THIRD QUARTER, AUGUST 2019 VOLUME 33, NUMBER 5
Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager
Mike and Lynda Leamy are longstanding, very supportive New 49’er members who are super-wonderful to have around. Lynda, because she always has a smile on her face and possesses a wealth of good will and a depth of wisdom which seems to have no bottom.
Mike is perhaps the most talented gold prospector that I have ever met. During a Weekend Group Project last season, Mike located a very rich line of gold down along our Wingate property that had so much shallow gold, he was bringing me handfuls of golden flakes that he was just picking up off the bedrock! That’s something that never happened before. It was during that project that we changed Mike’s name in The New 49’ers to “Doctor Gold.”
Even though he is perhaps the very best prospector we have in our association, even when he is digging up remarkable discoveries, I have never seen any sign of personal ego. I do see that he experiences pleasure from making the rich finds, and he takes joy in watching all the excitement that his discoveries generate with all the others on these projects.
We have a special bucket where all the gold found on Sunday goes. There is a locking lid so we don’t make any mistakes in dropping gold on the ground. There is always one very trusted person who keeps the “gold bucket” close to hand so we don’t lose track of it. On this event, our “Gold Girl” was one of our most dedicated members, Diane Helgesen. Diane also captured most of the images and video in this newsletter.
Back to Dr. Gold, I watched closely how, as soon as the gold he found was in good hands, his greatest joy was in returning to is discovery to uncover more gold. I have devoted nearly my entire adult life to mining gold. All I can say is that Mike Leamy is a true gold prospector all the way to his core.
And that’s one of the reasons I was so happy during this most recent Weekend Group Project. Mike and Lynda were going to join us. With Dr. Gold on the project, it was a sure thing that we were going to recover a bunch of gold!
This project began with 70 people, including myself. We always devote Saturday morning over at the air-conditioned Happy Camp Senior Citizen’s Hall and start with introductions. It is always interesting to find out where people come from and hear a little about their personal stories of how they came to be members of our organization in Happy Camp. Some members provide very colorful introductions. This all contributes to the special teamwork experience we will enjoy during the weekend.
And then, for the benefit of those who have not listened to my talk about how to pursue a sampling plan, we devote several hours to carefully explaining the most important fundamentals of gold mining – which have to do with locating high-grade gold deposits in the first place. We call this a “sampling plan.” The sampling plan is something that me, my mining partners over the many years, and thousands of New 49’ers have worked out by hard work and the pursuit of truth.
Truth? Yes; if you think about it, if you don’t already know where the rich deposits are, you have to find them through the process of digging small samples in multiple locations, and compare the different results to figure out where there is more gold. Then you continue to sample along the strongest line of gold until you discover a concentration of raw wealth. Concentrations accumulate during very large storms. Sampling is always about what you are actually finding (truth), as opposed to what you would prefer to find.
We allow everyone an hour to get some nourishment and pull their gear together once my talk is finished. Then we drive to the location where we will devote the rest of the weekend. We were back down on our Wingate property on this project. But we were going to be on the far side of the river where several members reported finding “good gold,” with some larger flakes and small gold nuggets. These reports were coming in from longtime members Craig Colt, Derek Eimer, Laura Bagley and Scott Coleman, all who live in Happy Camp and devote most of the winter months prospecting along our very extensive mining properties.
These guys are such good prospectors. They fully understand the requirement that we must do these weekend projects where there is plenty of gold to be found. They are so supportive of our association, if any of them report a good gold location, it is not necessary for me to confirm the place in advance with my own sampling. This is saying a lot about the prospecting ability and personal integrity of these wonderful members. I would normally confirm a deposit before bringing 69 members there to prospect for gold. This is because I have some uncomfortable experience in splitting just a little gold up between an aggressive group of members.
I never want to do that again!
At around 2 pm on Saturday afternoon, I led the way downriver about 9 miles from Happy Camp. I was towing my jet boat which would be used to transfer everyone across the river. There were so many cars behind me, I could not see the end of the line even on the long, straight stretches of Highway 96!
Everyone was directed to park alongside the road a short distance downstream of Wingate. There are paths to the river down there that would place everyone closer to where we would be on the other side of the river. I launched the boat at the Wingate boat ramp and brought along several members whose physical disabilities were not going to allow them to take the pathways.
There were several fairly large groups of excited members waiting alongside the river by the time we arrived there with the boat. I’m guessing it took perhaps a dozen back and fourths to transfer nearly everyone to the far side of the river where we would be prospecting. Out of an abundance of caution, every passenger in my boat wears a life jacket. I drive the boat slow and easy when it is full of people.
But I drive the boat as fast as it will go when returning by myself for the next load. My whole life has been centered around water adventures and boats. Here is a video that captured of one of my return trips:
While transferring people across the river, I found out that Dr. Gold parked his car along the side of the road, stepped out, and spotted a quarter-ounce gold nugget just lying there in the dirt. The nugget was mostly flattened out – like it had been run over by about a million cars and trucks. Come on? Who does that? Dr. Gold is the only one I know! I’m sorry to say that I was so taken back by this unexpected discovery that it never occurred to me to capture an image of the nugget. Too bad! Take it from me: It was big and beautiful!
This early discovery was a sure sign that we were going to find plenty of gold during our group project!
Saturday afternoon on these projects is largely about familiarizing everyone with the location where we will do a group production mining (very small scale) project on Sunday morning. Everyone scatters over the area doing pan samples. We want to locate the most productive places possible. Beginners are taught how to pan for gold.
Panning is not difficult. But you do have to train your body to perform the correct motions. I believe there were only 2 participants who had no prior panning experience. Experienced members were giving them a hand. I could hear part of this in the following video sequence:
I loved the water and boats before I joined the U.S. Navy at 19 years old. Back in those days, we were coming close to the end of the Viet Nam war. Needing to get my life on track and become an adult, I enlisted on the condition that I would be able to try out for the Navy SEALS. I put everything on the line; because if I failed in the training, I was going to spend the remainder of my 4-year enlistment chipping paint on some ship.
That was the most difficult and brutal training in the world at the time. Dropout rates were as much or more than 90% of the people who tried. In fact, nobody graduated from the class that followed mine. Though it was extremely difficult, I graduated into the SEALS with six others out of a beginning class of 57.
Making it into the SEAL Team put my whole life on track. It changed my outlook in many important ways. It also brought me warmly into a fraternity of very special people. While we might not always agree on everything, there is nothing that could undermine the respect we have for each other.
I don’t need to know an active or former SEAL to provide him with friendship and support on almost any level. This is why I am so pleased when SEALS or other special forces veterans join The New 49’ers. It happens every once in a while. We would have more of these guys if we could get motors back and regain access to the rich gold deposits on the bottom of the river.
On this particular project, Former SEAL, Steve Posey, brought his son, Travis, along for his first time. Steve has joined us in the past, bringing other special forces men along. Whenever we get visited by special forces guys, I go out of my way to accommodate them. Besides the camaraderie we share, these guys make up the tip of America’s spear. They risk everything so that America can remain free. Here is some video I captured of Steve and Travis:
While all the panning activity was going on, several others and myself moved our floating sluice out into the faster water and set it all up for the following day. This floating sluice was constructed in our shop using an extra recovery system from a Proline 6-inch dredge. We mounted that on 2 large pontoons. The support frame is designed so we can lower the sluice deeper into the river so that the proper flow of water passes over top of the riffles. Diane captured the following video that will give you a better idea:
Riffles are gold-catching obstructions which rest along the bottom of the “sluice box.” Because gold is around five times heavier than the average gravel we process, the gold will settle behind the riffles while most of the lighter sand and gravel passes right through. We have locking poles on each corner of our floating sluice to keep the platform steady and dialed in the way we want it. In this way, we are able to process volume amounts of hand-dug pay-dirt without the use of motorized pumps.
I ferried everyone back across the river after a few hours. We don’t want people out for too long during the hottest part of Saturday afternoon. This is because the real action and excitement of the weekend takes place during the cool hours of Sunday morning.
During these weekend projects, we always meet at 6:30 pm back at the Senior Citizens Hall for a Saturday evening a potluck dinner and short meeting, mainly to confirm our Sunday morning plans. We encourage everyone to bring something to contribute to the meal, and bring what they prefer to drink.
There were so many members at the potluck that there were not enough chairs to seat everyone! Nobody seemed to mind, though. The roar of enthusiastic chatter was a great way to end the first day. There were all sorts of wonderful food dishes.
We are presently encouraging everyone to write a letter in support of a Petition being directed to federal land management officials to help get California and other state agencies out of the business of mining on the Federal lands. You can find a more thorough explanation about this in last month’s newsletter. I took the opportunity of having so many members present at the potluck to provide them with paper and pens. We collected a healthy batch of hand-written letters. Then we organized volunteers to come into the office the following week so that each letter could be copied to the 10 additional officials who are listed on the Petition and placed into addressed and stamped envelopes. We ended up with around 300 letters in all. These are being mailed in batches every day. Very cool!
Sunday morning is when we all work together to dig up and process as much of the better pay-dirt that we found out there on Saturday afternoon.
We met out at the Wingate property at 6 am on Sunday morning. The idea is to get all the physical work completed before the heat of the day reaches the work site. When I arrived downriver with the boat at exactly 6 am, it looked as though the entire crew had already arrived. I had 6 disabled members in the boat. So they were first to reach the work site.
We are very lucky to have around a dozen or more very loyal, very experienced members who volunteer as “helpers” on these projects. There is no way that I could manage so many people without the help of others. We usually bring about half the helpers to the other side of the river first. They will help participants safely step out of the boat. They will also distribute hundreds of buckets to the locations where we were finding more gold on the day before. The other helpers usually remain on the road side of the river to help me land the boat in the right place, get participants into life jackets, and help them into the boat so nobody slips and falls.
Once we transferred everyone over to the other side of the river, and everyone was lined out on what parts they were going to play, the whole bunch slipped into high gear; and it was like one big human engine of productivity out there. Diane captured some video of the site just as I finished bringing the whole crew to the other side of the river:
My own first focus was on making sure the floating sluice was dialed in to perfection. Here is the floating sluice on video:
I don’t believe longtime member and local Happy Camper, Mark Turner, has ever missed a weekend project or any other type of activity when we have asked for helpers. Mark has constructed a large quarter-inch classification screen which will effectively screen dry pay-dirt at a speed of around six seconds per half-bucket. This is much faster than using the standard-sized round classifiers that we sell in the store. We only fill the buckets of dug material half way. Otherwise, they are difficult to carry over the uneven ground.
Proper classification of pay-dirt (“sizing”) is a very important part of gold recovery. Here is some video we captured of Mark demonstrating his production screen:
All I can say is that there was so much digging going on out there, it wasn’t long before nearly all the buckets were full of screened pay-dirt. As is normal, our participants, in all their enthusiasm, were generating pay-dirt about twice as fast as our floating sluice could effectively process it. By this, I mean that if you feed too much material into a sluice box at once, the riffles (gold traps) will be overwhelmed (buried), and the pay-dirt will be swept through and take some of the gold with it out into the river.
Here is a video that Diane captured on Sunday morning high above the river where we could view the entire program as I provided an explanation of what was going on:
It wasn’t enough that Dr. Gold stumbled upon a quarter-ounce gold nugget the day before up by the road. His magic touch carried right over into Sunday morning. I was down near the boat capturing images with the camera when Dr. Gold processed his first pan of material. There was only a single small fleck in the pan. Without any sign of disappointment, he shrugged his shoulders and headed back to the area he was digging.
Just a while later, Dr. Gold’s second pan produced two small flecks and a small flake of gold. This was nothing to get excited about. Most of the pan samples from the day before were more fruitful. Then off he went again. “Gold mining is not always the same,” is what went through my mind. “Sometimes you make a great strike; and other times you find very little.” But it was still too early in the day to rule out Dr. Gold’s magic ways…
Meanwhile, our buckets of pay-dirt had mostly been filled, screened, and were waiting their turn to be processed. This allowed everyone out there to back off a bit, take a seat on the rocks, enjoy the spectacular surroundings, and get to know each other better. Over the many years, hundreds of life-long friendships have been formed in just this way. These projects are not only about work. They are also supposed to be fun. We do have a lot of fun; and once in a while, something extraordinary happens to create wonderful adventures for everyone out there.
Seeing that she was relaxing on a rock waiting for another bucket, I took the opportunity to interview Lynda Leamy with the video camera rolling:
Just as if the event was scripted, as we were all mostly in a relax mode, Dr. Gold walked down to our processing site with a small plastic dust pan which was only holding about a handful of material. He was being closely followed by a small group of others who had been digging in the same area. There was a really nice flake-like nugget sitting right on top of the dirt. He suggested someone pan the material, “because there was more gold that we could not yet see.” Jim Bear panned the material, only to expose one of the best pans of gold I have seen in a very long time! This was an amazing lot of gold from what was only around a quarter of a medium-sized gold pan of unscreened dirt. Fortunately, I was right there to capture the excitement on video:
You will see in the videos that I joke around with Dr. Gold about having a secret jar of gold that he uses to salt the gold that he finds during our projects. This is just in fun. It’s my way of acknowledging his magical prospecting abilities. I’ve never met anyone who can stumble into gold like he does. I also have never met anyone who is foolish enough to throw large quantities of beautiful raw wealth onto the ground so he can find it again, and essentially give most of it away to others.
The truth is that there are too many others looking on for someone to secretly remove gold from a bottle or plastic zip lock bag and pour onto a dig site. Someone would certainly see that. Besides, it is a physical impossibility to place gold underneath hard-packed streambed. Only god has the power to do that.
Others were also finding nice big gold flakes and some nuggets. Here are some images of Jim Bear showing off his excitement. Jim, by the way, can be found on youtube at yellowbottom prospecting:
I encouraged several others to go up and dig closer to Dr. Gold. They went up there just to watch, because we were all waiting for buckets.
Just a little while later, Dr. Gold came back down with a bunch of others who had been looking on. He was still using the small plastic dust pan. There was perhaps just a little more than a handful of unscreened pay-dirt in the dust pan. Right on top, there were three nice gold nuggets peeking out of the dirt. Once the material was panned, a fantastic line of nuggets and large flat flakes were exposed. Unbelievable! The Gold Girl was right there to capture it in our special gold bucket with the lid screwed on tight. I was there again with the video camera:
At this point, maybe about 10 am, a bunch of us started joking that we should leave Dr. Gold out there to finish the day while the rest of us went back to Happy Camp to relax for the rest of the day. We actually could have done that; because we had already dug and screened more pay-dirt than we were going to have time to process.
Pay-dirt that was dug and screened, but we left behind for lack of time to process it!
Normally, when we have more pay-dirt than we can process during the project, once we stop feeding the recovery system, I invite anyone who wants to take a bucket of pay-dirt back home, or to their camps, to process on their own. Lots of participants were excited about this idea.
We always make an effort to make these events good for any children or young adults who participate. Even if they don’t appreciate the events while they are happening, the experiences we share out in the great outdoors are personal adventures that they will strongly appreciate later in life
Since we were in a wind down mode, I asked 12-year old Travis if he wanted to take a shot at driving my jet boat up through a set of rapids. No hesitation; he was ready to go! His dad caught the action on video:
I called it quits shortly after about 10 am and carefully moved the floating sluice over into shallow water where we could safely remove all the gold and concentrates from the recovery system. As we removed the screens and riffles from the sluice, everyone broke out into joyful cheers as a bunch of gold came into view. The rubber matting along the bottom of the sluice was loaded with fine gold. There were nice big golden flakes and nuggets all throughout the upper portion of the sluice. This was the best clean-up we have seen in years! We were all betting that we recovered at least an ounce of gold. All the sluice concentrates and gold were poured into our special gold bucket. Here is some video which captured the final part of the sluice clean-up:
By “concentrates,” I mean that these gold recovery systems are designed to capture and concentrate all of the heaviest material that is fed into them. Concentrates normally consist of the gold and a bunch of black sand (iron) and small iron rocks.
The day was going by fast, and we still had to separate the gold from about a third of a bucket of concentrates. I immediately used the boat to start ferrying everyone across the river. The time was around 11 am The heat of the day had still not reached the other side of the river where we had been working. My helpers were last to go. This is because they were making sure all the gear had been properly stowed, that any dangerous holes were filled in and that no trash had been left behind.
We never turn anyone away on these projects unless they are so disabled that there is no reasonable way for them to participate. Sometimes we get participants who have disabilities which will not allow them to hike up and down the trails to and from the river. But they are able to contribute once they arrive at the work site. As long as they are up for taking a ride both ways through some pretty serious rapids, we help them into and out of the boat and give them a ride that they will never forget. The water in the river is quite low this year. This dramatically increases the chances that we will slam into rocks as we race through the rapids and other shallow areas. But we didn’t hit any rocks on this day. Here it is on video:
We all agreed to meet back at our office to begin final clean-up at 2 pm. This allowed several of us some time to remove my jet boat from the river and bring it home. Diane is a big help on these projects. With the gold bucket firmly in hand, she remained with me until we arrived at the office. It is an important matter of personal duty to keep all the gold safe and secure until it is properly cleaned up and everyone is given their share. We are very serious about this!
I expected to have to pull all our final clean-up gear out of storage and set it up in the shade of our outdoor picnic area near the front corner of our office building. But when we drove into the parking lot, Diane and I were delighted to discover that John Rose already had all that gear set up and ready to go. Very cool!
John has been Assistant Manager of The New 49’ers for about as long as I can remember. It is because he loyally takes on these responsibilities that I become free to depart Happy Camp during the winter months so I am able to look for golden adventures abroad.
Boating is my favorite activity in the whole world!
Due to some good fortune that has come my way, I now have a 56-foot luxury motor yacht in the Philippines. Close friends and I have converted this 800 HP platform into a fantastic dive boat. I now devote the winter months voyaging around the Philippines, which is mostly water, doing spear fishing and underwater exploration. This is a lifetime dream come true for me.
Under John’s management, our Happy Camp program runs as smooth as can be. I am able to manage legal matters and compose newsletters anywhere on the planet that I have an Internet connection. The boat provides an Internet connection through a satellite uplink.
With the assistance of my experienced helpers, we made short work of the final clean-up steps with everyone looking on. There was a lot of gold! I bet Craig Colt a dollar that we were just short of an ounce. Then, to hedge my bet, I wagered a dollar with someone else that we recovered more than an ounce. It’s all in fun, and fits in nicely with all the excited chatter from the participants. All debts were promptly paid as soon as we weighed the gold on our scale.
The real value in this clean-up was in the 200 gold nuggets that we had recovered. Granted that most of the nuggets were small. A piece of gold is technically a nugget if it will not pass through a 10-mesh screen.
In the end, the scale weighed up 19 pennyweights (20 pennyweights equals a troy ounce of gold). We were a pennyweight short of making our target of a full ounce. Perhaps if we processed the remaining pay-dirt that had already been dug and screened, we would have more than met our target. But how could I know?
The spot price value of the gold we recovered on Sunday morning added up to $1,360. I made an offer to keep all the gold in exchange for throwing a big pizza party with all the beer or other beverages to make everyone happy. “All in favor?” Not a single participant was in favor of that idea. They never are!
There were 53 people at the split that had been present out on our dig. Divided into 455 grains (about 19 pennyweights), the weight of the individual splits was around 8.56 grains each. Normally, individual splits on these projects are between 6 and 7 grains. I cannot remember the last time the individual splits were above 7 grains. This, along with all the nuggets, gave everyone something to cheer about.
Four of the gold nuggets weighed more than 8.56 grains. One beautiful gold nugget was a pennyweight and a half! To keep things fair, we all agreed upon a drawing system that would allow the lucky four to pick their nuggets. Boy were those some happy people! Those were some really beautiful gold nuggets!
Then we needed to recalculate the remaining weight against 49 people. From there, I measured out just under 8 grains for each additional split. This is still at least a five-year record. Maybe ten years!
With John and several other members providing support, it did not take long to distribute the individual shares. It was challenging to make it happen through the roar of excitement being generated by the participants. This roar of excitement is all the payment I personally need in order to keep managing these weekend projects.
After a bunch of us packed the gear up the stairs in our building and put it where it belongs, everyone went off to experience more adventure in their lives. I was told that the big pile of pay-dirt we left out on site had been fully processed before dark on Sunday. I heard that some people even swam over there to get their share of what we left behind.
2019 Schedule of Events
Our first two weekend Group Mining Projects of the season went very well. One of the stories is published above. The other project will make for some excellent video-enhanced storytelling once we complete this latest effort to win our industry back.
The remaining 2019 weekend event will take place in just a few weeks: August 17 & 18. Otherwise, our numerous properties are available to all members 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for you to do your own prospecting adventures. That is, unless there is some emergency that closes the forest down, like a dangerous wildfire. We have not had any serious wildfires this year so far, so the air is nice and clear.
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.
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
Action Alert: We Still Have an Opportunity to Open Suction Dredges on the Federal Lands!
Action Alert by Tom Kitchar, President of Waldo Mining District
Now that we have the attention and support from Trump administration officials, the next step forward for us has been to draft a Petition to the Department of Interior (DOI) to perform an official Rulemaking process to change the federal regulations in a way that prevents States from interfering with mining on the Federal Lands, to do away with duplicative and unreasonable regulation, and to prevent the States from prohibiting mining on the federal lands.
The Petition was submitted in mid-June. This is an industry-wide program which enjoys support from all or most mining associations. There have also been letters of support from several county governments that have sustained serious economic harm because of the misguided policies against mining by some State agencies.
The petition has landed home where it needs to be. It is being taken seriously. Now, if we can just please take it to the next step: We need to encourage supportive messages from as many people as we can. This is the moment of truth! Notwithstanding any other opportunities that could arise in the future, this is, to a large extent, our last opportunity in the foreseeable future to regain the use of our mechanized equipment and gold dredges.
To assist you with this, we are attaching the Petition. This needs to either be linked to emails or included with hard copies of support: www.goldgold.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Miners-Petition-6-18-19.pdf
We are attaching a link which provides most of the contact details for the officials that we want to reach at this time: http://www.goldgold.com/contact-information-for-petition-recipients.html
We are also attaching a simple article which describes what a suction dredging is: www.goldgold.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/What-is-a-Suction-Dredge.pdf Perhaps you want to enclose or attach this information in tour message.
There is an additional link which provides some talking points to help if you want some assistance with your messages: www.goldgold.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/petition-talking-points.pdf
If you please send your messages to each person on the list, especially the two top DOI officials listed at the beginning of the Petition, and also to Mr. Trump; we could find ourselves in a federal Rulemaking process that will finally allow us to defend against the false claims being made against us by the radical extremists who are doing everything within their power to undermine the economic wellbeing of America.
We are thanking you with all sincerity for any and all help you can provide in this effort!
Planned Office Hours for the Time Being
Until further notice, we will continue opening the doors between 9 AM and 4 PM on weekdays. The office will be closed on weekends, except for the morning hours during the Saturdays when we are sponsoring the coming season’s final Weekend Group Projects: August 17 & 18. Our final Saturday evening potluck will also happen on August 17.
Members are invited to sign in your whereabouts on our properties over the phone in case there is some reason we need to find you.
Our mining properties are freely available to all members in good standing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, unless the Klamath National Forest is closed due to wildfires.
The New 49’ers Legal Fund-raiser!
There will be 25 prizes in all:
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).
This drawing will take place at 2 pm on Friday, 18 October of this year, 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.
Our most sincere thank you to everyone who is supporting our efforts to win our industry back. There is good reason for hope at this time.
New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012