Compared to other California counties little has been officially reported on Siskiyou County and gold production and much of the information available is questionable. Placer mining is the main way that gold is taken, due to the complex geology in the county. Gold is not the only metal of importance in Siskiyou County. The county is said to contain large Platinum Group metal deposits.
The Platinum Group Metals in the Klamath Mountains are unique in that they are composed largely of iridium and osmium, in the form of osmiridium, with platinum being lesser importance. The Klamath River has not been an important source of placer platinum because it is so fine and difficult to recover.
Platinum Group Metals collected at the Ten Eyck Mine near Orleans on the Klamath were assayed at 92% osmiridium and 8% platinum. It is reported at a placer operation near Orleans that 3 ounces of osmiridium were saved in a period of 6 years.
Platinum on the Salmon River and its tributaries was larger, with nuggets up to 1 ounce in weight being recovered. Most of the platinum has a black coating. The primary areas to look for platinum in Siskiyou County are Callahan, Seiad Valley, Independence, Ten Eyck, and Orleans, Forks of the Salmon, Sawyers Bar and the North Fork of the Salmon River.
Close to the southwest border of Shasta County Cottonwood creek and its tributaries (Antelope, Crow, Dry Driver and Roaring Creeks) have produced a large amount of placer gold. Estimates put it as high as 260,000 ounces and this may not be an exaggeration. The area was dredged with buckets in many places during the depression and little has been done since.
Deadwood Creek is still a favorite with recreational prospectors and the area has a rich history of producing placer gold since the early days. Other producing streams in the area are Cherry, French, Indian and McAdam Creeks.
Dillon Creek from where it joins the Klamath River in the west part of the county has produced a considerable quantity of placer gold. It had a rich history of late from 1951 to 1960 it was worked on a large scale. For those who want to prospect the area, it is well to remember that this last discovery was of a type that required cyanide heap leaching and investigation to the local geology might prove profitable.
Elk Creek produces gold throughout its length.
Horse Creek is a very rich creek. Watch for natural cinnabar deposits that contain mercury. I filled a sluice completely full once on this creek with mercury.
Humbug Creek placers were discovered on Humbug Creek about ten miles northwest of Yreka. Later many gold bearing quartz veins were found and worked. Overall estimates range upwards of over 600,000 ounces recovered. Large scale bucket dredging continued until 1950 and recreational miners are active in the area now.
North of Happy Camp in area jade mines along Indian creek you will find nephrite jade, gold colors and nuggets, and most prized of all, jade laced with stringers of raw gold which is a prime collectors' gemstone.
The Klamath River contains placer gold along its entire course through Siskiyou County. The Klamath River was a productive placer stream and many operations continue today. Many of the tributaries were major producers. Many gold lodes were also discovered near the river. Today, even though much of the river is claimed, amateurs find spots to work their dredges and many do very well.
A study of local history and property rights is suggested. Some of the best locations are at where the following creeks come into the river; Humbug, Horse, Schutts Gulch, Scott River, Independence, Dillon, Elk, Indian, Thompson. This list is not complete and many of the tributaries produced large quantities.
Klamath River bar and bench gravels contained rich placers. All tributary creeks and bench deposits contain placer gold. From Somes Bare north along highway 96 following the Klamath River to Happy Camp, vast bench gravel deposits untouched to today, extremely rich extensions of huge hydraulic operations east of Happy Camp to highway turnoff to Yreka contains tremendous placer gold potential.
FORKS OF THE SALMON
The Forks of the Salmon was the center of large gold mining operations and all regional stream and bench gravels had very rich placers. There were huge hydraulic operations on the major streams which produced 1,000's of ounces of placer gold.
If you go southeast of this area, about 10 mi., you will find The King Solomon Mine which can be reached by Matthew's creek jeep road. This mine was a major producer of lode gold with over 50,000 ounces recorded.
The Liberty district is about 10 miles east of Forks of Salmon. The placers were discovered here in the 1850's. The area was active until the start of World War I and some prospecting has taken place since. Many lode mines in the area.
Sawyers Bar is located in the Salmon River district and contains roughly 800 square miles of extremely mountainous country between the Marble Mountains and Salmon and Trinity Wilderness areas. This area had a total production between 1855-1965 estimated at 16,000 ounces of placer gold and 20,000 ounces of lode gold. In all regional stream gravels you can find placer gold and platinum.
There were very many huge hydraulic operations and Chinese diggings, accessible from the east on Sawyers Bar road. The North Fork of the Salmon River in all gravel and slope wash deposits you will find placer gold. In the South Fork gravel bars, especially near mouth of Black Gulch there are rich placer gold deposits.
The Whites Gulch Mine was a hydraulic operation worked until 1970 for its placer gold. If you go east 10 mile to Idlewild which was the site of an old sawmill and USFS campground, the gravels of South Russian River have rich placer gold and platinum deposits on bedrock. It is reported that on the North Fork of the Salmon there were very many mines, The Hickey Mine, The Gallia Mine, and The Red Hill Mine all of which were substantial producers.
A large amount of gold was recovered from the Scott River near the town of Callahan with most of the recorded production coming from a dredge operation which worked the stream for about five miles. There were also many lode deposits near Callahan. The veins were small, but they were rich. One lode mine is reported to have recovered between 15,000 and 20,000 ounces. Callahan is located 44 miles Southwest of Yreka at South end of Scott Valley.
This is an area with enormous amount of mining activity. The bed of the South Fork of Scott River, from Callahan South toward headwaters there were great hydraulic operations and Chinese rock piles which still contain placer gold. Gold is still found after every winter runoff. Also placer gold is found in all gulches and creeks, with many lode mines hidden back in steep mountains.
North along the Scott River, several miles of dredging operations which were halted in 1955 by law. Southwest of Callahan, by jeep road, the Martin McKeen Mine was a producer of 12,100 ounces of lode gold. The Porphyry Dike Mine was also an important producer of lode gold.
Go North of Callahan 5 mile to Sugar Creek and follow west on USFS road to a hydraulic workings which contains very rich placer gold. Go south a few miles to Camp Eden, then go Southeast across canyon you will find the Blue Jay Mine, and in the gravels of nearby Jackson creek is an area which was a rich producer of gold nuggets after winter floods.
Go East of Callahan 10-12 miles along Grouse Creek and you will also find additional rich placers. The Copper King Mine was a silver mine that had a by product of gold. South of Callahan 14 miles, Carter Meadows Recreation Area in Trail creek there is also rich placer showings.