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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

Gold In Jackson County

Early Jackson County

Early Jackson County

Extract from -

“Mines & Mining in the States and Territories West of the Rockies”
U.S. Commision of mining statistics, 1870

СHAРТЕR XXIX.
JACKSON COUNTY.

I am indebted for much valuable information concerning this county to Mr. Silas J. Day, of Jacksonville, whose character and long acquaintance with the neighborhood give ground for confidence in the correctness of his statements, many of which are also confirmed by my personal observation.

The population of the county is about six thousand six hundred, of whom six hundred are Chinese, principally engaged in mining. The number of white miners, according to the books of the county assessor, is five hundred. The latter receive, when hired, from $2.50 to $3 coin per day. The wages of a Chinese laborer are $1.25 to $1.50 per day, or $35 per month.

The following is a brief account of the principal mining districts in the county:

Jacksonville district, including both forks of Jackson Creek and its tributaries, was organized in 1851. The mines hitherto worked have been placers, with some coarse gold.

Applegate Creek, ten miles in a southerly direction from Jacksonville, is a considerable stream, on which a saw-mill has been erected. It is a tributary of Rogue River. The district of this name was organized in 1853. The mining operations on Applegate Creek have been quite extensive. The gold is found mainly on the “bars” of the creek, which for a distance of four miles were very rich. They are now principally worked by Chinese. Water is obtained from a large ditch brought from the creek four miles above the bars, and now owned by Kasper Kubli.

Sterlingville district, about eight miles due south from Jacksonville, was organized in 1851. This has been, and is still, a thriving mining camp. The gold in the placers is coarse. The supply of water, however, is limited, as there is no ditch in the district which taps any considerable stream.

Bunkum district, on the other hand, a southern extension of Sterlingville district, has an abundant supply of water during most of the year, brought in three ditches from the North Fork of Applegate Creek.

Foots Creek district was organized in 1853. The stream from which it takes its name is a tributary of Rogue River, situated about fifteen miles northwest from Jacksonville. The mines are coarse gold diggings.

Evans’s Creek and Pleasant Creek districts are contiguous to each other, about ten miles north of Foot’s Creek. The coarse gold diggings of these districts are worked principally by the hydraulic process, for which the necessary supply of water is furnished by the streams named in abundance during the rainy season. Both these districts were organized in 1856.

Forty-nine diggings, eight miles southeast from Jacksonville ; organized in 1858. The gold is inferior in quality, and worth only about $12 per ounce. Water is supplied by a ditch from Anderson and Wagner Creeks.

The mining laws of all these districts are copied from those of Yreka, in California. The tax on foreign miners (by which only the Chinese are understood) is $10 annually per capita. There is also an annual poll-tax of $5 on all mulatoes, Chinamen, and negroes.

The first discovery of gold in Jackson County is said to have been made in the autumn of 1852, by James Cluggage, on Rich Gulch, a tributary of Jackson Creek. Both in the gulch and in the creek large nuggets were, in the earlier days of the mining industry of this neighborhood, frequently found. One piece of solid gold, worth $900, was taken from the latter stream, and many were obtained ranging in value from $10 to $40, and up to $100. These discoveries led to the development of a considerable mining industry, in which, however, no great amount of capital was invested. The claims in the county are, with the exception of the bars and a few quartz claims, mentioned below, generally placer and gravel diggings. The heavy wash gravel ranges from two to twelve and even twenty feet in thickness, and contains a large amount of stones, and even rocks of considerable size. This is especially the case on Jackson Creek. The bed rock is slate or granite—the former predominating. Water is supplied principally by the rains of the wet season, which swell the local streams. There are few mining ditches in the county, and none of great magnitude, the length being generally from one to four miles, and in no case exceeding the latter figure. The mines are therefore directly dependent upon the duration of the season of rains. This lasts usually from December 15 to June 1. The mining season for the year ending June 30, 1869, was, however, here, as elsewhere, a very short one, owing to the extreme dryness of the winter. The season opened about the loth of January, and was over by the middle of May. When I visited the county, early in August, nothing was doing except by some of the Chinese, who were painfully overhauling the dirt heaps and carrying the earth to water. The average annual product of Jackson County in gold dust for the last five years has been, according to good authority, $210,000. I estimate the product for the year ending June 30, 1868, in spite of the brevity of the season, at $200,000, since the patient labor of the Chinese, of whom there are a considerable number working for themselves, has made up the deficiency of the season. They have produced not less than $75,000 during the year referred to. The product for the calendar year 1868 is practically the same as I have given, since the period of active operations fell wholly within 1869.

Some very rich quartz ledges have been discovered in this county, and I do not doubt that this, like so many other placer-mining regions, will eventually become the scene of extended deep-mining operations. No quartz veins, however, so far as I could learn, have been worked in Jackson County with capital, perseverance, and judgment adequate to fully prove their values, though in several instances large profits have been realized from operations near the surface.

One of these instances is presented by the celebrated Gold Hill vein, situated ten miles northwest of Jacksonville, and discovered in January 1859. The ore is white, almost transparent quartz, and, in the pocket first exposed, was highly charged with free gold. Some rock taken from the ledge was so knit together with threads and masses of gold that when broken the pieces would not separate. The vein was worked rudely for a year, and the ore crushed principally in an arrastra. The sum of $400,000 was thus extracted, besides a large amount of extremely valuable specimens, one of which was presented by Maury and Davis, merchants of Jacksonville, to the Washington Monument, and now, I am informed, occupies a place in that structure. But the pocket became exhausted ; subsequent operations failed to find paying rock, and the work has been suspended for some years. The property is now owned by a few shareholders, who intend to resume mining at some future time.

The Fowler lode, at Steamboat City, twenty miles from Jacksonville, is also at present lying idle. This ledge was very rich near the surface, where the rock was considerably disintegrated. The contents of a rich chimney or pocket were extracted, and crushed in arrastras run with horse-power. Major J. T. Glenn, one of the owners, says $350,000 were taken out.
Arrastras were erected at a ledge on Thompson’s Creek, a tributary of Applegate, to work the ore extracted, but the rock did not pay, and it was finally abandoned. The Khively ledge, on a tributary of Jackson Creek, has had a similar history.
At present there is but one quartz vein worked in the county. It is being developed by a few men as a prospecting scheme. They carry the quartz about a mile, to the Occidental mill, where they have already had about 100 tons treated, realizing about $1,000, or $10 per ton.

There are three quartz mills in the county, all driven by steam. The Jewett mill, on the south side of Rogue River, was erected sir years ago in connection with a ledge of the same name. It had eight stamps, and 32 horse-power. The investment was not profitable, professedly because the gold was too fine to be saved, and the mill is not a steam saw-mill. A mill similar to the foregoing was put up seven years ago at the forks of Jackson Creek. It cost $8,000, and was intended for custom work, but did not pay, and is now owned by Hopkins & Co. as a sawmill.

The Occidental mill, on the right fork of Jackson Creek, was built four years ago by a company at a cost of $10,000. It has ten stamps, and 40 horse-power, was made at the Miner’s foundry, San Francisco, and has a daily crushing capacity of 20 tons. The machinery includes two rotary pans.

The cost of mining materials in this county is not excessive. Lumber is worth at the mill from $18 to $22.50 per thousand feet, according to quality ; quicksilver, $1 per pound ; blasting powder, 33 cents per pound. Freight is generally shipped from San Francisco to Crescent City, California, and hauled from there in wagons to Jacksonville, at a total expense, including commissions, incurance, etc., of about 5 cents per pound. This enhances the cost of machinery and of some supplies. As a general rule, Jackson County receives no freight overland from Portland or Sacramento.

There are several good salt springs in the county. One at the headwaters of Evans Creek has been worked with profit for several years past by Messrs. Brown and Fuller. The salt is said to be white and pure, and commands a good price in the local market. Two beds of mineral coal have been discovered in the county. One on Evans Creek, about ten miles from the salt-works, produces a superior coal, which is used by the blacksmiths of the county. It is comparatively free from shale, and is locally known as anthracite. The bed is owned by Mr. R. H. Duulap, of Ashland. Large quantities of iron ore occur in many places throughout the county, on the surface of the ground. Some specimens from Big Bar, on Rogue River, were analyzed in San Francisco, and found to be quite pure. Cinnabar is reported, but not in paying quantity, from Missouri Gulch, a tributary of Jackson Creek.

NOTES:

There is a lot of information presented here, some of it quite accurate, some of it less than accurate. And unlike the previous section on Josephine, quite a lot has actually changed especially in regards to gold mining in Jackson County.

One item which is inaccurate, pertains to the first discovery of gold in Jackson County, which the above article reports was made by James Cluggage in the Fall of 1852 on Rich Gulch, which is described as a “tributary of Jackson Creek”. For starters, as I mentioned in the previous article (“A Rich Strike at Rich Gulch“), James Cluggage had a partner. His name was John R. Poole, and he and Cluggage owned a company called Jackass Freight. Secondly, they actually made their discovery in late December 1851 or early January of 1852 and Rich Gulch is actually a tributary of Daisy Creek and not Jackson Creek. (Cluggage and Poole did, however, extend their search to Jackson Creek and inside of a month, this creek was crawling with miners. As late as the 1950’s, Jackson Creek was still being heavily worked on a large scale and yielding good returns.)

Another inaccuracy is the mention of the Jewett Mill, which though the author was correct about its description, it was actually located on Mt. Baldy here in Josephine County – about five miles west of the Jackson County line. As well, though it may not have been profitable in 1870, the Jewitt Mine and its mill later became a major lode mine in this county. There are still active gold mines on Mt. Baldy today, but the activity is restricted to small operations.

Surpsingly, the author neglected to mention the Humbug Mining District, which was established March 24th, 1860 (see my previous entry). Also neglected was the Kane Creek Mining District (established November, 1860), the JackAss Creek Diggings District (March 1860, which mostly duplicated the Humbug District laws), the Lower JackAss Creek District (1863), the notorious Wines Camp District (1867), Boardman’s Diggings District (1867) and the Union Town Disrict (1870).

The Applegate River (often reffered to as a “creek” in old literature) is still a major gold bearing waterway, along with the following gold bearing tributaries (all located on the Jackson County side) and listed in order, from east to west:

Elliot Creek, Carberry Creek, Manzanita Creek, Grouse Creek, Squaw Creek, French Gulch, Kanaka Gulch, Kinney Creek, Mule Creek, Palmer Creek, Beaver Creek, Star Gulch, Flume Gulch, China Gulch and Boaz Gulch, all located south of the Little Applegate River, which enters the Applegate River in Section 10 of 39 South, 3 West. This section of the Applegate contains the majority of modern day gold mining activity. At Tunnel Ridge and Little Applegate, there are two public gold panning areas maintained by BLM. (download brochure here)

The Little Applegate River and its tributaries, historically, was a major gold bearing area encompassing both the Sterlingville and Buncom Districts. As most of this area is today private, little to no mining takes place in this area now. It should also be noted that the gold in this particular area contains quite a lot of of silver and often has a whiteish color (hence the local name Sterling). As a consequence, gold from this vicinity fetches a much lower price than the area listed above.

Downstream of the Little Applegate, the following tributaries are also gold bearing:

Rock Gulch, Spencer Gulch, Bishop Creek, China Gulch, Matney Gulch, Long Gulch, Chapman Creek, Keeler Creek, Humbug Creek, Thompson Creek, Ferris Gulch and part of Slagle Creek.

This is not meant to include the gold bearing Applegate tributaries located in Josephine County.

Kerby Jackson, Josephine County, Oregon

Jackson County Oregon Gold

Oregon gold mining had it’s very beginnings in historic Jackson County. The first gold discovery in the county was in 1852 on Jackson Creek. Jackson County is a placer miner’s dream. The county produced over 500,000 ounces of placer gold. Each summer sees very many amateur and professional gold dredgers trying to strike it rich.

As 49ers from California moved north, gold was first found on Jackson Creek.

As 49ers from California moved north, gold was first found on Jackson Creek.

Applegate River

There are numerous hydraulic placers along this river. Below the old hydraulic mines is an excellent place to dredge as most of the mines lost 40% of the gold that went through the sluices. Also try the tributaries Forest, Sterling, Humbug and Thompson Creeks. All of these streams were excellent producers.

Ashland

In the Ashland area, all the creeks have Oregon gold in them. Some of the better locations are Bear, Ashland, Anderson, Wagner, Arrastra Creeks and Yankee and Horn Gulches.

Central Point

At Willow Springs on Willow Creek there were some very nice placers.

Elk Creek

Near the head of Elk Creek in T31S R2E section 29 is the Al Sarena (Buzzard) Mine. Elk Creek has produced considerable amounts of placer gold.

Gold Hill

All the area creeks produce gold. Some of the better locations are: Foots Creek, Sam Creek, Galls Creek, Sardine Creek, Kane Creek, Evans Creek and Pleasant Creek. The Gold Hill pocket near the top of the hill was the most famous of all gold pocket discoveries. It had the mass of nearly pure gold in a very few cubic feet of earth. Numerous other pocket locations in the area.

Jacksonville

Along Jackson Creek as written above had spectacular discoveries. Also along Sterling Creek. Almost all the creeks in the area contain gold.

Phoenix

Along Bear Creek there were some extensive early placers, still being worked today.

  
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