Mining "Newbies" at the "Potholes" (Part 1)

("Looking down into the 'Potholes' area with the All American Canal to the right.")

Two of My Favorites

Two of my favorite "newbies" returned not long ago from a mining foray to the "Potholes" District and were gracious enough to update me on the happenings there as well as provide me photographs and general grist for the "Bedrock Dreams" mill. As many of you know from reading my other posts and references to it, the "Potholes" District is a very old dry placer area close in to the Colorado River in extreme southeastern California and southwestern Arizona. (I spent many an hour there dry washing for gold back in the "old days," by the way.)

Placer Mining Equipment
Where to Find Placer Gold

At any rate, the boys, Marcus and Jim (who choose to be called "Dobbs" and "Curtin" after Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt's characters in the classic treasure and mining film, "Treasure of the Sierra Madre") have made me their honorary "Howard," the experienced old timer in the movie played by Walter Huston. This is quite an honor, so I humbly accept the nickname the boys' have bestowed upon me.

("'Potholes' pits.")

Here's some of what "Dobbs" had to say about their trip:

"Bitch Hill"

"First off, you might want to tell your readers to use the Picacho Canal crossing at Bard and then go east along the Canal road to reach the 'Potholes.' Coming in from the old 3 C Mine area as we did was definitely not a good move, because if you climb up to the top of the microwave tower like we did you are in for some real 'pucker' factor on the other side as you and your vehicle are literally sliding on loose rock all the way down. We named this route 'Bitch Hill' because it was a real bitch making it back up to the top with the pedal pushed down all the way to the floorboard. I guess the Good Lord looks after idiots like us!"

("Hillside diggings.")

Note: I guess I am a bit remiss in my mentoring here. When I first talked to the boys about the "Potholes" I neglected to mention that, yes, the easiest way into the old mining area is via Bard and the All American Canal. Eventually you'll have to turn off onto unpaved road that's a tiny bit rough in spots but nothing compared to "Bitch Hill!" J.R.

Here's more from "Dobbs:"

By the way, this trip induced us to coin a new phrase: "L.T.J." 'Listen to Jim.' (Note: or "Howard," as the case may be! J.R.) You were spot on about that part of the desert being dry washer territory. We took our power sluice but never used it. The nearest water was at a concrete flood control outflow about 100 yards away from where we were digging. We dug our material and ended up hauling it in 5-gallon buckets to where we panned it out. I know you have carried buckets of material at least that far before so you know how much fun we had doing it!"

Note: Yep, I wish I had a small nugget for every 5-gallon bucket of dirt and gravel I've humped or hauled in my mining career. If I did, I might be living in the lap of luxury these days! J.R.

There's more to come from "Dobbs" and "Curtin," so stay tuned.

Good luck out there!

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Southern California Placer Areas: the 'Potholes'"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2011

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