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Max's Idaho Pay to Dig adventures


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At the request of a couple of members I will expand my reports of Two Years In the Wilds of Idaho. 

Mike , I will do my best but I am a two finger type so  I will do it in chapters. Meanwhile see my reply to MorLock and I will expand it to the 2 year saga. It is in very high rugged   unforgiving of mistakes and I nearly had very bad accidents several time , mostly due to my own stupidity and about 70% of the time I was working alone . Dredging with a 6" dredge in  fast running creeks with big boulders totally alone miles in to the wilderness I do not recommend. BUT I had several professional  dredgers (By their own admission) come to the camp and try it , None of them lasted more than  1 1/2 days. Fast ,COLD,but clear water just is not what most are used to and  lowering a 6" dredge down  steep banks is no fun ( Reminded me of the LDMA claims  at Italian Bar where someone had an old car hood that they would let you use to lower your rig down off the road using a log rope and a snatch block tied to a road side tree and using someone's PU truck trailer hitch to back up slowly  while you guided it through the rocks and brush. You could leave over night with out  worries of it being stolen! That lasted until a couple of guys came in to camp and got some help to lower their dredge in to a good looking spot , they  had set up a tent in camp  and when they did not show up found their car still parked near the dredge site. They were found both asphyxiated by exhaust from the motor. I had my dredge fitted with a extended air intake from then on.

 I used a 4 wheel  drive   ATV with a dump bed and a winch with a cat head drum on it and I could launch and recover by my self in most places. Mike Ask MorLock to write of his adventures  MDing behind a dozer at Rye  Patch , it made the cover of the CMJ at one time .

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Here is the beginning of Max's IDAHO Pay to Dig adventures: It was not my first Idaho gold prospecting or dredging. Back in 1977 I lived near Sam Rayburn lake in east Texas , I had been into Metal detecting primarily coin shooting. I had bought my first real metal detector from Bill Alexander in Houston, TX  in 1957 It was a Whites  and he was the only dealer in the east. I financed it with Household Financing but knew it would pay off because I lived on the bank of Halls Mill Creek on the site of a Civil War  Fort , my wife was digging minnie balls in her garden and on the other side of the creek  here was 3 old civil war age mansions. That gave me the treasure hunting bug and I never recovered.  I bought every new model MD that came out.

 By the time I retired to the lake Keene was making small dredges so me and a couple of my MD friends  bought one ' I think it was an 1 1/2 inch and we made a hookah rig  to use it with. There were dozens of old homesites to work but we soon found that boat docks and swimming areas were the pay streaks, one of my first finds was a ring that appraised at $5000 +. Of course the dredging did not last long and the Texas state game wardens shut us down but we paid for that dredge!! My next dredge was a new 3 " with air , floats and all. I bought It in Riggins,ID and worked the Salmon from the wilderness area and down to the Oregon state line near Grangeville. Moved over to Garden Valley on the Payette  so I was a little familiar with that area. By 2008 I had moved from Yuma,AZ were I had a business and a home to Morristown due to the recession with a used 32' MH and a 70  4WD Chevy PU and back to full time RVing. Always looking for opportunities I had made contact with a man from Boise,ID that owned a parented gold mine of several 100 acres that had passed down in his family for 120 years. He was no gold miner but an instrument manufacturer and was looking for some tax relief but did not want to deal with a big company.He had trouble with trespassers continuously so I suggested making it a pay to dig operation. I told him of my experience in a pay to dig operation in Baja and he said go to it. I needed a pardner to help so I got a friend  that had been a camp host  at a park on the Payette river nearby. He had a MH and a  Jeep and was ready to go.. We planned a long metal detecting and rock and fossil  hunting expedition and to arrive in ID when it had thawed out . just because the paved roads in the valley was clear and passable doesn't mean that the mountain roads are passable even though the mailman  runs them!!

My pardner took a preliminary trip in his jeep and when he returned to the campground we were staying in he said I am moving to the RV park in Garden Valley where we can have electric service and water I am not bringing my wife and  MH up that Mt. and he never did. My rig was a 32'  MH pulling a Jeep and a 16' cargo trailer behind that loaded with all my equipment and my no-name UT V. It barley met the Triplletow length of 52" and only then if it did not have slack in the hitches ( more on this subject later) so it was May before I tried it. I took the Jeep up and it was a little muddy in places but passable. I found the place trashed up beyond belief and it had an old wooden bridge that would have to be repaired before I wound bring a 32 foot Motorhome across it and there was no place to park it any way. Old campers rotted out , old cars, mining ,junk  ,trash everywhere. Next to the old log cabin there was a BBQ and trash barrels overflowing with beer bottle , cans  etc. The access along the creek had dead trees , and more junk. I when back tot own and contacted the owner and he said he would get the Ford tractor fixed and I could do any thing I wanted to and he would get the electric line extended to the old warehouse near the place I wanted to park and he would come up and haul off the trash near the cabin and in the drive. 

  Sorry to make this so long but  to make it understandable  for anyone who may want to take on such a task some day , if this is too long let me know but you will not want to read rhe story of my Baja Pay to Dig operation on thousands of acres!!  This is only about 500. More later?

Max

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey Max,

Did you ever run across Gary Cameron (Gold Bar Mining Co.) in Idaho City? He and wife Twila had the prospecting and gold jewelry  shop on Montgomery street. They would close the shop each year in late fall and head down to the Kingman area to hunt gold. He used a Minelab SD and she had an ML 1800XT.  On one occasion, they were hunting in a wash below a mine slope drainage with him on top of the bank, swinging a large coil, and she was down in the wash working the walls. She got a good signal pretty high up, and after digging several inches into the wall standing on her toes, she grabbed what felt like a one ounce nugget, but it wouldn't budge. About 45 minutes later, she had dug around it and pulled out a 9" X 4" inch gold/quartz specimen that was flat and square at the bottom. It was pure white quartz, shot through with several ounces of gold that had a "hood ornament" at the top in the shape of an Eagle with outspread wings, that was solid gold.

They had it on display when I came through Idaho in 2002. It was a beautiful, one of a kind specimen that stood up like a trophy in the jewelry case.

Love your stories. Keep 'em coming!

Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, pairadiceau said:

Max,

Thank you very much for sharing your adventures, I always enjoy your tales and eagerly await the Baja edition!

Be well,

Jeff

Thanks Jeff, The Baja story is almost unbelievable even to My wife and I, We sit around some times reminiscing about some of the things and places in Baja that we did and saw and tell each other that we just don't believe we done it most less survived ! BUT it's a different  country now days. I feel sorry for the good people of Mexico and with one exception never had a problem with any of them, had many more problems with gringo's there . An old prospecting friend Paul Yelton  (Now deceased)  from the Road Runners Prospecting club and I even made a trip to the mainland for a Phoenix gold mining operator to checkout a prospect in  the Sierra Madres of  the movie  "Treasure of  the Sierra Madres" fame. We had a great time prowling around in those jungles of the state of Culiacan riding (Leading) the descendants of those Burros that Humphrey Bogart made famous . We had absolute cooperation from from everyone we came in contact with. Again different time's, so sad.

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2 hours ago, BMc said:

Hey Max,

Did you ever run across Gary Cameron (Gold Bar Mining Co.) in Idaho City? He and wife Twila had the prospecting and gold jewelry  shop on Montgomery street. They would close the shop each year in late fall and head down to the Kingman area to hunt gold. He used a Minelab SD and she had an ML 1800XT.  On one occasion, they were hunting in a wash below a mine slope drainage with him on top of the bank, swinging a large coil, and she was down in the wash working the walls. She got a good signal pretty high up, and after digging several inches into the wall standing on her toes, she grabbed what felt like a one ounce nugget, but it wouldn't budge. About 45 minutes later, she had dug around it and pulled out a 9" X 4" inch gold/quartz specimen that was flat and square at the bottom. It was pure white quartz, shot through with several ounces of gold that had a "hood ornament" at the top in the shape of an Eagle with outspread wings, that was solid gold.

They had it on display when I came through Idaho in 2002. It was a beautiful, one of a kind specimen that stood up like a trophy in the jewelry case.

Love your stories. Keep 'em coming!

Mac

 

  Thanks Mac , I  remember the shop very well and always visited with them every time we came to town for supplies. I don't remember that particular nugget but the entire shop  was like a museum and they were a great deal of help to us. As an aside: When one of those old wood buildings burn in town the owners don,t have too clean the lot , the Metal detectorist do it for them !  just imagine the gold and coins lost to the cracks in the old  wood sidewalks of Idaho City's glory days and the frantic  race to build in those days!

Max

 

2 hours ago, BMc said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Max,

Yes, it is sad that the people of Mexico are under the boot of crooked politicians, cops, narcos etc.

My experience with the people there was great, the ones I met were humble gracious people just trying to get by.

My heart goes out to them.

Jeff

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Continuation of My Idaho Pay-to dig-Adventures :  I was camped at the Hot Springs Campground on the Payette river which was much lower than the Charlotte Creek Millsite but as soon a you crossed the river  the road was unpaved and gets progressively worse and the camps fewer . There is a shorter route but it is much steeper and winding with some one lane areas and it took me a long time to use it to go to Garden Valley. The route I had to use  is north to Placerville a really cool old gold mining town then west to Centerville then south to Grimes Pass.  Grimes Pass is a very historic area and has some houses and the old town  that has the New Age mine which is still occupied with some reworking of tailings and dredging.  At the fop of the pass irs self is a monument marking the Grave of Grimes himself who was killed  there the day after discovering gold in the creek by indians , others  now share his grave site including early pioneers , Vietnam vets and other unmarked graves, although  lts on USFS  land and is not an approved cemetery they don't make a whole lot of effort to  stop it .  I hitched my Jeep compass to my utility trailer loaded with  my UTV and all my mining equipment and headed across the Payette and  up into the hills   to Placerville. It soon became slick and muddy  as it rained some everyday in the mountains , made  and only had to use 4WD for part of the way. From there to Centerville  was mostly paved for a few miles then back to the unpaved  road heading back north through miles of old dredge tailings to the town of Pioneerville, it's inhabited and original, I became friends with one of the owners.  The road became steeper , winderer and sliker after that . There was only one resident  after Pioneerville and Grimes Pass. That first day I was entirely alone and did not meet any traffic after Placerville. I parked my cargo trailer and headed back to the campground hoping to get out of the back roads before dark! Tomorrow was going to be move the motor home day. Started early even before the mailman  and as the country song says I knew when to hold them  and I knew when to fold them and my wife was saying some powerful prayers that we not meet any traffic and I was equally saying the same about a deer which was more likely than a car . Arriving at the camp I let the wife out to watch the bridge  while I take the MH across , my bracing held fine. and we started our first day at Grimes Pass 12 milles and 3000 feet above where we started the day. I  had a powerful modem on my laptop and if the  wind was right I could reach a cell tower in Garden Valley 13 miles in a direct line and 3000 ft lower but most of the time had to ride the UTV 1 mile to the top of the pass and park on the side of the road overlooking the Payette River before I could .get a signal.  At the millsite camp here was the old log cabin, an old warehouse stuffed with stuff to run a mine including all the files , nuts,bolts,an old tromell , the floors was made of old service station signs , the real glazed ones, a like new crank telephone, well it all had belonged to the current owners grandfather. The owner had promised ro get a backhoe to come up and start some holes in the creek up on the main placer claims .

TOO BE CONTINUED: I blew it and erased most of today's post, I will try again tomorrow.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Continuation of " My Idaho Pay -to -dig adventures .

 I will shorten the first years story to the most memorable to me happenings.  I got my campsite set up where I could reach electric service  and since my pardner was staying in his MH in Garden Valley and making daily trips up to the mill site and try to scope out where to set up operations for paying customers if we ever got any. It rained and rained . I was busy contacting the Boise area prospecting business's, clubs and advertising and meeting our neighboring patented mine owners of which there were 7 at 3 different sites . Most of them were not at all friendly , some were downright hostile. I had much to learn about what I had got into. Example: Shortly after getting the mail arrangements set up I got a letter from Maricopa County  AZ that I had to have my MH inspected before I could renew my license plates. So I made a trip to town and called them and they explained I could get any Law Enforcement  person to check it and sign the forms, HA, since the a Idaho City sheriffs deputy lived in  nearby Centerville  I would contact the office in town and make the request, HA. I waited and waited and finally called them again, sure the office told me they would take care of it. I finally made friends with one of the 4 owners of the nearby mining camp , the others did not want any contact with them and especially their property. I told them all they were welcome to the property I was managing to visit any time the coffee pot was always on. The one I had made friends with told me the story of the reasons they did not like the owner, I had a signed contract that I controlled every thing except selling it.

 It  Happened that the year before the owner of the property I was managing had been doing some shooting (This is all hear say) he shot numerous rounds at the houses and vehicles that were across the creek and road to the NE and the same for the property to the south. The sheriffs office was called, they showed up the next morning (Sunday)  at daylight, parked in front of the owners cabin and turned on sirens  and bull horns saying come out with your hands up ! Well the two different versions oft his I heard ( Remember this is all hearsay) didn't always agree . Anyway the shoot out started and ended up with the sheriffs car completely destroyed , no one shot. (they had taken cover behind and under the log bridge in front of the cabin) . Supposedly after some jail time and replacement of some assets  of both parties all was forgiven but the sheriff WAS NOT going to come on to the property and inspect my MH. So now what was going to do! Well early one am lighting struck at the top of Grimes Pass and the fire was on , it was one of the days that my cell phone worked and I called the ranger station down in the valley. They showed up with a hotshot crew and shortly had it under control.The ranger in charge was there and I introduced my self , I had previously visited the station to advise them of my presence on the Mt and that I would be burning trash at times, they flew a daily flight  so my smoke would be accounted for. While we were talking I mentioned my MH inspection needs! He said I will not go on the property but if you have those papers I will sign them ,  I did and He did.Just one of the problems of taking on a task like this. The owner told me his side , the others told me there side and I told them I was there to look for gold but if there was any shooting to be done my pardner was a Vietnam vet , a combat HALO parachute jumper, a Silver Star Holder and one tough SOB and if they stayed on their side of the creek and didn't  irritate him we would get along just fine.  They were a little peeved that we could drive on their road and ours was private but they got over it. The next big problem was trespassers ! There was a claim just off the main road that adjoined the patented land. both was plainly marked with signs on both sides and forest service signs too. People driving by on the main road to the north could plainly see  most of our set up especially after I got the camping area all cleaned up. They would drive in by way of the claim off the main public road by passing a big private road sign , cross the marked line and set up camp by the creek if we were not there. When we arrived back at camp I would drive down to there camp site , introduce my self give them the papers we required to be signed and ask then how many days they wanted to dig.  And that we provided transportation to best areas  for panning, Metal Detecting, dredging. You could see the jaws drop and the story start that they didn't see any signs, you mean that sign I would point at !  It was actually funny to see and hear the excuses they would come up with! And invariably if they didn't want to pay the fee and sign the release they would hookup and head out intending to use our bridge and private road  to avoid recrossing a small creek on the claim they had entered over! Oh no that bridge is for the use of paying customers and invited guest only and you are nether  and the lawyers would be most unhappy if your rig fell through! The instructor at a school I once attended to get a certain license told the class at his first statement, "Ladies and Gentlemen , If you are not a SOB you will be one week after starting your career  serving the public" He put it gently compared to the instructors at the Navy Boot Camp!

To be continued as long as I get a   :thumbsupanim  once and a while, Max B.

 

 

 

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