Finding Gold While Cleaning Up Old Workings

 Wolf Creek, Boston Ravine, and Grass Valley ravine were rich. Woodpecker ravine paid well, but not so well as the others I have mentioned. Pike Flat, through which Wolf Creek runs opposite Grass Valley to the north, had a very rich lead, which extended about half way the length of Pike Flat, and then turning to the left, run out in the old Point and Day diggings at the edge of the flat and on the hill. The Day Company found a specimen of clear gold worth five hundred dollars (clear means that it had not rock mixed with it). The Flat was about twelve feet deep down to the bed rock. The lead was from six inches to two feet deep, and thirty or forty feet wide. The Day and Point diggings paid well, the latter more regularly than any other diggings I ever worked in. The trouble with these mines was that they did not last long. None of them lasted longer than five or six years, and many not so long as that.

The miners ran a ditch and tunnel into Pike flat to drain the mines, as it was very wet. We on the point were troubled somewhat with water, but little, however, as our claims did not extend far into the flat. We had a flume at the end of our runs into which the "tailings" ran. We cleaned out this flume once in three or four weeks, and even then did not save all the gold, for some would run away with the dirt. Nothing was ever invented capable of saving all the gold. It was fine as flour. We never found any pieces of gold at the point larger than two or three dollars. The Day Company ran their "tailings" into a ditch which had never been cleaned out. No one knew how much gold was in the ditch, but the Company offered the gold for sale for fifteen hundred dollars, but no one would take it; so it was cleaned out by them selves, and they realized $10,000. The expense of cleaning the ditch was not more than one hundred dollars. What a little fortune for us, if we had only known the amount of gold in the ditch.



We worked on our claims at Shady Creek for two years, and then sold out for eight hundred dollars each, which was four or five times as much as we paid. One of the partners sold his share later for one thousand dollars. One time when I was at work on my point claims, before selling out at Shady Creek, Clark, one of my partners, came to me with a specimen which he had found while at work washing some tailings. It consisted of a quartz rock a little larger than my fist, one end of which was full of gold. The Day Company evidently had not seen the specimen when they worked the ground for the first time. I asked him how much it was worth, and he said between two hundred and fifty and three hundred dollars. We weighed it as well as we could, and estimated the value at two hundred and sixty-nine dollars. It was put up at auction, and knocked off to me for two hundred and seventy dollars. I intended to take it home with me, but having use for the money I crushed it, and realized two hundred and sixty-nine dollars, losing just about one dollar by the operation.

One Sunday morning I started for Shady Creek over the stage road, called Robinson's road, from the name of the man who had built it, and as I was drawing near the bridge over the South Yuba River, I met a suspicious looking man on horseback. He wore a big cape which covered him all up but his legs. After he had passed me, he suddenly stopped and asked me the time of day. I told him I did not know, still keeping my eyes on him and walking away as fast as I could. I thought the man intended to rob me.  At that time I still had the specimen with me, which I was intending to show to my partner Edward at Shady Creek. I didn't give the stranger a chance, however, to get the "drop" on me. I arrived at Shady Creek, and my partners told me I had the best specimen they had seen for a long time. I came home by stage, as I did not care to encounter any more men in long capes, especially when I had the two hundred and seventy dollar specimen.

There was an old shaft on our upper claims full of water it was essentially like a well. Two years before all the miners in that vicinity used to clean up their gold here. It was supposed there were several hundred dollars in the shaft, as some gold is always wasted in cleaning up. One morning three men put a windlass in the shaft, and commenced cleaning it out. I told them the ground belonged to us, and forbade them working there. They said they used to "pan out" there and so had the right to clean out the hole. I went down town to get the sheriff to stop them. One of the lawyers told me that it would cost ninety dollars to employ the sheriff, and it would take all day to execute the necessary papers. In the meanwhile the shaft would be cleaned out.



He had a suggestion and wanted to know the location where I was at work, and how many men I had with me. I told him on the Point claims, where ten or twelve men were working. He said they had no right to clean out the shaft, and advised me to take my gang and forcibly put the intruders off the ground. At noon we all went to where they were cleaning out the shaft, to see if we could not make them leave. I had a talk with them before we commenced operations in forcing them to leave. They finally consented to leave it out to the decision of a "court" of  three men. They were to appoint one man, I another, and the two appointees would select a third. I told my man whom to have for the third man. He was a ditch agent and an old miner. The three men decided in my favor, I asked the men who were working on the shaft if they were satisfied, and they said they were, and left. Clark, my partner, was very indignant because I left it out rather than force them off. He said, "Put them off the ground." I told him it was better to leave it out to a decision, as no honest miner would decide against us, and besides all trouble would be avoided. We afterwards cleaned out the shaft, and realized between three and four hundred dollars by cleaning out that short little shaft.


Return To: California Gold Rush: True Tales of the 49ers



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