The placer deposits indicate the extent of the gold belt of Eastern Oregon, being widely scattered over the whole area, from the sands of the Snake River on the east to the gravel bars of John Day River on the west. They were the first deposits discovered by the pioneer miners and yielded millions in the early days.

Extensive gold mines had been worked in Southern Oregon since 1849. The placer mines of the Rogue River had yielded tens of millions of dollars of the precious metals, and many of them were profitably worked. Eastern Oregon, since 1862, had closely followed, if , indeed, it had not exceeded Southern Oregon in gold productions. The mines of Grant and Baker Counties had ranked among the best of the whole Pacific Coast during the 19th century.

Though the old placers were considered practically exhausted in the late 1800’s, new ones from time to time were discovered, and a very large amount of gold was annually produced from them. In addition to placer mines, quartz gold mines and silver mines were worked, and there was a large output of gold and silver from them.

Old-timer panning on a stream

Old-timer panning on a stream

Approximately three-fourths of the gold produced in Oregon has come from lode and placer deposits in the Blue Mountains geomorphic province, which occupies much of the northeastern part of the state. The deposits lie in a region named by Lingren (1901) “the gold belt of the Blue Mountains.” The belt is about fifty miles wide and a hundred miles long, extending from John Day on the west to the Snake River on the east. The principal mining areas are in Baker and Grant Counties, and in adjacent parts of the Malheur and Union Counties. All the lode deposits are in pre-Tertiary rocks believed to be associated with Jurassic-Cretaceous dioritic intrusions.

Oregon’s Best Kept Little Secret

The northeastern quarter of Oregon is, without a doubt, Oregon’s best-kept little secret. The area is lush in scenic beauty and gold mining history and, is richer in mineral wealth than most people know it to be. Oregon has produced in excess of $250,000,000 worth of mineral products since 1850.

The Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge mined $4,500,000 in gold at the price of $35 per ounce. The irony is most of the gold is still there.

The Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge mined $4,500,000 in gold at the price of $35 per ounce. The irony is most of the gold is still there.