New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST QUARTER, APRIL 2021                            VOLUME 35, NUMBER 1

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

Gold imageStory and images by Betsy Anderson & Eric Spitler 

That’s what I kept saying to Betsy: “The more years you mine for gold, the more knowledge you gain, and you structure your operation around that. In the pursuit of gold, techniques must be formed, based upon a good understanding of gold deposits and how they were formed. The behavior of the noble metal, as it travels from its source to the place it enriches, is a detectives’ hunt on the order of Columbo.  The greater your skills, the greater your success on a more regular basis. This also means not chasing down false leads or questioning your intuition. being able at a glance to dismiss unlikely possibilities… Right?”

Ah, but there she was, my wife, test panning, and showing me good golden color that she supposedly recovered in the upper layers of sandy silt. We were working a clay layer that paid well. But we had to dig three feet through the sandy silt to reach the clay. I was so certain there was no gold in the sandy silt from my years of suction dredging, that I didn’t even bother testing it.

But, as Betsy reminded me, suction dredges have much faster recovery systems that don’t catch fine gold very well out of sand. Now we are sluicing. Much slower water flow through the sluice. This is a whole new reality for gold recovery!

Eric feeding sluice Betsy shoveling sand

So, for weeks, off went the top layer, with the rocks and sticker bushes. Every once in a while, Betsy would test to see if we were down to the pay. Sampling high in the deposit, she would often come over and show me another gleaming pan. I would congratulate her and say something like, “Our shovels are covered in clay and muck from the pay layer…” I was certain that’s where the gold had come from. It seems like the lessons in gold mining never stop!

One day, Betsy convinced me to test the top sandy material myself. I went over to the river and carefully rinsed the shovel and pan of any gold from the pay layer. Then I returned to dig out a sample from the silty area she suggested. I thought it would be a wasted effort. Then I saw the yellow flecks appearing in the bottom of my pan. It wasn’t as rich as the pay layer, but it was certainly worthwhile enough to run through the sluice.

I looked back at all the hard work we had devoted to restoring the area we had already dug.

“Don’t worry,” Betsy said, “There’s lots more of that sand anyway!”

Thoughts from Dickey
office staff

Dickey, Teyaw and Christina in our administrative office.

Here I am at 6 am on March 30 2021, sitting in my cabin in Happy Camp, sipping on my first cup of coffee. Light from the glass door of my wood stove is flickering on my three dogs laying on the floor in front of me, a hint of daylight to the east over China grade. My rooster is crowing, exclaiming that another day is upon me.

My thoughts continue to flash back to the morning of September 8th of last year. Things are not much different on this early morning. But that was the first day of the Slater fire that raced down Indian creek destroying the homes and property of people I know and love. I still feel a little anxiety from the experience of living through the fire. But the sadness is tapering off as each day goes by and things are picking up as we head into spring and the new mining season.

road view burned sticks

One thing the fire did was open parts of Indian Creek that were too over grown with underbrush to access before. Some members have expressed interest in prospecting up Indian Creek this coming season. While they have been kind of quiet about it, I know members who were already getting nice gold up there. Indian Creek gives up some beautiful gold nuggets!

Last year, some of our members were prospecting in stream in both the creeks and the river with quite a bit of success. They were using using masks and snorkel, rolling small boulders and cleaning cracks in the bedrock.

I now have a new Minelab Excalibur II 1000, excellent for gold detecting underwater and on land. I am going to spend some time in the water this season, I’m anxious to see how it is going to work out.

Well, it’s time for my second cup of coffee. As I look out the window, I see the plum tree is in full bloom, the grass is in need of mowing, the daffodils are in full bloom, spring has arrived in Happy Camp! Time to get my mining equipment together and head for the river.

It’s about time to open the New 49’rs office so people can come in, get some coffee, buy mining supplies and spin a few yarns before heading out gold prospecting.

We hope to see you all on the river this season! 

From our Girls in the Office

The sun is out, the snow is gone and the flowers are in bloom.  Cool!

In spite of the challenges we have faced with the Slater Fire and COVID-19, we are still open and are gearing up for another great season of prospecting.

It’s nice to see our members trickling in from all over the globe, watching their smiling faces as they grab sluice boxes, tools, buckets and pans, eager to get out on the river and creeks. Some items such as our pyramid pans, sluice boxes and crevice suckers have become so popular we can barely keep them in stock!

Our claims along Indian Creek are open for prospecting. If you are a metal detector enthusiast, these claims might just be the adventure you are looking for.

Please call us any time: 530 493-2012. 

Final Comments by Dave Mack

A lot has happened since I last sounded in. It is too much to talk about in a newsletter. The best strategy under the ever-evolving circumstances has seemed to be to just remain silent, and continue to provide service to our members. The purpose here is basically to let you guys know that we are still open and our mining properties are freely available to all members and guests. We are expecting a pretty busy season.

Because of ongoing legal and political circumstances, I’m sorry to announce we will not be supervising organized weekend mining projects or potluck gatherings this season. I don’t want to risk getting a hundred or so members in trouble for not following the proper social distancing guidelines in California. But we will be out and about providing assistance to members as we can. Otherwise, things are about the same as they are laid out in our Operation Guidelines. Please bring your gold finds into the office to show them off. We always get an emotional boost from that!

Just so you know, all or most of the areas along our extensive Indian Creek properties were cleared to the ground by the Slater fire of poison oak, blackberry bushes and other undergrowth. The fire did not reach our property on Thompson Creek.

Just to weigh in on something that is not being hotly debated in the national dialog, I am going to link you here to a recently-done documentary that is a thorough education on what is fast becoming the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the entire world. And I am not talking about COVID or the vaccines — though they will certainly originate out of this much more serious situation. This documentary lays it all out very clearly. It is worth every minute of the time to sit down and watch it.

Bit by bit, the ever-decreasing value of currencies, coupled with the need to print vastly increasing volumes of currency, is putting stress on nearly everyone, though the reasons for the stress are not broadly understood.

If you want to inch closer to the source point of what is really wrong in the world, and perhaps prepare for worse times which may not be far off, I strongly suggest you watch this documentary while it remains available. It says a lot for owning or being able to find your own gold:

End of the Road: How Money Became Worthless – Full Documentary – Text Link:

My best wishes to everyone,

Dave McCracken,

New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH QUARTER, OCTOBER 2020                              VOLUME 34, NUMBER 5

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

As most of you know, a lightning storm on September 8th, or the early morning of the 9th, sparked numerous wild fires, one in particular, called The Slater Fire, which turned into a very powerful monster and raced down Indian Creek, taking out everything in its path. The headwaters of Indian Creek start up near the Oregon border. Then the gold-rich creek winds itself down the mountain and meets with the Klamath River in our town of Happy Camp. Here we are a month later, and the fire is still only 72% contained.

It was the original gold prospectors that began down where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean that gave Happy Camp its name because they found so much gold on Indian Creek. A lot of the gold still remains there today.

I am estimating that the length of Indian Creek, not counting its various branches, is about 30 miles. A lot of the upper portion of the creek has been rather inaccessible because of the thick underbrush (which might not be there anymore). New 49’er members have free access to Indian Creek starting upstream from the West Branch Campground (which is probably gone) and most or all of the portions of the creek that are not private property all the way down to the mouth where it reaches the Klamath River.

The creek eventually meets a beautiful valley which extends for several miles. There were some stunning horse ranches and homestead properties along this stretch, many or all which may now be gone. There are a number of Happy Camp families who have ties back to the original gold rush. Later generations of the very same families were present all through the extensive logging industry which supported as many as 5 operating mills, most which were still in operation when we started The New 49’ers in 1986. Some of those family homes have existed up Indian Creek for 150 years.

I cannot get an exact number yet; but am told that as many as 150 homes were lost to the fire with two people found dead so far.

Rather than repeat what I wrote to you several weeks ago, I will provide this link to the initial Action Alert that we sent out on the 9th of September. That was followed by a GoFundMe link on the 18th.

One might ask why it took 9 days after the fire started for us to send out a fund-raiser on behalf of our two administrative staff who lost their homes. The answer is that this juggernaut of a fire raced down Indian Creek with such force and speed with blistering heat that was generating thundering explosions. Dickey says there was so much noise from the crashing down of trees and homes, it felt like there was also an earthquake! The smoke was so thick that you could not see across the road. With so many local residents not knowing what to do, it took several days for second responders to set up places for people to go for safe support and shelter.

By “second responders,” I mean the US Forest Service fire-fighting teams, Cal Fire, the American First Cross, and so many more State and federal agencies to arrive on the scene from other places. Ours was not the only fire in California. That lightning storm also sparked other fires.

It was the Happy Camp Volunteer Fire Department, Karuk fire crews and local volunteers using heavy equipment that had the foresight to put up barriers and initiate back-burns that saved Happy Camp. These were the first responders. Local law enforcement and other volunteers, aware of the fire, went from house to house all the way down Indian Creek, and then all through the town of Happy Camp, warning people they had to evacuate.

This part of the Slater fire was stopped just on the edge of Happy Camp.

If it were not for our local first responders, all of Happy Camp might have burned to the ground.

Dickey does a good job down below explaining how shocking and horrendous the situation was once the community realized an angry monster was already upon the town.

Mostly thanks to Dickey, working closely with local law enforcement and other officials, it took several days to locate our office staff, our local members and close supporters and visiting members who had signed into our log book in the office (so we have the ability to reach out to them). In doing this, we discovered that everyone was safe, but two of our very loyal office girls had lost their homes to the fire.

Dickey chose to not evacuate. He said as the fire came close to Happy Camp, he could feel the searing heat of the fire. He was telling me today that it was the screeching noise and volcanic explosions, maybe large propane tanks exploding, that prompted him to put his dogs in the car and motor over to the other side of the river. From a vantage point over there, He watched the fire burn into the night. He says this was an angry mother earth on the level of typhoons, earthquakes and tornadoes.

When it became clear that we were not going to lose our building, and our staff had lost homes, I put out a request to our long subscriber list for anyone who was willing and able to create a GoFundMe link on the Internet. We simply cannot keep The New 49’ers functioning without our administrative staff.  The number of details they take care of in our office are so many, it boggles the mind. I am very serious about this!  In fact, they were working on the September billing on the 9th of September when an officer came into the building and ordered them to evacuate.  Christina and Victoria took off immediately. They both had homes up Indian Creek.

Dickey and Teyaw delayed long enough to shut things down as best they could. The power was already out (when the power is out, you cannot remember all the things that were turned on). They locked up the building.

Teyaw’s home is down by the river, Dickey’s is in the middle of town, two blocks away from our building. He says that after closing up our building, he walked out front and the entire area from the grocery store to Highway 96, and all the upper Happy Camp parking lots, were full of people and vehicles and total confusion. Panic was everywhere. He said there was an enclosed horse trailer that was banging and smashing around like there was some kind of wild beast inside. The owner finally opened the doors and let his horses out.

Dickey says the horses were so upset that they were screaming wild noises that were like out of a horror movie.

Other horses were running around in the parking lots, adding to the confusion. Maybe the ranch owners just had to open the gates to their pastures and let them run for it. People did not know which way to go. Most were watching the overwhelming flames of the fire just on the edge of town. The magnitude of the force was absolutely shocking! Dickey says the whole nightmare was something that will haunt him for a long time to come.

In any event, I made it my personal mission to raise enough money to get our staff members back in comfortable homes once the emergency was over, so we could get back up into action as soon as the authorities would allow people back into town.

From the notice we put out to our long list of subscribers and members over the Internet 9th of September, I was immediately contacted by Paula and Curtis ‘Oro’. They are longtime, supportive New 49’er members who have had previous experience in setting up these GoFundMe sites.  It took several days; because a lot of the information had to come from the girls who were being moved around in Yreka. I gather that all the hotels were full. The American Red Cross was setting up rooms for those in need. But they had to check out every day; go back to the Red Cross, and submit another application.

Whatever! It’s better than sleeping in a car!

Banking information was needed. Some back history on both girls was needed, images, etc. To my surprise, most of this was accomplished in short order by the girls and Paula, with Dickey overseeing the progress in Happy Camp where the smoke was so thick, he was having trouble breathing. I called Dickey several times to check on how he was doing. His voice sounded very odd. He explained that if he laid down on the floor and put his mouth right on the floor, he could get a better breath of air.

Dickey is very close to his dogs. I could hear them also breathing into the phone. What a guy!

The thing that delayed the GoFundMe site the longest was in capturing images of what was remaining of the girl’s homes. This proved difficult; because a substantial security force was now in place all over the Happy Camp area. I gather that during disasters like this, officials are charged with making sure there is no looting. They are also looking for the remains of those who did not survive. They were making sure it would be safe to allow residents back in. Indian Creek Road was barricaded shut!

It took a while, but Dickey finally got hold of Gabe Garrison. Gabe is a local Sheriff’s’ deputy who has always been cooperative and supportive of our program. I know of at least one local member who has gone way out in the wildlands with Gabe in search of Bigfoot. He is a cool guy that also takes his job seriously.

Dickey asked Gabe if he would please go up Indian Creek and get some images of the girl’s burned out homes.

Once we had those images, Paula activated the GoFundMe site, and I believe it was she and Curtis that put up the first contribution. Dickey put up the second. Then I added in my contribution. There was further delay; because once that first money was directed into the GoFundMe site, I wanted to be absolutely certain that our girls were going to be able to collect all of the money. What is it? ” Trust but verify!” I needed to be certain before I sent the link out to you guys. That took a few days.

As soon as Victoria confirmed they had access to the money, I sent out notice to our Internet subscriber list. The contributions started flowing in immediately.

It was really heart wrenching to watch how many supporters we have that are willing to reach into your pockets in our time of need.

Our girls have good jobs. But nearly everyone has costs that take up most or all of the money we make. This is true for nearly everyone; it is difficult to build up savings when you have children to take care of, a car to keep running, a home to keep comfortable during the summer and winter, telephone, electricity, insurance, and the list goes on and on. We all know how this is.

My realistic task was to raise enough money to get both our girls back into comfortable homes, and back to work. Paula came up with the goal of raising $20,000 to split between the girls. This sounded right with everyone who was on the program. So, we went for it!

This is to announce that in 3 weeks to the day, I was informed this morning that we brought in $16,455 through the GoFundMe site, and $3,600 in the mail. Every dollar went to the girls, who split it evenly.  That adds up to $20, 055 on my calculator.

So, I am hereby announcing that this fund-raiser was a complete success!

I have asked Paula to de-activate the GoFundMe Site and am suggesting the fund-raiser is finished.

Both girls are now living comfortably in Happy Camp and back at their jobs. The September newsletter and billing went out late. It was mostly completed by Dickey while the girls were getting settled back into town and Teyaw was answering a thousand phone calls from our concerned supporters. This newsletter will go out a week earlier, and we will work our way back towards the beginning of the month, which is normal.

This is my personal heart-felt thank you to everyone who helped in our time of need. I love that we have so many friends and supporters out there. We are truly lucky!

Members have already begun prospecting and mining again along our extensive properties. New members are arriving and going out with some of our more experienced members. Our doors are back open between 9 AM and 2 PM, Monday through Friday. Our phone (530 493-2012) is being answered until about 4 PM. There is an answering service if nobody picks up.

All or most of the normal business establishments in Happy Camp have reopened and will be happy to greet visitors.

While it will take some time for our support team in Happy Camp to fully recover from this terrible experience, they are in good spirits and feeling lucky to belong to this magic collection of wonderful people we have gathered together that are associated with our gold prospecting association in one way or another. The girls will be fine.

The purpose of this newsletter is to put an end to the emergency for you guys.

We asked for help. You provided it. Thank you so very much! So now let’s get back to gold prospecting!

I will end this newsletter with short messages of thanks from Christina and Victoria, and some very meaningful expressions coming from Dickey who is only in the beginning of unwinding from two weeks of absolute hell on earth. When I heard Dickey coughing for air on the floor of his home, I encouraged him to go take some shelter in my office inside our building. By then, the power had been turned back on. There is an air conditioner. Certainly, the air quality would have been better in there.

We have a security system on the building that notifies me over the Internet every time the alarm is turned on or off, or is (god forbid) set off by a burglar or fire inside the building. So, I saw exactly when Dickey took me up on my suggestion. Then 45 minutes later, I saw that he departed the building. So, I called him back. His answer was that he just needed to catch his breath for a while. He felt like he needed to be out in the disaster zone in case there was anyone else that he could help. Dickey is a very special guy!

Before I close my own comments about this fire misadventure we have been through, I must acknowledge the extremely valuable work that Curtis ‘Oro’ & Paula Hutson contributed to the fund-raising effort. They are the ones who volunteered to set up the GoFunMe site. I’m certain that they invested a lot of effort to gather the necessary information in the middle of all that confusion. They set it up so that every single dollar that was contributed went directly to our girls.

Nobody knew how effective the site was going to be until I sent out the email with the link to our list of supporters.

When our fund-raising site had already taken in $6,755 within 4 hours of sending out my email, I knew we were going to meet our objective.

What a relief in my world! If you want to see the list of contributors, you can find it by clicking on the green “See all” link on the bottom-right side of the page.


This image was captured in the office yesterday. I asked our crew to kind of give me a smile, but don’t cover up the way you are really feeling. The image about sums it up! From left to right: Victoria, Teyaw, Dickey and Christina. Stop in and see them. They will be happy to visit with you!

Let me please wrap this up with a few messages from our staff:

From Christina: As we were driving into Happy Camp, I felt a Bone Crushing Sadness over the loss of not only my home but the home of my Best friend and Coworker Victoria. We were escorted to our house via police escort due to hazardous material all up and down Indian creek. I don’t know what I was hoping to find…Possibly any one of the 3 Dogs we lost to the fire. I had been shown the pictures but nothing compared to driving up our driveway…walking through what used to our front gate and staring in a daze at what is now the remnants of what used to be our Home.  My knees buckled and I cried. There was nothing of value remaining! The hopeful beginnings of our young Family Dream were now Gone.

Now we are taking it day by day. Gathering much needed items such as blankets, clothing, and food.  What we have to do is becoming clearer every day; and due to the very generous donations that we have received from who I call my “New 49er Family.” My Fiancé Brandon, my two Daughters and their new Puppy Bear and I are now living in a travel trailer. It is located on the property of some very dear friends of ours, right along the Klamath River.

My sincerest thank you to all of you. I am now able to go back to doing what I love here at the Office of The New 49ers. My Daughter Lileigh can go to her school and see her friends. Violet gets to be at her home away from home, playing with her new playmate Bear on the river without a care in the world… Without The New 49’ers, none of these things would be possible. You have given us not just a helping hand but hope of rebuilding what was lost and starting over here in Happy Camp where it all seemed to end, only to begin again. Thank you so much!

Sincerely, Christina Johnson

From Victoria: Please accept our sincere thank you to everyone for your donations to our GoFundMe, and also for your caring and thoughtful prayers.

The last few weeks have been very tough for us as we try to gain back some normalcy as a family.  As everyone knows, we lost everything in the Slater fire. Your donations have eased the pain and stress for us financially at this time.

It is not easy for us to ask for help. If it were not for The New 49’ers and Paula & Curtis, not only would we not have done it, but we would not have had the emotional wherewithal to pull something together. This has been a mind-numbing experience.

Just know that even the smallest donation has helped us in such a big way. It’s not only about money. It’s the realization that there are so many of you out there who care about us!

We cannot thank everyone enough. Please keep us in your thoughts as we navigate through this difficult time.  I hope to meet you when you visit our office, or when you call on the phone.

Thank you,  Victoria & our entire McAbier family 

From Dickey: It was 5 am on Sept 8 2020, just another normal morning for me. I was sitting in my cabin drinking coffee, looking at my dog Silvie on the couch, and Loki on the floor in front of me. They are Karelian Bear dogs, around 85 lbs., and a handful of energy. We love each other dearly. They are much more than dogs to me. 

I finish my coffee, feed the dogs and chickens, and then see my neighbor in the street looking up towards Slater Butte. He says, “There’s a fire up there.” You can see the lookout from my house, and we could just make out a little column of smoke towards the lookout.  I heard sirens and saw some fire trucks heading up Highway 96. 

So, I am at the New 49er office a while later at 9 am. Our very capable office manager, Teyaw, has everything up and running, Christina is on the phone with a customer and I notice some commotion outside. As I open the door and look around, there is a strange feeling as I see cars going faster than normal. People are yelling back and forth in an excited fashion. I see them pointing towards the north. 

So, I step out away from the building and see a massive column of smoke rising as high as I could see. Holy cow! 

I tell the girls and we are now all standing in the parking lot looking at huge columns of massive black and gray smoke billowing high over the trees up Indian Creek and behind the 49er building. The power goes out as we are taking all this in. At that point we are told, “No one can go up Indian Creek,” and we now can see vehicles blocking the road. 

Christina looks at me and says, “My dogs!”  I see in her face the reality of what is happening and what they are about to lose. That is a moment in time I will never forget. 

Christina gets information that her fiancé Brandon is helping his sister get out of her house as the fire is already upon them. It is an intense few minutes until Christina sees Brandon pull into the store parking lot. She runs to him then says to me, “I have to go get my kids.” (Lileigh at school, violet at sitters.) Christina gives me a hug, I say “love you” she says, ” love you too.” I don’t see her again for two weeks. 

At 10 am, Victoria pulls in next to where I’m standing. I walk over to the passenger door. Her three kids are in the back. Her youngest, Lance, leans forward and says, “What about our cat and our chickens?” Victoria has both hands on the wheel intently looking in the direction of her home. Victoria looks at me and says she has got to go. I say “love you,” she says “love you too.” Again, a moment in time I will never forget. I don’t see her for two weeks. 

I go back into the office. Teyaw and I are closing up when we are told that everyone must evacuate Happy Camp. As I say goodbye to Teyaw, she gives me a tight hug. I say “love you,” she says “love you too.” I don’t see her again for eight days. 

As I’m going to my jeep, I see cars rapidly driving around much too fast for the circumstances. A truck pulling a large horse trailer pulls into the parking lot. The horses are noticeably agitated, sounding more like screams than normal horse sounds. People were loudly shouting directions and information back and forth. The, fire department was rolling out hoses, shouting directions to each other.  Official-looking vehicles were going house to house telling everyone to evacuate. 

As I’m going to my house, I get a call from my wife from our other home in Depoe Bay Oregon informing me that I can’t get there as they are in danger of being overrun by fire and they are evacuating Lincoln city. She tells me all routes there are closed. 

It was just unbelievable that both of our homes, three hundred & sixty miles apart, were in danger of burning down at the same time!

 I decided to stay in Happy Camp. My dogs don’t do well around other dogs, and I really had nowhere to go.  I knew if I had to, I could cross the Klamath River and go up China Grade Road towards Yreka. 

That night around 12:30 am, the house felt like it was vibrating.  It was actually shaking like in a mild earthquake!  I ran to the door and saw what seemed to be right close to me were flames as high as I could see. There were huge explosions from propane tanks with roaring jet sounds! It was like jets were dropping bombs; it was a complete war zone!! 

I grabbed the dogs, drove to the other side of the river and went up China Grade. Looking at the scene from over there was equal to any pictures I have seen from when Mount Saint Helens blew its top. Huge flames lit up the night. There was just a dark spot where Happy camp was. 

The next few days were bad with smoke. No wind and so thick you couldn’t see the road even in the daytime. My carbon monoxide alarm was going off in the house.  I already took the battery out of the smoke alarm. I went to the 49rs office several times to catch my breath as the smoke wasn’t in there, yet. The next week was like being in an apocalyptic movie. No one allowed to go anywhere. Still, dead quiet, dark at mid-day, and no one around. 

Fortunately, our cell phone service was still working. I kept in contact with the girls, and it was a big help to me when they would call to check on me.  You really realize the value of close friends during times like that. 

Fast forward to Sunday October 4th. Christina and Brandon lost three dogs in the fire. That was really hard on them, and especially their kids. So, they decided to get a seven-week-old German shepherd puppy. I volunteered to pick it up all the way over on the coast. The drive did me a lot of good. I was driving the three-hour trip home with this beautiful puppy in my lap, loving on me, thinking of the new normal in all our lives. 

I’m very sad that the old normal is gone, maybe never to return. 

But I have been able to witness the most awesome outpouring of human compassion anyone could ever hope for. I am really glad for that. 

Now back in the office, things are getting caught up, again. Miners are coming in showing off the beautiful gold they are getting, and even some new people are coming in. Some didn’t even know we had a fire. Isn’t that something? 

I’m feeling a little better, but it’s going to be a while before my sleep returns to normal. 


This hopefully is the last of our wild ride on the fire monster as far as these newsletters are concerned. Let’s put this behind us and get back to prospecting!

Several groups of very experienced members have worked out two new ways of prospecting this season that I am eager to tell you guys about. I know of several who were/are recovering $100 in just a few hours of work. The gold nuggets are quite exciting. This is all happening in places all along our properties where we never thought to prospect before, both inside and out of the water.

On top of that, once all the smoke clears, we are going to want to go up and see if there is now better access to the upper portions of Indian Creek. The loss of ground vegetation will create a lot of erosion if we get some strong rain this winter (likely). That will replenish hot spots that we already know about.

So, we will move forward and try to find the new opportunities!

My best wishes to everyone,

Dave McCracken,

Founder and General Manager of The New 49’ers


New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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New 49'er Newsletter

Dave McCracken

Third Quarter, August, 2020
Volume 34 – No. 4

Newsletter By Dave McCracken
General Manager

Papa Bear

Papa Bear showing off the results of several hours of work in his “secret spot.” He shows off his gold mining adventures and friends on a YouTube channel up on the Internet.

Because of the COVID situation and predictable economic downturn, we were expecting a rather slow mining season this year. But we have a surprising number of members arriving along the Klamath River and tributaries, and there is quite a lot of excitement around Happy Camp about the gold that some members are recovering.

We even considered putting a commercial toilet out at K-15A last week because of the number of members camping up there. But when we took a closer look, we realized that nearly all of them already had closed black water systems and had arranged for the local service provider to stop once a week to pump them out.

There is a lot of gold, and some really nice nuggets being recovered from K-15A!

You know; we have some really cool members!


Sluice in rapids

I think everyone is feeling really lucky to be out in some of America’s greatest outdoors, and being free to search for gold and other adventure with no hassles or bad news.

Quite a few members are bringing the gold they are finding into the office to show off. I am impressed! Some members are sniping shallow cracks in the river, and in the creeks and prying nice gold nuggets out of the cracks. There are two members up on Indian Creek that really struck it rich. We agreed to not publish images of their gold so as to not start a stampede up there. I’m not kidding!

Our property holdings are so extensive, we have been walking or boating right past these gold rich areas for the past 35 years and never even took a look!

Longtime member, Adam Myers and his dad, fabricated a rather ingenious sluice box on stilts that they set up right out in the middle of the Klamath River at Savage rapids. They are recovering some nice gold. Their history with us extends way back to the 1990’s. I remember they were working a commercial dredge on the Klamath just below Seattle Creek. That was after myself and half dozen other commercial miners recovered nearly a thousand ounces of gold. They still did well! And the truth is that most of that upper stretch of K-17 has yet to be mined. But I believe we will need suction dredges to get at it.

Dickey Melton showed me an image of a bunch of chunky gold nuggets that were recovered at the mouth of Indian Creek just in a single day. He said those were recovered by digging up out of the water.

Here is a pennyweight of beautiful nuggets that Scott Bagley recovered during just part of a single day!

Other members are actually swimming across to the far side of the Klamath River and recovering gold right out of the shallow water with masks, snorkels, fins and a gold pan. Others are using small boats and kayaks.

We have signed up a fair number of new members this season already.

It’s possible that the 3+ months of COVID lockdown is motivating people to get out in the great outdoors and experience some adventure. The near-record high value of gold may also have something to do with the increased interest. I added it up the other day, and a pennyweight of gold (20th of an ounce) at today’s price is worth $75 even when discounted to 75% of the spot price value. You can always get at least 75% of spot, or more, for the gold you find in the river.

I know one member who has recovered nearly an ounce of gold just prospecting part time during the month of July. Others are doing just as well. All of this without the use of any mechanized assistance!

Office Doors Now Open Between 9 AM and 4 PM, Mondays Through Fridays

To make life easier on everyone concerned, we will immediately begin opening the front door of our office and store between 9 AM and 4 PM, Mondays through Fridays.

There is a free Internet connection around our building for members. The girls in our office can provide details.

Our phone number is 530 493-2012. There is a voice mail system. We will return your calls.

In the case of an emergency, Our Director of Internal Affairs, Rich Krimm, can be reached at (510) 681-8066.

Annual Dues Are More Important These Days

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

In real terms, the true value of the gold along these extensive properties is probably more valuable than the net assets of any financial institution on the planet. Especially these days when the government is printing trillions upon trillions of Dollars out of thin air (as necessary as that might be under the circumstances). We should be calling our properties the “Klamath First National Bank.” Ours is the only bank in the world where you can go out and make a draw anytime you wish. There are no interest or bank fees to pay.  And you never have to pay the gold back!

This is as close as it comes to an opportunity to maintain some degree of personal freedom during these ever-more difficult and troubling times.  As far as I know, we are the only organization in the world that makes a very large bank of pure wealth freely available to our members.

Having said that, in case you have not heard, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined for a second time to review our legal complaints that leftist State governments (California, Oregon, Washington and others) are imposing very unreasonable regulations upon our industry. As long as you guys continue to stand with us, we will continue the fight for our basic freedoms.

There remains hope that America will wake up and realize that we need to produce value and wealth in excess of what we consume. Mr. Trump and his team appear to be leading the charge on this, though he is not getting as much support from congress and the mainstream press that he deserves. We all know that these are very troubled times for America. The whole world hangs in this balance. We are all going to have a better idea the way things are going to go once the November elections are settled.

I believe personal integrity and pursuit of the truth are the only road towards enlightenment. The guidance I receive on that level is that we should bite the bullet and stay the course for a while longer and see how these larger forces play out. I am willing to invest my personal resources to keep the program going as long as you guys, our members, are also willing to hang in there until we overcome what is destroying America, or it becomes clear that there is no longer any hope. My assessment of your support will be in what percentage of Full Members are willing to invest $50 a year to help keep our dream alive. The freedom for Americans to go out on the federal lands and invest their personal resources to keep all the gold you find is what settled the west!

This is not the first time I have made this commitment to you guys in August. We are still here thanks to you guys!

Kitco’s one year chart confirms that gold was in the mid $1,400’s just a year ago. Now it is trading just under $2,000. This is quite a jump considering the existing state of the economy! One day, our leaders may realize that it would be a good idea to allow us modern methods to recover it?

I am eternally grateful to those of you who stick it out alongside me and our loyal staff.


New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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New 49'er Newsletter

THIRD QUARTER, JUNE 2020                              VOLUME 34, NUMBER 3

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager

Montine Blevins R.I.P.I am very saddened to announce that Montine Blevins has passed on from a long battle with Colon Cancer. She was originally diagnosed in 2015. But she stayed at her desk and on the New 49’er phone for more than three years afterwards, always insisting that she was most happy there.

Nearly everyone associated with our program knew and loved Montine. She was the most helpful person we ever had at the counter and over the phone. Montine would go out of her way to help anyone who needed it.

A healthy portion of Montine’s time was donated to our organization. Like so many other members along our long path, Montine just loved to be involved. She took charge of making sure everyone who arrived for our weekend mining projects was signed up, had a place to stay, and had gear they would need for the program.

She would cook all afternoon in preparation of our Saturday evening potlucks. I don’t think she ever missed a potluck, or any other event that was sponsored by The New 49’ers. In fact, I once got a little too much sun on a Saturday afternoon. When I did not arrive at the potluck, Montine immediately dispatched our Internal Affairs to make sure I was alright, and she took charge of the potluck!

I have owned and operated my own businesses since departing the navy in 1977. There have been many friends, supporters and employees along my path. With the help of many volunteers along my way, we were able to claw out a small-scale mining empire along the Klamath River and its tributaries in northern California.

I can tell you from a lifetime of experience that, other than very productive commercial mining which can happen on occasion, profit margins are very thin in the businesses associated with small-scale gold mining programs. There were times when lack of adequate cash flow required me to cede most of my responsibilities over to the staff, and put one of my dredges back to work in the river. I could always generate income from the river. But building something great for thousands of people to enjoy was worth more than money or gold!

With these things always on my mind (meeting this week’s payroll), every minute of every day was important to the bottom line. While we had some fun with mining and other adventure, and sometimes after hour relaxing times, there was never any time for goofing off during the normal work day. People who knew me well sometimes called me a slave monger. I don’t like to micro manage others. In my world, it was just a matter of making sure we could pay our bills. We never missed a payroll.

So there was no place for employees to be spending hours upon hours on the phone, just gabbing away. There was no time for it. It was like, “Please just answer the phone, get an address so we can send a promotional packet, and move onto the other things we need to finish today!”

Montine joined our staff in the year 2002.

During the 38 years since we began The New 49’ers, Montine was the only person ever on our staff who would win my smile every time I saw her just gabbing away on the phone – just like she had all the time in the world to visit with her mother or sister.  Of course, it was always with a member or someone calling for more information. Montine always made time for everyone who needed or wanted it.

Many evenings after everyone else went home, long after she punched out for the day, I could hear her laughing and locked into meaningful phone discussions out at her desk. She was calling back people who had left messages on our answering service. She was never in a hurry to leave the building. Then she would place orders to restock her shop. Then she would straighten up her work place and let herself quietly out of the building. She never needed any acknowledgment for all the extra things she did. She was happy to have found her calling in life.

Years ago, when there was a fracking boom back east, Montine’s husband, Rusty, landed a good job somewhere in a place where they could not find enough qualified workers. Before moving to Happy Camp, Montine devoted 18 years as a police despatcher. She was a heck of a good organizer and could have been with her husband and earned perhaps three or four times what we could pay. I asked her one day why she did not follow the oil rush? She stopped right in her tracks; turned around and looked me straight in the eye; and said, “Young man; life is about a lot more than money! This is my home! And this is where I am staying.”

As I remain locked down in the Philippines for about another month, I called Montine at a prearranged time a few weeks ago and we shared some caring moments on the phone. I admit that I am not very good at saying farewell to my closest friends. I get all squishy and usually say the wrong thing. Montine made it easy on me. My perception was that this wonderful person had made peace with her time on this earth, and was completely ready to move onto the next adventure, whatever that might be. Rusty told me she was in that same peaceful place all the way to her final breath.

Assuming she would lead the way to our next adventure ahead of me, I asked her to please watch for me. Because if there is another chapter after this one, I want Montine to be an important part of the story.

Pot Luck in Montine’s memory

Saturday June 27th @ 2:00 pm

Happy Camp River Park Pavilion


Office Doors Now Open Between 9 AM and 1 PM, Mondays Through Fridays

To make life easier on everyone concerned, we will immediately begin opening the front door of our office and store between 9 AM and 1 PM, Mondays through Fridays.

If you need to reach our office outside of these hours, we have administrative staff at work inside the building during normal workdays from 9 AM until 4 PM.

There is a free Internet connection around our building for members. The girls in our office can provide details.

Our phone number is 530 493-2012. There is a voice mail system. We will return your calls.

In the case of an emergency, Our Director of Internal Affairs, Rich Krimm, can be reached at (510) 681-8066.

Unless things change, I should be returning to the U.S. in mid-July.

Thank you very much for your kind support, and I hope to cross paths with you out on the river later this summer.

Dave McCracken, General Manager



New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST QUARTER, JANUARY 2020                              VOLUME 34, NUMBER 1

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager


When I made the statement in last month’s newsletter that we would be making another attempt at having our situation heard in the U.S. Supreme Court, I did not know it would happen so soon. Gold miners tend to be a hard-headed bunch of good natured people. We do not give up easily. Not giving up when times are difficult, aside from an occasional surprise, is the only way we ultimately find the rewarding gold deposits. Sometimes very rewarding!

For those of you that have been following along, you know that State agencies in Oregon and California have been attempting to eliminate small-scale gold mining on the federal lands all the way back since 1993 or before. Our industry, more or less, overcame these attempts over the many years until 2007 when California passed a law which put an end to suction dredging. Their reasons claimed to be for the protection of fish. Though, honestly, there is not a single documented instance where underwater mining, in accordance with reasonable regulations, has ever harmed a single fish. Not one! At the same time, both States sell fish-kill licenses to millions of fishermen. What?

Let me make it clear that we do not have a problem with fishing. Our problem is with State officials who just make up the rules as they go along, regardless of the factual situation. Not just State officials, but also a majority portion of our elected officials, and a fair portion of today’s judges – whose sworn duty actually is to protect us from overbearing and unreasonable State officials.

But most judges these days just act as a rubber stamp on the dictates of overbearing government, and deliberately turn America’s productive citizens into criminals. I have watched this play out in the courts for the past ten years as our industry has attempted to bring sanity back into the management of small-scale mining. We have raised and wasted over a million dollars in legal fees and attempts to lobby legislatures, only to have elected officials, State employees and judges ultimately turn their backs on the truth and take away our freedoms. I have been caught by complete surprise by the way America’s leaders have turned their backs on our founding principles!

We have fought two cases all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, only to have them rejected. This is not a slam on the high court. That body receives so many appeals, it only accepts around five percent. As important as our situation is, whoever advises the high court determined that other cases were more important to America as a whole. We pray this third attempt to reach the highest court in the land will succeed.

Our case is extremely important, because it strikes directly at the heart of socialism in America, where government officials have the power to ignore the truth and do as they please with impunity because they are acting on behalf of “the State.” No; I am not exaggerating!

If you have any doubts about whether socialism is a good idea for America, all you need to do is take an honest look at what the House of Representatives have put President Trump through during their impeachment proceeding. All or most of America’s historical and iron clad jurisprudence, and the concepts of honesty and fairness, were swept aside because the majority in the House wants to get rid of Mr. Trump at any cost, even if it means the end of honesty and fairness for themselves and all Americans forever: “Shut up! We are the State. We can do anything we want to. If you disagree, you are an enemy. If you object out loud, you are treasonous!” This is socialism. Is that really what we want to pass off on our kids and grandkids?

Like him or not, Donald Trump is the duly elected leader of the free world. Watching what the democrats have put him through over the past 3+ years is not only appalling; it is the realization that socialism has already, to a dangerous extent, taken over America’s leadership, its government institutions, educational institutions at all levels, nearly all of our mainstream press, and the thinking of maybe as much as half of America!

America is in an internal war; the battle between people who want to control everything we think and do, and those of us who want to live productive, honest lives and be left alone. We do not want to be ruled by others who have no idea how to produce wealth and safe neighborhoods.

The truth is that the socialists pretty much had America all wrapped up until Donald Trump was elected. Just one man! He was elected because half of America was feeling that the country’s direction was going down the wrong path. This is why our enemies hate him so much! One guy came along at just the right time; at the tipping point of no return from total government control over America, forever. They had it all tied up. Now we are watching their disappointment play out through the worst of socialism. I predict that the left will generate widespread violence when America turns back towards our founding principles. Hope for the best. Plan for the worst!

In any event, the big realization I have had in watching the impeachment process play out is that if the left in America can do that to the President of the United States, we as small-scale miners never had a reasonable chance of winning our industry back. Even now, our only chance of a long term fix will be through the U.S. Supreme Court. This is because, even if Mr. Trump or his team enact new administrative rules that free us to do motorized gold mining on the federal lands, America’s enemies (within) will file lawsuits in front of left-leaning judges and have us stopped again. We will need the U.S. Supreme Court to ultimately vindicate our rights and freedoms.

The good news is that, because of Mr. Trump’s two appointments to the high court so far, the high court is no longer left-leaning. Our case is so straightforward, there is more than a reasonable chance we can win our industry back in full, if we can just get the court to review it. We can do that if we don’t give up. We just have to keep trying!

Our industry has just hired (this week) a prestigious law firm: They are called, “FISHERBROYALS.” They have a presence in ATLANTA • AUSTIN • BOSTON • CHARLOTTE • CHICAGO • CINCINNATI • CLEVELAND • COLUMBUS • DALLAS • DENVER • DETROIT • HOUSTON • LONDON • LOS ANGELES • MIAMI • NAPLES • NEW YORK • PALO ALTO • PHILADELPHIA • PRINCETON • SALT LAKE CITY • SEATTLE • and WASHINGTON, D.C. They will compose and submit an Amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the matter of THOMAS A. KITCHAR, et al., Petitioners, v. OREGON DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY, et al. The Supreme Court allows “Friend of the Court” briefings to hear what other legal scholars have to say about the legalities in important cases.

Rather than go into the particulars of this case, I will link you to the Petition for Writ of Certiorari which our longstanding attorney wrote last month in conjunction with Pacific Legal Foundation. Mr. Buchal has been our steadfast, loyal advocate for the past 10 years. He was originally hired back in 2005 by mining associations in Oregon on this very case which is being directed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  That’s 15+ years in court to try and regain their livelihoods! Who can stay in a fight for that long? Only Americans that are determined to hold onto freedom!

Tom Kitchar did a wonderful job in putting together a Summary which outlines the history of this 15-year battle, and how difficult our enemies and the lower courts have made it for us to obtain justice. You can find Tom’s Summary right here.

The New 49’ers hired Mr. Buchal upon strong recommendations from the miners in Oregon when the State of California secretly conspired with environmentalists to eliminate our suction dredge regulations. That was more than ten years ago. He has been a brilliant and tough fighter on our behalf, but has unfortunately been up against a stacked deck. The lower courts in both Oregon and California, with perhaps a few exceptions, have been co-opted by the socialists.

Frankly, underwater and motorized mining have been forbidden in Oregon and California for so long, that many longtime supporters have either gotten too old, gave up or passed away. Some remain dedicated to the fight, but it has not been enough to keep up with legal costs. That’s what this Action Alert is about. Our industry needs a boost in our legal defense resources. More on how you can help down below.

Just to demonstrate how tight this is, any amicus brief (friend of the court) to the U.S. Supreme Court concerning our case must be filed by the 3rd of February!

We have already lost in the Oregon and California supreme courts. Fortunately, this Oregon case has been ongoing since before those decisions were made. Therefore, the original case remains alive.

Note that those who are named in the Petition are not allowed to support an Amicus brief. Mostly through tireless effort by Tom Kitchar of the Waldo Mining District in southern Oregon, initial support for the Amicus has been pledged by THE NEW 49ERS LEGAL FUND, PUBLIC LANDS FOR THE PEOPLE (PLP), WILLAMETTE VALLEY MINERS (WVM), TOM QUINTAL in Oregon, AMERICAN MINING RIGHTS ASSOCIATION (AMRA), BOHEMIA MINE OWNERS ASSOCIATION (BMOA), NORTHWEST MINERAL PROSPECTING CLUB (NWMPC), COUER D’ALENE MINING DISTRICT (CDAMD), GALICE MINING DISTRCIT (GMD), JOSEPHINE COUNTY in Oregon, and SISKIYOU COUNTY in California.

We have not yet raised enough money to fully pay for the services of FISHERBROYALS. There will also be more legal and political challenges as we, the Trump Team and all or most freedom-loving Americans attempt to free up productive activity for Americans again. I’m sure your financial contributions to any of the prospecting organizations listed above will be going to the right places. As to our Legal Fund, there is still time to buy tickets for our ongoing fund-raiser that will come to an end on February 14, just a few weeks from now (please see just below).

All I can do is give a deeply felt thank you to everyone who continues to support the cause for freedom!

The New 49’ers Legal Fund-raiser!

There will be 26 prizes in all:
Two Grand Prizes: 1/2-ounce American Gold Eagles
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, 14 February 2020, 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:

$10.00 each – Enter the number of tickets you wish to purchase into the quantity field then click “Update” before checking out. Your contribution to The New 49’er Legal Fund is tax-deductible.

The New 49’ers Legal Fund

2020 Schedule of Events 

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  

2020 Schedule of Events: June 20 & 21; July 18 & 19; August 22 & 23. 

Planned Office Hours for the Time Being

The upcoming holidays will have our offices closed on December 23, 24 & 25 for Christmas, and January 1 for New Year’s Day.

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 Weekend Group Projects.

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.

For any problems, our Internal Affairs is available over the phone: Richard Krimm is our Director of Internal Affairs, email or call (510) 681 8066 (also available after hours and on weekends). 



New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH QUARTER, DECEMBER 2019                              VOLUME 33, NUMBER 7

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager


We organize weekend group gold prospecting adventures during the summer months. All active members are encouraged to participate. There is no charge for active members. We appreciate it if you call ahead with your plans so we can plan in advance for how many people will attend.

The initial purpose of these projects is to provide hands-on learning experience under the guidance of multiple experienced members in hopes that it will improve your own ability to go out and find high-grade gold. This has been an important part of our successful operating basis for more than 30 years.

Opening image gold Nuggets on a scale

More recently, because the State of California has forbidden small-scale gold miners the use of motorized systems within 100 yards of a waterway, The New 49’ers, with our substantial resources, have the capability to increase gold recovery because we can fabricate specialized gear, we have intimate knowledge of where the gold is traveling in, and to the sides of the river, and because we are fortunate to have a dozen or so very experienced members who come out and help manage the program. Everyone who participates on Sunday receives an equal share of the gold that we recover.

This was the final weekend project of last season. About 70 members participated, including at least ten experienced helpers. We used my jet boat to ferry participants almost directly across from a primitive river access downstream from the very large parking and camping area on our very popular Wingate property.

Normally, myself with several helpers, verify in advance that the gold deposit we will work is going to produce well for the group project. Once we are sure about the area, a day or two before the project, we pull a larger group of members together and move all our gear to the site. If the area is somewhat difficult, or if it is on the far side of the river, we drop the gear off at an easier access point and use my boat to move the gear to the site. If the floating sluice is being moved, we can transfer everything to a new location in three boat loads.

The gold is plentiful all along the extensive Klamath River properties and side tributaries which we make available to our members. High-grade gold it is generally, but not always, more plentiful and easier to find if you can get across the river. This is, in part, because fewer people have prospected on the other side. There is also something mysterious about the nature of raw gold in that the best deposits usually are located in the places that are more difficult to reach.

This prompted us many years ago to buy a variety of different kinds of watercraft to help us move people and gear across the river; or sometimes, to places along the river that you cannot reach without a boat. Diane Helgesen captured Craig Colt and I hot-dogging it a bit on the river. This is extreme adventure at its best. Though we normally do not run around like this when we have project participants in the boat:

In addition to the increased access which the boat makes possible, adding some boat voyages along the river adds more substance to the outdoor adventure for everyone involved. We also use the boat to help disabled members gain easier access by picking them up and dropping them off at the closest developed river access where vehicles are able to reach the river. In this case, there is a semi-developed campground and river access about a quarter mile upriver from our project site.

Having fun Having fun
Exposed bedrock

This rich gold discovery turns out to be a massive area of exposed and shallow bedrock on the far side of the river.

Special mention should go to the dozen or so very dedicated helpers who contribute their valuable time to devote an occasional weekend helping less-experienced prospectors learn, and to help me make sure that the projects come out well on Sunday afternoon. This means minimizing any accidents (once in a while, someone will take a fall on the rocks), making sure participants are digging the best pay-dirt we have discovered at the site, and watching closely to make sure we are not feeding the recovery system too fast or losing gold in some other way.  We could not put on these weekend projects without our volunteer helpers.

We did not need to sample this site in advance of this particular project. This is because we were out on the same site with a group earlier in the season. Once again, Dr. Gold made the discovery by bringing down a bunch of beautiful gold nuggets that he was picking right off the bedrock. I wrote that story up in our August newsletter.

While expanding on Dr. Gold’s discovery, we realized that there appears to be a vast area of exposed bedrock which has gold lying all over it. Some areas have some shallow streambed on top of the bedrock which is also producing gold. The area is perfect for crevicing and non-motorized mining. Most importantly, we discovered on this project that it appears the historical miners decided to work the gold deposits on an upper plateau and throw their tailing cobbles down the hillside on top of virgin, shallow bedrock Virgin streambed” is stream bottom that has never been mined before. This is a very important development, because we seldom find virgin streambed up out of the water where the historical miners were able to reach. Check this out; you can see it for yourself:


Some of the sample pans were looking like this or better!

We always begin these projects on Saturday morning in a classroom setting in Happy Camp where we can do introductions and start building the team spirit which will flourish as soon as we begin recovering gold out of the ground. Then I take until lunch to present a simple talk on how to follow an organized sample plan, step by step, into high-grade gold deposits.  Other than relying upon luck alone, the sample plan is a proven method of following the positive signs to discover the path that gold is following down the river and its banks, and what particular layer in the streambed contains the concentrations of gold. This information becomes more meaningful when we get out in the field and begin sampling.

Saturday afternoon is meant to be light duty. Mainly, we are trying to pinpoint the places where we will dig on Sunday. We also want to make sure everyone knows how to effectively manage a gold pan. Learning to pan for gold is the first important step in the learning curve. Said another way, if you cannot pan streambed material without losing gold, you cannot do a proper job of sampling. Sampling is the whole key to finding rich gold deposits.

We were getting some of our best samples by digging the gold right out of the bedrock
person digging close up of digging

There was already a member out there who had set up his own hand-sluice in the shallower water near the edge of the river. He showed us the gold he had recovered on the day before.  It looked really good! Here it is on video:

gold in pan

Gold one member recovered with his hand-sluice!

We don’t like to push it too hard on Saturday. This is because some people will not be used to this sort of physical activity during the hottest part of the day. But when you start uncovering gold in your pan, it’s a real challenge to not turn up the steam! Often, the ones who overdo it on Saturday don’t show up on early Sunday morning. Sunday is when we all pull together as a team to recover as much gold as we can in several hours of steady work. Everyone who is out there helping on Sunday is entitled to an equal share of the gold we recover.

Nearly every pan was producing a good showing of gold. There were only a few people on this project that needed some help with their panning. So we were only on the far side of the river for less than two hours. I was seeing some nice gold, including nuggets.

To get a head start on Sunday morning, my helpers and I carefully moved our floating sluice out into the river and set the water flow for optimum gold recovery. This is a larger sluice recovery system that we float right at the water’s surface. We can adjust how deep the front of the sluice dips into the moving water to set how fast our pay-dirt will be washed through the recovery system. Here was some of the action on video:

Fortunately, the boat landing was almost directly across the river from where we would be prospecting. Participants were following a primitive path to and from their cars.

I started bringing people back across the river at around 4 PM on Saturday afternoon. It took maybe ten trips to move about 70 people across the river. It all happens pretty fast because my helpers fit everyone into a life preserver before I return for the next load. There was plenty of time remaining for everyone to freshen up and pull something together for our Saturday evening potluck in Happy Camp.

Potluck was more than a full house of enthusiastic members. There was a large variety of food; plenty for everyone. I guess because I was so pleased during the previous potluck because someone brought a full plate of nicely-cooked beef, someone brought me a fat, juicy steak that was cooked rare, just the way I like it.  I ate the whole darn thing!

We try to keep these potlucks short so people can get plenty of rest and sleep to be ready for the real action that will take place on Sunday morning. We start early so we can finish the physical work before the heat of the day reaches the project site.

Cooking for potluck Senior Citizens Hall

I arrived down at the landing at 6 AM exactly on Sunday morning. This turned out to be a mistake; something I don’t remember that we ever encountered before. Because we were in the later part of August, it was still nearly pitch dark out on the river. I have been driving boats on the Klamath River for so long, I can do it in the dark! But that’s when there is enough water in the river to float the boat.

Sometimes late in the summer, the authorities fluctuate the amount of water discharging from the first dam upriver. These important changes either increase or decrease the speed and depth of the river.  Out there in the dark, I did not see that the river had dropped by four or five inches overnight.

Oh Oh!

I didn’t realize the danger until we encountered the first of several aggressive sets of rapids. Late in the summer when the water in the river is low, there often is just one way through the shallow rapids. My challenge is to speed through the deeper water that lies between the shallow bar (all rocks) on the road side of the river and the truly dangerous fast water that is flowing over and around huge boulders on the far side. The margin for error is very close. Going downstream, I doubt that the boat will survive getting caught up in the boulders on the far side.

It is pretty easy for me to power the boat down the safe path when I can see where it is.

It was impossible to determine the safe path through the rapids because the river had dropped and changed all the flow dynamics. In the dark, the river was taking us downstream too fast to figure out the safest path. I knew we were in trouble. There is no changing your mind once a powerful river is washing you down through angry water. You just have to make the best of it – which means being prepared to abandon ship if the boat gets flipped over.

I will trade a few more dents on the bottom of my boat any day rather than take a chance on sinking it with a full boat of disabled passengers! I think my passengers believed that this was just a normal part of the adventure – until we started bouncing over rocks…

With five disabled people in the boat, since I could not see the slightly deeper slot out in the middle, I decided it was better to err on the shallow side of the river where the rocks are smaller.

Boom! Slam! Smash!

I cut the corner too close; and the boat was slamming over the rocks as we were swept downriver by the extremely fast, shallow water. Even though we were bumping rocks in the shallow water, I used the powerful motor to keep the boat pointed down river and away from the dragon tooth boulders that were looking to eat us for breakfast. Luckily, we made it through without doing any serious damage to the boat. By “serious,” I mean the engine will not run, or the boat is sinking. Serious damage would put an end to the Sunday program on the far side of the river. Fortunately, none of my passengers were hurt, though they were shaken up a bit. So was I!

Work partyWe rounded the next bend to find the entire landing site crowded with people out there standing in the dark. Talking about dedication; everyone showed up early! The landing site was not in direct view of where the boat stumbled over the rocks. So they did not see our rocky ride. But they heard the noise of our collisions from about a quarter mile away. They said it was quite loud and sounded like we met our end. But that was not enough to keep the first bunch from putting their life preservers on and being ready to board the boat!

Thirty minutes later, we had the entire crew over on the other side of the river. Our project helpers organized everyone into teams, working several different locations that produced nice gold nuggets on Saturday afternoon. Some people were digging. Others were carrying half-filled buckets down to a large classification screen which is designed to split the pay-dirt into two sizes: (1) the material passing through a quarter-inch mesh screen, and (2) the larger sized material. Everyone was busy. Enthusiasm was everywhere. That’s saying a lot for first light on a Sunday morning! It was a cold August morning out there!

View of screenAs the pay-dirt was run over the screen, others were filling buckets with the screened material. That’s the normal material that we feed into our recovery system. We usually don’t do anything with the oversized material that does not pass through the screen. But in the previous project we did in this location, we recovered dozens of nuggets – some which appeared too large to pass through a quarter-inch screen. We are not accustomed to digging in places which have so many gold nuggets.

When we were doing that earlier final clean-up, it occurred to me we should be panning the oversized material. So we started doing that on this project. One helper recovered four nice gold nuggets in just the first two buckets of oversize that he panned! Diane captured some video of my explanation and demonstration about the importance of processing larger-sized material when you are digging in a gold deposit that is producing nuggets. As long as things are going smooth, we do joke around a little bit to keep the mood upbeat and fun:

Another problem we have been struggling with as these projects are becoming more popular is that the participants can dig more pay-dirt than our recovery system can process. I’ll bet we left 25% of the pay-dirt we dug just sitting there on the bank during the previous project. Some participants were so jacked up to process the pay-dirt we left behind that they skipped the gold split altogether and swam over there with their gold pans!

Separating  Separating closeup

We reduced the volume of pay-dirt by allowing the river’s flow to wash away most of the lighter fine particles.

This time, we tried something different. The dry, screened material was put into buckets which were submerged in shallow water. Swirling the material around caused the lightest material in the bucket to wash out. Gold is far too heavy to wash out of a bucket in this way. This method reduced the ultimate volume of pay-dirt to less than half. In this way, we were able to process all the heavier pay-dirt that we dug. Here we caught this on video:


Diane Helgesen

Diane Helgesen is one of our most loyal and supportive members. She never misses a New 49’er event. She is designated as the “Gold Girl” during these projects. The Gold Girl keeps a plastic bucket with locking lid. Every time someone comes up with a nugget, or a handful of nuggets, or a good gold pan, Diane is right there on Sunday making sure all the gold ends up in the bucket. She also takes over the camera when I am going to give an explanation or demonstration.  We have a lot of fun with the camera. Some of our fun usually is not appropriate for these newsletters. If you believe I went too far this time, drop me an email and let me know.

During the summer months, there is usually a steady stream of rafters floating down the river. These days, they are all mostly friendly. It didn’t always used to be like that. When we first began on the Klamath River in 1984, we were pretty-much the first modern day gold miners along the river. We were newcomers to long-established rafting companies who were not accustomed to sharing their river experience with us. But that was so long ago, we have now been on the river longer than most of today’s rafters. If we have gold to show, we always invite them over to have a look. Most of the rafting guides these days appreciate that our gold mining activity creates more interesting things for their customers to see. Here is some of that on video:

In fact, just in the last two years, I have noticed that there appears to be some kind of Renaissance happening that is lightening up the mood of our members, and even the people outside of our association. I say this because I have devoted nearly my entire adult life to helping others find gold – which is a very emotional activity. Especially when someone is not finding any! Diane captured the following video as I summarized what was happening further up the hillside and then got off on a sidetrack about how much more friendly people seem to be getting. We decided to not edit out my joking around to demonstrate that I have a lighter side even though it is not always visible:

Craig Colt is a longtime loyal friend and helper who is perhaps the best prospector I know (except for Dr. Gold).  He was up the hillside near where the handfuls of nuggets were recovered on the previous project. And sure enough, several guys who were following Craig’s direction were recovering nuggets off the bedrock one right after the other. I snapped off one image of a bunch of nuggets in one person’s hand!

Craig led a team to the pay-dirt where one guy was recovering nuggets that could be picked off the bedrock!

Hand full of nuggets Craig having fun

We have been doing these group projects every season since 1987, so we have the program dialed in pretty well. Though we continue to learn more each time we do it. As overall project leader, I am down to two nagging worries that are not entirely under my control. The first is the possibility of someone getting hurt out there.  We are walking around on uneven ground with loose rocks. There have been some falls over the years; none worse than the falls I have taken. Still, the possibility of someone slamming his or her head into the rocks is an ever-present concern. We insist that all participants wear shoes or sneakers to try and avoid as much of this as possible.

With more than 70 miles of gold properties available to our members, there are no shortage of places where we can find plenty of gold.

My second worry is that we will not recover enough gold to split amongst all the participants. This happened several times during our early years when we were not as familiar with our mining properties. These days, we have year-around members present that do nothing but prospect on our properties. In turn, they whisper to me about the hot spots they have found that can be worked on these projects.

While individual prospectors only need a small pull-off on the side of the road to park their car, and can dangle a rope to get up and down a steep embankment; these projects require lots of parking area, a rather easy trail down to the river, a toilet that is not far away; and using the boat if necessary to get back and forth to a river access where we can launch gear and recover it later.

Numerous members have made good discoveries along our Wingate property. With only one or two exceptions, our members have access to the entire Klamath River from below Wingate to well above Happy Camp. This is about 15 miles. That’s 30 miles if you count both sides of the river, just in this single stretch! The area is so vast, just this one stretch will not be adequately prospected during our lifetimes. There is a perfect landing site for the boat, lots of camping and parking, and plenty of room for participants to process pay-dirt.

Work site Here is some video we captured of how participants were doing out there on an early Sunday morning:

When I saw the nuggets being recovered, and the gold in the sample pans, my worries about not finding enough gold were nothing to be concerned about on this day. Here is what we were recovering from the average bucket of screened material:

This was the average amount of gold we were recovering out of a bucket a screened pay-dirt!

Once I was certain the program was completely under control, I took the boat back upstream to make certain I was going to be able to get through the rapids that surely added a few dents on the bottom of my boat that morning. Besides the darkness, we were also going through a period where the river level was dropping. There comes a point where it is too shallow to drive the boat through. Before driving several disabled members through that danger zone, I wanted to be sure we could make it with minimal risk. In the daylight, it was no problem to drive the boat through there. Whew!

Still, when it was time to go, I noticed there were two missing from the group of disabled persons. They likely decided their chances of staying alive were better by getting some help climbing the path to where the cars were parked. I can’t say that I blame them! But I will say that it turned out to be a piece of cake to drive the boat up to the developed river access.

On this note; because the river is shallow, I must go up through a set of rapids at full power. This keeps the boat shallower in the river. Here; Diane positioned herself on the side of the river and captured us as we flew by:

Boat in fast water

If I can make the time, I also like to step up the adventures for some of our younger members by allowing them (closely supervised) to drive the jet boat up and down through a set of rapids. Here we caught some of the fun on video:

We called it quits at around noon. By this, I mean it was time to stop digging for the project so we could finish processing all the pay-dirt. Holes needed to be filled in, and tools all placed in a single location so I could boat them up to the landing once all the members were transferred across the river. We made plans to meet at our facility in Happy Camp later in the afternoon to do the final clean-up.

Adventure for all ages Landing boat

Something important to know about operating motor boats on a river is that the motor must be kept out in the deeper water. Therefore, when launching, you have to push the boat backwards out into the river so the motor does not get caught up in rocks, sand or gravel closer to the edge of the river. Otherwise, the river’s current will push the back of the boat into shallow water and the jet boat will suck in rocks or vegetation and cause the motor to stall. It is not good when this happens, especially when just up river from shallow rapids! Here is some video showing us recover from one of these very situations:

After all the pay-dirt had been processed, we pulled our floating sluice up into a calm, shallow area, disassembled the recovery system, and washed our final product into a large tub. There was a lot of gold visible in the sluice box. Cool!

This image is of our concentrates as we cleaned them out of the recovery system. If you look close, you can see the gold.

These gold recovery systems are designed to trap the heaviest material that is washed through them. Gold is the heaviest stuff out there, it being about 19 times heavier than water. Iron is around eight times heavier than water, but it is much heavier than the average material found in most streambeds. The weight of average material differs from one location to the next; but on the Klamath, average gravel weight is around four times heavier than water.  So a typical recovery system will recover all or most of the gold, along with a bunch of iron sand – called “black sand.”

We could see a lot of gold in the recovery system. The entire contents went into the Gold Girl’s bucket and Diane asked me to put it safely away in the boat. I took careful control of the gold bucket through the remainder of the day.

We all met at our facility later in the afternoon to do the final clean-up and gold split. We do this in the shade of a tree that adjoins our picnic area. By “final clean-up,” I mean separating all of the gold from all of the black sand and other impurities. Over the many years, we have developed a process to accomplish this without the use of any chemicals.

This is accomplished by classifying the concentrates into several specific sizes and passing each size over ever-slower, more refined recovery systems. We begin by screening the concentrates through an 8-mesh screen. This is usually done out on the river after we have removed the concentrates from the recovery system.  Gold nuggets are picked off the screen and put inside our gold bucket. These gold nuggets a are cause for a lot of excitement!

When we meet later in the day, the first thing we do is classify our concentrates through a 10-mesh screen (close to window screen). The material which stays on top of the screen is spread out in a gold pan and the nuggets are picked out with tweezers. This is fun, because the pieces of gold are also rather large and exciting.

Feeding LeTrap Concentrates in Le Trap

The material that passes through the 10-screen is slowly fed through a Le Trap gold sluice. This is a very well-engineered plastic sluice box which provides nearly perfect gold recovery while reducing the volume of concentrates to about a handful. Craig Colt, then pans the tailings from the Le Trap so all the participants can see how effective the recovery system is. If we find one or two flecks of gold, they are added to our remaining batch of concentrates.

Gold in Le Trap Group watching

After a while, my assistant, John Rose and helpers came out with all the nuggets we recovered in a small, metal finishing pan. It was a lot of nuggets! All of the participants were excited about that!  Participant excitement is like the sound of beautiful music in my world!

 Pan full of gold nuggetsThe remaining concentrates are then washed over a smaller, more refined recovery system called a “Gold Extractor.” This is a small sluice with very low profile riffles. If not fed too fast, the Gold Extractor will reduce the volume of concentrates down to about the volume of a tablespoon or two – with zero loss of gold. Craig also pans the tailings from the Gold Extractor to demonstrate to the group how effective this recovery system is. Craig did not find a single speck of gold in the tailings. The following video captured most important parts of the final clean-up:

We transfer the final concentrates into the small, steel finishing pan with the nuggets, and then I dry the final concentrates over a butane stove. Note that anytime gold is heated up, the process should be done outside in a well ventilated area. We are only heating the concentrates enough to dry them out.

Then the dry concentrates are passed through several different mesh-size screens. Each size is placed on clean sheets of paper inside on a secure table (no chance of it falling down or getting knocked over), away from the wind, dogs, and especially kids that are horsing around. This includes grown up kids!  I’m serious about having tight control over the final clean-up steps; because this is the time when some participants really start getting wound up. Sometimes we all get wound up!

We use a magnet to remove perhaps half the remaining concentrates (magnetic iron sand). Then, light blowing over each size easily separates the gold from the remaining impurities. We invite participants to join in this final process.

All of this part is done in the shop-portion of our facility with the large outside doors open so people can come and go as they please. There was a lot of excited chatter as most people gathered around to watch us turn the remaining concentrates into raw gold.

I was really hoping we were going to meet our goal of recovering more than an ounce of gold. But as the blowing process was finishing up, I could see we were not going to make it.  It is easy to be fooled into predicting a higher end result when the black sand is adding to the volume.

Final goldIn the end, to my surprise, we recovered a little less than 3/4 of an ounce. It should have been more. The reason I say this is that I watch all or most of the sampling that happens on Sunday morning. We take occasional samples out of the buckets being directed to the floating sluice. We take samples of the raw material people are putting into buckets up on the hillside. The sample results on this project were as good as I can remember. Plus, there were the nuggets.

We are very careful to capture all the gold and keep it secured in our gold bucket – which remains under very tight control throughout the project.

So are we just over-estimating how much gold we are recovering because we are getting more larger-sized flakes and nuggets? Or are we losing gold in some part of our process? The only place this could have happened in our process is when we were removing fine material from our buckets out in the river or when we washed the pay-dirt over our floating sluice.

As I ponder over this, it occurs to me it is very possible that we fed the sluice too fast. We removed most of the fine sand before processing the pay-dirt. Therefore, the material would have been quite a bit heavier than normal. In some cases, so much fine sand was removed that the pay-dirt was reduced by about 80%. As I think back on it, the final pay-dirt was mostly black-colored like a set of concentrates. We could see gold in with the dark sand.

If you feed a sluice too fast, especially with heavy material, you can overload the riffles to the point where there is no recovery system at all, and the pay-dirt will wash right through into tailings, gold and all.

For example, we could never feed the floating sluice as fast as we do with concentrates out of a recovery system. The riffles in the sluice would become overwhelmed with black sand almost immediately. Perhaps this new method of removing lighter material from our pay-dirt will require us to slow down how fast we are feeding the floating sluice. We will need to be more mindful of this in the coming season.

In the end, there were enough nuggets that everyone ended up with at least one. Some got two. In addition, everyone received a portion of the remaining gold. The shares looked good. Everyone expressed gratitude to me and my helpers. I think most people were happy that the weekend project was finally over. Most people, including me, are not used to the physical activity required in gold mining.  Bur if the State would allow us to suction dredge again, I would be back in shape in a matter of weeks!

Recovering gold is very satisfying. But there are other benefits to going out with us on these weekend prospecting adventures. Happy Camp and the Klamath River provide some of the most spectacular Pacific Northwest scenery and wildlife that you will find anywhere.  Something about the golden adventure pulls participants together in friendships that will last a lifetime. I caught some of the feelings that members take away with them in the following videos:

But the day was not yet over. Since this was our final weekend project of the season, we pulled all of our gear and the boat off the river after we ferried all the participants across. All that gear had been backed to the rear door of our facility. We were asking for help packing it up the stairs where we have safe, dry storage.  There were so many helpers, most people did not need to pack gear upstairs more than once.

Then, with lots of thankyou’s and hugs, everyone went away and left me to enjoy a quiet Sunday evening. This was another very productive mining season for me, and I was thanking my lucky stars for the way I make my living. I consider myself to be very lucky! 

2020 Schedule of Events 

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  

2020 Schedule of Events: June 20 & 21; July 18 & 19; August 22 & 23. 

Planned Office Hours for the Time Being

The upcoming holidays will have our offices closed on December 23, 24 & 25 for Christmas, and January 1 for New Year’s Day.

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 Weekend Group Projects.

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.

For any problems, our Internal Affairs is available over the phone: Richard Krimm is our Director of Internal Affairs, email or call (510) 681 8066 (also available after hours and on weekends).  

Industry Legal Situation 

As many of you know, we have been fighting for more than ten years to overturn the California and Oregon moratoriums on suction dredging. We struggled all the way up through the California Supreme Court – and lost there by a unanimous decision – even when all of the existing law is on our side. Sadly, a substantial portion of America’s judicial system favors the progressive agenda (socialism).

We have struggled to petition the U.S. Supreme Court twice to settle mining right differences on the federal lands between the federal and State governments. The problem is that the Supreme Court only agrees to take up around 5% of the cases requesting a final Decision. In today’s troubled politics, the Court chose other cases which it deemed more important to all of America.

Therefore, until the laws or regulations are changed to our favor, we are not allowed to use any mechanized system to extract or process minerals within 100 yards of any waterway in California and most of Oregon.

We will have another opportunity to obtain a hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. It is just a matter of when.  Think of it: The bottom of (many) California and Oregon waterways are loaded with gold. Gold is raw wealth. It is the world’s most important and longstanding financial currency. The gold is there for the taking.

We proved in every study (many) over 40 years that when suction dredging is done according to reasonable regulations, we have never harmed a single fish. But those who have the power to regulate us at the State level do not care. They just want to put an end to us. Truth and justice have nothing to do with it.

For a while, I had strong hopes that the Trump Administration would adopt federal rules which would shield us from the anti-mining interests that are controlling State governments. But “the swamp” may have turned out to be more prevalent and invasive than even Mr. Trump anticipated – and they have, to a large degree, kept him bogged down and distracted by baseless (but serious) accusations during his first three years in office.

At the moment, it is looking hopeful that Mr. Trump and his team could turn the tide on the swamp creatures who have been attacking him. Their addenda is to turn America into a socialist country. We can forget prospecting for gold and most of the other personal freedoms that made America great if the democrats succeed in winning the presidency in the upcoming election. If Mr. Trump holds office for another term, I predict there is a reasonable chance that we will see mining reforms which will limit State authority over federal mining projects (prospecting and mining on the federal lands).

I personally thank all members who have been supporting us with dues payments. The New 49’ers Prospecting Association is doing just fine.

But Legal Fund contributions have dropped off dramatically this past year. We need to encourage more participation if we want to maintain the non-profit status of The New 49’ers Legal Fund. This is important, because the non-profit is basically the only way to raise money for legal matters. Trying to do this through a for profit private company will get us in bigger trouble than we are trying to resolve in the first place!

In case you did not see this, the winners of our October 18 legal drawing are as follows:

Ten 1-Ounce American Silver Eagles: Carol Hatley, Scott McGrosso, Robert Maytum, Bill Jarrell, William White, Stephen Keenan, Brent Harshbarger, Patrick O’Brien, Phillip F. Myska and Robert Rackley.

Ten 1/10th-Ounce American Gold Eagles:  Phillip F. Myska, Matt Cottrell, Robert Maytum, Larry Sharpe, William White, Richard Culley, Patrick Matheny, Paul Fender, Walt Morrison and Tom Chambers.

Four 1/4th – Ounce American Gold Eagles:  Lenny Rock, David Barna, Joseph Sawyer and Phil Robinson

The Grand Prize: 1-Ounce American Gold Eagle:  Christopher Newman

If your name is on the list above and you have not heard from our office, please give our girls a call: 530 493-2012.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this legal drawing!

The problem is that we are only attracting enough contributions to equal the value of the prizes.

Here is my sincere request for you to continue supporting our political and legal efforts at least until we see what the national political landscape is after the elections this November. I am talking about only three more legal fund-raisers: 14 February and 19 June and 16 October, 2020.

All of America will be substantially affected by the results of the coming election. 

Thank you for sticking with us by helping as you are able! 

Note: This is not about The New 49’er Mining Association which has thousands of members and makes more than 70 miles of gold-bearing mining properties available to our members.  This is about the non-profit fund-raising apparatus that is fighting for reasonable regulations that will allow us the use of mechanized gear and suction dredges so we can regain access to the richest gold deposits – which are mostly at the bottom of existing waterways.

 The New 49’ers Legal Fund-raiser!

There will be 26 prizes in all:
Two Grand Prizes: 1/2-ounce American Gold Eagles
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, 14 February 2020, 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:

  $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 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.

The New 49’ers Legal Fund,

Happy Holidays to all you guys out there!

Dave McCracken

President, The New 49’ers, Inc.



New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH QUARTER, OCTOBER 2019                              VOLUME 33, NUMBER 6

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager






So far, there has been very little participation in this drawing! This substantially increases your chances of winning…

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

Gold and 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. While you are welcome to attend, 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 through the following PayPal link:

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.

The New 49’ers Legal Fund

2020 Schedule of Events

 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.

2020 Schedule of Events: June 20 & 21; July 18 & 19; August 22 & 23.

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  

Montine Blevins Needs Help!

Thank you very much to the gals in our office for creating this letter to try and help Montine and Rusty cope with the ever-rising costs of medical treatment for Montine’s condition. Montine managed our New 49’er “welcome program” for many years. Prior to this last year, I am guessing that she has spoken with nearly all our active members. 

We Still Have an Opportunity to Open Suction Dredges on the Federal Lands!

Those of you who have been following our newsletters will be aware that the substantial effort by our industry to regain our mining rights (the use of motors) on the federal lands in California and Oregon in both the State and federal courts have not produced a positive outcome so far.

We are now appealing to key officials in the executive branch (Trump team) of the federal government to perform a formal Rulemaking which will forbid States from enacting laws or regulations that prevent or prohibit mining on the federal lands to a greater degree than the federal mining law(s) allow to the federal agencies.

Once again, initially prompted by the small-scale mining organizations in Oregon, here is our latest effort to keep our issues on the front lines of the Trump Administration’s efforts to reduce or eliminate over-regulation which provides no measurable benefit.

Small-scale mining creates actual wealth and improves the lives of working Americans. This is an industry-wide effort.

While our efforts will continue, it is difficult to get a read on how effective we are being. This is because the Trump Administration is being attacked so viciously by the very same organizations that have made modern methods of mining, more or less, against the law.

If Mr. Trump survives the continuous attacks against him, it is reasonable to predict that America’s federal land management agencies will attempt to assist us. This is what we are hearing from the agencies. Please stay tuned. We will provide updates as they happen.

Your contributions to keep our Legal Fund alive (drawing above) will help us keep the battle going on our side. Anything you guys can do will be greatly appreciated!

Dave McCracken

General Manager, The New 49’ers Mining Association



New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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New 49'er Newsletter

THIRD QUARTER, AUGUST 2019                              VOLUME 33, NUMBER 5

Dave McCracken


Newsletter By Dave McCracken General Manager


Dr Gold! Gold Nuggets!

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.”

Diane Helhesen

Diane Helhesen never misses a New 49’er event!

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.

smiling couple

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.

panning lessons

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.

Racing up the river Dave racing the boat

having fun

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:

ladies panning Learning to pan


Typical sample

We would consider this a good sample.

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:

floating sluice

Here is our floating sluice in action!

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.

Boating across riverI 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.

stuffing envelopes

Volunteers who came into the office and packaged up all the letters to be mailed out.

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.

Beautiful river scene

Is this place beautiful or what?

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.

Mark Turner Screening in volume

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:

Lady Smiling smiling gal

people having funAll 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:

dr gold 1 Gold nugget

pointing at gold in scoop

Dr Gold

Dr. Gold was scraping out some bedrock crevices.

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:

thumbs up! gold nuggets in pan

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.

gold gold nuggets
gold in pan

This sample came from about a handful of unscreened material!

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 in buckets

Pay-dirt that was dug and screened, but we left behind for lack of time to process it!

Travis driving boatNormally, 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:

looking in sluice happy group of people

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.

rideing in boat

Bringing disabled members up to the boat launch through some very turbulent rapids!

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.

Dave McCracken boating

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.

gold nuggets in metal pan people watching

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: 

We are attaching a link which provides most of the contact details for the officials that we want to reach at this time:

We are also attaching a simple article which describes what a suction dredging is: 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:

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.

For any problems, our Internal Affairs is available over the phone: Richard Krimm is our Director of Internal Affairs, email or call (510) 681 8066 (also available after hours and on weekends). 

The New 49’ers Legal Fund-raiser!

Gold and Silver EaglesThere 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.

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.

The New 49’ers Legal Fund

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.

Best wishes,

Dave McCracken


New 49’er Gold Prospecting Association
27 Davis Road P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012

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