1900 Article, Gold Along The Colorado River

Anson Smith, starting in 1882, was the editor of the Mohave County Miner, a weekly newspaper in Kingman, Arizona, for over fifty years. He knew every part of the county, and his information about the mines and mining was very extensive and factual. He knew the history of every important mine in Mohave County, and his paper was devoted to the development of mining as the most important industry in the county.

In 1900 Anson Smith wrote a fine review of the mines in Mohave County, including the gold placers. The comments of Smith about the gold along the Colorado River are as follows:

Along the Colorado River occur wonderful deposits of gold bearing gravel. The first point on the Colorado River, where the deposits are noticeable, is at the confluence of the Juan River. From that point west along the river through the Grand Canyon the value was sufficient to put big hydraulic machinery in to .work the vast deposits of diluvium.

Through the Iceberg and Boulder canyons the deposits of gold bearing gravel are quite extensive, and the power could be solved in such a way that hydraulic pumps could be operated cheaply, the output of gold could be great.

The placer mines, where the Temple Bar Consolidated Mining Company put its big hydraulic plant, were really rich, but the cost of fuel was too high to allow a successful operation.

From the Temple Bar west to Big Bend of the Colorado River, the deposits of silts and gravel are immense, and while the values of gold may not be the same under the constantly changing conditions, there are none that do not carry some values in gold.

A short distance below the Big Bend gold nuggets weighing from 2 to 10 ounces were found in the sands on the bank of the river. H.C. Harris and M. Redman of Kingman were the discoverers of the deposit, but they were unable to follow the channel owing to the depth of water. The gold was devoid of extraneous matters of any kind that would help trace it to the surrounding hills.

Along the river below the Black Canyon, the gravel deposits are of too low grade to be profitably worked, but at a point seventeen miles below Topock the rich gold bearing diluvium again appeared. In the early 1860s gold was discovered in that locality in the low rolling foothills about six miles from the river. The first discoverers worked the ground by the crude methods employed by the Mexicans in the working of dry placers. The surface of the ground would be relieved of the low grade dirt, and the gravel on the bedrock scraped into small piles. When a sufficient quantity of rich dirt had been accumulated, the process of winnowing began. A piece of canvas would be placed on the ground, and then a pan of dirt would be held as high as the head, with the sand allowed to fall slowly to the ground. The wind would blow the finer particles to one side, while the heavier ones would fall on the canvas. When the dirt was worked down as far as possible in this way, the work of dry panning was begun. The process was slow, but all the coarse gold was saved. As much as $13,000 worth was taken out in one day by two men by this process from , the placers. The rush there for a while was great, but the heat was too intense to work in the summer.

A group of the Kingman businessmen located 5,000 acres of the gravel covered by placer deposit, and several men were at work sinking shafts in the deep gravel bordering on the river. In the foothills six miles from the river are the "Old Placers." The gold in this place had been deposited in a soft cement formed of gypsum, porphyry and basalt lava, and the erosion of ages had freed the gold to such an extent that it lay on the sides of the small hills and the ravines beneath a superficial covering of diluvium. For more than thirty , years this deposit of gold in the shallow gravel has been profitably worked by pan and dry washer, and the amount of money taken can not be calculated.

The winter storms bring down new gold from the deposits on the apex of the foothills, and the miner with his pan and drywasher works 'it out in the spring. The hills and the beds of ravines contain deposits of cement to a depth of thirty feet in places. This cement also carried gold and is perfectly soluble in water. Toward the river the cement cap has almost disappeared from the hilltops, but the mass of gold it contained must be somewhere in the ravines leading from them. And the channels where this great mass of gold has found ledgement was hunted by the miners. So far gold has been found four miles from the river, and in the shallow places it is quite coarse. No bedrock has been found in the deep digging, but fine gold was showing up. These places are well situated for working, being but seventeen miles below the point where the Santa Fe railroad crosses the Colorado River.

Of course, this is not the only favorable locality on the Colorado river, as there is a vast extent of placer in the vicinity of Bill Williams Fork and the Colorado River. The mountains above the placer camp have many veins of gold, silver, copper and lead.

So wrote Anson Smith about the gold along the Colorado River in 1900.

About the area seventeen miles below Topock, one of the reports of the Arizona Department of Mineral Resources gave the following information:

Chemehuevi Placers were 2 or 3 un- patented claims on the northeastern slope of the Mohave (Chemehuevi) Mountains. The following description was in a 1940 report:
The 49 Placers were discovered in 1860s and the work was carried on by several hundred placer miners. A "rag-town" mining camp sprung up with stores, saloons, dance halls and boarding houses. The area of these placers approximated three miles long, by one mile wide; this area was worked superficially with no deep workings. The surface gravel carried gold ranging in size from a grain of wheat to a grain of corn. The placer work was carried in the Moon Wash, 1.5 miles west of the 49 Wash, where-two miners in 1938 extracted $1,000 in placer gold from a 50 foot shaft. The Moon Wash is the main gulch, as one of the prongs of the Franconia Wash. The loose gravel in the Moon Wash had a width of from 200 to 600 feet, and the placer gold was found down the wash for a distance of three miles.

The same report mentioned the Mexican or Red Hills Placers, located at the southwestern foot of the Chemehuevi or Mohave mountains. The area of these placers has been worked intermittently by dry methods for many years. The area is hilly and placer gravel occurred in narrow sand washes.

The above mentioned placers are part of the development of the Lake Havasu City.

The area seventeen miles below Topock is easily accessible from the Freeway 1-40 and Highway 95, which from 1-40 goes through the Lake Havasu City to Parker

NUGGETSHOOTER HOME