Humbug Creek is a little known area to gold prospectors in Oregon, but in its day, it was the center of a major gold rush in Jackson County.
Today, one can access this great old gold creek by following Oregon State Highway 238 (The Williams Highway) and following Humbug Creek Road which is located just due east of the community of Applegate, Oregon. (Take note that much of this area is now private property and care should be taken to respect the rights of the property owners along the creek).
Like most creeks in Jackson County, gold was discovered relatively early on in and around Humbug Creek. In fact, enough gold was found by early miners that during the late 1850’s, a small mining camp sprung up along its banks and by March of 1860, the Humbug Mining District was established, using the following camp laws (mostly adopted from those used over the state border in Yreka, California):
The Mining Laws Of Humbug Creek
Size of Claims
Each man shall hold a claim 100 yards square by preemption and as much by purchase as he represents.
Priority of Water Rights
The oldest claim shall have the first right to the water but shall run no water by unnecessarily to keep others from using it.
Necessary Work to Hold Claim
No claim shall be considered forfeited if worked one day in every five during the time there is a good ground sluice head in the creek.
Restriction on Dams, Etc.
No person or company shall put a dam, reservoir or any obstruction in the creek, provided it is a damage to those above said obstruction.
Flood-gate for Dams to Be Kept Open
Any person or company putting in a reservoir shall have a flood gate five feet in breadth and three feet hight [sic] which shall be kept open as long as there is a good sluice head in the creek for washing up.
Recorder; Fee; When Claim Must Be Recorded
There shall be a recorder elected and he shall be allowed One dollar per claim for recording. Any person leaving the Creek to be gone two months shall have their claims recorded.
Any person or persons violating any of these resolutions or by-laws shall abide the decision of a miners’ meeting.
No Chinaman shall be allowed to purchase or hold any claim on this Creek.
Adoption of Resolutions
Resolved, the foregoing articles shall come into effect as Laws of this Creek on or after and from the twentieth day of March A. D. 1860.
J. F. Headrick, Chairman,
V. P. Comstock,
Jas. W. Mee,
Committee on Resolutions
Francis Sackett, Secretary
John Goff, Recorder.
This document was filed and recorded with the Jackson County Clerk in Jacksonville on March 24th, 1860.
Several notable mines were located in this district, including:
The Wright Mine (Lat. 42.25537, Long. -123.1442) which was a medium sized underground prospect that was active until it was shut down in 1942 by Government Limitation Order 208. In addition to gold, the Wright also yielded silver, zinc and lead.
The Nonesuch (Lat. 42.25037, Long. -123.1394) , which was also a medium sized underground mine. In addition to gold, silver was also mined in the Nonesuch. Like the Wright, it was shut down in 1942.
The Scott (Lat. 42.26117, -123.13), also a prospect of medium size, but unlike the above two, the Scott was a surface mine. Most of its activity was in the 1930’s.
The Victor (Lat. 42.27097, -123.1517), which was a well known and very profitable operation dating from before 1940. Like the Scott, the Victor was a surface mine.
The Broken Heart (Lat. 42.27007, Long. -123.1283), another medium sized underground producer.
The Ace of Hearts (Lat. 42.27757, Long. -123.1203), which was a medium sized underground operation yielding gold and silver.
The Oregon Belle (Lat. 42.28817, Long. -123.1006), which is a rather famous mine and a fine producer of lode gold. Located due east of Humbug Creek.
The Sundown (Lat. 42.28317, Long. -123.1047), yet another surface mine, located due south of the Oregon Belle. Also east of Humbug Creek.
The Grange Gulch (Lat. 42.25227, Long. -123.1208), which yielded gold and silver until 1942.
Finally are the Humbug Creek Placers (Lat. 42.26707, Long. -123.1389) which between the 1860’s and the 1940’s had many names, including the Benson Placer, the Johnston Placer, Exter, Pittock and the Kubli Ranch. This last name is attributed to Kaspar Kubli, a very early pioneer in the Applegate Valley. This last operation ran a drag line dredge up Humbug Creek.
Kerby Jackson, Josephine County, Oregon