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1. Beach Mining

General Ray, a resident of Carson City, Nevada, spent July 1872 in Del Norte County, inspecting the beach mines, four miles southeast of Crescent City. He pronounced them the best he had seen for "gold, platinum, and magnetic iron," and expressed himself satisfied that they would return large profits to anyone willing to work them with up-to-date equipment. These beach sands at this time, as heretofore, were worked with "wheelbarrow, torn, and sluice." Consequently, it was believed, a large quantity of the metal was lost. Indeed, most of the claims had been abandoned, for want of capital and modern machinery.

Crescent City business interests seemed unreceptive to outside capital, and when General Ray returned on a steamer on which was loaded the necessary machinery for working the beach sands, he was met with opposition. On disembarking, Ray found that the section of the beach he proposed to work had been "jumped", while he was securing equipment and capital in San Francisco. An exorbitant price was now demanded for it. Ray was not a man to be fleeced, so he ordered the machinery left on ship and returned to San Francisco, leaving the would-be speculators in mining claims to mourn their loss. [6]

The speculators were compelled to work their claims along the beach south of Cushing Creek. Their return per ton of sand was meagre, and the tailings proved by assay to be nearly as rich in gold as before the washing. By 1880 the claims had been abandoned. [7]

In the spring of 1891, H. Raymond and several others rented a Wood & Garcelon Gold Washing Machine. The machine, which had a capacity of four pans, was put into operation on Pebble Beach, two miles above Crescent City. Seven men ran the machine for 30 days, and quit in disgust when the sand only yielded ten cents per ton. Raymond and his partners seeing that the operation did not pay, went out of business. [8]

2. Placer Mining

The Myrtle Creek placer was discovered in 1853 by Louis Gallise. Lack of water was a limiting factor, restricting operations to the winter months until 1894. In that year a ditch was completed, which permitted the placer to be worked for the greater part of the year. In 1891 a nugget valued at $800 had been found. The Myrtle Creek placer is now closed down. [9]

3. Drift Mining

Hiram Rice in the 1890s conducted drift mining and sluicing on a 20-acre tract on Mill Creek. In 1894 he told Robert Jenkins that for the past 23 years he had "made a comfortable living by these means." The gravel on his claim was from ten to 20 feet thick. At the western edge of his claim, he reported that the gravel on the bedrock showed from three to five cents per pan.

He had prospected this gravel to a point about one-half mile east of his house, "where the gravel forms a spur, which runs down from Bald Hill, and is crossed by the Old Kelsey Trail." Up to this point, the gravel paid for sluicing. The gold was coarse, and he had found a number of nuggets worth $20 each.

Several tunnels had been driven into the spur to pinpoint the old channel. Upon the bedrock, he had encountered the trunks of several redwood, "which appeared to have grown upon the spot." Gravel taken from the tunnels had paid only 50 cents per day.

Rice had prospected the gravel between his house and Mill Creek, a distance of 440 yards. Crossing the stream, he found some gravel that paid four dollars to the wheelbarrow. [10]

Cornelius G. Nickerson, who was 15 years younger than Rice, likewise prospected on Mill Creek. His "ranch" was located about a mile south of Rice's house. Coming to Del Norte County in 1867, Nickerson spent his years on Mill Creek as a pocket miner, searching for gold which had been deposited after the spring freshets. He also raised a garden and kept a small orchard. For most of his life Nickerson was a bachelor, but several years before he passed on, he married the widow Jeater. In 1910 he sold out and left Mill Creek. [11]

4. Comments and Recommendations

The story of the unsuccessful efforts to reap great riches mining gold from beaches will be told at Gold Bluffs. Because of the probable high visitation to the area around Cushing Creek, some on-site interpretation should be made at that point.

The Nickerson Ranch site has been identified on the ground but the site of Rice's house has not. An effort should be made by the Service to pinpoint the Rice house site, and the remains of Rice's tunnels, sluice boxes, ditch, and bedrock flume. These should then be identified, and an access trail opened. If the remains are found to be in a good state of preservation, they should be entered in the list of Classified Structures.

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004