Mining Baker County, Oregon

Written in 1898

     Along in the 60's there was some placer mining within the Baker gold district. In the year 1897 the yield of gold from 313 gold mines and claims, in all stages of development, was $3,000,000. It is estimated that not one-tenth of the mineral bearing districts has been even fairly prospected. Yet since the mining industry began in Baker County, the total yield of gold has been close to thirty million dollars. Quartz mining worthy the dignity of the name, has not been pursued in this county to any great extent, but for the past three of four years, find the industry is yet in its earliest infancy. Some 1200 miners are laboring and the monthly yield of the yellow metal is near $250,000. It is a very conservative estimate that with the promised advent of capital the development of present and prospective mines, and the increase of machinery find more general use of modern methods that in a very few years Baker's quartz and placer mines will annually yield at least $10,000,000. Baker county is the banner gold mining county in Oregon.  In fact the output of this precious metal from this county, and its near-by tributary regions in 1807 was approximately three-fourths of the entire gold output from the state.  However, there are other resources, such as stock raising, dairying, lumbering, grain and fruit raising, each of which is destined to fall not far short of the value and importance of the mining industry which now is in the lead.

The mineral wealth of this county is evidenced by the following minerals:

Iron Salt Nitre
Coal Barytes Gypsum
Gold Graphite Marble
Silver Steatite Limestone
Lead Fire Clay Slate
Copper Brick Clay Granite
Nickel Aluminum Sandstone
Zinc Potter's Clay Gneiss
Quicksilver Ocbre Syenite
Platinum Quartz Basalt
Iridium Pumice Andesite
Chrome Infusorial Earth Cement
Manganese Mineral Waters  

Besides the million dollar output last year from the placer mines, the following were outputs from some of Baker County's quartz mines during 1897, and a number of these latter mines will make a greater showing this year by reason of extensive developments and an increase of stamps and other milling machinery:

Bonanza, Bonanza district


Virtue, Virtue district


Eureka & Excelsior, Cracker Creek district


North Pole, Cracker Creek district


Columbia, Cracker Creek district


Flagstaff, Virtue district


Gold Ridge, Gold Ridge district


Baisley-Elkhorn, Baisley-Elkhorn district


Gold Hill, Gold Ridge district


Don Juan Bonanza district


Humboldt, Rye Valley district


Pyx, Bonanza district,


Gallagher, Lookout district


Ibex, Mammoth district


Rattler, Virtue district


Leonard, Rye Valley district


Smith, Rye Valley district


Friday, Virtue district


Ninety-Seven, Cable Cove district


Martin Hill, Weatherby district


Rachael, Virtue district


Columbian, Virtue district


Tom Paine, Pocahontas district


Perry, Virtue district


Climax, Cracker Creek district


Uncle Dan, Virtue district


Cyclone, Virtue district


Kearsarge, Virtue district



$ 1,413,000

 That free gold section, beginning six miles east of Baker City, has furnished some of the richest and most beautiful gold specimens in the world, one of the pockets encountered in 1897 yielded $70,000.

     The Flagstaff is a recently developed mine, fully equipped and produces about $100,000 per annum. The Consolidated Virginia, adjoining the Virtue, encountered the Virtue ledge a few weeks ago at a depth of 500 feet, and active preparations for one of the most complete mining plants in the state are now under way by 'Messrs. Keith Bamberger, the controlling owners. The Rachael, incorporated as the Gold Ring Mining Company, struck water last week at a vertical depth of 400 feet. A splendid showing of valuable ore is made at the deepest workings, and the property will be in full blast next spring. The Gordon has just been sold to Minneapolis parties, with the purpose of fully opening up the mine. The Perry, Climax and Cliff have changed hands with the same object in view. Not quite so far advanced, but fully as promising, are the Emma, Montie, Friday, Brazos, Mabel, Cyclone, Red Jacket, Queen Bee, Sound Money, Paymaster, Wonder, Sleeping Beauty, Uncle Sam, Mogul, Amador, Collateral, Uncle Dan, Kearsarge, Columbia, and hundreds of other more or less developed claims.


     Sixteen miles northwest of Baker City is located the Baisley-Elkhorn district. The veins run north and south, formation principally slate, and the free-milling value of the ores is 40 per cent; balance of values is saved in concentrates containing a great deal of massive sulphide ore. These concentrates average about $65 to the ton, and all the properties in the district have a considerable amount of shipping ore. Most prominent among the producers of this district is the Baisley-Elkhorn, situated at the head of Pine creek, at an altitude of 6,500 feet. The present management under the ownership of the Eastern Gold Mining Company, is. now engaged in fully opening up the property. The two 20-ton Bryan mills, with their 40-ton daily crushing capacity, yield, when fully employed $125,000 per annum. Other important locations are: The Sherman group of seven claims, Bonanza-Elkhorn, Hurdy Gurdy, Denny group, Robbins-Elkhorn, Dolcouth, Gladstone, and a number of producing placer mines.


     Directly west and across the ridge from the Baisley-Elkhorn, commences the Rock-creek district, formation of ledges and character remaining about the same. The district includes the mountain region between Baisley-Elkhorn and Cracker creek, covering a distance of six miles. On nearing the Cracker creek belt, the ore becomes entirely base. The most Important work in this section Is prosecuted on the Maxwell group, owned by the Maxwell Gold Mining Company.   

     Developments in the way of tunnels aggregate over 2000 feet, and ledges from three to four feet in width have been uncovered in many places, showing values from $2 to $65 per ton. There Is a ten-stamp mill belonging to this property. A little further on is the Chloride, also well advanced and opened up. Ore shipped from this property gave smelter returns of $60 per ton. Other promising propositions are: The Clipper, Kellay & Foft, Badger, Gopher, Nellie Gray, Knapp's mine( recently sold to J. B. Risque, and showing a 12-foot ledge of high grade ore), McArdie claim, and probably 50 other locations.


     West of Baker City Is the Cracker Creek section, with veins running north and south. They are imbedded in a shale slate. The ore is base, requiring concentrating, smelting or cyanide extraction, as the case may be. The district is four miles wide and 18 miles long, contains mammoth bodies of ore, and has excellent mining facilities in the way of water, fuel and timber.  The Eureka and Excelsior produces $250,000 per annum, the North Pole $150,000, and the Columbia $125,000. The Esmeralda group recently bonded by a Montana syndicate) is apt to prove a surprise to the many investors who had a chance at that property. A prospecting mill and concentrator are being put on the ground at the present time. Among the other notable properties of that district, with ledges from five to105 feet, may be mentioned the following: Ohio, Climax, Appomattox, Golconda, Wild West, Amazon, Bunker Hill, Nine Strike, North Star, Middleman, Mountain Belle and Golden Treasure. South of this belt Is the Ibex group of mines, that is being extensively developed. The Ibex proper shows specimens of ore containing gold, ruby, silver, cinnabar and tellurium. The Mammoth Is a property that has produced largely in the past, and will eclipse its former record, as soon as reopened.


     Still further west of Baker City is the Cable Cove district, the ores of which are enclosed by porphyritic granite, which contacts with the E.-& E. slate formation on the east, and with gneiss on the west side. The ores from this district are principally concentrating and smelting, interspersed with free gold quartz on the surface. The veins run north and south, and are parallel with that of the Eureka and Excelsior, the belt embracing four miles in width and 20 miles in length. The California (now the Gold Star Mining and Milling Company) has a 10-stamp mill, and Knox's 5-stamp mill does custom work. Other properties with a bright future before them are the Mormon Boy, from which carloads of ore worth $400 per ton are shipped; the Sunset, Davenport, Ivy, May, Herculean, Oregon Chief, Homestake, McKinley, Baker City, Overland, Portland, Cable Cove, Confidence, Crown Point, Star, Gold Standard, Winchester, Grey Eagle, Miner, Black Dwarf, Anaconda, Snow Shoe, Jersey, Rob Roy and Midnight.


     Southwest, about 40 miles from Baker City, commences the celebrated Bonanza district, containing east and west veins, with formation of talco slate. The character of the ore, so far as developed is principally free milling, 70 per cent. of the values being saved on the plates; balance sulphurets, yielding concentrates valued at between $70 and $100 per ton. The producing capacity of this rich mineral section is simply incalculable, the ledges in some instances, as In the case of the Bonanza, forming a solid wall of 40 feet of ore, valued at $27 per ton. The fame of this property has spread far and wide, it alone adding $300,000 annually to the wealth of Oregon. Preparations for a 100-stamp mill are now under headway. The Dou Juan, with a 10-stamp mill, produces $00,000 per annum. and every 100-pound sack of ore dug out of the Pyx is worth $200. The other mines rapidly forging to the front are: The Virginia, Belcher (group of seven claims), Diadem, Phoenix, Imperial, Golden Gate, Worley (now the Greenhorn), Richmond, Watson, Crown Point, Ramshorn, Ariel, Lucky Boy, Banzett, Blackbird, Haggard, Haggard West, Cleopatra, Emma, Monarch, Independence and Pacific. A test run on the Pyx mine of 28 tons netted $105 to the ton.


     Very rich tellurium ore is found in this range of mountains, the Gold Ridge and Gold Hill being the two most noted mines in the section. Keith & Bamberger, of Salt Lake, own the Gold Ridge,, and are operating with a 10 stamp mill, producing about $100,000 per annum. The Gold Hill is in charge of Colonel James A. Panting, who is now making arrangements for a cyanide plant, in order to save a larger percentage of the big values contained in the ore. A recent 35-pound specimen from the 85-foot level assayed $212 per ton, the ledge averaging about four feet. The output from the Gold, Hill is between $90,000 and $100,000 per annum. The district is located about 35 miles southeast from Baker City. It contains many producing placer mines In addition to the quartz properties. Worthy of mention in this connection are the Sisley placers, Bohna, Chicken Creek, Hogback, Gallagher, True Blue, Woods Company, Capay, Lost Basin, Durkee, Bricheaux and the Hall opal mines adjoining the Gold Hill, and employing 15 men at present writing.


     Forty miles southwest of Baker City is the Rye Valley district. The formation is granite, the veins small, but exceedingly rich in milling as high as $100 per ton in free gold. The ledges run east and west. A three-stamp -mill on the Macedonia gives excellent results, but the principal value is obtained from the auriferous placer mines, lavishly distributed throughout the basin. Operated and in course of development are the following claims: Humboldt, Litfigs, Romeo, Julietta, Bulldog, Herculean, Leilla, Odell, Segdin, Cincinnati and others.

Practical Mining in Eastern Oregon
Eastern Oregon Gold Fields

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