New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST  QUARTER, March 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER  3

Dave Mack

 By Dave McCracken

 

Note from Dave:  This short story was sent to me by one of our longtime members who is so excited about this new underwater suction mining concept we have come up with, that he started working out a gravel transfer system in February, and is already recovering a substantial amount of gold, especially while being hampered by cold water. Oh my; it is starting already! 

Since coming out with this new idea, I have received queries from people about what our Club rules are regarding underwater suction mining along our extensive properties. So we have published a set of Special Underwater Suction Mining Guidelines further below. My answer is that as long as your device does not meet the regulatory definition of a “suction dredge” (motorized suction through a hose into a sluice box), and you stay within our simple guidelines, you are more than welcome to come with your inventions and keep all the gold you can find!  

I know people are working on different ideas.  I have an idea of my own and am expecting to have my most productive underwater mining season ever on the Klamath River this summer.  It’s certainly going to be an interesting season!  You guys (and gals) are all invited. Montine in our office will work it out with nearly anyone to become a member of The New 49’ers. Please call her at 530 493-2012. 

Having said that, I thought you might be interested to know that we already have members getting started.  Here is John’s personal story:

Suction Mining Has Already Started on the Klamath River!

 

John Rose  gold

Field Report from John Rose:  This device was meant to be as simple and economical as possible, and something that I could use without a partner. It began as just a crude system I put together to see if my idea would even work. Basically it is just a larger milk crate with most of one end cut out and a 1 1/2″ crash box mounted on top with a grizzly and some inner tube attached.  I added the crash box and inner tube to try and cut down on the boiling of the water going into the bucket.  It seems to work okay with just one person so long as I go slow and watch not to fill the bucket too full.

I started with some diamond-shaped screen to use as a grizzly but I am constantly removing rocks from the screen. This subtracts from the work I’m getting done at the nozzle. So I will next experiment with some round splines to see if they allow oversized rocks to slide off better.

gravel-transfer-set-upI am using a 5-gallon square bucket that slides perfectly into the milk crate when stood on end.  I found that adding some rubber on the sides of the splash box down to the grizzly helps to direct the material onto the grizzly then into the bucket without loosing very much smaller material.

The water was very cold when I began this experiment in February.  Now that we are into March, I am able to put my hands into it without gloves, which was not the case just a few weeks ago. I am mining along this section of exposed bedrock that slopes out into the river. The river fluctuates higher and faster, and then drops again, depending upon how much rain we get.  I’ll be able to do better once the water warms up even more and I can reach out further into the river.

I am only using a 2.5 horsepower pump and mini suction nozzle.  It has plenty of power when I submerge the catch container out in deeper water.  This is difficult to do at the moment because water currents can capsize my catch container and take away all the fruits of my labor.

The biggest cost to my “thingamajig” was the $80 crash box.  The rest was just scrap that I scrounged from around the shop.  I will leave my thingamajig down at the New 49’er office when I’m not using it so people can look at it as they come in.  Montine says she will begin stocking crash boxes and other items so other prospectors can make up similar gravel transfer systems.

Here is a video segment which shows me testing out the system in the creek just down from where I am camping:

The good news is that I recovered 3.4 pennyweights of nice gold (about $250) during my first week, which is not bad considering I devoted a lot of time doing modifications. I know I lost some gold from too much water boiling in my initial bucket – which was shorter.  The cold water is also limiting what I can get done.   So with some more fine tuning I think this system might really do the trick!

I’ll tell you; it’s really exciting to see the gold add up so fast! 

We Have Acquired Another Rich Klamath River Gold Property! 

Elliot Bar

We are on a roll, you guys!  At long last, we have acquired the 1.7 mile stretch of Klamath River which connects our Coons Creek and Cottage Grove Properties. This is approximately twenty miles downriver from Happy Camp.  This will now provide us with a continuous stretch of river in that location which is more than 3.3 miles long.

Elliot Bar Map

This is another area of the river where I personally have some early history dating back to 1984.  In fact, this is the first place that I put a dredge into the Klamath River.  I had five or six of my very first students with me, and I was going to show them how to sample.  We started in an area just downstream of the huge bar on the upper half of the claim (towards the upper end of the river in the image above). Digging a small hole on the edge of the river exposed cemented gravel inside of a bedrock crack.  It took us a while; but we picked the hard material out of the crack and found nuggets and chips of gold on the bedrock.  But the going was very slow, so we turned our attention to the river.

Floating my 5-inch dredge just out into the river, we started a sample hole between the stream bank and a section of faster water.  I was used to the much smaller and tamer Trinity River; and frankly, I remember being overwhelmed by the size, depth and ferocity of the Klamath.  The boulders were larger than I was used to; there seemed to be no bottom to the streambed material, and the river was so wide compared to what I was used to, it felt like we were just an ineffective needle in a haystack.  There was also a nagging feeling in me that there was not going to be much gold in the Klamath River.  We didn’t have enough experience there to know any better, yet.

The key moment was when I considered pushing on out to the edge of the fast water towards the middle of the river.  I crawled out there underwater and took a look.  The water was faster and deeper out there, but I could have done the sample, and it looked like I could get to bedrock in that place.  I remember deciding there was not going to be any gold out there.  These are the exact decisions we make that change our fate forever!  Had I done that sample, I cannot even imagine how differently the world would have gone. In fact, I might not even be writing this newsletter right now!  This was a good lesson, amongst many others I experienced over the years, why it is better to not give up hope too quickly.

One of my students offered to buy the claim. He was excited that we found gold nuggets so easily under the cemented gravel along the edge of the river.  It was actually a group of ten claims.  Having acquired plenty of other property along the Klamath, and always in need of financial capital, I decided to sell him that stretch of river.  That guy was a good student!  After he finished my class, he went out and dredged the sample I neglected to do further out in the river. That is exactly where he struck it rich within the first hour!  He ultimately dredged hundreds of ounces of gold from that single location!  Selling those claims was something I have regretted doing ever since.

Unfortunately, my ex-student died of a heart attack shortly thereafter. The property has been held in private hands ever since.  The owners have refused to allow any outsiders access to the property.  To my knowledge, no mining or prospecting has been done on this very extensive property beyond the original strike.  I have been waiting patiently to reacquire the long stretch of river for the past 30 years.  Now we have it!

Img_0167Besides the extensive underwater suction mining opportunity remaining on this property, there is also enough surface mining potential on both sides of the river to keep our members busy for the rest of our lives.  This is a huge property! There are extensive ancient hydraulic workings on the far side of the river which take up the lower half of the property.  There may be some really good electronic prospecting opportunity over there!

This is another property where there are very large roadside pull-offs for camping and parking.  Access poses a bit of a challenge because Highway 96 is elevated above the river for some distance along the claim.  It is a bit easier up towards the private property.  There is an access road towards the bottom of the claim that will get you most of the way to the river.

Important note:  The upper portion of the river area on this property is landlocked by private property.  Our mining claim takes in the river which flows around the private property.  This is shown in this diagram on Google Earth. There is some kind of private fee camping area there that we don’t know anything about.  You may be able to work something out with the owners.  Otherwise, the upper portion of the claim will only be accessible by boat.

Special Rules for Underwater Suction Mining

We explained the need for these Rules on our Internet forum. So I won’t go into it again here.

1)  Suction mining in the active waterway, or within 100 yards of the active waterway, must not use a “suction dredge” as defined by California’s regulations (motorized pump generating suction through a hose to feed a sluice box) unless the operator possesses a valid California suction dredge permit. Read this for a more thorough discussion of the difference between a “dredge” and a motorized suction system.

2)  No suction nozzle with an intake restriction ring larger than 4-inches in diameter may be used within 100 yards of an active waterway on New 49’er-controlled properties.

3)  No excavation into the stream bank of an active waterway is allowed.  Bedrock cracks along the edge of a waterway can be worked.  But the bed material (rocks, sand and silt) which rises up from the bedrock and creates a structure that holds the waterway in its path must be left alone.  This means the stream bank may not be undermined or destabilized in any way.

4)  Boulders and woody debris along the stream bank of an active waterway must be left alone.

5)  Underwater suction mining without the use of a “dredge” is only allowed on our Klamath River properties between the Scott and Salmon Rivers on a year-round basis, and only up the Klamath from its confluence with the Scott only from the 4th Saturday in May through September 30. Underwater suction mining is only permitted along our creek properties and the Scott River only from July 1 to September 30. Underwater suction mining is only permitted on the Salmon River only from July 1 through September 15.

6)  Underwater suction mining may not be pursued in any way that violates Water Quality standards, or exceeds Streambed Alteration standards.  These are addressed in our Surface Mining Guidelines. 

Legal Fund Prize Winners

We did the drawing for our most recent legal fundraiser at our offices in Happy Camp at the close of business on 7 March. Ray Arnsen drew all the tickets. He is not a member and not related to any of this. The winners of the are as follows:

One-ounce American Gold Eagle: Fred Rehfield

Quarter-ounce American Gold Eagles: John Moir, Terry White, Dorothy Leet and William Tipton

Tenth-ounce American Gold Eagles: Buell Meyer, Phillip Osborn, Gregory M Beenken, Wes St Clair, Howard Charleboix, Dorothy Leet, David LeFevre, David Eddleman, Brad Hinman and Gilbert Reynolds

Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you very much to everyone who participated. I want to especially acknowledge the substantial response to my calls during the final week before the drawing. It makes me very proud to know we have so many loyal supporters out there. It also prompts me to come up with more of my personal gold nuggets for the next fund-raiser! 

Any contributions received afterwards will have automatically been issued tickets in our next fund-raiser.

Giving Away Dave Mack’s Gold Nuggets!

Dave Mack's Gold Nuggets

Since it generated so much participation last time, I am allowing three more ounces of my personal gold nuggets to be used as prizes in this new fund-raiser!

New Fund-raiser, 25 prizes in all:

Grand Prize: 1-Ounce of Dave Mack’s Gold Nuggets
Four ¼-Ounce Bags of Dave Mack’s Gold Nuggets
Twenty 1-Pennyweight Bags of Dave Mack’s Gold Nuggets

The drawing will take place at our weekly potluck in Happy Camp on Saturday evening, 13 July 2013. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate. You do not need to be present to win. There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win.

Legal contributions can be arranged by calling (530) 493-2012, by mailing to The New 49′ers, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or online by clicking Here.

We greatly appreciate your support in these fundraisers! 

Opposition to Oregon Senate Bills 115, 370 and 401!

Several anti-mining bills are now progressing through the Oregon State Senate. If these destructive bills are passed into law, it will put a complete end to suction dredging and all other forms of motorized gold mining in the entire State of Oregon!

These bills are being pushed by anti-mining activists who want to eliminate the last remaining productive economic activity on America’s public lands.

Just at the time when we have figured out how to do some underwater suction mining in California, this is not the time for us to lose all of Oregon!

If we do not all pull together and kill these bills right now, we will find ourselves devoting years and years trying to overcome them through expensive litigation. We must flood the Oregon senate with very vocal opposition right now!

You can find all the important details right here

2013 Group Insurance Policy

All Members are eligible to sign up for $10,000 of accidental medical Insurance which covers you while prospecting for gold, and also during any activities which we sponsor. Dental accidents are included, along with $2,500 for accidental death or dismemberment. The policy has a $100 deductible. It is an annual policy which extends through January of 2014. This insurance is available for $30 per year, per person. More information can be found here

Schedule of Weekend Projects for 2013

All members are invited to attend our weekend Group Mining Projects and keep an equal share of the gold that we recover.  Here are our planned events for the upcoming season:  June 1 & 2; June 22 & 23; July 13 & 14; August 3 & 4; August 24 & 25.

Please Join Me on Facebook and Twitter!

With the launch of Extreme Prospector, I have started up a blog which broadens the context to ongoing adventures and other important news and issues that we are all facing today.  These include discussion and links to informative information about the economic realities of our time.  Important stuff!

My latest blog released the news about the success John Rose is having with this new motorized underwater suction mining concept weeks before you are seeing it in this newsletter.  I provide updates in the blog as soon as I am aware of them.

If you are interested in up-to-date news, along with stories about extreme prospecting adventures (not just mine), I invite you to visit my Facebook page at facebook/DaveMackExtreme and follow me on Twitter @DaveMackExtreme.  There is a “Free eBook” tab on my Facebook page where you can download Chapter 10 of Extreme Prospector. 

I hope a bunch of you guys and gals will join me up there and encourage all of you to join in the discussion and “Like” my page to share with your friends. 

Lost Treasure Hunters on Youtube!

For any of you guys who missed our first episode of Lost Treasure Hunters on Animal Planet, it is now playing on Youtube.  Check it out!

Sign up for the Free Internet Version of this Newsletter

We strongly encourage you to sign up for the free on line version of this newsletter.  The Internet version is better, because you can immediately click directly to many of the subjects which we discuss; because the on line version is in full color; because we link you directly to locations through GPS and Google Earth technology; and because you can watch the free video segments which we incorporate into our stories.

Signing up also places you on our Political Action Team.  Things happen so fast these days; it takes too long to organize political action through the U.S. mail.  As an example, just two years ago, in concert with other mining organizations, our Internet Action Team killed anti-mining legislation in Oregon in less than a week.  It is a near guarantee that we will be calling for another industry-wide action to defeat this new legislation being proposed in Oregon before you even see another of these newsletters.  All of these future battles will be organized over the Internet since it is so much faster.  Please join us in the battle to maintain our remaining freedoms!

Sign up for our Free Internet Newsletter!

 

The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012
www.goldgold.com

 

New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST  QUARTER, February 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER  2

Dave Mack

 By Dave McCracken

 

Jim & James & Alan & Bob

Bridge View Good gold

Story by Jim Yerby

Alan Mash and I had been biting at the bit to go have a look as soon as I heard that our new mining property near Independence Creek is the richest mile of the Klamath River.  We live in Medford, Oregon, normally only about two hours away.  But it had been a cold, wet January in northern California and southern Oregon. Alan and I were prepared to dig through a little snow to get to the pay-dirt; but doing it in the pouring rain didn’t sound like that much fun.  So we patiently watched the weather forecasts on the Internet and waited for the first good chance.

Because of our close friendship and their substantial prospecting experience, we invited two other New 49’er adventure buddies to come along by the time the weather cleared.  Bob Johnson has been prospecting for gold so long; he actually put himself through college by dredging for gold during the summer months.  James McCarville also was part of this team.  Everybody knows that James dredged up a 4-ounce gold nugget on the Rogue River this past season, the largest on record, I believe. We decided to make full a day of it.  Prospecting guru, Alan Mash, brought his cameras along and is responsible for the images and video segments in this month’s newsletter.

Since we were going down for a look, Dave Mack asked if we would capture some images and video of an additional (exciting) new mining property The New 49’ers just acquired around nine miles downstream from Happy Camp (see below). Dave also wanted images of two other extensive properties that we are not even allowed to talk about, yet.  We got that bit of business out of the way before turning our attention onto the new property at Independence.

The Klamath is running a little high at the moment, though the water is quite clear.  I had my hands in it while doing some panning.  It’s cold; but I’m not sure that it is much colder than the warmest the Rogue River in Southern Oregon ever gets during the summer months. The Klamath is only going to get easier to mine as we evolve into the spring months just ahead.  Makes me excited just to think about it!

As long as we were going to the property, Dave asked us to cross the bridge near the upper end, cross Independence Creek, and walk downstream until we could find some bedrock alongside the Klamath River.  He wanted us to do a pan sample or two. This was just a formality; because everyone with any experience along the Klamath knows the Independence Mining District is super rich.

Getting across Independence Creek was easier than I anticipated.  It was only flowing about 18-inches deep in the pools. It was just a few inches deep down near the mouth of the Creek. We ran across four other New 49’er members in just the short time we were on the claim. This did not surprise us, because Montine in the office told me there has been a lot of interest in this new property. She said some members were out there sampling through the snow, even while it was raining.  Well, we almost did that, too!

But I’m really glad we waited. We could not have picked a better day. The sun was out and the Klamath River canyon was at its best.  We sure are lucky to live in an outdoor wonderland!

Bedrock Crack  Panning a sample  Sample results

Bob turned up a pretty good pan out of a sample hole that someone else had already started in an open crack in the exposed bedrock.  At first, I thought he was just fooling around when he said he uncovered a piece of gold sitting right of top of some brown-colored material.  But I went over to look; and sure enough, there was a piece of gold just sitting there!  Leave it to Bob to make the first strike.  First strike is that very moment when everyone’s emotional juices get fired up!  There are few other experiences in life quite like it.  It is something like that moment of disbelief when you hit the jackpot on a slot machine.  But it is better, because in gold prospecting, we are finding raw wealth!

We paused for a moment, finding it pretty amazing that piece of gold was visible in a place where someone else had already been digging. It made us wonder what the earlier prospector found that prompted him to leave in such a hurry.  Here follows Bob’s explanation:

James and Alan also made a preliminary strike further up the bar. They were digging through about a foot of streambed sitting right on top of bedrock.  By the looks of it, bedrock is going to be easy to find down near the river, and especially out into the river. The following video sequence captures James and Alan explaining their sampling program and showing off some of the gold.

While those guys were sampling, I walked further downstream along the bank to get a better look at the shallow part of the river. That’s really the reason I went down there in the first place. My own interest is in the underwater crevicing opportunities on this new property. I’d like to get out beyond the reach of where the average surface miner can go.

I could see plenty of irregular and jagged bedrock extending quite a ways out into the river, and then drop off into deeper water. The exposed bedrock has the very same kinds of open cracks and traps like what Bob was digging out on the surface. I dream about the gold that might be in those very same cracks out there under the water!  It looks to me like there is an unlimited opportunity to do shallow underwater crevicing on this property using this new method of motorized underwater suction gravel transfer that Dave Mack outlined in last month’s newsletter.

Looking over the new property from the Highway 96 side of the river, it appears that there is a full mile of shallow bedrock on the north side of this claim.  And for that matter, the shallow bedrock just continues right on down the north side on our adjoining K-25 property just downstream!  I don’t believe anyone has done any underwater crevicing down that way, either.  This whole idea of sucking out underwater cracks in exposed bedrock is brand new.  Frankly, I’m surprised we never thought of it before!

I’m so excited; I can hardly stand to wait until spring to get started!

The thing to keep in mind is that all four of us on this particular sampling team have always been serious underwater gold miners.  We were all dredging on the Klamath until the moratorium in California came about three seasons ago.  Then we moved north to Oregon; all the while, itching to get back onto the Klamath.  What makes the Klamath so interesting is that the high-grade deposits can actually fill up jars of gold once you tap into them!

While we agreed to do a few pan samples for Dave Mack, we were really down there to survey the more serious opportunities which remain below the water’s surface.

Claim view

Dave confided in me that with the history he knows about this new property, along with this new method of motorized underwater gravel transfer, he believes there is a strong chance that he can recover more gold this coming season than during any other season in his career.  All you have to do is read his new book to know that Dave doesn’t joke around about this sort of thing.  In fact, when it comes to mining, he is the most serious and dedicated guy I know. Because of Dave’s other responsibilities, he only gets to mine part time.  So, in my mind, Dave must know where there is an awfully rich stretch of river on this new property!  He is staying tight-lipped about where he intends to begin the upcoming season.

I admit that we spent a lot of time looking over the river to see if there was an obvious location where Dave Mack plans to start.  The problem is that a mile takes in a lot of river!  There is a lot of diversity on this property, fast and slow areas, along a continuous, slow bend which should put the richest gold line between the center of the river and the north side.  While we picked out plenty of places we would like to sample inside the river, I have to say that this entire property looks fantastic!

We finally gave up on trying to figure out where Dave Mack’s secret spot is.  I guess we will just have to wait and see!  I have already volunteered to help him launch his gear when the time comes…

 

We Have Acquired Another Exciting High-banking and Crevicing Property Along the Klamath!

Lots of bedrock

More good news, you guys!  We have acquired another excellent mining property along the Klamath River 9.3 miles downstream from Happy Camp.  This is another area we have had our eyes on for many years, mainly because of the extensive stretches of exposed bedrock and high-banking opportunity on the far side of the river.  There is also a sizable pull-off area along the side of Highway 96 for parking and camping directly on the property.

Pull-off

Claim Map

Click Image for Larger View

This is a rich mining property which has been held in private hands since before I arrived on the Klamath River in 1984.  The owners did not allow anyone to mining on the property, save for one old-timer that has been camping in the roadside pull-off, paddling a canoe over the far side of the river, and digging the gold out of exposed bedrock cracks every summer since at least 1984.

Now I am happy to say that the ¾-mile property belongs to us.  It will be logged on our Claims Guide as A & D #3 Gold Claim (K-23AA) as soon as we can get it up there.This property is not far upstream from our Wingate Property (K-23A), and we all know how good that has been for us, especially on the far side of the river!  Here it is on Google Earth.

If you are planning to work this property, I suggest bringing a small boat, perhaps with a small motor.  The best gold deposits will likely be found on the far side of the river.

This is yet another property where we may find ourselves conducting our weekend Group Mining Projects!

 

Schedule of Weekend Projects for 2013

All members are invited to attend our weekend Group Mining Projects and keep an equal share of the gold that we recover.  Here are our planned events for the upcoming 2013 season:  June 1 & 2; June 22 & 23; July 13 & 14; August 3 & 4; August 24 & 25.

2013 Schedule of Events

New Anti-Mining Legislation Introduced in Oregon

Oregon Senator Bates (Ashland-Medford District) and others have submitted several anti-mining bills to the Oregon legislature.  If these destructive bills are passed into law, it will put a complete end to suction dredge and all other forms of motorized gold mining in the entire State of Oregon!

These bills are being pushed by anti-mining activists who want to eliminate the last remaining productive economic activity on America’s public lands.

Just at the time when we have figured out how to do some underwater suction mining in California, this is not the time for us to lose all of Oregon!

If we do not all pull together and kill these bills right now, we will find ourselves devoting years and years trying to overcome them through expensive litigation. We must flood the Oregon senate with very vocal opposition right now!

You can find our Action Alert right here

 Progress in the Legal Arena

As many of you are aware, all of the civil litigation surrounding the California suction dredge moratorium has been transferred to San Bernardino County.  This was a big win for our side, because we did not believe we were getting an impartial hearing in Alameda County.  The multiple cases surrounding the existing moratorium create a complex set of issues.  But they are all inferior to our Supremacy claim – which basically argues that the State of California does not have the authority to prohibit mining on the public lands.  There therefore is a strong possibility that the judge may resolve the Supremacy issue as a first priority.  If we win on this issue, there is a reasonable chance that the entire moratorium and freeze on suction dredging in California will be tossed out.  That would be really good for our side!

A similar Supremacy defense is being made in a completely separate case on behalf of a suction dredger who was criminally cited last season for suction dredging without a permit.  On the one hand, the State passed a law that says we must have a permit to operate a suction dredge in California.  And on the other hand, the State passed a law prohibiting the Department of Fish & Game from issuing any dredging permits.  If that does not add up to a prohibition, I don’t know what does! There is some very persuasive case law from the Supreme Court which says that the State of California does not have authority to prohibit mining on the public lands.  Since this is a criminal case, it may be resolved first.  If it is resolved in the miner’s favor, there is reason to believe we will be able to suction dredge without permits until the State finally issues some reasonable regulations.

Since the State apparently is not able to make a reasonable argument against the Supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, they have actually lowered themselves to an argument that the miner may not have a valid mining claim. Talking about trying to change the subject! I see this as a pretty good sign. All of this is moving towards a resolution pretty fast. We have been waiting for three years.

Meanwhile, as we wait for these important issues to be resolved, I remind you that we have figured out a way to do motorized underwater suction mining in a way that requires no permits and does not violate California’s moratorium on suction dredging. 

Legal Fund Prize Drawing – Last Chance!

Gold EaglesHere is a link to our legal fundraiser. We will be giving away 15 American Gold Eagles on 8 March 2013.  That is only a month away, so this is your last chance!

This is all in an effort to raise money to support our challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court of a recent Ninth Circuit Decision which discourages small-scale mining on the public lands — and also to support our efforts in defending multiple cases in the California court system.

Because we have given so much attention to our exciting new mining property acquisitions, and the new method of underwater mining, there has been almost zero participation in this latest legal fund-raiser.   This is making me a little nervous, because it would be a disaster to bring in less money than the value of these beautiful gold coins!

You guys have always been there for us in the past, so I am hoping for some strong support this month.
We greatly appreciate your support in these fundraisers!

Contribute to our Legal Fund! 

2013 Group Insurance Policy

All Members are eligible to sign up for $10,000 of accidental medical Insurance which covers you while prospecting for gold, and also during any activities which we sponsor. Dental accidents are included, along with $2,500 for accidental death or dismemberment.  The policy has a $100 deductible.  It is an annual policy which extends through January of 2014.  This insurance is available for $30 per year, per person. More information can be found here: 

Lost Treasure Hunters on Youtube!

For any of you guys who missed our first episode of Lost Treasure Hunters on Animal Planet, it is now playing on youtube.  Check it out! 

Please Join Me on Facebook and Twitter!

With the launch of Extreme Prospector, I have started up a blog which broadens the context to ongoing adventures and other important news and issues that we are all facing today. These include discussion and links to informative information about the economic realities of our time. Important stuff!

If you are interested in up-to-date news, along with stories about extreme prospecting adventures (not just mine), I invite you to visit my Facebook pageat facebook/DaveMackExtreme and follow me on Twitter @DaveMackExtreme. There is a “Free eBook” tab on my Facebook page where you can download Chapter 10 of Extreme Prospector.

I hope a bunch of you guys and gals will join me up there and encourage all of you to join in the discussion and “Like” my page to share with your friends.

Sign up for the Free Internet Version of this Newsletter

We strongly encourage you to sign up for the free on line version of this newsletter.  The Internet version is better, because you can immediately click directly to many of the subjects which we discuss; because the on line version is in full color; because we link you directly to locations through GPS and Google Earth technology; and because you can watch the free video segments which we incorporate into our stories.

Signing up also places you on our Political Action Team.  Things happen so fast these days; it takes too long to organize political action through the U.S. mail.  As an example, just two years ago, in concert with other mining organizations, our Internet Action Team killed anti-mining legislation in Oregon in less than a week.  We are already putting out industry-wide Action Alerts to defeat this new legislation being proposed in Oregon.  All of these future battles will be organized over the Internet since it is so much faster.  Please join us in the battle to maintain our remaining freedoms!

Sign up for our Free Internet Newsletter!

 

The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012
www.goldgold.com

 

By Dave McCracken

“There were rice-sized pieces of gold lying everywhere! In three years of dredging on the Trinity River, I never saw a deposit that rich. In that very moment, I realized that the whole world had changed.”

Dave Mack
Middle Independence Gold Claim is the richest section of the entire Klamath River!

Middle Independence Gold Claim is the richest section of the entire Klamath River!

Two friends and I began dredging for gold on Josephine Creek in southern Oregon the day after Christmas in 1979.  We should have waited until the spring thaw, but we were young and full of motivation.  Conditions were miserable, and we paid a heavy price going out every day in 35-degree water. We didn’t have a clue about how to trace down high-grade gold deposits.  We were sleeping in a 5-man summer tent.  It was cold, cold, cold!  We had to thaw out our dry-suits in front of a campfire in the morning to keep the rubber from breaking and causing leaks.  Our camp got fully flooded by the river in the middle of the night because of heavy rain.  A lot of things went wrong. We only found a little gold. But none of that deterred us.

My two buddies and I immigrated over to the Trinity River in northern California in mid-February of 1980. This was because someone told us there was a major gold rush going on over there.  People supposedly were just picking big gold nuggets right off the stream banks.  But we didn’t find anybody doing any mining over there during the winter months. The river water was 34 degrees!  While our dry-suits more or less kept the cold water out, face exposure to the freezing water gave us headaches so bad that we wanted to vomit. Hand exposure made our fingers burn just as if we stuck them in the campfire! It was absolutely miserable. My partners gave it up before the spring thaw.  They believed there were much easier ways to make a living; and of course, they were totally right!

We had met other guys on the Trinity that were supporting themselves from the gold they dredged during the summer months.  They actually lived in houses!  They were talking about sampling for hard-packed streambeds. They were talking about lines of gold and pay-streaks.  This was music to my ears! Encouraged about their stories of recovering multiple ounces of gold per day in the river, I stuck it out in the forest, living by myself in a tent about a mile below the small community of Del Loma on the Trinity River.  It was pretty rough.

Lazy riches Mine

It was all about basic necessities in those days!

I had figured out enough by the spring of 1980 that I was just barely supporting myself with a 6-inch dredge.  I say just barely, because I had virtually no expenses except for the food I was eating (which was plenty), fuel for my dredge and motorcycle, and some minor upkeep.  It didn’t take much gold to keep me going.  My living space eventually evolved into a larger timberline tent made of canvas, including a wood stove for heat during the winter months.  That was a huge upgrade in my standard of living!

I dredged by myself through the summers and winters of 1980 and 1981.  There were times that the water in the Trinity dropped to 33 degrees.  It was absolutely miserable! But by then, I had figured out how to trace down the lower-grade gold deposits, and I was building up a savings in gold which I kept in a safety deposit box at Bank of America in the nearby town of Weaverville.

I didn’t allow myself the luxury of an automobile until the fall of 1981.  It was a pretty used up Jeep Wagoneer that had an oil leak which I never was able to repair, as many times as I tried.  Anytime I got the car going faster than 50 miles an hour, all at once, the oil would drain from the motor out the rear main seal.  So I drove slowly, and I brought plenty of extra oil along. The Wagoneer was better than the motorcycle during the winter months.

My older brother took an interest and came to dredge with me during the winter months of 1982.  That was just when I was getting pretty good at finding higher-grade gold deposits.  We found a lot of gold that winter, though conditions were absolutely miserable.  I have to give my brother credit for sticking it out.  Not many people would have done it! You can read about those days in my book, Extreme Prospector.  By then, Eric Bosch had showed up on the scene, and we were working together at times.  But even Eric, tougher than me, was not dredging the Trinity River during the winter months.

With my gold savings, along with contributions from Eric and my two brothers, we bought a beast of a Dodge Power Wagon and devoted the summer of 1982 to dredging for gold in British Columbia and Alaska.  This is a very exciting story that is also told in the most detail in my book, Extreme Prospector.  We struck it rich up there in Canada.  But the authorities ran us out of the country and basically invited us to never go back.  I decided the seasons in Canada and Alaska was too short to support my mining career, anyway.

I devoted the summer of 1983 back on the Trinity River dredging side-by-side with Eric Bosch.  He had a 5-inch dredge. I had a 5-incher and my 6-incher.  We were knocking out the ounces of gold.  But Canada had spoiled us.  We wanted to get back into pounds of gold!  While the Trinity was good, it was not delivering up the high-grade we were looking for.  There were also a lot of serious guys dredging on the Trinity during 1983; perhaps a hundred guys.  The place was crowded, and I was not seeing much of a future there.  I only owned a single mining claim.  Other places I wanted to dredge required me to make deals with the owners.  In 1981, the standard deal was 10% of the gross recovery to the owner.  By 1983, the owners wanted 20%.  I got knocked out of the best deposit I found on the Trinity by a competitor who came in and offered the owner 25% if he could take my place.  It was a pretty cut throat environment.  Ten percent to the owner is a fair deal when the dredger does all the work on the risk that he might not ever find anything worth mining. You have to be careful about the deals you make, or you can set the foundations to undermine your personal integrity.

One of the dredgers I got to know over there was a guy by the name of Alan Copp (Al). He was a nice guy and a hard worker. Al had more mining experience than me, having dredged on the Yuba, Salmon, Scott & Feather Rivers, and even did a mule-pack trip to Virgin creek up off the New River the year before I met him. He had been around. I, on the other hand, had more determination than anyone on the river. Nobody else was braving the winter months out there, but me!  Al and I both were looking ahead, trying to figure out something better than the Trinity.  We were looking for somewhere to carve out something valuable for ourselves. I had already ruled out Alaska because I didn’t want to get reduced to a two or three month season.

The image at the beginning of this story presents a pretty good profile of how determined I was in those days.

It was Al who was suggesting in that we go over and look at the Klamath River.  We made a few trips over there for a look.  My first impressions about the area were not good ones.  The river was huge compared to the Trinity.  It never appeared to run clear. There was not a single dredge that we could find operating on the entire 100-mile stretch of river we looked at during 1983. That was a bad sign.  You would think if there was any gold in the river, at least someone would be over there mining it!  And the place was absolutely wild in those days!  There were so many logging trucks racing up and down Highway 96, you took your life in your hands just driving down the road.  I’ll never forget this guy in a pickup truck weaving all over the road, going about ninety miles an hour, passing us just as Al and I pulled into Happy Camp the very first time (for me).  We pulled into the parking lot of the liquor store to buy something cool to drink.  There were a bunch of menacing-looking guys out front when we went in.  When we came back out, two of them were having a knife fight right in front of Al’s truck.  We didn’t hang around to see who won the fight.  The place was wild, man!

Al had spent time there during earlier years.  He was telling me the mining history of Siskiyou County was better than the Trinity.  We went around and looked. There were some very serious dredging programs happening on both the Scott and Salmon Rivers.  But those guys did not appear welcoming or friendly in any way, and those rivers were claimed solid at the time. No openings!

Al had history with several old-timers along the Klamath River.  One of them was a guy by the name of Bud Woodworth who had already passed away.  Before dying, he confided in Al about rich gold deposits in the Klamath below Horse Creek, and others in the Happy Camp area.  Al and I went around and looked at those places.  There was not a single dredger around.  But I believed what Al was telling me.  That is to say that I believed that Al believed the stories. It was a beginning.

Note:  We found out years later that all the places Bud Woodworth told Al about were rich, rich, rich!

So when we returned to the Trinity, I doubled my efforts at recovering gold from the lower-grade gold deposits I had already located there.  I was known in those days as “Ounce-a-Day Dave,” because I would invest as many hours that I needed to recover at least an ounce of gold every day, most days not returning to my tent until after dark.  Then I took a risk and hired another friend of mine by the name or Harlan Cockcroft, otherwise known as “Red,” to move over to Yreka and research for open mining property along the Klamath River.  Yreka is the county seat of Siskiyou County. I was paying Red $300 a week, plus $100 for every mining claim he could locate on my behalf.  This was going into the fall of 1983.

The problem was that nearly the entire Klamath River was unclaimed; and it did not take long for me to become indebted to Red from all the $100 bonuses I owed him.  I finally had to lay him off!  After all, how many mining claims does a guy need?  Besides, the fact that there was so much open river there cast a shadow over the gold potential.  If the river had gold, where was everybody?  Maybe they were all over on the Trinity River!  I found out later that there was a full-on gold rush happening on the Rogue River in southern Oregon.  But at the time, Al and I knew nothing about that.

I started my 1984 season on the Trinity, because I still had proven gold deposits to mine over there.  That was my first year using an 8-inch dredge.  I crewed it up with several motivated guys, including Eric Bosch.  By now, I had several books published and my first video on the market. It was the only video which showed newcomers how to dredge for gold, how to sample, and all the important stuff.  So I had already begun making a name for myself.  Around thirty people had signed up at $300 per week to dredge near me so I could give them some help and guidance on their own dredges.  I moved into a house that summer, along with my dredge crew, and allowed my students to camp in the yard. With the extra income from my students, I was pretty comfortable over there mining lower-grade deposits on the Trinity.

Al and Doug setting up the dredge

Al and Doug getting started on the Klamath River

Al decided to give the Klamath River a try during the season of 1984.  He teamed up with one of his longtime friends, Doug Gunning.  Those guys were airline mechanics.  They had a sweet deal where they could contract their services whenever they wanted to.  They were able to make good money during the winter months. But their real passion was dredging for gold.  In all, they dredged together for more than 14 years. This speaks strongly about the character and integrity of the two guys that made the original dredging discovery on the Klamath.  This is because volumes of pure wealth would  tear any normal relationship to shreds!

I can tell you this is the case with anyone whoever has dredged up high-grade gold deposits.  There is something about finding and recovering pure wealth that gets in your blood.  Uncovering raw gold on the bottom of a river, which is yours to keep, sparks deep passions similar perhaps to winning big in a poker game and raking in all those hundred dollar chips.  It produces feelings of exhilaration that few other life experiences can generate.  Finding high-grade gold deposits is about as good as it gets.  Once you have done it, I don’t think you can ever get completely out of your system your deep desire for the next high-grade gold deposit.

The days of 1984 were before mobile phones and the Internet.  We didn’t even have a phone in the house where we were staying.  So there was no way to keep in touch with Al and Doug when they went over to the Klamath.  I figured they would return to the Trinity if they didn’t find any gold – and I admit that I expected them to return.  Even though I had invested so much money on mining property over there, the claims came so easy, it was hard for me to believe any high-grade was going to be there.  That would have been too good to be true.

My own dredging program, and looking after a bunch of students, kept me more than busy along the Trinity during the first half of the 1984 season.  We had not heard a single word out of Doug and Al.  My best guess was that they called the season quits and went back to aircraft work.  Finally, on just a notion, I made a day-trip over to the Klamath to see if I could find them.  I spotted their dredge on the river about thirteen miles downstream from Happy Camp.  Their dredge was running when I got there.

Independence claim 001

Their dredge was running when I arrived on the scene.

Doug and Al operated their dredge differently than Eric and I on that particular day. They were mostly taking shifts with one guy down at a time and the other on deck knocking out plug-ups and keeping an eye on some change they had made on their recovery system. Those were the early days where we had already worked out standard underwater teamwork procedures for two or more guys working underwater together to get more work done.  We could really tear it up!

Doug was on the deck of their dredge when I arrived.  Wearing just my shorts, I swam out to their platform.  It was anchored to something out in the river.  Doug was happy to see me. He said they were doing pretty good.  I asked if I could borrow the second set of diving gear and go down for a look.  Doug helped me gear up, and I went down the ladder.  That’s when it really hit me how warm the water was.  We were wearing full wet-suits on the Trinity.  The water temperature in the Klamath reaches the high-70’s by mid summer. You don’t even need a wet-suit to dredge there!  Not wearing a wet-suit jacket is like being liberated from a straightjacket!

Those guys clearly had invested a lot of hard work in this dredge hole.  There was a large tailing pile behind the dredge.  I found Al in about seven feet of water taking a top cut off the front of his dredge hole.  He recognized me when I got down there and gave me a big thumbs up.  I started moving cobbles out of his way as he continued sucking off the top-front portion of his hole.  The top material was kind of a semi-packed brown color.  It was not very impressive.  There was about five feet of it.  Then Al showed me where this brown layer made contact with a very hard-packed layer of gray material; something I never once saw on the Trinity.  This was original, ancient streambed that had never been mined before.  I saw a beautiful rice-sized piece of gold sitting right on top of it, and pointed it out to Al, thinking I was showing him something special.  Al waved that off and signaled for me to be patient.  Then he uncovered a larger swath off the top of the gray layer and the whole thing looked better than the best Christmas morning I ever experienced.  There were rice-sized pieces of gold lying everywhere!  In three years of dredging on the Trinity, I never saw a deposit that rich.  There had to be more than an ounce of gold just in the small swath that Al uncovered for me!  In that very moment, I realized that the whole world had changed.

8 oz day 001 (2)The feeling was like being late to the party!  Even though that was just the beginning of the bigger party.

After sucking up that gold, we went up on the dredge to have a talk.  When they shut down the dredge, I could see their sluice was piled up with gold; maybe five ounces, maybe more.  They didn’t have to tell me the deposit was rich, rich, rich.   It was a sharing kind of experience.  Gold mining is kind of like fishing or hunting.  You really do want to share your successes with your friends.  I’m not talking about sharing the gold.  I’m talking about sharing the enthusiasm and appreciation for a super rich discovery.  The only thing better than that would have been if the discovery was mine!

 

3 oz independence nugget

They recovered this 3-ounce nugget about the time I arrived on the river!

Al and Doug had long-since filed a mining claim on their discovery, taking up a little more than a mile of the Klamath River, starting just downstream of the confluence of Independence Creek.  They figured that was more than they could dredge in a lifetime. They were more than right about that, and actually mined just a fraction of the claim before they retired from dredging four or five years later.

Al and Doug expressed no reservations about me moving over to the Klamath with my crew and students. I wasted no time getting back over to the trinity that afternoon!  Then I contacted all the students who had signed on to spend time with me that summer, offering their money back if they did not want to go with me to the Klamath.  Everyone wanted to go!  It took us a day to get all our existing gear together and move out of the house.  The guy I was leasing from was nice about our sudden departure, and has actually stayed in touch over the years.

About a dozen guys and I arrived on the Klamath just two days after I found out that Al and Doug had struck it rich over there. It took us a few weeks to make it happen, but we all ended up in a rich deposit about fifty miles upriver.  Our best day on my 8-inch dredge that season was twenty-four ounces.  The largest nugget we found weighed more than a pound! After all my students and crew departed for the season, Eric and I located a second deposit further downriver just upstream from Savage Rapids, a place we later named the “Mega Hole,” and we recovered one hundred ounces of gold in just two weeks of hard work.  When you get into high-grade on the Klamath River, the gold adds up very fast!

Al Copp was totally correct in his early predictions.  The Klamath River provided much better high-grade dredging opportunity than the Trinity.  We were very fortunate to be the first ones over there!  So I hired Red back on to finish up his research and pick up more mining property along the Klamath River and its tributaries; enough to start a mining club!  That turned out to be a move that would forever change my life, and alter the paths of thousands of others.

240 oz 001 (3)

Here is an image Al shared with me of just some of the gold they stacked up dredging in that one area. There are around 250 ounces in this picture.

As many places as we discovered high-grade over the years, we never found any mining property as rich as the original mile that Doug and Al claimed.  In fact, I have never seen any place in my whole career that was so consistently rich.  Doug and Al, for the most part, remained in that single high-grade deposit during their entire time on the claim.  The area they mined is just a drop in the bucket compared to the overall size of the property.  They did not mine the faster water areas, and they did not even sample the shallower areas further up the property, much closer to the sources of all that gold.  They did little or no high-banking or crevicing on the exposed and shallow bedrock areas that extend the full length of the property.  And they did not allow others to mine on their gold claim.  They were the first there, and they kept that property to themselves as they watched with some level of amusement as I started The New 49’ers a few years later and flooded the river with a new generation of miners.

Al Copp and I remain in touch these days.  He is a dear old friend that was present just as I was getting my life in gear.  We made the important transitions together. You never forget friends like that. These days, Al reminds me of how good it was during those early years.  He is right, too; it was great!

But the best days are still ahead!  I have been waiting 28 years to put my own suction nozzle into the section of river just below Independence Creek where nobody has gone, yet!  We just acquired that property after all this time.  Full circle; we are now back to the place where it all began! I’ll be in there with an underwater gravel transfer system this summer.  I can’t wait!

Al Copp  Doug Gunning

Al Copp and Doug Gunning

I generated a gold rush over to the Klamath River when I founded The New 49’ers in 1986.  But it was Al Copp and Doug Gunning who went over there ahead of me and made the first rich discovery of our generation.  If they had not done that, there is no telling where you and I would be today.  But it is certain that you would not be reading this bit of history!

 

New 49'er Newsletter

FIRST  QUARTER, January 2013                                VOLUME 27, NUMBER  1

Dave Mack

By Dave McCracken

 

This discussion began on our Internet Forum where I announced that we have recently acquired the richest dredging claim along the Klamath River near Happy Camp, which will also provide some fantastic surface and underwater crevicing opportunities because of the gentle slope of exposed bedrock which is extending off the side of the river where the gold path is located (more on the new claim below).

Suction Gravel Transfer image 1

Motorized underwater suction mining in California without a “dredge!”

In my announcement, I pointed out that there is nothing in California’s dredging moratorium that prevents us from crevicing underwater using a motorized hookah air system, or even using a water pressure nozzle to help blow gravel out of cracks. The question I posed to our forum members is how to get the gold up and into a catch container without using a suction dredge.

It would be one thing if we were just uncovering an occasional gold nugget or two. We would simply free those up with some hand tools and pick them out with a set of tweezers. But I have seen crevices on this particular mining property that were loaded with a zillion pieces of gold, much of it in fines and flakes. You have to suck that up, or you will be there all year with a pair of tweezers! The original claim owners were recovering six and seven-ounce days (sometimes more) in places along this claim. They were only in there a few years before they retired. Since they operated an 8-inch dredge, they remained towards the lower end of the property where the water is deeper and slower. There is at least a half-mile stretch of faster, shallower water on the upper portion of the claim that, to my knowledge, has never even been sampled. This is the area I believe will make for good above and below water crevicing.

In response to my question, one of our more informed members and longtime supporter, Jim Foley, sent me a copy of the California Department of Fish & Game’s (DFG) current suction dredge regulations which clearly state that “A person is suction dredging as defined when all of the following components are working together: (A) a hose which vacuums sediment from a river stream or lake; and (B) A motorized pump; and (C) A sluice box.” The regulations further state, “Every person who operates the suction nozzle of any suction dredge shall have a suction dredge permit in his or her immediate possession.” These regulations were formally adopted in California on April 27, 2012.

The existing moratorium in California prevents DFG from issuing suction dredge permits. We are strenuously challenging the moratorium in several jurisdictions. Until our challenges are resolved, it is unlikely that we can operate suction dredges as defined by the regulations without being cited. Since most of us don’t want to be in trouble with the authorities, we have been doing our dredging in southern Oregon for the past few seasons.

But looking closer at the California regulations, there does remain a way for us to go down on the bottom of California’s waterways and suction up the shallower, higher-grade gravels. This is because, as defined by DFG’s own formal regulations, as long as we remove the sluice box from our motorized suction system, we are not operating a “suction dredge.” Said another way, there is an opportunity to use a motorized suction system to transfer high-grade gravel from one place in the river or creek to another location where the gravel can be more-easily processed in a separate system.

I am in possession of written communication from a high ranking DFG official, the very person who was in charge of developing the current regulations, which acknowledges that underwater suction-powered gravel transfer would not be considered “suction dredging” as long as the sluice box is removed from the system. He also cautioned that there are water quality concerns and also streambed alteration considerations. So there would be some limits involved. I’ll discuss these more in a minute.

For now, let’s just get back to my original discussion about using a hookah and motorized pumping system to expose and recover gold from very shallow deposits out in the river. I’m not talking about shallow water. I am talking about shallow streambed material on top of underwater gold deposits.

Here is just one of several ideas: Please see Figure A above. If I completely remove the sluice box from my 5-inch dredge, I am left with a floatation system which supports twin 6.5 HP Honda motors and pumps with a hookah compressor. I could use a single motor & pump with compressor to power a 3 or 4-inch Hydro-Force nozzle jet. This special nozzle will allow me the option to blow off lighter gravel to expose cobbles, which I can then move out of the way by hand, just like we do in dredging. This will allow me to work my way down to the pay-dirt without having to suck up any gravel. Once I expose the pay-dirt, a Hydro-Force nozzle will allow me to suck it up and transfer it over to a catch container in shallower, slower water which is closer to the bank.

If there is some distance involved between where I am prospecting and my catch container, I can use my second engine & pump to provide power to a booster jet attached to a second 3 or 4-inch hose (See Figure B). Since the whole suction system would be underwater, I’m guessing that would give me a reach of fifty feet or more.  In case you are interested, Montine in our office can help you acquire Hydro-Force nozzles and booster jets for these kinds of systems – and maybe soon there will be baffled catch containers: 530 493-2062.

Suction Gravel Transfer System image 2

The catch container would need to be large enough to accumulate the amount of pay-dirt that I would suck up on a single dive. My suggestion would be to fabricate a baffle on the feed into the container so the material would be deposited there neatly. Otherwise the water flowing out of the suction hose might boil the material out of the catch container.

If you make smart use of the blower function on the Hydro-Force nozzle, you can really minimize the amount of gravel that you transfer by suction to the catch container; perhaps so little that you can work it all down and recover your gold between dives with just a classification screen and gold pan.

If there is more non-gold bearing material present than you can blow off with the Hydro-Force nozzle, you would always have the option of sucking that off separately and depositing it outside of your catch container.

Several experienced prospectors I have spoken to about this had other ideas. One suggested fabricating the catch container between the pontoons on his floating platform. Then he could just float it over closer to the bank to pan the material after each dive. Jim Foley, who has already experimented with the idea, says he successfully attached a 20-foot piece of PVC plastic tubing to direct the discharge into a catch container that was sitting up on the streambank. This took place in the fall of 2012. Jim was visited by local game wardens while doing the activity. And while they expressed reservations (“sure looks like a dredge”), he was not cited and the wardens did not return.

While I’m sure we will learn more as we gain experience, here are a few of my own thoughts on “underwater suction gravel transfer systems:”

1) Make certain to not have the sluice box from your original “suction dredge” anywhere in the vicinity of the program. DFG regulations prevent you from having a “dredge” within 100 yards of any active waterway. Therefore, that third component (sluice) should not be sitting up on the streambank or even in the back of your pickup truck, even if you are not using it. Leave it at home!

2) Do not direct the discharge of your suction system into some other type of recovery system that uses a sluice box. Using any sluice in combination with the suction system, all working at the same time, would likely meet the regulatory definition of a “dredge.”

3) There has been some suggestion that even sluicing the recovered gravels at some later time would fulfill the definition of a dredge. You guys can make your own decisions about this, but I’m not buying the theory. The language in the regulation defines the three components working together. So it would seem reasonable that you could shut your underwater suction transfer system down and then separately process the gravel in any normal way that does not violate water quality standards. Though I would not be using the sluice that I took off my suction dredge, or any sluice which could be attached to the suction system. Be advised that you will be on thinner legal ground as soon as you have any sluice as part of your program within 100 yards of the suction system. Personally, I am inclined to carefully suck up a lower volume of only the highest-grade material and use a gold pan to work that down between dives (more on this below).

4) I would not suck a bunch of silty material into a catch container that is sitting in dead water alongside the bank. That might provoke water quality concerns. This is why I suggest using the blowing option on the Hydro-Force nozzle to first free up material out under the moving water. Gold is heavy. It won’t blow away if you pay attention to what you are doing.

5) I also would not advise using this system to make large excavations out in the creek or river. That might provoke streambed alteration concerns. I would use this method to work shallow deposits much the way we do in high-banking. Having said that, it has also been pointed out that the existing suction dredge regulations clearly state that there would be no requirement for a stream alteration permit, and there would be no deleterious impact upon fish, from the use of 4-inch suction dredges in California’s waterways. So it would seem unreasonable for DFG to make a stream alteration argument if you are careful about not making large excavations.

6) I would advise the use of rigid pressure hose between the pump and nozzle jet(s) on this type of system. It is difficult enough to keep the kinks out of lay flat pressure hose outside of the waterway.

7) Since initially, DFG wardens may not be aware of their own formal definition of a “dredge,” I suggest you print out at least the first page or two of the regulations which include the formal definition of a “dredge,” and have them available if and when any officials come around to see what you are up to. Make sure to point out the complete absence of a sluice on your suction system. And whatever you do, never refer to this activity as “dredging.” Because it is not dredging! It is an underwater suction system used to direct small volumes of high-grade material into a catch container. Nothing more. If you tell the warden you are “dredging without a sluice box,” you will probably provoke a citation, the warden telling you to explain it to the judge!

8) If any citations are written for this non-dredging underwater form of prospecting, please get in touch with us without delay. We may want to become involved with your defense.

Conclusion: I can process material through a “suction dredge” about as fast as anyone I know. Yet, my tailings do not amount to much at the end of my dives. This is because most of the underwater work has to do with freeing and moving oversized material out of the way (rocks that are too big to suck up). Depending upon the size of the suction nozzle, perhaps as much as 95% or more of the volume has to do with rolling rocks behind me. I would normally suck up the other 5% of material into my sluice box if I were “dredging.” That volume over my sluice box gives me a substantial amount of heavy concentrates to process – which takes quite a bit of time.

But with this underwater gravel transfer system, I can easily visualize how I can blow the lighter material out of my way and only suck up the pay-dirt. This would dramatically reduce the amount of material I will need to process out of my catch container. While the underwater process may not be as fast or efficient as “dredging,” I might make up for it by having fewer concentrates to process.

Please note my words in bold just above. They are perhaps the most important words I have said here. This is because if you suck everything into your catch container, it will soon fill up with low-grade material which may not be worth the time to process further! The whole idea in this new system is to get the low-grade material out of your way out in the river, and only suck up the very small volume which is directly associated with a gold deposit. Gold deposits are nearly always located in a contact zone. This means either on the bedrock, between storm layers, or on top of the upper layer of hard-pack. There is an entire education about this in the articles at this link. If you still need help understanding this, you should attend one of our weekend group mining projects and allow us to show you exactly what you are looking for!

Using this system to discriminate carefully about what you suck up will accomplish two important objectives:

A) You won’t find yourself up on the bank most of the day panning a bunch of gravel that doesn’t have much gold in it.

B) You will only use the suction system to recover a very small volume of material – only that which contains the gold. Using this as a small volume tool to help with your crevicing program will give anti-mining activists less to complain about.

There has been quite a lot of debate about this “underwater suction gravel transfer” idea on the Industry Internet forums since I have gone public with it; and finally, someone asked Mark Stopher of DFG for the straight scoop:

Here are the official answers (2 January 2013):  “I carefully read (today) the information that McCracken provides on his website. I believe Dave McCracken’s description of the legal requirements and application of the regulations is accurate. If practiced as he describes, this is not a violation of the moratorium and is not prohibited.

There is no specific permit required and no seasonal restrictions. Since this is not suction dredging, neither the moratorium or our adopted regulations for suction dredging apply. It’s essentially a loophole in existing law. However, as McCracken notes, Fish and Game Code section 1602 could apply if the streambed alteration is substantial, that is, you create a big hole. My guess is that such a system will be less efficient, and less excavation will occur, than if you were using a suction dredge since there is no sluice box and miners will need to use some other system to sort through the material.”

Mark Stopher
Habitat Conservation Program Manager
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust Street
Redding, CA 96001

This new idea will at least allow us access to some of the submerged gold deposits that otherwise would be out of our reach until the “dredge” moratorium is lifted in California. How’s that for good news?

We Have Acquired One of the Klamath River’s Richest Gold Properties!

 

K-24A

Happy New Year, you guys!  At long last, we have acquired the main stretch of gold-bearing river just downstream of Independence Creek. This Middle Independence Claim (K-24A in our Claims Guide) is located between our existing K-24 and K-25 mining properties, about 12 miles downriver from Happy Camp. This is a very rich gold property! The reason is because it contains three separate lines of high-grade gold: (1) Independence Creek has been depositing a steady line of larger, crystalline gold into the river for about a million years.  One of Siskiyou County’s richest pocket mines is located about a mile up the creek. This gold has more of a crystalline texture to it; it is very unique!  Over the years, we found a bunch of it on our K-25 property about 1 ½ miles downstream from the mouth of the creek. Some beautiful specimens were found down there!  I am predicting that the best is yet to come off the east side of the river on this new property. (2) One of Siskiyou County’s richest hydraulic mines, “Bunker Hill,” directed its tail races into the Klamath River just upstream of this property.  I personally have seen others recover 6 and 7-ounce days mining redeposited gold on the lower end of this property. The gold was resting directly on top of the bottom strata of original streambed. I am also predicting that the best is yet to come from redeposited gold in the shallower stretches of river on the upper portion of this new property. (3) The original streambed out in the river is rich, rich, rich!  Most of it remains in place. It is going to be interesting to see if we can get at that with our suction gravel transfer systems in the upper, shallower deposits.

The reason I know so much about this property is because it is where the original gold dredging strike was made on the Klamath during 1984 which motivated me and others to emigrate over from the Trinity River.  This property is where it all started!  The strike was made by two of my dredging buddies that went over there ahead of me from the Trinity.  They were just supposed to be on a sampling trip.  I went looking for them when they didn’t return and found them on the lower end of this property.  They had tapped into the redeposited gold resting on top of the original streambed.  That was, by far, the most gold I ever saw in the four years that I had been dredging!  Me, Eric Bosch, and about 30 of my students all picked up and moved over to the Klamath on the following day, and we never went back!  We started The New 49’ers a few years later.

My two friends filed a mining claim on this 1.1-mile stretch of river, and it has been in private hands ever since.  They recovered enough gold to retire within just a few years.  Then they sold the property to a company of private individuals, most who did not do any serious mining there.  Several of the more serious guys worked the lower portion of the claim with commercial dredges and did very well.  The property has been sitting idle for many years.  The owners never allowed others to crevice or high-bank the extensive reaches of exposed bedrock and shallow gravel bars which line the east bank of the river.  That is the side from which both the hydraulic mine and Independence Creek have deposited their rich golden treasures into the river.

K24A The east side of the river has extensive exposed bedrock and shallow streambed along one of the stronger gold paths.

While there has been some serious commercial dredging activity on the lower end of the property out in the middle of the river (most of the middle still remains untouched), I have never seen anyone do anything with the shallower sections of water on the east side (right side of the river on these images).  The upper half of the property has faster water, making it more difficult to operate larger sized dredges.  That’s why it remains relatively untouched. That presents us with an extraordinary opportunity with these more portable “underwater suction gravel transfer systems” that I have outlined above!  There is also extensive opportunity for crevice mining on the surface (vack mining), and some normal high-banking activity.

A note on this:  Even though the two original owners were dredging out in the middle of the river, they confided in me that one of their wives was recovering incredible gold in the shallow deposits on the east side of the river, including the crystalline nuggets from Independence creek – and that was a mile downriver from the sources of the gold!  I have also never seen anyone do any shallow dredging or surface mining along the bottom end of this extensive claim.  Though, several of our members had extraordinary success just downstream on our K-25 property! Extensive bedrock gently sloping off the east side of the river will make this perhaps the best above and below water sniping and crevicing area along the Klamath River!  The opportunities are endless.

Once again, I find myself looking up to the stars and wondering what we did to deserve such a gift from the heavens!  This property is going to make our members happy for many years to come.  Once the dredge moratorium is lifted, I can guarantee you where my dredge is going to go.  Meanwhile, I plan to be out there this season with an underwater suction system as described above.

K24A-AThere is access to the east side of the river at the upper end of the property, just downstream of Independence Creek.

We will provide more images and information about access in the coming newsletters.  You don’t see them this month because the entire area around Happy Camp took on about two feet of snow just a few days before Christmas.  Happy Camp is still digging out!  Meanwhile, here it is on Google Earth. With the exception of a short portion of the river between Independence Creek and the bridge just upstream, we now hold nearly three continuous miles of this very rich stretch of river!

12-20-12 snow storm my house 028Happy Camp during Christmas of 2012!

In advance, I can tell you that the best line of gold for surface mining and underwater crevicing is going to be on the far side of the river (from the road).  There is going to be some rather easy access towards the upper end. This is because a bridge there will allow us to reach the other side, park our vehicles and walk down.  Access further down this very extensive property will require a boat.  There are several slow sections of river that will allow relatively easy crossing (small boat with motor).

This new K-24A is only one of several very rich properties we have recently acquired along the Klamath. As long as everything firms up the way it looks at the moment, I hope to announce miles of excellent new high-banking and underwater crevicing ground over the coming winter months, in addition to this new property at Independence.  These new acquisitions could actually change the location of where we will conduct our Group Mining Programs this coming season.

Schedule of Weekend Projects for 2013

All members are invited to attend our weekend Group Mining Projects and keep an equal share of the gold that we recover.  Here are our planned events for the upcoming season:  June 1 & 2; June 22 & 23; July 13 & 14; August 3 & 4; August 24 & 25.

New Oregon Legislation Pending

Our attorney, James Buchal, has provided us with a legal analysis of LC 2125. James says, as the proposed bill is presently written, it will not affect the suction dredge activities which are already being allowed in Oregon. Having said that, James also points out that we need to be concerned that the existing language could easily be changed on its way through Oregon’s legislative process.

The analysis points out numerous reasons why the proposed bill should be opposed altogether. I have been in contact with all or most of the industry leaders inside and outside of Oregon, and I believe there is unanimous consent that we should do everything in our power to defeat the bill. It looks like the Oregon mining associations will take the lead on this.

Since the Oregon legislature goes back in session in February, you can expect to hear more about defeating LC 2125 in the weeks and months to come. 

Progress in the U.S. Supreme Court!

Here is some good news: The U.S. Supreme Court is impressed enough with our Petition (to overturn a recent 9th Circuit ruling that discourages small-scale mining on the public lands) that they have Ordered the Karuk Tribe to submit a response.  This at least means our Petition is being given very serious consideration.

New Legal Fund Prize Drawing

coin for fund-raiser
Here is a link to our new legal fundraiser. We will be giving away 15 American Gold Eagles on 8 March 2013.

This is all in an effort to raise money to support our challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court of a recent Ninth Circuit Decision which discourages small-scale mining on the public lands — and also to support our efforts in defending multiple cases in the California court system.

We greatly appreciate your support in these fundraisers!

Only About 50 Special Editions Remaining!

Extreme prospector by Dave Mack

As far as I know, this is the first and only adventure book ever written which brings to light the incredible excitement of discovering high-grade gold deposits – for real.  I’m pleased to say that initial reviews of the book are quite good! The book includes my very best adventures and some of my best-kept secrets, including several adventures during my time in the U.S. Navy SEAL Team.

I only signed 500 hard cover Special Editions. As a special promotion, we are making these available at the very same price of the soft cover version ($19.95).  The girls in our office have been taking phone orders for several months: 530 493-2062. There are only around 50 Special Editions remaining, available on a first come, first served, basis.

“Extreme Prospector,” is also available as an ebook from Amazon for half the conventional book price ($9.95). As an Internet download, most of the images come through in color (about 250 of them) and the hyperlinks work. You can find the ebook, along with normal soft and hard cover versions of the book, right here.

Please Join Me on Facebook and Twitter!

With the launch of Extreme Prospector, I have started up a blog which broadens the context to ongoing adventures and other important news and issues that we are all facing today.  These include discussion and links to informative information about the economic realities of our time.  Important stuff!

My latest blog released the news about this new “motorized underwater suction mining” concept weeks before you are seeing it in this newsletter.  I provide updates in the blog as soon as I am aware of them.

If you are interested in up-to-date news, along with stories about extreme prospecting adventures (not just mine), I invite you to visit my Facebook page at facebook/DaveMackExtreme and follow me on Twitter @DaveMackExtreme.  There is a “Free eBook” tab on my Facebook page where you can download Chapter 10 of Extreme Prospector. 

I hope a bunch of you guys and gals will join me up there and encourage all of you to join in the discussion and “Like” my page to share with your friends. 

Lost Treasure Hunters on Youtube!

For any of you guys who missed our first episode of Lost Treasure Hunters on Animal Planet, it is now playing on youtube.  Check it out!

Sign up for the Free Internet Version of this Newsletter 

We strongly encourage you to sign up for the free on line version of this newsletter.  The Internet version is better, because you can immediately click directly to many of the subjects which we discuss; because the on line version is in full color; because we link you directly to locations through GPS and Google Earth technology; and because you can watch the free video segments which we incorporate into our stories.

Signing up also places you on our Political Action Team.  Things happen so fast these days; it takes too long to organize political action through the U.S. mail.  As an example, just two years ago, in concert with other mining organizations, our Internet Action Team killed anti-mining legislation in Oregon in less than a week.  It is a near guarantee that we will be calling for industry-wide action to defeat this new legislation being proposed in Oregon before you even see another of these newsletters.  All of these future battles will be organized over the Internet since it is so much faster.  Please join us in the battle to maintain our remaining freedoms!

Sign up for our Free Internet Newsletter!

 

The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012
www.goldgold.com

 

By Dave McCracken

Suction mining underwater without a “dredge!”

Dave Mack

Important note: Since writing this article, over the period of a year,  the State of California has adopted new regulations which no longer allow any type of vacuum or suction to excavate material off the bottom of a waterway.  Therefore, the underwater suction gravel transfer systems outlined here will no longer be allowed until we overcome the suction dredge moratorium.  It is for this reason, we have now switched over to underwater blow mining.

Let me begin this by informing you that I am not a licensed attorney. Therefore, I am prohibited by law from providing legal advice. So the material here should just be taken as my own opinion based upon the factual material which I will present to you.  You guys are free to form your own opinions and take responsibility for your own actions.  Having said that, I will also inform you that our attorney has reviewed the following explanation and agrees that government officials are bound by the very language that they enforce upon us – and that my reasoning here is sound.

This discussion began on our Internet Forum where I announced that we have recently acquired the richest dredging claim along the Klamath River near Happy Camp, which will also provide some fantastic surface and underwater crevicing opportunities because of the gentle slope of exposed bedrock which is extending off the side of the river where the gold path is located.

We have actually acquired several very rich properties, but I will save that for the coming newsletters.

In my announcement, I pointed out that there is nothing in California’s dredging moratorium that prevents us from crevicing underwater using a motorized hookah air system, or even using a water pressure system to help blow gravel out of cracks.  The question I posed to our forum members is how to get the gold up and into a catch container without using a suction dredge.

It would be one thing if we were just uncovering an occasional gold nugget or two.  We would simply free those up with some hand tools and pick them out with a set of tweezers.  But I have seen crevices on this particular mining claim that were loaded with a zillion pieces of gold, much of it in fines and flakes.  You pretty much have to suck that up, or you will be there all year with a pair of tweezers! The original claim owners were recovering six and seven-ounce days (sometimes more) in places along this claim.  They were only in there a few years before they retired.  Since they operated an 8-inch dredge, they remained on the lower, slower portion of the claim.  There is at least a half-mile stretch of faster, shallower water on the upper portion of the claim that, to my knowledge, has never even been sampled.  This is the area I believe will make for good above and below water crevicing.

In response to my question, one of our more informed members sent me a copy of the California Department of Fish & Game’s (DFG) current suction dredge regulations which clearly state that “A person is suction dredging as defined when all of the following components are working together: (A) a hose which vacuums sediment from a river stream or lake; and (B) A motorized pump; and (C) A sluice box.” The regulations further state, “Every person who operates the suction nozzle of any suction dredge shall have a suction dredge permit in his or her immediate possession.” These regulations are current now, having been formally adopted in California on April 27, 2012.

The existing moratorium in California prevents DFG from issuing suction dredge permits.  We are strenuously challenging the moratorium in several jurisdictions.  Until our challenges are resolved, it is unlikely that we can operate suction dredges as defined by the regulations without being cited.  Since most of us don’t want to be in trouble with the authorities, we have been doing our dredging in southern Oregon for the past few seasons.

Suction Gravel Transfer image 1

But looking closer at the California regulations, there does remain a way for us to go down on the bottom of California’s waterways and suction up the shallower, higher-grade gravels.  This is because, as defined by DFG’s own formal regulations, as long as we remove the sluice box from our motorized suction system, we are not operating a “suction dredge.”  Said another way, there is an opportunity to use a motorized suction system to transfer high-grade gravel from one place in the river or creek to another location where the gravel can be more-easily processed in a separate system.

I am in possession of written communication from a high ranking DFG official, the very person who was in charge of developing the current regulations, which acknowledges that underwater suction-powered gravel transfer would not be considered “suction dredging” as long as the sluice box is removed from the system.  He also cautioned that there are water quality concerns and also streambed alteration considerations.  So there would be some limits involved.  I’ll discuss these more in a minute.

For now, let’s just get back to my original discussion about using a hookah and motorized pumping system to expose and recover gold from very shallow deposits out in the river.  I’m not talking about shallow water. I am talking about shallow material on top of underwater gold deposits.

Here is just one of several ideas:  Please see Figure A above. If I completely remove the sluice box from my 5-inch dredge, I am left with a floatation system which supports twin 6.5 HP Honda motors and pumps with a hookah compressor.  I could use a single motor & pump with compressor to power a 3-inch Hydro-Force nozzle jet.  This special nozzle will allow me the option to blow off lighter gravel to expose cobbles, which I can then move out of the way by hand.  This will allow me to work my way down to the pay-dirt without having to suck up any gravel.  Once I expose the pay-dirt, the Hydro-Force nozzle will allow me to suck it up and transfer it over to a catch container in shallower, slower water which is closer to the bank.  Or for that matter, I could just drop it in a small pile in the shallower water along the edge of the river.

If there is some distance involved between where I am prospecting and my catch container, I can use my second engine & pump to provide power to a booster jet attached to a second 3-inch hose (See Figure B).  Since the whole suction system would be underwater, I’m guessing that would give me a reach of fifty feet or more.

Suction Gravel Transfer System image 2

The catch container would need to be large enough to accumulate the amount of pay-dirt that I would suck up on a single dive. My suggestion would be to fabricate a baffle on the feed into the container so the material would be deposited there neatly.

If you make smart use of the blower function on the Hydro-Force nozzle, you can really minimize the amount of gravel that you transfer by suction to the catch container; perhaps so little that you could work it all down and recover your gold between dives with just a classification screen and gold pan!

If there is more non-gold bearing material present than you can blow off with the Hydro-Force nozzle, you would always have the option of sucking that off separately and depositing it outside of your catch container.

Several experienced prospectors I have spoken to about this had other ideas.  One suggested fabricating the catch container between the pontoons on his floating platform.  Then he could just float it over closer to the bank to pan the material after each dive.  Another who has already experimented with the idea says he successfully attached a 20-foot piece of PVC plastic tubing to direct the discharge into a catch container that was sitting up on the streambank.  This took place in the fall of 2012.  He was visited by local game wardens while doing the activity.  And while they expressed reservations (“sure looks like a dredge”), he was not cited and the wardens did not return.

While I’m sure we will learn more as we gain experience, here are a few of my own thoughts on “underwater suction gravel transfer systems:”

1)      Make certain to not have the sluice box from your original “suction dredge” anywhere in the vicinity of the program.  DFG regulations prevent you from having a “dredge” within 100 yards of any active waterway.  Therefore, that third component (sluice) should not be sitting up on the streambank or even in the back of your pickup truck, even if you are not using it.  Leave it at home!

2)      Do not direct the discharge of your suction system into some other type of recovery system that uses a sluice.  Using any sluice in combination with the suction system, all working at the same time, would likely meet the definition of a “dredge” in the regulations.

3)      There has been some suggestion that even sluicing the recovered gravels at some later time would fulfill the definition of a dredge.  You guys can make your own decisions about this, but I’m not buying the theory.  The language in the regulation defines the three components working together.  So it would seem reasonable that you could shut your underwater suction transfer system down and then separately process the gravel in any normal way that does not violate water quality standards.  Though I would not be using the sluice that I took off my suction dredge, or any sluice which could be attached to the suction system. Be advised, though, that as soon as you have any sluice as part of your program within 100 yards of the suction system, you will be on thinner ground. Personally, I am inclined to be careful about sucking up a lower volume of only the highest-grade material and use a gold pan to work that down between dives (more on this below).

4)      I would not suck a bunch of silty material into a catch container that is sitting in dead water alongside the bank.  That might provoke water quality concerns.  This is why I suggest using the blowing option on the Hydro-Force nozzle to first free up material out under the moving water. Gold is heavy.  It won’t blow away if you pay attention to what you are doing.

5)      I also would not advise using this system to make large excavations out in the creek or river.  That might provoke streambed alteration concerns.  I would use this method to work shallow deposits much the way we do in high-banking.  Having said that, it has also been pointed out that the existing suction dredge regulations clearly state that there would be no requirement for a stream alteration permit, and there would be no deleterious impact upon fish, from the use of 4-inch suction dredges in California’s waterways.  So it would be pretty unreasonable for DFG to make a stream alteration argument if you are careful about not making large excavations.

6)      I would advise the use of riged pressure hose between the pump and nozzle jet on this type of system.  It is difficult enough to keep the kinks out of lay flat pressure hose outside of the waterway.

7)      Since initially, DFG wardens may not be aware of their own formal definition of a “dredge,” I suggest you print out at least the first page or two of the regulations which include the formal definition of a “dredge,” and have them available if and when any officials come around to see what you are up to.  Make sure to point out the complete absence of a sluice on your suction system. And whatever you do, never refer to this activity as “dredging.”  Because it is not dredging!  It is an underwater suction system used to direct small volumes of high-grade material into a catch container.  Nothing more.  If you tell the warden you are “dredging without a sluice box,” you will probably provoke a citation, the warden telling you to explain it to the judge!

8)      If any citations are written for this non-dredging underwater form of prospecting, please get in touch with us without delay.  We will likely want to become involved with your defense.

Conclusion:  I can process material through a “suction dredge” about as fast as anyone I know.  Yet, my tailings don’t amount to much at the end of my dives.  This is because most of the underwater work has to do with freeing and moving oversized material out of the way (rocks that are too big to suck up).  Depending upon the size of the suction nozzle, perhaps as much as 95% or more of the volume has to do with rolling rocks behind me.  I would normally suck up the other 5% of material into my sluice box if I were “dredging.”  That volume over my sluice box gives me a substantial amount of heavy concentrates to process – which takes quite a bit of time.

But with this underwater gravel transfer system, I can easily visualize how I can blow the lighter material out of my way and only suck up the pay-dirt.  This would dramatically reduce the amount of material I will need to process out of my catch container.  While the underwater process may not be as fast or efficient as “dredging,” I might make up for it by having fewer concentrates to process.

Please note my words in bold just above.  They are perhaps the most important words I have said here.  This is because if you suck everything into your catch container, it will soon fill up with low-grade material which may not be worth the time to process further!  The whole idea in this new system is to get the low-grade material out of your way, and only suck up the very small volume which is directly associated with the gold deposit.  Gold deposits are nearly always located in a contact zone.  This means either on the bedrock, between storm layers, or on top of the upper layer of hard-pack.  There is an entire education about this in the articles at this link. If you still need help understanding this, you should attend one of our weekend group mining projects and allow us to show you exactly what you are looking for!

Using this system to discriminate carefully about what you suck up will accomplish two important objectives:

A)    You won’t find yourself up on the bank most of the day panning a bunch of gravel that doesn’t have much gold in it.

B)    You will only use the suction system to recover a very small volume of material – only that which contains the gold.  A small volume tool to help with your crevicing program will give our enemies less to complain about.

I thought you guys might be interested in an official position. There has been quite a lot of debate about this “underwater suction gravel transfer” idea on the GPAA forum since I have gone public with it; and finally, someone asked Mark Stopher of DFG for the straight scoop:

Here are the official answers (2 January 2013):
“I carefully read (today) the information that McCracken provides on his website. I believe Dave McCracken’s description of the legal requirements and application of the regulations is accurate. If practiced as he describes, this is not a violation of the moratorium and is not prohibited.

There is no specific permit required and no seasonal restrictions. Since this is not suction dredging, neither the moratorium or our adopted regulations for suction dredging apply. It’s essentially a loophole in existing law. However, as McCracken notes, Fish and Game Code section 1602 could apply if the streambed alteration is substantial, that is, you create a big hole. My guess is that such a system will be less efficient, and less excavation will occur, than if you were using a suction dredge since there is no sluice box and miners will need to use some other system to sort through the material.”

Mark Stopher
Habitat Conservation Program Manager
California Department of Fish and Game
601 Locust Street
Redding, CA 96001

voice 530.225.2275
fax 530.225.2391
cell 530.945.1344

Underwater Mining Seasons on New 49’er Properties:  Underwater suction mining without the use of a “dredge” is allowed  on our Klamath River properties between the Scott and Salmon Rivers on a year-round basis, and up the Klamath from its confluence with the Scott from the 4th Saturday in May through September 30.  Underwater suction mining is permitted along our creek properties and the Scott River from July 1 to September 30. Underwater suction mining is permitted on the Salmon River from July 1 through  September 15.

This new idea will at least allow us access to some of the submerged gold deposits that otherwise would be out of our reach until the “dredge” moratorium is lifted in California.  How’s that for good news?

 

New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH  QUARTER, DECEMBER 2012                                VOLUME 26, NUMBER  12

Dave Mack

By Dave McCracken

 

Jim Yerby sent these images several days ago.  He says the Rogue River was perhaps as much as 20 feet higher than normal summer flows, even in the wide section of the river.  A flood of this magnitude can only help redeposit the kind of higher-grade gold deposits we are looking for during the summer months. Storm flows will also wash away the last of the sediments which migrated down from behind the dams that were removed two years ago. It’s all good.  I’m already getting excited about the 2013 season!

storm waters flood water on the Rogue

 New High-banking Properties Along the Klamath River!

Merry Christmas, you guys!  We are quietly confirming acquisition of several new mining claims along the Klamath River.  As long as everything firms up the way it looks at the moment, I hope to announce miles of excellent new high-banking ground over the coming month or so.  Once we resume dredging in California, one of the properties contains some of the richest underwater mining along the Klamath, much of it remaining untouched.  Extensive bedrock gently sloping off the far side of the river will make this perhaps the best above and below water sniping and crevicing area along the Klamath River!

I’ll provide more explanation once all our confirmations are complete.  All I can say right now is that there is reason to be very excited.  Once in a while, the sun really does smile on us!  These new acquisitions could actually change the location of where we will conduct our Group Mining Programs this coming season.

The only reason I am not including some initial images with this newsletter is that, due to the recent storms, all of the new high-banking areas are presently underwater.  The Klamath River is also busy re-concentrating high-grade gold deposits! Way to go!!

What to do with Days, Deadman & Myrtle Creeks?

As some of you may recall, our property acquisitions last year were all on the South Fork of the Umpqua River drainage in southern Oregon.  Here is the map. It began with miles and miles of new properties along the South Umpqua.  To supplement the river with some creek properties, we also acquired claims along Days, Deadman & Myrtle Creeks in the vicinity of our new river properties.

It was all very exciting until the Ninth Circuit sided with anti-mining advocates with a Decision that made it much more difficult to start up a group mining program on the U.S. National Forest.  We are now appealing this Decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, our new mining properties along the South Umpqua are in a state of limbo.  There still remain miles and miles of proven dredging property on the South Umpqua available on the State Lands.  Those areas are shown on our South Umpqua Access Guide.

Our new properties on Days, Deadman & Myrtle Creeks are located on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managed lands, which are not affected by the Ninth Circuit’s Decision.  Unfortunately, the reports we have received in the office from members who spent time on these creeks last summer were that prospecting results have been poor-to-terrible.

I hate the idea of getting members all excited about going to places where they cannot find enough gold to make the effort worthwhile.  Since these properties were only meant to supplement what we acquired on the South Umpqua, and the South Umpqua properties will not be available until we win in the U.S. Supreme Court, we are considering dropping the new claims on Days, Deadman & Myrtle Creek.

Therefore, this is a query to our members to determine if there are any objections, or if anybody had some fruitful prospecting experiences along these creek properties that we are unaware of?  Comments should be directed to me at davemack@extremeprospector.com

Since the Ninth Circuit Decision has slowed our effective expansion into other areas, we will now focus our resources in the short term into acquisition of more high-grade properties along the Klamath River in the vicinity of Happy Camp in northern California. Please stay tuned for the good news!

Passing of Bill Stumpf

I am sorry to report that long time New 49’er founding member, Bill Stumpf, recently passed away from a six-month battle with cancer. He was 73.

Many of us remember Bill as the long time tour guide to the New 49’er mining properties. He freely shared his knowledge of dredging, high-banking and mossing with many hundreds of miners, families and friends. His knowledge of the Klamath River area and his ready helpfulness will be missed by many.

We actually started The New 49’ers in early 1986 with a meeting in Bill’s house in Quartzsite, Arizona.

Bill and his wife at the time, Marcy, also helped start the Pro-Mack Mining Supply store in Happy Camp during 1987. They played a very big part in organizing and managing The New 49ers all the way through the late 1990’s. Bill managed all of the weekend mining projects for many years while I was busy on other things.

Bill was one of the most loyal friends I have had in this life. We went through a lot together, through thick and thin. I could write a whole book on just the adventures (and misadventures) we went through together. Bill was a very kind person. He had a lot of friends.  We will miss him a lot.  He leaves behind his wife of many years, Jan Stumpf, 1115 Dakota Avenue, Medford, OR 97501, and his two sons, Danny & David, who were very active commercial gold dredgers (both winter and summer) in the Club during the early 90’s.

Special Sneak Preview of Lost Treasure Hunters!

Lost Treasure HuntersI just got word that Animal Planet is tentatively planning to air a sneak preview of Lost Treasure Hunters at 11 PM on 23 December.  The producer says that people should check with their local channel listings, because all of this is subject to change.  I gather that our show is supposed to follow the new season premiere of “Finding Bigfoot.” The producer also said that the international networks in Asia and Europe have picked up our show.  It’s all good news.  Now let’s hope for some good ratings!  For those of you who go to bed early like me, don’t forget to set your DVR’s!  I’ll be very interested in your comments on my Facebook page (see below).

Only 200 Special Editions Remaining!

Extreme Prospector by Dave MackAt long last, my new 512-page book “Extreme Prospector” has been delivered from the printer. The book includes my very best adventures, all rewritten to include plenty of detail and some of my best-kept secrets, including several adventures during my time in the Navy SEAL Team. As far as I know, this is the first and only adventure book ever written which brings to light the incredible excitement of discovering high-grade gold deposits – for real.  I am pleased to say that initial reviews of the book are quite good!

I only signed 500 hard cover Special Editions. As a special promotion, we are making these Special Editions available at the very same price of the soft cover version ($19.95).  The girls in our office have been taking phone orders since we put out the October newsletter: 530 493-2062. The first 300 have already been committed. The last remaining 200 Special Editions are now available on a first come, first served, basis.

“Extreme Prospector,” is also available as an ebook from Amazon for half the conventional book price ($9.95). As an Internet download, most of the images come through in color (about 250 of them) and the hyperlinks work. You can find the ebook, along with normal soft and hard cover versions of the book, right here.

Please Join Me on Facebook and Twitter!

Since this is a New 49’er newsletter, with a very rare exception, I try and keep the news on track with the things that are happening with our organization, and with the larger issues which directly affect us.  We also try and keep our Internet Forum  mostly on mining-related subjects, though we do allow a little more leeway there.

But with the launch of Extreme Prospector, I have started up a blog which broadens the context to ongoing adventures and other important news and issues that we are all facing today.  These include discussion and links to informative information about the economic realities of our time.  Important stuff!

Just as an example, my latest blog outlines the startling truth that all of these budget battles going on right now in congress about how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” in January is largely about trying to lessen the pain of an automatic cut from the federal budget of 109 billion dollars for each of the next 10 years, while overspending is still projected to be 10 times that much. Yes; the big fight is over only 10% of overspending!

The truth is that there is no real fiscal responsibility being promoted by either political party. Even if the sequestration budget cuts begin in January, our federal government is still going to be running us another trillion dollars or more in the hole every year! So what is all the noise about? The truth is that we are being fed a line of BS by our politicians and the press while America’s ship is sinking by the day. What good is bailing 10% of water that is flooding in to sink the ship? The big fight is over 10% while nobody is doing anything about the bigger problem!  This is the reality which we are all facing!  Looking out ahead, the major “fiscal cliff” is still to come.  This means we should be planning for big trouble ahead. It also means gold has nowhere to go but up, up, up!

If you are interested in these types of affairs, along with news about extreme prospecting adventures (not just mine), I invite you to visit my Facebook  page at facebook/DaveMackExtreme and follow me on Twitter @DaveMackExtreme.  There is a “Free eBook” tab on my Facebook page where you can download Chapter 10 of Extreme Prospector. 

I hope a bunch of you guys and gals will join me up there and encourage all of you to join in the discussion and “Like” my page to share with your friends.

Sign up for the Free Internet Version of this Newsletter

We strongly encourage you to sign up for the free on line version of this newsletter.  The Internet version is better, because you can immediately click directly to many of the subjects which we discuss; because the on line version is in full color; because we link you directly to locations through GPS and Google Earth technology; and because you can watch the free video segments which we incorporate into our stories.

Signing up also places you on our Political Action Team.  Things happen so fast these days; it takes too long to organize political action through the U.S. mail.  As an example, just two years ago, in concert with other mining organizations, our Internet Action Team killed anti-mining legislation in Oregon in less than a week.  Just as we go to press with this newsletter, we have our attorney analyzing a new bill (LC 2125) in Oregon which looks on its face to be something we must fight.  All of these future battles will be organized over the Internet since it is so much faster.

Sign up for our Free Internet Newsletter!

 

The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012 www.goldgold.com

 

New 49'er Newsletter

FOURTH  QUARTER, NOVEMBER 2012                                VOLUME 26, NUMBER  11

Dave Mack

By Dave McCracken

 

The drawing for three ounces of my personal gold nuggets took place at closing time in our offices in Happy Camp on 9 November.  Because she had no personal interest in the outcome, we asked Connie Rasmussen from the gift store next door to draw the tickets. At least six members made the trip to Happy Camp to be present for the drawing. Here are the winners:

One ounce of gold nuggets: Judy Shirey

Quarter-ounce of gold nuggets:  Michael Wong, Kenneth Vieu, Patrick Hanley, Dennis Scharosch.

One pennyweight of gold nuggets:  Bradley Hughes, Scott Gainey, John Otto, Steve Gottwald, Bill Frese, Gary J Zentner, Robert Eastman, Keith F McRobert, Robert F Carter, John R Smith, Jan Nelson, Bruce Greenan, Mark Cutler, Clifford Wiggins, Gerald R Fawcett, Nate Crawford, Les Martin, Gene Oliver, Tom Stull and John Laffey.

Dave Mack's Gold Nuggets  Legal drawing

Thank you to everyone who participated in this fundraiser. I was really getting worried, because there did not seem to be very much interest up until the last several days. Perhaps everyone was focused on the election. The girls in the office said the phone started ringing off the hook with supporters calling in contributions as soon as the election results were announced! We can count this fundraiser as a winner for everyone.

Congratulations to all the winners. Those beautiful nuggets of gold are yours now. I hope you appreciate them as much as I did. I feel very fortunate that they have been invested into such a worthy cause.

Any contributions received after the time of the drawing will automatically generate tickets for our next prize drawing, which will be for 25 Gold Eagles.  Our next drawing will take place at our offices in Happy Camp on Friday afternoon, 8 March 2013. You do not need to be a member of our organization to participate.  You do not need to be present to win.  Our office will automatically generate a ticket in your name for every $10 legal contribution we receive ($100 would generate 10 tickets). There is no limit to the size or frequency of your contributions, or to the number of prizes you can win.

Legal contributions can be arranged by calling (530) 493-2012, by mailing to The New 49′ers, P.O. Box 47, Happy Camp, CA 96039, or you can do it online by clicking here:

Just so you guys will know where your legal contributions are going, I asked our attorney to write up a summary of all the legal cases we are involved with in support of small-scale miners.  That has been posted right here: 

USFS Opposes our Petition to the U.S. Supreme Court!

Many of you will be aware that we have been engaged in litigation with anti-mining activists that have been attacking us through the Karuk Tribe of California since 2003. It all started with their lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), challenging that District Rangers do not have the authority to allow small-scale mining activities under a Notice of Intent (NOI) when the Ranger concludes that the mining activity is not likely to create a substantial surface disturbance.

Several months ago, after years and years of litigation, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Karuk Tribe.  USFS declined to appeal that Decision.  As the last remaining party in the case, The New 49’ers were the only organization that had standing to file a Petition to the Supreme Court. I talked more about the important ramifications of this case to America’s mining industry in our September newsletter, so I won’t repeat most of that here.

Our Petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the misguided Ninth Circuit Decision was filed on August 29, 2012.  Our fundraisers (above) are an effort to keep up with these and other legal fees defending the rights of small-scale miners.

Supreme Court

After devoting nine years defending this case in federal court against anti-mining activists, the Justice Department (Obama Administration) declined to appeal the Ninth Circuit Decision to the Supreme Court. So we should not be surprised that they have just filed a brief in Opposition to our Petition; even if it is totally unbelievable that we are appealing the Decision that they lost!  Here is our Reply.


Now the Good News:
  Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) has filed a brief supporting our Petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the recent Decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which discourages prospecting on America’s public lands. The brief was filed on behalf of PLF, Waldo Mining Association (Waldo), and Eastern Oregon Mining Association (EOMA).

Pacific Legal Foundation is another very influential, national property rights foundation which takes a lot of cases to the U.S. Supreme Court. PLF’s brief in support of our Petition argues how the Ninth Circuit Decision is already discouraging prospecting on the public lands as a direct contradiction to the will of Congress.

PLF’s brief also points out that the erroneous Decision by the Ninth Circuit would basically place an overwhelming regulatory burden upon any and every private activity (not just in mining) in which the federal government has an oversight interest, even when the federal government determines that no regulation applies.

We appreciate it very much that our brothers and sisters at EOMA and Waldo are supporting our efforts to get this terrible Ninth Circuit Decision overturned. PLF’s supporting brief, along with the supporting brief filed by Mountain States Legal Foundation on behalf of the Northwest Mining Association (see our October newsletter), increases the chances that the Supreme Court will accept our case. NWMA’s brief presents supporting arguments (to our Petition) why the Supreme Court must overturn the misguided Decision of the Ninth Circuit, or there will be dire consequences to America’s mining industry, and also nothing to prevent extremist environmental organizations from challenging private enterprise in any area where the federal government has an oversight interest – which is just about everywhere these days.

As far as I know, we are the only organization solely representing small-scale miners that has taken a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, at least since I have been involved with mining.  The final result of this case will have very important consequences upon America for the foreseeable future.  All of you who support our efforts should feel some pride that we are standing up to do the right thing for the future of our country.  We should also be gratified that the bigger players, Pacific Legal Foundation and Mountain States Legal Foundation, have joined in our cause.

Special Edition of “Extreme Prospector” is now Available!

At long last, my new 512-page book “Extreme Prospector” has been printed!

Extreme prospector by Dave Mack

I have devoted a full year of my creative energy into this project! The book includes my very best adventures, all rewritten to include plenty of detail and some of my best-kept secrets, including several adventures during my time in the U.S. Navy SEAL Team. As far as I know, this is the first and only adventure book ever written which brings to light the incredible excitement of discovering high-grade gold deposits – for real.  I am pleased to say that initial reviews of the book are quite good!

I started working hard on this book as soon as Discovery Network confirmed that several of my prospecting buddies and I were going to cast in a reality show (coming soon). I view the expanded exposure as an opportunity to raise interest in small-scale prospecting, and to raise awareness that it is big government in concert with widespread financial shenanigans that are suffocating all the life out of the American Dream.

I only signed 500 hard cover Special Editions. As a special promotion, we are making these Special Editions available at the very same price of the soft cover version ($19.95). We will be delivering the book during the third week of November.  The girls in our office have been taking phone orders since we put out the October newsletter. The first 200 have already been committed. The last remaining 300 Special Editions are now available on a first come, first served, basis.

Lost Treasure Hunters“Extreme Prospector,” is also available as an ebook from Amazon for half the conventional book price ($9.95). As an Internet download, most of the images come through in color (about 250 of them) and the hyperlinks work. You can find the ebook, along with normal soft and hard cover versions of the book, right here.

Since I mentioned the Animal Planet reality show above, I should also let you know that they have now placed a 5-minute video promotion on line. Check it out; it will give you some idea how the show is going to play out!

 

Please Join Me on Facebook and Twitter!

Since this is a New 49’er newsletter, with a very rare exception, I try and keep the news on track with the things that are happening with our organization, and with the larger issues which directly affect us. We also try and keep our Internet Forum on mostly mining-related subjects, though we do allow a little more leeway there.

But with the launch of Extreme Prospector, I have started up a blog which broadens the context to ongoing adventures and other important news and issues that we are all facing today. These include discussion and links to informative information about the economic realities of our time. Important stuff!

Just as an example, An American friend of mine and I took a drive down to Bataan about a week ago. That is Bataan, as in the “Bataan Death March,” which began on 12 April, 1942. My understanding of the history is that we were not able to hold off the invasion because there was no replenishment of supplies and reinforcements. This was because the Japanese took out our Pacific fleet in Hawaii on the same day they invaded the Philippines. After months of fighting against overwhelming odds, 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers finally surrendered to the Japanese army on the 9th of April, 1942. Yes; I got that number right!

While the story is heartbreaking, we should also be inspired and reminded that no matter how bad things can get, there always remains hope that we can come back and win the day. While we are going through difficult times in America today, we have come back from much worse situations. It’s not over until it is over!

If you are interested in these types of affairs, along with news about extreme prospecting adventures (not just mine), I invite you to visit my Facebook page at facebook/DaveMackExtreme and follow me on Twitter @DaveMackExtreme. There is a “Free eBook” tab on my Facebook page where you can download Chapter 10 of Extreme Prospector.

I hope a bunch of you guys and gals will join me up there and encourage all of you to join in the discussion and “Like” my page to share with your friends.

Sign up for the Free Internet Version of this Newsletter

We strongly encourage you to sign up for the free on line version of this newsletter.  The Internet version is better, because you can immediately click directly to many of the subjects which we discuss; because the on line version is in full color; because we link you directly to locations through GPS and Google Earth technology; and because you can watch the free video segments which we incorporate into our stories.

 

The New 49’ers Prospecting Association, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, California 96039 (530) 493-2012
www.goldgold.com

 

By Dave McCracken
Getting pinned solidly to the bottom by a huge hunk of bedrock that
Crumbled off the Side of the River!
Dave Mack
It was a judgement call. Obviously I made it wrong because it almost killed me. But it was the first time I had ever run into this sort of situation before. I was not sure what to do about the fractures in the bedrock wall that was hanging over me. Should I have put the chisel edge of my five-foot pry bar into it to see if it’s loose? I finally decided that might loosen it up even further and make it more unstable if I was not able to break it loose using the bar. This was a guessing game. I knew it, and I guessed that the bedrock wall would hold together if I left it alone. I simply guessed wrong this time, that’s all.goldIn dredging for gold, there are a lot of things you are not sure of, so you have to use your best judgment to make a guess.It all started several years earlier when we discovered a very rich pay-streak on the Klamath River in northern California near the confluence of Thompson Creek, about 10 miles upstream from the town of Happy Camp. We were performing a sampling contract for a company out of Salt Lake City. They were looking for a special type of gold deposit, mainly very consistently high-grade for long term production. This particular deposit did not qualify because it did not produce at least a pound of gold every day. It did produce a pound on some days though, sometimes as much as two pounds. But there were also quite a few two and three ounce days which disqualified the deposit as far as the principals were concerned. So we moved on to sample in other locations for the remainder of that season, and we located several other semi-rich deposits which we left behind in our hunt for the real motherlode.

Several years then quickly passed by while the deposits we found during the sampling program could not be touched, in case the company which paid for the sampling decided to exploit the deposits according to their option. They were waiting for the gold prices to skyrocket as we all have been waiting. But instead, the price just slowly kept edging downward. The company finally dropped its lease. So several seasons ago, my partner and I went to work at the head of the deposit where the amount of gold is more inconsistent, but pays quite handsomely in the pockets. Because of other commitments we both had, my partner and I were only able to dredge on a part-time basis, but the deposit did appear to be getting better as we dredged forward. We were getting more excited, and trying to squeeze more and more time in as the season went on.

The biggest problem we had was the huge boulders! We were working in an average of ten feet of tightly packed virgin hard-packed streambed material. The bottom had a layer of boulders most which we were able to shift around to dredge the gold off the bedrock. But there were occasional huge boulders up in the material, sometimes sitting right on top, just waiting to fall into the hole on top of us. It was a very dangerous hole!

The gold was coming from the bottom two or three feet of virgin hard-pack, and on bedrock if it was rough and irregular. To make the gold really add up in our recovery system, all we had to do was move the volume through and uncover a bunch of the bottom layer. When the bedrock was right for it, we would get a handsome bonus. Sometimes the pockets contained so much gold, we could stir our fingers in it! The bonuses were getting more often as we moved on, and we were really synchronizing our effort to move the material. We were also working really hard!

Since we were not using a winch at the time, it was a constant challenge to move the boulders out of the way safely. The two of us together could roll many of them out of the hole. This would allow us room on bedrock to roll the really big ones. When a big one was uncovered in the top layer, which we knew we would not be able to move once it was dropped into our hole, we would try and safely make room for it on the bedrock so we could undercut the boulder and drop it on a spot where the gold had already been dredged. This is a very dangerous method of dredging which I do not generally recommend. It requires you to be constantly on guard; and even so, your life is on the line all the time!

Still, underwater mining can be a dangerous business. Sometimes where you find the richest gold deposits prompts you to take personal risks. You find yourself in situations where every decision you make can directly affect the final outcome.

Dredging under a five-ton boulder (underwater estimated weight) and trying to calculate just how much you can take out to loosen it up enough to roll, without taking so much that it rolls in on top of you, is also a dangerous game. We call these boulders “Loomers.” It is a very high-risk job, because it is difficult to tell what material is holding up the boulder, or what affect the current is having on the boulder or the face of your excavation. You can never take your eyes or some part of your body off the boulder even for a split second. You have to be poised to jump out of the way at any given instant; because sometimes, the boulder will come crashing down with no warning whatsoever!

But the worst part of this type of dredging is cleaning the bedrock when there is a loomer hanging over you way up in the material. It is another judgement point (guessing game) as to how much of your “working face” (side of the hole that you are dredging) that you can dredge without undercutting the boulder too much. Most of the time, my partner and I were managing this with me running the nozzle deeper in the hole, and my partner watching the boulder while holding onto my shoulder, ready to pull me out of the hole quickly if the boulder started to move. Needless to say, this was very high-stress for both of us, and confirms the sensibility of a winch.

With a winch, you simply hook onto a boulder before it becomes a “loomer” and you pull it down and out of your hole.

Needless to say, we went home feeling queasy at the end of nearly every day we were working this pay-streak without a winch. I was having nightmares about not being able to move out of the way fast enough, or taking my eyes off a loomer at the wrong moment…

It was becoming apparent that my partner thought I was crazy to take such chances! Actually, I was being very careful; we did not have any near misses. But I knew it was just a matter of time. The odds were against us.(me)

We could have moved to any number of other mining properties if we wanted to. But the gold was so rich on this property, I decided to assume the calculated risks that were involved.

So I did not have my full attention on the state of the bedrock wall that was hanging over me. I noticed that it was fractured and the cracks were big. The problem was that we were dredging under a cave-like overhang of bedrock on the side of the river. We just had our best production days right behind us. I was watching out for big rocks on the working face, and I was paying a lot of attention to the gold I was seeing on the bedrock!

There had never been any time in the past where a bedrock wall had collapsed into one of our dredge holes!

It was time to take another cut off the top-front of our working face; and as I took material off the top six or seven feet, I noticed (again) that I was removing support from the hanging bedrock wall. The thought crossed me that I should do something about it, but what? Perhaps try prying on it to see if the bedrock was loose? It was hanging menacingly right over where I was dredging. I also was keeping my eye on a good sized boulder up in the material that I was going to have to do something about pretty soon.

After we moved the loomer, we were down in the hole underneath the cracked bedrock overhang watching the gold go up the nozzle. Then we uncovered a “two-roller” sitting on the bedrock. A two-roller is a rock that takes two persons to roll. Just as we finished rolling the rock to the back of the hole, with no warning, the bedrock slab came down on top of me in two pieces! The first hit me on the back and shoved me forward, ending up on my right leg. The second piece landed on top of the first and drove my foot hard against the bedrock.

The pain was almost unbearable, but was quickly replaced by panic as I realized that I was pinned solidly to the bottom. The hunks of broken bedrock on top of me had me pinned face down on my cobble pile, and I was not able to turn around to see how big they were; this was terrifying! And it hurt real bad which added to my severe discomfort. My first impulse was to try and pull myself free; and there was no way. This just sharpened the pain as the movement caused the heavy weight to settle more firmly on my foot.

My partner was not hit by the falling bedrock, but was obviously very upset about my situation. He told me later that he thought my leg must have been crushed into pulp by the sheer impact of the slabs when they came down. Both our heads had been in the same position as my leg only seconds before. If the slabs had come down on our heads or backs, we would have been killed instantly. We were both stunned by this reality.

I gave my partner the sign that I was O.K. and signaled for him to try and lift up on the slabs so I could pull my foot out. I still had no idea of how large the slabs were, but was getting a better idea when my partner was not able to even budge them when he put his full weight into it. This added to my panic. I knew we were towards the end of a three hour dive and there was not much gas left in the dredge. The pain in my foot was killing me! I was not prepared to wait while he went up to gas the dredge; I wanted out from under the slabs now!

There is also some risk to gassing up a dredge while it is running. We have caught a few dredges on fire that way! Shutting down a running engine creates a situation where you might not be able to get it started, again. There was only a minute or so of air reserve for me once the dredge shut down. So gassing it up while I was pinned to the bottom was very risky! But what if the dredge ran out of gas while I was pinned?

I signaled to my partner to go get the 5-foot pry bar. Neither of us knew exactly where it was. We had been allowing two other New 49’er Members to dredge in the outside of our hole, but they had taken the day off. They had used our 5-foot pry bar the day before and we had not seen it all day. My partner went off to look for it. As my partner went off to look for it, I really started feeling trapped like I was close to the very uncomfortable end of my life, and it was out of my hands. Very few times in my life have I been in a position where I certainly was going to die within a very few minutes if someone else did not perform exceptionally well! I still had no idea if the slabs were so big that even the 5-foot pry bar would not budge them. The full weight of the slabs were slowly crushing my foot flatter and flatter to the bedrock.

My partner’s airline was tangled in mine. So, as he reached the outside of our dredge hole, his line pulled against mine. He spotted the bar outside of our hole, on the very outside edge. He felt his airline go tight against something; but in his panic to get to the bar, he lunged forward against the tug on the line. When he lunged, it yanked the regulator right out of my mouth! This really panicked me. With all my might, I pulled him back by our airlines. I had no idea he had even located the bar, much less gotten that close to it. When he came back, he did not have the bar; my foot felt like it was being crushed off; and he thought I was certainly dying by the violence with which I had reeled him in. In desperation, I had him try and lift the rock off me again even though I knew it wasn’t going to work! I guess I was starting to get a little delirious in my pain and panic. This time, I tried pulling my leg out with all my strength. The resulting pain was excruciating! Man, was I pinned solid!

There was no alternative. I gave my buddy the signals to first untangle our airlines, and then continue to look for the bar. You don’t know what patience is until you have had to wait for someone under this condition! All I could do was wait and hope. It did not take long before he was back with the bar. I set the point of the bar, myself, to make sure in his own panic, my partner did not get my foot between the bar and the slabs. My whole beingness was in a state of hope that the pry bar would give the necessary leverage to move the slab enough that I could pull my foot free. There was one sincere voice from somewhere telling me that the slabs were too big and heavy even for the pry bar.

Once the bar was set, I positioned myself to pull with everything I had, to break free and gave the signal. He pried; I pulled; and my leg came smoothly free. What a wonderful relief! Then I grabbed my foot to get an assessment of the damage. Possibly a bad bruise, maybe a mild break, I was thinking. My partner misread the action, grabbed me around the waist, and was going to help me get to the surface. I signaled him that I was okay, and then gave him the signal to please go gas up the dredge. I was going to remain down to dredge for awhile longer.

I sincerely believe that if it is at all possible, it is best to stay in the immediate vicinity of a location in which you have suffered severe injury or fear until the immediate shock wears off. I feel the body and mind will heal itself faster, and I also don’t like to leave right away because it leaves me feeling like I am running away. I could see by the look in my partner’s eyes that he did not approve, but I insisted.

So we dredged for a few more hours directly in front of the slabs. They were too big to move, so we dredged around them. I made it a point to make sure they were left well behind in our cobble pile before knocking off for the day, even though my foot hurt and I was not able to put very much weight on it. As it turned out, nothing was broken except my boot. The steel tip was crushed so tight that I could barely squeeze my toes out! This was further confirmation of the value of steel tipped boots! Without the steel tip, I surely would have lost some toes or perhaps my whole foot!

And now? I have dropped back on the pay-streak and have incorporated a floating winch into my dredging program.

My partner of that time quit shortly thereafter. The experience, I believe, was harder on him than it was on me. When I told him to go gas the dredge after the accident, I could see that he knew in his own mind that he was not going to dredge along side me, no matter how good the gold was.

And now? I watch out for the bedrock! What am I going to do next time I find a fractured overhang like that? I’m not sure. But one thing I won’t do is turn my back to it!

Here is where you can buy a sample of natural gold.

Here is where you can buy Gold Prospecting Equipment & Supplies.

 

By Dave McCracken

Showing people how to find high-grade gold has as much to do with developing the proper focus as it does with passing along helpful information.

Dave Mack

 

Running a successful mining operation is one thing. Helping someone else to be able to run a successful operation is something else altogether. During the past several years, we have worked with hundreds of people in basic gold mining techniques and dozens of men and women in commercial underwater mining procedures. We have also had the opportunity to observe many others conduct their own mining operations in Africa, South and Central America, Alaska, Canada, Indonesia, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Madagascar and along the rivers of Northern California. Working with the theories and procedures, you are also working with the person’s ability, or lack of ability, to apply the principles.

A number of years ago, it became apparent that future growth and success of my own commercial activities in this field would depend, in part, on our ability to guide others in successful gold mining procedures–not just in theory, but in actual application. As part of our effort to improve our capabilities, I have personally devoted quite a lot of effort trying to understand why some people (a healthy percentage, actually) cannot seem to acquire the ability of practical application of successful mining and sampling procedures–even though they apparently understand all of the theory behind them.

I personally know a fair number of successful gold miners; some who we worked with and some who learned on their own. Some are successful on a smaller-scale. Some mine gold to support themselves and their families.

I also know a fair number of rather unsuccessful miners, some who we have given some help to and others who would not accept help if their lives depended upon it.

Unquestionably, there is a distinct difference between successful miners, partially successful miners, and those who are completely unsuccessful. A fundamental way to explain the differences is with the concept of wavelengths.

Consider the idea that each person is similar to an electronic frequency radio tuner, and that the universe consists of an infinity of possible frequencies which can be tuned in. I propose a theory that successful gold miners have themselves more finely tuned on a particular frequency than those who are not so successful.

Why is it that sometimes you try and tell a person how to do something better, when the person obviously does not know how to do it properly–but the person won’t listen, won’t understand, wants to disagree, becomes suspicious of you, won’t accept help or rejects your information? Helpful information is coming the person’s way, but the person is not tuned to the frequency to receive and utilize the signal. In fact, he may be tuned to a rejection-frequency.

One of the primary common denominators I recognize being present in successful miners alike is a never-ending drive, or hunger, or urge to get on and stay on the pay-streak during their mining activities. You can actually SEE this drive or hunger as part of their beingness. This urge is similar to an entrepreneur looking for a good investment opportunity, or a businessman wanting to close a profitable deal, or a musician trying to create an exceptional melody, or the drive an athlete has to win a race.

All gold miners WANT to be successful and find lots of gold. The difference is that successful miners CREATE success by learning how to do it, by hustling around to find the best opportunities, and by actually making success happen. The best simply have themselves more finely tuned and focused on the desired wavelength!

Unsuccessful people often allow themselves to be diverted off the wavelength by little losses, or unknowns, along the way–or by little decisions: “I can’t do it,” “I don’t know,” “I’m not good enough,” “It’s too hard, etc.”

As an example, I can look back to my own involvement with gymnastics in high school. I was moderately successful–enough to become co-captain of our team during my senior year. But there were others we competed against who were far better than me.

I look at these kids today who are near perfection and realize that I was never really even in the league. Why? At the time I felt that those who were better had more inherent gymnastics ability than I did. But the truth is that they were more focused into advanced-gymnastics perfection than I was. This made them better gymnasts. There is no rightness or wrongness in this; you end up receiving exactly what you focus upon.

Someone more sympathetic might say that I lacked the proper coaching. And I’m sure thaey are right that exteriour environmental factors play a part in this. But even the best coach cannot help a person who insists upon setting fixed personal limitations.

My ex wife’s son, Derek Parra, wanted to be the world’s fastest speed roller-skater. He finished high school a half year early with honors; and with no money or financial support, moved to Florida where he could be near a world-class coach. He made the world skating team in his first year and took a gold medal at the World Games. When he realized that roller skating would not make it into the Olympic games during his time, he made the very difficult move of switching from the top of the roller world to the lower-end of ice skating. But within several years, he worked his way up to take gold and silver metals in the Olympics. Now that is focus far beyond coaching!!

I’m focused on being the world’s best underwater mining specialist–and on helping others, also, to be very good at it.

In working at this, I am finding that showing people how to do it only partially has to do with passing along helpful information. It actually seems more to do with developing the proper focus. This is why hands-on experience is so enormously valuable in any field.

If I wanted to be an expert at computer programming, I would spend the necessary time learning the basics and then devote myself, at any cost, for a year or two working under the guidance of a proven master. Why? Because the Master is riding directly on the frequency of success in this endeavor. His tuner is locked onto the precise channel I am searching for. My time is valuable. Why spend ten years trying to attain the successful frequency when I can learn it from a master in one tenth the time?

There is a big difference between having an understanding of the theory of mining, and having the ability to apply knowledge perfectly to obtain the optimum result.

The following is a short list of some of the differences I have noticed between successful and unsuccessful people — both inside and outside of the field of gold mining:

Receiving Help: Successful people willingly and gladly accept help wherever it is needed. They also tend to be freely willing to extend a helping hand to others who are in need. Unsuccessful people have a perverted idea of help, sometimes expecting others to do the job for them— and then being suspicious of the helpers, wondering what their malicious intent might be. They might refuse help to others altogether–or help somebody so they can gain leverage over them. Some refuse help from others, feeling they don’t deserve it–or sometimes feel that to accept help would be admitting failure. Such people are almost impossible to help.

Handling Data and Knowledge: Successful people, and those on their way towards success, tend to be hungry for new and more information which they can utilize to boost themselves towards accomplishment. Each piece of useful information is learned with care, sorted properly as to its importance and usefulness, and held in standby as another tool in a never-ending drive for success.

Unsuccessful people often can be spotted trying to be “experts,” trying to “remember” bits and pieces of information to prove to others they know what they are talking about.

Most often, because of lack of true focus on accomplishing a goal, the unsuccessful person also has an inability to evaluate the different degrees of importance of information. For example, such a person might not understand (as far as his ability to apply knowledge in the gold-finding field), that the datum “Gold is six times heavier than gravel” is substantially-more important than “Gold is an excellent conductor of electricity.” An electrician would see the second datum as more important. A successful miner knows the first datum is more important to him, because it is a far more useful tool, by today’s methods, in finding where gold deposits are located.

Focus and Intention: You cannot be an expert at everything. Successful people choose the areas in which they want to do well and focus their attention and intention (getting on the frequency) at becoming good in those areas.

Such people are a breeze to train. If you are not telling them how to do it, they are figuring it out for themselves. Unsuccessful people tend to focus either too narrowly–where they cannot evaluate importance, or too broadly — where they don’t have the necessary attention or intention to follow through. Often, unsuccessful people tend to focus on failure, problems, barriers, or resentments, rather than focus on what needs to be done to get on with progress.

Handling setbacks: There is no one who hates a failure more than a predominantly-successful person! However, many very valuable lessons are learned the hard way by doing things less than perfect the first few attempts–especially when treading on new territory. Successful people generally have enough personal drive to learn from mistakes and keep pushing forward even though there may be some pain and discomfort during the process.

Unsuccessful people tend to collapse because of setbacks, resulting in the primary focus staying on the problems, rather than achievement of the goal of success. After a time, small setbacks add up to a major failure – which eventually results in the person giving up altogether on the endeavor. We see this quite regularly in gold mining, when a person is in the prospecting phase and doesn’t find a pay-streak right away.

The successful person, even while hurt during setbacks, recovers from the loss, re-focuses on the goal, throws off the negative energy, feeds on the gains, and keeps moving forward as best he or she can.

Dealing With Success: Many unsuccessful people don’t do well because they do not feel they deserve to. But most often you will find them consciously blaming others for their problems and failures. Lack of responsibility for one’s self and one’s actions goes hand in hand with failure. Along with this, you will find unsuccessful people constantly upset and resentful at the success of others who are working more energetically towards accomplishment of life’s goals.

I can often tell who my true friends are not; those who are disappointed every time I get into an excellent pay-streak!

Generally, successful miners are happy to see others do well–unless the other happens to be someone who is first to a person’s secret hot spot. A successful miner might be a bit envious of another’s gold find–but probably not resentful. And if anything, he is most likely to spur himself on to work harder to find a better hot spot of his own.

Personal Integrity: This is most important, so I left it for last. What kind of person am I? Certainly there will not be much personal improvement if we are not willing to look at what we are, and be honest with ourselves about what we see.

Don’t like what you see? Change it–don’t bury it! Everyone is somewhere on the scale from heaven to hell. The direction upward is through personal honesty, integrity and willingness to improve those things you see in yourself which you are not pleased with. The way downward is to not look, to hide from yourself, and to be ruled by those things inside yourself that you don’t like…

Cheaters never really win! Because, by definition, a person who feels he must cheat to win is below the level of actually playing the game in the first place. Therefore, cheaters are really living in a game of their own–not truly in communication with those around them. Giving up your true self, your real happiness and your personal well-being, is a huge price to pay for having some temporary material belongings.

There are a lot of unhappy people around who act like they are happy. Look around. What do you think their problem is? However, even their game is not over. Wherever a person finds him or herself, the road continues in two directions.

Successful people win their games by focusing themselves towards accomplishment within the rules of the game. Don’t like the rules? Do something effective to bring about agreement to have the rules changed. Winning the game by the rules brings great satisfaction, and successful people are willing to put out the necessary effort to gain each step along the way. Sure, it’s always a bit more difficult to not take the unethical short cuts which present themselves. But real progress is built upon a solid foundation of the ability to accomplish.

Unsuccessful people can often be found looking for the short cuts, the get-rich-quick schemes, or are willing to bend the rules–or cheat outright to win the game the easy way. Ultimately, such gains are only temporary because they are not built upon a foundation of the ability to create or perform–only the ability to take advantage of shortcuts.

Personal integrity is most important, because a person’s ultimate success in life, or mining, or any other endeavor, starts from his or her own source-point, wherever that may be. A person low in personal integrity may not allow himself to succeed, regardless of how hard we try and train him! The desire to be a successful gold miner, computer programmer, athlete, or good husband, is an impulse that begins and ends with the individual. And if the person isn’t being honest with himself, who he is, what he is, what he is doing, what principle he stands for, and where he truly wants to go, then it’s more than likely the person will not have the necessary drive to become truly successful at mining.

So you can see, there is more to helping a person to become successful than just showing him or her how to do it right. Sometimes, you also have to help get the person onto the success-frequency. And when you have accomplished this, then you have struck real pay-dirt.

 

By Dave McCracken

“When lots of gold starts coming into play, everyone gets excited and in a hurry!”

Dave Mack

At the beginning of a recent season, my partners and I were sampling a promising section of our properties along the Klamath River for new pay-streaks. We had dredged several holes and were onto a deposit. Since we did not know if it was high-grade enough for us to work, we were dredging more holes up and down the deposit to get a better idea. On the fourth or fifth test hole, we uncovered a section of bedrock which had gold lying all over it; it was truly rich!

Something always happens in the dredge hole when dredgers start uncovering lots of gold! It does not matter how professional or experienced the operators are. When lots of gold starts coming into play, everyone gets excited and in a hurry. And it was no different on this occasion.

There was a pretty good sized boulder in front of us, slightly up in the streambed material. It was too large for one of us to move. But we thought both of us, working together, could probably roll it to the rear of our hole. Hurriedly, because we were anxious to see more gold on the bedrock, we made room behind us for the boulder by throwing a bunch of smaller rocks and cobbles further behind. Then we climbed upstream of that big rock and gave it a shove. The rock moved more-easily than we thought and slammed into the hole—right on top of my airline!

divers under waterWe use extra heavy-duty airline, the kind that does not kink under normal working conditions. I have tossed cobbles onto it hundreds or thousands of times; I have rolled boulders over it; and I have never had an instance where the airline was damaged in any visible way. That is, until this time.

As soon as the boulder stopped moving, I lost all my air supply. That is when I realized the boulder had pinned my airline underneath. I was already winded from the exertion of shoving on the boulder. So quickly, my partner Rob and I put our shoulders against the boulder, propped it up, and I pulled my airline out just far enough to see that it was split almost in half. We set the boulder down to deal with this new problem, but the boulder still had my airline trapped from behind.

These kinds of emergencies unfold very quickly when they happen underwater. One moment everything is fine. And the next moment, your life is hanging in the balance of what you do! I had a similar event once where I got pinned to the bottom by a slab of bedrock that fell on top of me from the side of the river.

First I thought I might be able to get air by holding the airline together and compressing it in my hand. This did not work and I was really starting to hurt for air; the second stage of panic was just starting in. What is the second stage of panic? It’s when you are on the verge of a psychotic break!

I looked to Rob and signaled him to cut my weight belts loose. We were working in fast water and I was using a second 25-pound belt to keep me in the hole. Instead, Rob handed me his regulator. Good idea, I had not even thought of that! So I took five long, deep breaths from Rob’s regulator. I would have taken more, but he had that “growing worried” look in his eye. The air was a big help, but far from satisfying; my body was demanding more.

However, the air did reduce my emotional state down to first stage panic—which is non-careful, frantic action. I signaled for Rob to release my belts again. The reason I was asking Rob to remove them is that a face mask prevents a diver from being able to see his or her own belt, so it is much easier for a second diver to release them.

I had one heavy belt which carried about 60-pounds of lead. And my second belt, with about 25-pounds, was connected to my airline. Rob released my heavy belt, not seeing that the airline was still connected to me.

This was all happening very fast. Rob was having panic problems of his own, because he was desperate for air while I was breathing off his regulator. When I handed him his regulator back, he was having trouble removing the water from it. So Rob cut his own weights loose and was gone with his own airline. With my heavy belt gone, I floated up into the current and reached the end of my airline (which was still stuck under the boulder), stuck about six feet from the surface. I immediately reached second stage panic; I was dying for air!

We use a boom on the front of our production dredges to help support the suction hose. A cable extends from the boom down to the suction hose. Looking up from my suspended position, I realized I was in reach of the boom cable. I had already frantically tried to find the quick-release buckle on my weight belt. But the belt had shifted around somehow; and with my heavy rubber gloves on, and in my panicked state of hurriedness, I could not find the buckle. I snapped into third stage panic, grabbed onto the cable and started pulling myself to the surface with everything I had. It was an inch at a time.

Finally, when my face was about one foot from the surface, the airline would no longer give. So close, but so far! In a last ditch adrenaline pull, I managed to get my mouth just above the water’s surface; I got a breath of air and water. I did it a few more times. Then I pulled my glove off the right hand, stuck it under my left armpit (no use in throwing away a good right-handed glove), and reached around to release the weight belt. It fell away and I was quickly on top of the dredge. Rob was up there hoping I was going to make it.

That one was close!

While I was catching my breath on the surface, without any delay, I asked Rob to go down and recover our belts and my air line. We repaired the line with some parts in our tool box, fueled up the dredge, and went right back down to finish the sample hole. I immediately went back down to finish the dive because I believe it is important to get back on the horse that throws you without delay, especially when you are feeling emotional trauma from a harrowing experience.

The pay-streak turned out to be a good, rich one!

I learned a few valuable safety lessons that day—the primary one being to not roll heavy rocks across my airline. This means knowing exactly where my airline is, along with everyone else’s in the hole, at the time when boulders are being moved.

fast waterHere are a few other pointers we have learned about airlines from our experience: Stay aware of where your airline is. Do not allow it to get wrapped and tangled around objects, the suction hose, tangled with other divers’ airlines. Immediately untangle your airline if it does get caught up in any way that might prevent you from getting quickly to the surface or the stream bank in an emergency.

I am a true believer in extra heavy-duty, non-kinking airline. Not only is it non-kinking, but it is also a safety line. We run several wraps around the frame of our dredge before plugging our airlines into the air system. This way, if we need to pull ourselves up the airline in an emergency, we are not pulling directly against brass fittings.

Airlines generally float when being used under normal circumstances. This means you have to watch out that yours does not get tangled around the underside of your dredge. Airlines usually sink to the bottom when they are being used in conjunction with a hot water system, which pumps hot water down to the dredger through a second line that is fastened to the airline. In this case, you have to watch what the airline might get tangled around on the bottom of the river. And, spoken from hard-won experience, you have to be careful not to roll boulders on top of it. You also have to watch that you do not bury your air line with cobbles being thrown behind your dredge hole.

Avoid using longer airlines than are necessary. Ten or twenty feet longer than the suction hose is just fine. Longer airlines tend to get caught on more objects and set up more drag in the current.

When we are working in fast current, and the heavy drag on the airline is a problem, we pull our airlines up onto the back-side of the dredge hole and put a cobble on top to hold it there against the fast water. The cobble must be large enough to hold the airline down, but not so large that you cannot jerk it free in an emergency rush for the surface or stream bank.

We always untangle and unwrap our airlines on our way to the surface at the end of every dive. This gives us a free airline to coil up on deck at the end of the day, or to use again at the beginning of the next dive.

two guys dredgingAnd we always replace or repair a damaged or defective airline without delay. Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law) lurks behind every corner! There are so many details to get right in a dredging operation of any size. There are many things which can possibly go wrong. We try to do everything right to avoid problems. But one thing we should never get lazy about is maintenance action on our air systems. If it even looks like it could be a problem, fix it now! And use quality repairs! Clamping copper tubing between two pieces of airline is not the way to do it!

All in all, I believe safety is a personal matter. This is all about having the right approach in the first place. Different people have different levels of ability doing different things. While one person may have trouble walking across the street without encountering grave personal danger, another person can stay out of personal danger while pursuing hang-gliding or sky-diving activities.

Still, it is true that the more adventuresome the activity, the less margin there is for error. And in adventuresome activities, when things do go wrong, it often turns into a life-threatening emergency. So it is very important to cross all your “T’s” and dot all your “I’s” when it comes to your air system.

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