Monday, May 13, 2013

Boise Basin Mining Has Heated Up, Prospects Look Great

On May 13, 1863, the Golden Age in Lewiston reported the experiences of one “W. Miller,” who had “ just returned from the Boise mines, having been only seven days from Placerville.”

The item does not indicate what business Miller, who was said to be from Orofino, conducted in the Boise Basin. However, the traveler did find that the supply situation had eased considerably: “He reports provisions of all descriptions in abundant, and at low prices for that country. He met several trains also on their way to the mines.”

The Age went on, “He says that the distance from Lewiston to Placerville is a great deal less than from Walla Walla, by the old traveled road. … He met seven Frenchmen who had gone in from Lewiston in the short space of 8 days. They reported an immense number of men and pack trains right behind them.”

The mining itself was going well: “Mr. Miller is under the impression that there are from 8,000 to 10,000 people in that country, and he says it is the finest country he ever saw, taking all its advantages into consideration.” In fact, he claimed, “that country, in its mining capacities, will astonish the world in a few years.”

Miller noted that “They are mining over a space of 35 miles, and the miners seem perfectly satisfied. They have under consideration the project of constructing a ditch or turning the Payette river, so as to furnish water in all the ravines in the vicinity of Placerville.”

That latter point recalls the issue raised back on March 9th: The lack of a reliable water supply for the summer season along Grimes Creek. Over time, miners would develop elaborate systems of ditches and flumes. But that did not hold prospectors back in the meantime: “Miners are at work right in the timber among the largest pines; some of them obtain remarkable prospects.”
Placer Mining Flume System. Library of Congress.

The article concluded: “In his opinion, the country is full of quartz, of various kinds. He noticed one vein or lode of quartz that was pure white, which was very rich; also others of lead, red and black, that were filled with gold. New discoveries are daily made, and people are flocking in[to] the country in large numbers.”

References: “From the Boise River Mining Country,” Evening Bulletin, San Francisco (May 25, 1863).
Merle W. Wells, Gold Camps & Silver Cities: Nineteenth Century Mining in Central and Southern Idaho, 2nd Edition,  Bulletin 22, Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Mines and Geology, Moscow, Idaho (1983).

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