By Ulf Dannenberg

When Carl moved from Southern California to Eureka (CA) and took on a maintenance job with Mobil Oil ten years ago, he never thought that one day he would become a gold miner. Actually, his wife Judy is to blame.

She told him that “There is Gold in those hills and rivers.” On weekends they went to the Trinity River, shovel and gold pan in hand, and started digging. The gold they found barely covered the bottom of a little glass vial, but Carl thought that they were doing pretty good. One Sunday they met a man working with a sluice box, and Carl thought, “Gee, what a neat device; you move a lot more material.” So he bought a sluice and found more gold. It seems that gold miners at an early stage have to go through the different steps of growing into the “business.” In other words, your equipment grows with your experience. Sure enough, a little later Carl met a man with a 2-inch dredge; and to Carl, that was an earth-moving machine. A 2-inch dredge was the next toy he bought, and the gold he found was better. Pretty soon he had his own claim and made a pennyweight a day. To improve his knowledge about mining he read Dave McCracken’s book on Advanced Dredging Techniques.” Carl had a lot of questions and gave Dave a call. Dave at that time was just starting with The New 49’ers gold mining club. It didn’t take long to convince Carl that joining the club had a lot of advantages for him. He became a member. He worked his 2-inch dredge along the Klamath River, sticking to the side of the river in shallow waters all summer long. And, always going back to Eureka and his job on weekdays.

The next step in his mining experience was inevitable. He saw someone working a 5-inch dredge and said, “Wait a minute, there’s something wrong here. I have to have a 5-inch dredge.” Next thing, Carl was gone to buy one. He moved near the confluence of Tim’s Creek and the Klamath River on club claims, and found a virgin streak of overburden with shallow bedrock. Three and a half ounces! It was the largest amount of gold he had ever dredged up in one day. This was still part-time mining. Each weekend he and his wife Judy went home with at least an ounce of gold. When his boss put too much pressure on him, Carl felt it was time to take up dredging on a commercial scale. Subconsciously he’d known all the time that his future was in becoming a gold miner. He quit his job and moved to Happy Camp on a permanent basis. He could live easily off the gold he found and was quite happy.

One summer, however, was quite different. Not that he was running out of gold. Oh, no! But, Carl was running into all kinds of trouble. Carl became “famous” at the Saturday potlucks telling stories about his encounters with MURPHY’S LAW. These mishaps were quite funny to listen to, but only because of Carl’s unique way of telling these tales. He is definitely not the kind of guy who sheds tears over spilled milk. His kind of humor forbids that.

Here are two incidents told in his own words:

“I got here and was in a real hurry to get into the water. Found a nice spot on one of the new club claims and wanted to show this new guy how to put a dredge into the water. He had never seen this kind of operation before. I told him this is “a piece of cake”, I’ve done it many times. So, he just stood there watching us lowering the dredge down into this steep canyon. We had two safety ropes on the dredge, two guys on top of the road; Gordon and myself, guiding the rig down. Suddenly something snapped, I didn’t know what. And there it went! From zero to 60 in 6 seconds. I saw Gordon stepping away from the dredge and running away. One of the security ropes came whirling down the slope like an angry snake and nobody wanted to get caught by it. Finally the trailer with the dredge hit the bank at the end of the slope and tilted sideways.

The air compressor, gas tank and water pump all broke loose. When I got down there I couldn’t help myself. I started laughing out loud. It was a total disaster. We pulled the trailer with the dredge back up the hill and I had the dredge repaired for $280. The newcomer who watched us must have thought that we were a bunch of crazies. He had that kind of expression on his face.”

“A few weeks later I dredged with my partner Jerry just below Happy Camp. We wanted to move the dredge a bit downstream. I’m holding the dredge on a rope and my partner Jerry is out of sight behind the dredge, when all of a sudden the current caught the dredge and the safety line became tight like a guitar string. It started to slip through my fingers six inches at a time. I looked around. There was no place where I could tie the rope and I just couldn’t hold on much longer. So I let go of the rope and gripped the highline that was still attached to the dredge, and I managed to make it to shore with it. Two little bushes were all I could find to tie the rope around. But the dredge had put on speed and when the highline around the bushes tightened, SNAP! It ripped the bushes right out of the ground. The dredge was free to go and made it around the bend and out of sight.”

“Meanwhile, Jerry was standing on this large rock looking after the dredge like an Indian with one hand shading his eyes. I asked him what was going on, and he replied “It’s way down – now it stopped – no, wait a minute – it’s going again.” I knew then that I had to make it fast across the river to get to my car and drive after the dredge. Swimming through the current like Johnny Weissmuller, I barely made it to the other side and up the slope, got into Jerry’s car and drove after the dredge.”

“Every turn-out I stopped and looked. No dredge in sight. I drove on, and suddenly I saw something yellow. It was the dredge. I parked the car on the side of the road next to a Cal-Trans truck and got out. My heartbeat must have been up to 200. My knees were wobbly, I could hardly breathe, and thought I was close to a heart attack. I lay down on the road pavement to catch my breath and the driver of the Cal-Trans truck jumped out and came over to me. I was spreadeagled on the road. No breath, and my heart in my throat. So the guy asked me if he could help, if I needed something. All I could ask was, “Do you have a cigarette?” He said, “Yeah – need anything else?” So I croaked, “You got a light?” So he lights my cigarette and doesn’t know what the heck is going on. He looks over the side down towards the river and asked me if that is my dredge down there. “Yeah,” I said, “does it look alright?” He told me that my dredge was still swimming. When I finished smoking I got up and took a look. The dredge was stuck on a piece of bedrock right in the middle of the river surrounded by raging whitewater.”

“Something had to be done fast, before the current could rip it off the rock. I slid down the shale, slipping and falling through thorny bushes. I jumped into the water a hundred yards above the dredge and tried swimming across the river. I knew that if I missed the dredge I would be swept a mile downstream before I could make it up to the road again. I barely made it. I held on to a piece of bedrock next to the dredge. It took me quite a while to find a secure position and think things over. There was 600 feet of highline floating downstream in a fast current. I tell you, if you had dragged that line in, you’d know what you had done. It was a heck of a job to do. But I did it. By that time there was a crowd way up on the highway. Two Highway Patrol officers, two men from the Forest Service and also two guys from Cal-Trans. They really enjoyed the action and were applauding when I had the dredge secured. Now I looked for a spot where I could climb up the slope. I took my regulator and airline and looked for a deer trail, but all I could see was poison oak everywhere. I was in a bad mood. I could have kicked a bear’s butt and not worried about the consequences. I heard and saw rattlers on my way up through the poison oak, but I just didn’t care. Finally I made it to the top, but a few hundred yards away from the crowd. I had another cigarette and Jerry pulled up in his car. He was really scared about me. I asked him why and he said that the Highway Patrolmen thought I would kill myself, because the last thing they saw of me, was me disappearing into the bushes with a rope around my neck. Of course, the ‘rope’ was my airline and regulator and by no means was I going to kill myself over this accident. I laughed for a few minutes and it took away the tension.”

Carl works his new 6-inch dredge with great success making between three-quarters and one ounce a day. He works all summer and goes back to Eureka for the winter where he goes metal detecting along the beaches. When you happen to meet him, ask him about the many other MURPHY stories he has experienced. He will tell you in detail, and laugh about it.




By Ulf Dannenberg

When Michael Schneider and Gaby Kroeger switched on their TV one night in February of 1989, they had no idea that their lives would be changed so drastically.

Typical for that time of year, Hamburg, the main port of entry in the north of Germany, has the kind of weather everybody hates—gray, low, overcast clouds, chilling winds, and temperatures that linger around the freezing point. It can put you in a very depressing mood. The only solution to beat the cold is to turn your heater on maximum, and stay home!

The TV special lasted for forty-five minutes, and it turned out to be the most exciting minutes for Michael and Gaby in a long time. The show was about THE NEW 49’ERS gold mining organization and gold mining along the Klamath River in Happy Camp, California.

Before the show started Michael decided to tape the show on his VCR.

“We watched the show at least a dozen times over the next two weeks,” Gaby said with a smile. “We were stunned with the clarity of the underwater filming. You could see how little flakes of gold were sucked up by the nozzle of the dredge. I’ve never seen anything like it before!”

Michael put the most interesting parts of the show on “slow-motion”, giving him a better opportunity to watch the details.

“We had been looking for a change in our lifestyle for a long time,” Michael explained. “We had our nine to five routine with no way out—-so it seemed. But the gold mining special on TV changed all of that!”

“And we had to be spontaneous about making up our minds,” Gaby put in quickly. “Because when you think about the pros and cons too long you never get started.”

To most people, this is easier said than done. There were so many things to be taken care of. Michael, as a TV repair specialist with his own shop, had to sell it for a good price in a short period of time. Their car had to be sold and a solution had to be found concerning their apartment. Apartments are hard to find in Hamburg and they are pretty expensive as well. As it turned out, none of these things posed a problem for Michael and Gaby. Within three months the shop was sold and the car, too. A friend moved into the apartment, reserving it for them until they returned from their trip.

“We knew we were giving up all the ‘security thinking’ that the hard working people of Germany are well known for,” Gaby said. “This TV special on THE NEW 49’ERS was the rare opportunity that gave us the final push in a direction we had subconsciously wanted for a long time.”

Michael and Gaby had never been overseas. Travels to Morocco and Turkey were the only extensive journeys they had ever taken. After they made up their minds to go, the winter climate didn’t affect them any more. Occupied with obtaining visas for the U.S., the airplane tickets and other items they needed, the weeks until their departure flew by.

Finally, in June of 1989, they boarded the plane to San Francisco. After a pleasant flight they grabbed the Greyhound bus to Eureka. Here they browsed through the used car lots to buy a good transportation car. They picked a station wagon with V-8 power and were on their way to Happy Camp.

“The impact of nature and the landscape in this part of California amazed me,” commented Michael. “Not so crowded like in Germany.”

When they arrived in Happy Camp they drove to the mining store where the office of The New 49’ers is situated. There, they met Hoss Blackman. Hoss had the job of showing newcomers around the claims. He took Michael and Gaby on a tour up and down the Klamath River. They had taken a couple of gold pans with them and when Hoss pointed at tree roots with lots of gravel in them they eagerly panned out the black sand. A few flakes of gold appeared in the pan.

“I had never seen placer gold before,” Gaby said with a broad grin. “Those flakes just doubled my heartbeat!”

Excited, they went back to Pro-Mack Mining and bought their first basic mining equipment; pans, classifiers and digging tools. A two-week visitor’s pass that later became the down payment for their New 49’er membership was paid; and, armed with high expectations, they started going after the elusive gold. Soon, they switched to a highbanker, but Michael was more attracted by the dredges in the river.

“I knew a highbanker was not the final solution for us,” Michael pointed out. “I spoke to dredgers and saw the gold they recovered and I just had to have one of those machines.”

The opportunity came quick enough. There was a used six-inch dredge for sale in southern Oregon and Michael bought it. When I visited them on the Klamath River near O’Neil Creek they were both in the water—Gaby helping move heavy boulders and assisting Michael who was dredging eight feet down in the overburden. Everything worked fine until one morning when “Murphy’s Law” struck. The engine blew a rod.

When they took it down to the local repair shop they found out that the previous owner had tampered with the motor in an unprofessional way. Michael returned the dredge to the person and luckily got most of their money back. With the motto “miners helping miners,” they were able to borrow a five-inch triple-sluice Keene dredge from other members of The New 49’ers and keep right on working.

One day in August I visited them at Tim’s Creek Campground where they had their tent and mini-trailer set up. Gaby came towards me carrying a large ice box in which they stored their food.

“Look at that,” she said. I noticed deep scratches right next to the flip lock. “A bear came last night and visited us while we were in our tent. He must have been attracted by the smell of the ham that was inside the box.” They were fortunate. The bear left them alone after he managed to get the lock open and had a feast on ham and cheese. That was a close encounter they will not forget for quite some time.

Soon the summer was over. Fall had set in and by mid-October it was time for them to go back home to Germany.

“We had our first experience, found our first gold and next year everything is going to be a little bit more organized!” Michael told me. “Now we know all the WHERE, WHO, WHEN, and HOW!”

Now it’s 1990 and they’re back. They have a better dredge, better accommodation in a bachelor apartment, met all their friends from last year, and have a good spot in the river to work.

“We know we won’t get rich,” they both agreed, “but the many, many friendly people, the beautiful surroundings, the rugged, outdoor lifestyle, makes it all worth while to us. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it?”

I had to agree. It is my second mining season in Happy Camp as a New 49’er and I love it. I’ll be back in the years to come and I’m looking forward to again seeing Michael and Gaby, and more people like them. Maybe you’ll be one of them!





By Dave McCracken General Manager

Dave Mack


Ray and Dan
Working  Feeding high-bankers

Weekend projects are always a lot of fun. This is especially true when plenty of enthusiastic members show up. With 86 members present on Saturday morning, this was probably going to be the largest turnout of the season!

Without a bunch of experienced helpers present, I would not be able to manage a mining project with so many people. So I would like to take this opportunity to give a big thank you to the following members who routinely participate on these projects, providing helpful guidance and coordination to make the program fun and exciting for everyone: Craig Colt, Rich & Connie Krimm, Lee Kracher, Ray & Eimer Derek, Alan Mash, Chuck Montgomery and John & Diane Leslie.

We always begin these weekend projects on Saturday morning with introductions over at the Lions hall in Happy Camp. It is very interesting to hear where people have arrived from. People come from all over the world. As we all go around the room introducing ourselves, I have the opportunity to size up the team and plan better how to move forward once we get out on the ground.

A nice smileOver the years, I have discovered that every single group is different. It is something about how the combined social chemistry comes together. This all gels during introductions on the first morning. Some groups are more enthusiastic than others. Enthusiasm drives success in gold mining. This is especially true on these group projects; because, with coordination though my helpers, we can direct the enthusiasm into the necessary physical effort to locate and process pay-dirt out on the mining property. The more of the right kind of pay-dirt that we process, the more gold we will split off on Sunday afternoon.

Fortunately, this was a highly-motivated group. When I see that on Saturday morning, I already know we are going to have a good weekend. After introductions, I took some time to introduce how and why The New 49’ers came into existence, and why we schedule 5 or 6 of these weekend projects every season. Then, I launched into a 2-hour discussion on how to prospect for gold. The purpose is to explain the reasons for what we will be doing during the remainder of the weekend.

Saturday afternoon found us all up on K-15A, otherwise known as the “Mega Hole.” This is one of our more popular mining properties these days for surface mining activity like panning, sluicing & high-banking.

We always start the afternoon by explaining what we know about where gold is already being discovered on the property. On the upper portion of K-15A, while we have found good gold in deeper layers, we focus our efforts during the weekend projects to finding the high-grade gold deposits which are common in the upper-most layer of streambed. This is because we do not have enough time over the weekend to develop deeper layers. We leave those to members that will be around for a while.

At least in our area of the world, nearly all high-grade gold is found concentrated on top of bedrock, or on top of the different hard-packed layers of streambed. The gold is not distributed evenly all throughout a layer. In fact, it is only rarely that you will find enough gold up inside of a storm layer to make mining worthwhile. The high-grade is nearly always located at the bottom of a layer. This is because the gold is so much heavier than average streambed material, it nearly always deposits down along the hard surface of whatever the layer is resting upon. This is one of the most important things we try to teach to beginning miners. If you know where the gold concentrations are most likely to be, then you know where to focus your sampling efforts.

Pay dirtAnother of the first things we do once out in the field, is to show everyone what hard-pack streambeds are, what the different layers look like, and exactly where we have been finding the high-grade out there. By “where,” I am mainly talking about the layer which is producing gold. In this case, we have been having our best results by mining the top layer of hard-pack down to where it rests upon a different layer of dark brown material. The depth of this layer change can be from several inches to two feet, depending upon where you dig.

If you want to do effective sampling using a gold pan, you want to get as much of the right material into your pan as you can. By “right material,” I mean two things: First, if you are going to sample the bottom of a particular layer, you want to clear away most of the material which is over top of the surface that you are targeting for a sample. The reason for this is that most of the gold concentration will be sitting right on top of the surface which the layer is resting upon. There will not be much gold up into the layer. The more low-grade material which you place into your pan from material above the surface, the less gold-bearing material you will process in the pan, and the less gold will end up in your pan-sample. Bottom line: While you can never get it perfect, you should try to clear away as much of the material above the surface as you can before placing surface material into your pan.

The second part of this has to do with screening. If 99% of the gold you are going to recover while sampling will pass through a #8 classification screen, then you should be classifying (screening) all of the +8 material out of your sample. Otherwise you are filling your pan mostly with pebbles and rocks which are almost guaranteed to include no gold.

Knowing how to sample classified material off the surface of targeted layers in the streambed is the main key to being able to discover high-grade gold deposits. This is so important, before setting everyone on their own, I always provide a demonstration of how to clear away the material from the contact zone between two separate layers and collect a sample. Here is a video sequence showing me demonstrate this very important principle:

Sample panSince there are always beginners present, I also provide a panning demonstration for those who want to see it. Panning is not difficult. It is basically a process where you place your sample material in suspension within the pan. This way, the gold can work its way down deeper into the pan through other materials which are not as heavy. Then the lighter materials are swept out of the pan. While the process is rather easy, it usually requires some practice; and you have do it for a while to build confidence that you are not losing gold. My helpers and I devote a good part of Saturday afternoon helping beginners with their panning technique. This is because you cannot sample unless you can operate a gold pan without losing the gold. We don’t like to let anyone get away without learning the technique!

Here is a video sequence which captured me demonstrating the panning process to the participants:

Even before we all arrived on the very large gravel bar located at the upper-end of K-15A, my helpers had already confirmed an entirely new line of gold that we did not even know existed before. One of our very supportive members, Danny Collins, along with a few other members, had already been working the new gold line – which was even further away from the river than the gold line that we had established on the earlier weekend project. That’s the thing about having so many experienced miners in our Club; there are new and exciting strikes being made all the time!

The new strike was also right on top of the dark brown layer averaging about a foot below the surface. We must have had 60 people out there sampling into that layer! My helpers were busy forming up their crews for the following day. They had already made a plan to set up 4 high-bankers to process pay-dirt from two separate pretty good strikes.

Since we were prospecting on the road-side of the river, participants can stay out there as long as they like on Saturday afternoon. You get to keep all the gold you find on the first day. There were quite a few members still out there panning when I called it quits.

Saturday night potluck was held at the Lions Club. There were so many members present; we had to set up some extra tables outside. Man, was there a lot of food! There was also a lot of excitement and good feelings in the group chemistry. I have been managing this organization for 25 years, so I have an acute sensitivity to how the group is feeling. There were a lot of happy people here. This was good!

Everybody working  Connie

Since the hot summer weather had started just a few days before, the team leaders were asking everyone to meet out at the work site at 7 O’clock on Sunday morning. The idea was to get the hard physical work done before the worst heat of the day. Most participants arrived even before I did. Team leaders had their crews digging down to the top of the brown layer, filling buckets half full with pay-dirt, packing the material to the high-bankers, and feeding pay-dirt into the recovery systems. Everything was running K-15Asmoothly. Here are three video segments which captured some of the action:

We had set up several shade areas where participants could get a break from the sun.

Because Danny Collins was planning to switch to suction dredging on the Rogue River the following day, he handed over his active high-banking hole to the weekend project. That was a perfect example of our Club Motto: Miners helping Miners! For that, I placed Danny in charge of that digging team. He then made it his personal mission to make sure that team was going to recover the most gold.

Dan and Derrick  Gold in the Pan

We always designate a few experienced members to continue sampling the material that we are digging on these projects. This is because sometimes the gold concentrations in the streambed just disappear on you. The only way to know that you are still digging pay-dirt is to keep testing it every once in a while. You can do this with a gold pan. You can also clean up the upper portion of the recovery system on your high-banker every once in a while to make sure the gold is adding up. Danny was doing all of this for his digging team, and showing them the results to keep them motivated. It was working! This video segment captured some of the excitement we were all experiencing:

Lots of smiles

Craig Colt and Lee Kracher were sampling for the other digging team. That group was also doing well.

It always pleases me to see whole families coming out on these projects. Sometimes the kids outwork most of the adults! Other times, the kids do not fully appreciate the activity until it is time to collect their split of the gold at the end of the project. But I am certain that all of the kids who participate will fully appreciate the experience at some later point in their lives. After all, how many kids have an opportunity to go out and successfully mine for gold? I have been doing this so long now, sometimes I am rewarded to meet someone who I first knew as just a young kid, but who has since grown up and returned with young kids of his or her own. Kids grow up so fast! Here is some video we captured of the Miller family on their first gold mining adventure:Craig Colt

In addition to showing members how to prospect and mine for gold on these weekends, we also demonstrate how to operate within our surface mining guidelines. Mainly, this is a matter of not allowing our excavations get too large (we back fill the holes as we go), keeping our excavations well away from the river, and not allowing dirty water to flow back into the active waterway. Rich Krimm plays an important role in the Club’s internal affairs, so he usually takes on the job of making sure that we allow the water from our recovery systems to settle out up on the surface. This is pretty easy to accomplish along the upper portion of K-15A. Here is some video we captured of Rich while he was looking after this responsibility:

Gold on the mat  More gold in the pan

Participants bring a lunch out with them on Sunday, but we seldom shut everything down for lunch. People just take a break when they are ready. We did shut down the high-bankers several times to see if the gold was adding up in the recovery systems. It was! Here follows my explanation of what was happening out there:

Thumbs up

Our team leaders have good judgment about when we should begin winding things down out in the field. This is usually when the buckets are not getting refilled fast enough to feed the high-bankers! As long as the gold is adding up alright, we do not see any reason to overdo the physical exertion. Some people are not used to doing hard physical labor out in the hot sun. So we knocked off at about noon on Sunday. But later, after everyone realized how good the gold added up, there was general consensus that we should have kept going for another hour. Oh well; we will work harder next time!

We invested a little more time out there to dismantling the high-bankers and back-filling our holes. This didn’t take long with as many people as we had.

An hour or so later found us all together doing final clean-up steps at the Lions hall in Happy Camp. This is where we demonstrate how to separate the thousands upon thousands of small flecks of gold from all the other heavy materials which collect in a recovery system; mostly particles of iron. We use a simple system which does not require the use of any chemicals.

Final gold  Happy girl

In all, we recovered 12.8 pennyweights of gold, including 23 beautiful gold nuggets. That’s a little less than ¾ of an ounce. There were 71 smiling faces present to collect an equal share of the gold. And that was the end of another wonderful weekend on the Klamath River!


By Dave McCracken General Manager

Dave Mack


Rogue RiverGold


Note: Oregon Now Has Placed a Moratorium on Motorized Prospecting!

We decided quite some time ago that as long as things are running smoothly in Happy Camp, our field staff (Richard Krimm, Ray Koons and others) would be overseeing activity this season along our mining properties on the Klamath River, while Craig Colt and I provide help and encouragement to members who want to dredge for gold along the Rogue River in Southern Oregon.

We have maps and an Access Guide on line for all members who wish to suction dredge along the Rogue River. Members are also invited to contact our office for more information.

We struck high-grade gold during a dredge sampling project along the Rogue River last fall. So we have been planning to support our members who wish to operate your dredges over there however long the dredging moratorium remains in affect in California (at least though the present season).

One of the best ways I know of to encourage our members is to take a dredge out on the river and start sampling for high-grade gold deposits. Since most gold follows along a common, narrow path in the river, once high-grade is established in one place, we can begin lining other members up to get a piece of it. Then, as other members start finding acceptable levels of gold (or better), everyone becomes encouraged.

When Craig and I started, there were already several members dredging in the section of river that we had targeted downstream of the Gold Ray dam. Some of them were already dredging some high-grade gold, amazingly on both sides of the river and also out in the middle. This made things a lot easier for Craig and I. Usually we are the ones who have to go out and make the first strike!

Using my jet boat to gain access to the far side of the river, Craig and I initially launched a 4-inch dredge about 100 feet downstream of where one member (Tom) was already dredging about a quarter-ounce of gold per day. Whenever possible, we try and learn as much as possible from someone who is already into high-grade gold. The information tells us exactly what we should be looking for in our own sampling. Tom was getting some nice nuggets off the bedrock, under about a foot of an orange-colored hard-packed streambed which also contained lots of fine gold. Easy dredging!

Here is a video sequence that was taken while Craig and I were talking to the guys dredging just up in front of us:

The problem was that the river was running faster down below Tom. With Craig holding the 4-inch dredge out into the river for me, it was everything I could do to hold a position out in the river to dredge a sample. The water was only a few feet deep, so it was not dangerous. It was just hard to hold a position against the fast flow. There were several hundred feet of very fast water here; and I was betting that because other sections of the river are so much easier to work, nobody had ever dredged this area before.

Craig ColtIt turned out that I was right about that. I found the orange-colored hard-pack as soon as I started dredging material into the 4-inch nozzle. I reached bedrock within just a short time. The material was less than a foot deep. Easy!

Slowing down on the bedrock to have a more careful look, I started spotting occasional flakes of gold right away. It is always so uplifting when you start seeing gold while dredging. If you are seeing the gold, it means you are on the common gold path. Individual pieces can be followed into pockets of gold when the bedrock is right. Tom told us he had uncovered multiple pockets of beautiful nuggets just the day before.

I didn’t see any pockets of gold while spending about an hour getting a sizable section of the bedrock uncovered. But I did see sporadic flakes of gold along the bedrock surface. It really cuts into how much you can accomplish if you slow down too much to look for the gold. So once I established that there was gold present, but not in pockets, I mainly focused on getting as much volume sucked up as possible so I could complete a good sample.

When we looked into the sluice box afterwards, we were amazed to see that it was laced thick with thousands and thousands of small flakes of gold. We were into high-grade gold on the first try; unbelievable! Since there was so much more gold in the sluice than what I saw underwater, it was clear that most of the gold is concentrated inside of the orange layer of hard-packed streambed. This was good; because it means that the gold deposit is not depending upon bedrock conditions. I have found many times in the past that concentrations of fine gold in a pay-layer tend to be very consistent.

The following video segment captured all the excitement we

Sample gold in panwere experiencing when we performed the first clean-up on the dredge:

Our next step was to assemble and float my 5-inch dredge to the location. In anticipation of the potential new DEQ regulations, Craig had already welded a 4-inch ring onto the nozzle. Once we moved the larger dredge onto the far side of the river, we decided to drop further back on this pay-streak and see if we could pick up the same paying orange layer. The water was just as fast back there, so Craig was mainly supporting my samples by holding the dredge out into the current. This was so I could dredge further out in the river. We found the paying layer as we dropped further back two more times on the pay-streak. Wow!

Craig and I were really excited! Here follows a video sequence Craig filmed with my explanation about how we were figuring things out:

Here is a look at the 5-inch dredge operating on the river as we were doing the sampling. The water in the video doesn’t look nearly as fast as it felt when we were doing the work!

Since we were spreading the news to other members about what we were finding, those with boats began moving their own dredges over and setting up in the slower water well up in front of us, but in line on the river with where we were finding our gold. Those guys also immediately started finding the shallow layer of orange-pack with fine gold. They also started picking up pockets of nuggets in the bedrock. The nuggets are getting bigger as members establish the paying line further upstream. One member was picking up pennyweight-sized nuggets when I talked to him a few days ago.

Here follows some of Danny’s explanations of how things are going on the river:

This is all directly in line with where we established high-grade gold last fall, perhaps 500 yards further upstream. This is a very large river, and there is a lot of room!

Craig and I have since set up our two dredges side-by-side and are working the deposit in a friendly competitive fashion, seeing who can get the most gold. I recovered an ounce of fine-sized flakes the other day in less than three hours of running. Back during my younger years, I might not have been so enthusiastic about recovering an ounce of gold. But at today’s value, an ounce per day is something to get excited about!

Here is a video sequence we filmed just as we completed the clean-up on my 5-incher several days ago:

Gold clean-upOther members have established a completely separate line of gold on the access-side of the river, and another line out in the middle of the river. I gather the reason there is more than one gold line is that there are multiple sources of gold entering the river just upstream. One of our members working the access-side of the river showed me a bottle of beautiful nuggets which even has me rethinking the plans for where I will operate my 5-inch dredge!

One member (Danny) who is doing really well with his 4-inch dredge up in front of where Craig and I have been dredging says that his dad is doing even better than he is just using a 3-inch high-banker. His dad is mining about 3 miles downriver from where we are, using the suction nozzle to suck up material from the bottom near the river’s edge. He is getting nice nuggets, too. Here is what Danny had to say:

I have been too busy over the past week trying to establish and confirm high-grade to drive around to all the river access points and see how other members are doing along the Rogue River. I hope to have a report for you guys in next month’s newsletter about that.

What I can tell you at this point is that there is definitely high-grade gold to be had by dredging on the Rogue River. I can tell you that so far, everything we have seen involves shallow streambed material to the pay-layer, and that it is pretty easy going. We have quite a few happy members over there.



By Dave McCracken General Manager





Group Photo

I kind of buy into the idea that what goes around, comes around; that the whole universe has a way of equalizing things out in the end. But looking back on my own life, I cannot see any really important thing that I did, or even the accumulation of smaller good things that I accomplished, that blessed me and The New 49’ers into the acquisition of our mining property at K-15A This property has been being wonderful to us since Eric Bosch and I dredged up 100 ounces of gold there in about two weeks all the way back in 1984.

During earlier years, the primary focus of this property was suction dredging for high-grade gold. In 1987, the first New 49’er member in there, a guy who was in his mid-70’s, made a dredging strike with a 3-incher in shallow water that prompted a full-on gold rush. Later that summer, the U.S. Forest Service floated down in rafts and interviewed 130 different New 49’er members, all who were dredging high-grade!

These days, the primary focus is on high-grade high-banking ground. I am talking about hand mining with digging tools and buckets.

There is a huge gravel bar towards the upper-end of this very long property which went pretty-much ignored until about 3 or 4 seasons ago. Prior to then, we were using boats to ferry members across the river to a gravel bar located further downstream on this same property during our weekend group high-banking projects. There is plenty of high-grade gold on the far side of the river. But we were getting so many members involved with the weekend projects, the time involved with transferring participants across the river and back was subtracting too much from how much work we were able to get accomplished.

As far as I know, long time member, Otto Gaither, was the first person to make a great strike on this bar. Otto’s strike was so good, I had to really put pressure on him to show me where his “secret spot” was. Once he did, we have not done a weekend or week-long high-banking project anywhere else since. That’s just how good this place is. It is also very large.

Initially, we worked a discovery down towards the lower-end of the bar, near to where Otto had been mining. That line of gold was closer to the river. It took us a several seasons to work out most of the line. Lots of members continue to work an area after we do a weekend project, so steady work was being done down there, both during the summer and winter months. A natural line of trees and other vegetation between the gold line(s) and the river make it very easy to trap and settle water from our recovery systems. The place is ideal for surface mining activity.

Then, even before we finished the first gold line, maybe two seasons ago, someone discovered an entirely new line of high-grade gold that ran the entire length of the bar perhaps 30 feet further inland from the first line of gold. That is the line of gold that we were mining all last season. As this second line had not been worked very much towards the upper-end of the bar, my plan has been to focus our high-banking projects up that way this summer. There is still plenty of gold to recover there.

Another blessing in my life these days is that we get quite a few very experienced members helping to manage the weekend projects. They have asked me numerous times what I intend to do when the gold plays out on K-15A. I answer that we have about 140 miles of potential high-grade mining property on the surface (out of the active waterway) if you count both sides of the river.

Still, one of my biggest worries is going out with a bunch of members on a weekend and not recovering enough gold to split between all the participants. In 24 seasons, that has never happened. I do not want it to happen – ever!

This all leads up to the first weekend project of this season. Just a few days before the project, a major storm front moved through and dumped several inches of rain in parts of northern California and southern Oregon. This caused the Scott River to flood its banks and raise the Klamath River by several feet along K-15A. I went down to look at our planned work area for the project on Friday, and the location where I wanted to dig was all underwater. Great!


We had 55 members signed up for this project, and all of them showed up on Saturday morning. This was a really good bunch; everybody had their smiles on and seemed eager to review a few hours of theory which I presented with a blackboard down at the Lions hall. After lunch, we all went out to K-15A. This is a property which is located about 12 miles upstream from Happy Camp.

Very experienced prospectors, Rich Krimm, Craig Colt, Alan Mash, John & Diane Leslie and Ray, Peggy and Eimer Derek were all out on the bar ahead of us. They were going to help manage this project. We have found that it is helpful and more productive to separate participants into smaller groups with assigned team leaders to keep the work coordinated and focused. This is especially important when we are sampling.


These projects would not go off nearly as well as they do if we did not have wonderful, experienced helpers like this who are willing to come out and help. It is the friendly members that make The New 49’ers a wonderful experience!

The first thing my helpers told me when we got down on the bar was that we could not do the project in the location where we had planned. While that area was no longer underwater, there was a water table that submerged any hole being dug there. It is difficult to dig and sample with a shovel underwater. Material gets washed off your shovel. If you are recovering gold, it is hard to figure out exactly where it is coming from. This was the first time I can remember seeing the Klamath River run high and muddy in June since 1987.

It is a really good thing we were not doing a dredging project; whew!

So we were going to have to find an entirely new strike further away from the river; yikes! This is something we have not had to do on these weekend projects for 3 or 4 years. Since being on the upper-end of K-15A, we have always known, more or less, where we could get into gold on every project.

Once we were all organized down on the bar, from an excavation that my helpers had already opened up for me, I pointed out to participants exactly what hard-packed natural streambed is, and also how it lays down in different layers. This is very important to see, because we recover nearly all of our high-grade gold from the contact zones between different layers – and sometimes directly off the top of the upper layer of hard-pack. It is one thing to read about this. It is quite another when someone can point to it and show you exactly what you are looking for.

I then showed the participants exactly how to gather a sample by first clearing material out of the way so that you can accumulate most of your material from the contact zone where high-grade is most likely to be. Then I provided a gold panning demonstration.

After that, all of the participants began a coordinated sampling program with some guidance from our team leaders. Since things were very wet over towards the river, the only direction to go was further inland on the huge bar. As far as I know, we had never sampled up that way.

I confess that I did not really have my hopes up very high that they were going to find high-grade further inland on the bar. Why is that? Actually, I have done quite a lot of introspection on this very question. Gold is so valuable, if you have not made a discovery yet; you tend to believe it is not going to be present. That would be just too good to be true! I have seen this with most prospectors; especially those who have not found their own high-grade, yet. In fact, it is the personal doubt (that high-grade gold will be there) that gets into the way of most sampling programs.

Mainly, You have to push through with enthusiasm. Then, once you begin to turn up positive signs, you try to follow them into high-grade if it is present.


It is always a really nice surprise when high-grade materializes in a sample hole.

And that’s the way it was on this Saturday afternoon as soon as our participants began digging a little further inland. They started coming up with good pans right away. At first, I thought it was just an anomaly; perhaps a little gold located off the main line. Then, others started recovering the same kind of gold. The average pieces were larger than from the earlier line that we had established down closer to the river. Wow, this was a real bonus!

Here is a video sequence with Alan Mash and some of his helpers showing the excitement of the new discovery:

I devoted the remainder of Saturday afternoon encouraging the team leaders to have their crews sample in both directions along the bar. Before I departed, it was clear that we had established an entirely new line of high-grade gold running down the bar for at least 200 yards; probably even longer. This adds another two years of productive high-banking activity for our members just in this single area.

I was out there trying to remember something I did when I was younger that was a really good deed; something to deserve this wonderful blessing. Not being able to come up with anything, I am now hoping this is not some form of credit that I will be obligated to pay for later. I cut up my credit cards a long time ago!

Saturday night’s potluck get-together at the Lion’s hall was a full house. We had 88 members there. The food was great, and there was a lot of excitement going around in anticipation of how well we would do on Sunday.


Our team leaders had already set up the equipment on Saturday afternoon as soon as the new strike was made. So Sunday morning found lots of members out there filling buckets (half full) and feeding pay-dirt into three different high-bankers. Everybody was working. There were people moving rocks out of the way. Others were digging pay-dirt and placing it into buckets. A few people were packing buckets to the high-bankers. Some were feeding the high-bankers. A few people were taking pan samples of the pay-dirt to make sure we were still into the gold. We were! It was like a big oiled machine. Man was this an enthusiastic bunch of people! Please check out this video segment with Ray Derrick explaining what was going on:

This new pay-streak is positioned along the bottom of a top layer of hard-packed streambed, which is sitting on top of a really hard layer of dark brown material. Sometimes, the lower layer looks like dirt. It is very easy to see the layer change. Most of the gold is

sitting right on top of the brown. Some of the diggers were actually seeing gold sitting right on top of the brown. The depth of the pay-dirt changed from one place to the next, anywhere from about 12 to 18 inches. Sampling had already shown that it was notproductive to process down into the brown layer beyond what gold we could scrape off the surface.

The whole key to effective production is to fill buckets with the material you have identified as the pay-dirt. This entire crew was keyed into that. Their team leaders were really doing their job. Because pay-streaks are not always consistent, and sometimes they are spotty, it is important that you do continuous sampling to make sure you are filling buckets with material that contains gold. The following video sequence caught Craig Colt in the middle of this process while working with his own crew:

If you want to get a lot of gold, much has to do with how deep the pay-streak is. For example, this pay-streak was coming out of about a foot of material. If we had to process two feet of material to get at the same pay-streak, ultimately, we would only be recovering about half the gold in the same time period. A foot of material is really good for hand work. When you work a foot of material properly, you also never create much of a hole that you have to back-fill later.

The depth of the pay layer also makes a difference in how much gold you need to see in your pan when sampling. The deeper that you have to dig, the richer the pay-dirt must be to make a mining program pay off to your satisfaction. Finding this whole new line of gold on K-15A was truly a stroke of luck. Here follows a video segment capturing my own explanation as all the action was happening:

We like to process material through the high-bankers for a few hours on Sunday morning and then take a break. This gives everyone a chance to have some lunch and sit back and enjoy this wonderful outdoor paradise where we spend our summers along the Klamath River.

After a light lunch, we start up again and run for another hour or so. To keep the motivation levels up, we always clean-up the high-grade section of one or two of the high-bankers so that everyone can see some of the gold we are recovering. When we shut down this time, we could see gold nuggets! This caused quite a lot of excitement. In fact, as shown in the following video segment, after seeing the nuggets, at least one crew immediately resumed processing pay-dirt, even before Craig had finished panning the high-grade that was removed from their high-banker!

Normally, we shut the high-bankers down at around 2 PM on Saturday afternoon. That allows us time to put the gear away and go around to make sure that we have back-filled our holes and smoothed things back to normal out on the bar. Then we meet back over at the Lions Hall in Happy Camp to do the final clean-up separation and split the gold. Everyone has an opportunity to participate in this, and everyone who works on the project is entitled to an equal share of the gold. For many who participate, this is the first gold they have ever found.

In all, we recovered 16.4 pennyweights of gold. That is more than ¾ of an ounce, or $1,000 at the current gold price. There were 14 nuggets. This is pretty good considering that we operated three high-bankers for several hours. Here follows Rich Krimm’s introduction to the final clean-up and gold split. We had a lot of fun. Check it out:

It was around 6 PM when we ended off. There were a lot of smiling faces; some who were planning on moving their own gear into the new strike at K-15A on the following day. That seemed like a really good idea to me!


By Sandy Waldy

Our group  Gold in goldpan

Clarence and Cindy Kaiser recently arrived in Happy Camp from the state of Oregon. Neither one is a stranger to gold prospecting, from metal detecting to running a dredge and everything in between. Cindy and her mom were actually dredging for gold when she met Clarence who was coming down from the state of Washington (where he was born) doing his own dredging. That was back in 1982. They were married in 1986. After getting married, they spent the first few months out working a gold claim.

The next few years found them having their sons, doing a lot of traveling, and they even started their own jewelry business called “American Gold” from gold that they found. Many winters found them in Quartzite, Arizona selling their jewelry and mining. Then they would pick apples in the summer before returning to Quartzite. They also did swap meets along the way. They continued with the jewelry business for about 10 years.

ClarenceBoth Clarence and Cindy are from the country. Cindy grew up on a dairy farm in Oregon where she was born. She says. “The farm was a lot of physical work and definitely kept me in shape. That kind of living helped prepare me for the mining that we continue to do now.” Clarence ran a sheep and cattle ranch in Idaho, and also a dairy. So he is also very familiar with hard physical work.

Clarence actually joined the New 49er’s the first time in 1982, but they joined again as a couple in February of last year.

They began high-banking in April on the Club”s K-15A property, using a high-banking machine that Clarence personally designed. It consists of two hand sluices which have been modified and joined together. There is a PVC pipe which runs around the top of the upper sluice. This provides the necessary water. They use a green indoor/outdoor carpet which resembles grass in the top sluice box. It has been working so good for them that several other New 49″er members have asked Clarence to help modify their own high-bankers.

Working togetherEven Cindy”s mom, Adelma, (who is 78 years old) has joined them. She says that being outside and active has helped keep her feeling young.

Most days will find all three of them out at their site working away. They have been following a good-producing pay-streak for the past 4 months. Clarence says that some areas are lesser-producing than others. But he says the trick is to continue to follow the strongest portion of the gold line, and focus the work on the layers that produce the gold. So far, they have been able to accumulate over 3 ounces of beautiful yellow gold. Clarence says that the main key is to never stop sampling.



More gold  Cindy and Mom

As July rolls into August, they are taking off to pick up a larger RV, spend time with family, and take care of some business. They plan on returning to Happy Camp in September and continue with their love of high-banking. “We will be looking for a new site”, Clarence says. With his expertise, and his hard-working team, I am sure that they will find another good strike. “We love it here,” says both Cindy and her mom.

They follow the longstanding New 49″er tradition of “Miners Helping Miners” by turning over unfinished mining areas to other New 49″er members before moving onto something else.

It has been my joy to meet and speak with these wonderful people, and I look forward to their return in September. They truly lend to our Club the knowledge and love of gold prospecting.


By Dave McCracken General Manager

Dave Mack


Gold in pan
Otto's group workingDredging

There were 24 of us involved with this particular group dredging project. It was one of the last week-long projects that I personally managed, not because I don”t enjoy getting out on a serious prospecting project. But because projects of this sort require so much focus during the busy part of our season, I am worried about allowing my other management responsibilities to lapse while we are off on some prospecting adventure.

Working togetherEven though the project took place over a year ago, the story and video segments go a long way to show the camaraderie and great adventures our members share together in The New 49″ers.

Of all the week-long dredging projects we organized over the years, this is the one that had the most experienced crew ” ever:

We had longtime miner, Dave Beatson (from New Zealand) working with Craig Colt to manage our 8-inch dredge program up on K-15A in a place where we had already located a pay-streak during an earlier project.

We had longtime, experienced helpers, Matt Johnson and Rick LaRocque, heading up a sampling program on K-14. Another longtime member and experienced dredger, Max Andrewski, was present with his two sons, Paul and Max Junior. Paul and Max Junior both grew up dredging gold on the Klamath River! We were lucky to have them leading a second sampling program onto the lower-end of K-14.Jeff Buchers Team

Longtime member and helper, Jeff Bucher, was present to lead a sampling team on the far side of the river at K-15A. During earlier years, Jeff always managed our beginner-crews on these group projects. Jeff is a retired firefighter and has that extra calm and patient way about him that is helpful with beginners who are a bit nervous about getting into the water for the first time.

But Otto Gaither had taken over the beginner-teams during this particular season. Otto had a fairly large crew over on the Hwy-96 side of the river on K-15A. There was a shallow section of river there where Otto had already made a gold discovery; a perfect place for people to experience their first underwater mining adventures. From plenty of practice, Otto was tuned right in on what it would take to get a bunch of beginners off to the right start.

CampingWhile most of us camped in our popular campground right there at K-15A, this was the first and only time that we ever split one of these projects up so that the prospecting and mining was happening on two separate claims, some 5 miles apart or so. We were able to do this because we had experienced crews on each of the dredges. The two teams we sent up to K-14 could just as easily have gone up there on their own without being involved with our group program.

There is a lot to be said about directing experienced dredgers in a sampling program. I just had to point out what needed to be done without having to take much time in explaining things.


Paul wavingTaking the boat

Just a few days before the project, one of our more experienced members located a high-grade pay-streak up on K-14 using a 4-inch dredge, and he invited us to go up there and see if we could locate a piece of his action either up or downstream from where he was already dredging. We have so many gold properties, I have found that it is wise to sample in places where someone has already discovered gold. So I went over and swam under his dredge the day before the project to have a look at what he found. He was recovering some beautiful fine and flake gold out of about 5 feet of nice-looking hard-pack about a third of the way out from the far side of the river. The deposit looked good! It also looked like it might be big. Since we had already identified some gold deposits to mine on K-15A, we decided for starters just to send two of our dredges up to K-14.

Nugget in hand  Otto's crew

There are quite a lot of logistics involved with putting 24 people effectively to work on six different dredges in multiple locations. On this project, the key was to immediately turn all of the beginners over to Otto. Our photographer, Bella-Linda Williams, is also an experienced suction dredger. She jumped in and devoted the first whole day to helping Otto to teach beginners how to put their faces underwater.

We have known for a long time that it is important to get beginners uncovering some gold as soon as possible. Uncovering treasure along the bottom of the river will immediately extrovert nearly anyone; even people with serious fears about being underwater! Since Otto had located this particular gold deposit in advance, it wasn”t long before Otto”s whole team was absorbed in productive activity.

Otto's crew 2  Otto's group 2

With the beginners in good hands, my main mission during the remainder of the week was to increase gold production as much as possible without compromising safety. In other words, I have to get the participants to mine the gold without anyone getting seriously hurt. This is always the challenge, since the richest gold deposits sometimes seem to be located in the most difficult locations.

Tending the dredge  gold in pan

Dave Beatson and Craig Colt had their marching orders even before the week started. They had already dropped back and opened up a dredge hole further behind on the original pay-streak which Eric Bosch and I found at Savage Rapids back in 1983. That year, Eric and I recovered 100 ounces of gold in just two weeks. But we buried the lower-end of the deposit under our tailings and never returned. Our hope on this project was to tap back into the same rich deposit again. Several other helpers jumped in with Dave and Craig on the 8-inch dredge. But the material was deep (9 or 10 feet) to bedrock out there, so they were pretty challenged, and progress was slow. Still, they worked hard all week and made a healthy contribution to the gold recovery. Here is a video segment which captured how the 8-inch program played out during the week:

As it turned out, we had to set up a winch to pull one very large rock out of the way; a monster that had been resting just up in front of the 8-inch production hole. We have learned over the years that it is better to be safe and move anything out of the way that could potentially roll in and hurt someone. In this case, the boulder was very large, and we had to do some fancy block & tackle work to create enough power to move it. Here follows a video segment which shows some of the winch-action:


Jeff Bucher  Good Sample
Sampling the far bank

Jeff Bucher took his team to the far side of the river on K-15A, a place where we had been mining a good pay-streak during an earlier project. This involved the use of a motor boat to get people over there and back, along with fuel and other gear. Jeff”s plan was to finish that gold deposit on this project. He gathered up a team of helpers, all who were up to the task. It was a bit challenging over there, because the rocks were big, and the water was pretty fast.

Girls in the water  Team work

Once we got things organized at K-15A, about a third of us gathered up a 5-inch and 6-inch dredge, and another boat; and we hauled it all up to K-14. With that experienced crew, it didn”t take but just a few hours to get everything set up and running. Since we had plans to sample the middle of the river, we used the boat to help string a rope all the way across the river, keeping it plenty-high so we would not be blocking boat traffic. Nearly everyone there had already done all this before, so we made pretty fast work of it. Both experienced boat operators, I turned that motor boat over to Max and Rick. We had a sampling plan that would have them reaching out into the river from both sides, trying to capture a piece of the high-grade deposit that had already been located just downstream from us.

Dave and Haze  Good sample pan
Dredging in the middle of the river

The first thing we did on K-14 was go take a direct look at the pay-dirt where the guy before us was already recovering high-grade gold. From that, we knew exactly what we were looking for as we sampled. Here follows a video segment which captured all of the excitement we were experiencing during our initial moments discovering a brand new gold deposit:

My week was mainly devoted to driving back and forth between K-15A and K-14. The team leaders on each dredge pretty-much managed the activity along the river. Several of the beginners quickly graduated off Otto”s 4-inch dredge and were soon dredging over with Jeff and his team. Shortly thereafter, a few of them were working on the 8-inch dredge with Craig and Dave.

Shallow water  Guys in the water

Shallow dredgingStill, as usual, most of the excitement was taking place on the beginner-dredge. There, it seemed like every few minutes, they were passing up more gold nuggets that they were digging out of the bedrock. I swear, there were times the whole bunch of them were jumping up and down, yelling. Several times, I thought the more serious dredges were going to shut down just to go over and see what all the yelling was about!

This is just one reason why we allow Otto to mange the beginner-teams. He has a special way of getting the excitement levels out the roof! I have seen it where everyone was so happy, they just started dancing on the bank, carrying on like it was a New Years eve party! Here is a video segment which captured some of the fun and excitement that Otto”s team was experiencing:

Hard-packMainly, for the entire week, the crews at K-15A just worked away at the 3 gold deposits we started in at the beginning of the week. Up on K-14, both of our crews worked their way out to the middle of the river where they joined their dredge holes together. They were dredging in about 18 inches of nice hard-packed streambed on top of bedrock. There, they were picking nuggets out of cracks.

One thing always of great interest to New 49″er members is the high and dry ancient streambed alongside Highway 96 on our K-14 property. Anytime I am there with members, I take the opportunity to point out the exposed streambed material and explain that every time we are sampling either in or out of the water, we are always looking for similar hard-packed streambed. This is material which has been brought in and formed by major flood events. Here follows a video sequence that captured my explanation:

Dave with goldpan
As always on these projects for me, the hours and days went by very fast. We had good team leaders keeping the momentum going and everyone was pitching in. The amount of gold you recover in a mining project is directly proportional to the volume of streambed material which you process from the right places. So once we identify where the pay-dirt is located, our entire focus changes to volume of production. Time goes by really fast when you are in a hurry!

It was particularly interesting for me to have three youthful partners on this team. I am not used to dealing with so much youthful enthusiasm, so I had to make some internal adjustments (the best I could). These younger miners are part of the next generation of leaders that will someday take my place in the industry. That is a pretty sobering thought to me. It is also a relief on some level. It”s nice to know that others are coming along to take over from us “oldtimers” when we start getting tired.


Here follows a video segment put together from different moments during the week:


Cleaning gold  Final gold clean-up

While we do clean-up the high-grade sections of our dredges after every sample, or at the end of every day, we normally do not clean-up our whole dredge recovery systems or do a final clean-up until we get to the end of the week. This is because we don”t want to subtract unnecessary time and energy from the more important work of sampling and production mining. There are only so many work hours in a week, and we always try to use them wisely.

Gold on the scale  Gold nuggets

So Friday found all of us working hard to pull some of the dredging gear off the river, and then we returned to Happy Camp and devoted the remaining part of the day to cleaning-up all of the concentrates which we had accumulated during the week. Everybody participates in the final clean-up process, so it is a learning experience for those who have not seen it before. Plus, getting your hands on the gold goes a long way to acknowledge all of the hard work we invested earlier in the week. Ultimately, our gold added up to 88.7 pennyweights (about 4.5 ounces), with 25.9 pennyweights of nuggets. Everybody received an equal share of the gold on Friday afternoon; and with some sadness that we had reached the end of another grand partnership, we all shook hands and went our separate ways. Here follows a video sequence from our clean-up, and from some of our final moments on this project: