Tom Ashworths Prospectors Cache


by Tom Ashworth

Lincoln County has produced around 200,000 ounces of gold, mostly from lode sources. Only one placer area was productive.

Jicarilla Mountains

This is an area near the village of Jicarilla northeast of Carrizozo. The placers have been worked almost continuously since 1850 to the present. All of the operations have been small scale, one man type operations. Water is scarce and there is a lot of overburden to remove before any gold is found. However, it is estimated that there is considerable gold here and believe that all of it will be gotten by small scale methods. The estimated production is around 15,000 ounces. Much of the area is claimed and active. Most of the placer operations took place in Ancho, Rico, Spring and Warner Gulches.


Occasional small scale work goes on in the placers and lode deposits in the Sierra Blanco Range 6 miles south of Nogal, which is about 8 miles east of Carrizozo. Most of the placers were worked dry and were in Dry Gulch. This area has been worked intermittantly since 1865, but the production is still small, probably less than 1,000 ounces.

Nogal Creek

Reported By: Tim Haller

Nogal Creek is located in the Lincoln National Forest in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Nearly all of the placer ground is currently claimed. However, one 20-acre unpatented claim is operated by Lincoln County Gold Mining Company in Ruidoso New Mexico. They sell daily and yearly passes to a claim which is located approximately three miles south of Nogal, New Mexico

Nogal Creek flows mostly year round, except during severe drought. Creek flow is very shallow and narrow. Depth to bedrock on the Lincoln County Gold Mining Company claim is over 10 feet. A deep backhoe excavation on the claim provides access to the deeper gravels. However, bedrock is not encountered even in the bottom of the excavation. Panning, sluicing, highbanking and dredging (up to 2.5 inch) are allowed.

The placer gold in the Nogal Creek deposits consists of coarse flakes. Occasional small, flattened nuggets of one to two pennyweight are sometimes found. Very little fine gold is present. On rare occasion, small flattened wire gold is found. But the rule here is mostly coarse, flat, bright flakes.

The load source is auriferous pyrite in quartz veins. The quartz veins occur in Tertiary andesite and monzonite country rocks. The free gold was typically seen as wires and small thin "sheets" within and parallel to the strike of the veins. It is assumed that the oblong flat flakes found in the placers originated as small wires. The placers were discovered in the mid-1870s. Lodes were discovered and worked from the late 1870s to the early 1900s. The two best known mines in the district are the Helen Rae and the American. Both mines are located in Dry Gulch, approximately 1/2 mile west of Nogal Creek. Recorded placer production in the Nogal District is only 200 ounces, although more was undoubtedly recovered.

Public access to the earlier described claim is obtained from Mr. Tom Deal at the Lincoln County Gold Mining Company in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Map coverage includes the Lincoln National Forest Map, the White Mountain Wilderness Map, and the Nogal, New Mexico quadrangle.

White Oaks Area

This general area has reported nearly 90% of Lincoln Counties production. The area that gold can be found is 12 miles north and east of Carrizozo in the White Oaks Mountains. Placer gold was reportedly mined here befor 1860, but little production has been mentioned since. The lode mines closed during the 1930's. Most of the placer mining was done in Baxter and White Oaks Gulch and the tributaries to these gulches.

© Tom Ashworth's Prospectors Cache / Tom Ashworth / Revised