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V. THE GOLD BLUFFS (continued)


In 1872 Captain Taylor of New York visited the Gold Bluffs to obtain the rich auriferous sands supposed to be deposited offshore there. Because of an accident to his diving bell, he was unable to achieve the anticipated results. Employing a "simpler process" he was able to secure sufficient auriferous sands to enable him to announce that they contained a great quantity of gold. He then in formed the press that in six fathoms of water "immediately off the bluffs," he obtained specimens of black sand that assayed $23,000 per ton. To reinforce his claim, he showed specimens that were "beyond question of exceeding richness." [14]

An official of the Gold Bluffs Submarine Mining Co., organized to exploit the Gold Bluffs, reached San Francisco in April 1873, bringing with him the "latest machinery for raising from the ocean floor" the gold bearing sands. He was accompanied by a number of skilled mechanics. The steamer Monterey was chartered and loaded with the mining machinery. Early in May, they sailed for the Gold Bluffs.

During the next three weeks, over 100 tons of sand were raised from an area from one-half mile to within 40 feet of the bluffs, and in depths of from eight to four fathoms of water. The testing officer, a well-known assayer from San Francisco, on examining the sands found scarcely any color, and no gold. The pump had brought up great quantities of gray sands, considerable black sands, coarse gravel, and shells. At each test site and at all depths tried, the pumping had continued until the rook-bed of the ocean had been reached. This operation by the Gold Bluffs Submarine Mining Co. appeared to discredit those who had claimed that "in the ocean, adjacent to the old Bluffs, and at the mouths of the Klamath, Rogue, and Umpaqua" there were rich deposits of auriferous sands. [15]

Commenting on the expedition, the Alta California informed its readers the results seem to establish that the theory of rich deposits of sands in the ocean adjacent to the Gold Bluffs coast was wrong. If this were true, then whatever financial losses the Gold Bluffs Submarine Mining Co. had suffered should not be lost on others planning similar ventures. This company, it was pointed out, had been organized to take advantage of the claims voiced by Captain Taylor. [16]

Where gold was involved such words of caution had little effect Within several months, a party of Humboldt County residents led by Captain Buhme, Frank and Robert Duff, and Harry Rogers had visited Gold Bluffs. They soon returned with reports that the "beach deposits of gold" were very rich. When this information reached the New York office of the Gold Bluffs Submarine Mining Co., negotiations were commenced for its exploitation.

Capt. I. H. Avery of the company reached Eureka from San Francisco aboard Pelican, with a "large six-inch Andrew Centrifugal Pump and other machinery requisite for a thorough and complete search for auriferous deposits on the claims of Messrs. Buhme & Duff." The pump, it was said, was very powerful and was similar to the one used to dredge St. Johns Bar in Florida, and was capable of lifting from the ocean floor 70 tons of sand per hour. [17]

Before leaving Eureka for the Gold Bluffs, Captain Avery purchased the scow Eagle. After she had been decked over and the pump mounted, she was renamed Gold Hunter. Despite her name, no auriferous sands were found in the ocean off the bluffs. Another effort to make a profit in mining the sands had been tried and found wanting.

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004