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» Bedrock Bogans

BY ROBERT MILES

Two brothers, Roger and Richard Bogan, share the dream of striking it rich…together

Theirs is a partnership that is unique, a friendship of two brothers, the kind you would generally expect to exist in a storybook or television script. And on the Klamath River in Northern California they are known as the team who know how to get it….get the gold, that is. Not an easy reputation to obtain, and even a more difficult one to maintain. Gold is elusive, and keeping a partnership viable and working for more than one season means not only putting in long hours under water moving the overburden of rocks, sand, and gravel, it means having the ability to find the pay-streaks.

Their long time dream of putting an 8-inch underwater dredge to work became reality, and in a matter of approximately 31 hours of diving, the Bogan brothers netted $4,000 in placer gold from their very first clean-up. Sound easy? Well let’s take a closer look at all the hard work, preparation and planning that went into making this very demanding and difficult task actually work.

“I had the dream way back in 1982 to start gold mining,” Roger reflected. “Even then, before I ever found a single nugget, I felt a kind of intense excitement. Of course at first it was only a hobby. Then, I got my brother Richard interested in 1983 when he flew to Arizona to visit from Illinois. We took this little prospecting trip with a 3-inch dredge up to Bumble Bee, about 45 miles north of Phoenix. I remember Richard caught the fever right away. In fact he literally beat the water to a froth the minute he saw the first couple of colors. Since that time we’ve found quite a bit of gold, seen a lot of country and had some fantastic adventures.”

In 1984 the Bogan brothers journeyed to Alaska for the summer, staying three months in the back country, 200 miles, from the nearest telephone in an area near Jack Wade Creek on the south fork of the 40 Mile.

“The country was spinetinglingly beautiful,” remembered Roger, “but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate very well. In all the time we were there, we probably had only 18 days when we were actually able to dredge for gold. When it would rain, which it seemed to most of the time, the rivers would rise 5 to 6 feet overnight and it would become a real tempestuous situation. Even though we had a 5-inch dredge that was really outfitted, we just couldn’t dive in those conditions.”

Throughout that summer Roger and Richard recovered enough gold to pay expenses they saw some magnificent country, and were mining only 1 1/2 miles from another hardworking miner who struck it rich with a 54-ounce gold nugget.

After Alaska they decided to try California. “We’d heard rumors about rich rivers and they were true, but you have to really go for it. Even small dredges have the capability to actually bring up the gold, but it al1 depends on how hard a person wants to work. You just can’t sit on the bank and make that gold jump into your sluice box; you’ve got to work! The bigger the dredge the harder the work, but you get more production of course.

“One thing about California, it’s a lot cheaper to mine there than Alaska, so we took a 4-inch, a 5-inch, and an 8-inch dredge with us all at the same time. We figured we could sample with the 5-inch, use the 4-inch in the creeks, and do the real production work with the 8-inch. We spent about a month working the creeks, and that’s where we pulled our biggest nuggets — one was a really nice quarter-ouncer which Richard immediately laid claim to. We also found a lot of nice coarse gold.” In that first month the Bogans recovered 6 ounces, and then decided to move the “big guy” into the river.

“We had picked what we believed would be a really productive spot,” recalled Roger. “We had spent a lot of time talking to the old-timers. They really know the lay of the land and where the gold is likely to be carried in the river during the high flood waters. Those people are great; they have so much knowledge if you just listen to them. We had also taken some mining seminars from Dave McCracken, and we felt we’d hit a pay-streak if we could just keep in mind the old miners’ rule: “If you were the heaviest thing in that river where would you be?”

In the spot they chose, the 5-inch sampling dredge hit pay-dirt, bringing up 3/4 of an ounce of gold in the first set of sample holes. “We knew right then we were on to something, so we turned on the 8-inch and spent the summer doing what we’d been dreaming of doing for years. The dredge we continued to use throughout the rest of the season was that same 8-inch. We had built it ourselves, using a 1600cc Volkswagon engine and Precision machine components. So far we’ve built five different dredges, and we’ve been very happy with our ability to recover both fine and coarse gold.”

The energy I felt when spending time with these dynamic and dedicated miners was nothing short of spellbinding, and it’s definitely contagious. “Our goal for the next six months,” Roger reports, “is to actually recover 500 to 600 ounces. That way we’ll not only cover expenses, we’ll be making a very comfortable living doing what our entire team loves the most.”

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