New 49'er Newsletter

SECOND QUARTER, JUNE 2017                               VOLUME 31, NUMBER 6

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager



Through an incredible amount of effort with the help of around 20 New 49’er members over five long days, we have constructed a very effective gravity water system that is accessible on the Highway-96 side of the Klamath River on lower Wingate bar (K-23A). This is located around 7 miles downstream from Happy Camp.

Cliff turning on water Hose fully stretched across river

We constructed a similar system last season about a mile upriver on our Oak Flat property, on the far side of the river, primarily to supply our surface mining operations with water to process gold-bearing material. After doing one weekend group mining project over there, we concluded that we were not going to recover as much gold as we are able to further downriver on the Wingate property.

The main limiting factor with this type of gravity water flow system is that the source of water must be reasonably close to a high-grade paystreak.  Several years ago, longtime member, Derek Eimer made a very rich gold discovery out in the river a few hundred yards downstream from where our gravity system was set up at Oak Flat. So we extended the system down to the river; and after some trial and error, we were able to power up my 5-inch underwater suction device without the use of motors. Since the location was just downstream from what appeared to be a natural riffle in the river (rapids), I had high hopes to uncover an extension of Derek’s extremely rich gold deposit. But after quite a lot of effort, we discovered that the rapids were the remains of an old road or wing dam that the old-timers had constructed long before flood control  (dams) made the river run so much higher during the summer months. That portion of the river had already been mined.

This is the way it goes in gold prospecting. Sometimes, a lot of the time, you make the effort to sample and don’t find what you are hoping for. The key is to keep trying. Because with gold, you only need to hit the jackpot every once in a while.

In any event, we learned a lot last season about how to set up a gravity flow system that will power up an underwater suction device without the use of motors.

While we were working out gravity flow last season, one of our members launched a 4-inch suction dredge with a motor downriver at Wingate. In good faith, he believed he was within existing State laws if he was dredging for jade, rather than gold. He was dredging down there for a few weeks before the wardens came down, issued him a citation and took his dredge away. Eventually, with assistance from The New 49’er Legal Fund, his case was settled, he paid a small fine and recovered his mining gear. He is back on the river this season experimenting with gravity flow systems.

But since he dredged two holes down at lower Wingate, I took the opportunity to do some samples out of the bottom of his excavations in a layer change about 3 feet into the streambed; and I discovered what appears to be an extremely rich pay-streak. Directly across the river is a rather small spring-fed stream. This stream extends steeply up the mountainside. So we began making plans last season to construct an improved gravity system at Wingate this season. This one was going to be more challenging, because it was going to require us to transfer the water-flow across to the Highway-96 side of the river where the rich gold discovery is located.

Naturally, before we launched into this project, we received a nod from both State and federal authorities.

Fast water Dave & Steve in boat

As most people know, this has been a very wet winter. The Klamath River is still running high and dangerous, though it is now dropping by the day. Because we were going to need to cross back and forth across the river so many times to construct this system, we waited as long as we could to get started. Our first weekend group project took place just this past weekend (June 3 & 4). So we began constructing the gravity flow system several days before Memorial Day. We wanted to support the first project with running water. Even so, getting helpers and gear across the river safely required all of my small boat management skills. Here are two video segments that make it look a lot easier than it actually was:


Longtime member and very valuable New 49’er supporter, Cliff Leidecker, was the engineer behind this project. He devoted a big part of his winter accumulating aluminum irrigation pipe and fittings, valves, and most of the other things we would need to construct the system. From his surveys this past fall, Google Earth, and engineering manuals, even before we started construction, Cliff knew exactly what we needed to do. Here is our explanation on video:

Moving pipe

We used my jet boat to transfer 30-foot sections of pipe and other items across the river. Our biggest turnout of helpers was on the first day when we hauled the materials down and across the river, up the stream, and placed everything where it would be assembled on the following day. Our pipe system extends 340 feet up the mountainside to an elevation that is nearly 100 feet above the river. It’s a pretty steep climb!

Fitting pipe Dave & Craig smiling

Assembling irrigation pipe is rather easy. The challenge was mostly to do with supporting the pipe in places that the steep stream took sudden drops and installing directional changes so the pipe would follow the stream. We had to cut the pipe in places to make it all fit. Everything had to be tied to trees for support because of the water-weight that would be directed through the pipe.

By the end of the second day, our entire pipe system was in place down to a tree at the base of the stream. From there, we intended to connect a steel cable and stretch it across the Klamath River so we could suspend a pressure hose to transfer the water to the Highway-96 side.

Water stream from pumpPipe down the hill

We had a valve at the bottom of our piping system. All of us felt a great deal of satisfaction at the end of the day when we directed the stream into our system and watched it blast out of the valve down towards the river. Cliff had designed a much improved gravity flow system over what we used last season! This season, we have a lot more volume and pressure. Here is the action on video:

The most challenging part of the project was in stretching the steel cable across the raging Klamath River. This was all happening during the Memorial Day weekend while various rafting groups were floating past us. So we placed watchers upriver with walky-talkies to tell us when it was safe to block passage on the river, first with a rope, then followed by the cable.

The problem on the road side of the river is that we would have had to use a 500+ foot length of cable to reach the nearest tall tree located up near the highway. That was just not going to work out. So we found a smaller, gnarly tree down closer to the river that had survived the huge storm of this past winter, even though the entire tree had been submerged in the torrent of water and debris. Fortunately for us, some of the tree’s very strong roots had been exposed by the storm. We could not stretch the cable across the river directly to the tree or its roots without blocking river traffic. So we built a steel tripod with a heavy pulley that was suspended 12 feet above the tree’s massive root system. Here is some video of how we intended to make it happen:

Cable across the riverThe reason I say that the most difficult part was stretching the cable across the river is because the river is running so fast and violent.  Even with two strong men trying to hold it back, when the river caught hold of the rope, it immediately took all of the rope downstream with the cable following just behind.  It was everything I could do to drive the boat across the river and pass off the rope to six helpers that were standing ready. Those guys gave it all they had; and inch by inch, we made progress, finally getting the cable out of the water on both sides of the river. The struggle ultimately ended up in a standoff when the cable was just at the water’s surface; man against nature.  A bunch of men! Finally, I placed the bow of my boat up against the gravel bar, gave it some throttle to hold the boat in place, and abandoned the boat to go up and add just that little more effort to get the cable above the raging river

I’m really sorry we did not capture this part of the program on video. It was, by far, the most exciting part of the project. But if we did not have everyone out there throwing all of their effort at getting the cable above the river, we would not have made it. Here is our explanation the following morning of what happened:

If the river won that battle, we would not have had flowing water ready for the first weekend project of this season. We would have had to rest up for a week before we tried again with more help from other members. The struggle was so difficult; I’m still feeling lucky that we made it.

Guys up on tripod Tripod with pulley

Once we got the cable out of the raging river, it was rather easy to keep it there. Then we used trucks up in the parking lot to further lift and tighten the cable and position it so we could feed it though the pulley on the tripod. By the time we had the cable tightly strung across the river and fastened down to the tree, all of us were totally spent.  But we were feeling really good about what we had accomplished.

Only several helpers showed up the following day. My guess is that all the others from the day before spent most of the day in bed.

Linking hoses together Banding hoses
The final step in our plan was to connect pulleys to 200 feet of 4-inch pressure hose and pull it across the river, suspended by the cable, where we could quick-connect it to our gravity water system. This exercise was rather easy compared to the earlier two phases of this project. Since we bought the 4-inch pressure hose in hundred-foot lengths, it was necessary for us to use a coupler and commercial banding to connect two hoses together.

We positioned three red markers out on the hose where it crossed the river so that air traffic is able to see the obstruction, though it is unlikely any air traffic will be flying that close to the river because it is so fast.

Cliff had acquired just the right 4-inch T-fitting and valve to which we connected the 4-inch pressure hose on the gravel bar. One leg is intended to power up an underwater sucker once the river drops more and slows down. The other leg is set to feed high-bankers. Both legs have valves so we can control the water. Here it is on video:

Pressure valveOnce all was in place, we opened up the system and the water flowed to the Highway-96 side of the river just as Cliff had planned. When we turned off both valves on the gravel bar, the pressure gauge climbed to 40 PSI.  That really made us happy. Back in the days of motorized mining gear, we were usually getting about 32 PSI out of our pumps, sometimes as much as 35 PSI.

At one point during the day, all progress was put on hold while several of us drove to Happy Camp to gather more gear that we needed. Rather than just wait around Scott and Cliff took the opportunity to do some initial sampling of the gravel bar – and the result was better than they expected. Here it is on video:

High-bankers smilingThis was a job well done, thanks to Cliff’s engineering and a concerted effort by a bunch of New 49’er members – all just in time for our first weekend group mining project of the season – which turned out really well, by the way (next month’s story).

Here is an aerial view of our entire water system leading down to the first group mining project of the season:

There is good gold on this lower Wingate gravel bar. I’ll go into that next month. But the real bonanza we are after is just out in the river on the other side of what remains of the willow vegetation on the bank of the river.  From what I saw last season, the gold is very rich out there.

The river remains too high and fast to mine out in the river right now. But we see areas where we can begin testing our underwater systems. We will start with that later this week.

Once we open up the deposit out in the river and it is safe, we plan to add underwater mining into the weekend group projects. Those who want to try underwater mining will have an opportunity.  We have already arranged for very experienced members to help with beginners so that all will be done with care and safety. Those who prefer to mine on the surface will be able to do traditional high-banking. We will also have very experienced underwater miners operating the underwater device. This should push the gold production to record highs. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed!

If all is going well with the underwater mining, we will schedule at least two 2-day underwater group projects later this season which will be made available free to a limited number of participants. Please stay tuned for more news as we progress into the season. 

We are Now on Summer Office Hours

As of the first of May, our office and store in Happy Camp have been open between 9 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday, and between 8 AM and 12 Noon on Saturdays.

Last Chance to Win American Gold & Silver Eagles!

Gold and 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 3 pm on Friday 23rd of June 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.

But you better hurry, because there is not much time left!

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.

All contributions are tax deductible. You can find more information about the drawing right here.

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.
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.

2017 Schedule of Events: June 24 & 25, July 15 & 16; August 5 & 6; August 26 & 27 

Schedule of Events

In addition, electronic prospecting specialist and New 49’er member, Dennis Dickson, in concert with Whites Electronics and Armadillo Mining Supply will host two 2-day electronic gold prospecting projects in Happy Camp this coming season. Bring your own metal detectors. The projects will happen on Friday & Saturday June 9 and 10 and Friday & Saturday August 18 and 19.  Meet at our office at 4 PM on Friday. Bring your own drinks. Dinner will be served. (Sorry; these two projects are fully booked)

We are also hoping to organize some underwater suction mining projects (without the use of motorized pumps) in an established very rich gold deposit (in shallow water) this summer. Watch for more news on this as we attempt to move forward.

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

Happy Birthday to our Youngest Member!

Music with sonBy Music Lee Adame, New 49’er Member Services

A year ago this month, the youngest New 49er was born to a couple of miners Matt Bynum & Music Lee Adame.  What started off as a dredge team of 4, dwindled down to 2; and wham bam thank you ma’am, a star was born. His name is Xy Adameus Bynum.  Conceived on a New 49er claim, born of a loyal miner and welcomed to this world by some of the best Americans one will ever know.  The old adage “it takes a village to raise a child” holds true and I am so grateful to be a part of the 49’er community as we raise Xy with integrity as a future guardian of the liberties of our country.  Thank you all for making America great again — one child at a time.  Happy Birthday Xy guy, love you! 

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

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