Recapping the Lost Gold Mine Search

I think I’ve posted most of this before in earlier posts, but for those who weren’t here to read it at the time, I’ll do it again. 

A longtom sluicebox axed out of a 3 foot diameter log, a spring 75 feet above the sluice, an arrastra below.  I’d been walking past the arrastra a few years before I recognized it for what it was.  One day I was leaning against a deadfall aspen getting my breath, gazing at it, when it dawned on me that 500 pound rock had a reason for being shaped the way it was.

A burned out cabin ruin with an aspen tree growing out of the inside, bear claw marks 12 feet up, 3 hand forged nails. 

A mysterious map chiseled on the face of a 300 pound rock surface depicting the exact layout of the canyon, the cabin, the waterfall, all so accurately depicted the person had to have scrutinized the layout from the mountaintop, then scratched it on this stone 600 vertical feet below and half a mile away. 

The rock was carefully placed on the canyon wall above eye-level so it was easily seen, but only by someone looking up.

Dozens of places upgrade where the man worked the quartz outcroppings.

Symbols carved into rock faces long ago on the upper-west face of the mountain below the most heavily worked quartz outcroppings near the crest.  None of it made a hell of a lot of sense.

One day I was climbing around up there with my lady friend of the time, Jan.  Following the guy around, trying to figure out what the hell he was doing and why.  We came to a rock face with a quartz outcropping he’d been working, but stopped, obviously half-done.  Not like him at all.

I stepped back a few paces studying it, mildly confused.  Glanced at the ground at my feet and there lay an arrowhead, quarter-inch of the point broken off.  I believed I was looking at the reason he quit before the job was done.

But that long tom and that sluice were testimony the man [or men] working there were in a production mode.  They weren’t prospecting, they were processing ore.  Scrapings from the bottom surface of the sluice, burned and panned didn’t turn any signs of anything heavy.  Downstream just below the V-bottom of the canyon went 100 yards or so to a stricture might have once had a beaver dam, landslide, something clogging it so’s there was a flat bottom with maybe 7-8 feet of sediment.  Along one side a channel had been cut going through the sediment, but not all the way to the bottom of the V.  It would have been a major job getting to the bottom for sampling, never got around to it.

But from the bottom of the existing channel the pans showed a huge amount of heavy, heavy, heavy bead-like material, rusty brown.  Eventually spectroscopic assays showed what was mentioned a couple of posts ago.

And there was considerable more of it in other nearby canyons.

But we never found the source of whatever the guy was running through that longtom, what he was crushing with the arrastra.

Old Jules

10 responses to “Recapping the Lost Gold Mine Search

  1. It’s a compelling mystery, very interesting.

  2. Y’all from Texas are so lucky that there are still unexplored places around. The whole Northeast is just about overcrowded by now.

    • Azure James: That stuff’s in New Mexico hop skip jump from the Arizona boundary. Texas rocks aren’t designed to be all that interesting. But in the parts where there are people Texas qualifies as overcrowded enough to satisfy most usual purposes. Thanks for the visit. J

  3. Good story, told in such few words.

  4. In response to the comment that Azure made, there is a lot of gold in the Appalachians that has never been found. The main reason, unlike the west were there is a bureau of land management that allows claims and prospecting, the east is all privately owned except for government property.

  5. Your posts always get a reaction from me. Sometimes it’s a stupid grin, and sometimes I go “Huh?”. Once in a while I just scratch my head. Keep on.

  6. Great story, Jules! You are indeed an interesting person! Isn’t it great when you find something someone did a hundred years ago?

  7. Yes! I agree with T.W. Dittmer! There is a very strong and strange appeal to your writing. I like it. Keep going!

  8. Fascinating. I’ve been interested in mining history all my life and once worked as a tunneler, but I’ve never heard of the term “arrastra” before. Here in the UK it would just be a “mill”, which it not half as exotic.
    Thanks for that, Alen McF

    • Thanks McEff: I’d never thought of just naming it a mill. But on reflection, an arrastra’s a fairly specific type of mill. Thanks for the visit. J

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