Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lost Josephine Gold Mine Discovered in Utah

The following is taken from Utah History to Go.

Miriam B. Murphy
Beehive History 16
Gold can be found in trace amounts in almost all rocks and even in ocean water, but finding it in quantities large enough to make mining profitable is rare. Erosion often washes gold out of surface rocks. Gold particles are about seven times heavier than rock particles of a similar size. As a result, nuggets and flakes of gold tend to sink to the bottom of water-deposited gravel and sand, especially in stream-beds. This gold is recovered using placer mining techniques. Lode mining, or hard-rock mining, recovers gold from veins or reefs that extend underground. The gold-bearing rock is removed from the mine using pick and shovel, blasting, and other methods.
Placer mining, widely used by the Forty-niners during the California gold rush and in the Yukon, was rare in Utah with a few notable exceptions, including Bingham Canyon. Precious metals were initially discovered in the Oquirrh Mountains by brothers Thomas and Sanford Bingham in 1848-49. More important to the history of mining were the discoveries made in that area on September 17, 1863, by men and women associated with the California Volunteers stationed at Fort Douglas and other individuals. They organized the West Mountain Mining District, the first in Utah, and staked numerous claims. Placer mining in Bingham Canyon began in 1865, and by 1871 a reported $1 million in gold had been taken from these claims.
Gold in Southeastern Utah
The most extensive use of various placer mining techniques occurred in southeastern Utah where prospectors began finding placer deposits of gold in the 1880s. Although stories of lost Spanish mines and secret Navajo mines in that area persist, the first gold rush in southeastern Utah began in 1883 after Cass Hite found placer gold in Glen Canyon on the Colorado River. On December 3, 1883, Hite, Lewis P. Brown, and seven others organized the Henry Mountains Mining District. Four years later Hite helped organize the White Canyon Mining District. Unfortunately, the gold found by prospectors along the Colorado River was very fine, making it extremely difficult to recover.
Cass Hite
Jack Sumner and Jack Butler found gold in the Bromide Basin on Mount Ellen in the Henry Mountains in 1889 and started another gold rush. A town called Eagle City boomed and busted quickly when the gold ran out. In 1892 discoveries in the LaSal and Abajo mountains triggered another gold rush, followed by news of gold in the San Juan River country.
Hundreds of individual prospectors panned and sluiced with great difficulty in the slickrock country with only limited success. Lack of water, except in the major rivers, made placer mining difficult, if not impossible. The Hoskaninni Company built a huge gold dredging works in Glen Canyon at the turn of the century, and the Zahn Mining Company ran the largest placer operation on the San Juan River in the early 1900s. All these efforts, small and great, produced little gold during the heyday of the southeastern Utah gold rushes, 1883-1911.
Tooele's Gold
Lode mining for gold was more successful. Two Tooele County mining areas are known for their gold. Mercur, one of the most important mining towns in Utah, did not fully exploit its gold ores until the 1890s when a cyanide processing plant was built there. When ore is crushed and treated with cyanide, the gold dissolves and can later be refined to produce almost pure gold. Daniel C. Jackling, Utah's copper king, and George H. Dern, mining engineer and later governor of Utah, were two of the major figures associated with the development of Mercur. After years of inactivity in Mercur, improved technology has periodically allowed gold to be extracted from old mine and mill tailings there when the price of gold has risen high enough to make such processing profitable.
Gold Hill on Utah's western border enjoyed a much shorter life as a gold mining town. The Clifton Mining District was organized in the area in 1889 and the town of Gold Hill established in 1892. As is so often the case with mining towns, Gold Hill's mines failed to produce as much of the gleaming metal as its founders had hoped. However, two world wars created a national need for the arsenic and tungsten found in great abundance at Gold Hill, and the town enjoyed waves of mild prosperity.
Piute County was the scene of another gold rush. The Gold Mountain Mining District and its central town of Kimberly flourished in the early 20th century. The Annie Laurie Mine was a famous gold producer. In 1902 a new cyanide mill in Kimberly processed 250 tons of ore a day. According to George A. Thompson, writing in the Frontier Times of June-July 1974, Gold from Kimberly's mines was shipped in bars 6"x10"x10" valued at over $20,000 each, on the Shepard Brothers Stages to the railroad in Sevier, eighteen miles to the northeast. The heavy yellow bars were stacked on the floor of the stagecoach, between the passengers' feet. An armed guard always rode ahead of the coach.
But Kimberly, too, enjoyed only a short if gaudy career. Its boom was over by 1907.
A Major Gold State
As shortlived as Utah's gold rushes have been, the state nevertheless continues to produce gold in impressive amounts. In 1944 Utah gold amounted to 34.5 percent of the U.S. total. In 1983, Utah mines produced 238,459 troy ounces of gold valued at $101,107,000 and amounting to 12.2 percent of the total U.S. production. Gold production dropped sharply in 1985, the last year for which data is currently available.
For the most part Utah's gold production has never been keyed to great finds of free gold in placer deposits or rich lodes underground. In Utah, gold is most often found in the same ore bodies that produce silver, lead, zinc, and copper. The Bingham copper mine, for example, has been a steady producer of gold for many decades; and in their heyday the mines of Park City and Juab County's Tintic Mining District produced large amounts of gold in addition to their silver and other metals. In mining and refining copper and silver--historically the most important metals in Utah's economy--mine owners have come as close as one can outside of fairy tales to possessing a goose that lays golden eggs.
Utah Gold Production
Selected YearsOunces* Value
1870 14,512
$ 300,000
$ 680,000
1920 97,454     
*Troy ounces from 1946 on.

The explorers and surveyors of the American West are an august company that includes the great Lewis and Clark as well as a host of other renowned pathfinders. Men like Fremont, Long, Stansbury, Pike, Abert, and Beale opened up the west as surely as the mountain men who preceded them and the sutlers and traders who followed them. One of the most promising of these early explorers and surveyors was an Army engineer and West Point graduate named John W. Gunnison.

The idea of an intercontinental railroad stretching from coast to coast was not new in 1853. Fremont’s expeditions during the 1840’s were focused on finding the best route through the mountains for a railroad. In 1853, when an expedition was mounted to survey the west-central portion of Utah, John Gunnison was a natural choice to lead the party. His credentials were impeccable. He had cut his teeth as a surveyor for the Stansbury Expedition in 1849 and he knew the central Utah area well. Gunnison assumed command of the party, which included two survivors from Fremont’s disastrous fourth expedition of 1848, Richard Kern and Frederick Creutzfeldt. Kern was the expedition’s artist and topographer while Creutzfeldt served as botanist. The Gunnison expedition entered Utah Territory in the fall of 1853, passing through the town of Manti on its way to Fillmore. From Fillmore, the party traveled west, reaching the Gunnison Bend of the Sevier River, southwest of present-day Delta. To the west, Gunnison could see the wrinkled peaks of the House Range rising up from the Sevier Valley. To the southwest, he could see the meandering course of the Sevier River as it disappeared toward Sevier Lake. This was a good place. They made camp.

The following morning, the Gunnison Expedition awoke to the sounds of war cries and rifle shots. The end had come. A band of 30 or so Pahvant Indians descended upon the hapless explorers, killing all but four of the party. The dead included the leader, John Gunnison, and the two veterans from Fremont’s expedition, Kern and Creutzfeldt.

As he gazed westward the evening before the massacre, Gunnison may have been contemplating a route through the House Range into the Tule Valley beyond. The House Range stretches some 60 miles in a north-south direction and forms the western boundary of Sevier Valley. It extends from Sand Pass southward to the Wah-Wah Valley. Along its entire length the range is no more than 10 miles wide. House Range is transected by three major passes. Dome Canyon Pass is the northernmost pass, Marjum Canyon lies eight miles to the south, and Skull Rock Pass, south of Sawtooth Mountain, forms the southernmost and main portal through the range.

The House Range still holds many secrets. Prospectors have roamed these mountains for over two centuries. Evidence of early Spanish mining activity still occasionally surfaces. Caches of old Spanish tools and mining equipment have been discovered in the central part of the range, near the only major gold-producing area in the entire county.

Millard County has never been a major producer of gold. Only 500 ounces are officially recorded for the county. Most of this production hails from the small placer deposits of the House Range. Located in North Canyon and Miller Canyon, the gold placers were worked extensively during the 1930’s. Surely more than 500 ounces of gold were taken from the two canyons during the depression years, not to mention the efforts of the early Spaniards in the area. One story in particular has come down to us regarding an incredibly rich placer deposit somewhere in the House Range. In a single transaction, the discoverer of this placer sold more than 300 ounces of gold – 60% of the total recorded production for the entire county! The discovery occurred sometime during the late 1930’s. A Mexican sheepherder working in the House Range stumbled upon a glory hole of placer gold somewhere on the slopes of the mountains. The deposit must have been rich for the Mexican turned up in the nearby town of Delta with several sacks of fine gold dust. On one of his visits, the sheepherder sold more than 20 pounds of gold to a local doctor. Of course, the Mexican never revealed the location of his find and soon dropped out of sight. He was never seen again. Prospectors have searched the House Range for many years but the Mexican’s lost placer remains hidden to this day.

Shared Courtesy of:  dailyoddsandends

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Utah…Lost Treasure….The Lost House Range Placers..

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