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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47

Californian Experience

page 77

Californian Experience.

The exhaustion of the easier diggings in California has had the effect of creating new plans of management and new appliances and methods of working; and so will it be year after year in British Columbia. In California, at the present time, many small claims are thrown together, so as to be worked on a grand scale under a single business administration. Long bed rock-tunnels are made to secure outlet and drainage to deep and extensive basins of gold-bearing gravel, covering often many individual claims, none of which could otherwise have been worked. Various other labour-and money-saving expedients have been adopted to aid the effect of this co-operation of labour and consolidation of interests. Not the least remarkable fact in California is, that new kinds of mineral deposits have been discovered, additionally to the ordinary "placers" and "quartz veins." (In British Columbia we have not yet even begun to work our quartz veins.) Successively in California have been brought to light those singular deposits known as "gold bluffs" and "gold beaches;" the "dead rivers," with their strata of auriferous cement and gravel; the deep hydraulic banks, almost mountains of gold-bearing material; the beds of "gossan" and broad belts of slate, also auriferous; and finally, the "seam diggings," consisting of narrow veins of decomposed quartz, running irregularly through porphyritic and other formations, and which, being full of free gold, and, withal, so friable that they can be broken down with a pick, and often with even a stream of water, are likely to become the sources of extensive and profitable mining. Already a good many have embarked in the business of working these "seams."

The "dead rivers" and hydraulic banks are worked on a vast scale, being now the principal theatres of placer-mining in California. The auriferous gossans, some of which were worked quite extensively a number of years ago, are again attracting attention.

The San Francisco Herald and Market Review, 17th January, 1873, contains the following:—

"It is curious to observe how almost every one of those discoveries of gold which, like Fraser River (British Columbia), &c., had come to be regarded popularly as the sheerest delusions, have all the while been the theatres of a tolerably extensive and prosperous mining industry . . . . . .After proceeding from one description of deposit to another, our miners return and attack those earliest discovered and which had at first been slighted, or perhaps wholly discarded, under the impression that they were unworthy of notice.

"In this manner the vast accumulations of tailings, at first abandoned without any thought that they would ever be looked after more, have since been re-washed, in some cases several times over, and are still preserved for additional operations, when sufficient gold shall have been liberated by further decomposition to warrant the same. Thus it is, certain of our diggings possess a sort of perennial existence, growing out of this power to renew themselves from time to time."

The whole of the above is a lesson to gold-mining croakers.