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V. THE GOLD BLUFFS (continued)


Lt. George Crook in 1853 was placed in charge of a detachment and detailed as an escort to the surveying party headed by Henry Washington. The patrol left Fort Humboldt and headed up the coast toward the mouth of the Klamath. As Crook recalled, "the mountains generally were not far back from the beach." In places, when the tide was flooding, the surf hammered against the cliffs, which rose several hundred feet above the foaming breakers. The little column would have to wait for the tide to ebb before passing the bluffs. Fifteen miles south of the mouth of the Klamath, the patrol camped at Gold Bluffs, "where the beach for several miles contained gold mixed in small quantities with the sand."

To work the beach, the miners at each low tide would traverse it with pack mules loaded with panniers, "so that when the waves had thrown up a streak of pay sand, it was shoveled into the panniers, and thence packed to the sluice boxes which separated the gold."

Crook was told by the miners that when the beach was located in 1850, it was estimated that it contained forty million dollars in gold, but that "their methods of catching the gold were then so primitive and slow (they at that time packed the gold-bearing sand to some point at low tide and there mixed it with quicksilver by oxen treading on it) that before much was saved a heavy sea came and washed it all out to sea." [12]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004