Sampling Report on K-2A at Gottville

By Sean, New 49′er Member #905

Recently, my two partners, Steve and Wendell, and I were allowed special permission to spend a weekend doing some dredge-testing on a private mining claim located in the heart of the Gottville Mining District on the Klamath River. We were very excited; as anyone with local knowledge will tell you that the Gottville area is one of the richest mining districts on the Klamath River. This claim is located near mile marker 92 along Highway 96. It is about 4 miles upriver from the town of Klamath River. It is the area where you see all the very large rock piles situated on both sides of the river.

While looking for the boundary markers, we walked around many huge piles of rocks and gravel. At first, we thought these were tailings from earlier mining. But it was later explained to us that these are actually piles of river material that were dragged up into big piles by mechanized derricks to allow the old-timers to work the deeper pay-layers behind wing dams out in the river. You can clearly see where the river used to run and that’s why this area had a lot of activity from the old-timers. I made a mental note that if I ever got to return to this claim, the high-banking potential in the big piles looks to be as rich as the dredging in the river!

After we located the boundary markers, we went looking for access points to get to the river. We found an incredible Forest Service parking area complete with a bathroom and concrete launch ramp. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

As part of our sampling plan, we test-panned some of the sand around the launch ramp. We could not believe how much the beach sand was holding small flecks of gold! Still, we knew better than to dig up the river access; because that’s where rafters and boaters launch their gear. But seeing all that gold in the sand was a great sign!

We immediately assembled our dredges while discussing where to start dredging test holes out in the river.

We decided that splitting up was the best. This way, we could prospect both sides of the river. So we floated two dredges across and kept one on the Hwy-96 side. The water was running a bit swift in the middle of the river, so we used a small inflatable boat to guide the dredges across.

Once we began dredging, we noticed layer-color changes as we started our dredge holes. I thought I saw a few flakes of gold go up the nozzle as I worked the overburden looking for contact zones or bedrock.

Soon it was time for a break and I headed straight for my sluice box. Wow, was I excited to see the gold flakes sitting on my black matt! So much for the break, and back to work I went!

I ran up against some large boulders and decided to turn out towards the center of the river as far as I could go without getting into the faster water. Before I knew it, shadows were covering the river. It was time to clean up, and also find out what my friends had found.

One friend’s progress had stalled due to a mechanical breakdown on his dredge. Too bad! Checking on my other partner across the river, a big grin was all I needed to see to know that he was also into something special. Within seconds, I started shouting when I found a large gold-covered piece of quartz in my sluce box! Here is a picture of the nugget:

This is a good claim!

Day two: We were only being allowed two days on this claim by the owner. Because we were there really to test the claim, rather than mine it, we decided to swing back across the river and work the Hwy-96 side.

We punched several more dredge holes to try and isolate what layer the gold was concentrated in. In the process, I uncovered an old hand-carved wing dam. Amazed at the craftsmanship, it gave me a good feeling to find something of quality that an earlier generation of miners left behind. A lot of special work was invested right there by some small-scale miners, probably not much different than me. This area was rich enough for the old-timers using very primitive methods, so I know it must be really good on the other side of the wing dam! But there was not enough time to go there on this particular trip.

Next time, though…

We found the gold was coming from a pay layer we think was formed during the 1997 flood. This layer wasn’t very deep into the streambed. Underneath that was a grayish hard pack, which might be the virgin material that the old-timers could not get with their wing dams. We were finding gold everywhere in the hard-pack. It was like background gold, but in paying quantities!

We finished up doing some production dredging that last afternoon, concentrating on the upper pay layer to see what we could do.

When all was said and done, I had some small quarts rocks with gold on them, so be sure to check your pans when you get down to the small stuff. I recovered one particular nice-sized quartz piece with gold ribbon around it, along with just under a quarter-ounce of match-head and rice grain-sized gold.

My partner had about 8 hours nozzle time between sampling and an afternoon of production work. His clean-up surprised me for how much gold he had for so little time. The gold was nice-size with about half sitting on top of a #20 screen. He had 11pieces that sat on top of a #10 screen – NUGGETS. His total recovery was 2/3 of an ounce, also using a 5-inch dredge.

In closing I cannot believe The New 49′ers were able to acquire this claim! I am very excited that, as a New 49ers member, this claim is going to be available to me, again. Look for Steve, Wendell and I to be back there this summer! We won’t miss out on getting our share of Gottville History Gold!