December 4, 1861: Walla Walla News - A man by the name of Wiser from Benton County, took out $5,000 in two days in Baboon Gulch, Salmon river diggings.
The Washington Statesman made its first appearance at Walla Walla on Friday 1st.
Provisions are very high at Oro Fino. Flour 30 cents per pound; bacon, sugar and apples, 50 cents per pound.
Nine men, packers, came down on the Julia with from $50,000 to $60,000 in hand, the result of their summer's work in the mines. Tracy & Co.'s express brought down $45,000. The whole amount which was brought down by the Julia was about $150,000.
October 28th, 1861: On the 13th inst. as Crayton, Bledsoe, D.C. Coleman, and others seven in all, had reached about eight miles on the Salmon River trail, beyond the Cold Springs, they were stopped by Eagle of the Light with a party of about 60 men, 40 of whom were Snake Indians and the balance Nez Perces. Eagle of the Light positively forbid them to cross his country, and threatened death if they persisted, and declared that he was going to drive all the whites out of his country. Crayton who spoke Nez Perces somewhat argued with him for an hour, but to no purpose. The Indian's determination was fixed. Whereupon the party returned a short distance and camped to wait for the miners to come up so that their force would be strong enough to push their way through. Since that time I have not heard that the party has moved.
From the Oregonian of March 31, 1862: H. Miller writes to the Walla Walla Statesman under date of Florence, January 14:
"Scarcely a miner here would stay by a claim if he were not sure that it would pay him $25,00 [sic] a day in good weather. During the Fall, when rockers could be used to advantage instances of miners making from $300 to $500 a day were common and less than $50 was not spoken of. As high as 140 ounces a day have been taken out.
"The body of a man was found a short time ago on Camas prairie partially devoured by the wolves. No doubt Spring will disclose the bodies of many who have perished there."
A party of roughs recently attempted to trample on the mining laws in Florence in a disputed claim affair when suddenly about 200 resolute men armed with rifles and shotguns came down upon them unawares and immediately put a stop to their malicious designs.
January 31, 1862: A letter from Florence, Salmon River, dated December 22, to the Mountaineer, contains this interesting item:
"Another rich claim has been opened by Messrs. Wilson & Tolly on Summit Flat near town, in which two men with a rocker are averaging from 75 to 100 ounces per day. Warren & Co., are also doing well about 50 yards from here, making about $100 to $500 per day to the man and others doing nearly as well. Claims that pay from $20 to $50 per day to the man sell for $300 to $500. Flour is selling at from 50 to 75 cents; bacon, 75 cents to $1, and good supply on hand. Weather very cold, and tonight snow is falling fast; it is now about two and one-half feet deep. Yet pack trains are arriving daily and there is no fear of scarcity of provisions this Winter."
Mr. Wiser of Yamhill, is a successful miner. Last Fall with two others, he purchased a gold claim on the Salmon river, for which the company agreed to pay $6,000. They worked the claim two months, and his part of the gains was $12,000. He left the claim with his partners, who will work it this Winter, if they can, and at any rate keep off trespassers. He estimates that the claim will be worth to each of the partners at least $100,000.
From Mr. L. Day, Tracy & Co.'s express messenger, who arrived last night on the Julia, we learn that he brought $30,000 in gold dust; also that news had been received from Powder River that diggings had been struck at that locality paying from 10 to 20 ounces per day to the hand, and that the gold is very coarse, much resembling the California stock.
The Dalles, February 6, 1862.
"Mr. Jones arrived yesterday with the express all right. Seven men arrived last evening from Walla Walla, part of them with feet badly frozen. They left Mr. Brown of Walla Walla on the road between John Day's and the Deschutes, exhausted. They buried him alive in the snow, but with both feet frozen. Messrs. Palmer and Hatchet went from Deschutes to his assistance, but returned last evening without find [sic] him. Brown had about 30 pounds of gold dust with him. The party left William Albright at John Day's with 450 express letters and 70 pounds of dust.
Mr. Jones left here this evening with two men to bring the express through and if possible, to find and bring in Mr. Brown. This man is of the firm of Brown & Stanifore.
"A party arrived this evening from Grande Ronde. One of them found Brown on the road and slept with him all night [4th] left him at 10 A.M., [5th] buried in the snow and alive, but unable to use his feet at all. There are reports of others frozen on the road, but none definite. No snow in Grande Ronde Valley. Frozen men all doing well. Moody will have all the toes of his right foot taken off tomorrow by Dr. H.L. Roberts."
Mr. Schriver, from the Grande Ronde, as late as the 12th of January, brings a letter from which are made these extracts:
"All the settlers in here now live at one place, for protection from the Snakes. There are five log houses here, ten men, two women, and eight children, who comprise all the actual settlers in the valley. Ten or twelve men are wintering at the Powder River mines, to be ready for operations in the Spring. I have seen good prospects from there. Mr. Coffin, of Portland is going to build a mill here. They have got the millsite taken up and some improvements on it."
"Walla Walla: Great distress exists here on account of the severity of the weather. A number of the stores and saloons are closed, for the reason that the proprietors are unable to procure wood to keep them warm. Wood is selling at $30.00 per cord; flour $24.00 per barrel; board $15 per week, and other things in proportion.
All along the road between the Dalles and Walla Walla provisions are almost exhausted. On the Umatilla and at Willow Creek the settlers are living exclusively on beef, and must continue to do so until relief can be sent to them from The Dalles.
January 20, 1862: From the Mountaineer extra of January 20th: On Monday last, about noon, John James, Esq., in charge of Tracy & Co.'s express, arrived at The Dalles, bringing with him 300 pounds of treasure and a large number of letters. From Mr. James we learn many particulars of the ill-starred trip in which Jagger, Allphin, and Davis lost their lives and so many others suffered untold horrors.
On Sunday morning, January 12, Messrs. James Gay, W.H. Moody, F.M. Allphin, and Pat Davis started out to reach the Deschutes on foot. After incredible suffering the first two succeeded in reaching their destination. The party had not made more than four miles from the John Day when Mr. Allphin gave out and lay down by the side of the trail. Mr. Davis proceeded probably a mile further, when he became exhausted and turned back. Neither of these men have since been heard from and the probabilities are that they died that night.
On Wednesday, January 15, Messrs. J. Mulkey, T.S. Jeffries, H. Wellington, Wm. Riddle, Dougal McDonald, J.E. Glover, C. Nichols, H.S. Miles, and I.E. Jagger left John Days for the Deschutes. They were out two days and two nights. Jagger was the first one of his party that gave out. He was left on the road, about 15 miles from the Deschutes, and, although not frozen, was utterly exhausted. Mr. Wellington, the last man, left him at daybreak on the 16th. Of this party Niles is the only one that escaped uninjured. Messrs. Riddle and Jeffries are frozen all over, and the balance suffered greatly in their hands, feet, and ears. Jagger, without doubt, has perished.
"Gold, many hunted; sweat, bled and died for gold."
"The Days of old, the days of Gold
Have passed away as a tale that is told;
But their memory dear will linger still,
And brighter grow down life's long hill.
In forty-nine, and the days of old,
You dug your wealth from the Mountains bold,
But the days of old, and the days of Gold,
Have passed away, as a tale that is told."
The foregoing is the history of primitive placer mining in Oregon. After the shallow placers were worked out by pans, rockers, and sluices, then came the larger operators with hydraulic pipes, giants, reservoirs and long canals to bring in water to wash down vast deposits of gold bearing gravel in hills and bench deposits. And after that came the last and most perfect work of man's inventive ability to find and reclaim the grains of gold from mother earth - the power dredge. This aggregation of steam power, dredges, elevators, rockers and screens floating boatlike in a channel excavated by the great machine itself is now at work not only in Oregon but all over the world wherever placer gold is found in quantities which justifies the expenditure of building a dredge that may cost fifty or one hundred thousand dollars.
After the shallow placers were exhausted the miners turned their attention to the discovery of the sources from which the placers were fed - the veins of gold bearing quartz in the hills. Much money has been expended in Oregon in sinking shafts, running tunnels and building mills to crush the gold bearing rock that has been lost because the vein deposits would fail, the ore prove refractory, or too poor to work at a profit. The greatest discovery, and one which has enabled miners to work over at a profit piles of tailings from abandoned mines and quartz mills and work low grade and refractory ores, is what is called the "Cyanide Process." This was simply the use of the chemical known as the Cyanide of Potassium [a deadly poison] to recover fine particles of gold, and gold allied with various minerals that would not give it up to any other re-agent. The cyanide process of saving fine gold in quartz mill treatment was invented, discovered and proved at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1888; and was practically proved and developed at the Crown Mines at Karangahake in Australia in the year 1889. Thomas Melville, an old Auckland Australian resident, floated the Crown Mines Company in Glasgow, and after doing so, in company with some of his shareholders they tested the new Cyanide process discovery in a small way, and found it so successful that it was then adopted at the Crown mine mills in Australia; and from that beginning it spread all over the world wherever there were gold mines.
Besides the Southern and Eastern Oregon mines noticed above, gold has been found in the State in many other places, the largest and most promising deposits behing at the Bohemia mines in Lane County. Here a large amount of money has been expended not only on the mines, but on wagon roads and a railroad to cheapen transportation; and the prospects are that one of the largest gold mines will be developed here.
Gold has also been found at the head of the Clackamas river in Clackamas County, at the head of the Nehalem river in Tillamook County, on the Chewaucan mountain in Lake County, and gold, silver and lead have been found in the Cascade Range on the headwaters of the North Santiam river in Marion County. The most beautiful specimens of wire - natural wire gold, in the world is found in these last named mines.
Metal Production In Oregon
In Oregon, according to Charles G. Yale, of the U.S. Geological Survey, the total value of the mine production of gold, silver, and copper in 1910 was $700,676, against $827,001 in 1909, which, however, also included the value of the lead produced in that year. The ore treated in 1910 was 82,132 short tons, against 59,281 tons in 1909. The production of gold decreased from $781,964 in 1909 to $679,488 in 1910; that of silver increased from 27,827 oz. valued at $14,470, to 35,978 oz. valued at $19,428; that of copper fell off from 235,000 lb. valued at $20,550, to 13,861 lb. valued at $1760; and that of lead declined from 400 lb. in 1909 to nothing in 1910. Baker County led in gold production with an output of $401,002, mostly from deep mines, followed by Josephine with $150,048 from both placer and deep mines. All of the copper production and 29,835 oz. of the silver output also came from Baker County, whose output of gold, silver and copper was valued at $418,873 in 1910. The combined gold output from southwestern Oregon in 1910 was $209,324, of which $130,103 was placer gold. The placer gold output of this region decreased $55,149 in 1910. The mines of northeastern Oregon produced $470,164 in gold in 1910 of which the placer yield was $40,822 and the deep-mine yield $429,342. The placers of this region showed an increase of $4,756 in 1910 and the deep mines a decrease of $42,311. The total number of active mines shows little change, but some of the larger ones have become less productive. The hydraulic mines are the most productive placers and their number is the greatest. The deep mines of the state are yielding large quantities of milling ore, but the grade of ore worked has declined nearly one-half. Baker County is still the largest producer of gold. It has about 50 or 60 producing mines about half of which are placers.
Other Mineral Deposits
Besides gold, Oregon has promising deposits of cement, copper and soda, all of which are now in a fair way for successful development. The cement deposits of Baker county have been taken up by practical manufacturers of cement, and active work to develop the deposits over a large scale is now organized. Of the copper deposits in Baker and Josephine Counties regular shipments of ore or matte has been going on for some time. And of the deposits of soda in Lake County, the state has leased the Summer Lake deposit to a California Company, while the Oregon Borax Company is now at work to develop the deposits in Alkali Lake in the same County.
There are many Salt Springs in the State but they have never been utilized on a commercial basis.
The discovery of paying mines has been a powerful factor in the settlement and upbuilding of the state. In the first place it settled the Indian question in both Southern and Eastern Oregon. The gold miners were a very positive lot of people. All they asked was to be let alone to dig gold; and when the Indians would not agree to that proposition the tug of war came. Either the gold miners must go, or the Indian must go - and it was the Indian that had to go. In the second place the mines furnished a reliable currency on which to do business, and plenty of it; and that started the wheels of commerce, built the steamboats on the Columbia, gave Oregon's chief city its first substantial and enduring start as the commerical metropolis of the Columbia river valley. In the third place, the mines gave many a hard pressed farmer the means to pay off his debts and to build a comfortable home and improve his farm. In the fourth place it gave a start to the towns in the mining regions, like Jacksonville, Baker, La Grande and The Dalles. All these towns, and many others, got their start on gold miners' gold, and they have been powerful agents in organizing society, building school houses, churches, highways and all the means of improving the country and inviting settlements. The gold miners gold was a positive and enduring benefit and blessing to the State. Therefore, comfort, and good health to the hardy old prospector and miner; and mayhis days be long in the land that his courage and toil reclaimed from barbarism and delivered over to civilization.
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