THIRD QUARTER, AUGUST 2017 VOLUME 31, NUMBER 8
Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager
I cannot explain the reason for it; but just like there are some people who cannot find very much gold no matter how hard they try, every once in a while someone comes along that finds plentiful amounts of gold in nearly every place he or she looks!
I find myself somewhere in the middle. I have found plenty of gold in my time. But with an occasional exception, I have had to work hard to locate high-grade gold deposits. It’s only because I have worked really hard for most of my life that I have managed to climb the ladder to moderate success.
I tell people all the time that if there are two keys on a ring with only one that will open a locked door, I will choose the wrong key on the first try nearly every time. The same holds true when I am sampling for rich gold deposits. I usually guess wrong in the beginning of a sampling plan. The reason I eventually succeed is that I don’t give up trying. You only need to discover a rich gold deposit every once in a while to make the activity worthwhile; sometimes more than worthwhile!
But there are others who come along and just stumble into rich deposits. Several years ago, longtime supportive members Mark Chestnut, Jim Yerby and I teamed up to sample for high-grade underwater gold deposits on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. We devoted an entire season using two 5-inch dredges and my jet boat thoroughly sampling multiple locations, and never did find a gold deposit that would produce more than a quarter ounce per day using a 5-inch dredge. Gold had climbed to around $1,900 per ounce at the time, so it was still pretty good income. But we were used to finding much more gold than that. So we just kept on sampling new areas in search of something better.
At the very same time, brand new beginners were arriving on the Rogue River and dredging down into rich gold pockets on their very first try! Not just one or two; there were a bunch of beginners striking rich deposits while Mark, Jim and I looked on with dismay.
All I can say is that there is more to successful gold mining than following a good sampling plan and doing the hard work. There is also this luck factor. Maybe call it karma. Some people are just luckier than others; that’s all!
Our most recent weekend group project included 53 eager members. We did the program down on our Wingate property which is around 7 miles downstream on the Klamath River from Happy Camp. This is where we have devoted the past several seasons. We like the area because there is plenty of parking and camping area for members; there are toilets on site; there is a river access where we can launch and recover boats; and there is good gold on both sides of the river. We devoted last season to the far side of the river, mostly using my jet boat to ferry people back and forth. Several seasons ago, we worked the far side further upriver, which required us to use powerful jet boats to ferry members around on the river in large rubber rafts, even through two aggressive sets of rapids. There was so much adventure involved that it would be a reasonable estimate that at least half the group participants attended mainly for the river rides.
We have now been organizing these weekend group projects for more than 30 years. More recently, we have added a security presence up in the parking areas, and also a medical person in case of any accidents or emergencies out along the river:
This season, we have been working the Highway 96 side of the river along a gravel bar down on the lower part of Wingate. This is largely because we were hoping to tap into a small stream on the far side of the river to power up an underwater suction device and get members back into the water, again. We have discovered a very rich gold deposit just out in the river there which we are eager to develop. But the (very) warm summer, more or less, has diminished the water supply from up the mountain to where it will no longer provide the water power we need to operate an underwater suction device. That’s okay. The gold deposit is not going anywhere. One day, we will get our chance…
Two of our more experienced regular project helpers hiked upstream a few hundred yards during an earlier weekend project and sampled in some exposed bedrock along the streambank up there. They showed me what they found. It was quite good. So a few days before this project, more longtime loyal supporters Dickey Melton and his granddaughter Lilly, Mark Turner and I went down and confirmed the gold strike in the exposed bedrock. It only took one pan from each of us to know that this was going to be a very productive location for the group outing. Here is an image of what we recovered in just four pans. Nothing wrong with that!
Diane Helgesen helped make this gold discovery
As is normal, we devoted Saturday morning to introductions. These are always interesting. People come from all over the U.S., and sometimes from other countries.
Then I do a lecture about the fundamentals of following a sampling plan when prospecting for gold. Because gold is so much heavier than the average streambed material in or alongside a waterway, it follows very defined patterns as it is washed downstream during major flood events. It’s important to understand these patterns. This is because they can help guide you through a series of steps that will ultimately lead you into high-grade gold deposits. I believe starting these projects with a review of the fundamentals is important. At the same time, the afternoons can get so hot out on the rocks, that asking participants to work hard out there two days in a row can be too much. My lectures and story-telling in the air-conditioned Happy Camp Grange Hall is much more comfortable.
After lunch on Saturday, we all went down to Wingate to do just a little sampling. We only have two objectives on Saturday afternoon: (1) to teach beginners how to pan gold. This is very important because it is the beginning of the learning curve. On this project, we had at least a dozen experienced members out there working with the beginners. One of the things that makes our group so good is that we have quite a lot of experienced members who enjoy coming out on these projects and helping beginners get off to a good start. (2) The second objective is to locate the richest pay-dirt we can find so we can process as much of it as possible early on Sunday morning.
I was out there watching the activity when “Doctor Gold” presented himself with the results of two gold pans taken out of a single crevice in the bedrock. He had four beautiful nuggets and some flakes and fines to show for his effort.
I said above that I don’t consider myself to be very lucky. By this, I am really talking about the small things. For example, I don’t do very well in casinos because I ultimately make the wrong guesses and lose the money I have limited myself for entertainment.
But I consider myself very lucky and fortunate concerning the bigger and more important things in life.
Internally, I have a strong belief that there is an ever present, absolute intelligent, all pervasive presence of grace and goodness that, more or less, guides how the material universe unfolds as the ever-changing present moment gives us the illusion of time (the present moment is all that really exists). Each of us, with our individual and separate backgrounds, have different ways of defining and relating to this. Some choose to not look at all. The rest of us associate with infinite presence in our own ways. Regardless of the different paths or faiths we have chosen, I personally believe we are all acknowledging and pursuing more understanding of the same thing.
Sorry; I know this is supposed to be about gold mining, not a religious discussion. I am only doing this to lay a foundation for the entrance of “Doctor Gold,” otherwise known as Mike Leamy.
Over the years, I have come to discover that the great intelligence controls all or most of the important things that happen in my life. Even considering the losses and uncomfortable experiences which I have endured, I can look back upon them at a later time and see that I was ultimately lucky that things turned out the way they did. Over time, more and more, I have been standing back and not internally resisting those things that are too big for me to change, and accept them as they are. Perhaps this could be defined as a form of faith that everything happens exactly as it is supposed to. After all, how else could it be other than what it is?
As part of this, whenever I can find a moment, I pause and emanate true appreciation for the good things that come my way. I’m talking about heart-felt thankfulness from the center of my being. Doing this has allowed me some amount of freedom to step back and be more or less entertained to watch and see what is coming next. Sometimes I don’t recognize the gifts until the moment they are exposed to me.
I didn’t know that Mike Leamy was “Doctor Gold” until he showed me the nuggets he found in a bedrock crevice on Saturday afternoon. This was a very magic moment for me. In that single moment, I knew we were going to have plenty of gold to split off amongst the project participants on Sunday afternoon, and I knew there were going to be some nuggets to raise the level of excitement. Here is the moment captured on video:
The gold was being recovered out of crevices and holes in bedrock under a beautiful layer of hard-packed streambed.
With the second objective of Saturday afternoon all taken care of, and our project helpers all working with beginners on their panning techniques, I turned my attention to transferring all our project gear and floating sluice 200 yards upstream on the gravel bar. Two hundred yards is not very far on an open field. But it is a very long way across uneven rocks on a gravel bar out in 100+dregree exposed sunshine at 3 PM in the afternoon. So I had brought my jet boat down to do the equipment transfer.
My boat crew included Scott Coleman and Todd Moody. Music Adame from our office was also along with a video camera to capture any important action. Launching the boat was routine because we do it all the time. We managed to load all of the mining support gear in a single load for the boat. Other helpers were up at our new location to assist with unloading the gear.
Then we motored back downriver to get the floating sluice. This consists of a modified 6-inch sluice box from a Proline 6-inch dredge that is suspended between two large Keene pontoons. We built the system so that the sluice can be adjusted to capture the exact amount of running water that we need from the river. This recovery system will process the equivalent of around three motorized high-bankers.
The conservative thing to do would have been to lift the floating sluice up into the front of my jet boat and drive it up to our new location. But I was so jacked up by Dr. Gold’s nugget discovery, I decided to tow the floating sluice up the river at high-speed with Todd surfing on top. I figured it would be cool for all the project participants to see us flying up the river with the sluice at about 25 miles per hour. Are we having fun or what?
I have learned a lot of things the hard way during my earlier years of working the Klamath River with commercial dredges supported by a jet boat. Some of the lessons were painful and expensive. I even flipped a 12-inch dredge over one time! At least nobody ever got killed (only because divinity was looking over our shoulders). And while some of the experiences were dreadful at the time, I look back upon all of it now as fantastic real life adventure. I suppose, because of this, I occasionally have had to learn the very same lessons over and over again. This was another of those times!
There was no way I was ever going to tow Todd at high-speed up the Klamath River on that floating sluice. This is because water ultimately would wash up into the sluice and force the front of the platform underwater. And that’s exactly what happened as we got up to speed and Todd was raising his arms in triumph. Fortunately, Music was capturing the action with the camera. In just a second or two, water from the river washed up into the sluice, and the whole platform dived head over heels in the fast water flow of the river. Wrong!
Our first concern was for Todd, because he fell forward and was swept directly under the platform at high speed. But he came up just behind the sluice and managed to get hold of it. Our next concern was for some swimmers and rafters who were in the water just downstream of us. I used the boat motor to hold us against the current to allow time for the swimmers to get out of the water.
Ultimately, we drifted down into slower, deeper water, flipped the sluice over, lifted it up into the front of my boat, and drove it up to our new processing location. Nobody was seriously hurt. The gear was all recovered. We delivered it where we needed to be. But it was one heck of a lot of adventure on the river! It was a good thing that Miss Music was there to capture the action on video:
During the summer months, we do Saturday evening potlucks at the Grange Hall. We had a full house and there was plenty of delicious food to go around. We kept the meeting short; because we were planning on meeting out at Wingate at 6:30 the following morning.
Sunday morning was cool enough that I decided to begin with a long sleeved shirt. Our plan was to dig and process as much pay-dirt as we could before the heat of the day reached the gravel bar. True to the sampling plan I discussed on Saturday morning, mostly everyone started digging out cracks in the bedrock up and downstream directly in line with where Dr. Gold found the beautiful gold nuggets on Saturday afternoon. Everyone just went right to work filling buckets.
By the time John, Todd and Dickey were satisfied that the floating sluice was set out in the river with the correct amount of water flow, there were already plenty of buckets of material to process. Two fairly large screening devices were set up to eliminate larger rocks from the material we would process. This floating sluice recovery device has been working out quite well for us, by the way. Here is a demonstration I captured on video:
I looked around on the bar and there was a whole lot of work going on. Some were digging out cracks. Others were using brushes to clean all the material off the bedrock where gold often hides. Others were carrying buckets to the screens. Others were screening the material into plastic wash tubs that had been placed under the screens. Others were placing screened material into buckets and walking them down to the side of the river. Those buckets were being passed out to Dickey who was feeding the floating sluice. Everything was running like a well-oiled machine. Mostly, we were just having a whole lot of fun. Here is where I turned the camera around and put the spotlight on Diane:
After a while, I spotted Dr. Gold coming my way with his hand held out like he had something good to show. I knew this was going to be good the instant I saw him. He had picked a bunch of magical golden flakes out of a crack and wanted to brighten my day. Seeing those golden flakes in his hand heated me up enough to take my long sleeved shirt off even though it was still quite cool out there in the morning air. Our “gold girl” (also known as Diane Pierce) was right there ready to take possession of the gold. By this, I mean that on gold mining projects such as this, we have found that it is wise to have a single, trusted person take careful possession of any and all gold recovered on the project. The nature of gold is that it is hard to find and easy to lose. Putting a single person in charge of keeping the gold safe dramatically reduces the chances of loss. Diane has been our “gold girl” for many, many years. She is quite good at it. If someone is finding gold, Diane will be right there wanting to get it in her special bucket. I only got to hold Dr. Gold’s beautiful flakes of pure wealth for a moment before Diane took possession and screwed the lid back onto her special bucket.
After a while, Dr. Gold brought over a handful of sand that he swept out of a crack that had gold all through it. All of this was a bit unusual. While we always see the gold when we are dredging or crevicing underwater, we seldom see it up out of the water in dry dirt.
Then longtime supportive member, Craig Colt, came over with a bucket with some material in the bottom that he said had lots of gold in it. It was only enough material to fill half his pan. But the amount of gold he recovered in that single pan was the most I have ever seen out of raw material being dug out of the ground. The pieces were sizable flakes with some heft to them. They were just beautiful to look at.
Team Leader, John Rose, confided in me that he had never seen a richer pan of gold out of raw material. Normally, rather reserved, John was lit up like he had been struck by lightning! Fortunately, I had the camera on to catch the excitement:
A little while later, Craig came back with another pan that was just about as good. This was definitely one of the better surface mining areas we have worked in a while! Here is a bunch of the action captured on video:
The sun was just lighting up lower Wingate bar at about 10:30 am. Even though Dickey was feeding the floating sluice as fast as he dared (if you over feed a sluice, some of the gold will not become trapped), I estimated that he had enough screened material to last another hour or so. That was plenty. So we asked all the participants to finish up the buckets they were working on and end off on the digging part of the project. After cleaning things up on the bar and putting our gear away, we all agreed to meet back at the Grange in Happy Camp at 1:30 pm.
Some of the participants stayed out there to watch Dickey finish up the pay-dirt and clean the concentrated material out of the floating sluice box. There was a lot of nice looking gold in the clean-up; more flakes and nuggets than we have seen during earlier projects this season.
Gold concentration devices, in this case, our floating sluice box, do not only recover gold. They recover other heavy elements, mostly iron sand and small iron rocks. So when we remove material from a sluice box, we get the gold which is all mixed in with the other heavily concentrated material.
A gold mining program is made up of four phases. The first is sampling or prospecting in an effort to locate a high-grade gold deposit. The second phase is to excavate and process the pay-dirt from the deposit. This usually requires some advanced planning so that oversized material (rocks and boulders) are not placed on top of pay-dirt which has not been mined, yet. The third phase is called final clean-up where we follow a step by step procedure to separate the gold from the other heavy materials which have also been trapped in the recovery system. This was our mission on Sunday afternoon. The final phase of mining is to go back out to the mining site and fill in our excavations and make the surface conform back nearly like it was before we started mining.
Even though most participants are pretty worn out on Sunday afternoon, I strongly encourage them to participate in, or at least watch the final clean-up steps. That’s because this is the part that many prospectors never get to see, unless someone shows them. In this way, our weekend projects take participants through the theory of how to prospect for gold, to learning how to pan gold, to learning how to use a pan to sample, to seeing what a high-grade deposit looks like, to production mining in confirmed pay-dirt on a small scale (hand mining without the use of motorized equipment), to the final clean-up steps which result in all the gold we recovered in about three hours of work.
In all, we recovered 339.6 grains. This is just under ¾-ounce of pure wealth. It would have been about $900 at the going price if traded into dollars. There were 22 beautiful pieces that qualified as nuggets. These were the first nuggets we have recovered this season. That’s because we were mining on bedrock.
Before splitting the gold, I asked for a vote on using the gold to buy a whole lot of pizza and beer so we could have a grand celebration. Only John Rose thought that was a good idea. So we split the gold evenly amongst 53 participants, including several rather young children that worked just as hard as us older folks out on the bar.
After all, you can get pizza and beer just about anywhere. Raw gold is Mother Nature’s most cherished treasure. While it still can be traded for paper money, once you have been exposed to it, you begin to gain the perception that gold is true wealth. Paper money is only as valuable as the faith that people have in the governments that print it. Everyone who goes away from our weekend projects with a share of gold that he or she helped recover knows that they have earned some true wealth which will maintain its value long after today’s political systems and paper money have become past history.
In closing, I want to give a special thanks to Lynda and Mike Leamy (Dr. Gold) who honored us with their participation in this project. There is something mystical about this that is beyond my understanding. But I have seen on rare occasions when gifted individuals are able to manifest true wealth just by being present. This was one of those rare occasions.
Annual Dues Are More Important These Days
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.
Having said that, most of us remain disappointed that the State is preventing us from using motors to gain access to the more valuable deposits of gold which are largely out of reach to non-motorized programs.. Even though we have been doing our absolute best to reverse the situation, this is one area in my own personal life where I admit that I have trouble reconciling with the philosophy I explained above that “everything happens exactly as it is supposed to.” Though I do continue to remind myself…
As it is, things being the way that they are; even if every Full Member pays the $50 annual dues, and every Associate Member pays an annual renewal fee, I personally support cost overruns with other sources of monthly income which I earned before becoming a gold miner, along with savings put away during better times.
Costs associated with maintaining our extensive properties, our material infrastructure and to hold onto our very experienced and loyal staff exceed the amount of income we bring in. I don’t expect this reality to change until either we get motors and underwater mining back, or until the dollar value of gold goes up so high that non-motorized mining will produce a living wage.
There remains hope that America will wake up and realize we need to produce value and wealth in excess of what we consume. Mr. Trump and his team appear to be leading the charge on this, though he is not getting as much support from congress and the mainstream press that he deserves. So we must try and estimate the depth of the swamp and predict if Mr. Trump has the capability to drain it. The whole world hangs in this balance. It remains too early to predict the outcome.
One of the developments that gives me hope is the Trump Team’s most recent push to reopen coal mining on the federal lands. This article does a good job reporting the opposing views and demonstrates that there is a strong push right now to develop America’s natural resources in a responsible way, rather than to continue making them off limits.
It would be interesting to see the statistics on how much timber is harvested off the federal lands these days compared to how much is burned to the ground in wild fires due to really stupid policies which have been adopted by State and federal authorities. Or, as in our situation, there is no evidence whatsoever that a single fish has been harmed due to suction dredging for gold. In fact, the most recent study performed on the cumulative impact of all suction dredging was so small that it could not be measured. But the States of Oregon and California will not allow us the use of even a 12-volt bilge pump to operate a mini-concentrator to collect gold.
My gut feeling is that that even though energy (coal) is the first priority, in order “to make America truly great again,” the Trump team will be taking a close look at all of the stupid policies which have been adopted to prevent every different kind of natural resource development on the federal lands. We produce the basic building blocks, the very foundations, of a strong economy and vibrant job market. That the Trump Team is beginning with coal should give us all reason to hope that they will eventually get around to us and the other natural resource development industries which could be responsibly developing wealth opportunities on the federal lands of America.
Integrity and pursuit of the truth is the only road towards enlightenment and prosperity. There seems to be some meaningful progress at the moment.
Largely due to what I have explained in the paragraphs above, I personally believe we should stay the course for a while longer and see how these larger forces play out. I am willing to invest my personal resources to keep the program going as long as you guys, our members, are also willing to hang in there until we overcome what is destroying America, or it becomes clear that there is no longer any hope.
My own assessment of your support will be in what percentage of Full Members are willing to invest $50 a year, and how many Associate Members are willing to renew your annual memberships to help keep our dream alive.
I am eternally grateful to those of you who stick it out alongside me and our loyal staff.
New Chance to Win American Gold & Silver Eagles!
Grand Prize: 1-ounce American Gold Eagle
Four ¼-ounce American Gold Eagles
Ten 1/10th-ounce American Gold Eagles
Ten 1-ounce American Silver Eagles
Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets, etc.).
This drawing will take place at 2 pm on Friday 27 of October 2017 at our headquarters in Happy Camp. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate. You do not need to be present to win. 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.
Your contribution to The New 49’er Legal Fund is tax-deductible.
All contributions are tax deductible. You can find more information about the drawing right here.
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 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, except for normal national holidays.
As we did last winter, we may cut back further on open hours depending upon how many members are around. If we do, we will make an announcement on our web forum and in the newsletter.
Our final evening potluck of 2017 is scheduled for Saturday evening, 26 August (please take note below).
Boy did this season go by fast!
Four issues are up for decision before Judge Ochoa in San Bernardino Superior Court: (1) whether the Court should revise his summary adjudication ruling on federal preemption in light of the California Supreme Court decision; (2) whether the California Department of Fish and Game violated the California Environmental Quality Act and Administrative Procedure Act in issuing the 2012 regulations; (3) whether the Legislature violated the “one subject” rule in the California Constitution when it passed the second two bills concerning the California moratorium; and (4) whether takings claims for the regulatory taking of unpatented mining claims are impossible because the regulation makes all discoveries no longer valuable.
After an initial delay on 12 July, the hearing was set to take place on July 25th. But the attorney who was representing the State came down with some medical condition, so the hearing has been pushed back to September. An exact date is not set, yet.
Join us for our Group Mining Projects This Season!
There is a learning curve to successful gold prospecting. One of the most effective methods of progressing through the learning curve is to go on prospecting adventures with others who more experienced than you are.
Our 2-day Group Mining Projects are one of the primary benefits of New 49’er membership which set us apart from other mining associations. All weekend events are free to Full & Associate Members. All participants share equally in the gold we recover.
Remaining 2017 Schedule of Event: August 26 & 27
In addition, electronic prospecting specialist and New 49’er member, Dennis Dickson, in concert with Whites Electronics and Armadillo Mining Supply will host another two 2-day electronic gold prospecting project in Happy Camp on Friday & Saturday August 18 and 19. Bring your own metal detectors. Meet at our office at 4 PM on Friday. Bring your own drinks. Dinner will be served.
Group projects are limited to a certain number of participants. Scheduling in advance is strongly advised to ensure a position on any specific weekend project: 530 493-2012.
Important note: Because of a large fire downriver from Happy Camp, the Grange Hall has made it’s facility available to provide fire fighters with a place to sleep. We need an inside space to begin our weekend projects, and to split the gold that we recover. So we were forced to cancel the weekend project and potluck which was scheduled this past weekend. It’s not certain how long this or other fires will burn. So before making a trip to Happy Camp to attend any of our organized events for the remainder of this season, we strongly suggest you call our office for an update: 530 493 2012.
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The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012 www.goldgold.com