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Entries Tagged ‘Josephine County Gold’

Coyote Creek, Golden Oregon

Near the town of Wolf Creek (a town so-named for the creek that runs through it, also known for gold) is a small ghost town known as Golden, Oregon. It is easy to find and not far from I-5 in northern Josephine County. I recently took a trip to see for myself  this historical mining site on December 20, 2010.

Coyote Creek

Coyote Creek

Coyote Creek was first settled and mined around the 1840’s by white prospectors. The gold was very fine and made it hard for the men who worked the area to make a decent salary. When news of other strikes reached those working the  diggings, the area was abandoned for other areas including new strikes in Idaho. When white men left there were around thirty primitive cabins perched on upper Coyote Creek. Most miners did not stay long because it was a hard living.

Golden Oregon

Edwin Waters at Golden, Oregon

For ten years, from 1862-1872, Chinese worked the area.  Five Hundred Chinese men had moved into the area under the supervision of a contractor who had possession of the claims. The Chinese laborers made ten cents per day plus rice. Don’t feel too sad for the Chinese. This was actually a decent living at the time. A lot of gold was reported to be recovered by the Chinese, until they were driven out by white men who returned to the area in 1872.

Golden, Oregon

Golden Oregon

Merchantile at Golden

White men returned to the area and started using hydraulic means to recover the fine gold. William Ruble was struck at how efficient the process was and bought up most of the land around Coyote Creek. In 1879, large parcels of land was sold to William Ruble, both a minister and a miner. His family was struggling, so he decided to build a town. Golden was first called Goldville. The first post office was established in 1896 with Schuyler Ruble as the first postmaster. William Ruble is known to have stated “You know there is gold right under your feet , but without a more powerful way to extract it your dream will die.”

The Ruble’s could not move soil fast enough to make a profit and during the summer when the water levels dropped they could not work at all. Rather than giving up William and Schuyler Ruble invented and patented an invention known as the Ruble Rock Elevator, which increased gold production.

Golden is reported to have been a town with a population of as many as two hundred souls and there was no drinking allowed. It was a close knit and religious community. In 1900 the Bennett store was erected and in 1915 a stamp mill was built. The post office closed in 1920.

The town of Golden is now owned and managed by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation. The former mining area has been transformed into a natural wetland and is owned by Josephine County. I do not know if you are allowed to mine at Coyote Creek. The town itself is registered as a historic site.

Golden Oregon Church

Mining in Oregon Videos

This is Part 1 of a 6-part program examining the impacts of state and federal regulations and land withdrawals on the mining industry.

In this segment, a gold miner shows us the adit of a gold mine in Josephine County, Oregon, where there’s still plenty of gold in the ground but the challenge is getting it out. He also shows us one of the best places for gold panning along the Rogue River, but cautions about running afoul of the new regulations. Then a retired state geologist discusses the different types of minerals found in Southern Oregon, and why it’s so difficult for miners to extract them.

This is Part 2 of a 6-part program examining the impacts of state and federal regulations and land withdrawals on the mining industry.

In this segment, we visit the Dawg Mining SummerFest and learn about highbanking and gold panning. Then we visit the site of one of the largest and highest grade silica deposits west of the Rocky Mountains, and learn why it’s taken 24 years to get to the point where the owner of the claim has any hope of mining it.

This is Part 3 of a 6-part program examining the impacts of state and federal regulations and land withdrawals on the mining industry.

In this segment, a gold miner shows us the reclamation project he implemented at a gold mining site in Golden, Oregon, where he established a wetlands with eleven ponds, providing habitat for fish and wildlife and trails for recreation. Then the former owner of the largest mining shop in the US discusses mining and mining regulations, and their impact on the local economy.

This is Part 4 of a 6-part program examining the impacts of state and federal regulations and land withdrawals on the mining industry.

In this segment, an ex-Navy SEAL who has been instrumental in developing the suction dredge technology for placer mining in river beds talks about the environmentalists’ litigation against mining and the recently passed law that bans suction dredging in California. Then the state geologist from the Josephine County office of the Dept. of Geology and Mineral Industries discusses how the Dept. of Geology assists miners, and we learn that it is being shut down.

This is Part 5 of a 6-part program examining the impacts of state and federal regulations and land withdrawals on the mining industry.

In this segment, we visit a minig camp where a miner lives with his wife and three children. Then we meet a miner who’s family developed a process for smelting a nickel ladderite ore into a “master metal” from which any grade of stainless steel can be easily produced. He has spent 17 years fighting legal battles to be able to mine his claim.

This is Part 6 of a 6-part program examining the impacts of state and federal regulations and land withdrawals on the mining industry.

In this segment, we learn about aggregate mining, and how important it is to our economy. Then we learn more about the endless litigation tactics employed by the environmental lobbies, and how they manage to manipulate both the courts and government agencies at great cost to the mining industry and the taxpayers.

Briggs Creek – Oregon Gold Locations

Briggs Creek is not to be confused with the Briggs Pocket Mine, as they are not even close to one another. Briggs Creek is located on the western side of Josephine County. It is located in the Illinois District and had a total production  from 1852 to 1953 of 5,000 to 10,000 ounces of Oregon placer gold. That is a estimate. Upper Briggs Creek Valley, in section 7, of township 36S and range 8W, you will find the Barr Mine. This was a rich placer operation.

Along lower Briggs Creek, in the area of Red Dog Creek and Soldier Creek, there are some very rich placer gold prospecting locations. On the Northwest side of Briggs Creek, in section 24, of township 36S, and range 9W, you will find the Elkhorn placers, which were very productive.

Placer gold was discovered in Briggs Creek and it’s tributaries in 1852 or 1868 (conflicting accounts), and over 5,000 ounces of gold was recovered from the drainage area. This includes Onion Creek, Red Dog Creek, Secret Creek, Swede Creeks, as well as Briggs Creek itself. The upper part of Briggs Creek, below the Barr lode mine, was especially rich with that Oregon Gold.

Althouse Creek – Oregon Gold Locations

Althouse Creek is about 13 miles long; is located in Josephine County and feeds into the Illinois River from the Siskiyou Mountains. A section of the creek it is located about 9 miles east of Waldo. Few places in Oregon produced more placer gold than Althouse Creek, as in the early days miners lined the banks and claimed up every inch of the 10 mile stretch that was claimable. Gold was first discovered in 1852 by a man with name Althouse on the east fork, which gave it it’s name.

Althouse Creek

Althouse Creek

Browntown (the original site does not remain) was the mining center for Althouse and the surrounding mining districts in that day. A great number of large nuggets were taken from Althouse Creek as many mines from toiling miners were dug in the adjacent hillsides. So many that the hillside was said to look like a giant woodpecker had swooped down and drilled many holes into the surrounding hillsides. About three miles from Browntown on the Althouse was another town called Grass Flat, which also served as another center for the cattle trade and gold. This area in Josephine county not only had lot’s of miners but had it’s share of farmers and cattle rustlers also. After all the miner’s had to eat, and many found profit in other ways besides a pick, pan and shovel. Before long, power shovels and a dragline excavator were introduced in 1936 and they discovered that the Chinese had drift mined the area in the early days. The dragline could handle 6,000 cubic yards of gravel per day.

Grass Flat Cabin

Very old cabin near Grass Flat

Browntown Oregon

The site where Browntown once stood.

Althouse Oregon

Althouse, Oregon during the 1890's

Of greater importance in the Althouse drainage area was the Briggs Pocket Mine in the presence of large hydraulic cuts in, or near Allen, Fry, Sailor, Scotch and Waldo Gulches. The Logan Llano de Oro hydraulic cut was opened in 1874 and was worked on and off until 1945. It consumed 30 acres and produced 30,000 ounces of gold, along with some silver, platinum, and osmiridium, from gravels, which contained up to .016 ounce of gold per cubic yard.

The high gravel and deep gravel cuts were made in the same general area during the same time interval. The high gravel cut produced around 5,000 ounces of gold. The deep gravel cut covered 65 acres and produced about 14,000 ounces of gold, from gravels that produced about .0125 ounce per cubic yard. Considerable placer gold remains to be mined in the district. Near Holland, south and half a mile along Althouse Creek, in stream deposits, and in benches you can find gold colors, and nuggets. In the area along Althouse and Sucker Creeks there were extensive placers including the Llano de Oro (Esterly), Deep Gravel, Placerica, and Leonard placers. All of which were very rich, worked by thousands of miners in the 1850’s -60’s.

Holland Oregon

Holland store on the right and hotel on the left. The store is still standing today.

Gold and Geology of Josephine County


Lode Gold

The geology of  Oregon gold locations in the southwestern part of the state is complex and not fully understood, being closely associated with plate tectonics and crustal subduction. Numerous gold-quartz veins can be found in greenstone of the Triassic age (248 – 208 million years ago), which trends in belts from the southwest to the northwest parts of Josephine County. Black slate , peridotite, and serpentine of Jurassic age sometimes contain gold-quartz veins and tend to parallel the greenstone belts. Granite, diorite, and gabbro intrusive bodies can be found in many parts of the county, but are generally devoid of mineralization except where they are in contact with older rocks. Josephine County is noted for past chromium, copper and nickel production as well as gold, and exploratory work for nickel continues to this day.

The most productive lode gold mine was the Greenback Mine, which produced approx. 175,000 ounces of gold from a persistent quartz vein in greenstone. It was sunk to an incline of 1,000 feet on 12 levels. The Benton Mine was developed in gold-quartz veins in greenstone near the contact with intrusive diorite and produced 18,500 ounces of gold. The nearby Gold Bug Mine produced 37,500 ounces. Numerous other lode mines produced  between 1,000 and 13,000 ounces of gold, primarily in the period between 1893 and 1942.

Pocket Gold

Josephine County is noted for rich pockets of gold close to the surface. Some of these pockets were fabulously rich, though they were mined out quickly. The best known pocket diggings was in the Briggs Mine near the California line, where masses of gold totaling 2,000 ounces were taken out in 1904. Slabs of gold up to 3 feet in length were reportedly recovered.


A number of nuggets the size of chicken eggs have been found in placer gravels and pocket deposits. A 17 pound nugget was found in 1859 on the East Fork of Althouse Creek below the Briggs Pocket. Another nugget weighing 15 pounds was found in the gravels near the Esterly hydraulic cut in the early 1860’s. Despite the abundance of nuggets in Josephine County, most gold recovered in placer mining operations is fine flakes.

Placer Gold

Placer gold was discovered in 1850 and simple hand mining methods commenced in 1852. Before long, hydraulic methods were introduced and a number of deep cuts were made in the landscape. Placer gold can be found in stream channels, in bench gravels, and in terrace gravels up to 600 feet above the present stream levels. Old channels can be found in terrace gravels, some of which are rich. Gold is generally found at or near fractured or decomposed bedrock. Some of the bench and terrace gravels are cemented. Boulders are common in many stream gravels, and most gravels range from a few feet to over 50 feet in thickness.

Power shovels, dredges and dragline excavators were introduced around the turn of the century and were used up to 1952. Since 1960, individuals with portable suction dredges have found considerable gold in Josephine County and Jackson County to the east. Most placer work is done between February and September when streams contain sufficient water.

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