Eighty Year Old Miners Hunt For Lost Gold Mine
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Eighty Year Old Miners Hunt For Lost Gold Mine

 In the Summer of 1908, the Sunday Oregon printed two interesting news items about two elderly miners who went on a search for a lost gold mine.

 During the last week of July of 1908, together with William S. Paul of Crabtree, Oregon, two miners over eighty years of age, Robert L. Smith of Corvallis, Oregon and George C. King of San Jose, California left the town of Albany, Oregon. Their destination was a long lost quartz ledge near Mount Jefferson in the Cascades Range.

 The story began in the early 1870's when a well known Linn County pioneer by the name of William A. Paul discovered a quartz vein of remarkable richness while out hunting. Seeing visible gold in the quartz, Paul had a piece of the float assayed at Albany. The results showed that the ore was so rich that it ran just better than $3000 a ton in gold!

 Like any smart prospector, W.A. Paul kept his discovery a tightly held secret, divulging the details of his find to only a select few individuals whom he swore to secrecy. In the meantime, when he went back out to stake a claim on his ledge, things seemed turned around to him. Many times, W.A. Paul tried to find the location of the ledge again, but ultimately failed.

 Among the handful of people whom Paul had shared the details of the discovery with in addition to his son, was with King, who was a long time friend of the family and a pioneer era miner.

 In addition to his long experience mining in Oregon, George King, despite his advanced years, also had current mining interests in the Klondike. At the time, he was in the town of Crabtree, visiting with W.S. Paul, the son of his old friend. In the course of reminiscing on old memories, the story of long lost ledge came back to them. They decided to try to find it.

 In the meantime, while Paul was arranging the details for their adventure, King ran into R.L. Smith of Corvallis. Smith had been a one time mining partner of King and despite his age, decided to throw in with the two men on their search for the rich quartz vein.

 On July 30th, 19087, the three men left Crabtree and started their journey, a foray deep into the Cascade Mountain range, which as the Sunday Oregonian described it, was “tinged with all the elements of mining romance”, even though it was apparently left up to the reader to dream up all the fine details on their own.

 Whatever your imagination, the party ventured some thirty odd miles north of Detroit, Oregon to what was then the terminus of the Corvallis & Eastern Railroad line and then diligently began to search for the lost ledge until finally, R.L. Smith grew too ill to continue and was forced to return back to the safety of civilization in the Willamette Valley. Paul and King continued the search, promising a share to their retiring partner if they were successful.

 Unlike other seekers of lost natural bonanzas, Paul and King actually did find the rich ledge that had been lost for over thirty years. They were, however, about a year too late, for instead of finding a rich virgin ledge, what they actually found at the long lost location, was a very nice looking prospect that was not only conspicuously posted, but under current development. The lost ledge, it seems, had been discovered by two brothers from Portland less than nine months earlier.

 When William S. Paul returned to the Willamette Valley, upon asking around at Albany, he learned a few details about the claim that he and King had stumbled upon. Local miners told him that it was a real humdinger of a property, was considered to be very valuable and it was assumed to have a great future.

 This recently filed claim on the ledge discovered and lost by W.A. Paul, would, in only a few years, become the most the productive gold mine in North West Oregon: the famous Ogle Creek Mine.

Copyright 2012 by Kerby Jackson


“Octogenarians to Seek Lost Mine”,The Sunday Oregonian, July 27th, 1908
“Find Lost Mine Too Late”, The Sunday Oregonian, August 16th, 1908

This story from Oregon's Gold Rush first appeared in:

The Golden Trail
The Golden Trail: More Stories of Oregon's Mining Years

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Eighty Year Old Miners Hunt For Lost Gold Mine