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* Shipped to San Francisco by Meadow Valley Mining Company; estimated.
The census reports 2,985 inhabitants, 23 of whom are Chinese, in Lincoln County. In this is included the Mormon farming population of the Rio Virgin, Los Vegas, Overton, St. Joseph, St Thomas, West Point, and smaller places, which numbers 762 souls, leaving a population of 2,223 for the mining districts.
Attempts have been made during the year to revive operations in this county, a number of San Francisco capitalists having interested themselves in the district. No reports of their success have been received. The Red Mountain gold mines have produced a considerable amount of bullion, but their condition is substantially as described in my last report. The company's mill will be, it is said, still further enlarged, and some further improvements for cheapening the transportation of ores are required, as the cost of keeping mules in that desolate region is very burdensome. The mill, which now contains forty stamps, prodaced about $100,000 during the year ending June 1, 1870. The total product of the county for the same period was reported to the Census Bureau as $595,000, in which the following sums from different mills are included: Keene, $50,000; Tombs, $60,000; Pioneer, $40,000; Willson, $100,000; Wide West, $20,000; Young, $40,000; Johnson, $35,000; Wheeler, $50,000; Greenback, $50,000; and Bourse, $50,000. The principal mines worked besides those already mentioned were the Gold Mountain, Morgan, Del Monte, Snow Squall, Pocahontas, McCormick, Black Sulphuret, and Black Jack, of which the latter produced $30,000 worth of ore, and the rest from $5,000 to $10,000 each.
The reports from the mining districts of Southwestern Oregon are extremely meager. In Jackson County there were many placer-claims operated during the year, but they paid but poorly, the average yield from some fifty of the principal claims being but $3 per day per hand. Wages are $50 per month, and other expenses absorb the remaining margin. The industry is falling mainly into the hands of Chinamen, who conceal as far as possible both their expenses and their profits.
In Coos County there has been some successful placer-mining. The Pioneer Company, Colonel John Lane, superintendent, produced some $12,000 during the year ending July 1, 1870. Placer-mining along the beaches of Northern California and Oregon has also been continued, and the yield is reported at $10 per day per hand for a small number of men and for a precarious season. Stoppages and other expenses reduce profits to a low figure. It is found, moreover, that these beach deposits, though apparently renewed after storms, high tides, &c., are not inexhaustible, but may be gradually worked out like any others. This naturally follows from their origin, which is undoubtedly the quartz veins of the Coast Range.
Of quartz-mining in this part of the State I have nothing to report this year. A few enterprises, alluded to in a former report, have been feebly pushed, but the extent of operations has not been such as to warrant me in causing a special examination to be made. I am under obligations to Mr. Samuel C. Mills, agent of Wells, Fargo & Co. at Portland, for the following figures of express shipments of bullion for
The treasure shipments of Wells, Fargo & Co. in previous years have been as follows:
The reduction in the product of gold is not so great as here appears, since the diversion of the bullion from Eastern Oregon to other routes, and the transmission of considerable quantities in private hands or through bankers, (in 1868 $640,850, and in 1869 8419,657, by a single house in Portland,) account for much of the diminution.
I estimate the production of Oregon and Washington (very little
gold, however, having come during 1870 from the latter Territory) at $3,000,000, the same as last year, according to the latest statement in my report, on page 205, which corrects the estimate of $4,000,000 in my introductory letter. The reason of this and other similar discrepancies is explained elsewhere.
As I have indicated, the principal mining industry of the precious metals in Oregon is now to be found in the eastern part of the State, on both sides of the Blue Range.
Meager returns from Cañon City and neighboring districts indicate a somewhat increased production, though mainly by reason of the influx of Chinese, who succeed, by purchase in most cases, to the claims formerly worked by the whites, and who, by their superior patience and economy, continue the production of gold in many localities where it would otherwise cease. It is very difficult, however, to ascertain the amount of production from such sources. Thus the reports from sixty four placer-claims in Grant County, eleven of which are worked by white men with paid labor, and the remainder by Chinese owners, show for the former a yield of $4 per day per hand, and for the latter only $1 30. There is no doubt that the Chinese have in this case concealed the actual amount of their production, reporting an aggregate of about $126,000, when the true amount must have been at least twice as great. Some of the claims worked by whites yield during the season $10,000 or $12,000. I have not heard of any cases during last year in which single claims have exceeded the latter figure.
Hydraulic mining has been carried on to some extent in Upper Cañon, Maryville, Olive Creek, and Quartz Gulch districts, and especially at Granite Creek, where six claims were reported in June, 1870. The average season is between four and five months; the average wages, $4 per day for white labor; and the average yield, $8 per day per hand. Among the larger operations are those of Thompson & Co., near Maryville, producing about $10,000 in nine months with four men; Dick Eagan & Co., Granite Creek, ten men, three months, $16,000; W. H. Clark, Upper Cañon, three men, two months, $8,000.
Quartz-mining has made but little progress since my last report. The Prairie Diggings mine, therein described, has been worked somewhat, and reports a product of about $10,000 for the year ending June, 1870. The quartz is of low grade, but very abundant and cheaply mined and milled. Quartz-mining operations by the John Day Company and others in Elk district are spoken of as highly promising, but have not yet attained to a regular production.
This part of Oregon suffers from imperfect and costly communication with commercial centers. There is a good road from Cañon City to the Dalles, and another (now, I believe, disused) to Boise; but the transportation of the mails exclusively by way of Umatilla has left the settlements on the John Day and its tributaries stranded, as it were. The discontinuance, since the Indian war, of the military posts in this region has deprived the farmers of the fertile bottom-lands of their best market, and checked to some extent the further development of agriculture. A greater activity and progress may be observed on the east of the Blue Range, in Baker and Union Counties.
I am indebted to Mr. E. W. Reynolds, agent of Wells, Fargo & Co. at Baker City, for much of the following information concerning the operations of 1870 in that part of Oregon:
The shipments of Wells, Fargo & Co. from Baker City for nine months of 1870 averaged $50,000 per month of gold dust and bullion, and the amount carried out of the country in private hands may safely be put at H. Ex. 10-12
$10,000 a month for that period. For the three months of comparative inactivity $20,000 per month will cover both express and private shipments. The total shipments of gold from Eastern Oregon, exclusive of Cañon City and other districts west of the Blue Range, amount therefore for 1870 to $600,000. The following items refer to the different districts here included, with regard to which my last report may be consulted for particulars of location, etc.:
Pocahontas district. The placer-mines of this district have done very well, considering the dry season, and a number of rich discoveries have been made in the way of quartz lodes. Among these the Gunboat lode is perhaps the most prominent. It was discovered beneath a gulch deposit after the auriferous dirt had been washed off. The surface-roek is reported to be worth $100 per ton; a lot crushed at the Ruckel mill, Baker City, containing, it is said, much wall-rock, yielded $30 per ton. Messrs. Simonton and Olds are about to remove the Humboldt Mill from Eagle Creek to the vicinity of the Gunboat lode. This is a steam-mill of twenty stamps, and will run on custom rock. In the same district the Young America, (4 feet wide, decomposed quartz,) Stonewall Jackson, Kelley, and other lodes promise to yield fair milling ore.
Auburn. Placer-mining in this once famous district has not been very lively during the year, judging from the business of the Auburn Canal Company, which sold but little water. The large amount of gulchmining heretofore done in this neighborhood, however, has left the cañons in excellent condition for the discovery of quartz lodes, and accordingly I am not surprised to learn that several promising veins have been found. One of these, the Oro Fino, about half a mile from Auburn, promises exceedingly well. It is owned by E. M. White & Co., and has already been opened to the depth of 104 feet, showing a vein of 18 inches, carrying free gold in white and decomposed quartz.
Fort Sumter, Granite, and Olive Creek districts, in Grant County, all did well in placer-mining during 1870.
Humboldt Basin has suffered some from the dry season, but has produced pretty well, having been blessed by a considerable influx of Chinese from other districts.
Amelia City appears to have fallen off somewhat, but will doubtless revive when the completion of the El Dorado ditch furnishes an abundant supply of water.
El Dorado or Shasta* district promises to become this year one of the most important in Eastern Oregon. The ditch commenced by Carter and Packwood has been sold to a Chicago company, which has enlarged it to 8 feet on the top, 6 feet at the bottom, and 3 feet in depth, thus giving it a capacity of over 3,000 inches. Fifty-two miles of it have been already completed, and it is expected that thirty-nine miles more will be constructed this spring, bringing into camp the waters of the Malheur and Burnt Rivers, and furnishing an unfailing supply to a large area of rich placer-ground. The mines of Malheur City and Amelia City will be supplied from this ditch. The name of the company is the Malheur and Burnt River Consolidated Ditch and Mining Company; the president is Mr. B. D. Buford, Rock Island, Illinois; and the superintendent, Mr. J. H. Johnson, El Dorado, Oregon. The company runs two stores, receiving goods direct from Chicago.
Eagle Creek, Cooster, or Koester district has an excellent prospect for he future. There are no new developments reported in quartz-mining;
See my report of last year, pp. 228, 229. On the former page Shasta is miscalled parta, by a typographical error.
but the great hinderance to the placer-mines, the scarcity and dearness of water, is in a fair way of removal. Messrs. Packwood and Stewart, of the old Burnt River Ditch Company of Eldorado, have surveyed a ditch to bring the Eagle Creek water twenty-one miles into Koester diggings. It will be completed next September, at a cost of about $50,000; and it is believed that it will afford facilities for a largely increased production of gold from the placers of this part of Union County, which are known to be extensive and valuable. Blue Gulch, Horn Gulch, Maiden Gulch, Red Gulch, and other localities have given high returns to prospectors, the report being "50 cents to three pans of dirt." The gold is of fine quality.
The old Ruckel or Union mine (see my report of last year, p. 230) is now worked by Messrs. Brown and Virtue. They have sunk a shaft from the lowest tunnel level, over 50 feet, and intend to go to a depth of 200, drifting east and west at 100 feet. The presence of water has necessitated the introduction of a pump, which is worked by a one-horse whim. The ledge is 20 inches wide at the bottom and is dipping north. The quartz is somewhat easier to extract than it was in the upper levels. The shaft is 6 feet by 9. These workings are on the Rocky Fellow, which was the vein principally worked by Colonel Ruckel, though the Union, which is probably a branch, has yielded well. It will be seen that operations at this mine are confined mainly to preparation of new stoping-ground, as might be expected from the condition of the work as described in my last report. The foregoing particulars are received from Mr. A. H. Brown, one of the present proprietors:
Rye Valley district has done as well as the dry season would permit in placer-mining. Some little prospecting for quartz has been done, and partial success rewarded the labors of the seekers-W. Green having discovered a small vein of gold-bearing quartz in the vicinity of "Hamphrey's Gulch," which prospects well. This gulch has remunerated the placer-miners engaged there for a number of years, and perhaps this discovery may lead to a more extensive exploration of that locality, possibly unearthing the source from whence these placer-claims have been fed.
Little attention for the past year has been paid to the numerous ribbon-silver-bearing veins discovered in the district. The presumed reason lies in other and more pressing pursuits of the locators. What little work has been done has rewarded the prospectors by disclosing ore which, by assay, yields, in some cases, as high as $572 per ton. The Monumental, Green Discovery, Mountain, Washington, and Rising Sun gave flattering indications. With the exception of the two first-named veins, however, the large number of the locations in each company has been a serious drawback to development. But the time is drawing near when, by law, the greater portion of these locations are declared vacant through non-performance of work; and it is hoped the claims will pass into more energetic hands.
About 30,000 feet of lumber for the Rye Valley Bed Rock flume was on the ground last December, and it was expected that work would be commenced on that undertaking when the season permitted.
The following account of the early settlement, character, and present development of the mines of Union and Baker Counties was prepared by Mr. W. H. Packwood, of Baker City:
In the fall of 1861 Mr. Griffin and party of men, in prospecting in the Blue Mountain Range, discovered what is known as Griffin Gulch, a tributary of South Powder River. The gold found was coarse, and in sufficient quantities to warrant them in locating for mining purposes. At that time the only settlement east of Blue Mountains-I might