Thursday, August 29, 2013

Miners Lack Water But Prospectors Still Hopeful, Politicians Meet

August 29, 1863 was a busy news day in the Upper County. The Oregonian of that date reported on the Beaverhead region: “Miners in that district are doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances, water being scarce. A number of prospecting parties are out in every direction, and our informant thinks other diggings will be discovered this fall fully as rich or richer than any yet found.”

In late May, prospectors had discovered placer gold in Alder Gulch, fifty miles to the east of Bannack City. Thousands joined the rush into those fields and founded Nevada City, Virginia city, and several other towns. Plus, those searchers “out in every direction” had also uncovered lode prospects up the canyon from Virginia City. By the fall, observers claimed that the Gulch contained as many as ten thousand men.

Beyond that, the paper said, “A large party was organizing for the purpose of going to Yellowstone river, some 230 miles in a north-easterly direction from Beaver Head, to prospect. … Another party had gone to the head waters of Snake river to prospect.”

The Oregonian also had news from Elk City: “Mr. L. Bacon, Elk City expressman, informs us that the American Ditch Co. are progressing rapidly with their ditch, and will probably have it completed by the close of next month. The mines who have water on their claims continue to take out remuneration pay.”

Meanwhile, also on August 29, a group of Unionist (Republicans) met in Pioneer City “to form a Central Committee to call a Territorial Convention.” The avowed goal of the three men selected was “to nominate a suitable person and an unqualified Union man as a Delegate to Congress.”
Early Pioneer City. Idaho State Historical Society.

The brief report from the meeting closed with, “There being no other special business before the meeting, patriotic speeches were made … [and] enthusiastically applauded.” After that, there were “three cheers given for the success of the national arms; after which the meeting adjourned.”

References: “From The Upper Country,” The Oregonian, Portland (August 29, 1863).
Michael P. Malone, Richard B. Roeder, and William L. Lang, Montana: A History of Two Centuries, Revised Edition, University of Washington Press, Seattle (1991).
“Union Meeting in Idaho Territory,” The Oregonian, Portland (September 12, 1863).

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