Historic Resource Study
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In giving the 1880s as a cutoff date for his discussion of frontier mining in the West, Rodman Paul explained, "It was clear the book should stop before railroads, the cyanide process, electricity, and the internal combustion engine had drastically altered operating conditions. On the whole, the opening of the 1880s seemed to be as good a watershed as could be discovered." [1]

Paul's considerations applied in general to northern California and the area around Shasta. Implied in his statement was the exhaustion of the placer mines throughout the West and the consequential reshifting of the mining population to areas where work could more readily be found. According to a county directory, only thirty-eight individuals—thirty-one miners, two clerks, a gardener, a supervisor, a teacher, a blacksmith, and a merchant lived in Whiskeytown in 1881. While the main occupation continued to be mining, the small population indicated the limited expectations from the available gold deposits. Toward the close of the nineteenth century the factor of greatest limitation for all gold miners rested in the various requirements of quartz mining and the process of extracting gold from quartz lodes embedded in the mountainous terrain often distant from the main thoroughfares of traffic. [2]

A. Quartz Mining

1. 1850-1880

a. Tower, Camden, et al.

To those familiar with geology, the area west of Shasta displayed signs of potentially rich gold deposits in quartz lodes; as Paul explains:

It was in the mountainous rather than the level parts . . . that minerals were found, because the deposits were formed originally during periods of earth movement. . . . hot liquids carrying mineral constituents . . . flowed into fissures and cracks in the earth's crust, to form "veins." When several veins are found close together, so that they and the intervening rock can be worked as a unit, that is, technically speaking, a "lode." [3]

As early as 1852 a lode of gold-bearing quartz was discovered and mined near French Gulch. The Washington Mine proved profitable to its owners and no doubt inspired other efforts to mine by milling quartz. A survey investigation of the county records indicated that in July 1853 thirteen men, including Levi and Jason Tower, Charles Camden, and Edmund Hindman, recorded thirteen claims "of 150 feet each in a Quartz Vein discovered by Moise Auling . . . about two miles from Shasta City on the Western side of the Mountain known as the dividing Ridge." But no other reference was found concerning this claim, suggesting failure or abandonment in an age when easy gold came from placer mining. [4]

By 1859, when the creeks in the vicinity of Shasta had been worked several times, five quartz mills had opened in the county at a total construction cost of $48,000—an enormous expense in contrast to the equipment and supplies needed for placer mining. While the 1859 source did not indicate where the five mines were located, very possibly they were all situated in French Gulch which won a reputation as the most important gold quartz district in the county. [5]

Quartz mining within the present Whiskeytown National Recreation Area boundaries did not become popular or large in scale prior to 1880. Hittell generalized in 1861 that in northern California quartz mines were "not so numerous or so large as in the Sacramento district" along the western slope of the Sierra Nevadas. But in the mining areas surrounding the existing recreation area quartz mines were yielding their worth in gold during the middle and late 1870s—at French Gulch, along the northernmost tributaries of Grizzly Gulch and Whiskey Creek, and near Clear Creek below the park's present southern boundary. [6]

2. 1880-1896

A critical shortage of gold on the market in 1886 prompted the state mineralogist to extol the working of existing mine tailings as highly profitable, and to describe in detail the machinery and process required to operate a stamp mill. The financial risk of such an investment, however, evidently discouraged major quartz developments within the park area, for an 1888 mineral report listed only nine working mills in Shasta County, none of which were located inside the recreation area boundaries.

The potential mining companies found the required financial investment formidable. Moreover, the technical expertise needed to run the constantly altered and improved mill machinery was not readily available. The state mineralogist's report for 1886 noted that "many ingenious inventors have spent years of their lives and much money in the construction of machines and in the planning of processes, many of which have been patented until the art of concentration has reached a point approaching perfection." [7]

Besides the obstacles of expense and skilled technology which limited quartz mining in the area around Shasta and Whiskeytown, the actual composition of the ores restricted the use of the quartz milling process. The 1886 state mineralogist's report explained, "The ordinary quartz mill saves only free gold," but in Shasta County,

comparatively few of the mines carry a true, free-milling ore, but depend upon the sorting and shipping of the high grade sulphide ores, leaving lower grades in the mine. None of the mines have attained a great depth, from an apparent fear of the owners that the pay ore does not extend down, although the success of such mines as the Uncle Sam and the Texas Consolidated would appear to indicate that these fears are groundless.

And, as a 1902 report summarized, "Quartz mining was of slow development, owing to the base character of the ores in most of the districts in which gold-bearing veins were early discovered." [8]

Nonetheless, miners in the vicinity of Whiskeytown in the 1880s found the incentive and means to expedite quartz mining. Transportation, provisions, labor, and fuel were all cheaper "than during the delirium of the first gold excitement," according to the 1886 annual report, and "every ounce of gold obtained is practically of double value." And, as if addressing the Whiskeytown area prospectors directly, a state mining bureau bulletin of 1895 explained, "Although the arrastra has been largely superseded by the stamp-mill, the fact remains that it is the best and cheapest all-round gold-saving appliance we have. Hence, its use is always indicated where small, rich veins are worked in the higher mountain regions." [9]

a. Bell and Woodward, Shasta, Marion, Phoenix, Red Rover, and West End Mines

Interest in quartz mining had picked up in the vicinity of Whiskeytown even as early as 1883. The Courier reported that "the Bell and Woodward Mine, several years ago supposed exhausted, has again come to the front with a three-foot vein, paying from $15 to $100 per ton," and that miners were steadily taking out rich rock and were driving a tunnel to tap a five-foot ledge of good milling ore discovered in the north drift of the Shasta Mine, later known as the Gambrinus. The Marion Mine at Whiskeytown had produced fifty tons of $300 assay ore, and the miners held expectations of adding fifty more tons to the ore dump. A ten-stamp water-powered mill at the Phoenix Mine was processing its own mine ore, as well as receiving advance orders from the nearby Red Rover Mine. And news of the West End Mine held promise for those prospectors who had not yet struck on a good vein, for the owners rebonded the mine after the first six months of taking out good rock. [10]

b. Dreadnaught, Pugh and Lindsay, and Iron Mask Mines

A few accounts of gold strikes on or near Clear Creek early in the 1890s testified to the continued ambitions of small operators in the area. In 1892 the state mineralogist reported that "on Grizzly Gulch there has been some prospecting done during the past year with promising results." In 1893-94 success marked the functions on the northern tributaries of Whiskey Creek, at the Spring Gulch, Banghart, and Mad Ox mines, none of which stood within the park, but were owned by residents of Whiskeytown. On a smaller scale, the Dreadnaught Mine (Secs. 10 and 11, T32, R6W) worked its quartz "in a ten-foot arrastra, run by water from the South fork of Spring Creek." The fact that the water supply lasted only four months of the year, however, automatically limited the mine's production. [11]

A more efficient amalgamation process was in motion on Clear Creek to the southeast, at the Pugh and Lindsay Mine (Sec. 27, T32, R6W), which boasted a kendall-rocker mill with a duty of six tons every twenty-four hours, in contrast to the one-ton per day crushed at the Dreadnaught arrastra. [12]

At least one other mining outfit exploited Clear Creek's waters during 1894 in order to work a quartz mill. The owners of the Iron Mask Mine (Sec. 31, T33, R6W), set up a five-stamp mill at the foot of Grizzly Gulch, 3-1/2 miles from their mine, to tap a dependable power source. [13]

3. 1896-1914

Despite the excellent water power for quartz mills, and the scattered discoveries of rich, free-milling gold deposits, the area within the Whiskeytown and Shasta mining districts did not attract many major investors until 1896, when gold mining in Shasta County received an unexpected impetus from copper mining:

In several portions of [Shasta] county where properties were abandoned years ago, either because the ores were not free milling or because their treatment was not understood, work is being resumed extensively. New prospect work is also being followed to a greater extent than has been done for many years. Much of this is due to the impetus given by the Mountain Copper Company in the purchase and, also, custom treatment of ores. Old dump piles of ore, that were considered waste, have been tested by the newer treatments and found to be of value. [14]

By 1897 copper replaced gold as the primary metal mined in Shasta County. The smelter treatment used base ores as flux to extract copper, and this process also worked to extract gold, so that the industries benefitted mutually once an agreement was finalized between the gold miners and copper companies. [15]

The Copper Mountain Company referred to above began operations in 1895 at Iron Mountain, only a few miles northeast of Whiskeytown, in the heart of the copper belt. An 1899 mining report described the functional and physical interrelationship between this copper district and the gold quartz lodes nearby:

Lying adjacent to the copper belt, and extending from Cow Creek on the east, to Clear Creek on the west, is a district rich in gold-bearing quartz. Some mines throughout this district have been operated on quite an extensive scale, but, as a rule, the ordinary methods of crushing and concentrating resulted in a heavy percentage of loss, and this fact, to a great degree, precluded the development of our gold mines. The introduction of smelters has, to a great degree, overcome the disadvantages [of quartz mining]. [16]

Between 1896 and 1914 several quartz mines in the area west and south of Shasta showed promising returns, particularly the Mount Shasta Mine near Salt Creek, and the Gambrinus and Red Cross Mines near Whiskey Creek. A 1902 analysis of Shasta County's mineral resources listed each of the mines in the county, with their section, township, and range, and with the character of their ore. Of the 222 mines in the county, fifty (or about 22 percent) were located within the present confines of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. More than half of this number stood in the southeast quarter of the park, where base or sulphide ores predominated. The second highest concentration of quartz mines was found near Whiskeytown, where free milling ores were more characteristic. A scattered number of mines were located in T32, R7W, but their production prior to 1915 was not particularly noteworthy in comparison with the quartz mines in T32, R6W, and T31, R6W. Suggesting the high rate of ore shipment to the copper smelters, only three quartz mills, of relatively low stamp power, were operating in the park area in 1902. [17]

a. Mount Shasta Mine

In 1897 the Mount Shasta Mine (Sec. 33, T32, R6W), 2-1/2 miles west of Shasta, was opened and operated by Behrens and Levisay and sold to a San Francisco company, Hirshly, Vair and Farfst, for $10,000. The first owners took advantage of the Keswick smelter near Iron Mountain, and received $80 to $90 per ton for their ore. The development was minimal, however, with an open cut of forty feet and a shaft sunk eighty feet deep. [18]

By February 1898 the San Feancisco firm had hired fifteen men to work the Mount Shasta Mine, sack the ore, and ship it to Keswick. The following fall the mine had reached 140 feet in depth where "a streak of high grade ore" had been uncovered on a three-foot ledge, all of which was hauled by wagon team to the smelter. [19]

In 1899 C. M. Dittmar reported that the ore from Mount Shasta Mine ran from $50 to $400 a ton in value, and that about twenty-five tons were carried each day to the smelter. To underscore the financial opportunities awaiting potential investors in similar quartz mines in the area, Dittmar remarked, "it has returned the purchase price to the owners, paid for the equipment, and now pays a regular dividend." [20]

Early in the year of Dittmar's comments, the San Francisco owners incorporated the property under the name the Mount Shasta Gold Mine, Ltd., and announced an imminent increase in manpower from forty to sixty, as well as an expected need for a more extensive hoisting plant, presumably to facilitate loading the ore onto wagons for the run to Keswick. Also, the transfer of Mount Shasta properties to corporation status made clear that the operations consisted of several individual mine claims, including those known as Mount Shasta Lucky Boy, El Chiquita, and the Algo-American quartz mines. Frequent openings of new veins during the year were indicated in the April 1899 edition of Mining and Scientific Press which reported that the company had "secured within ten days" eighteen new claims. [21]

In the summer of 1899 the Mount Shasta Mine reached its peak when it hit a pay shoot of free gold ore and had ninety men working. Sometime between 1899 and 1902 the corporation owners erected an eight-stamp steam-powered mill, each stamp weighing 1,050 pounds, with a capability of crushing fifty tons in twenty-four hours. Of the forty-two mills or arrastras listed in the county in 1902, the Mount Shasta Mine mill represented one of the four most effective. [22]

With such successful returns from its quartz mining, the Mount Shasta Gold Mines Corporation expanded its interests in 1901. As the state mining bureau bulletin explained,

The Mount Shasta Gold Mines Corporation, composed mainly of Chicago capitalists, which owns the Mount Shasta Gold Mine in this county, entered the copper field in 1901 and has secured some copper properties, the most important being . . . on Bully Hill. [23]

This purchase of copper mines seemingly coincided adversely with the future production at the Mount Shasta Mine, for the mine was shut down on various occasions from 1901 to 1904. Even though in December 1904 the company optimistically announced that it had driven the main shaft to 500 feet with intentions of pushing on to 550 feet, the mine folded early the next year and remained closed for most of the subsequent six years. In 1912 A. A. Lindsay & Associates of Portland, Oregon, purchased the mine claims for $35,000, and in December announced their intention "to start extensive work early next year and employ over 100 men." But in May of 1913, after cutting a new ore-shoot two to four feet wide, the new owners sold the then-idle mine to H. O. Cummins and Associates, who evidently represented the Mount Shasta Mining Company of San Francisco, the last investors to operate the mine successfully. [24]

During 1913 the mine had passed its production peak. Only four men worked a shaft 465 feet deep, dug on seven levels, with a 300-foot drift on the seventh level and several stopes and short tunnels. The eight-stamp mill stood idle. Between 1897 and 1911 it had furnished $178,000 worth of minerals from quartz ore which had varied in value from $4 to $43 per ton. In 1926 the state mineralogist's report evaluated the benefit of the mine with hindsight: "The principal producer [of Shasta Mining District] was the Mount Shasta Mine . . . [which] produced about $180,000 to a depth of 465 feet from ore said to have averaged $42.69 a ton." The report also noted its fate: "It has been idle for years and the plant has been burned down." [25]

b. Gambrinus Mine

Since the Gambrinus Mine (Sec. 16, T32, R6W) at Whiskeytown contained free-milling ore, it had an earlier start than the Mount Shasta Mine, but did not prove to be as lucrative over the years. Between 1870 and 1912 the mine produced $127,000 worth of gold. In 1912, after three years of working the claim, the owner (the Shasta Monarch Mining Company) decided to invest in a ten-stamp mill "to replace the small prospecting mill formerly used." In February 1913 the Mining and Scientific Press reported: "The outlook at Whiskey Creek is bright . . . a twenty-inch vein of rich ore is being opened at the Gambrinus mine." Since the mine owners maintained a five-stamp mill with two concentrators in operation full time during 1912, and a ten-stamp mill with two concentrators in 1913, it is unlikely that they chose to ship any of their ore to the copper smelter, although they had the option to do so if that process was favored. After 1813, little mention of the Gambrinus Mine appeared in the annual mineral reports, suggesting that the company closed the mine, or geared down drastically. [26]

c. Red Cross Group or Desmond Mine

The Red Cross Group or Desmond Mine (Secs. 4 and 9, T32, R6W) opened in 1896 at the head of Nevell's Gulch and Red Gulch, near the eastern tributaries of Whiskey Creek. Its owners, the Desmond brothers, were members of a family who had lived in the area for more than twenty years and who owned the Oak Bottom Hotel. In 1898, after they had sent about thirty tons of ore to the Keswick smelter, the Desmonds realized that the ore was sufficiently free to justify the purchase of a small water-powered stamp mill with 450-pound stamps. [27]

The mine's three claims—Red Cross, Aurora, and Blue Bird—had tunnels varying 50 to 500 feet in length. By 1905, however, the work had slowed considerably, partly because the mill was unable to process the copper-ladened quartz effectively: "It took only a short run in the mill, however, to convince the owners that they were not catching the values. The gold seems to be associated with copper, and in such a way as to make amalgamation impossible." [28]

The Desmond Mine continued to turn up in mining journals and county mineral reports through 1939. In 1913 the owner, Jerry Desmond, uncovered a three-foot vein, but Desmond needed financial assistance and gave bonds to H. W. McEwen, who also took over the famous Mad Ox Mine to the northwest that year. In 1939 the state mineralogist stated that "the mine was idle, and workings below the adit-level (the 35-ft. level of the shaft) were full of water," thus explaining the abandonment of a mine which appeared on the 1944 USGS quadrangle map for French Gulch, and which still shows the scars from many years of mining and milling on the site. [29]

26. Mining and Scientific Press 106, no. 6 (February 1913):257; see also Ferguson, "Gold Lodes," pp. 39, 50. Brown in his "Shasta County," pp. 786-87, reported that the mine had four parallel veins with a payshoot of free milling ore 220 feet long and eighteen inches wide. The workings consisted of several tunnels, the main one being 410 feet long with a crosscut 110 feet long. The mine equipment in 1913 included cars, tools, shop, dwellings, and a new ten-stamp mill with two concentrators.

d. Bonanza, Whiskey Creek Group, Australia, Iron Clad, Oro Fino, Shasta Quartz and Placer Mining Company, Hope, Mascot, Happy Jack, and Ganim Mines

As typified by the Gambrinus and, in part, the Red Cross mines, much of the ore in the vicinity of Whiskeytown was free milling and easily crushed, and an abundant water supply was readily available to all prospectors. During the first decade of the twentieth century many "pocket hunters" followed contacts of slate and metaandesite by systematically panning to their source; they then gouged a shallow tunnel into the hillside, extracted the rich pocket of gold, and abandoned the site. [30]

Several other quartz operations within a four-mile radius of Whiskeytown also produced small but rich gold deposits prior to 1914. Late in 1898 the Redding Free Press reported, "J. Brown recently took out a $3000 pocket near Whiskeytown," and during the subsequent decade a rash of mines in the same area made mining news, including the Bonanza Mine (Sec. 7, T32, R6W), Whiskey Creek Group (Sec. 8, T32, R6W), Australia Mine (Secs. 19 and 30, T32, R6W), Iron Clad Group, (Secs. 22 and 27, T32, R6W), Oro Fino Mine (Sec. 34, T32, R6W), Shasta Quartz and Placer Mining Company (Sec. 8, T32, R6W), Hope Mine (Sec. 8, T32, R6W), Mascot Mine (Sec. 8, T32, R6W), Happy Jack Group (Sec, 28, T32, R6W), and the Ganim Mine (sec. 8, T32, R6W). Of the above, only the Happy Jack and Ganim mines survived the second decade of the century. [31]

In his report to the state mineralogist for 1913-14, G. Chester Brown affirmed the fact that the mines around Whiskeytown were said "to rank next to French Gulch in total gold output," but explained also that none of the properties at that time were being worked on an extensive scale. This mining slowdown no doubt related to the setback in the copper industry that year "due to the fume agitations and lawsuits" which closed all but one of the smelters in the area and "caused material decrease in the amount of gold produced" in the county. Specifically Brown noted, "several of the quartz mines supplying ore to these plants have stopped operations." [32]

4. 1915-1941

Even though gold mining in Shasta County during the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century often depended heavily on the copper industry, gold production held its own until 1941, with peak years from 1908 to 1915, and 1936 to 1941. The United States' involvement in World War I had its repercussions on mining in California, causing shutdowns of mines throughout the state. By 1919 most of the larger mines in the Redding Field Division had closed, including those in the French Gulch district, "the most famous gold producing district of the north." Mining reports for 1922 and 1923 showed that gold mining in Shasta County had not yet recovered from the high costs of war.

Towards the middle of the 1920s "pocket miners" invaded the Whiskeytown mining district and left "a great number of shallow workings" no more than a few hundred feet deep in their wake. Depending on the success of these pocket miners, the district produced from a few hundred to $15,000 in gold per annum. In the Shasta mining district to the south and east, many claims were being held, but little actual mining was being done. [33]

a. Gamin Mine

As mentioned earlier, Joe S. Ganim's mine on New York Gulch, two miles northwest of Whiskeytown, remained in operation after most of the mines in the area had closed down. According to Ganim's son, who still owns the mine site and lives in Redding, Joe was a Lebanese immigrant who first came to the Whiskeytown area as a traveling merchandise dealer in 1906. By the close of 1913 Ganim had established his mine, hired his miners, and struck two feet of good ore. By 1926 the San Francisco-based Ganim Gold Mining Company consisted of fourteen claims spread over Sections 5, 8, and 15 (T32, R6W) and was producing white quartz "reported to carry $15 per ton in gold." The mine processed its own quartz, using a ten-stamp Straub mill, one concentrator, and a small electric light plant. That year, however, discovery of talc on the claim temporarily altered the direction of the mining company's efforts. During the 1930s, however, gold extraction from a number of crosscut tunnels varying in length from 50 to 400 feet resumed, producing gold that assayed from $1.50 to $50.00 per ton. [34]

b. Happy Jack Quartz Mine

As early as 1908, Charles Paige owned and operated the Happy Jack Quartz Mine (Sec. 28, T32, R6W), about two miles south of Whiskeytown. By 1920, when the property was available for lease, the mine consisted of six patented locations—the Happy Jack, Nonpareil, Langtry, Mountain Belle, Mountain View, and Knickerbocker—and three unpatented claims—the Illinois, Peoria, and Greenstone. Despite the number of locations, development by that year had not proceeded very far; according to the state mineralogist's report, there were no deep workings and many of the shallow shafts or pockets had already caved in or collapsed. The quartz carried both free and base gold ores. The free ore deposits had been worked by bucket and windlass. Paige had assembled only an arrastra and "an old cannon-ball mill" to harness the good water power available from Boulder, Brandy, and Clear creeks, possibly in part because the surface of the property was "steep, with deep ravines and gulches," and only a fair wagon road extended to the mine. By 1920 all the mine buildings had burned down, and later reports do not indicate whether Paige was successful either in his own mining or in his efforts to lease the property to other quartz mining interests. [35]

c. Index Mine

About four miles to the northwest of the Happy Jack, I. F. Rice and A. Kaleel of Whiskeytown had three men employed at their gold lode mine, the Index Group (Sec. 6, T32N, R6W), from 1923 to 1926. They held twelve claims on a ridge above Clear Creek, a half-mile north of Oak Bottom, with developments consisting of two tunnels, penetrating 140 and 150 feet into the hillside, and "a number of shallow prospect holes and open cuts." [36]

34. Interview, Anna C. Toogood with Samuel Ganim, October 14, 1974; see also Mining and Scientific Press 106, no. 6 (February 1913):257, Logan, "Shasta County," pp. 171-72, and Lydon and O'Brien, Mines and Minerals, Resources, p. 96. Talc mining at the Ganim Mine will be covered in another section. The mine also produced silver.

d. North Star and Gladys Mines

Close by the Index Mine, C. P. Baker, also of Whiskeytown, operated his gold quartz mine, the North Star (Sec. 6, T32N, R6W), in 1920. To the southeast, in the Shasta mining district, E. E. Hart and Donald McPhail of Shasta were the only hands employed at the four claims comprising the Gladys Mine (Sec. 34, T32N, R6W), first located 1899. Both of these mines appeared to be small producers. Hart and McPhail built only a blacksmith shop and cabin on their property, and worked the quartz with a single hand drill. [37]

e. Shasta View Mine

In the mid-1920s development work commenced at the Shasta View Gold Mining Company's property just north of the Weaverville road, 1-1/2 miles west of Shasta. Having located several well-defined veins ranging in width from two to fourteen feet, the company erected a small stamp mill on the property, and also had plans to construct a cyanide plant in 1925. [38]

f. West End Quartz Mine

The West End Quartz Mine (Sec. 16, T32, R6W) stood just west of the Shasta View Mine, one mile southeast of Whiskeytown. Between 1923 and 1926 C. D. Jones and Company of Santa Barbara, California, leased the mine and worked the white quartz with equipment consisting of a nine horsepower Hercules gasoline engine that drove a six-inch Mast-Foss rod pump, and a thirty horsepower boiler and steam hoist. The ore contained both free gold and iron pyrite in two veins varying from a few inches to two feet in width. The company evidently did not foresee future strikes, however, and the mine stood idle in 1926. [39]

g. El Dorado Mine

At least one quartz mine, the El Dorado Mine (Sec. 3, T32N, R7W), located less than a half-mile south of Tower House, within the park boundaries, remained in operation after the 1914 slowdown. Although discovered in 1885 and worked more or less steadily from 1894 to 1919, the mine remained a small producer until 1915, when the Redding Courier Free Press reported that the mine was "making a good showing." The Engineering and Mining Journal in December of the same year explained that the owner, James Connor, was "mining high grade ore and treating it in a two-stamp mill," and that in one ten-day cleanup that year, the mine produced $400 in gold. [40]

According to a 1926 mining report, the El Dorado continued in operation from 1912 to 1919, when "numerous fine specimens showing free gold through the quartz" were taken out. The developments, consisting of a 450-foot-long main adit tunnel driven northwest on the lode, stood on a north ridge of Mill Creek, at 1,500 feet elevation. The gold occurred entirely in pockets in the quartz, and at one raise of the mine, 340 feet from the mouth of the tunnel, $4,000 worth of free milling gold reported was extracted.

In 1926 the equipment at the mine consisted of a blacksmith shop, tools, a bunkhouse, and two stamp mills with 850 stamps each. The mill processed the quartz with triple discharge mortar and amalgamation plates, and ran on an eight-horsepower Fairbanks Morse Gas Engine. Only two men were employed. [41]

Frank C. Bickford, the El Dorado Mine's last owner, leased the property from 1931 to 1936, when he worked a 400-foot shaft. In 1957 he returned to work the mine again, remaining until 1967, when the National Park Service purchased the forty-acre property. In 1959 he began to dig the existing shaft, which he claims continued 500 feet back from the surface. [42]

Like the Bickfords, numerous families during the depression migrated to California's historic gold fields and set up small mining operations. On the outskirts of Whiskeytown a tent camp called "Hooverville" reportedly grew up to accommodate the men panning and sluicing on the legendary Whiskey and Clear creeks, as well as those who chose the more arduous quartz mining. Generally speaking, the gold production paid little more than subsistence, and only underscored the decline of an age of small, independent mining companies in the vicinity of Whiskeytown. [43]

h. Betty May, Mad Dog, Isabel and Queen, Porcupine Mining Company, and East View Mines and Prospects

In his report to the state mineralogist in 1933 Charles Averill described the gold quartz mines and prospects and the few sizable placer mines he had visited during 1932, twelve of which stood within what is now Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Of these twelve properties, only one was described as a gold quartz mine. The Betty May Mine (Sec. 8, T32N, R6W) had just reopened under the ownership of F. G. Mauthe of Los Angeles, after Ed Ragos had completed three years (1929-1932) of producing free gold by the amalgamation treatment in a 3-1/2-foot Huntington mill.

Four of the gold quartz prospects—the Mad Dog (Sec. 10, T32N, R6W), Isabel and Queen (Sec. 8, T32N, R6W), Porcupine Mining Company (Sec. 35, T32N, R6W), and the East View (Sec. 6, T32N, R6W)—had only been open since 1929 and had shown only occasional good gold assays. As a result, they had never appeared in previous state mineralogist's reports. [44]

Evidently none of the above mining endeavors survived the decade, for according to the state mineralogist, only four gold lode mines were operating within the present park boundaries in 1939—the Hall Brothers Mine near the southeast park property line; the Desmond and Phoenix mines near Whiskeytown; and the Merry Mountain Diggers Mine, which stood close to the Tower House, on the Redding-Weaverville highway.

i. Hall Brothers Mine

In 1938 the Hall Brothers Mine (Secs. 2, 11, T31, R6W) consisted of four quartz claims and one placer claim, which were reached from Shasta by four miles of mountain road and a half-mile of trail. The mine reportedly was first opened and worked in 1912 by a man named Scharrel, and was relocated by H. T. and E. E. Hall of Redding in 1932. The mine produced two small, but rich, deposits of gold assayed at $300 and $500 for the Hall Brothers. The ore regularly proved to be of "a very good milling grade" and a few tons of rejected ore from old shipments assayed at $25 per ton. With such promising results, the owners planned in 1938 to construct a wagon road to replace the half-mile of trail, and to sink the thirty-nine-foot shaft ten feet deeper.

The equipment at the Hall Brothers Mine included a rocker-mill with a capacity of reducing fifteen tons of ore from 3/4-inch size to thirty mesh in twenty-four hours. A Buick automobile engine provided power for the mill. [45]

j. Phoenix Mine

As mentioned earlier, the free-milling ore of the Phoenix Mine (Secs. 15, 16, T32, R6W) had been worked during the 1880s by a ten-stamp mill on the property. In 1893 some of the silicious ores were hauled to the Bully Hill smelter. The mine apparently stood idle until the 1930s, when its owner, Henry Roberts of Shilling, reopened the mine on a hill "about a quarter of a mile north of the Redding-Weaverville highway at a point one mile east of Whiskytown [sic] (Schilling postoffice)." The main vein produced ore assayed at $4 per ton in gold, and, on occasion, "bunches of ore of much better grade." In 1838 Charles Averill asserted that the mine had not been worked in recent time. [46]

k. Desmond Mine

Averill also found the Desmond Mine (Sec. 9, T32, R6W) idle in 1939. But it evidently had recently been a good producer, for Averill identified it on a map accompanying his annual report on Shasta County's principal mineral deposits. [47]

l. Merry Mountain Diggers

Less than a mile east of the Tower House, on the Redding-Weaverville highway, part of 2,120 acres owned by the Merry Mountain Diggers Corporation (Secs. 34, 35, T33N, R6W; Secs. 1, 2, T32N, R7W) was being mined early in 1938 under the management of Carl Harding of Redding. Although corporation officers, residents of Hollywood and San Francisco, California, invested a large sum of money on equipment early in the 1930s, the mine stood idle for most of 1938.

"The plan was to mine surface material from the side of the mountain, on a large scale, with power shovels, and to recover gold by amalgamation and by gravity concentration on Wifley tables," Averill wrote in his report to the state mineralogist. The first manager of the operations scraped off a huge amount of topsoil in the attempt to put the plan into action:

Course material was first rejected by a trommel (Bodinson) with 3/8-inch holes. Under the first manager, a large stationary plant of this kind was built, and two test runs of a total of roughly 20,000 tons were made. The longest run was 18 days, and about 1000 tons per day were handled during that time.

How much of this type of strip mining occurred on the land within the park cannot be ascertained from Averill's account, the only written description found of the mine. The Merry Mountain Diggers Mine is located in Section 2, T32N, R7W on Averill's 1939 map of Shasta County's principal mineral resources. The work accomplished during the 1930s is still visible to park visitors who jeep or hike north from the present U.S. Highway 299 along the dirt road which leads to the mine site. [48]

5. 1941-1975 - Sunshine Mine

Although gold mining in Shasta County was minimal during World War II, it resumed in mid-1945, reached a peak value the next year, and declined steadily thereafter. "The value of gold mined each year since 1951 has been lower than for any year during the seven preceding decades since 1880," Lydon and O'Brien noted in Mineral Resources of Shasta County. [49]

During the decade of the 1940s the state mining reports made mention of only one quartz mine within the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area boundaries. Located about one mile east of Schilling (Whiskeytown) and just north of the Redding-Weaverville highway, the Sunshine Mine (Sec. 15, T32N, R6W) was readily accessible to J. C. O'Brien during his tour of inspection in the spring of 1947. O'Brien reported that the Nevada-based Sunshine Gold Mining Company owned 530 acres of patented land, including the Sunshine Mine and other quartz prospects formerly held by location, and that the company had already begun to implement plans to improve the Sunshine Mine:

A concrete dam was built near the mouth of the adit to make a water reservoir of the old workings. A new adit is being driven from a point farther west and must be driven 60 feet to reach the vein. A quartz vein 10 inches wide in the new adit strikes N. 70 E. and dips 73 S. . . . The property will be mined by open cuts with a drag-scraper pulled by a double-drum hoist driven by a Chevrolet automobile engine. The ore will be dumped into a raise from the adit, drawn into mine [?] from a chute, and trammed to the mill.

The mill is situated below the adit, and mine cars are dumped into a bar grizzly spaced at 6 inches. The oversize is crushed in a 6 by 16- [?] inch Joshua Hendy jaw crusher belt-driven by a Buick automobile engine. The undersize drops to a fine-ore bin of 100-ton capacity. The ore is crushed to 100-mesh in a 5-by 5-foot Denver Engineering Company ball mill, belt-driven by a 110-horsepower International diesel engine. The crushed ore is fed to two amalgamation barrels 20 inches in diameter by 4 feet long, where 40 to 60 percent of the gold is recovered. The tailing is delivered to a Dorr double-rake classifier which returns the sand to the ball mill and delivers the slime to a Grouch Engineering Company flotation machine. The mill will have a capacity of about 4 tons per hour. Five men are employed getting the property ready to operate. [50]

The "old workings" mentioned above possibly refer to one of the quartz mining operations which flourished around Whiskeytown early in the 1880s or early in the twentieth century, but under another name and owner. The 1944 USGS quadrangle for French Gulch shows that the Sunshine Mine already was located in Section 15 at that date, but maps and reports of area mines published in the 1930s do not mention or locate any Sunshine Mine. In 1933 Averill described the Kanaka Prospect and set "Sunshine" in parenthesis after the name, but located this prospect in Section 28, south of Schilling. [51]

Lydon and O'Brien lumped the Kanaka and Sunshine together as one in Section 15, and thus indicated that the mine remained in operation for two decades. However, it appears that the Sunshine Mine only operated sporadically during the 1940s and that around 1949 the mine closed, because in that year Averill and Norman reported that although the Sunshine Gold Mining Company had developed a drift east from the old Spanish adit, "the ore was stockpiled while waiting for electric power to be connected to the treatment plant which was equipped with a ball mill, classifier, jig, amalgamator and flotation cells. No gold production was reported." [52]

The mining books in the county recorder's office list a number of gold mining claims made during the 1940s and 1950s within the present park boundaries, especially the twenty-seven claims recorded between 1948 and 1955 in Section 28 and the twenty-six claims recorded between 1941 and 1955 in Section 34, T32N, R6W. In August 1959 J. S. Ganim recorded two claims, the Jackpot Quartz and claims 1 and 2, in Section 5, T32N, R6W. John T. Desmond also recorded one, Aurora Quartz, in Section 9, T32N, R6W, thus continuing a family mining tradition of more than half a century for Desmond, and close to that for Ganim. [53]

Whether the Ganim or Desmond mines saw any productive activity in 1959 is questionable considering the gold prospects. In 1962 John P. Albers, as mining engineer, wrote, "The Whiskeytown district has a low future potential for gold as compared to the French Gulch-Deadwood district." With the exception of one mine operating a mile north of the park's northern boundary, mining in the area in 1960 was only "small-scale . . . [and] intermittent." [54]

On September 12, 1962, the Bureau of Reclamation's First Form Reclamation Withdrawal designated a large segment of the present park area for the construction of Whiskeytown Lake and Dam, thereby withdrawing these lands from mining claim entires. The creation of the Whiskeytown unit of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area on November 8, 1965, withdrew all the park acreage from mining, except on a small-scale, recreational basis.

But the limited gold potential itself also apparently directed mining interests elsewhere. Mining engineer Alvin Lense observed in 1973 that even though a sharp rise in the price of gold ($90 per ounce in February 1973) had revived a widespread interest in gold mining, it "only spurred minor activities by weekend prospectors and amateur miners" in the Whiskeytown area. In 1975 many day visitors still prospected on the area's extensive creek beds using gold pans. Thus, ironically, these miners have returned to the earliest and most simple placer methods reminiscent of the great gold rush of the mid-nineteenth century. [55]

B. Singular or Short-Lived Mining Operations, 1896-1960

1. Copper Mining

Although copper was first discovered in Shasta County in 1865, it remained an insignificant mineral resource in the county for another thirty years because of its low market value. In 1895 the Copper Mountain Mining Company purchased the Iron Mountain Mine, and the following year the copper industry replaced gold as the number one mineral producer in Shasta County, a distinction it retained until the 1950s. Between 1896 and 1965 the county mines yielded almost 704 million pounds of copper metal, which represented more than half the statewide production during the same period.

The principal copper deposits in the county were located in two copper-zinc belts extending about thirty miles in an easterly direction from Iron Mountain. The only important copper mine developed in the county outside of this crescent-shaped copper-zinc belt was the Greenhorn Mine, which stood just outside of the park's northwestern boundary. [56]

a. Mountain Monarch Mine

No major copper mines ever operated within the present park boundaries. During the peak years of copper production between 1896 and 1919, however, patches of mineral property owned and mined by the large copper companies extended into the park's eastern lands, and an independent company opened the Mountain Monarch Mine, one of only two copper producing mines to locate entirely within the present recreation area.

The Mountain Monarch Mine (Secs. 29, 32, T32N, R6W) appears on the 1908 map of the central mineral region of Shasta County. In 1912 Ferguson described its location and general appearance:

The Mountain Monarch is a copper prospect about 2 miles due south of Whiskeytown, on the flat-topped ridge west of the valley of Clear Creek. The workings consist of a small shaft on the top of the ridge at an elevation of about 2,400 feet, filled with water at the time of visit, and a tunnel in the hill, about 400 feet below the shaft, which has been driven 720 feet of the 1,200 feet that it has been calculated is necessary in order to reach the ore body shown in the shaft. . . . A few tons of ore has been stacked near the shaft.

Ferguson concluded this description of the Mountain Monarch Mines with the statement, "No data could be obtained as to the size or shape of the ore body or the value of the ore." [57]

In 1920, only eight years later, the state mineralogist's report noted that the Happy Jack and Mountain Monarch mines formed a group owned by Charles L. Paige of Santa Barbara, or Redding, California, and that the latter copper mine comprised the Great Slide, Boulder, and nos. 1 to 17 locations, with a total area of about 560 acres. At that date there was an 850-foot tunnel on the Mountain Monarch Group which, if extended some seventy-five feet, would "tap the main vein about 650 feet below its outcrop." Apparently the owner had tired of mining, because the mine description read very much like a brochure advertisement for land sales, and no mention was made of any active mining operations on the property. [58]

b. Sulphine Mine

The only other known copper mining within the park boundaries occurred at the Sulphide Mine in Section 16, near Whiskeytown (T32N, R6W), where the low-grade sulphides provided a short span of production. In 1913-14 the mine stood idle and never received mention again.

c. Elizabeth Con Mine

A 1902 map of the sulphide copper district also indicated that a copper mining property called "Elizabeth Con" extended over the eastern boundary of the existing recreation area into Sections 10, 14, and 15 (T32N, R6W), but no written description of this property could be found. The Mount Shasta Mine was also shown on this map, which suggests that the base ore quartz mines just outside the copper belt were then included as copper properties because the sulphides served as flux for the copper smelter process. [59]

2. Placer Mining

Hydraulic mining was outlawed in 1884 by the Sawyer decision, which reflected the farmers' opposition to the slickens dumped into the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, ruining their crops. Mining investors rapidly rallied forces to reintroduce hydraulic mining, because, as the state mineralogist argued in 1889, the economic losses caused by the Sawyer decision required correction to protect both agricultural and hydraulic mining interests:

The recent suppression of hydraulic mining by judicial decisions, has reduced the annual gold product of California by at least $10,000,000; has thrown thousands of men out of profitable employment, and has withdrawn enormous sums of money from circulation in the various channels of trade. . . . fortunately, however the interdependence of the various industries of the State in this respect is becoming generally recognized and thoughtful men, of whatever profession, are awakening to the desirability of rehabilitating the hydraulic mining of the state. It is greatly to be hoped that some method will shortly be devised for the effective prosecution of hydraulic mining, in a manner which will at the same time insure to the Farming interests of the State the protection to which they are entitled and preserve the navigable rivers of the State as well. [60]

a. Princess Hydraulic Mining Company

Evidently a satisfactory compromise emerged soon after, for hydraulic mining made a strong comeback in the late 1890s. At least one major company, the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company, operated within the park boundary at this time. In November 1898 the Redding Free Press reported, "The Princess Hydraulic Mining Company contemplates making extensive additions to its water rights and ditches on Broad Creek, near Whiskytown [sic]. The extension is one mile long, including a tunnel of 700 feet." Maps of Shasta County published in 1902 and 1904 both locate the Princess Hydraulic Company to the east of Clear Creek, within the southeastern sections of the park, which clearly indicates that the company maintained extensive hydraulic operations typical of the type of mining late in the century. As the California Miners' Association reported in 1899:

The hydraulic mines of California are noted the world over for the extensive plants with them . . . extensive dams and reservoirs required, the long pipe lines, the immense quantities of water used under enormous pressure and the vast quantity of material moved under this system. [61]

Adding that hydraulic mining was of great interest to all miners because it was "the cheapest method of mining," the writer proceeded to explain the process of hydraulicking: "of breaking down and disintegrating the auriferous gravel as it stands in place, and carrying it into the gold-saving appliances by means of water discharged through iron pipes upon such gravel under great pressure." In order to dislodge hardened or indurated gravel in the hillsides the hydraulic companies typically employed gunpowder and other explosives and then washed the gravel to the processing appliances. The destruction to areas along Broad and Clear creeks by the Princess Hydraulic Mining Company must have been considerable, and the scars from the explosions, reservoirs, and dams are perhaps still visible as reminders of the gold mining era around Whiskeytown. [62]

b. Vergnes Property

Creekside placer mining, as already noted above, experienced a brief revival during the 1930s, when the depression forced many persons into occupations otherwise not considered practical or profitable. Two placer mines within the park received individual mention in Averill's report to the state mineralogist in 1933: Vergnes property (Secs. 7 and 17, T32N, R6W) and the Clear Creek Placer Company (Sec. 34, T32N, R6W).

Chester Vergnes claimed that although the gravel near Oak Bottom had been worked by small-scale placer miners it still contained "fine gold and valuable black sands." Four different placer operations were then in process on his property, each being worked by different parties with different placer mining methods.

c. Clear Creek Placer Company

The Clear Creek Placer Company purchased eighty acres of placer ground on Clear Creek, just south of the existing National Environmental Education Development (N.E.E.D.) camp, from James E. Paige. The Washington-based company operated more sophisticated machinery than the men on Vergnes property, but with more frequent problems. When Averill visited the site, the company had already run into trouble trying to coordinate the 1-1/4-yard Thew gasoline shovel with the attached machine for washing gravel, and had found no way to dispose of the mining tailings that interfered with the operation. [63]

d. M. D. Baker

Dredging river and creek bottoms for placer gold came into fashion in Shasta County around 1895, and continued intermittently through the 1950s. In the park area only three such placer mining methods were reported, one in the 1930s and two others in the 1940s. [64]

M. D. Baker mined Clear Creek about four miles southwest of old Shasta with a power shovel, washing the gravel in a "dry land dredge." This operation only lasted for a short time in 1937. [65]

e. B. H. K. Mining Company

One of two other companies known to dredge within the recreation area boundaries was the B. H. K. Mining Company which operated a drag line dredge on Boulder Creek (Sec. 34, T32N, R6W) during the early 1940s. The company dredge processed 174,040 cubic yards of gravel, recovering 1,099 ounces of gold and 152 ounces of silver. The gravel deposit lay eight to twenty-two feet deep on top of a hard bedrock intermixed with numerous boulders of quartz diorite. Lydon and O'Brien explained that the dredging process featured both traditional and modern mining techniques and equipment:

The gravel was dug by a P. & H. dragline equipped with a 1-1/2-cubic-yard bucket. The hull, built on steel pontoons, was 22 feet wide, 36 feet long, and 36 inches deep. Gravel was directed to a trommel 48 inches in diameter and 24 feet long, having 12 feet of 12-inch screen. Oversize material was not stacked but slid into the pond through a chute. Undersize material was fed into two sluice boxes 12 feet wide and 12 feet long, both on the same side of the trommel, one mounted above and discharging into the other. The lower box discharged into a downstream sluice box five feet wide and 20 feet long. All sluice boxes were lined with expanded metal over rubber matting. Mercury was placed in the sluice boxes to catch the fine gold. [66]

f. Hammer Placer of A. R. Potts

In 1947 A. R. Potts of Schilling operated a low-powered dredge machine to work the bottom of Clear Creek (Sec. 7, T32N, R6W), near Oak Bottom. The three patented claims he worked stood on land owned by J. J. Hammer of Schilling. J. C. O'Brien visited the operation in the spring of 1947, and later described it in his report to the state mineralogist:

The property is mined with a small suction dredge consisting of a wooden barge on which a suction pump 25 inches in diameter, and a sluice box two feet wide and 16 feet long is mounted. The pump is driven by a Ford Model "A" engine. A trench about 15 feet wide is dug within 3 feet of bedrock with an International TB-40 bulldozer. The remaining sand and gravel is then pumped through a hose 4 inches in diameter and discharged into the sluice box. An undercurrent 3 feet wide fitted with metal lath over corduroy cloth is used to recover the fine gold. The sand concentrate is treated further in a Denver gold pan. Potts had one man employed on April 10, 1947. [67]

3. Granite Mining - Masterton Brothers' Quarry

Granite quarrying evidently has been one of Shasta County's in frequent mining activities. In fact, the massive granite deposit extracted prior to 1906 at the Masterton Brothers' Quarry (Sec. 20, T32N, R6W) was the only dimension stone of its kind listed in Lydon and O'Brien's compilation of mines, past and present, in the county.

In 1896 J. J. Crawford, the state mineralogist, reported that the Masterton Brothers' Quarry, located 1-1/2 miles south of Stella (Whiskeytown), on Brandy Creek, contained coarse-grained dark granite "similar to the Lincoln granite, in Placer County," and that four men—two quarry-men and two stone cutters—were working boulders into pieces 2" by 10" by 10' for curbing and coping, as the quality of the granite was "hardly fine enough for monumental work."

In 1913, G. Chester Brown explained further that the:

granite in Shasta County is generally of a light color, containing some hornblende and shows the effect of strong pressure, as the rock, when not decomposed, is much jointed and crossjointed. It is not much used for building or monument purposes on account of fracture planes and quartz seams cutting through rock. . . .

and that the sixty-acre Masterton Brothers' Quarry then stood idle. [68]

4. Talc Mining - Ganim Mine

Talc mining, too, seems to have been a singular occurrence in Shasta County, for Lydon and O'Brien listed the Ganim Mine (Secs. 5, 8, T32N, R6W) as the only talc operation. The 1926 report of the state mineralogist made the first mention of a "good-grade white-grinding" talc deposit of uniform quality on Ganim's gold mining properties: "At time of visit attention had temporarily been diverted to a body of good grade talc which was encountered in both drifts. . . . Four men are employed and several carloads of talc have been shipped." With the benefit of hindsight, Lydon and O'Brien noted that "small lots of steatite talc were shipped from the Ganim mine . . . during 1925-27 and in 1940 and 1946. No other potentially commercial occurrences of talc are known in the County." [69]

After an interruption during the 1930s to return to gold mining, the Ganim company leased the property for talc mining:

In May 1941 the Pomona Tile Company leased the Ganim mine and mined a carload of talc from a stope about 600 feet from the portal of the main adit. In October 1951, Paul E. Littel of Redding mined a second carload of talc from the same stope. There was no further production from this deposit until March 1946 when Littel opened up a lens of talc on the surface, northwest of the underground stope. Talc was exposed for a width of 20 feet, and material selectively mined from the outcrop was valued at $12.00 per ton delivered to the railroad at Redding; only a small production was re ported. During 1959, lessees cleaned out some of the caved workings. . . . Page and Wright (1943) reported that the production of talc of all grades amounted to about 2,400 tons, and that the property had been worked "primarily" for gold and silver. [70]

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Last Updated: 11-Dec-2009