Mining Districts of Baker County, Oregon


The Eastern Oregon Mineral Belt

     There is a mineral chain or zone extending from, Canyon City on the south to the Snake River on the north, covering not least than one hundred and fifty miles long by thirty wide. This section has been producing gold for more than thirty years. From placers first and from both placers and quartz latterly. Take a trip through any portion of this region and the old and new evidences at operations attest to the magnitude of the yield. And yet it is a new country. The placer deposits have had the cream skimmed off them, but cheaper and more improved facilities for operation has made them desirable property yet.
     Quartz mining in this section is, with a few exceptions in its infancy. The amount of work done has been to a great extent done by poor men, who had to make money from the start or they could not prosecute development.
     Canyon City has not attracted much attention, aside from her "placer diggings," until recently. One of the oldest camps in the state, from a booming camp in the sixties and seventies, they settled down into a quiet little burg, her people following mining, farming, stock raising, and fruit culture, flush or hard times of the outside world had little effect on these people. All the necessaries of life were close at hand, they became a community that depended solely on their own resources. Gold they had for the purchase of what a bounteous soil and beautiful climate did not produce. If it had so happened the balance of the world had been swallowed up, the people of John Day Valley and Canyon Creek would have gone serenely on. The writer once saw a curious spectacle near Canyon City. Noticing a man windlassing gravel in an apple orchard, on inquiry he learned that the man in digging a well had found pay gravel, and it had been his custom to drift from the bottom of his shaft, raise the pay dirt and wash it with a stream of water that he also used for irrigation on his farm and orchard. He was not particular to hunt up a sunny spot for a fine apple tree afforded shelter from the sun. With luscious fruit in abundance growing over his head, on inquiry it was learned that the product of this farm was fruit, vegetables, grain, pigs, chickens, beef and gold. What more could man expect? No wonder people with these resources have not worried their lives away with the things that keep the outside world at a fever beat. The fabulously rich strike of Ike Guker in his Great Northern has awakened the people to the fact that the gold in their placer deposits did not fall from the heavens, and has started quartz mining in so wholesome a fashion that the Great Northern may see many competitors before the close of the century.

Canyon District

     Canyon district forms the first link in the chain. Dixey Creek and the Susanville country comes nest. Quartzburg is an important point in this link. They have arastraed ore and plastered for years at these placers, and while the outside world has not been flooded with reports of the big clean ups, yet the owners are satisfied, and are still doing business at the same old stand. If they are not doing well their looks and actions indicate the reverse.

Green Horn District

     The Green Horn mountains covering Robinsonville, Bonanza, Pyx, Don Juan, etc. In quartz mines and placer deposits too numerous to mention comes next in the chain. The riches of this link could not be told; money has been produced here for years. First the placers then the quartz and placers, and yet with one or two exceptions the country has had no development work. This country is in its inception. The success of the Bonanza people is the forerunner of many more. Boulders of quartz have been picked up that are so thickly studded with coarse gold that they resemble nut candy. If the Klondyke boomers could show specimens like some that come from this favored locality, the press of the country would teem with the stories of its immense riches.

Red Boy District

     The Red Boy mine and its surroundings comes next in line; here is another evidence of the property that had to be self sustaining. With a ten ton Crawford mill this property has paid its own way, developed itself into it million dollar property built itself a new plant costing some forty thousand, and placed its owners among the rich men all within four years. This property slid the adjacent claims have attracted the attention of some or the largest mining operators in the country, lot all propositions to purchase have been rejected by the owners.

Granite District

     The Granite Creek District has produced its millions in placer gold, the old town of Independence, now known as
Granite, was a land mark in early days, and many thousands of dollars have come from her placer deposits with
many more in sight. Grant Brothers, of Salt Lake City have spent upward of $100,000.00 equipping their placer possessions, and the stream of sunny metal that good judgment assures them will flow, will amply repay them for their investment.
     In this section is situated the famous La Bellevue group, mines. This property has lately passed from the original owner, Messrs. Cabell Bros., into the hands of Bamberger & Keith, of Salt Lake City, who are about ready to start up a new fifty ton plant for concentration. These people are successful mining operators having had many successful properties in Nevada, Utah and elsewhere. Their advent in Eastern Oregon is welcomed, for their names are a guarantee that this property will take front rank among the producers.
     In this vicinity we find, among the promising properties the Magnolia, the Buffalo, the Golden Rule, etc., The Ibex mine and adjacent properties form an important link in the chain, and it is truly a golden link. This property, located two years ago, took its place in the front ranks immediately, and it surely deserves it. The discoverers were poor men, but with the pluck of heroes they have placed their property in a shape that commands attention in the mining world.

Sumpter District

     The Sumpter District has no small part to perform in the aggregation of the mineral wealth of this great country. Placer mining on Powder River and Deer Creek is extensively carried on. In quartz mining the Huckleberry, the Lazy Jim, &c., bid fair to become banner producers.

Cable Cove and Cracker Districts

     The district coming next in consideration is that of the Cable Cove and Cracker countries. How much money has been taken from this section would be hard to determine. How much more will be taken is only limited by the demand. "The Big Ledge," as the Cracker Creek main ledge is known, is traceable for miles in the Ibex, the North End, in the Ten Strike, over twenty-five claims and mines are being worked on the vein, the more prominent of these being the North Pole, Eureka and Excelsior, Columbia, Ohio, Wide West, Amazon, Golconda, Bunker Hill, Rex, etc.
     The North Pole property, owned by Baring Brothers of London, are operating with it cyanide plant. The Eureka and Excelsior are operating a twenty stamp concentrating plant. The Columbia Company are concentrating and amalgamating, but have just let a contract, for the putting in of a chlorine bromine process capable of handling 100 tons daily.
     The Ohio people have a twenty stamp mill. The Golconda, Wide West and Amazon Company have just signed contracts for a chlorine bromine plant, to cost one hundred thousand. The other properties on the vein are as yet prospects, but at rate of development now going on the next year will see many new reduction plants in operation. Aside from the mines on the "Big Ledge," there are many  more on side veins, notable among them are the Ohio, Climes, Mammoth, &c.
     To the northwest of the Cracker properties comes the Cable Cove country. This is destined to be the tonnage producer of this section, owing to the many properties located here. Foremost among the properties located here are the California, Eagle Group, Red Chief,, Davenport, Mormon Boy, Oregon Chief, &c.

Elkhorn District

    To the northeast the next link in the chain is the Balsley, Elkhorn and Rock Creek country. Here running night and day is the Baisly Elkhorn, Robbins Elkhorn, &c. These properties have proved for years, and present indications are that their production is only limited by the energy displayed is their operation.
     From the streams and deposits in the foothills adjacent to this section thousands of dollars in placer gold has been taken, and they are today producing a stream of the sunny metal. Side by side live the placer miner and the orchardist farmer and rancher, and ground that has not got pay dirt n is in the shape of gold usually has it in the production of apples, peaches, and all other things in that line that goes to make up a bountiful harvest.

Sanger District

     Following the chain, the next mineral country to attract attention is the Sanger country. Way back when placer mining was the only mining that attracted attention, the Sanger country commanded its share of attention, and she has held her own ever since, passing through all the ups and downs incident to mining ramps. The Sanger district has steadily held her place, and every little while the unearthing of a fabulously rich deposit carries men's memories hack to the days when railroads, stamp mills, cyanide plants, etc., etc., were not dreamed of in this section of the country.

Cornucopia District

     From Sanger we pass on to the Cornucopia country, and "the horn of plenty" is here exemplified. Never did name of a mining section so fully justify its name. The Union Companion Company have been operating here for about three years, and the success they are meeting with is evident from the steady manner in which they are grinding away. The Simmons group is a property that capital has been seeking to get hold of for years, and will prove a world beater when put in operation.

Seven Devils District

     It is said "a chain is no stronger than its weakest link." If a chain was as strong as its strongest link we would he at a loss to determine the strength of this great mineral chain. The copper link in the chain, the Seven Devils, is by no means the weakest link, and by far the most massive.
     The Anaconda, of Montana, and United Verde, of Arizona, have made men many times millionaires and built up large towns, yet it is said the copper deposit of Seven Devils excel either of these. Slow to take its place in the front rank, yet each year sees advancement that is so permanent that retrogression is impossible.

Seven Big Adjacent Mining Camps

    Sumpter is the supply point for many mining camps. Here in lies the assurance of her future destiny. Within a radius of about 15 miles there are no less than seven camps that are accessible and supplied from this point. The Cable Cove, Granite, Greenhorn. Robinsonville Bonanza, Hanover and Idol are the principal ones, and "there are others," and "other others" as goes the saying phrase of the young lady who had rejected three consecutive suitors.
     It is not "prospects" that are meant when the tributary mines are mentioned, as mining men well know. The fame of the Bonanza has gone forth into other lands. A new wagon road is practically completed between Sumpter and the famous Geiser properties "the Bonanza" that shortens the distance seven miles, making it 15 instead of 22. During the summer of 1897, $750,000 was offered for the Geiser interests in the Bonanza district, but the offer was refused.
     What is in the Sumpter district? Read and see. Among the leading mines of the district are the Bonanza, 20 stamps; E. & E., 20 stamps; Columbia, 20 stamps; Ohio, 10 stamps; North Pole, 10 stamps; Golden Stir Mining and Milling Company, 10 stamps; Red Boy, 10 stamps: Don Juan, 10 stamps; Magnolia, 5 stamps; Esmeralda, 5 stamps: Pyx, 5 stamps Golden Eagle, 3 stamps. Placer mining is also done in this district. New ledges are springing into existence each year with a marvelous vitality. Active operations are carried on as rapidly as the prosper tons can put up the means to do the work.
     A large number of quartz mills are in operation. and many more will be added each year. Greater progress will be made in mining the present year than any year since the discovery of gold in the state. More machinery is being added, more development being made, more interest taken than ever before, and you will find that Sumpter is in the midst of a land of gold and golden grain, where valleys that yield from 40 to 70 bushels of wheat, from 60 to 110 bushels of oats, and from 300 to 600 bushels of potatoes to the acre, are walled in by mountains of gold quartz that runs from $5 to $5,000 to the ton. Prospectors on Auburn gulch recently displayed at Baker City samples of quartz that runs $400,000 to the ton, or three-fourths gold. Besides these. which are only briefly referred to, there are hundreds of newly found valuable gold prospects in the district, all within 20 miles of Sumpter and directly tributary thereto. It is these vast resources that will build up Sumpter and make it a city second to none in the Northwest.

For More on Sumpter visit
Sumpter | Mining in Sumpter
Eastern Oregon Gold Fields

Baker City Index | Baker County Index

 

 

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