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LOST GOLD AT THE DEAD MAN'S MINE A MINERS JOURNAL

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:24 am

As an introduction, I am the president of a small placer gold mine exploration & leasing company. While doing research on one of our mine properties I came across an old leather journal & thought i'd post the entries over time here. I named it "Lost Gold At The Dead Man's Mine." Hopefully the old timer who wrote it won't mind. I tried to find any relatives but have run into one dead end after another. I felt it was a story worth telling & over the period of posting the entries I will include pictures of the area as it looks today and what our modern activities at the site have been. The journal was mentioned in a 282 page government report that I stumbled upon while doing research. I was able to secure the original journal from the descendants of the president of a defunct mining company who did some work in the area back in the mid 1960's. The journal itself was written by a prospector who worked the area in 1936. He hit a gold strike of epic proportions and lived an adventure that is very fascinating to say the least. It's a wild ride showing a glimpse back into a long lost time. I hope you enjoy the journal.

  PROLOGUE : This is a journal of the experiences written in the first person in 1936 by a prospector by the name of Jed Stevens while mining at the Whiskey Jack Mine. Jed had several claims in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. This area of claims produced large amounts of gold from the mid to late 1800's. The old placer mines were abandoned in the late 1800's as a result of California's Sawyer Decision which banned or severely limited hydraulic gold mining operations and left large amounts of undiscovered gold in the gravels. Here is the first entry :

  APRIL 12   1936  :  Today I filed all the paperwork at the county court house for the mining claims I now hold near Lost Ravine. I then drove my Ford truck out to my claims which total 520 acres. There was a good spot near Jake's Creek up to the north about 1500 feet from the main road that follows Morgan Creek where I set up my camp. It took the entire day to pitch the tent and set up my kitchen. The tent is a 15 foot cabin tent with a stove jack. I have a first rate box stove set up inside to be used for heat and some cooking. I also set up a second stove about 200 feet from camp for the main cooking jobs during good weather.

  Today was a good day for getting camp set as it was sunny and not too cold. Tomorrow my plan is to investigate one of the claim sites where the old diggings took place and get a bearing on my situation as far as where I might sample gravels and old tailings. I am losing daylight and getting cold so I will get into my sleeping bag on the cot and get some sleep.

  TO BE CONTINUED ....................................

 

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:30 am

APRIL 13 1936

Last night got very cold. My water containers had some ice in them when I made morning coffee. I hiked out to the eastern most section of the property armed with my Smith and Wesson Model 27, a shovel, and a bucket and I found an abandoned drift going into the mountain. It was timbered for support and looked to be solid. Inside the opening was an old two man tuttle tooth two man saw. The tunnel had seen some good work. I'm guessing back in the late 1800's. All the mines here as far as I know were placers so they probly dug this when water was scarce as I saw abandoned iron pipe in the area. It was nearly high enough for me to stand upright and went back about 200 feet where some of the timbers had started to rot and were collapsing. There was signs of some exposed country rock in the drift. I used my shovel to dig some sample gravels and took them back to camp where I later panned them in the creek. There were fines and a few nice coarse pieces from the two buckets I processed and the drift looked to hold some promise. Tomorrow I am going to hike out on a fault line in the northern area of the claims to take more sample gravels. I've got beans on the stove and a cup of good Irish whiskey before I turn in tonight.

TO BE CONTINUED .......................

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:31 am

APRIL 14 1936

Today I traversed a major fault about 1500 feet to the north east of camp. Part of the fault was exposed by old diggings while the northern portion on my claim was burried in heavy gravels. Unable to get a good hole going in the heavy material I focused my pick and shovel work near the base of the exposed area which was about 60 feet below the top of the rim. I took several buckets out of the area and panned them in the creek near camp. The pan showed fines mixed with coarse and weighed heavy. So far the claims are showing good signs of gold and I am thinking of a way to do more digging at each of these spots. I will do more exploration out there at the fault tomorrow. It is closer to the creek so i'm thinking it may be a good location for serious digging. It is beginning to snow tonight as I write this and I am stoking the stove and turning in.

TO BE CONTINUED .............

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:32 am

APRIL 15 1936

I woke to a cold and snowy scene this morning. About three or four inches of snow. I broomed the roof of my tent and fixed a breakfast of hot water corn bread and coffee. The snow had stopped before I woke so I set out on the hike back to the fault line and also seeing some bear tracks that looked fresh. Up at the base of the fault line I spied the critter. He looked to be needing nourishment and no doubt had not been too long out of hibernation. I have a good holler and he bolted up into the woods higher up the mountain.

I worked the gravels swinging the pick and scooping out gravels by the shovel full at the base of the fault. There seemed to be broken country rock at the base. I went straight in and tried to get some depth which was hard work. After several hours of this I had myself a good hole going into the fault. About mid afternoon I was in deep enough to take some good sample buckets down to the creek. I saw lots of fines and very good heavies that weighed out rich. I went back out with a hand saw and started cutting back brush and small pine in order to fashion a crude roadway for my truck. At the last of light I went back down to camp and heated up beans on the stove and poured a good cupful of Irish whiskey. I began to formulate my mining plan as darkness took the camp.

TO BE CONTINUED ....................

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:33 am

APRIL 16 1936

Got woke up last night by loud screaching sounds which lasted an hour or so. Might have been lion or bobcat. There was more than one and they came close to camp. I spent the day working on the road up to the fault line. All hand saw and pick and shovel. Was too tired to take more samples. Tomorrow I should be able to get my truck up to the dig site. I will load some gravels to take down to the creek. I have a tom sluice that will sit in the creek where the flow is right. The creek is running good from all the melt off up higher on the mountain. My claims are anywhere from 3500 feet to 4000 feet in altitude. I have a hard wood grizzly screen to set over the head of the tom. I'll shovel onto that to screen out anything over two inches. The tom is 20 feet in length and 18 inches wide. I've got it lined with carpet matting and riffles. Got a nice supper of dried beef and beens. Turning in now.

TO BE CONTINUED ........................

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:34 am

APRIL 17 1936

Got a good nights rest. I was able to drive the truck up to the dig site with my buckets. I worked on getting in further and as deep and close to country rock as I could. Then I filled about a quarter ton of good gravels in some buckets and drove down to the creek. I set up the tom and grizzly and set a good angle on the tom. Worked the rest of the day processing and finished up the panning from the heavies that were pulled. When weighed out it was about 20 cents to the ton. Not glory days but working wages at least. My thinking is there is better pay in there to be found. Tomorrow I will begin doing the road work out to the eastern drift mine I sampled. There is an old wagon road out there I can use once it's fixed up some. Then I plan to get a good test on that mine. Fixing a good supper of hoover stew with coffee spiced with Irish whiskey and turning in.

TO BE CONTINUED ....................

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:36 am

APRIL 18, 19, 20 1936

Snow is all melted off and the creeks are running hard. I spent all three days out on the old wagon road that leads to the eastern drift mine. The road is now passable for my truck. There's a lot of exposed country rock and old iron pipe out near the drift which tells me this was worked bt hydraulic method mostly but for some reason someone drifted into the virgin gravels. The hill is a good 90 feet or more in height and the facings were hydraulicked to country. The old hand dug water flume runs up the mountain but is overgrown with brush. My guess is that the old boys had water delivery issues. Anyway, I will get my truck out there to haul samples to the tom. I noticed a lot of bear tracks out along the way out there. My goal is to find the best ground for my efforts. I'm getting anxious to start mining gold but I know that this early work will pay in the end. Turning in now after a supper of dried beef and crackers and a small cup of Irish whiskey.

TO BE CONTINUED ..............

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:37 am

April 21 1936

Got the truck out to the eastern drift mine and worked the old adit gravels. I went back in about 100 feet and dug down into the old river gravels along the bottom of the west wall. I took out ten buckets and hauled them to the creek to process. Once again I was not seeing the glory gold I had hoped for. The values were a little less than what I got at the fault line. Some fines mixed with a bit of nice coarse. Tomorrow I will go back out there for another try and perhaps get down to country rock which I think is still another five feet deeper. The weather warmed a bit today and the days are getting longer. I haven't seen a soul around this area since I came here. I will be heading to town sometime soon for a few provisions. I am finding the prospecting life to be most fullfilling but lonely at times. It will be nice to get into town.

TO BE CONTINUED ...................

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:38 am

APRIL 22 1936

Once again I worked the eastern drift and once again I found gold. I got deeper although it was mighty tough on both me and my tools of labor. The old channel has a lot of river rock to deal with but I got my buckets out with good material that was on the top of country. My results were a bit better than yesterday but the work to get it was twice as hard. I would need a dozer or dragline to continue further. I don't have the stake for that without finding a partner so I have decided to concentrate my work at the fault line on a full time venture. I am happy to have made a decission and will stick with it.

I also had time to go into town for provisions, I met a nice gal at the general store who talked with me about prospecting. I was careful not to say anything of my venture or location but just talked mostly of camping and hunting. I am having a feast of hash and hot water corn bread tonight and washing it all down with some good whiskey. Tomorrow is the start of my mining season.

TO BE CONTINUED .................

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Post  GhostMiner Sat Apr 16, 2022 3:39 am

APRIL 23 1936

Well today did not go as expected. As I drove up to the fault line claim there was a surprise waiting. I spied two men with shovels working at my test hole. Upon seeing my truck they looked at each other but stood their ground. My claims are well posted and marked so I thought the worst right from the start. I stopped short of them and got out but stayed close to the truck. I hollered to them asking what they were doing. There was no reply so I asked again but louder. One of the men was a pretty big guy aboud middle aged and the other looked younger. The big one said they were thinking of buying or staking a claim. I told him these claims were taken and were well marked. The big one said he didn't see any markers. That was a lie because he had to walk right past one right near my hole. I called him out on it and told him I didn't think he was telling the truth and to get off my claim. He looked at me with a sneer and said I needed to prove this was my claim. I reached in my truck and pulled the paperwork I always make sure I carry. He laughed and said I might have made those papers up myself and they didn't mean anything to him until he checked the claim at the courthouse. He said he was going to dig some samples whether I liked it or not. The other guy just stood there not saying anything. I told him once more to leave. Both of them just looked at me with blank expressions and shook their heads no. That was about enough for me. I reached in my truck and pulled out my rifle. I leveled it right at them and pulled it up about two feet over their heads and squeezed one off. They jumped and started looking nerveously at each other. I told them the next one would be lower. Luckily they weren't armed. I tried to ask them where they were from but they wouldn't talk so I just told them to git and don't ever come back here. I fired another round over their heads and they high stepped it up the mountain.

It took me awhile to settle down but I eventually got to work digging. Spent the rest of the day digging and loading buckets into the truck and took them down to the creek, I'll wash the gravels tomorrow and see what I get. I am going to have to keep an eye peeled for claim jumpers now.

TO BE CONTINUED ..................

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