Joint Venture Agreement


THIS JOINT VENTURE AGREEMENT (the “Agreement”) made and entered into this ____ day of _____________, between The New 49’ers, Incorporated, 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039 (The New 49’ers), and the following person:Name: _________________________________________________________________

Address/ Phone: _________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________Phone:________________

hereinafter individually referred to as Participant(s) (“Participant(s)”) of the Joint Venture, having signed this Agreement prior to the Joint Venture taking effect. Numerous other persons may be included in this Joint Venture, each of whom will sign a copy of this Agreement. The other Participants of the Joint Venture are identified on the list attached hereto as Exhibit “A.”

BACKGROUND:

A. The Participants wish to enter into an association of mutual benefit to jointly invest into and operate a small-scale mining Project.

B. The terms and conditions of this Agreement set out the terms and conditions governing this association.

IN CONSIDERATION OF and as a condition of the Participants entering into this Agreement and other valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is acknowledged, the parties to this Agreement agree as follows:

Formation

By this Agreement, the Participants enter into a Joint Venture (“Joint Venture”) in accordance with the laws of the State of California. The rights and obligations of the Participants will be as stated in the applicable laws of the State of California pertaining to Joint Ventures except as otherwise provided in this Agreement.

Name

The business name of the Joint Venture will be the ­­­___________________, Group Mining Venture

Purpose

The exclusive purpose of the Joint Venture will be to locate and develop one or more high-grade gold deposits (the “Project”) on unpatented mining claims or private property where The New 49’ers are allowed a license to mine.

Term

4. The Joint Venture will begin on _________________, and will continue to be effective and in full force for one week or until terminated as provided in this Agreement.

Place of Business

5. The principal office and legal address of the business of the Joint Venture will be located at 27 Davis Road, Happy Camp, CA 96039.

Management

6. The Participants each agree that Dave McCracken is an agent of The New 49’ers, assigned as the General Manager of the Joint Venture. It is agreed that the General Manager will provide services to the Joint Venture including mining expertise, local knowledge and leadership, and shall have the authority to make all final decisions about how the Project and associated activity will be conducted.

Capital Contributions

7. Each of the Participants shall contribute to the capital of the Joint Venture, in cash, or other negotiable instruments (funds), real property or experienced-assistance in the Project in
agreed-upon value, as determined by the General Manager.

Utilization of Capital Contribution Funds

8. Capital contribution funds shall be used by the General Manager to pay costs associated with the Joint Venture. There will be no return to Participants of funds from capital contributions that are in excess of costs associated with the Joint Venture once the Joint Venture is completed. Any such excess funds will be retained by the General Manager to be his property as compensation for his services to the Joint Venture.

9. Because the General Manager is not a Participant of the Joint Venture, he will not receive a share of the recovered gold, but instead will receive compensation for his services as set forth in paragraph 8, above.

Distribution of Recovered Gold

10. All recovered gold from the Project will be split evenly amongst the Participants on the final day of the Project, except as provided in paragraph 19, below.

11. If larger-sized gold nuggets are recovered that cannot be split up evenly, by majority vote, the Participants will devise an equitable means to distribute the larger pieces of gold.

12. No representation or guarantees are made by The New 49’ers or the General Manager to any Participant about how much gold will be recovered during the Project.

Tax Consequences

13. No gold will be sold during the duration of the Joint Venture. Therefore, there will be no financial income for the Joint Venture. The Joint Venture does not intend to file any tax returns or any reporting forms.

14. If there are any tax consequences from the share of gold received by a Participant, or a Participant’s sale of such gold, it will be the full responsibility of the individual Participant to file returns with the appropriate authorities as necessary or required by law.

Withdrawal of Capital

15. No Participant will have the right to demand or withdraw any portion of their capital contribution without the express written consent of the General Manager.

General Manager’s Duties

16. Duties and obligations of the General Manager in relation to the Joint Venture will include the following:

a. Establishing policy with regard to achieving the purpose and objectives of the Joint Venture;

b. Managing the day to day business of the Joint Venture;

c. Monitoring, controlling and directing the financial, business and operational affairs of the Joint Venture;

d. Monitoring, analyzing and acting on all issues over which the General Manager will have express or implied authority according to this Agreement;

e. Accepting all responsibilities involved with hiring of and payments to third party contractors; and,/

f. Utilize his mining experience, knowledge and leadership to assist Participants in their attempt to locate and develop one or more high grade gold deposits.

Admitting a New Participant

17. New Participants may be admitted into the Joint Venture only with the written approval of the General Manager. Any new Participant will agree to be bound by all the covenants, terms, and conditions of this Agreement. Any new Participant will receive an equal interest in the Joint Venture, providing the other provisions of this Agreement are met.

Disassociation of a Participant

18. If, during the course of the Project, the Participant becomes physically unable to participate in the Project, and/or it is determined in the sole discretion of the General Manager that Participant is not qualified to participate in the Project, and the Participant therefore is asked by the General Manager to depart the Project before the week-long term of the Project is completed, Participant will be entitled to receive a pro-rated refund of his or her capital investment in the Project for those days remaining in the term of the Project.

19. If a Participant does not actively participate for the complete duration of the Project, he or she is only entitled to a pro rata share of the gold that has been recovered by the date of his or her departure. That share will be calculated at the end of the project by dividing a full share of the gold by the number of days the (ex)Participant participated, allowing a 1/7th share for each day of active participation.

Liquidation

20. The Joint Venture will be dissolved immediately upon completion of the Project or as others agreed to by the General Manager and a majority of the Participants.

Transfer of Venture Interest

21. A Participant will not in any way transfer or otherwise alienate his or her interest in the Venture or its assets. Any such prohibited transfer or alienation, if attempted, will be void and without force or effect.

Insurance

22. Participant agrees to either attach a copy of his or her personal active accident insurance policy to this agreement, or purchase the $5,000 Group Accident Policy that is offered by The New 49’ers.

Indemnification

23. Participant acknowledges and understands that most of the Project activities will take place outdoors in the national forest, along mountain streams and rivers, in natural settings that require safety to be a personal matter, primarily judged by where each Participant feels he or she can go, or what he and she can do, without compromising the safety of the Participant or other persons who are present.

24. Participant acknowledges and understands that in the event of an accident or health-event that may require special medical care, such care could be delayed because of the remoteness of the location where the Project is taking place. Participant agrees that participation in prospecting, diving, boating or other outdoor activities can be potentially dangerous, and is making an informed personal choice to accept such risks in return for the benefits to be gained by participating in the Joint Venture.

Participant pledges that he or she will use good judgment to not place him or herself, or others, in danger. Participant certifies that he or she is qualified from past personal experience to make sound judgment in these matters of outdoor safety.

25. Participant promises to keep the General Manager or his assistants fully informed at all times of any and all personal limitations that will affect the activity, so that Participant is not required to perform tasks that he or she considers dangerous or risky to Participant or others. Regardless of what Participant is asked to do, he or she agrees to refuse to perform any tasks that Participant does not feel comfortable performing safely.

26. Participant personally assumes full responsibility for any injury, loss or liability, including but not limited to, loss of life, limb, health, employment and/or sight, which may result, or be alleged to have resulted, from Participant’s, or Participant’s spouse’s, children’s, or guest’s participation in the Project and/or other activities related to the Joint Venture on New 49’ers properties, including New 49’ers mining claims. In the event of Participant’s injury, loss or liability, the Participant agrees to hold harmless the other Participants, the General Manager and/or his assistants, The New 49’ers, Inc. and its owners, supervisors, managers, employees and/or agents, from and against any and all actions, claims, demands, liability, loss, damage and/or expense of any kind, including attorney’s fees, arising from any such claims.

Liability

27. Participant will not be liable to the Joint Venture or to any other Participant for any negligence resulting from an error in judgment or any act of or failure to act by Participant where made in good faith. The Participant will be liable only for acts or failures to act resulting from gross negligence or willful misconduct.

28. This Joint Venture is limited only to the activity and time-period of the Project. Participant does not have any authority to incur expenses or commit any other Participant to any obligations or liabilities that are not outlined within this Agreement.

Participant’s Duties

29. Participant will use his or her best efforts, fairly and in good faith to facilitate the success of the Joint Venture. Participant shall declare all the gold he or she recovers daily to the General Manager and the other Participant.

Agreement to Arbitrate

30. This Agreement shall be deemed to have been entered into in the State of California. In the event of any controversy, dispute or claim relating in any way to the performance or breach of the Agreement shall be finally determined, at the request of any party to this Agreement, by binding arbitration conducted in Siskiyou County, California, in accordance with the then existing rules of the American Arbitration Association, and judgment upon any award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered by the Superior Court of Siskiyou County, State of California. The parties intend that this Agreement to arbitrate be valid, enforceable, and irrevocable.

Jurisdiction

31. Participants and The New 49’ers submit to the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of Siskiyou County, State of California for the enforcement of this Agreement or any arbitration award or decision arising from this Agreement.

Miscellaneous

32. This Agreement contains the entire agreement between the parties. All negotiations and understandings have been included in this Agreement. Statements or representations which may have been made by any party to this Agreement in the negotiation stages of this Agreement may in some way be inconsistent with this final written Agreement. All such statements are declared to be of no value in this Agreement. Only the written terms of this Agreement will bind the parties.

33. This Agreement and the terms and conditions contained in this Agreement apply to and are binding upon the Participant’s successors, assigns, executors, administrators, beneficiaries, and representatives.

34. Any notices or delivery required here will be deemed completed when hand-delivered, delivered by agent, or seven (7) days after being placed in the post, postage prepaid, to the parties at the addresses contained in this Agreement and the attached list of other Participants or as the parties may later designate in writing.

35. Unless expressly provided to the contrary in this Agreement, each and every one of the rights, remedies and benefits provided by this Agreement will be cumulative and will not be exclusive of any other such rights, remedies and benefits allowed by law.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the Participant has duly affixed his or her signature on this

___________ day of __________________________,

PARTICIPANT________________________________________

WITNESS____________________________________________

THE NEW 49’ERS

By: _____________________________________

Dave McCracken, General Manager

 

 

 

 

Sorry; but at the present, we have not scheduled any week-long mining Projects for the upcoming season. Please contact our office for more details.
 

ORGANIZED GROUP PROSPECTING PROJECTS OUT OF THE WATER: We sponsor weekend group prospecting projects for members on a continual basis between June and October. These valuable projects allow participants direct exposure to prospecting for gold through panning, motorized sluicing, vacuum-mining, sampling techniques, and important information about how and where to find gold on our properties. These projects consist of an exciting, fun-filled, and information-packed outing along the Klamath or Salmon Rivers. This is a interesting and (always) exciting group surface prospecting operation (out of the water) where participants each receive an equal share of the gold recovered.

 

By Dave McCracken General Manager

Dave Mack

 

   

Quite often in gold mining, your best-laid plans fall completely apart as soon as you get started. This happens to me on a regular basis. In late August, we had a firm plan to do a week-long dredging project on our Lower Seiad Claim (K-14). I know of a place there that should deliver up a substantial high-grade gold deposit. But the day before we were to start, a large truck drove off the highway and spilled some kind of oil into the Klamath River. Not wanting to take any chances of exposing our team to the possibility of hazardous material, we decided at the last minute that we needed to do our dredging project upstream from the oil spill. So we went up to UK-3. Through just several hours of sampling, we got right into a rich pay-streak up there. Everything turned out alright in the end. I suppose the lesson in this is that in prospecting, you just have to adjust yourself to setbacks when they happen and keep on moving forward.

Then, since we had not finished up the rich deposit that we found on UK-3 in August, we were planning to go back in there on our September group dredging project and pick up right where we left off. It is a lot of stress off my shoulders to begin a dredging project in an already-established pay-streak. This allows me to put more of my personal focus on working with the project participants. Out of the 15 people associated with the September project, 9 of them had never even breathed off a hookah-air system before. Wow; that is a lot of beginners to get grooved into an underwater program all at once! So already having an established high-grade gold deposit in place meant that we would not have to sample. This was good!

As these group projects only last a week, and the first and last days are mostly devoted to orientation, moving gear on and off the river and final gold clean-up, there really are only 5 production days to make the gold add up. Making the gold add up is important to the last day when it is time to split it off amongst all the participants. I know this better than anyone, because I am the one that weighs and splits each share. The bigger the share, the better it feels when you get it! So every day matters to the final outcome!

It is also true that a beginner who is worried about drowning in the river does not care very much at that moment about how much gold is being recovered. That person just wants to stay alive!

I devote a lot of the season helping beginners through the early stages of underwater mining. So I have an intimate understanding of the different feelings and motivations.

First of all, I just want to say that everyone has a primal fear of drowning. It’s really a matter of how energized that fear is at the moment. I’m a strong swimmer and spend a lot of my time around the water. So I am reasonably comfortable under normal (for me) circumstances. But when I tried surfing several years ago in Maui, and found myself tumbling head-over-heals along the underside of a big wave, I immediately tuned into a panicked madman fighting for my own life. It didn’t feel like I was going to live through it! After that, I was afraid every time I tried to catch a wave. Numerous times when I really had the opportunity to catch a great wave, I chickened-out and decided not to go for it. I never did learn to surf very well. I’m afraid! So it is easy for me to identify with the fear that others experience around the water. That fear is very serious stuff!

Many beginning participants on these group dredging projects arrive with a healthy fear of the water. Some have had earlier traumatic experiences. Some were born with fear of the water. Some just have a healthy respect. With 9 beginners in this project, I knew that a lot of my personal focus would need to be devoted to helping them get through the beginning steps of dredging.

Just for the record, these group mining projects are not a school or a class. They are joint mining ventures where all participants work together as a team to locate high-grade gold deposits and recover as much gold as we can out of them by the end of the week. Those that are not able to contribute to the underwater work are utilized in other activities on the surface to help with forward momentum. Those that do not know how to do the underwater activity, but who wish to contribute there, are helped through the beginning stages so they can become more productive to the group venture. Everyone (including me) learns something on every mining project. I’m sure that is true of any type of activity where a person is personally challenged. As the project manager, without compromising safety, my personal job is to get as much productive activity as I possibly can out of each member of the team. More productive activity channeled in the right direction will produce more gold by the end of the week. This makes everyone happy with the final result.

Showing someone how to get comfortably underwater during the first few days of a dredging project means that we will have yet another person helping us to recover high-grade gold later in the week. Therefore, my plan on this project was to direct our 5 more-experienced participants to get started in the established pay-streak right away, while I invested my time working with the beginners. This way, we would be accumulating gold from the very beginning. That is always a great way to start!

And here is just one more example (of many) of how a great mining plan fell apart even before we got started: We arrived on UK-3 on Saturday afternoon, only to discover that the Iron Gate Dam had increased its water release that very same morning, causing the river to rise about 18 inches in the section of river where we had intended to dredge. This made the water flow there too fast for us to dredge! So much for that plan!

One thing I have learned is that dwelling on problems or failures does nothing to increase the size of gold shares at the end of a project. So after allowing myself just a brief moment of personal disappointment in the realization that we would need to find another high-grade gold deposit with just 5 people, our newly-formed team did a complete survey of the UK claims in search of a new place to begin a sampling program.

The river was running higher and faster. So our options were actually reduced to just several locations. Each of these looked pretty good. As a group, we always allow some time to discuss each option. There is often some debate on these matters, but I must ultimately make the final decision. This time, we decided to go down to the upper part of UK-2. Mainly, this was because we had left some high-grade gold behind there during an earlier dredging project (last season). In addition, longtime supportive member, Lee Kracher, happened by at just the right moment and told us that his son had been pulling a lot of gold out of the river not far downstream from where we had already mined some high-grade along the upper portion of UK-2. I assumed this was probably an extension of the very same deposit we had been mining the year before. As Lee said his son was pulling out gold through the last day of his vacation, this area seemed pretty-much like a sure thing for our project.

I always go for the most sure thing I can find when results really matter! Our new plan required us to work until dark on the first day to get all of our dredging gear moved to our new project site.

Luckily, Craig Colt and Jason Inks were along to give us a hand on this project. Both have extensive experience in serious dredging and team management. We split up our experienced participants into two teams on the morning of the second day; with Craig’s team operating the 8-inch dredge, and Jason’s team operating the 6-inch dredge.

   

Because every day counts, we set realistic targets every morning. These are the things that we must accomplish to ultimately achieve our objective (plenty of gold) by the end of the week. Craig’s and Jason’s targets on Sunday were to both get their teams established in the pay-streak before the end of the day. We positioned their dredges downstream of where we had been dredging high-grade last season and they didn’t waste any time getting started.

Then we set up a 5-inch dredge just off a shallow sand beach where I could work with the beginners. I always begin with those who seem like they will get through the initial steps quickly. Those persons are then directed to operate the 5-inch dredge as part of the ongoing sampling program, while I work with the participants who will require more time along the edge of the river. As soon as they demonstrate that they are up to it, some beginners graduate off to help on one of the other dredges where they can be more productive. By more productive, I mean that a good sampling program requires that we do sample holes out into the deeper, more challenging parts of the river. Sometimes, this is where the richest gold deposits are found. Sampling for high-grade is a lot like playing hide-and-seek. You have to be prepared to go anywhere the deposits might be located.

Starting into the third day, both of our serious dredges were pushing out further towards the middle of the river. While they were finding some gold and small nuggets in closer to the bank, we believed the gold was going to get better as we moved further out. It did, but it still was not as good as we wanted. So we decided to move the 6-inch dredge further upstream, closer to the area where we were mining rich gold the season before. By trial and error, we just kept up the process of doing small dredge samples here and there and checking the results to trace the gold into the richer portion of the pay-streak. The following video was captured just as Jason’s team was starting to uncover what we were looking for:

Shortly thereafter, Jason’s team started expressing the excitement of seeing gold while uncovering bedrock on the river-bottom. In other words, they were hooping and hollering it up pretty good. This is always a good sign to me that things are moving in the right direction.

“The first nuggets started coming up after we moved the 6-inch dredge further upriver”

By the end of the third day, all of our beginners (except for one person who insisted from the beginning that he was not going underwater) were through the initial learning curve and being productive underwater. So we moved the 5-inch dredge just upstream of Jason’s team, and they immediately also started uncovering high-grade gold along the bedrock. Everybody started getting pretty excited!

There is nothing quite like seeing gold nuggets on the bottom of the river to help a person get over their initial fear of the river! I’m serious! It is always good to try and get a beginner extroverted. A good way to do that is to get the person helping to uncover high-grade gold from the bottom of the river!

Some participants arrive on these projects with deep-seated fears or phobias of the water. Some participate with the hope of overcoming these fears. Others arrive with no intention of going underwater; they just want to help on the surface. This is alright with me. We talk this all over as a group on the first day, and always then move forward with an understanding that everyone will just participate the best that they can to help get the job done. It is important to get the right kind of team chemistry in place on the first day. Working together with a good team, so far, we have always managed to locate high-grade gold.

Interestingly, everyone I have worked with that has started out with a serious fear of the water goes through very similar stages as the fear is overcome. I always just start the person out doing something that he or she is comfortable with – like just sitting or standing alongside the river without a face mask, getting used to breathing through a hookah regulator. Sometimes this first step is the most difficult in the whole chain of progressive steps! It is not unusual for someone’s body initially to reject having a regulator in his or her mouth (creates an impulse to gag it out). Still, a person standing up on the bank has little to fear from putting the regulator back and trying to breathe from it some more. Amazingly, the body always makes its own adjustment about this rather quickly all on its own. It is not a mind process. Thinking or talking about it does not seem to help very much with the process. The answer is to just keep the regulator in the person’s mouth until it is no big deal anymore. This usually happens pretty fast if the person just does it.

The next step is to have a person just get comfortable wearing a face mask. Sometimes we start out with this step before the regulator. It doesn’t really matter. But, if we are trying to overcome a healthy fear, we always do these two steps by themselves, before we ask the person to wear the face mask and breathe through the regulator both at the same time. It is just a simple matter of taking things one step at a time. No big deal. This all plays out alongside the edge of the river, while the bigger sampling program out in the river is being moved forward by the more experienced participants

Everyone has a threshold where traumatic fear overcomes everything else. This is commonly referred to as “panic.” That’s the place where you lose personal control and totally freak out! Water can bring that threshold very close to the surface with some beginning dredgers. I have worked with so many people on this over the years that I have developed an intimate sensitivity to what people are going through. The important key is to avoid pushing someone beyond his or her personal threshold of fear.

The step-by-step routine works every time. Most of the process is just to get the person’s body accustomed to being in a different environment. That’s all.

Once the person can breathe comfortably through the hookah regulator while looking through the face mask (even while standing or sitting alongside the river), the person has already made it well beyond the half-way point in getting comfortable underwater.

This all gently progresses to having the person float around in shallow water along the edge of the river while looking underwater through the mask and breathing through the regulator. Here is another milestone in the program, because the body initially doesn’t believe that it can breathe with your face in the water. Again, the key is just to do it!

The internal fear almost always presents itself in discussions, like “I have never been a mouth-breather.” I have found that discussions usually do not help very much with the progress. So I just coax the person to just keep putting his or her head in the water as much as he or she can tolerate until the body makes an internal adjustment. Initially, the person never believes that the body will adjust. That is just part of the internal fear being expressed. The body always adjusts just by doing it. It usually happens very fast. Because personal embarrassment also comes out with the fear, I usually back off a bit and just allow the person to work through this on his or her own. I usually only step in when I see the person is not continuing to put his or her face in the water. That’s the key. In 25 years of helping beginners, I have never seen a time when the person did not get through this step very quickly, as long as the person just stuck with it.

Usually, within just a short time, the person is swimming around comfortably while looking around at the fish, or watching the dredging program if it is close enough to be seen. That’s when I go over and gently press the person underwater. This step is always done in shallow-enough water that the person can push his or her head above the water’s surface if he or she feels the need to do so. They almost never do, though. By now, the person is already through most of the fear. This is relatively an easy step in the progress.

Then I straddle a set of weights across the person’s back to let him or her sink to the bottom in shallow water. This is also an easy step, because the person always finds that he or she has more personal control with the weight, than when I am holding him or her down. Soon thereafter, I buckle the weights onto the person to keep them from slipping off. The person has now comfortably made it to the bottom of the river. It’s not so difficult as long as we don’t try to move things along too fast and overstep beyond the person’s fear threshold.

In dredging, it is important to be weighted heavily to the bottom of the waterway. But the heavy weights usually make a person a bit top-heavy. Because of this, you cannot swim or walk around very effectively. The right way is to crab around on the bottom using your hands and legs. Balance is everything.

The final step in the process of helping a beginner is always to have the person go underwater and roll over onto his or her back, and then roll back over again. We do this several times. About the worst thing that can happen is that you lose your balance and roll onto your back like a turtle. So, in shallow water, we just get the person to do this right away and get it over with! I am always standing right there with the person’s hookah line in hand – more for moral support than anything else. Once a person has rolled around on the bottom of the river a few times, the body will automatically learn how to maintain its own balance. From there, the rest is pretty easy.

Until the person as demonstrated an acceptable level of personal confidence, we usually have someone keep a firm grip on his or her hookah airline just for safety. Although, to date, I have never actually had to drag anyone in by their airline.

Really, it is amazing how fast people adjust to the underwater environment! Most people have more courage than they allow themselves credit for. The following video sequence was captured while several of our beginners were working through the process:

Out of our 9 beginners on this project, the 4 woman got through the initial learning curve surprisingly fast. This was probably because they were giving each other a lot of assistance and moral support. By mid-week, we had woman dredgers helping with an important portion of the underwater work on both the 5 and 6-inch dredges. The following video was captured just as the two dredges were beginning to recover high-grade gold:

Everyone was so excited about it, on the 5th day; even the guy who insisted that he would never go underwater decided he wanted to give it a try. As he had spent so much time watching the others learn how to do it, it only took him about an hour to get underwater. Now 100% of our dredging team was working in the water.

While we had both the 5 and 6-inch dredges into high-grade on the third day, we could not set up the 8-inch dredge there because of the way the river was flowing in that particular location. There simply wasn’t enough room. That was too bad, because the 8-inch dredge will process more stream-bottom than the 5 and 6-inch dredges combined. This is especially true when Craig Colt is operating the suction nozzle!

Craig’s team pushed their downstream sampling program further out beyond the middle of the river in search of high-grade. But they still had not struck the pay-dirt that we were looking for. In a sampling program, if what you are doing is not producing adequate results, you try something else. And you just keep trying different things until you find something good. The problem here was that we only had several days to make it all happen. We were running out of days!

So once all of our beginners were safely established underwater, I personally took on the mission of locating the dredge excavation which Lee Kracher’s son had made earlier in the season. Nobody was quite sure where that was. We could not see where it was from the surface of the river. Lee had pointed downstream and across the river. That’s all we knew. Since they had recovered high-grade from that location, our plan was to move the 8-inch dredge over there for our next sample. We were feeling a strong need to do something effective, and soon!

I take the opportunity to do a lot of underwater prospecting during these projects. By this, I mean swimming around underwater to have a look at what is on the bottom. It’s the only way I know of to see what is down there! By doing a survey of the bottom, I can see where the bedrock is visible and what it looks like. Seeing exposed bedrock will allow our team to dredge samples nearby without having to go through deep streambed material (which takes more time and effort).

Surveying the river-bottom also allows us to discover where the hard-packed natural streambed is and where the boulders are. It also allows us to see where others have dredged before. I almost always swim around and survey the bottom of the river before deciding where we will dredge sample holes.

There are two ways I know of to survey the bottom of the river. One is to put a long extension of air line on your dredge’s hookah air system; like about 200 feet. Then, with your weights on, you can survey a big area around where your dredge is floating.

The other way is to float with the flow of the river, diving down on single breaths of air, to get a look at the bottom. Doing this without a wet-suit makes it easier to get down to the bottom and stay there longer. While you cannot stay down very long on a single breath of air, not being connected to anything allows you the freedom to survey long stretches of river.

Depending upon the circumstances, sometimes we float long stretches of river holding onto the bowline of my boat, just drifting along with the flow. It’s amazing how much you can discover about a stretch of river just by swimming it a few times! The following video sequence was captured while I scanned the river-bottom of UK-2 looking for that pre-existing dredge hole that Lee told us about:

It just took a little while for me to find the excavation which Lee’s son had left behind. While swimming along, I just kept looking for a dredge hole, a cobble pile or the tailings. I spotted the cobbles first. This turned out to be big hole; Lee’s son had done a lot of work! Fortunately, the excavation was just as he left it. He had been dredging in about 5 feet of original hard-packed, gray-colored Klamath river-bottom material. There were some large boulders visible. It would have taken us the better part of a full day or longer just to open up a good sample in this same location using the 8-inch dredge. Luck was on our side that someone else had already accomplished all that work for us and made the gold discovery there. It was going to be easy for us to go right into production in this hole!

This is one of the great things about being a member of The New 49’ers; it seems like someone is always coming along and letting you in on some already existing, exciting opportunity!

To save time, we just put the 8-inch dredge nozzle in the front of the boat, and I reverse-motored the whole platform across the river. This is a common way for us to move a dredge around when sampling in slower-moving water. Once to the other side of the river, all we had to do is tie the dredge off and go to work. The following video segment shows how we transferred the whole 8-inch dredge program from one side of the river to the other:

Two hours later, we had our first high-grade clean-up on the 8-inch dredge. The following 2 video segments were able to capture some of the excitement (and relief) we all felt when we finally got the 8-inch dredge into high-grade gold:

By Wednesday afternoon, all three dredges were in high-grade gold and all of our beginners were helping push underwater production forward. That sure was a long way from where we began at the beginning of the week!

As is normal, there was not much for me to do on Thursday. Our whole group had already pulled together as a polished team. Everyone already knew everything that needed to be done. Those that were so frightened of the river early in the week had long-since evolved into experienced gold dredgers who were working together with the team to recover as much gold as we could in the time remaining to us. I could have taken the day off and probably nobody would have even noticed! I always find myself feeling a bit helpless towards the end of these projects when everyone else is doing all the work and there is little for me to do.

   

Because so much time is required to do the whole process, we always accumulate our concentrates in a bucket throughout the week and do the full gold clean-up on the final day. We also needed to pull all of our dredging gear off the river this time, because it was the end of our dredging season along the upper Klamath River. We all worked together on this. Fortunately, there are several river access points down towards the lower-end of UK-2. We used the boat to tow all 3 dredges down there. Then we used the electric winch mounted in the back of my truck to load the dredges on trailers, tie them down and hoist them up to the road. Even the 8-inch dredge came up the hill without a single hitch! The following video sequence captured how smoothly the whole process went:

“Dave Beatson from New Zealand”

We often have visitors in Happy Camp from other countries. This time, we were honored with the presence of David Beatson, who is a very enthusiastic gold prospector from New Zealand. David is one of those rare individuals that always adds more life and fun to the party. He also carries a big part of the work load! It was interesting to listen to David talk about his gold mining adventures in New Zealand. There is a common bond created amongst gold miners that cannot be duplicated in most other types of endeavors. Here follows some of what David had to say:

This season, we were also rewarded with the presence of Otto Gather on all of the group projects. We call Otto “Mister Mom,” because everyone looks to him to provide all of the important basic necessities, whether it is a cup of coffee in the morning, fuel to keep the dredges operating, a spare part, a Band-Aid, or even a spanking if you deserve one. I’m not talking about anything kinky here. Otto has a kind way of telling a person to quit being a sissy just at the time you need to hear it! He adds much-needed life and substance to these projects that make them better for everyone.

Final clean-up was finished in camp on late Friday afternoon. All participants are always encouraged to participate in the final clean-up. Because we accumulate so much gold, there is actually quite a lot of work involved! The following video sequence captured the highlights of the full process which we normally follow:

“Otto Gather provided a lot of help on this year’s group mining projects!”

Altogether for the week, we recovered 118.4 pennyweights (5.92 ounces) of beautiful gold. That included 27 pennyweights of very nice nuggets to go around. Everyone was pleased with the result, and we all said our goodbyes before going our separate ways. This was the end of another very special chapter in each of our lives.

 

 

By Dave McCracken General Manager

Dave Mack

 

 

It’s always a great feeling for me to watch one high-grade gold discovery evolve into another exciting discovery through just a little more sampling further upstream. This substantiates our long-established theory that most high-grade gold deposits follow a common path down along the bottom of a gold-bearing waterway. More often than not, further sampling along the same path upstream or downstream from an already established high-grade pay-streak in the river will turn up additional rewarding gold deposits, sometimes even richer than the first!

And that’s what happened in this case. The first high-grade pay-streak that we located was directly at the top-end of the (very) extensive gravel bar near the top-end of K-15A (Mega-hole claim). You can read about how we made that fantastic discovery during a surface mining (high-banking) project in our July newsletter.

The thing that made this event so interesting is that it was the first time that we ever tracked the Klamath River’s gold path from a high-grade deposit up on a gravel bar to high-grade gold out in the active river; very exciting indeed! No doubt, this will have us taking a fresh look at other sections of the river this next season!

It was early during this past season, and Haze and Andi Williams had already consented to capture the video and photography for all of the week-long mining projects for the summer. They were also looking for a good place to put their new 5-inch dredge while they were in the process of filming the surface mining project in late June. So when Craig Colt made the high-grade gold discovery at the top-end of the gravel bar on K-15A, we all did the natural thing; we looked just upstream in anticipation of what might be a continuation of the pay-streak. Haze and Andi moved their dredge into location just upstream only a few hours after Craig made that discovery. This turned out to be a really smart move! Not surprisingly, they found the very same type of gold (course and nuggety) in the very same type of streambed material (ancient, compacted, dark-colored) at about the same depth below the surface.

It only took a few dredge samples before Haze and Andi were in high-grade gold just upstream from the gravel bar where Craig had made the original discovery. They were into it pretty good just before we started this dredging project. The nice thing about this deposit was that it was located in shallow, slow-moving water, not far from the edge of the river. This was a very safe place for beginners to dredge. Since they were going to be involved with this dredging project anyway, Haze and Andi suggested that we start the project in the gold deposit they had just located. This sounded good to me. It’s always good to begin a week-long project in a place where we can start some of the dredges working in an established gold deposit!

There were 24 of us involved with this dredging project, including myself. The first thing we did was gain permission from a landowner living across the road from Highway 96 (a New 49’er member) who possesses an access road which would allow our group to gain an easy perch at the top-end of K-15A, near to where Andi and Haze had been dredging their gold. An access road was going to save our crew from making a pretty fair hike in and out of the site every day. That was good!

The first thing we do is set up a camping area where we can have our planning sessions each morning.

The first day on these projects is usually focused upon setting up a group camping area and launching all of our dredging gear into the river and setting it up. There is a wonderful, shaded camping area on K-15A. Once we were all set up there, all I had to do was make a comment that the access road needed a little work before we could launch our dredges. By the time I got over there, the work had already been completed and we had easy access to the river, along with a nice place to stage the beginning of our program. It was great! This crew was so geared up to go, I quickly realized that it was time to assign some team leaders and let them get to work!

Andi and Haze offered us the use of their dredge, so we added an additional airline to allow a second person underwater. This team was so motivated, that we had a team already working in gold before lunch on the first day! As Haze and Andi were tied up capturing video and photography, others completely took their dredge over for the whole week and they didn’t seem to mind. They were showing off nice gold on that dredge just within the first few hours. That got the whole team pretty excited!

The team got right to work on Haze & Andi’s dredge!

The rest of our team stayed busy on the first afternoon launching a 4-inch dredge, two 5-inch dredges and a 6-inch dredge. Craig Colt had just finished devoting 3+ months into building the best 8-inch dredge ever made for the Klamath River. But we wanted to establish a good gold deposit where we could use it, before launching that beast into the river!

We placed the 4-inch dredge in shallow water just off the little perch that we had made, a perfect place where we could show beginners how to do the underwater work. This location was about 150 feet directly upstream from where Andi and Haze had been dredging some very nice gold, so the prospects were pretty good that our beginners would also find something good on the bottom.

During the first several days on these projects, we are more concerned with just helping beginners to overcome the underwater environment in a location where the water is slow and shallow enough so that there is very little danger of having any accidental traumatic encounters. It’s not uncommon for some participants to arrive who have some fear of the water, perhaps from an earlier near-drowning event. We have found that the key in helping someone to overcome these fears (if they want to try), is through a progression of easy steps, starting with something which nearly anyone can do.

The following video sequence captures how we follow a step-by-step process to help beginners become a productive part of the underwater mining crew:

This was a very easy location where beginners could learn!

The place where we set up the 4-inch dredge on this project was about the easiest I have ever seen. There was a shallow, even bottom in clear water where beginners were able to get used to crawling around along the bottom of the river in a safe place. It wasn’t long before all of our beginners were down helping in the dredge hole!

By the end of our second day, all of our beginners had eagerly progressed through their early steps and were contributing to forward progress in the water.

All of our beginners were initially assigned to the 4-inch dredge on this project. The rest of the crew was teamed up on the other dredges. One dredge was used to put down a sample hole about half way between the 4-inch dredge and Haze’s dredge. With good luck going our way, that dredge touched right down on beautiful gold within the first few hours.

Another dredge was sent several hundred feet upstream from the 4-inch dredge to do another test hole. But it could not find any hard-pack streambed up there. After several

tries, we decided that the river dynamics in that area did notallow hard-pack to form during previous major flood storms. Ultimately, that dredge was drifted down to work side-by-side with another dredge in the pay-streak.

The 6-inch dredge was drifted across the river to dredge some samples on the other side. This, because some members had reported several years ago that they were finding nice gold over there mixed with pieces of metal from some kind of old Chinese camp. This all took place at the top end of K-15A. But we were not able to find hard-pack streambed on the far side of the river, and did not want to invest very much time over there since we were doing so well on the road-side. One hard effort was made to dredge a sample in the middle of the river, but we gave up when the loose streambed material reached around 6 feet deep.

Meanwhile, our hard-charging beginner-team on the 4-inch dredge had managed to establish a pretty high-grade portion of the pay-streak in about 4 feet of hard-pack streambed, just behind a major change in bedrock. This turned out to be the reason for the pay-streak in the first place. There was a 4-foot bedrock drop-off; behind which, was filled with a hard-packed assortment of boulders and ancient hard-packed material. Here, beautiful golden nuggets were found along the bedrock. Once again, the beginner-team had walked right into the richest part of the pay-streak! With lots of excitement, the guys and gals on that crew worked out a continuous round of shifts, only shutting down the dredge long enough to put more fuel in the tank.

Here follows a video segment of a 4-inch clean-up that Haze captured during one of the first few days. It’s not surprising that the beginners learned how to dredge so quickly!

The beginner-dredge was bringing up nuggets on nearly every dive!

There was plenty of hooping and hollering going on about the beautiful nuggets being found on the 4-inch dredge. The nicest gold from the week was found by people who had never even operated a dredge before!

When some of the boulders were too large to move by hand, as a team effort, we moved in winching gear and attempted to pull them out of the way. Several of the huge rocks proved to be even too large for our winch, so they still remain in place, probably sitting on top of the best gold nuggets!

By mid-week, we had strategically positioned five dredges on top of the pay-streak and evolved ourselves into production operation. Here follows a video sequence of the productive activity once our team really got dialed in:

A sixth dredge was floated further down K-15A to sample for more high-grade gold deposits. My trusty helper, Craig Colt and I supervised this sampling, because most of it was done in either deep or very fast water.

All in all, we completed 5 good sample holes in several hundred yards of river. Each of the holes were put down to bedrock in ancient, original Klamath River streambed (never been mined before).

Because Andi and Haze had donated a pay-streak to this project that was easy to work in a location where there was near-zero risk that anybody could be hurt (slow, shallow water), we were in a unique position where Craig and I could run off with the most experienced participants and do some serious sampling. So we took the opportunity to place several sample holes down in a part of upper K-15A that we didn’t (until then) know anything about. The risk in this type of sampling is that we might not find much gold. Since we already had 5 dredges producing in gold, our group unanimously agreed that the risk was worthwhile just to see what we might find in that virgin section of the river.

Dredging sample holes in deep or fast water areas that you know nothing about is a very challenging activity; definitely not for the light-hearted! The main challenge is that you usually don’t know how deep the streambed is going to go before you reach bedrock. This leaves you with all kinds of uncertainties along the bottom of the river. The best thing to do is just pour on the steam the best you can. And it’s always a great feeling when you do reach the bottom! The whole program feeds on a never-ending stream of hope. Here follows a video segment captured as our sampling program was happening out on the water:

We were severely challenged by one section of very fast water which we believed, because of the difficulty, nobody had ever sampled before. The following video sequence captured some of the team spirit and fun involved in our sampling effort. Keep in mind that this is all the real thing. There is no play acting here. There is just a video camera that happens to be present while we were doing the work:

There was gold in each of the holes, but not the high-grade we are looking for. That’s just that way it goes in sampling; every stretch of river does not give up high-grade on our first pass through the area. Still, we did establish to our own satisfaction that most of this portion of the Klamath River remains void of any previous mining activity. This is a very good thing! The gold is there. It will just take some time to find it!!

  

Since K-15A is so close to Happy Camp, I was going home every night. Andi and Haze were also returning to Happy Camp. So they were able to capture amazing video footage of a forest fire that had just started up from a massive thunder storm during the dredging project. The fire was so severe, for several days, there was talk of evacuating the whole town!

We were fortunate to have Otto Gaither back this season as our shore boss. Otto adds a wonderful human touch to these projects. While Craig and I are more focused on the production-side of things, Otto is more concerned with making sure that people are eating right. Otto also started managing the beginner-dredge on this project, and the beginner-dredge has been breaking production records ever since. Everybody was raving about the meals at Otto’s camp during the mornings and evenings.

There is always a magic cultural chemistry which comes together in these projects, each one distinctly different from the rest – always with Otto at the center. And this project was no different. Towards the last day, when we realized that, as hard as our advanced team had worked in our extreme sampling efforts to locate some exciting, new high-grade, it was going to be the hard work of our main crew under Otto’s leadership, in a gold deposit that had been freely contributed by Haze and Andi, that was going to carry our week. And everybody was alright with that.

We pulled all of our gear off the river on the final day and performed a full clean-up of the week’s gold production. Everyone participates in every step of this process. Several other participants moved their personal dredges into the pay-streak to continue working it. Andi and Haze continued to work the same pay-streak throughout the remainder of the season, and did good until the cold weather chased them out. That was a great deposit!

  

All in all, we recovered 95.5 pennyweights of beautiful gold on this project, of which 56.3 pennyweights (more than half) consisted of nuggets. This allowed for just under a ¼-ounce share for each participant in the project.

 

 
Dave Mack

This entire group, including myself, was comprised of 22 people. We started with 13 participants, but my two assistants (Craig Colt & Shawn Higbee) were there to help coordinate the activity. George and Heidi Hurteau contributed to a lot of the dredging activity using their own dredge. Scott Langston was already present with his personal dredge when we started, so we invited him into the group project. And a real strong member named Leif (we call him Hercules) from Sweden also jumped in to give us a hand. All in all, we used a 3-inch dredge (to start less-experienced participants), four 4-inchers, and a 5-inch dredge. It was a pretty sizable project!

Since the area was so accessible for our group, we decided to sample one of the areas along the Salmon River. We had heard that there had been some successful dredging there in the past, so we were hoping to get in on a piece of that action.

We started the week sampling the upper end of that area, just below the set of rapids. It was a good place to allow our more-experienced participants to begin the serious sampling activity, while I could start working at getting less-experienced helpers comfortably into the water.

Hercules (Leif Sollier) at work!

In supervising these group dredging projects, I am finding that my biggest personal challenge is to balance the need to get an effective sampling activity going as quickly as possible (followed by some volume production to accumulate some gold to split off at the end of the week!), while also helping less-experienced helpers get through the initial stages of panic and fear. It also takes some time and effort to groove more experienced participants into the finer points of underwater production techniques.

In the foreground, Dave Mack is giving direction to New 49’er member, Fred Zajac, who participated in this group mining project.

Total recover for the week weighed in at 2.5 ounces. Half of the weight was in nuggets!

It took me the first few days to size everyone up so that I knew how I could effectively (and safely) utilize the human resources to get some good sample holes completed. As the less-experienced helpers gained more experience, we moved them further out into the river. And it was not long before, as a team, we started to figure out where the gold is (and where it isn’t) on that portion of the Salmon River.

By the end of the 2nd day, even though we were accumulating some flood gold in our concentrates, we had pretty-much established that the area just below the rapids had been dredged before – probably back in the late 1980’s. Just about all our sample holes were finding loose cobbles and boulders (with light sand or silt around them) along the bedrock.

Since Scott Langston’s dredge was in good hard-packed streambed material about 120-yards behind us, and he was getting a pretty good showing of gold there, during the 2nd day, we broke out the new Griphoist (pretty-serious hand-operated rock winch) and invested several team mates there to get Scott’s sample hole enlarged. That proved to be a smart move, because Scott’s dredge immediately began recovering good gold (with nuggets) as we got down to bedrock through about 3 to 4 feet of material.

The success on Scott’s dredge prompted us to immediately drop all the dredges back down the river about 100 yards, and we started a whole new series of samples on the 3rd day, all which were going down into hard-packed material – meaning that no-one had been there before us with a dredge. This was good!

While we were getting pretty good gold out of each sample, by the 4th day, we established that the gold was richer towards the other side of the river (on the side away from the road). This caused us to abandon two excavations and start new ones further upstream. Early success in these holes motivated us to rig up for more serious winching on the 5th day. I have a 4-ton electric winch mounted on the back of my flatbed truck. We set my truck up

on the side of the road and double-pullied back to increase pulling power. Then, after some discussion about winching techniques, by half-way through the 5th day, participants were slinging boulders like they had been doing it for years.

Vincent Xavier, from San Diego, gives his “thumbs up” on his day’s mining experience.

Marge Strutt gives her approving smile of the day’s clean up.

By the end of the 5th day, our accumulated concentrates for the week were looking pretty good. We had pulled several gold nuggets (from small up to 2.5 dwts), and we had pulled two platinum nuggets (the larger one weighing in at 8.5 dwts!). Other than a few less-experienced dredgers that I was continuing to work with near the bank, all of the participants were taking shifts out in the deeper-water holes. We were operating four dredges in gold, and winching rocks using two winches.

I’ll say that the 5th day was one of the most hectic and stressful days I’ve had in a long time. That is a lot of action to keep track of! My main concern was that no-one got hurt. I ran and swam around non-stop trying to stay on top of everything. As it turned out, the participants had everything under control.

On the 6th day, after a short talk about safety and teamwork, we set out to work knowing that this would be the only real full production-day of the week. By this time, group-participants were doing nearly all the work like a well-seasoned crew. We had established a pay-streak through sampling. Everyone understood where the gold was coming from and how we found it. The participants set up all the winch rigging, did all the start-up routines with the dredges, worked out the dive teams, and were into production as if they had been working together for years.

I spent most of the 6th day sitting on a rock-perch calmly keeping a watchful eye over the whole program. It was quite impressive. Boulders were being winched simultaneously from both sides of the river. Four dredges pumped material non-stop, with shifts changing one person at a time. Signals were given flawlessly. And I proudly watched it all unfold, in awe that 21 people could be brought together and shaped into such a fine team in less than a week. I was also already feeling sad that just as the team was really pulling together, the project would end soon. We recovered 4 or 5 nice gold nuggets on the 6th day, the largest being 1/4-ounce. There was lots of excitement and team-pride at what we had accomplished.

Scott Langston proudly holds the week’s 2.5 ounces recovery from the dredging project.

Dave Mack and Eve Kihn take a moment from the training to smile for the camera.

I spent most of the 6th day sitting on a rock-perch calmly keeping a watchful eye over the whole program. It was quite impressive. Boulders were being winched simultaneously from both banks. Four dredges pumped material non-stop, with shifts changing one person at a time. Signals were given flawlessly. And I proudly watched it all unfold, in awe that 21 people could be brought together and shaped into such a fine team in less than a week. I was also already feeling sad that just as the team was really pulling together, the project would end soon. We recovered 4 or 5 nice gold nuggets on the 6th day, the largest being 1/4-ounce. There was lots of excitement and team-pride at what we had accomplished.

We spent the 7th day processing all the concentrates from the week, and pulling most of the dredging and winching gear off the river. Total recovery for the week weighed in at 2.5 ounces. Half of the weight was in nuggets. Group participants performed all the final clean-up steps, and we split the gold. By unanimous consent, the participants drew chances on the 10 largest nuggets. Everyone was happy with the final result. It was a good week!

Ryck Rowan, from Washington, is focused on the pointers Dave Mack is giving from his years of dredging experience.

Team members closely watch the final clean-up activities of the week’s dredging.

 

 

 

By Dave McCracken

 

We just completed this season’s third special Group Dredging Project along the Klamath River. It took place on the Club’s new Upper Klamath properties, near UK-3. These properties are located near where Highway 96 meets Interstate 5, around 65 miles upriver from Happy Camp. There were 15 participants in all (12 men and 3 women), including several experienced helpers, Craig Colt, Jake Urban, Lily Fuller, Ken Eddy and myself.

Three of the participants were dredging for the first time ever, and several others only had a little previous experience.

One of the primary objectives of these Projects is to help all participants achieve personal confidence while dredging underwater. Lily Fuller, Jake Urban and I take this responsibility very serious. Under our careful guidance, all beginners on this Project were doing very well underwater by mid-way through the week.

Nearly all of us camped in the Club’s long-term Klamathon campground for the duration of the Project. Camp-Klamathon is a large, scenic camping area (free to members) which extends along the Klamath River within about 2 miles of the UK claims. This is a popular camping area for members who are mining in the area. As other members were also camping and mining in the area, we spent some of the after-hours visiting and enjoying our time together during this adventure. Club member, Ernie Kroo, showed up about midway through the week to resume one of his traditional rolls as the Camp Barbeque-Master. The food was great!

The Club has access to well over 60 miles of mining claims to choose from along the Klamath River and its tributaries when organizing these Group Projects. The options are almost unlimited with this much waterway to choose from. Choosing a productive location is one of the most important first steps. This is because once we launch a Group Project into an area, there is not enough time to withdraw and begin the sampling process somewhere else, and still expect to recover very much gold by the end of the week. So we always choose our location very carefully.

However, making the decision where to go on this particular Project was not difficult. Because so many other members have done very well on the new UK properties this season, and because Craig and Ernie already had a 6-inch dredge working in high-grade gold that we discovered during the July Dredging Project on UK-3, we decided it would be wise to do this Project on the UK claims.

There was already an ongoing gold rush taking place on UK-3 when we arrived there last week. So we decided to direct our sampling effort further down river on UK-2. There was only one other member (Mark Johnson) dredging when we arrived at UK-2. He was dredging out near the middle of the river near the top-end of UK-2. Mark was kind enough to show us some of the gold he was accumulating in two separate bottles. The bigger bottle enclosed some very nice nuggets. Wow!! Seeing those nuggets got us really fired up. So we doubled our efforts to get our own dredges into the water and position them on both sides of the river downstream from where Mark was dredging.

Other members were already recovering high-grade gold even before we began this project!

Having some beginner-dredgers on a Group Project requires a place where there are some easily-accessible, slower, shallow-water areas; comfortable places where we can get people started, and there is still hope of finding high-grade gold.

There was a perfect place to set up two 4-inch dredges about a hundred yards down from where Mark was dredging. Because the river narrowed slightly down there, it appeared that we could place our less-experienced participants in slow-moving, shallow water in line with the high-grade path of gold that Mark was following upstream from us. The prospect of this made me really happy. Because picking gold nuggets off the bedrock goes a long way to help beginners get motivated and into the spirit of things!

Finding one or more rich gold deposits is one of the primary objectives that we must accomplish during these week-long Projects. And we must accomplish this relatively early in the week, or chances are that we won’t have very much gold to split off at the end of the week.

Already having a 6-inch dredge in a high-grade deposit up on UK-3 took a lot of pressure off me this time around. Even so, the whole group was eager to find new high-grade deposits during our time on UK-2.

Craig and two of our most-experienced participants operated the 6-inch dredge up in the pre-established pay-streak on UK-3 for the entire week. This started building up our gold reserves from the beginning of the week. It was nice to see the gold building up even on the first day!

Ken and two of our other experienced participants set up a 5-inch dredge just below a small natural riffle in the river on UK-2. Their plan was to push out under some swifter-moving water to see if they could find some high-grade out there – which they immediately found on their first dive. With luck smiling upon us, they established a high-grade deposit right on top of the first layer of hard-packed streambed, about 4-inches from the surface. They were recovering lots of fine gold and some big-sized flakes. The water was fast, but the gold was easy; because it was being recovered right on the surface of the streambed.

We began getting good dredge sample results within the first hour of the Project!

I devoted the first few days working with Jake, Lily and the less-experienced participants on the two 4-inch dredges. That part of the program was going well, with everyone quickly adjusting to being underwater. So well, in fact, that I upgraded one of the 4-inch dredges to “intermediate status” on the second day. They then began sampling further out into the river – where they immediately started recovering high-grade gold and some very nice nuggets. By the end of the second day, this 4-inch dredge looked to be recovering about as much gold as Craig’s 6-inch dredge was getting upriver! There was a lot of excitement over the nuggets being recovered.

With three dredges already into high-grade gold by the end of our second

day, we all knew it was going to be a great week!

By the end of the third day, our remaining three people on the beginner-team were managing the second 4-inch dredge all by themselves, and had launched into sampling. Returning from one of the other dredges, I found the beginner-team repositioning the 4-inch dredge “because there was no hard-pack” in the place they had been operating it, and they were not getting very much gold. It made me proud to discover that they had taken matters into their own hands, and were implementing good solutions. The solution in this case, meaning that they had to ease themselves out into slightly faster, deeper water that was further from the safety of the stream bank. As they eased themselves out there, they found gray hard-pack on their own, and started recovering high-grade gold, along with some nice nuggets. Boy did that make them happy! This situation prompted me to upgrade them all to “intermediate status.” We didn’t have any more beginners on this Project!

As we had several dredges into high-grade gold almost from the beginning, after some group discussion on the matter, we elected to devote a second 5-inch dredge with three of our intermediate participants into dropping back towards the lower end of UK-2. Their mission was to do a sample hole in a location where we have heard rumors that there exists a rich nugget pay-streak in a deeper gravel deposit. As the gravel really was deeper down there, after devoting several days to the effort, and not being able to get a good sample of the underlying hard-pack, we decided to back off and leave that prospect for another day with a larger dredge. So, about mid-week, we pulled the second 5-inch dredge back upriver and put in line, just downstream from where the two 4-inch dredges were already recovering high-grade gold. After just a little sampling around, this dredge also located high-grade, and began recovering some of the largest nuggets we found all week.

By mid-week, most of the dredges involved with the project were recovering nuggets!

Meanwhile, Ken’s team on the other side of the river decided to dredge a hole down through the hard-pack to see if they could find bottom. They found it at a depth of around four feet in the gray-pack. With even more luck on our side, through some trial and error, they discovered that in addition to the surface gold deposit, the gray layer of hard-pack was also paying consistently in fine gold and flakes throughout the material. Then they found the largest nugget of the week on the fourth day. So they devoted the remainder of the week production-dredging to the bottom.

There is clearly an evolution happening in these organized Group Dredging Projects. They are getting better. The nature of the Projects brings the whole group together in a team-building experience. With five dredges working in high-grade gold by about mid-week, we really had some great team-chemistry going. Maybe the best I have ever seen.

Also, it appears to me that we are attracting more experienced miners to the Projects. This increased experience helps focus the Projects in a more productive direction.

During these Group Projects, we all meet at camp every morning to review theory concerning the various tasks that we are performing in the field; subjects like how to move and tie off dredges in different circumstances, how to avoid and cope with plug-ups (when rocks obstruct the flow of material through a dredge system), what to look for in prospecting, how to increase the volume of production, standard operating procedures in teamwork situations; all of the important things people need to know to improve their skills in this field. Mornings are a good time, where we share our experiences, and everyone can get their questions answered.


During the morning sessions, we also discuss the progress we have made and make plans for how we will reach the next objective. Objectives can change on these Projects every day. First, we just want to find some gold. Then we want to find something better. Then we want all the dredges to be producing in gold. Ultimately, we evolve into a production-mode with the purpose of recovering as much gold as we can during the time remaining in the Project. We take it a step at a time, progressing towards where we need to be at the end of the week – which is having plenty of gold to split off.

In all, we recovered nearly 7 1/2 ounces of gold for the week, of which 30.8 pennyweights were nuggets. Each participant received 11 gold nuggets (165 nuggets were recovered).

 

Measuring out 14 equal shares was the highlight of the week!

Two new pay-streaks were located and developed during the Project. Naturally, since we depart the area once the Project is over, other members were already showing up during the last few days, and another small gold rush was started on the UK claims just as we were leaving.

If starting gold rushes were a measurement of how successful a Group Dredging Project is, I’d have to say this was the best Project ever! There were so many members watching us do the final clean-up process on the dredges at the end of the week, that it was difficult to move through the crowd of people!

We came close to breaking a record (we recovered around 8 ounces of gold on one earlier Project) in the amount of gold we recovered; and we would have done it, had we just dredged another hour or so in the river. The problem is in not knowing exactly how much gold we have accumulated until we do a full clean-up on the last day.

We have one more Group Dredging Project this season scheduled for September 10 through 16. There is still room for a few more participants, if anyone might else be interested in joining us. With the right team, I think we can break the all-time gold record. Does anyone want to guess where we will do the Project?

 
 
 

By Dave McCracken

“Our target for the week was to dredge a pound of gold.”

Dave Mack


This project was made up of a smaller group than normal. Four participants arrived on Saturday morning. A fifth person arrived later in the week.

Since it was going to be a smaller group than normal, my two helpers (Craig Colt and Shawn Higbee) and I had made a plan to use one of the Club’s large commercial rafts to get us all into the deep canyon along the Klamath River just downstream from Happy Camp. I have always had a good feeling about this section of the Klamath. As the area is somewhat inaccessible, few people have been down there with dredges. We spent some time sampling down there earlier in the summer during a group prospecting project above the water. While we were sampling the banks down there, I took the opportunity to swim some of the river with mask and snorkel. The area looks good, with lots of exposed, rough and irregular bedrock showing along the river-bottom. There are lots of faster-water areas there where the pay-streaks should not be buried under very much overburden. I’m thinking there will be high-grade gold there that is not too difficult to find.

But a few days before this last project was to begin, while Craig and Shawn were busy getting all the dredging gear and the raft ready, the water-release from the Iron Gate dam (upriver) was increased, raising water levels about a foot, and turning the river a green color. Underwater visibility was down to about two feet at the surface. It would only be about half that on the bottom of the river. This created very poor conditions to be trying to coordinate a group mining program – especially under faster-water conditions. One look at the river prompted me to direct Craig and Shawn to put the raft back into storage. We needed to find another place to go.

From earlier communication with the group (they all flew out together from Chicago to do this project), I knew they preferred to dredge in a river, rather than on a creek. That left me comparing our Scott and Salmon River opportunities. Both were running with crystal clear water. While I was trying to decide where to do the project, Dale Carnagy stopped by the office to show me a whole bunch of very nice gold he and Jason Inks had just dredged together a few days before down on the Salmon River. These are two long-time members of the Club who have spent most of this summer dredging along the Main Stem of the Salmon River. Jason was working a pretty good pay-streak further upstream, while Dale just made a very high-grade strike at the lower end of the claim. Dale’s best day working alone, so far, was about three ounces of nice flakes and nuggets. It was really nice stuff!

Dale told me Jason had gone off to get a winch, because the boulders were really slowing them down. They decided to work this high-grade deposit side-by-side, helping each other with the boulders.

It did not occur to me until after Dale left the office that I should have asked him if they might like to have 5 more partners for about a week, to help them get their high-grade pay-streak opened up. I gathered that they did not have much winching experience, and (I was hoping) the support of an organized project might just be the thing they could use at the moment.

The following day was the day before the group would arrive from Chicago to begin the project. I needed to decide where we would go. Just as I was about to drive down to the Salmon River to make a proposal to Dale and Jason, they both arrived back in my office to show me even more gold they had dredged. It looked really good! Nice nuggets!!

The great thing was that Dale and Jason did not even hesitate to offer up their rich pay-streak to help out the Club in a week-long project. While they would benefit from gaining exposure to a more commercial approach to opening up a hole filled with boulders, I am certain their primary motivation was to do something good for the Club.

This saved us a lot of time, because it meant that we could use the two 5-inch dredges and 8,000-pound electric winch that Dale and Jason had already brought into the lower canyon area.

As soon as the project-group arrived on Saturday morning, we checked out everyone’s personal gear to make sure everyone had what they would need. Then we drove down to have a first-hand look at the project site where Dale and Jason were dredging along the Salmon River. This was down in a pretty deep canyon area. But there was already a trail leading in, so it was not bad access in comparison to how bad it might have been.

I wanted to make sure all the guys were up for making the hike in every day, and that the group was comfortable about our taking control over an existing successful project that was started by other members. We were going to be dredging in someone else’s rich pay-streak. That doesn’t happen very often. It was important, before getting started, to make sure that everyone was alright with that.

After some discussion down on the site, we all agreed together that we would form up a team that would allow me to manage the project for a week. We would evenly split the gold recovered during the week amongst all the participants, and then turn the pay-streak back over to Dale and Jason. We were all pretty jazzed-up!

Dale and Jason had already dredged several sample holes in this section of the Salmon River while trying to establish the size of the pay-streak. The holes were of various depths, some going all the way to bedrock, and some which were blocked by rocks that were too large to roll out of the dredge holes.

There were big rocks in every hole. It was clear to me right from the beginning that an organized winching operation was going to be the primary key to progress and success in this project. So we all spent Saturday afternoon throwing rocks to build-up a small island in the middle of the river downstream of the dredges, and using cables to anchor the electric winch (on the island) to a large boulder further downstream. We pulled the first big rock out of the dredge hole before calling it a day, to make certain that the winch was set up properly. It was.

Sunday morning was devoted to moving our camp down to the mining claim. This was going to save us three hours of driving back and forth to Happy Camp every day. Several of us stayed down there for the remainder of the project. Salmon River country is some of the nicest area on this planet. It is a great place to camp!

Sunday afternoon found us making two journeys down into the canyon, hauling in our personal dive gear, and some special rigging to make the slinging of boulders go more quickly when winching.

We connected 5 HOOKA airlines to the two 5-inch dredges. The plan was to have two people work each dredge, and one person sling boulders and get them out of the hole. We decided to drop back and start a new hole, not far behind where Dale had dredged his 3-ounce day just a few days before.

In normal group dredging projects, as the supervisor, I am challenged with three main objectives:

1) I must help less-experienced participants through the early stages of their underwater learning curve as soon as possible, so they can participate in accomplishment of the other two objectives. Sometimes beginners arrive with some fear of going underwater the first time. But we always get through it.

2) We must find a pay-streak. This normally requires all of the participants to perform the necessary steps to complete a sampling plan in the section of the river that we have chosen. Sometimes the sampling phase takes two or three days. The idea is to try and find something rich enough to get everyone excited, and provide us with enough gold to split up at the end of the week.

3) Once the pay-streak is located, we pull ourselves together as a production-team to recover as much gold as possible in the remaining time allowed to us. This is always the best part.

All of the participants in this project had past HOOKA or SCUBA experience, so the first objective was already accomplished before we even started. Because Dale and Jason had already located this pay-streak, all we had to really focus on from the beginning was organizing ourselves for optimum production under the circumstances. While we were certainly going to work hard, and the boulders were going to require a structured approach, not having to worry about the first two objectives was going to make this project more like a vacation to me. This was a good way to finish my season!

Dale and Jason had already established that the gold was coming off the bedrock and out of a 4-foot-thick, yellow layer of streambed material lying on top of the bedrock. We found the yellow layer shortly after getting started, and the guys immediately started seeing large flakes of gold here and there in the material.

This pay-streak was different than most others I have seen. Usually, high-grade gold accumulates either on the bedrock, or in the contact-zone between two different layers of streambed material. Here, the gold was widely disbursed throughout the yellow streambed material, and did not seem to be any more concentrated at any particular level. I’ve occasionally seen this in some original streambed layers on the Klamath River, too.

There was definitely a greater concentration of gold along the bedrock. Almost all the gold we were finding consisted of large flakes and small nuggets.

It was time to begin winching boulders out of the hole almost immediately after we started dredging. I began the underwater part of that, since getting the big rocks far enough out of the hole was going to be critical to reaching bedrock. There is a system of slinging big rocks out of a beginning dredge hole, which

requires some planning in advance, a good and fast communication system with the winch operator, and a lot of intention to make the boulder go where you want it to. You have to make your winching system bigger and stronger than the boulders. Otherwise they start running around wherever they want to go, increase the danger to people and gear, and eat up a lot of precious time. While having a strong winch is definitely important, the main keys to a smooth winching program are leaving yourself a smooth runway (so you are not trying to pull a boulder past some big obstruction that is directly in the way), and re-slinging the boulders as often as necessary to keep them from slipping free and rolling back down into the dredge hole.

Keene sells a really good cable rock-net for winching. But to get the most out of Keene’s rock net, you must also have a 4-point harness made up so that the net can be attached to the pull-line of your winch. Then, slinging is mostly a matter of draping the net around the back-side of the boulder and giving the pull signal to the winch operator.

Most boulders pull out of the dredge hole without any further difficulty. But some need to be nursed along. I suppose the most important thing for the underwater guy to do is immediately stop the pull and re-sling every time he or she sees that it is probably not going to work. This prevents the rock from slipping free and ending up back in the dredge hole. It also prevents the rock from getting into a place where it is going to be more difficult to get out

We pulled boulders out of the dredge hole non-stop on Sunday afternoon, not touching down on bedrock yet, even though we were about six feet deep into the yellow streambed material. The excavation was getting pretty big. This was necessary, because it was important to not leave any loose boulders resting up on the face of the hole that could roll in on any of the divers. So the deeper we went, the wider we had to make the hole. This is normal.

Between the two dredges, we estimated that we recovered around 1 ounce of nice gold flakes during the first day of work. We figured we would do even better once we established ourselves on bedrock.

We do not do a full and final clean-up of gold at the end of the day on any serious dredging program. It takes too long, and would subtract valuable time from the productive activity in the dredge hole. However, we do clean the high-grade portion of the concentrates out of the dredges each day and make a pretty close estimate of how much gold we recovered. This is important to both planning and morale. By comparing how much gold we are getting to what we are doing, and where, we can focus the following day’s effort towards what seems to be most productive. Seeing the gold also gets everyone pretty excited!

As we do on every day of these group projects, the following morning found us planning our day’s activity over a chalkboard at camp. This is the time to talk about everything we are doing, cover all the reasons why, debate ideas on how we might do it better, and finally decide upon a team-plan for the day. We spent considerable time each morning on this project talking about winching procedures, signals and the need for the underwater person and winch operator to establish communication and an organized system to make the process go quickly, smoothly and safely. There was also a lot of discussion about how to excavate a deeper dredge hole safely, in a way that kept the richest pay-dirt (down along the bedrock) from getting covered up with boulders or cobbles by the time we got down to it.

Since bedrock in this hole was deeper than we anticipated, we decided to initially spread our hole in the direction of the streambank where there was visible bedrock showing along the edge of the river. Establishing some bedrock along the bottom of a dredge hole is the first major objective in getting a production operation underway. We were eager to make that happen.

Finally, towards the end of the day on Monday, we had some bedrock showing on the side of the hole that was closest to the bank. We were seeing some pretty nice gold on the bedrock, too. By now, we had winched around 50 boulders out of the excavation, and it was really getting opened up. But we were getting slowed down by some very big rocks that were going to be too large to winch out of the hole. While we could use the winch to roll them into the hole, we did not want to move them in until we had a chance to get the gold off the bedrock where the huge rocks would eventually end up. This forced us to slow down so we could do things safely. We estimated about another ounce of flakes and small nuggets were recovered by the two dredges on Monday. The hole was opened up to make some pretty good progress on the following day.

The key to the best progress in a streambed that has lots of boulders is to look ahead of yourself and decide where things are going to need to go. My experience has been that it is best to initially winch every possible rock out of the hole. Once some bedrock is established, don’t allow it to immediately get all covered up by new boulders. Winch them out, too. You have to make some room in advance for the really big ones that can only be rolled once.

This is where we found ourselves on Tuesday morning; rolling the really big ones to the rear of the dredge hole, where we had left room for them the day before. Rolling the big ones out of the way opened up our hole nicely, and allowed us to establish bedrock all across our dredge hole.

Some of the rough and irregular bedrock was giving up a lot of gold flakes. We connected up an air-powered chisel and were pulling nice gold out of cracks as deep as we could break them open. By now, the hole was large and safe. We pulled around 3 ounces of nice gold on Tuesday. Now things were beginning to get pretty exciting for everyone. By now, we estimated that we had accumulated around 5 ounces of gold in getting the hole opened up.

During our planning meeting on Wednesday morning, based upon our production from the day before, we made a target to recover 6 ounces of gold for the day. Everyone agreed that this was something we could accomplish; and it would place us well ahead of our weekly target of 12 ounces.

But then we had a turn of bad luck on Wednesday morning, when our dredge hole pushed right up into an old dredge hole that someone else had worked years before. Here, the hard-packed yellow streambed material turned to loose cobbles, boulders and sand. This was a pretty heavy blow to our morale, and completely undermined our gold-target for the day (and the week). We found ourselves in a meeting up on the stream bank trying to figure out what to do next. While it was a great learning-experience for all of the participants to see what previously-dredged material looks like at the bottom of the river, all of us were feeling the weight of how much effort it was going to take to begin another dredge hole from the beginning in all those big rocks. But it was really the only thing we could do.

After cleaning up the small portions of yellow-pack to recover the last of the gold that remained in our original hole along the bedrock, we moved the dredges forward and repositioned the winch to open up an entirely new dredge hole. We decided as a group that even if we could not finish the new hole, we could at least add more gold to what we would split off, and leave Dale and Jason with an excavation in the yellow-pack that they could develop into a production program for themselves after we left. The new excavation was pretty-much a repeat of the first. By Thursday afternoon, we had winched another 40 or more boulders, and had touched down on bedrock again in several places. We recovered another ounce or so of nice gold. And we left Dale and Jason with a production-hole that they could further develop on their own into something very valuable.

The group from Chicago needed to fly their airplane back home on Saturday. So we all decided that Friday should be spent on getting personal gear back out of the canyon, and performing all of the final clean-up steps on the gold we had recovered for the week and split it all up. This took all day.

For the week, we ended up with just short of 7 ounces of gold, which included 3 ounces of nice nuggets. This amounted to about an ounce for each of the 7 participants. Everyone was happy.

Although it is very important, we learned early on that the amount of gold we recover on these projects is not the only measurement of success. Participants gain valuable experience, giving them an improved ability to find more gold on their own afterwards. There is the excitement and adventure of the project. And each successful project improves our perception of where more valuable high-grade gold deposits lie waiting.

There are fantastic feelings of excitement that come from locating a high-grade golden pay-streak of Mother Nature’s treasure! Had we not run smack up into some earlier dredge hole, I’m certain we would have surpassed our target of recovering a pound of gold on this project. But that’s the way it goes. We’ll shoot again for the 1-pound target in next year’s group projects. As it was, we all were feeling pretty happy about the way the week turned out.

We also have a much better idea of what we are looking for to find the underwater high-grade gold deposits on the Salmon River!

It is members like Dale and Jason that make The New 49’ers a truly great group to be associated with. Once again, I find myself counting my blessings.

 

 

We just completed a fantastic week-long high-banking Group Mining Project on our Wingate claim, which is located downstream on the Klamath River about 10 miles from Happy Camp. We did last year’s surface mining project on the same claim, and recovered some really nice gold. Since we didn’t ever see any members return there to further develop the deposits we had discovered during last year’s Project, we decided to return there last week. This turned out to be a good move!

There were 18 of us involved with this most recent Project, including myself and my longtime, trusty assistant, Craig Colt. While there is some pretty good high-banking opportunity on the Highway 96 side, richer gold discoveries have been made on the very extensive area on the far side of the river. So we launched one of the Club’s large rubber rafts on the first day of this Project to go back over there and do some sampling. The raft was used all week to help ferry Project participants and all our gear across the river. We had excellent weather al week, bright blue skies and days which were not too hot out in the sun. We used to do these surface mining Projects (out of the water) during the (much) hotter month of August. Rescheduling them to June also turned out to be a good move.

As we had a fair number of participants in this Project, we decided to split into two teams on the first day. I went to a lower portion of this claim along with everyone who had vack-mining machines and those who were interested in digging out crevices on a (very) large area of exposed bedrock. Last year, we discovered that all of the cracks and traps along the exposed bedrock were producing consistent rewards in fine gold and small flakes. This type of mining is relatively easy to do; because it is mainly a matter of sitting yourself down and using a garden trowel or various other types of small digging tools to extract small amounts of gold-bearing pay-dirt (sand and gravel) from the exposed cracks and crannies along the exposed bedrock.

As always, we began with pan-sampling to make sure there was enough gold present to make all the effort worthwhile. There was! Our average sample pan was producing 4 or 5 small flakes and a spattering of finer-sized gold, sometimes 50 or more small pieces to the pan of material. It was good!

So it did not take us long to organize ourselves into a production team. Several participants were digging material out of the gold traps in the bedrock. Several others were following closely behind, using their vack machines to suck all of the remaining pay-dirt from the gold traps in the bedrock. The pay-dirt was carried in buckets over to several more participants that were screening everything into plastic washtubs. The screened material was then being fed into a Le’Trap plastic sluice that we modified to allow a water feed from a small motorized pump that was providing water from the river.

From long experience, we have found that the Le’Trap sluice recovers fine gold exceptionally well, providing the water flow through the box is adjusted correctly and the pay-dirt is screened through and 8-mech classifier before being fed into the sluice. We were seeing a nice showing of gold building up in the sluice as soon as we started feeding it! Everyone on my team was pretty excited!

Craig took the second team about an eighth of a mile further upriver where we had discovered a very rich section of high-grade streambed on the final day of our week-long surface mining Project last year. We were initially not sure if anyone had returned there after last year’s Project, because the whole area had been covered up by a thin layer of sand during a very large flood that happened in early January of this year. So Craig’s team got busy right away shoveling sand out of the way, trying to find where we had left off on our earlier Project, and to see if any of the original hard-packed streambed material was still present there. Last year, we were pulling nice big golden flakes out of that material, and sizable gold nuggets off the bedrock!

Through just a little sampling, Craig’s team quickly discovered that the hard-pack was still present right where we left off last year. We were amazed that nobody had returned there, since we did so well! This was a great area to develop further, because the natural contours of the bedrock create small pools of water, allowing us to set up a dredge nozzle to feed pay-dirt into the high-banker. The water from the pools is then re-circulated so that we can actually dredge hundreds of feet away from the active waterway.

Craig and his team did not waste any time getting started, and they were almost immediately rewarded with big flakes and a small treasure in small gold nuggets even before the end of the first day. When I went over to see how they were doing, Craig’s team was bubbling over with enthusiasm, joking with me about how I had made a big mistake agreeing to challenge them in a competition over which team would recover the most gold. While I did not admit it to them at the time; looking at their gold, I knew they were probably right!

Craig’s team started recovering beautiful nuggets right away!

As the guys on my team were feeling really good about all the gold they were recovering in their vack-mining program, we continued into the next two days working out exposed cracks and crevices in the exposed bedrock, while watching an ever-increasing amount of gold accumulate in the Le’Trap sluice. We were doing really well!

And while Craig’s team was recovering more gold and bigger pieces, with a lot less effort using a dredge-feed into the high-banker, both Craig and I were concerned that there might not be enough hard-packed streambed present to justify bringing my team over to his

location with a second high-banker. The problem was that we could not see the extent of Craig’s high-grade gold deposit, because the whole area was covered by a thin layer of sand. So Craig came up with a plan to move his high-banker some distance away from where they were already getting good gold, and do another test, to see if the high-grade gold deposit was large enough to bring on a second production team.

One of the biggest problems we continuously face as gold prospectors is that we cannot actually see the gold deposit, because the gold is almost always located down inside of hard-packed composites of sand and gravel. Since we cannot see the gold, we have to do sample tests to find where it is located.

It is always an incredible feeling of fortune when you discover something rich. The best way I can describe it is the feeling you might experience if you hit the bonanza when playing a slot machine and the money just keeps pouring out of the machine onto the floor. But finding a rich gold deposit is better, because you are recovering beautiful, natural gold; Mother Nature’s purest of treasures! The first realization of a rich gold discovery brings out an exhilarated enthusiasm from you that few other things in life can match.

Towards the end of the forth day, when we heard Craig’s team hooping and hollering from an eighth of a mile away, everyone on my team knew that we were finished with our vack mining program for the week. We could always return to that at another time. As much gold as we were recovering, it could not match the large number of beautiful nuggets that Craig’s team was finding in the other location. Craig’s new sample had paid off; the test hole they dredged for us turned up even higher-grade pay-dirt!

It did not take us long to set up a second high-banker on the fifth day of the project, and we were no longer two separate teams. There is a point on all of these Projects where everyone comes together as a unified group. Part of it comes from the hard work we do together. Part comes from the excitement of making a rich discovery. And part comes from the enthusiasm to work together so that we can recover as much gold as possible in the remaining time that we have. Once the team comes fully together, I usually find myself with little remaining to do as the Project manager. By this time, everyone already knows what needs to be done. There is a very worthwhile group chemistry that happens in these Projects, perhaps similar to what a competitive sports team feels when they are winning games against very challenging opponents. I always feel pride watching my team go at it, working together, laughing and feeling great about what we have accomplished together. Each Project develops its own unique chemistry; almost like something that comes alive. And I always feel a little sadness knowing that our partnership will soon end.

We were rewarded with rich clean-ups on both high-bankers at the end of our fifth day. Excitement levels were about as high as they can get!

  

The sixth day found us needing to roll a very large boulder out of our way. It was sitting directly in our path up on top of the hard-packed pay-dirt that we were mining. Besides being in our own way, we had a duty to move it so that it would not pose any danger to other members who might want to mine here after our Project was finished. So we rigged up a cable grip puller and hand-winched that big rock out of our way. We only needed to slide it a short distance.

Moving the rock turned out to be a really good move, because underneath it, we found original hard-packed streambed; something the original gold miners must have left behind under that boulder. The pay-dirt was so rich there, that we were actually seeing gold as we moved rocks out of the way!

We produced our richest clean-ups on the sixth and final day of production. Before leaving the area, we filled-in and reclaimed all of the area that we had mined, except for the working face of our excavation. It is important to leave the area looking like we were never even there. This is not a difficult thing to do. We generally do not fill-in the face of an ongoing excavation in rich pay-dirt until the end of a season. This way, it will be easy for other members to pick up right where we left off if you want to mine there this season. It looks like there is a lot more pay-dirt to be mined in that specific location. The Wingate claim is so extensive on the other side, we have hardly even begun to sample the larger area. There are years and years of work remaining down there.

We always devote the seventh day of these projects to pulling our gear off the river and cleaning up all the concentrates that we have accumulated for the week. It takes too much time to clean up the gold every day, so we just accumulate all the gold and concentrates in a single bucket until the end of the week. Friday afternoon found our whole team going through the whole clean-up process. As we do not use any chemicals, we process all of the week’s concentrates down to all of our gold with the use of a Gold Extractor. Then we dry the final product, classify it into different size fractions through a series of finishing screens, and carefully separate the gold. Everyone participates in this process.

In all, we recovered 64.5 pennyweights of gold (3 ¼ ounces). Of that, 26.3 pennyweights were classified as nuggets. The largest nugget for the week added up to 3.3 pennyweights. There were several other really nice pieces. Participants split 122 gold nuggets between themselves, along with all of the other gold recovered during the project. Our partnership in this adventure dissolved at dinnertime on Friday afternoon. We finished up with a great barbeque.

 

 
  

We recently completed a very productive week-long (dredging) Group Mining Project on our Kinsman Creek claim (K-7), which is located upstream on the Klamath River about 30 miles from Happy Camp. We had done an earlier Group Dredging Project on this same claim a few years ago and actually broke our gold production record there. So we felt pretty good about investing another week to develop more of the claim’s underwater gold deposits.

There were 24 of us involved with this most recent Project, including myself and my longtime, trusty assistants, Jake Urban and Jeff Butcher. Richard Dahlke was present to give us some help, and Otto Gaither has also been helping us out with this year’s week-long Projects, taking on the job of “??Shore boss” ?? which basically means keeping all of the gear running, team needs supplied and resolving most of the organizational challenges which come up along the way. Having a full-time “shore boss” on a Project allows me to spend more time working with participants to sample for high-grade pay-streaks.

From a long history of prospecting on this section of river, we already knew before this Project started that there is a rich line of gold nuggets, flakes and fines traveling down the far side of the river, and a strong line of fine gold traveling down along the highway-96 side of the river. Members have mined different high-grade and moderate-grade pay-streaks on K-7 over the years. Our basic plan for this Project was to dredge test holes between the areas where others had already established high-grade. We believed it was likely that we could discover more high-grade that had been overlooked by the earlier mining activity.

The main problem we were facing early in the week was that the Klamath River was still flowing abnormally high because of the record amounts of rain we had last winter. High (fast) water was making it nearly impossible for us to complete sample holes out in the middle of the river.

Our first day was devoted to setting up a base camp for the Project, and also launching 4 dredges and a small boat onto the river at K-7. I used the boat all week to ferry people, gear and supplies around to both sides of the river along the entire length of the claim. We set up a great camp in the shade right there on K-7 in large pull-off areas on both sides of Highway 96. This made it possible for most of the participants to visit before and after project hours. Otto and others organized some great potluck meals every evening throughout the week. It was a great camp!

On the morning of the second day, we split ourselves into 4 teams. On dredging Projects like this, we normally form up our initial teams based upon the relative experience levels of the people who are involved. Then, we direct each team to dredge test holes in a coordinated sampling program, taking on tasks which each team is comfortable in performing. The advanced team normally samples the more challenging areas (deeper or faster water). The least experienced group (usually consisting mostly of beginners with a team manager) samples in the less difficult areas (shallow, slow water). Those with moderate experience pull together in 1 or 2 teams to sample and dredge in those areas which require some skill, but are not too difficult for those who are involved. In this way, we are able to utilize all of the Project participants in a well-orchestrated sampling plan in search of high-grade gold. As the week evolves, we keep adjusting the teams so that everyone is given an opportunity to participate in a variety of ways according to their personal level of skill and competence. Several of the participants who began this week with no past dredging experience stayed with that same dredge all week. Others progressed to helping perform very productive dives on the advanced dredge before the week was over. Through some juggling around, we are always able to find a good place for everyone to contribute to the mining Project.

We place a lot of attention with the beginners during the first day or two of these Projects. The idea is to help them through the initial steps so that they can become more productive participants in the ongoing sampling and productive aspects of the bigger program. Beginners are graduated to more advanced work as the days go by and the sampling program evolves. All of the effort combines to a very effective mining program.

We were very lucky during this Project to have Jeff Butcher on board as the team leader of the beginner-dredge. Experienced dredger that he is, Jeff’s lifelong professional background is in firefighting and emergency services. He also has a bottomless depth of patience and understanding, while never losing track of the work that needs to be accomplished by his own team. So in addition to bringing his full team up to a level of competence within the first few days of the Project, Jeff’s team also discovered and began developing a moderate-grade gold deposit using a 5-inch dredge right on the first day! While some of Jeff’s people were graduating off to other dredges during the week, the remainder stayed there and contributed to a substantial part of the week’s gold recovery.

Richard Dahlke put a very productive team together consisting mostly of participants who had some amount of previous dredging experience. They dropped a 6-inch dredge down river to about mid-way on the claim; and again, managed to get into a moderately-rich pay-streak on the far side of the river. Through some trial and error, they quickly discovered that most of their gold was being recovered out of a gray hard-packed layer up off of the bedrock. So they quickly organized themselves into a production crew, and devoted most of the week trading off in shifts to contribute to the ever-increasing amount of gold that was adding up in our bucket.

Jake Urban also put a team of moderately-experienced participants together and launched a substantial sample out into the river from the high-way 96 side of the river. Jake is more of an aggressive, competitive team leader. He is happiest when his team is producing the most gold during a Project. So we directed Jake’s 6-inch dredge to an area where they were challenged with faster water conditions. The gold deposit they found there was richer than what the other two teams were mining, but it still was not the high-grade that I was hoping to find on this claim.

‘Jake Urban directing the activity of his team.”

Again, higher water levels were making it nearly impossible for us to push our sample holes out into the middle of the river where we anticipated that the highest-grade gold deposits were going to be. We were doing the best that we could under the circumstances.

The following video segment was edited together to show the process we were going through to develop these gold deposits:

We almost never begin these Group Mining Projects already knowing where the high-grade gold is located. We initially choose a mining property where we hope high-grade is going to be. Then we must find the high-grade through a well-coordinated sampling plan in which the whole group helps to accomplish. Difficult river conditions can sometimes prevent us from completing important samples which can help us trace down the high-grade deposits. This was the problem we were facing on about the 4th day of this particular project. We had to decide if we would just keep working the moderate pay-streaks to get as much gold as we could out of them, or if we would keep sampling for something better. This is

a tough decision that I am often faced with during these Projects. We always spend some quality time as a group in the mornings discussing the situation as it develops and debating various solutions.

“A-team smiles for the camera’

Our 4th dredge team on this Project was being managed by Rick LaRouque. Rick was joined by several other moderately-experienced dredgers. But these were some seriously motivated guys! They started referring to themselves as the ??”A-team’ from the very first day. Everyone in the Project agreed that’s exactly what they were! As the A-team was prepared to do just about anything to strike high-grade, we decided on the 5th day that the other 3 teams would continue to recover as much gold as possible from the moderate-grade gold deposits, while the A-team continued sampling for high-grade gold. So we floated their 5-inch dredge down towards the lower-end of K-7, not far from where other members were dredging high-grade just last year. I spent a lot of the 5th day working with the A-team. Time was running out! And while we kept picking up signs of the high-grade that we were looking for, high, fast water out in the middle of the river was preventing us from getting far enough out there to reach beyond where the earlier members had already mined.

Fortunately, the water release from the Irongate dam was reduced just in time, and the river dropped about a foot by late on the 5th day. This made a huge difference in the speed of the water out in the middle and allowed us to reach out into the river just far enough to strike high-grade before the 5th day was finished. The streambed material was shallow out there, so we were able to uncover enough bedrock to see gold scattered all over the place. That’s when we uncovered some very nice nuggets!

This following video segment was edited together from footage captured by our shore boss as we evolved through the sampling process of discovering the high-grade. It began with seeing just few flakes of gold. Through some trial and error, working closely together, we walked our way right into a rich pay-streak. It was incredible:

As hard as they worked for it, in all of the Group Projects I have been involved with, I am not sure I have ever seen a more excited group of miners. The A-team seriously wanted to dredge until it was too dark to see! No question, in just an hour or so, they had recovered more gold on their single 5-inch dredge, than all the combined gold recovered from the other 3 dredges for the entire day!

The thing about high-grade is that when you uncover it, the whole world changes to a much better place. Especially when you first discover it! I was fortunate to be down on that particular dive with Buzz Schwartz. The A-team had just reached bedrock on a sample in the middle of the river and said they thought they had seen some gold during the dive. Buzz and I went down to open up the hole and have a closer look. About 30 minutes into the dive, we uncovered a crack in the bedrock that was just loaded with golden treasure! Each time we expended the hole, we just kept uncovering more beautiful flakes and nuggets. Even underwater, I could hear Buzz yelling out his personal excitement.

Here follows a video segment which shows how excited the A-team was as we were looking at the gold that we had just recovered from the initial rich discovery:

‘Exhilaration” is the best word that I know of to describe the feeling that you experience when uncovering high-grade gold. I’m serious; I cannot think of very many things in this life that will prompt a more exhilarated feeling than what you experience when you uncover Mother Nature’s rich, virgin treasure! That’s also the way everyone felt in camp that night when we showed them what we had found!

‘Our A-team was carefully planning its next moves early on the morning of the 6th day.”

The 6th day of the Project found our whole company eager to get an early start on the river. The first thing we did was float Jake’s dredge and team downstream to fall-in alongside the A-team. It did not take very long for the teams to get both dredges into production. I personally devoted most of the rest of the day using the boat to ferry participants from the other 2 dredge teams, so each person on the Project had an opportunity to dive down and dredge up some of the high-grade gold deposit. The following video sequence goes a long way to demonstrate the action and excitement as it continued to unfold:

While all of this additional activity slowed everything down bit, I felt it was important to give everyone on the Project a chance to see what real high-grade gold looks like when you find it. Perhaps this was even a greater reward than getting a share of the gold. Because once you have actually seen high-grade gold, you will thereafter always know what you are looking for during sampling. It is one thing to hear or read about it. It is quite another to actually experience high-grade as it is being uncovered from the bottom of a waterway. Dredging high-grade gains you some personal certainty that Mother Nature’s rich natural golden treasures are right there for the taking. All you have to do is go out and find them. Finding high-grade once lends confidence that you can find it again.

As usual, there was very little I could do to participate in the last day of dredging out on the river. So I spent much of the day leaning back in the boat, watching with pride how all of the team participants enthusiastically worked together. They were pushing to recover as much gold as possible during the time remaining in our Project. They knew how to do everything without any further direction from me. Watching them discuss and work out a production plan together, once again, made me reflect upon how lucky I am to be part of these mining Projects.

Most of these people did not even know each other only 6 days before. Yet, here they were on the river working together as an experienced team of prospectors who had overcome all of the unknowns that we began with, worked their way together through some pretty difficult conditions, kept the faith throughout the whole process, and pulled off a wonderful success in the end. The transformation of group chemistry during these Projects into something really rewarding never ceases to amaze me! With that amazement always comes my own personal sadness that another fantastic partnership will soon end. Still, I am certain that meaningful friendships are sparked on these Projects that will last a lifetime.

The process requires too much time to clean-up the gold from multiple dredges each day. So we allow our final concentrates from each day to accumulate in a single bucket which remains in my care until the end of the Project. We devoted the 7th day to pulling most of our gear off the river and doing the final clean-up of the gold that we had accumulated during the week. As you will see from the following video segment, it was a lot of gold:

  

Everyone participates in the final clean-up steps, and every participant receives an equal share of the gold. In all, we recovered 120.2 pennyweights of gold. That’s about 6 ounces. There were 327 nuggets in all, which allowed everyone at least 14 nuggets.

There were a lot of smiling faces on Friday afternoon!

 

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