Monday, June 10, 2013

Boise Basin Mines Thriving, but Water Becoming a Problem

On Jun 10, 1863, a miner wrote a letter from Placerville, from which portions were later extracted for publication in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. The writer began, “Plenty of gold; it beats California in 1849. Gold is taken out by the pound, and new discoveries are made every day.”

One claim went on the market on a Saturday for $4 thousand, with no takers. Then, the following Tuesday, “The owners took therefrom 11 pounds in one day’s work.” They were apparently then offered $15 thousand for their property and (naturally) turned it down.

But the mining riches came with a downside: “Building lots are very high, as is also building material; single boards cost from $3.25 to $4. I have bought a building for $1,200, and it will cost $600 or $700 more to finish it.”

The writer also said, “Living here is expensive: meals $1.25 or $16 per week, and one don’t get anything extra at that, the reason being there is nothing in the market.”

Tools and equipment were also costly. Yet, even so, “Everyone is making money, and if it were not for the scarcity of water, gold would be as plentiful as dirt, so rich are the diggings. The water failed about two weeks since and many that had the best claims were obliged to suspend.”

As noted earlier, this was a continuing problem for claims in the Grimes Creek watershed. Weather most often approaches this area from the southwest. The high Boise Ridge, including 66-hundred-foot Gardiner Peak, creates something of a “rain (snow) shadow” in that part of the Basin.

The writer continued, “On account of the scarcity of water, many have gone to Bannock City, which is 14 miles from here, with a good wagon road … In consequence of the failure of water in one or two ditches, the place has lost considerable trade, and Bannock City has the benefit of it, as they have plenty of water there and good rich diggings. It is reported to be very lively at Bannock City, and to-morrow I leave for there.”

He then made a statement that is somewhat puzzling: “There has sprung up, also, a new place about eight miles from here, said to be ‘A No. 1.’ Rich diggings have been struck, and it promises to be a rival of Bannock City.”
Hydraulic Giant Threatens to Undercut a Town. Idaho City Historical Foundation.
Perhaps he referred to a camp that was washed away by subsequent large-scale hydraulic mining, which used giant water jets. Or, even later, powered gold dredges wiped out many smaller towns with their huge buckets.

Reference: “Later from the North,” Evening Bulletin, San Francisco (June 29, 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).

1 comment:

  1. These are the bad effects of the construction industries . With rapid industrialization there are some drastic effects on environment such as hydraulic fracking process is contaminating our ground water and deep mining has increased the risks of earthquakes .

    Henry Jordan

    Hydraulic Seal Kits