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Nugget reportedly found by miners George Armstrong and Dick Stewart in a placer deposit in Buck Gulch near Susanville, in Grant County, Oregon. The Sumpter dredge shown before and after renovation completed in 2007. The dredge tailings left behind from the three dredges are a significant and striking feature of Sumpter Valley even today. The tailing piles are over ten feet tall, and extend for miles. The piles form a labyrinth that is plainly visible even from satellite imagery.

Sumpter valley tailings piles
Sumpter Valley dredge tailings as seen from space.

Sumpter Dredge No. 3 ceased operating permanently in 1954. As seen in this photo from 1960, it had already significantly deteriorated.

Sumpter Dredge No. 3 1960
Sumpter Dredge No.3 as seen in 1960. Photo courtesy of Credit Baker County Library, Baker City, Oregon.

Forunately there was interest in preserving this history of the dredge and the Sumpter Valley Gold Dredge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Today the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has preserved this historic area as the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area. Significant work has been completed in stabilization and rehabilitation of the dredge structure. Today, the Sumpter Gold Dredge is one of the best preserved gold dredges in the West, and is a must visit destination for anyone interested in mining history.

Sumpter Gold Dredge No. 3 in 2004
Sumpter Gold Dredge No. 3 in 2004
Sumpter Dredge No. 3 as seen in 2016
Sumpter Dredge No. 3 as seen in 2016. Photo courtesy of Oregon State Parks.

80 OZ NUGGET.jpg




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