there was over 300,000 of lode and placer removed. Pine Creek and tributaries are very rich.
36 miles southwest of Baker on Route 7, the upper Burnt Creek District, produced about 10,000 ounces of lode and placer gold. All tributaries to Burnt Creek are very rich.
18 miles northeast of Baker on Route 203, you can find many very rich streams. Big Creek, Eagle Creek, Powder River, Clover Creek, Balm Creek and Goose Creek all had very rich placer operations at one time.
40 miles east of Baker on Route 86, along the west drainage of the Snake River between the mouths of the Burnt River and the Powder River you can find some rich Oregon placer gold areas.
Sumpter area is by far the richest placer ground in Baker County. Over 300,000 ounces of placer gold came from the PowderRiver area and tributaries. The Powder River Valley was completly dredged 8 miles by 1 mile wide by bucket dredges. Cracker Creek, McCully fork has extensive placers as well. Buck and Mammoth gulches were very rich. There are thousands of old lode mines in the area, some at elevations of 8,000 feet.