Jeremiah Driggs filed the first gold claim on Sept. 5, 1863. By 1869, 500 claims had been filed and a stamp mill and saw mill built. A very rough, unimproved road led to the mines, and the men of Linn County were eager to pack their gear into these operating mines and get rich.
Quartzville, on the Santiam River, was a flash during the booming time of gold rush in this area. The town of 1,000, in the rugged mountains 30 long miles from Sweet Home and Foster, appeared out of nowhere. Logs lay on the stump-lined streets, where no one had bothered to move them, in the way of wagons and people arriving.
Quartzville stamp mill extracted the gold from the quartz rock. Gold was the attraction all right. When the gold was gone, the town died.
The first wagon road started at Gates, between the North Santiam River and Quartzville Creek. It was a steep, rough road that allowed wagons to bring materials and supplies in for the miners? needs.
The wild town of Bryant City, which flourished for a short time during the rush, included a ?red light? district. Bryant City was abandoned by 1870.
Two good placer mines working were the Jackass and Donaca Bar mines located on the lower drainage of Quartzville Creek. Other lesser mines also were operating until 1900, including the Lone Star and White Bull Mountain. Two other productive lode mines were the Albany and Lawler.
Despite its early success, it became apparent that the gold strike was not a rich one that would sustain many miners. The Santiam gold and silver mines were disappointing to all the Oregonians who had placed their faith in vast riches.
The Red Bull Mine was still sending men into its tunnels hoping for a new strike. More excitement came in the early 1900?s with new machinery coming to the Red Bull and White Bull mines searching again for that big rush of gold. The U.S. Mint reports the largest output of gold in 1896 was 3,938.92 ounces from the Quartzville mines.
Lewis A. McArthur reports in his ?Oregon Geographical Names? that Quartzville, Linn County, was once an important locality due to gold discoveries in the early 1860?s. The place was laid out as a town in 1864 and a stamp mill built in that year. The Oregonian, optimistic about the ?Santiam Mines? in the first few years of the 1860?s and into 1869 turned sarcastic and called it ?THE END OF A GREAT MINING SPECULATION.?
Much later, three brothers from the Aho family of Gresham came to the Quartzville mines, for many years toiling in the mountains and mines, lured by the same glittering metal that made this area a booming mining town. These brothers, Edward, Wayne and John were partners in mining ventures since the 1930?s. They had some good assays from ore samples taken from their claims. They filed three claims: the Santiam Lily in 1933; the Silver Ridge in 1935 and finally the Relief mine.
Three tunnels were located in the same general area. The Aho?s brought in a generator, a wheel barrow, mining equipment and dynamite. The assay reports didn?t mean these claims would be profitable, and Gus Hiller of the Western Mining Council and a friend agreed. Hiller hiked into the mines many times with the brothers, and warned them of the dangers of mining and using dynamite.
The brothers stayed in a cabin every summer and worked their mines as years went by. Inside the tunnel, a carbide lamp lit the way. In June 1976, the brothers lit a charge of dynamite with the lamp, the fuse was short and the three men died together in an explosion while they were exploring for the gold ore that brought them back summer after summer. A sad ending of a quest for gold.
During 1935, 11 mines were worked on three creeks in Linn County. That year small-scale gold miners in Oregon sold gold with a total weight of 4,021 ounces and a value of $140,730 to bullion buyers. Miners made an average of $1.19 a day. Five thousand ounces of silver was mined thru the years until 1980s, with 15,000 ounces of gold.
When I was a child, our families camped along the Santiam River, using gold pans to see what we could find. This was a mini-vacation and as close to a vacation as we had during the Depression years. The bonfires, the meals we cooked over the fire pit, sleeping out of doors and the mosquitoes were mostly good memories in the 1930?s.
These were great memories and we always felt the excitement of the early miners who found their fortune along this river too. The ghosts of these long-ago prospectors seemed to be hanging around for a good look at what we were doing there. But we never were afraid, just felt comfort in knowing these men had success doing long ago what we attempted too.
Bob Brandt enjoyed gold panning and climbing in and out of the old Quartzville mine shafts. He had gold fever, and his search for the yellow mineral was a strictly recreational prospect. Studying geology and the lay of the land gave Brandt an insight into how the veins of gold were lying along the river and also sheltered up on the shelves of the hills around the gold mining area. He filed a few claims in his day. His first, in 1947, produced gold that was in a flat, flaky form. He could pan all day for $1 to $1.50 worth of gold. The federal government controlled the price and in the late 1940s it was $35 an ounce.
Through years of enjoying the times spent running a small dredge, he accumulated many good specimens. Brandt had a fine collection of gold dust, nuggets and made some of it into bars of pure gold. In later years he donned a wet suit and used a suction dredge to search in crevices and beneath boulders. In 1976, Brandt?s skill at whirling and shifting the contents of a gold pan, separating heavy gold from sand, earned him the title ?state champion gold panner? at the Lane County fairgrounds.
His largest bonanza was a 2 1/2 ounce chunk of gold from a Merced, Calif. mining trip in the 1950?s. The largest single nugget ever recorded was found in Australia. The Hand of Fate nugget weighs 58 lbs. and valued at over $1 million. In the 50 years Brandt pursued the gold, he spent most of his weekends with his wife Sylvia and their two children, Jack and Ellen, with a picnic lunch and a hunger for touches of gold. He worked the rest of the week delivering mail for the Sweet Home Post Office, mostly via his bicycle. This outgoing man was well known in the community, serving on the school board, Boy Scout leader, volunteer fire department and also the City Council.
He was known in recent years as a regular at Mollie?s Bakery during coffee time with friends who gathered each morning playing a guessing game and seeing who paid for the group?s bill. Bob Brandt passed away in 1997 and his gold is also gone, but his many friends miss his humor and presence.
My family was privileged to share this pastime often; it was either panning gold or digging for rocks all over this county. Our two families accumulated Holley Blue agate, Chandler Mountain carnelian, jasper, thunder eggs, geodes from around Foster reservoir and so many more kinds of choice rocks too. The Brandt?s were our special adventuring friends. Panning no longer gives a man a day?s wages, but the thrill is still there. Yes, we were some of the ones that packed a picnic lunch to eat along the banks of the Santiam River and enjoy all the things that nature bestowed. We were all Sweet Home Rock Club members.
Active prospectors continue to dredge gold from Quartzville Creek. The precious metal has not lost its charm or interest. And in 2007, some old-timers like to play the role of prospectors, though younger people wear wetsuits that are better for the cold water of the Santiam River.
A few prized one-ounce nuggets have been found recently, which encourages people to keep looking. Today?s miners may use a White?s Electronics gold metal detector especially made for searching for gold. These are manufactured in our town.
Visit Oregon Prospecting & Rita?s Relics at 1045 Main St., where Rita sells gold pans and everything you need, and will show you how to use one. Rita also takes would-be miners to Quartzville.
Although commercial mining is over, small amounts of gold are still found in the Quartzville area; one crystallized gold specimen appeared as a small piece of lace. But seemingly no glory holes with gold nuggets are around today. Remains of the mine shafts are difficult to find, still hidden behind brush and dangerously near main roads. Beware! A sign is now erected on the site of the Bryant City-Quartzville gold rush area. Otherwise, all traces are gone of Bryant City and the buildings that once made up the community.
Oregon will never come close to matching the excitement of our neighbor to the south, California?s production of precious metals.
Quartzville is a nice warm-weather drive, but really not much to see and explore. But our memories of the ?49ers gold seekers remain and we listen for the call of another gold strike. And according the Bob Brandt, ?modern-day panners may find gold yet; the gold moves and the river rebuilds itself.?
There?s Gold in Them Thar Hills.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
How To: Gold Farming ? Quartzville Creek, Oregon
by Rick in How To
This last week I went real life Gold Farming in the Quartzville Creek area about 30 miles North East of Sweet Home, Oregon. This is Southwest of Mt. Hood and no doubt if you could get high enough you?d be able to see it. It?s also west of Mt. Jefferson.
Quartzville Creek is a public gold mining area, meaning anyone can drive up and pan the water or dredge as much as they want. Dredging permits are required and are available through the State of Oregon, and the Bureau of Land Management Office. I believe the limits is seven pounds of gold per a day, and a limit of 14 consecutive days camping in the Quartville area. There are also hundreds of private claims around here so be careful of claim markers which are usually a white post with a piece of silver tape around the top. The silver tape should include the name of the claim, it?s serial number and basic description such as ?North East Corner.? They may also include longitude and latitude lines.
By far the quickest and easiest mining method is the Gold Dredge.
The Gold Dredge consists of a simple gasoline motor and water pump. The intake hose is submerged under water and held down to minimize it pulling air. In this case it was also inside a submerged plastic bucket that helped reduce any contaminants from entering the hose.
The suction of water through the dredge nozzle creates a vacuum effect. Running the nozzle across the bottom of the river picks up all sand, small rocks, and hopefully gold or other valuable minerals. Nozzle sizes range from one inch up to 12+ inches. In Oregon the largest size that can be used is 5 inches. Either way a lot of rock is moved in a very short amount of time. Even with unclogging the hose and nozzle from rocks that slipped in side ways, several cubic yards can be moved within a few hours.
As can be seen the sluice has multiple parts, the baffles which are the brass part laying on top. The green stuff is called ?miner?s moss? and is a spongy carpet like thing. The sluice is angled so that the bigger rocks are washed out, but the smaller pieces including hopefully any gold nuggets and even gold flakes are caught in it. This duplicates the process found in nature, and is why it?s best to go on the downstream side of big rocks. Or as the pictures above, in the hollow formed between two bigger rocks.
The last step is pan the gold. This is process is exactly the same as it was 100+ years ago back in the good old days. But the pans have changed dramatically. First they are made of plastic so that they actually float in the water and are slightly less likely to get lost. They come in several colors, blue and neon green are the most common as well as traditional black. Blue and neon Green are chosen as they are not found in nature and help the gold stand out more when you?re panning for it.
The screens in the picture above are 1/2 inch screens that fit over a 5 gallon plastic bucket. Everything from the sluice is poured into the screen and shaken about until nothing is left to fall through. 1/4 inch screens are available, but most people simply pan 1/2 and smaller. Before cleaning the screen be sure to inspect it for any large gold nuggets or ANY kind of obvious mineralization. Holding it up to the sun and looking from the bottom is a good idea.
After screening everything left in the bucket is panned out. Panning is actually pretty simple but takes some real practice to get right. Slowly use the river to put water in the pan, do not worry too much as gold will almost always settle to the bottom. Swish the pan around then slowly scrape out the top layer of rocks and dirts. Repeat again and again until pretty much old sand remains. If you?re lucky you?ll find some bigger pieces of gold at this point.
Slowly and carefully pan the remaining sand. Hopefully you will be seeing mostly black sand and maybe even a few flakes of gold at this point. If so this process can be repeated until just gold is visible. If you?re impatient though, a gold wheel will actually do this process for you. But it?s only recommended if you?re coming up with a huge amount of black sand.
At this point I?d like to show you a picture of the gold I did find. Unfortunately, we didn?t get any due to a combination of equipment failure and possibly just not being in a good location despite all our searching. Keep in mind that gold is where you find it. There are many places that possibly hold gold, but not all do.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost
Rock-hounding and prospecting provide interesting alternatives to mundane vacations, particularly if you research prospects before you hound those rocks. There are different levels of rock hounding and prospecting. At one extreme, nearly 2 decades ago, a small group of geologists and prospectors decided that Canada was ripe for a major diamond discovery. They searched the barren north looking for a source for the many diamonds that had been found in glacial till over the past many decades ? and they hit paydirt making one of the greatest finds in history. An excellent book about this discovery, Barren Lands by Kevin Krajick, is highly recommended for anyone interested in diamonds, prospecting, or just a very good read about adventures.
This adventure led up to discovery of diamonds at Lac de Gras, now known to many as Ekati. It hosts one of the largest diamond mining facilities in the world and began recovering commercial diamonds in 1998 after capitalization of nearly $1 billion. Because of this mine, Canada now has other diamond mines along with hundreds of discoveries that leaped Canada from a non-producer to a country that now out-shines South Africa! A good summary on the new Canadian diamond industry was published by the Colorado
Geological Survey in a 2007 ?Diamond Deposits of the North American Craton? in their Industrial Minerals Forum book. Another paper was published by the Wyoming Geological Association in the 2008 ?Topics in Wyoming Geology?. Both are highly recommended for anyone wanting to see just how incredible this discovery of the Ekati diamonds is.
Want to see the diamond mines? You can actually fly on you computer to the diamond fields - just go to GoogleEarth and type a search for the ?Ekati airport? or ?Ekati diamond mine?, and you should find yourself looking in one of the most desolate places on earth that has circular pits. These distinctly circular open pits did not exist prior to 1998 and the reason they are circular is because most diamond pipes are just that ? circular diamond pipes that look like carrots in cross section. But we all cannot spend our weekends searching the tundra of Canada for diamonds or the extreme outback of Australia for gold, so we need to focus on regions around us to find treasures left by Mom Nature.
If you're not so inclined to risked the mosquito-infested tundra of Canada, just drive to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas and dig for that one gem you've been looking for all of your life - and you don't even have to leave the pavement. Glenn Worthington wrote a book about finding diamonds in Arkansas and describes how and where to dig for diamonds. The book, Genuine Diamonds Found in Arkansas provides stories about the discoveries of diamonds in that state as well as information about the Uncle Sam - a 40.23 carat diamond - the largest found in the US to date.
Or drive to Colorado and tour the Budweiser plant or Coors facility on your way to the diamond fields north of Ft. Collins Colorado - where more than 130,000 diamonds were found in several kimberlites that extend across the border to Wyoming. Gem-quality diamonds including two weighing >28 carats were found here. Just recently, 300 depressions were found north of Ft.Collins by one prospector. The interesting feature about these depressions is that most mimic the characteristics of kimberlites (diamond pipes) found elsewhere in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming and in the tundra up north! So who found these?
Want to to be a rock hound or a prospector? It takes a little training but if you get good at it, you can become wealthy beyond your dreams. Just ask Chuck Fipke, the geologist who was responsible (with others) in finding one of the richest diamond mines on earth at Ekati. Start your new hobby by looking for a couple of books, but there is nothing better than on-hands experience. So get out and start picking up rocks and learn what they are.
One place appears to provide more prospecting and rock hounding opportunities than any other location for rock hounds, prospectors, mineral collectors. Wyoming! Once a haven for cowboys, Wyoming was considered the poorest of all states for gemstones and rocks until recently ? so what happened?
It started in 1975. Jade was king. Impressive jade boulders were found near Jeffrey City, but otherwise, nothing of note had been found in the cow pastures of Wyoming other than a few agates, jasper, coal, oil, gas, bentonite and uranium. Then Dr. Mac McCallum and Chuck Mabarak from Colorado State University sampled a newly discovered kimberlite (diamond) pipe in Wyoming. A rock was sent to the US Geological Survey - Eureka! Several tiny microscopic diamonds were found by accident! McCallum went on to make a name for himself and became respected internationally as one of the top diamond researchers in the world - so Colorado State University gave him the boot. Politics! Dr. McCallum also brought to light that Wyoming had a major palladium and platinum deposit at the New Rambler west of Laramie. So, the seeds were planted and discoveries began to be made.
Wyoming never looked back after these discoveries. Another geologist came on the scene. Just like Chuck Fipke in Canada, this geologist dreamed of treasure. Professor Dan Hausel with the Wyoming Geological Survey became known as a discoverer. For the next 30 years, he made new discoveries nearly every year! Imagine one person making new discoveries over 3 decades in a place where only the deer and the antelope roamed. We'll just refer to him as the Professor. He put Wyoming on the map!
People usually get the impression everything has been found. Not so! Discoveries were made in Wyoming every year from 1977 to 2007 because of the Professor. When he left Wyoming - the discoveries dried up - not a single discovery has been made since 2007! But the Professor was not alone. Other geologists made discoveries including Ray Harris, Robert Houston, and J.D. Love!
Diamonds were accidentally discovered, then more than 40 deposits were found along the Colorado-Wyoming border which gave up more than 130,000 diamonds (including sizable diamonds weighing more than 28 carats). More than 600 anomalies were found by the Professor and suggest Wyoming, Colorado and Montana are underlain by a diamond province of unparalleled size. Now here's where you come in. As a prospector and rock hound, start researching these and Walla - you may become the next DeBeers!
Back to the Professor. While working for an international diamond company, he found another group of 50 depressions along Interstate 80, within sight of the state capitol. Are these diamond pipes? They sure look like they could be. But they still have not been drilled or sampled.
Earlier, the Professor was looking for diamonds in the Leucite Hills near Rock Springs but he found another gemstone everyone else missed. Peridot! He took 13,000 carats along with many angry ants from their anthills and from an outcrop at Black Rock - this was the first time peridot had been found in Wyoming!
The professor noted that the diamond pipes in the State Line area as well as some newly discovered pipes at Cedar Mountain to the southwest of the Leucite Hills had other gemstones that everyone again missed. Beautiful gem pyrope known as Cape Ruby in South Africa, spessartine garnet, and gem-quality chrome diopside (known as Cape Emerald) and chrome enstatite that is impossible for a novice to tell from emerald. Many gemstones and gold were found.
In 1981, he predicted gold would be found near Casper - simply by studying the geology. This became one of the more impressive finds in the past century and will end up in a major gold mine in Wyoming. Imagine you are a gold prospector. You find a gold deposit! How do you feel? Well the professor not only found a gold deposit, he found a whole new gold district that everyone else missed. A gold district has many gold deposits and the Professor predicted this one would have a major gold deposit along with many other gold deposits. This became known as the Rattlesnake Hills district. Geologically, it is what geologists call a greenstone belt (also known as gold belts in Australia, Canada and Africa). Not only did the professor find the Rattlesnake Hills greenstone belt, he found gold at several locations. And he also mapped the South Pass greenstone belt and Seminoe Mountains greenstone belt and found gold in the Elmers Rock greenstone belt. We may never know how many gold deposits the Professor found, but it is clear he found many dozen!
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost