New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST QUARTER, APRIL 2021                            VOLUME 35, NUMBER 1

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

Gold imageStory and images by Betsy Anderson & Eric Spitler 

That’s what I kept saying to Betsy: “The more years you mine for gold, the more knowledge you gain, and you structure your operation around that. In the pursuit of gold, techniques must be formed, based upon a good understanding of gold deposits and how they were formed. The behavior of the noble metal, as it travels from its source to the place it enriches, is a detectives’ hunt on the order of Columbo.  The greater your skills, the greater your success on a more regular basis. This also means not chasing down false leads or questioning your intuition. being able at a glance to dismiss unlikely possibilities… Right?”

Ah, but there she was, my wife, test panning, and showing me good golden color that she supposedly recovered in the upper layers of sandy silt. We were working a clay layer that paid well. But we had to dig three feet through the sandy silt to reach the clay. I was so certain there was no gold in the sandy silt from my years of suction dredging, that I didn’t even bother testing it.

But, as Betsy reminded me, suction dredges have much faster recovery systems that don’t catch fine gold very well out of sand. Now we are sluicing. Much slower water flow through the sluice. This is a whole new reality for gold recovery!

Eric feeding sluice Betsy shoveling sand

So, for weeks, off went the top layer, with the rocks and sticker bushes. Every once in a while, Betsy would test to see if we were down to the pay. Sampling high in the deposit, she would often come over and show me another gleaming pan. I would congratulate her and say something like, “Our shovels are covered in clay and muck from the pay layer…” I was certain that’s where the gold had come from. It seems like the lessons in gold mining never stop!

One day, Betsy convinced me to test the top sandy material myself. I went over to the river and carefully rinsed the shovel and pan of any gold from the pay layer. Then I returned to dig out a sample from the silty area she suggested. I thought it would be a wasted effort. Then I saw the yellow flecks appearing in the bottom of my pan. It wasn’t as rich as the pay layer, but it was certainly worthwhile enough to run through the sluice.

I looked back at all the hard work we had devoted to restoring the area we had already dug.

“Don’t worry,” Betsy said, “There’s lots more of that sand anyway!”

Thoughts from Dickey
office staff

Dickey, Teyaw and Christina in our administrative office.

Here I am at 6 am on March 30 2021, sitting in my cabin in Happy Camp, sipping on my first cup of coffee. Light from the glass door of my wood stove is flickering on my three dogs laying on the floor in front of me, a hint of daylight to the east over China grade. My rooster is crowing, exclaiming that another day is upon me.

My thoughts continue to flash back to the morning of September 8th of last year. Things are not much different on this early morning. But that was the first day of the Slater fire that raced down Indian creek destroying the homes and property of people I know and love. I still feel a little anxiety from the experience of living through the fire. But the sadness is tapering off as each day goes by and things are picking up as we head into spring and the new mining season.

road view burned sticks

One thing the fire did was open parts of Indian Creek that were too over grown with underbrush to access before. Some members have expressed interest in prospecting up Indian Creek this coming season. While they have been kind of quiet about it, I know members who were already getting nice gold up there. Indian Creek gives up some beautiful gold nuggets!

Last year, some of our members were prospecting in stream in both the creeks and the river with quite a bit of success. They were using using masks and snorkel, rolling small boulders and cleaning cracks in the bedrock.

I now have a new Minelab Excalibur II 1000, excellent for gold detecting underwater and on land. I am going to spend some time in the water this season, I’m anxious to see how it is going to work out.

Well, it’s time for my second cup of coffee. As I look out the window, I see the plum tree is in full bloom, the grass is in need of mowing, the daffodils are in full bloom, spring has arrived in Happy Camp! Time to get my mining equipment together and head for the river.

It’s about time to open the New 49’rs office so people can come in, get some coffee, buy mining supplies and spin a few yarns before heading out gold prospecting.

We hope to see you all on the river this season! 

From our Girls in the Office

The sun is out, the snow is gone and the flowers are in bloom.  Cool!

In spite of the challenges we have faced with the Slater Fire and COVID-19, we are still open and are gearing up for another great season of prospecting.

It’s nice to see our members trickling in from all over the globe, watching their smiling faces as they grab sluice boxes, tools, buckets and pans, eager to get out on the river and creeks. Some items such as our pyramid pans, sluice boxes and crevice suckers have become so popular we can barely keep them in stock!

Our claims along Indian Creek are open for prospecting. If you are a metal detector enthusiast, these claims might just be the adventure you are looking for.

Please call us any time: 530 493-2012. 

Final Comments by Dave Mack

A lot has happened since I last sounded in. It is too much to talk about in a newsletter. The best strategy under the ever-evolving circumstances has seemed to be to just remain silent, and continue to provide service to our members. The purpose here is basically to let you guys know that we are still open and our mining properties are freely available to all members and guests. We are expecting a pretty busy season.

Because of ongoing legal and political circumstances, I’m sorry to announce we will not be supervising organized weekend mining projects or potluck gatherings this season. I don’t want to risk getting a hundred or so members in trouble for not following the proper social distancing guidelines in California. But we will be out and about providing assistance to members as we can. Otherwise, things are about the same as they are laid out in our Operation Guidelines. Please bring your gold finds into the office to show them off. We always get an emotional boost from that!

Just so you know, all or most of the areas along our extensive Indian Creek properties were cleared to the ground by the Slater fire of poison oak, blackberry bushes and other undergrowth. The fire did not reach our property on Thompson Creek.

Just to weigh in on something that is not being hotly debated in the national dialog, I am going to link you here to a recently-done documentary that is a thorough education on what is fast becoming the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the entire world. And I am not talking about COVID or the vaccines — though they will certainly originate out of this much more serious situation. This documentary lays it all out very clearly. It is worth every minute of the time to sit down and watch it.

Bit by bit, the ever-decreasing value of currencies, coupled with the need to print vastly increasing volumes of currency, is putting stress on nearly everyone, though the reasons for the stress are not broadly understood.

If you want to inch closer to the source point of what is really wrong in the world, and perhaps prepare for worse times which may not be far off, I strongly suggest you watch this documentary while it remains available. It says a lot for owning or being able to find your own gold:

End of the Road: How Money Became Worthless – Full Documentary – Text Link:

My best wishes to everyone,

Dave McCracken,

New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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