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A core feature of these maps is the highlighting of townships that contain both active placer mining claims and historical gold mines. The screenshot below is from the Oregon Gold Map and shows gold-bearing PLSS townships, with the highest concentration being in the northeast and southwest corners of the state.
Townships that contain both active placer claims and historical gold mine records are shaded in one of the following colors based on how many active placer claims are in the township: 1 — 10 claims: blue; 10 — 50 claims: yellow; 50 — claims: orange; More than claims: red. Additional images in this article will contain more data points.
Yellow circles are gold mines, hexagonal markers are PLSS sections that contain active placer mining claims, and blue markers with pick axes are district locations. In this analysis we will be looking at the gold townships highlighted by the WMH Oregon Gold Map and identifying which have the highest potential for gold discovery. Note: As mentioned above, sometimes industrial surface mining operations cause anomalies in the analysis. The 1 ranked township in Oregon is 33 S E located in Douglas County the only red square on the map.
While this township does have a few historical gold mine locations, this is not known as a prominent gold area. Research has revealed that a company holds many claims in this area with the intention of operating a surface mine for clay minerals. This township, and adjacent township 33 S E rank 28 should be ignored as areas of high gold potential.
This district is located in the southern part of Baker County, accessible by Highway and near the small towns of Hereford and Bridgeport. The top two gold areas by placer density 2 and 3 by placer claims in the state, adjusted for the anomalous township mentioned above in the state of Oregon are 33 S E 79 placer claims, 22 gold mines NW of the town of Bridgeport, and 33 S E 76 placer claims, 35 gold mines east of the town of Hereford. Township 33 S E 18 placer claims, 6 gold mines , seen as the yellow square between the orange squares in the image above, ranks 27 in the state by of placer claims.
Not much has been written about this district. Early production data are scant, but apparently some placers were worked before Total gold production through was about 9, ounces from all sources. Placer gold was first mined here in the s, eventually transitioning to lode mining as the placers ran out. Township 33 S E has 70 active placer claims and 76 USGS gold mine records, making it the third ranked gold township in the state. While this area is generally known as the Greenhorn district, some sources divide the area into several districts, with the Alamo district to the north and the Bonanza Geiser district to the east.
The placer fields of southwest Oregon are the earliest to be mined in the state. Tributaries of the Illinois River are said to have been mined for gold as early as Few records exist from this period so the total gold production for the area is not known. What is known is that almost years after the first miners entered this area, gold mining is still actively being pursued. The Illinois River district is west and north of Cave Junction, and extends almost 25 miles from south to north.
The northern-most boundary of this district is just south of the Galice district. In the southern part of the district, township 33 S W 66 placer claims, 23 gold mines is the fourth highest-gold potential township in Oregon by of placer claims. Adjacent townships 33 S W 34 placer claims, 56 gold mines and 33 S W 39 placer claims, 12 gold mines are also top areas. In the northern part of the district, township 33 S W 48 placer claims, 8 gold mines has the seventh highest of placer claims in the state.
Several other adjacent townships also rank high, but some of them overlap with the Galice district to the north so not all claims can be ased to the Illinois River district. Overall this is a large district with a lot of active placer mining areas. The area was first worked in and almost a century later ificant gold was still being recovered here.
From through the district produced 18, ounces of gold from placer mines. The Waldo district is south and southeast of Cave Junction, and extends to the California border. The ghost town of Waldo is in the western part of the district. Township 33 S W 66 placer claims, 60 gold mines ties for the the fourth highest-gold potential township in Oregon by of placer claims.
To the south, township 33 S W 55 placer claims, 25 gold mines is notable as the section is less than half the usual size due to its location against the California border, yet it still manages to rank fifth in the state for the of placer claims. To the west and east of the townships mentioned above, townships 33 S W 38 placer claims, 14 gold mines , 33 S W 33 placer claims, 15 gold mines , and 33 S W 26 placer claims, 32 gold mines are also ificant gold areas.
Placer mining began on Galice Creek in The Old Channel mine was the largest hydraulic mine in Oregon. From through , placer gold production for the district was 7, ounces. Township 33 S W 33 placer claims, 15 gold mines ranks sixth in the state for gold potential based on of placer claims. Seven additional townships in the area have active placer claims. The townships in the southern part of the district overlap with the Illinois River district so accurately asing the claims to each district is problematic, however it remains clear that the Galice and Illinois River districts together form a rich gold belt that covers over 40 miles from north to south in Josephine County.
The Upper Applegate district is located in the southwest corner of Jackson County, and the extreme southeast corner of Josephine County. The area was first mined in and is described as primarily a placer district. Up to it is estimated that over , ounces of placer gold have been recovered in this district.
Township 33 S W 43 placer claims, 43 gold mines ranks 8th in the state for gold-related placer claims. To the west, township 33 S W 39 placer claims, 6 gold mines ranks 10th in the state. Quartzville sneaks into a high position on this list due to the strength of just one township, but this is a small district compared to others on the list.
Quartzville was an active mining camp and district starting in the s but was abandoned well before the turn of the century. The area remains popular with recreational gold prospectors. The Quartzville district is southwest of the town of Detroit, and can be accessed on the Quartzville Backcountry Byway which runs between Detroit and Sweet Home. Township 33 S E 41 placer claims, 60 gold mines is the yellow square at Quartzville in the image above and contains the vast majority of the active mining area in the district. Granite and Sumpter are two of the more famous mining towns in the state.
Each was a prosperous gold camp, and both survive today as living ghost towns and centers of active placer mining areas. Additional adjacent districts form a large area with both extensive historical gold production and active modern placer mining activity.
Township 33 S E 37 placer claims, 64 gold mines , in the district identified as Buck Gulch, ranks 12th in the state for of gold-related placer claims. Township 33 S E 31 placer claims, 41 gold mines , location of Sumpter, and township 33 S E 28 placer claims, 11 gold mines , location of Granite, are also top gold townships. Also of note is township 33 S E 16 placer claims, 89 gold mines , location of the Cable Cove district. The Lower Burnt Valley district is located in southeast Baker County and is known primarily as a lode district. Placers in the area were worked as early as and while the district is credited with over 50, ounces of placer gold, it is likely much of the early production was unrecorded.
Township 33 S E 37 placer claims, 56 gold mines , located in the Mormon Basin district, ties for 12th place based on the of active placer claims. Township 33 S E 25 placer claims, 23 gold mines , located in the Lower Burnt River Valley district, ranks 20th in the state. Most of the recorded gold production is from lode mines, but the district was first discovered in and placer production from the s is largely unrecorded. Township 33 S E 37 placer claims, gold mines ties for 12th among gold-bearing townships in Oregon. Adjacent townships 33 S E 20 placer claims, 10 gold mines and 33 S W 25 placer claims, 8 gold mines are also high-ranking gold areas.
This list looks at some of the top placer gold locations in Oregon, but it is hardly complete. The Oregon Gold Map identifies many areas throughout the state where active placer claims and historical gold mines are present. Many of these are little known and have not had much history recorded about them.
In Jackson County the Gold Hill and Ashland districts show some active mining activity based on claims. This is just a partial list of districts that did not make this top ten list. The image above illustrates the distribution of all USGS gold mine records for the state of Oregon, many of which reside in active placer mining areas. While it is illegal to mine or prospect for gold on an established mining claims, there is still a lot of unclaimed ground, even in historically important mining areas.
Using the Oregon Gold Map , areas with high gold potential can be quickly identified and used as the basis for additional research. Prospectors can focus on the most active placer gold areas and attempt to discover their own claim, or they can look at those areas on the map that have many historical gold mines and few claims in an attempt to stake a claim in an area with less competition. While the methods used here allow for a quick overview of all potential gold areas in the state, they are not perfect.
Occasionaly some historical gold mines will be located near modern surface mining operations for things like evaporite minerals, and the the correlation between active placer claims and the adjacent historical gold mines are coincidental only and do not indicate an area with strong gold potential. Gold mine s cited for each township are the of USGS records, some of which are duplicates. Where to Find Gold in Arizona.
Where to Find Gold in California. Where to Find Gold in Idaho. Where to Find Gold in Washington. Western Mining History. Log In. Where to Find Gold in Oregon. Colored rectangles represent PLSS townships in Oregon that have both active placer mining claims and historical gold mine records.
The Note! The s are how each township is ranked by total placer claims. The Upper Burnt River district, east and west of the town of Bridgeport, is the most active placer area in the state. Hexagonal markers are placer claims by PLSS section, yellow circles are historical gold mine records, and blue markers with pick axes are district locations. The Greenhorn district straddles the county line between Baker and Grant counties. The Illinois River district is on the left side of the image, everything west of the town of Selma, covering a large area with a length of over 25 miles from north to south.
The Galice district is a large and productive gold region in norther Josephine County. The Upper Applegate district is located south of the towns of Waldo and Applegate, and extends soutgh almost to the California border. Image illustrates the relative locations of the Quartzville, North Santiam, and Blue River gold districts in western Oregon. Yellow circles are gold mines.Oregon placer mining
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Where to Find Gold in Oregon