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say in Oregon south to the California line, and eastward to Snake River-was that of Mr. B. Brown and a few others, in Grand Ronde Valley, for grazing purposes. George Abbott and two or three other men had started beef-cattle from Umatilla Valley for Salmon River mines, but were driven back from Snake River to Grand Ronde Valley by the Indians and snow. Here they wintered their cattle without any loss, and be it remembered this was the most destructive winter for cattle since the first settlement of Oregon. To get supplies to Griffin Gulch the miners had to go to WallaWalla, or the Dalles, a distance of one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty
As soon as the fact that paying gold mines had been discovered on the waters of Powder River had become known, Mr. Abbott drove the cattle designed for Salmon River to Blue Cañon, where Auburn now stands, which had been found by Mr. Kirkpatrick, George Hall, and others. Blue Cañon was distant from the Discovery or Griffin Gulch about four miles. The character of the gold found was excellent, from fine grains to nuggets weighing from one to three and more ounces. Mr. Abbott believed that a new and valuable gold-field was discovered here, and going to the Dalles, together with Mr. Knight, bought and shipped some goods by pack-train for Blue Cañon. Mr. Du Gay also arrived with goods about the same time; Messrs. Cranston, Moore, Norcross, and others soon followed with goods. Before and after all these, miners from every point of the compass came pouring in, ready for anything new in the way of mining. The town of Auburn was laid out in lots about June 16, 1862. Mr. J. W. Peters and Knight, Abbott & Packwood, had buildings up for stores, and moved from their tents into them before the 4th of July following. The population in that vicinity dependent for supplies from Auburn was not less than from three to four thousand persons by September of the same year. At one time, in 1862 and 1863, Auburn had forty stores and saloons. There was a large number of emigrants from the States that year for Salmon River and Oregon. A large proportion of these remained in the vicinity of Auburn and Powder River Valley.
Auburn is justly entitled to be called the mother of mining camps in Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho. From Auburn prospecting parties were fitted out and the country explored in every direction. Grimes's party discovered Grimes's Creek; in fact, the great Boise Basin. Ross Smith, Jack Long, and others found Granite Creek, and laid out the town of Independence on this creek about July 4, 1862. Cañon City was largely settled by Auburnites. The Owyhee mines were the result of discoveries made by Uncle Tom Turner's party in search of Sinker Creek, and by a party from Idaho which discovered Reynolds and Jordan Creek. During this time but little work, permanent in its character, was done, miners being generally on the hunt for strikes, or a big thing. They did not begin to look for claims yielding under eight to sixteen dollars per day per hand until about 1864. On the contrary, each miner seemed to be determined to expend his last dollar before locating. At the same time every miner brought with him his peculiar ideas of a mining country, formed in the mines they happened to come from. We had miners from California, Australia, Cariboo, Florence, Pike's Peak, and Mexico; but the surface indications here do not precisely resemble any of the above-named mining localities. Because it was not dry and barren, as in most mining districts, the country remained almost wholly unprospected. There was another class, however, that kept at work, regardless of the surface indications in the country, and to this class is owing almost entirely the permanent settlement of these two counties as mining districts. Almost wholly without other capital than that obtained from the ground worked, they have, in eight years, demonstrated the fact that Baker and Union Counties are both rich, and almost unlimited, except by their own boundaries, as to the extent of their placer-mines.
The character of the mining country is this: It is covered with a fine, loamy soil, and with excellent bunch and rye grass. In many places decomposed quartz and float slate, granite and volcanic rocks, appear. The general appearance would lead to the belief that the country has been under water for a long period of time, and that large streams of water have crossed the country in a different direction from that in which they now run. In many places heavy deposits or channels of washed gravel have been found. The country is broken up in gulches, flats, and hills, fronting on and leading into and surrounding the main large valleys that lie on the present main streams of water. In other words, the mines are confined to the table-lands and foothills of the mountains. The depth of the mining lands runs from almost bare bed-rock to sixty and more feet deep, and, to work it with profit, water is required for groundsluicing and hydraulic mining. In many places the ground is sufficiently rich to pay working in rockers. The entire country, up to this time, has been almost wholly dependent on snow-water for mining purposes, and the country is filled, in almost every district, with what are here usually called dry ditches. The fall of snow is irregular: some years the dry ditches have water twenty days, other years from forty to sixty days. There are some permanent streams that furnish water sufficient for large ditches; but as these streams cut well back, and lie deep down in the mountains, long lines of ditches are required to convey them to the mines, and to build long ditches capital
must be obtained. The living streams available for ditches are Burnt, Malheur, and Powder Rivers, and Eagle Creek. Among the first ditches built here were those of Conoyer on Powder River, Davidson & Carter's, and Kirkpatrick & Co.'s; for Auburn mines the water being taken from Elk Creek. The Griffin, Stafford, and Littlefield ditch from Elk Creek to Griffin Gulch.
W. H. Packwood, Abbott, Fuller, Ward, and others organized the Auburn Water Company in 1862, about September 15th to 20th; sold in November to some Portland capitalists-Messrs. Ladd, Brooke, Thompson, Ainsworth, and others, who carried the enterprise through the next year. This enterprise was one of the greatest inducements to the permanent settlement of Powder River Valley, and the capital invested by the last-named gentleman is almost the only outside capital ever invested in these two counties.
Packwood, Perkins, Statsman, and Kitchen built the Clark's Creek ditch in spring of 1863, which ditch has been and is now a good piece of paying property. The Rye Valley ditch was built in 1864, and from time to time almost all the springs in the mountains and streams that run water while the snow lasts have been improved for mining purposes. The main or living streams so far are idle. In 1863, W. H. Packwood, Ira Ward, Robert Kitchen, and J. N. Hull organized the Burnt River Ditch and Mining Company. This was an undertaking and enterprise of first magnitude, and founded more on the belief as to the general existence of paying gold mines on the Burnt River and Willow Creek mountain sides than from any positive knowledge of their existence. In the fall of 1864, W. H. Packwood hired a party of men and sent them to prospect the Willow Creek side of the mountain. They found from a color to three bits to the pan, gold coarse order. They could find it in almost every place, in the flats, hills, and gulches, in paying quantities. In the fall of 1863, A. C. Goodrich ran trial-lines for a ditch. In 1864, Charles Barrett, civil engineer, surveyed and staked the line for a ditch from Burnt River to Shasta Pass or Gap.
Now, to understand the character of the enterprise, it is necessary to know that Burnt River and Willow Creek are two streams rising in a spur of the Blue Mountain, and running parallel with each other a distance of from forty to fifty miles, separated by a dividing mountain that rises in altitude from one to three thousand feet. The slopes of the divide separate Burnt River and Willow Creek from each other, on an average, about fifteen miles. Now, the object of the company in selecting Shasta Pass-a low gap in the main divide-was to run a line of ditch in such manner as to command both sides of the mountain. By Mr. Barrett's survey, the distance from Burnt River to Shasta Pass was found to be over eighty-eight miles for line of ditch. By commanding Shasta Pass as a terminal point, it was believed by the company that their line would command a larger extent of placer-mines than was ever before commanded by any ditch in the history of mining in California or elsewhere. From Shasta Pass, the ditch-line could be extended on the Willow Creek slope a distance of about thirty miles to Snake River. On the Burnt River slope, it could be prolonged sixty and more miles, Snake River being the only limit to its extension. After Mr. Barrett's survey in 1864, the Indians were hostile for over two years, so as to render life and property unsafe, and no further work was done until 1867. At this time Mr. T. J. Carter, of Portland, became interested in the company, and work was resumed in June, 1867— Mr. T. J. Carter, president, and W. H. Packwood, secretary; capital stock, $144.000. In 1867, 1868, and 1869, the company completed nearly fifty-eight miles of the main line, commencing at Shasta Pass and running to water. They expended over $100,000 on the work of construction in that time. Their line of ditch in these fifty-eight miles took in the small streams fed by snow, and had tapped East Camp Creek. In the spring of 1870, the company puddled their ditch with the snow-water and Camp Creek, and had water for sale for a few weeks on the Willow Creek side of the mountain. The water sold by them realized an average of about 60 cents per inch for ten hours' use. In the spring of 1869, Mr. Uriah Perry, an old ditch-man in California, came inte this country, and having examined the mines, and knowing practically that Burnt River and Malheur were the only available living streams of water in this country, and that the placers were extensive, he projected forming a company in Iowa and Illinois for the purpose of securing the water rights and mining extensively. He enlisted Mr. J. H. Johnson, who went back to Chicago and there succeeded in inducing Mr. Buford, of Rock Island, to come out and examine the country. The result was, after some weeks' examination, that Mr. Buford purchased nearly the entire stock and control of the Burnt River Ditch Company's property, including large tracts of mining land, on liberal terms, fair profit to seller and purchaser. Mr. Buford, being a man of great wealth, proposed to double the size or capacity of the ditch constructed by Carter and Packwood. Their ditch was designed to convey and store up sufficient water to furnish about 2,000 inches for ten hours. Mr. Buford's directions would require the ditch to be enlarged to about 8 feet top, 6 feet bottom, able to carry water 3 feet deep. Mr. Johnson, secretary and superintendent for the company, pressed the work in good and bad weather, from October, 1870, to January, 1871, and has the ditch about completed to the size above named, or very near it. A light wagon or buggy can be driven
in the ditch, and two horsemen can ride through it abreast comfortably. This company is known as the Malheur and Burnt River Consolidated Ditch and Mining Company; Mr. Buford, president; J. H. Johnson, secretary; capital stock, $1,000,000. Mr. Buford having secured the Malheur River water, this company now own and control all the available living water for mining purposes in these districts, to wit: Eldorado, Malheur, Amelia City, Rye Valley district, Clark's Creek, and Burnt River Slope-say, at a low estimate, mining districts that together would form one district sixty miles long by ten to twenty wide.
All the water in this district is from the snow, or natural water, and usually it only affords a supply for a small number of claims for a few weeks. This is the largest ditch in the State of Oregon, and will be one of the longest on the Pacific coast when completed, as in time it will be extended sixty miles from Shasta Pass. About thirty miles more will finish the main line or trunk, and the company intend doing that work early this spring. One objection to long ditches is loss from evaporation. This line of ditch lies on the north and west side of the mountain, and has for feeders on the line not less than eighteen streams of water that run from 5 to 100 inches each, and should more than make good all loss by evaporation. The country through which the line runs is a favorable one for ditching, being a clay loam and slate country. The ditch, when completed for running water, may cost from two hundred and fifty to three hundred thousand dollars. Very many will say: Will the country and mines justify the investment? We have no hesitation in saying it will pay for an investment of $1,000,000 for water to supply the named mining districts by the owners using even ordinary care in the management of the same. Let us see. The old company sold water, first head, 30 cents; second head, 20 cents; third head; 10 cents per inch; fourth bead, 5 cents. Average about 60 cents per inch for ten hours. Many persons may not understand what we call in mining, first, second head, etc. It is the same water first sold being sold over several times, each time for a lower price than before, as the water depreciates in value from use. In Mormon Basin, and through Mr. Kelly's Ditch at Amelia, the water of the upper camp is used in the lower from twelve to fifteen times. The Malheur and Burnt River Ditch Company, when their works are completed, can sell say 4,000 inches for ten hours. Say that they only realize for all uses 25 cents per inch, (they should at a lower estimate realize 40 cents to 50 cents, as the water will be used over three times in many places,) their sales would amount to $1,000 per day. They can run and sell water from two hundred and thirty to two hundred and seventy days each year. Their current expenses should not exceed from fifteen to twenty-five thousand dollars per year, and become less with age on the ditch. Again, the question, How long would this last? The fact is, the available supply of water for the districts named cannot equal the demand, and the water that can be obtained will not suffice to work out the mines on this line in the next one hundred years.
A few years ago a few men believed this true; to-day thousands do. Again, independent of selling water, there are other inducements for investments in ditches which did not exist a few years ago. In this case the one company owning an absolute monopoly of the water can, if they desire, purchase at nominal prices from the United States and others large tracts of mining land, and by them conveying water so as to be available to mine their land can raise its value immensely; or, as in California, they can construct large flumes and hydraulics, mine extensively with large streams of water, so as to make the water save the labor of men.
Chinamen are in the country and can be hired cheaply, or ground could be rented to them with water to work it. The monopoly a ditch company has here gives them as absolute a right to tax the mines in some form or other as the Government has to tax the people. Another thing is this, poor and rich land can be worked now at the same time; in earlier days only the rich land could be worked in consequence of high prices. Now, however, a man can live quite cheaply, labor can be had for $2 50 to $4 per day, 'where in past years it was from $5 to $8; hence, when water can be obtained, every class of mines can be worked; for it is a truth that miners will mine ground for less than wages, and take the chance of more than wages. The gold dust in Eldorado, Malheur, Amelia, Clark's Creek, and Burnt River Slope is worth from $16 to $18 per ounce.
The largest piece ever found in Baker County was at Gimletville, a small camp on Burnt River. It was worth nearly $4,000. Chinamen have both bought claims at nominal prices and have paid as high as $35,000 for them. The completion of the Malheur and Burnt River ditch will give steady and permanent employment to a large number of miners, and add to and stimulate the agricultural and grazing interests of Baker and Union Counties.
Following down Burnt River from the mouth of Clark's Creek to Snake River, a distance of fifty miles, the river cuts through the mountain range that runs north ward and parallel with Snake River. So far as the river has been tried, on the bars and hills, on and near the river, gold has been found in paying quantities. In fact, from one to fifty dollars per day have been made with the rocker. From Clark's Creek to Express Ranch, for twelve miles the river forms a cañon. In places hundreds of feet
above the river, bars and hills are found that would pay largely with water for hydraulics and flumes. Some of these hills and bars have been drifted and worked in rockers, and good returns made in that manner; but as the gold is not confined to the bed-rock, but found in all the dirt, in some locations 20 to 60 feet deep, no very profitable work can be done without an abundance of water and flumes. There is also every reason to believe that the bed of the river is rich for at least twelve miles in this cañon. To open and work the bed of the stream, large flumes and derricks would be required to operate successfully.
But few miners have, singly or in the aggregate, money to invest in carrying on an enterprise of this character; and before they would consolidate themselves for an enterprise of this or any other kind requiring heavy outlay, they must first exhaust the more easily accessible placers, on the same principle precisely that the shallow placers were nearly or quite worked out before the hills were opened in California, The hills and bars in the cañon can never be worked until the Malheur and Burnt River Ditch Company convey water to work them. A number of low-line ditches are taken out and in course of construction on Burnt River below Express Ranch. These low-line ditches are principally built by the miners, small in size, not high enough for hydraulic mining, and seldom exceed from one to three miles in length. However, there is a ditch company incorporated, with a large capital stock, in Chicago, Mr. W. P. Richmond, president; Mr. McHenry, secretary; and Mr. Donnell, superintendent. Their object is to construct one or more large ditch from the vicinity of Express Ranch, or mouth of the cañon just named above the ranch, and convey the water down over the bars and foot-hills for sale and to mine their own land. This company would have a line of ditch that would command a large tract of valuable land for hydraulic and ground-sluicing, and their line of ditches would, or can be, extended to cover good mining land to Suake River, say forty miles.
Mr. C. W. Durkee, of Express Ranch, has also commenced a line of ditch out of Burnt River, that would be some 200 feet higher on the hills than Mr. Richmond's line of ditch. Both ditches would be nearly the same length, command the same country, with this exception, Mr. Durkee's being highest on the mountain, would command a large tract of mining land lying between the two ditches. Towering high on the mountain, above all these lines of ditches, will come in time a branch ditch from the Shasta Pass, owned by the Malheur and Burnt River Ditch and Mining Company, that will lie on the mountain-side a thousand feet higher than any other ditch can ever go; and yet high above this line lie Sutherland's mines, where, with snow-water in the spring for from four to six weeks, men make what would be in the older States good pay. for a year's labor. Higher still is the far-famed Mormon Basin, situated on the summit of the mountain and near the center of all the camps named. Few camps have been found richer than Mormon Basin. I am reliably informed that one thousand buckets of dirt have yielded as high as one thousand dollars in rocking. As the supply of water in the basin is very limited, the mining population has seldom exceeded from three to five hundred persons.
There are a number of small ditches on South Powder River, which enable from three to five hundred Chinamen to make a living at mining. Messrs. McCrary, Tracy, Ingraham, and others own a number of small ditches on Rock Creek and North Powder. Some of them are five miles long. They command an extensive hydraulic and groundsluicing district, that pays from $2 to $10 per day to the man, with good water priviledges. In the foot-hills near Pocahontas a number of good claims have been found, the gold being very coarse. One piece found last summer was worth $247. Salmon Creek, in same district, is opened in several places, and found good. Distant about thirty miles north of Burnt River country lies what are called the Eagle Creek mines, in Union County. The range and character of gold is the same as in the Burnt River country. The Eagle Creek mines have been worked with rockers for some years, and a very large amount of money taken from them in that way; now there is a ditch under construction to supply the wants of that country. The following, from the Bedrock Democrat of Baker City, gives the latest information on the subject of these mines:
"EAGLE CREEK AND ITS PROSPECTS.-For some time past we have heard it rumored that the construction of a large ditch in what is known as the Eagle Creek country was contemplated. We are now able to state that the waters of Eagle Creek have been secured, and that C. M. Foster, United States surveyor of mining lands in Eastern Oregon, has run trial-lines, and surveyed and staked out over sixteen miles of the main line of the ditch. It will be about twenty-two miles in length, and is intended to have a capacity large enough, with the aid of reservoirs, to run and sell 3,000 inches of water in the Shanghai, Rooster, and Powder River Slope mining districts. Work on the ditch will be commenced as early as April; if the weather permits, in March next. Mr. George Carter is now looking for a good site on which to cut the flume lumber, and intends to be ready for operations by the 1st of April, the amount of lumber being about 300,000 feet. It is the intention of those engaged in the enterprise to have a ditch completed and conveying water between the 1st of August and September. The
principal part of the work on the ditch will be let to two Chinamen, one of Baker City and the other of Auburn, who will put on between two and three hundred Chi namen, and finish the ditch, with ease, by the time the flumes can be built. The projectors of the work, we are assured, have perfected the financial arrangements, and will safely carry the enterprise through to completion.
"Messrs. Bowen & Cranston, of this place, are going over to select a place for a store, which will probably form a nucleus for a town in that section of the country. They will take a number one selected stock, full and complete in every department required in a new mining country. Both having had large experience as pioneer merchants of Auburn, Idaho, and Clark's Creek, they are certainly well qualified for such an undertaking. They design being ready for trade, in the new location, by or before the 1st of next April. C. M. Foster has surveyed a number of mineral land claims in that country, under the United States mineral land act-the size of them all the way from ten to eighty acres. Quite a number of claims, from ten to forty acres, have been located by some of our pioneer miners from Auburn-among them are George Slocum, D. Moore, C. E. Smith, and Judge White. The Eagle Creek country, through portions of which this ditch will be constructed, is known to be very rich in auriferous deposits; it is also extensive. In gulch, creek, flat, and hill are paying gold mines, and all now wanted is a good supply of water. When that is secured, the Eagle Creek country will be second to none for mining purposes; and it will be equal to any camp in Oregon. It is well known here who are the projectors of this enterprise; but as Portland and eastern parties desire an interest, the matter of incorporation will be postponed, but the work will be prosecuted without delay at the time specified. The Eagle Creek enterprise and mines are in Union County, and are destined to add largely to the wealth and population of that county. Union and Baker are the richest counties in Oregon in mineral resources."
W. H. Packwood and Alexander Stewart are the projectors of this enterprise. The cost of the ditch will be not less than $100,000, with reservoirs. They have a neverfailing stream of water from 1,500 to 2,000 inches (miner's measure) as a source of supply. After building about eleven miles, their sales of water will amount to from $50 to $100 daily. They can sell all their water from two to five times and realize from 30 to 40 cents per inch, and it is not unreasonable to believe from what is known of the extent and character of the country that this line of ditch will repay the entire outlay in dividends in one year from its completion. A town named Sparta has been laid off in that vicinity, and buildings are being erected for stores, etc., at this time, and numbers are preparing to build.
From the article in the Democrat, you will see that miners are locating mining lands in this district under the United States mineral land act. This is the first land ever located in Oregon in that way, so far as we can learn. All mining lands have been owned by squatter, or possessory title character heretofore. In consequence of the manner of holding under the old style, men have been very reserved in the matter of even taking up, or investing money in mining lands, unless actually prepared to occupy and work the same. Representation is ever a prominent feature in the mines, and if a man has invested thousands of dollars in land and fails to represent it properly, he forfeits all title if any one should step in and represent the land.
Representing varies in different localities. Some camps require $25 in labor in the year on or for each claim owned, water or no water. Some require representing each year about the time water is expected; and if no water can be obtained for mining, notices are to be renewed on boundaries, and claims laid by. All claims require representation by actual labor on an average one day in seven when water can be obtained. Now, under such circumstances it is not a cause for surprise that outside land—or land on which water can only be obtained at great expense-should remain unlocated or investments made to bring it into market when the title to it could only be of a possessory character, entailing through representation each year, for each claim owned, from three to four times the Government price for same. This United States law will create a revolution in title, and by doing that representation as now practiced will cease. While it is true that this law may induce larger investments in mining lands than heretofore-in some cases to the injury of the poor man-it is believed by many (aside from being a source of revenue to the Government) that an absolute security of title will induce investments of capital to improve, bring water, erect hydraulics, construct flumes, etc., on a large portion of our mineral lands that poor men could not now or hereafter operate. Should such be the result, as we are inclined to believe that it will be, it will even, while making the rich richer, benefit the laboring man and the country more than under the present practice, as theu thousands can be employed in fields created solely by the aid of capital.
The yearly gold product of our mines cannot have been less than from one to one and one-half million dollars from 1863 to 1870. The gold has been, we may say, the sole product of labor. The number of miners has varied from one to three thousand, averaging for several years about fifteen hundred. The average mining season has not been three months per year. With the amount of water that can be obtained by means