Gold in the West: Oregon

Placer gold mining in Oregon followed hard on the heels of the rich discoveries in California, with erstwhile '49ers heading north to work new discoveries in the southern part of the state not long after the California Gold rush began. By late 1849, extensive and often rich placer diggings were being worked in Oregon, especially in the Rogue River region. Some commercial gold mining operations are still in operation and a number of areas have been set aside by the state and the Bureau of Land Management for recreational prospecting and mining (contact the appropriate state or BLM office for more information).

Here's a list of counties and major districts or locations in Oregon containing placer gold:

Baker County (Blue Canyon, Baker District, Nelson Diggings, Virtue District, Rock Creek District, Burnt Creek District, Weatherford District, Greenhorn District, Pine Creek, Eagle Creek, Sumpter Area)

Coos County (Bandon area beach deposits, Coquille River, Cow Creek, Sweat Creek, Whiskey Run Creek)

Crook County (Howard District)

Curry County (Gold Beach and all ocean beaches in the county, "Old Diggins'", Rogue River, Sixes River)

Douglas County (Glendale Area, Lee Creek, Buck Fork, South Umpqua River)

Grant County (Susanville District, John Day River and tributaries, Bull Run, Clear Creek, Desolation Creek, Dixie Creek)

Harney County (Harney District)

Jackson County (Jackson Creek, Applegate River and tributaries, Ashland Area, Willow Springs, Elk Creek, Gold Hill Area, Sterling Creek, Bear Creek)

Josephine County (Galice-Greenback Area, Waldo District, Allen Gulch, Scotch Gulch, Althouse Creek, Holland Area, Esterly/Deep Gravel/Placerica/Leonard Placers, Williams Creek and tributaries, Bamboo and Whiskey Gulches, Oscar Creek, Missouri Flat, Board Shanty Creek, Cook and Howland Placers, Briggs Creek, Sexton Placers, Grave Creek and tributaries, Horse Creek, Illinois River Area, Jack Creek)

Lane County (Sharps Creek, Martin Creek, Steamboat Creek, Brice Creek and tributaries, Cedar Creek, Mineral Camp Area, Fall Creek District)

Lincoln County (Toldeo-Yaquina Bay Area beach deposits)

Linn County (Quartzville Creek, Blue River District, North Fork of the Santaim River)

Malheur County (Mormon Basin District)

Union County (Tanners Gulch, Camp Carson Placers)

Wheeler County (Rock Creek, Birch Creek)

As you can see, Oregon has many potential placer gold sites awaiting the recreational or small-scale miner. Please make sure you check with the BLM or state forestry folks about permits before attempting to dredge any of these areas and always respect active claims and private property.

Have fun and let me know how you do.

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2008