Early Jackson County
Extract from -
“Mines & Mining in the States and Territories West of the Rockies”
U.S. Commision of mining statistics, 1870
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.
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