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V. THE GOLD BLUFFS (continued)


During the 1880s activities at the Gold Bluffs and the Ossagon placer slumped. By 1890 only two of the registered voters, John Eva and Michael Richardsonin the Gold Bluffs District of Humboldt County, listed their occupation as miners. In addition, three other voters (James Brown, a machinist, and David Cuddihy and William Fairchild, laborers) may have been employed at the mines. [23]

By 1920 mining operations at the Gold Bluffs had been closed down. When he visited the area in 1923, D. L. Thornbury reported that "oldtimers" told him that years before the beach had been narrow and steep, and that the breakers had washed the foot of the bluffs. But by the time of his visit this situation prevailed at only the south end. Along the northern part of Gold Bluffs for a distance of three miles, sand had accumulated. In addition, a wide sandbar had formed about a mile offshore, so that the force of the waves had greatly diminished and only on occasions did they reach the base of the bluffs. [24]

It was now known that the gold deposits had never been too valuable. The gold was extremely fine, and, contrary to opinions voiced in the 19th century, nearly all had been recovered in sluiceing. Moreover, the beach sands were expensive to work, and the gold was so fine that it would float on water when dry. Every pan would show color, but it took many pans to secure a penny's worth of gold. The largest amount of gold recovered in any one year was $25,000, with one seven-day run producing $1,600. [25]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004