Siskiyou County California
I have done quite a bit of mining in this county, one of my favorite places to hunt for gold. Heart of the famed "Northern Mines," Siskiyou County contains more than 370 once active gold mines, which yielded 1,800,000 troy ounces of gold between 1880-1959, with a large unrecorded amount produced between 1850 and 1880. Each summer, many amateur prospectors work the gold-bearing streams throughout the county in perhaps the most rugged region in California. Little has been officially reported on Siskiyou County and gold production compared to other California counties, and much of the information is questionable. Placer mining is the main way that gold is taken due to the complex geology in the county. However, gold is not the only metal of importance in Siskiyou County. The county is said to contain large Platinum Group metal deposits. The Platinum Group Metals in the Klamath Mountains are unique in that they are composed largely of iridium and osmium, in the form of osmiridium, with platinum being less important. The Klamath River has not been an important source of placer platinum because it is so fine and difficult to recover. Platinum Group Metals collected at the Ten Eyck Mine near Orleans on the Klamath were assayed at 92% osmiridium and 8% platinum. It is reported at a placer operation near Orleans that they saved 3 ounces of osmiridium in 6 years. Platinum on the Salmon River and its tributaries were larger, with nuggets up to 1 ounce in weight recovered. Most of the platinum has a black coating. The primary areas to look for platinum in Siskiyou County are Callahan, Seiad Valley, Independence, Ten Eyck, Orleans, Forks of the Salmon, Sawyers Bar, and the North Fork of the Salmon River.
Cottonwood creek and its tributaries (Antelope, Crow, Dry Driver, and Roaring Creeks) have produced a large amount of placer gold near the southwest border of Shasta County. Estimates put it as high as 260,000 ounces, which may not be an exaggeration. Unfortunately, the area was dredged with buckets in many places during the depression, and little has been done since.
Deadwood Creek is still a favorite with recreational prospectors, and the area has a rich history of producing placer gold since the early days. Other producing streams in the area are Cherry, French, Indian, and McAdam Creeks.
From where it joins the Klamath River in the west part of the county, Dillon Creek has produced a considerable quantity of placer gold. It had a rich history. From 1951 to 1960, placers were worked it on a large scale. For those who want to prospect the area, it is well to remember that this last discovery was of a type that required cyanide heap leaching. Investigation of the local geology might prove profitable.
Elk Creek produces gold throughout its length.
Horse Creek is a very rich creek. Watch for natural cinnabar deposits that contain mercury. I filled a sluice full once on this Creek with mercury.
Humbug Creek placers were discovered on Humbug Creek about ten miles northwest of Yreka. Later many gold-bearing quartz veins were found and worked. Overall estimates range upwards of over 600,000 ounces recovered. Large-scale bucket dredging continued until 1950, and recreational miners are active in the area now.
North of Happy Camp in area jade mines along Indian Creek, you will find nephrite jade, gold colors and nuggets, and most prized of all, jade laced with stringers of raw gold, which is a prime collectors' gemstone.
The Klamath River contains placer gold along its entire course through Siskiyou County. The Klamath River was a productive placer stream, and many operations continue today. Many of the tributaries were major producers. Many gold lodes were also discovered near the river. Even though much of the river is claimed today, amateurs find spots to work their dredges, and many do very well. A study of local history and property rights is suggested. Some of the best locations are where the following creeks come into the river; Humbug, Horse, Schults Gulch, Scott River, Independence, Dillon, Elk, Indian, and Thompson. This list is incomplete, and many tributaries produced large quantities of gold.
Klamath River bar and bench gravels contained rich placers. All tributary creeks and bench deposits have placer gold. From Somes Bare north along highway 96 following the Klamath River to Happy Camp, vast bench gravel deposits untouched today, extremely rich extensions of huge hydraulic operations east of Happy Camp to highway turnoff to Yreka contains tremendous placer gold potential.
Miners produced 50,000 ounces at the Gilta Mine about 5 miles south of the town of Forks of Salmon. Of more interest to the amateur, dredgers are the rich placers found on Know-nothing Creek near the mine. Virtually nothing has been done in this area since the early 1900s.
Placer gold is found along every mile of the Salmon River in Siskiyou County. Almost every type of placer mining has been used on the river. The north and south forks were productive, and one stretch between Forks of Salmon and Sawyers Bar is estimated to have produced over 1,000,000 ounces. This is one of the richest rivers in Siskiyou County.
Cecilville is located 30 miles southwest of Callahan on the South Fork of the Salmon River. The Salmon River produced considerable gold on both the east and south forks, near the point where they join in southwestern Siskiyou County. After the placers worked for several years, lode veins were found and mined until 1940. The lodes had both massive bodies and stringers which ran to high-grade pockets. If you go north of Cecilville by steep USFS road to the summit, the Black Bear Mine, now private property, was a producer of 150,000 ounces of lode gold. In addition, many area mines in regional canyons produced lode gold. In the East fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River, you will find placer gold with platinum nuggets.
Forks of the Salmon
The Forks of the Salmon was the center of large gold mining operations, and all regional stream and bench gravels had rich placers. In addition, there were huge hydraulic operations on the major streams, which produced 1,000's ounces of placer gold. If you go Southeast of this area, about ten mi., you will find The King Solomon Mine, which Matthew's creek jeep road can reach. This mine was a major producer of lode gold, with over 50,000 ounces recorded.
The Liberty district is about 10 miles east of Forks of Salmon. The placers were discovered here in the 1850s. The area was active until World War I, although some prospecting has occurred. Many lode mines in the area.
Sawyers Bar is located in the Salmon River district and contains roughly 800 square miles of extremely mountainous country between the Marble Mountains and Salmon and Trinity Wilderness areas. This area had a total production between 1855-1965 estimated at 16,000 ounces of placer gold and 20,000 ounces of lode gold. In all regional stream gravels, you can find placer gold and platinum. Many huge hydraulic operations and Chinese diggings were accessible from the east on Sawyers Bar road. On the North Fork of the Salmon River, you will find placer gold in all gravel and slope wash deposits. In the South Fork gravel bars, especially near the mouth of Black Gulch, there are rich placer gold deposits. The Whites Gulch Mine was a hydraulic operation that worked until 1970 for its placer gold. If you go east 10 miles to Idlewild, the site of an old sawmill and USFS campground, the gravels of the South Russian River have rich placer gold and platinum deposits on bedrock. It is reported that on the North Fork of the Salmon, there were many mines, The Hickey Mine, The Gallia Mine, and The Red Hill Mine, all of which were substantial producers. Also, You should note that gold in this area is said to be fine to flour, and you should have recovery systems that handle that type of gold.
A large amount of gold was recovered from the Scott River near the town of Callahan, with most of the recorded production coming from a dredge operation that worked the stream for about five miles. There were also many lode deposits near Callahan. The veins were small, but they were rich. One lode mine is reported to have recovered between 15,000 and 20,000 ounces. Callahan is 44 miles Southwest of Yreka at the South end of Scott Valley. This is an area with an enormous amount of mining activity. On the bed of the South Fork of Scott River, from Callahan South toward headwaters, there were great hydraulic operations and Chinese rock piles, which still contain placer gold. Gold is still found after every winter runoff. Also, placer gold is found in all gulches and creeks, with many lode mines hidden in steep mountains—North along the Scott River, with several miles of dredging operations, halted in 1955 by law. Southwest of Callahan, by jeep road, the Martin McKeen Mine was a producer of 12,100 ounces of lode gold. The Porphyry Dike Mine was also an important producer of lode gold. Go North of Callahan 5 miles to Sugar Creek and follow west on USFS road to a hydraulic working which contains very rich placer gold. Go South a few miles to Camp Eden, then Southeast across the canyon. You will find the Blue Jay Mine, and in the gravels of nearby Jackson creek is an area that was a rich producer of gold nuggets after winter floods. Go East of Callahan 10-12 miles along Grouse Creek, and you will also find additional rich placers. The Copper King Mine was a silver mine with a by-product of gold. South of Callahan 14 miles, Carter Meadows Recreation Area in Trail Creek has rich placer showings.
Fort Jones is located by traveling southwest along the Scott River road to Indian Creek; it had extensively dredged gold placers. All-access roads into the Scott Bar Mountains lead to productive mines, most of which were lode gold producers. You can find placer gold in all regional gulches, canyons, streambeds, and bench deposits (some extensively worked). If you travel north 12 miles, you will find the vanished town of Deadwood on the old road. To Yreka and all area canyons and gulches contain gold. If you travel west down Scott River road, you will find Cottonwood and Rancheria Creeks, which had large-scale dredging operations which produced over $4,000,000 in the 1850s. Many area lode gold mines, especially the Golden Eagle, produced 48,500 ounces until 1931.
Greenview is located in Scott Valley. If you go west 3 miles, you will find Oro Fino area mines on the South and east sides of Quartz Mountain, the site of a gold rush camp. The Quartz Hill Mine was a lode gold mine located in this area.
Placer mining began early during the gold rush in the area about five miles west of Fort Jones. As a result, you can find rich lode mines later in this area.
West of Greenview 4 miles, in Quartz Valley, is where you will find Muccinsville, which had several old mines on the west side of Quartz Mountain and the site of a five-stamp mill remnant near Quartz Valley School. The area stream gravels contain pannable colors.
Scott Bar is located where the Scott River meets the Klamath River. It is 3 miles east of Hamburg on highway 96. The Scott Bar Mine operated from 1850 until 1970 and had lode gold in hematite. Placer gold was discovered here at the beginning of the gold rush, and for many years the nearby area supported hydraulic and lode mines. It is worthy of note to amateur prospectors, for prospectors found many rich pockets here.
The mines just west of this small town were lode, and although they produced around 30,000 to 40,000 ounces, they were considered worked out shortly after the turn of the century.
Yreka is the county seat of Siskiyou County and contains many rich lode mines and rich placers. Following winter storms, large gold nuggets can be picked up within city limits, especially around the waterworks where, in December 1964 floods, many have found several nuggets to 4 ounces each on the surface.
Hawkinsville is a suburb of Yreka and was the site of a rich gold camp in the early 1850s. The canyon and gulch gravels contain rich placer gold. In addition, hungry Creek, area gravels, and slope wash deposits contain placer gold. Fourteen miles Southeast is the Peg Leg Mine, a rich lode gold mine.
The gold on Thompson Creek is large and slabby, but Thompson creek is very spotty, and it is a good idea to have some good boulder moving equipment. Bedrock is generally deeper on this Creek.