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Steve Herschbach

History Of Placer Mining In Nevada

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 I fully expect you to write a glorious addendum to that article by the end of this coming summer.

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How did these dredging operations work exactly? I thought Nevada was all desert pretty much and no water for bucket line dredges?

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That Nevada has no water would be a misperception on your part Tom. I live in Reno and we have a beautiful river running through the middle of the town. The Manhattan dredge was a very large floating bucket line dredge. There is an excellent picture of it at http://yankee-nevadan.weebly.com/manhattan-nevada.html

http://www.kecnv.com/InterpretiveWorks/ManhattanGulchMarker.pdf

http://www.kecnv.com/InterpretiveWorks/DredgeFlipBook/files/mobile/index.html#1

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Updated original post to add production notes, summary, and improved graphic illustrating gold production. Links added to cited references.

Just a comment. I tend to find these reports that talk about gold produced up to 1970 to be somewhat more realistic for my purposes than reports incorporating later production data. Most new reports include production from modern mining that goes after the type of gold I can't find with a gold pan and metal detector. These old reports tend to focus more on the older, richer deposits that are of more interest to the individual prospector. They also tend to be written more for the layman - the new reports like to show off the college educations of the writers. That said, these older reports all do tend to cut off about 1970 and so do not include the latest data.

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    • By Steve Herschbach
      From Placer Gold Deposits of Arizona, USGS Bulletin 1355, By Maureen G. Johnson 1972
      HISTORY OF PLACER MINING IN ARIZONA
      Arizona's placer-mining industry began in 1774, when Padre Manuel Lopez reportedly directed Papago Indians in mining the gold bearing gravels along the flanks of the Quijotoa Mountains, Pima County. Placer mining was active in that region from 1774 to 1849, when the discovery of gold in California apparently attracted many of the Mexican miners who worked the gravels (Stephens, 1884). Arizona was then part of Mexico, and little is known of the placer mining that probably was carried on in various parts of southern Arizona.
      Placers were probably worked in the Oro Blanco district, Santa Cruz County, and the Arivaca district, Pima County. The part of Arizona north of the Gila River was ceded to the United States in 1848, and the part of Arizona south of the Gila River, where most of the early placer mining occurred, was purchased in 1853. Placers were discovered in the 1850's in the Bagdad area, Yavapai County, and Chemuehuevis Mountains, Mohave County; but it was not until 1858, when placers were discovered by Colonel Jacob Snively at the north end of the Gila Mountains, Yuma County, that the first placer-mining rush in Arizona was precipitated. The early years of the 1860's saw the discovery of the famous placers at La Paz, Yuma County, and Rich Hill and Lynx Creek, Yavapai County; many smaller and less famous placer fields were discovered at that time.
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      By 1900 most placer areas had been discovered, and many were nearly worked out. Placer mining continued intermittently during the early years of the 1900's. Many attempts were made in various parts of the State to mine placer gravels by drywashing machines, but it was not until the economic impetus of the depression that placer mining became active again in Arizona. During the years 1930-38, 95 different districts were credited with placer gold production, but many of these districts produced only a few ounces.
      After the boom of the 1930's, the war years of the 1940's were a setback to gold mining activity. War Production Board Order L-208 greatly restricted the development of gold mines; prospecting for and mining metals essential to the war effort was deemed more important than mining gold. Even more important, however, the economy of the 1940's encouraged work in offices, factories, and war industries for those not in military service, and as a result, many miners and prospectors left the gold fields and never returned.
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      Most of the placer gold found in Arizona was derived from systems of small gold-quartz veinlets and stringers scattered throughout the bedrock of the adjacent mountain ranges; in only a few localities was the gold in large placer deposits derived from vein systems of sufficient size to encourage lode mining on a large scale. Small placers commonly occur near large gold lodes, but are generally not economic.
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