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Far off the beaten track, I found

old gold miner

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:icon_mrgreen: Absolutely stunning. Son following his father a year later. Tragic story and righteous find--a time capsule of history. I've seen a few and really makes you think hard on the fraility of life and it's meaning. Thank you VERY much for the sobering post and great pix-John :coffeetime:

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It didn't take me long to stake a placer claim there, either.

Thanks for the photos as that's a great find.

I know this is a stupid question but is it possible you might you be better off NOT filing a claim since it becomes a matter of public record? Obviously that place just has to be really, really remote and I don't think anyone else is going to stumble on it anytime soon. But if you file a claim- you might have some unwanted visitors sooner then you think.... :hmmmmmm: :hmmmmmm:


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WOW ! What great pictures of a place lost in time. those diggings look extensive ...Good post man.....

Steve, you can look at it that way ....or on the other hand, what if some paper claimer filed on it ,and doesent even know its there. Then it may be discovered and he will be screwed ,and have wished he had filed on it beforehand.

Or some bloke could find the spot next week and emmediately file on it. He will wish that he had claimed it for sure.

I know what your saying though...its kind of a tough call...

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Great story and pix...Yeah, I'd be filing on that location yesterday...maybe there's a way to get the site registered as an historical site (after you've mined it) so the piss firs don't come in and burn it down....Thanks for sharing...Cheers, Unc

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Fantastic find! By the looks of the water worn rocks, maybe the old timer was working an ancient river channel.


No "maybe" about it. The workings are on a small shallow channel of tertiary remnant of a Sierra Nevada river, at high elevation, that had not completely eroded away.

Gravel & cobbles are about 60 to 80% quartz.

A lot of folks don’t understand what they are, or how they formed. My thumbnail description is this:

Millions of years back, imagine NO Sierra Nevada mountains. The grade from where Reno NV now exists, west to the pacific ocean was about 60 to 90 foot per mile, running down slope, from east to west. In other words, a very gentle grade.

Ancient rivers of the time meandered like snakes, given the gentle grade. As tectonic plates came together & collided, thrust forces fractured the earth miles deep, causing faults & fissures. Heat & pressure caused hydrothermal solutions to rise to the surface along those fractures, some of which carried minerals, such as gold, forming extensive quartz/gold vein structures that outcropped on the surface.

If the course of a tertiary river coincided with where those vein structures outcropped, the river eroded those quartz/gold veins, and picked up considerable amounts of gold. As plate thrust continued, it forced up the Sierra Nevada mountains. In doing so, it lifted & displaced those ancient rivers to higher elevations, giving way to present day drainages, that themselves eroded, giving way, to the topography of the mountains as we see today.

Wherever present day drainages cut, or eroded gold bearing tertiary rivers, caused that gold to be re-concentrated again, in present day drainages. Which is where old timers found rich shallow bonanza type placer gold concentrations. Old timers learned to recognize those ancient rivers, that had not eroded away. Giving rise to massive hydraulic mining, that used giant water nozzles to do what mother nature had not, I.E., wash away those deep gravels, so they could recover the placer gold they contained.

This spot, I found sits in a little basin, very near a ridge top, about 3700 ft elevation, where the small tertiary channel had only partly eroded away. I gather this family found the spot, set up camp , began to placer mine. When they realized the extent of pay dirt they had, they built a cabin, and stayed all year around, to protect their little diggings, by right of a mining claim & steady possession.

Given the amount of area worked by hand, it appears they stayed years. What caused the father & sons death, I don’t know. But, assume influenza, or something of that nature. Both died in April, which is about the time the trails opened there, as winter snow packs receded. It may be that others passing through brought some sickness, or disease with them, that the father & son caught, a year apart.

They must have had considerable placer gold stashed away, given the wife had that expensive tombstone made, and I assume packed by mule up there (at great expense), after they died, to set as a memorial of their existence. Rather than a wooden marker, over a mound of stone, as was far more common back then.

How I found the place, was by looking at the original township survey plat, done in the late 1880’s, which often showed old placer workings, cabins, grave sites & mines.

As was the case here.

A simple tiny map notation, over 100 years old of “cabin” - “placer workings” led me to the spot, with GPS as my guide.

Hint, old timers often named places by what they found there.

For instance, “Rich” gulch, “Rush” gulch, 100 ounce gulch, 2 bit, 4 bit, or 6 bit creek (meaning that much gold per (pan).

Or, after things like coffee, whiskey, bacon, ham, onions or after some other good food, as with the gold they found there they could afford such luxuries.

On modern topo's map makers also blundered sometimes.

If you see a notation of a gravel pit, in some odd place high in the mountaims.

Where no one would produce gravel, far off any road.

It is most often a tertiary river remnent.

Often, mined by old timers.




Hows that for a "throne', lol............

Found next to creek bench workings.

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That's an incredible find. Good luck with it old gold miner.

Thanks for the kind words.

My boy might work it, given the way the price of gold is going.

Not to mention, the CA suction dredge ban, now in effect has shut him down.

A 580 case backhoe, grizzly & small trommel would do GREAT here.

Along with a generator, pumps & all else required.

(which we happen to have)

Trouble is, plan of operation & bonding would take a year to get in place

But, I don't doubt that little diggings with a 2 man crew could produce 2, 3, or more ounces a day, set up right.

Below, is the type grave often found by old workings, no name, no nothing, except the grave.


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Young mother & month old child 1857 grave, near old very isolated california placer workings.

He must have done fairly good to afford this, as a memorial to his wife & child.


Old gold miner, what a great story. Your not lucky , you made your on luck. Congrats. Doug

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I'm thrilled for ya!

I made a simular find, but not as old and no where near the history.


Takes me an hr from pavement, to go the 6 miles in to the cabin. People are going deeper and more remote.

I say, file.

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Old gold miner, what a great story. Your not lucky , you made your on luck. Congrats. Doug

There is “dumb luck”, like winning a quick pick lottery ticket, then are several other kinds of luck.

I’m sort of lucky in that, I do a lot of “dead of the winter” research.

Pouring over old obscure maps, mineral & other survey data, & credible old reports on various western states gold mining districts.

Then use modern day computerized systems, “LR2000” for one, BLM Master Title Plats for another.

To figure out what’s where, what’s had (claimed), what’s withdrawn & what’s open to be had.

Then overlay that data on a topo map. No sense searching for something you cannot have.

Nowadays, GPS makes searching easy, if you have a target, or several targets.

Come spring, pack my rig, my trusty dog , kiss the wonderful wife goodbye and go look at those targets.

Some are not worth crap, others are so/so & some have been bonanza’s.

That is the nature of the “gold bug” beast.

You will strike out, more times than not.

But, hit a few home runs, that make up for all those strike outs, and more.

Tenacity, patience & strong will count for a lot, in such ventures.

79/80 I bought a patented 20 acre placer in Idaho for about what a decent used car costs. Everyone laughed, saying it was mined out long ago. Once sampled, I bet my bottom dollar (all I had, owned or could borrow against), it was a go.

We set up a 200 to 400 YPD wash plant operation & went at it, stripping, excavating & washing that gravel. I produced on average 125 ounces a week for 7 & 1/2 months (you do that math).

Ever since, beside my normal occupation (now retired) & other rock/sand/gravel quarry ventures, I search for another placer of that caliber.

There are out there. You just have to find & acquire them, then have the wherewithal to mine them.

You also learn, no sense pouring good money down a bad hole.

So, pick the hole you pour money into, with great care.

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I'm thrilled for ya!

I made a simular find, but not as old and no where near the history.


Takes me an hr from pavement, to go the 6 miles in to the cabin. People are going deeper and more remote.

I say, file.

Good find.

I have around 1/2 dozen about like yours, mostly depression era.

All far off the beaten track.

These old workings kept bacon & beans on the table, otherwise they would not have built cabins.

No sense staying, if the dirt doesn't pay.

Cabins prove they stayed, which proves they paid.




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