The Blue River Mining District is primarily found in Lane and Linn Counties and consists of the Lucky Boy Group of mines and Rowena Mine (Callaghan and Buddington, 1938). The gold geology in this district is often compared to other Oregon Cascade Districts, such as Bohemia, Quartzville, and North Santiam. It is compared because of the amount of pyrite associated with gold in the quartz veins. They are also compared because the quartz veins are considered small and erratic without any explanation, such as is the case with the other districts.
The Blue River Mining District itself consists of a ridge of the Calapooya, Blue and McKenzie Rivers and is located about 45 miles east of Eugene. The ridge stands at about 4,500 ft and the north side has been heavily glaciated. On the north Calapooya side the gravel roads may be blocked by snow until June or July on most years, that lead up to the Lucky Boy Mine. At one time the Lucky Boy could be searched for hydro-quartz crystals, but from what I have been told, they do not allow explorers or gem hunters in the mines anymore.
The Lucky Boy Mine was the largest gold mine and was discovered in 1887, and produced gold between 1898 and 1915. Other mines in the area, were worked around this time period including the Great Northern, the second largest producer (approx. 1,200 ounces), Cinderella Mine, Evening Mine, Great Eastern Mine, Higgins Mine, North Star Mine, Poorman Mine, Red Buck Mine, Sochwich Mine, and Treadwell Mine. Exposure of veins are generally poor and mainly consist of trenches or outcroppings with most of the gold belt vein being hard to find, or mostly underground.
The Cinderella Mine, was mined during the 1960’s in which 5 tons of ore averaged 1.84 ounces of gold per ton and 1.18 ounces of silver per ton. The price of gold at that time prevented serious development. The new vein discovery in 1992 at the Nimrod Mine was made.
The Bohemia Mining District ranks #1 for production for all Cascade Mining Districts as far as gold production is concerned. The Blue River District is ranked #3 right behind Quartzville followed by a few other districts who barely made it onto the list. These include, (might not be worth mentioning, but mentioned in order of rank) The Buzzard Mining District, North Santiam District, the Barron District, and the Salmon Creek District. I mentioned those areas for those who want to take their chances, even though gold production was not high.
Written by Robert E. Streiff
UPDATE 6/9/2013: The gorge of the Calapooya River in Linn County is blocked by a Weyerhaeuser gate on the western side near the town of Holley. It is a shame that Weyerhaeuser would block road access to public lands, but they do pay to maintain the roads going through their property. A year ago, I did enter the area on the Blue River side and according to maps there is a connecting road on the Sweet Home side of HWY 20 although I have never found that road, and have looked a few times. Edwin Waters, webmaster, OregonGold.net