Mining Relics at
Gold Hill, Oregon
Kerby talk about mining around Gold Hill, Oregon on NBC KOBI/KOTI
The Gold Hill
Historical Society has done an excellent job preserving the mining history
of the famous Gold Hill Mining District through their museum which is located
in the Beeman-Martin House on First Avenue in downtown Gold Hill, Oregon.
The house was originally built in 1901 by Josiah Beeman who leased and
later purchased the well known Lucky Bart Mine which was located on nearby
Sardine Creek. The Lucky Bart was first discovered in 1890 by Bartholomew
Signorritti and Joe Cox. Beeman obtained the mine in 1892 and did well
enough that he was able to build a fine two story home (which had the first
indoor plumbing in Gold Hill), and was to stay in his family until 1993
when his descendants offered it to the Gold Hill Historical Society for
the purpose of establishing a local museum. According to the society's
official history, the old building is presumed to be haunted after several
members of their staff reported hearing heavy footsteps upstairs and there
were numerous instances of the opening and closing of doors, objects being
moved and pictures being "thrown" off the walls. The society affectionately
refers to their ghost as "Willie", but he did not introduce himself to
to the usual things we see in local history displays, the Gold Hill Historical
Society, has devoted a more than usual amount of space to local mining
history. Though this is not only fitting and probably to be expected of
such a famous gold mining district, it is not by any means typical of local
historical societies here in Southern Oregon, many of which seem to regard
mining as little more than a novel curiousity, if not a dirty little secret.
Yet even in a town where some residents have actually began to organize
against what little small scale mining does take place within their community,
the volunteers here seem to take great pride in explaining how Josiah Beeman
built this house with the gold he took out of the hills above Sardine Creek
and how much gold was actually recovered from the nearby streams and hills.
In Gold Hill, mining history finally takes center stage and although the
displays and efforts of these volunteers is still very much a work in progress,
in no other place open to the public in Southern Oregon will you see as
many local mining relics gathered together in one place. Admission is free,
but I'm sure they appreciate donations.
the first floor of the Beeman House, we are gradually given a taste of
local mining history with a set of pocket scales from the 1860's here,
an old vial of gold there and a photo here and there, but once we reach
the gift shop, we are instantly confronted by all sorts of trinkets pertaining
to local mining, ranging from gold panning concentrates to old photos of
mines, from post cards to refrigerator magnets and right up to square nails
that were saved from some old ore carts that must have rotted away on a
nearby hillside somewhere. A look on the gift store book shelf and what
we actually find is that the majority of their offerings have something
to do with mining. For example, you can buy copies of Tom Bohmkers books
on gold mining in Oregon here in the shop, booklets on panning gold and
mining history, as well as copies of the Diary of Charles Anderson who
was a placer miner on Foots Creek in the 1880's.
In the stairwell
(which Willie is said to frequent), we can find a number of revolving kiosks
that are stuffed with local information hand outs that visitors are free
to take home to study. Included are maps of the old Gold Hill Mining District,
handouts on gold panning, a brief overview of local mining history, tidbits
about old mining camps and much more.
we head downstairs into the basement and are met with a large mining display
that looks more like an old timers basement than it does a historical display.
Unlike other museums, you can actually touch a lot of this stuff. Included
are old mining tools, rusty gold pans, framed location notices, mining
claim maps, mineral samples, miners lights and helmets, old photos, gold
dust bags, a reproduction of a gold brick which was found locally and more.
In one display case, there's even a pretty nice mounted nugget that was
taken from a local creek.
House, home of the Gold Hill Historical Society's museum.
is located at 504 1st Avenue in Gold Hill, Oregon and is open Thursday
- Saturday, from Noon til 4 PM
information, please contact the society at: P.O. Box 26, Gold Hill, OR
97525, Phone: 541-855-1182
we can go outside onto the back porch and get to the really good stuff,
including the ore cars, the chilean mill, an ore crusher, several monitors,
rocker boxes and of course, the 5 stamp mill from the famous Lucky Bart
Mine. A brief tour follows.
Mill or "Trapiche", was an improvement of the arrastre. This one was manufactured
1910 and was used at the Brush Creek Mine near Downieville, California.
The Rue Family brought it to
on Butte Creek near Eagle Point, but never used it. It is powered by electric
engine and belt,
lower left. This machine may be the only one of its kind in Oregon.
inside the Chilean Mill. Heavy weights were attached to the chains which
were drug across the ore (at
left) and slowly ground the mineralized quartz into a fine powder so that
the gold could be
separated by washing. These machines were not very efficient and worked
very slow, making them suitable
crusher was a big improvement on the arrastre and far more portable than
a stamp mill.
Box. The hopper appears to have originally been a fruit box.
of this homemade ore car ingeniously used rounds of wood (possibly oak)
looks to have been hand-hewn with a froe from local timber.
car from the Pack Rat Mine is a little more modern.
were lowered into mine shafts, filled with ore and then hoisted up top
material could be processed. These served the same purposes as ore
were used to transport ore from an adit or tunnel.
several monitors in their collection.
Stamp Mill from Josiah Beeman's Lucky Bart Mine may be the only surviving
and intact stamp mill in Southern Oregon.
was manufactured by Union Ironworks of San Francisco in 1892 and was shipped
to Oregon that same year.
heavy timbers that are about one foot thick, the mill is a truly imposing
structure nearly 20 feet tall.
the mill battery. The round rods are called "stems", while the spool shaped
pieces are called "tappets".
"fins" beneath the tappets are the "cams". The bar with the horse-shoe
shaped tip that is at an odd
to be a "latch finger" (four more are laying at the base of the mill, uninstalled).
The latch fingers,
"lifters", "latch bars" or "finger bars", are used to "hang up" the tappets
into place when the millman wished to
machine. To accomplish this, he would take a "cam stick", which was a wooden
wedge with a piece of belt on its
(to prevent slipping) and grease on its underside, and he would place this
on top of the cam. This forced the cam
at the top, which would raise the tappet higher. Once the tappet reached
its peak, he would push the latch finger
underneath tappet. This stopped the stamp from dropping without shutting
the engine down and he would then
this process with the remaining stamps. (Note that the tappets are in the
down position). As you might imagine,
could often be easily identified among mining crews just by counting their
fingers, because if he wasn't careful
very easy to get his fingers or an entire hand pinched off while locking
the tappets into place!
the lower portion of the stamp battery. Note the stamp heads.
up view of the stamp heads. As noted above, they are in the "down position".
These have processed
and freed up more Oregon gold than most of us will probably ever find in
other stamp mills, this one did not rely on amalgamation plates and mercury
was apparently not used at
Bart. (This is supported by DEQ reports on the site of the Lucky Bart,
which have yet to turn up any mercury in
Once the ore was crushed to powder, it was washed down the metal slickplate
and then onto what
to have been an early shaker table which was powered by a belt and pulley.
A set of
belts and wheels make the stamps rise. Gravity makes them fall, crushing
of this wheel/pulley (about 5 feet in diameter) raises the stamps and is
powered by a belt attached
another smaller pulley near the front of the mill.
this stamp mill was probably originally powered by a waterwheel, later
on, this John Deere tractor engine
the power. This engine was manufactured in 1936, so long after Josiah Beeman
gave up his interest in the
in 1916, this stamp mill was still hard at work. When you consider that
this is a tractor engine and that the top of
is about 5 feet high, it gives you a little bit of an idea of the size
of this stamp mill.