New 49'er Newsletter

THIRD QUARTER, AUGUST 2016                               VOLUME 30, NUMBER 8

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager




This group mining project was off to a perfect start about a week before it began. It started when Laura Bagley and Scott Coleman waved me over to the picnic area outside our headquarters and showed me some beautiful gold they had panned from a brand new gold discovery they had made down near the lower end of our K-23AA property. This is located around nine miles down along the Klamath River from the small, friendly town of Happy Camp in northern California.  It was a lot of gold when compared to the volume of pay-dirt they processed. There were some nice, large flakes of gold. Those add up quickly on a scale!

Group working Alice's gold

Laura & Scott

Laura and Scott offering up their new gold discovery

Scott and Laura made my whole month by offering up their new gold discovery to our weekend group mining projects. Normally, most people would be inclined to keep a rich new gold discovery secret for a while in order to recover as much gold as possible. But we have quite a few members of The New 49’ers who are willing to share rich discoveries of gold with other members.  This is one of the things that makes our program so enjoyable for everyone. I caught this particular moment on video:

You guys might recall that we released the news about our new floating sluice in last month’s newsletter.  Scott and Laura, along with several other members, had just finished some improvements to the unit in our fabrication shop. So we made plans to test it out in this new gold discovery. By the way, we are not the only members out on the river developing river-flow gold recovery solutions. Laura captured this member using his own setup:

Klamath River Scene

The gold-rich Klamath River is one of the most beautiful places on the planet!

The really cool thing about this new gold discovery is that it is located directly across the river from the Wingate River Access.  This is a U.S. Forest Service improved site where there is plenty of room for camping and parking; there are toilet facilities; and there is a boat launch.  Getting group participants across to the mining site was going to be fast and easy.  We set up one of our larger river rubber rafts on the far side of the river to serve as a boat dock. This made the transition very smooth. Even our more disabled members were going to be able to participate in this outing!

The project began with around 97 members on Saturday morning inside the nice, cool Happy Camp Grange Hall. We always begin with introductions. People attend from all around the world.  Some have never prospected for gold before. Others are experienced. And we are blessed with a dozen or so very experienced members who come out and help us manage these projects.  We could not do these events without plenty of help. All our loyal helpers are volunteers, some who travel great distances just to be part of the adventure and comradery. This is one more thing which contributes to making our program great for everyone.

After introductions, I normally entertain the participants with some true gold mining adventure stories, each which carry important lessons. I also provide some basic theory on how to follow a sampling plan to discover high-grade gold deposits. We do this because a grasp of the basics is important. We also want to limit the time we will spend out in the field on Saturday afternoon.  From long experience, we have learned that if we expose the group to too much heat on Saturday afternoon, some will not show up for our group project on Sunday morning – which is when most of the fun and excitement takes place.

Over the many years, I have come to realize that every group is different. Each individual contributes identity and emotion which all gels together into a group culture.  This begins with introductions, evolves through morning discussions, gets tested in the heat of Saturday afternoon and softens through the comradery and fun during Saturday evening potluck. Then the culture develops further during the action and drama which plays out on Sunday morning and especially as we split up the gold on Sunday afternoon.  Each of these events creates a new and interesting group culture.  I look forward to each one of them with anticipation; and I consider myself to be very lucky for the type of work that I do.

How good the experience is going to be depends more upon the participants than it does on me and my loyal helpers. It was clear on this Saturday morning that we were going to have a great time during our 2-day adventure.

Dad & kids Lilly
We have been doing this so long, we have watched children grow up and then return later with children of their own!


Raft transfer across riverAfter lunch on Saturday, we all met up back at our office in Happy Camp, and everyone followed me down to Wingate.  Locals in Happy Camp and along the river have become familiar with our weekend projects, so they are not surprised to see such a long procession of vehicles going down Highway 96. Otherwise, since nothing else creates this much traffic in our small community, people might start wondering if some rock group, like The Rolling Stones, were coming to put on a concert – or perhaps The Donald Trump was arriving for a political rally.

Boats have been my personal passion since I was just old enough to climb into one. I have devoted my entire life to being on or under the water.  We used my river jet boat to transfer participants across the river. We have been doing these projects for so long that the river transfers go like clockwork; on with the life jackets, a helping hand into the boat, across the river in just a few seconds, a helping hand off the boat, off with the life jacket, and people find themselves standing on top of a pay-streak of high-grade gold. We had everyone on the mining site in very short order. Here it is on video:

2 boys 2 girls
Gold prospecting is for people of all ages!


Really, the primary goal for Saturday on these projects is to teach beginners how to manage a gold pan with confidence.  Gold panning is the beginning step of the prospecting learning curve! It all comes back to the key fundamental that gold is extremely heavy.  Because it is heavy, gold follows predictable patterns. The very same physical reasons why gold can be trapped in a gold pan are why gold follows a narrow path down the river and concentrates into high-grade pay-streaks along the path. Once a person gains a personal understanding of these basics, he or she is well on the way towards being able to follow a very unique and distinct trail into high-grade gold – the stuff that fills up jars. The stuff that changes your life forever… So we take the panning instruction very seriously:

This is not only about gold. It is also about group and family fun searching for Mother Nature’s most valuable hidden treasure in the great outdoors. We are particularly happy when people bring their children along. These will be the future leaders of our industry. Check it out:

Dave with light Alice's discovery
Dave and Alice showing off the gold from a half-bucket of sand they panned.


Because it is hot on Saturday afternoon, we only stay out there until everyone is comfortable with a gold pan.  Everyone gets to keep the gold they find on Saturday, so it doesn’t take long. I was seeing some really good panning results; perhaps the best in several years. This meant that the group dig on Sunday morning was going to be very productive. Very cool! Thank you Scott and Laura! Check out these sample results:

Guy smiling Good sample

Three people smilingWe had everyone back across the river by about 4:30 in the afternoon. That allowed plenty of time to freshen up and pull something together for our Saturday evening potluck back at the Grange Hall in Happy Camp.

We had a packed house on Saturday night. There was enough food to feed a small country.  The excitement and chatter in the hall was so loud that it was all I could do to quiet everyone down for a short meeting – which mainly was a pep talk about showing up at 6:30 the following morning and all working as hard as we could to recover at least one full ounce of gold.

I arrived on the river at 6 AM the following morning to launch the boat. About half the group was already present.  This was one jacked up bunch of gold prospectors! It was cool enough that even I had to wear a full shirt to keep the morning chill off. Everyone arrived in time for the final boat trip across the river.

By the time I tied off the boat on the far side of the river, at least half of the (hundreds) 5-gallon buckets were already filled. Nearly everyone knew where to dig from the time we spent out there on Saturday afternoon.  Mostly, people were digging pay-dirt out of exposed cracks in the bedrock.

Floating sluice2 Floating sluice close

It didn’t take long for our experienced crew to pull our floating sluice up around the side of the rubber raft into the faster flow of the river and dial in the gold recovery system. The modifications we had made since the previous project were working just as we had planned. We began processing pay-dirt as fast as the sluice could keep up – which was pretty fast. Here are some explanations of what was going on:

But we were not processing nearly as fast as our digging crew was producing gold-bearing pay-dirt. After just a short while, nearly all of our buckets were full. Several participants and some of our experienced helpers were panning material from the buckets. The results were fantastic! I was seeing large golden flakes and even some nice gold nuggets. Here is some video that captured the action:

Nuggets & coin 100 buckets

It is not unusual on these events for everyone to start fast and hard and then peter out after a while. That allows the processing crew a chance to catch up. But not this time.  When I called it quits at about 10:30 AM, every bucket was sitting on the streambank ready to be processed. There was at least an hour of processing left to do. Check this out!

Dickey Diane
Dickey Melton and Diane Helgesen provide valuable assistance in most of our group projects.

Rather than have everyone stand out there in the sun that had just came up over the mountain, we reclaimed most of the area back to its original contour and put all the tools away. I say, “most of the area;” because some of the excavations were producing so much gold, it would be silly to bury the holes.  Members would be back the following day to continue the work.

Final goldShortly thereafter, my helpers and I delivered most of the participants across the river with plans to meet at the Grange Hall at 2:30 PM for final processing and the gold split.
There was so much pay-dirt remaining, it took us until 1:00 PM to process it all through the floating sluice. We spotted one very large, beautiful gold nugget when we removed the gold concentrates from the floating recovery system.

Final clean-up and gold split at the Grange took a few more hours. In all, we recovered 17 pennyweights, including 10 beautiful gold nuggets, the largest weighing 11 grains. The excitement and noise in the hall as we spilt the gold thundered as if we were truly at a rock concert. This makes it a little more difficult to keep things organized, but my helpers and I have come to realize that this is actually the grateful applause of a very happy ending to yet one more wonderful experience.

In all, 407 grains of pure wealth were split amongst 69 people.  It has been a long while since we recovered this much gold during an outing. We didn’t quite make our ounce (480 grains). So that will give us a challenging target to shoot for on the next project.  After putting away the tables and chairs, everyone went off at about 5 PM on Sunday afternoon.  We were all tired.  But it was that good kind of tired that goes along with the feeling of accomplishing something wonderful.

We Have Developed Non-motorized Underwater Suction Mining!
Gravity dredge with no motors

Look; no motors!

This all began with our first Weekend Group Mining Project of the 2016 season. The idea was to capture water from a higher elevation and use it to operate two high-bankers near a known gold bearing area along our K-23AA property. The volume and pressure we captured was enough, we thought, to perhaps power my 5-inch dredge (4-inch intake at the nozzle).  You can find the full video-enhanced story about that project right here:

As it turned out, the gold deposit in that particular location was not as rewarding as other gold deposits we have located further downstream. So we developed a floating sluice box to support our second weekend project of the season. This new idea allows us to capture the flow-power of the river to process our pay-streak material – as in the story just above.

Rather than dismantle our original water capture system up the mountain, we decided to double down and see if we could make it work to power up an underwater suction device.  By this, I mean remove the motors from what used to be defined as a suction dredge (but not anymore), and direct gravity water and pressure into a power jet to create underwater suction. The following video captured the earlier stages and ongoing development of this program:

Boat transferWe were able to move the unit on the river using a jet boat.

Packing hose

We made dozens upon dozens of packing trips up the mountain before we finally got this system working!

First; let me admit that when we began this, I had no idea how challenging it would be to duplicate the amount of pressure and volume from a gravity flow that is produced by a simple motor and pump. In short, we underestimated the drop in elevation required to produce the required PSI. Since we had volume, but not enough pressure, we fabricated numerous different venturi jets to try and compensate. In the end, none of them produced enough suction. At least a dozen members were actively involved with the project. After so many losses, I turned to two of our members who are extremely capable engineers, John Wells and Cliff Leidecker.

The main drawback was that we were attempting to do the project using gear and materials which we already had. The distance we had to travel to reach the necessary elevation for our water feed made the project economically impracticable. This is because we were not 100% certain there would be a high-grade paystreak in the river in the first place. Prospecting for gold requires a fair measure of hope and enthusiasm.

The problem with this sort of project is that you have to keep adding more and more, day after day, week after week, ultimately struggling with the decision of when you are going to finally give up.  This is similar to digging or dredging a sample hole that just keeps going deeper and deeper. At what point do you give up? We reached that point on the final test several days ago, when we actually succeeded –much to everyone’s surprise! Here is the moment when we finally got it right:

Gary in fabrication shop

Gary Wright and about a dozen other active members worked hard to make this project a success.


As it was late in the day, Cliff and I did one short dive to get a look at the streambed material to determine if it had been dredged or mined by earlier generations of miners.  It is quite easy to tell the difference between tailings from earlier mining, and natural streambed which has never been disturbed by man. Cliff and I were overjoyed to discover that the rapids at Oak Flat are made up of original Klamath River streambed! This was one of those magical “Eureka” moments!

This location is directly in line with where Derek Eimer recovered two pounds of incredible gold nuggets several years ago. Derek’s discovery has had me hopeful ever since to see if we can pick up an extension of the very same rich gold deposit in the rapids. Seems very likely.

Since we only had a little time, Cliff and I decided to follow bedrock that was sloping out into the river. We spotted the first two nuggets in a small crack, both of us seeing them at the same time. I’m the first to admit that I have always been uncomfortable hugging other men.  But we were so excited, Cliff and I were hugging, slapping-five, doing cartwheels and experiencing full exhilaration down there on the bottom of the river. After all that time and effort, we finally made it all come together!

That’s all we had time for; because it was important we attend the Saturday evening potluck.  Derek Eimer was present at the potluck and confirmed that our nuggets appeared to be the very same type of gold that he recovered further downstream. Wow; that is a very good sign! Here is the rather lengthy explanation I provided to members at potluck:

Derek's gold New Nuggets
Gold that Derek recovered just downriver! Here are the first 2 gold nuggets from the Oak Flat underwater deposit!

Now that we have a non-motorized method of effectively prospecting the bottom of the river, as long as the rich deposit proves itself out through more sampling, and as long as it is safe, we will schedule at least one, perhaps two, two-day group underwater mining events before the end of this season – free to any and all members who want to attend. All the gold recovered during the events will be split evenly amongst the participants as well as we can.  I say that, because some of the gold nuggets Derek recovered were far too large to become an even split, and there is no way we will cut something like that into pieces.  If we encounter that kind of gold, we will have to vote on the best way to deal with it.  Sounds like a good problem to work out!

Is this cool or what?

If group underwater projects turn out well this season, and the State does not come up with yet another way to materially interfere with our mining program, we are likely to schedule more underwater prospecting group events for next season. There are several reasons we are doing this. One is to share good will and the great adventure of underwater gold recovery into The New 49’er experience. The other is that setting up a gravity-powered underwater suction system is a very substantial endeavor that most people are not likely to do.

The State conducted an extensive environmental impact study several years ago and concluded that 1,500 four-inch dredges operating in California’s waterways will not harm fish. As difficult as it was to put this system together, I would not be surprised to discover that we have the only one in all of California.

Stay tuned if you are interested in joining us for some underwater prospecting. We should have it all worked out before the next newsletter. Montine in our office will be up to date on how this is coming together: 530 493-2012.

Three More Ounces of Klamath River Gold Nuggets!

klamath-river-gold-nuggetsThe New 49’ers Legal Fund is giving away another three ounces of beautiful Klamath River gold nuggets, split into 25 prizes. Check it out right here. The drawing will take place on Friday afternoon, 21 October.

You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate. You are welcome to be at the drawing, but you do not need to be present to win.

Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets). There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win.

Legal contributions can be arranged by calling (530) 493-2012, by mailing to The New 49’ers Legal Fund, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or online.

Purchase Tickets for the next legal Fund-raiser Drawing  

  $10.00 each – Enter the number of tickets you wish to purchase into the quantity field then click “Update” before checking out. Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets, etc). There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win. Your contribution to The New 49’er Legal Fund is tax-deductible.


Other Announcements:

Legal Update:  My own understanding is that the California Supreme Court should issue a Decision in the Rinehart case sometime in August. As I have explained in earlier newsletters, the Rinehart case is perhaps the most important litigation concerning mining that has happened during our lifetimes.  The question in front of the Court is to what extent the State has the authority to materially interfere with or prohibit different methods of mining on the public lands because of real or imagined environmental or social concerns.  In this case, the controversy is over California’s refusal to issue any suction dredge permits without even providing a process to consider if any impacts exist in the first place.

After not having seen any State officials around all season, a small team of wardens arrived last Sunday and seized two suction dredges that were operating in plain sight along our Wingate property.  No citations were issued, we assume, for motorized dredging in California without a permit (which is not being made available).  The wardens were abundantly apologetic, explaining that they signed up to catch poachers and real criminals, and they were only following orders from officials who are superior to them in the chain of command.

In my own view, that a State law officer can come out to your property (the Supreme Court has ruled that federal mining claims are real property in every sense of the meaning), and just take away your belongings, without charging you with any crime, is a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S., Constitution.  America cannot be truly free, nor can “we make our country great again,” as long as this practice is allowed to continue.

We will take on these important challenges a step at a time. For the moment, after eight years of continuous litigation to push back on the unreasonable overregulation by State agencies, we are waiting to see if the California Supreme Court is going to provide us with some relief.  By “us,” I mean the working men and woman who create the foundation that made America Great in the first place.

The best way to stay informed of recent developments is to sign up for our free Internet message forum. Important industry news shows up there so fast, sometimes I wonder if the news is reported even before the events take place!

Annual Dues:  We bill all Full Members $50 for annual dues in August.  September through the end of the year is when we must shoulder the load of substantial property tax and filing fees to the County and Bureau of Land Management. These are legal requirements which allow us to continue making a very substantial number of federal mining claims (60 miles of gold-rich river and creek properties) available to our members.

In real terms, the true value of the gold along these extensive properties is probably more valuable than the net assets of any financial institution on the planet. We should be calling our properties the “Klamath First National Bank.” Ours is the only bank in the world where you can go out and make a draw anytime you wish. There are no interest or bank fees to pay.  And you never have to pay the gold back!  This is as close as it comes to an opportunity to maintain some degree of personal freedom during these ever-more difficult and troubling times.  As far as I know, we are the only organization in the world that makes a very large bank of pure wealth freely available to our members.

But it all comes back to the foundation of all these gold-rich properties.  It would be an incredible mistake to lose them!  Thank you very much to those of you who will respond immediately to help us maintain the backbone of our Association!

Winter hours:  As of the 1st of September, we will switch to winter hours at our headquarters in Happy Camp.  This means the office and store will remain open between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, except for normal national holidays.  Our final evening potluck of 2016 will take place on Saturday evening, 27 August.  They will resume next season on the 3rd of June.

2016 Weekend Group Prospecting Programs

All weekend events are free to Full & Associate Members!

This season, at least until the legal question about using motors is resolved; we will be demonstrating how to recover volume-amounts of gold using non-mechanized methods of mining. Believe me when I say that there still remain viable methods of recovering Mother Nature’s golden treasure!  You might be really surprised! With all the people who participate in our weekend projects, my guess is that the gold production will not change by much. All participants will receive an equal share of the gold we recover.

Schedule of Events: June 4 & 5; June 25 & 26; July 16 & 17; August 6 & 7; August 27 & 28

The New 49’ers provide all of the sluicing equipment and boats used in these projects. You will need to have your own basic digging tools, gold pan (available in the prospecting shop in Happy Camp) and transportation. You will also need to provide your own lodging and nourishment.

Group projects are limited to a manageable number of participants. Scheduling in advance is strongly advised to ensure a position on any specific weekend project: 530 493-2012.

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The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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