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Thread: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA (Photos Added)

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  1. #21
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    Hokay, it had been suggested that I try the dredging up river, just below Briceburg. So, here I am in Mariposa. I've finished getting gas, Pepsi's and ice at the Mohawk Beacon station on the North end of town. (Around 1980, the name was changed to BP.)

    I pull out on to hiway 140 and head North, towards Yosemite Nat. Park.

    Beautiful country! The first interesting place I spot is an old cedar(?) building at the junction of Triangle Rd. I couldn't help but wonder how old it was. I had done a little reading about Mariposa and had found that the court house was/is the oldest courthouse in CA, that is still in use as a courthouse. Since 1852! And, at that time, (and 125 years later,) the old belfrey clock still kept good time and the bell still rang the hour and half hour.

    Another little piece of info. was that Mariposa County was at one time, the largest county in CA, taking up parts of LA county and a good portion of San Bernardino county. If I remember correctly, it was split up into 12 other counties. If you would like to see the old courthouse, I took the link from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maripos...ty,_California

    Oops, better keep my mind on the road. Hiway 140 wasn't exactly a "Interstate Hiway" back in 1961. (Come to think of it, it still isn't.)

    The next point of interest was Mid-Pines with it's combination store and post office + 2 gas pumps, where in later years, the owner allowed me to go under the wooden front porch with my metal detector, where I picked up so many coins off of the surface, (mostly silver,) that I never did use my metal detector. I always intended to go back with my MD, but never seemed to have the time. (You might keep that in mind if you're ever passing through Mid-Pines.) I could also show you an old dump about a half mile off of the hiway, (by a paved road,) where I found old auto license plates dating back into the 30s. They were barely covered by a layer of pine needles. I left them there. I have never been a collector of artifacts, unless they are made out of gold. (Sorry, I know where the road is, but I don't remember the name of it.)

    Another mile up the hiway, on the left, is the old Muir Lodge, and just beyond that is a small bridge, (you'll have to look quick, or you'll miss it.) Just after passing over the little bridge, (Bear Creek,) there is a "turn out" where you can park before starting down the hill to Briceburg. I stopped here once in the early 80s and just for the heck of it, made about a 5 minute search with my Garrett ADS2. I picked up a 1945 Mercury dime in AU condition, under the old cedar tree, (which is still there.) You see, my interest was purely acidemic as I knew there was once a small market there. I guess they tore it down after the mines shut down in the 1920s.

    While you're looking around, look directly across Bear Creek and up the side of the hill. You should notice signs of mining there. What you're looking at is the site of the King Solomon Mine. The Colorado Book of Mining and Geology lists it as the richest mine in CA while it was in operation. I believe the Mariposa Mining Museum has some specimens on display. I've held fist sized chunks of quartz, (a friends) that 2/3 of the weight was gold. Makes my hands itch just remembering it.

    OK, we've wasted enough time here, let's get on down the hill to Briceburg.

    Tomorrow.
    Last edited by EagleDown; Apr 07, 2012 at 09:39 AM.

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  3. #22
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    O.K., about a mile before Briceburg, there's a turn-out (not paved,) where I like to stop occasionally to look down in the gulch that Bear Creek flows though on it's way to the Merced River. At the bottom is a large, fairly deep pool where the local youngsters like to gather for swimming. (And parties.)

    If you are at the right angle, at the right time of day, you might get a glimpse of a water tank that use to be on the back of a truck. The truck was used for wetting the roadway while the hiway was being put in. I once climbed down the side of the gulch, to the creek, (mostly slid down the side,) then hiked down the creek to the Merced river. Shortly after leaving the swimming hole, I came across the rest of the truck. The frame with the engine and wheels. I'm not going to try to estimate the age of the truck, but the wheels were iron rims with metal spokes. And the "tires" consisted of about 2 inches of rubber fused to the iron rims.

    Well, let's get on down to Briceburg. I'll "touch" on this area later. Including a 3 pound nugget found in the creek by a total novice. And somewhere down the line, I'll give you the low-down on that garrulous skulpher "Bedrock Bill".

    O.K., Here's the city, town, uhhh, building, of Briceburg. Yep, that's it, a house built of native river rock with an outhouse behind it and 3 or 4 cabins above (and behind) it. As we make a left turn off of the hiway, we have a stone wall on our left and a corrigated steel garage on our right.

    Briceburg once sported a gas pump and had a "pit" in the garage for working on autos. As
    of this writing, (2010) the old garage is gone. The BLM did a “Land Swap” with the Brice family and tore it down, along with the cabins. Fortunately, they retained the old stone house at the entrance to the old river road, though with minor changes.

    One of the quaint features showing the ingenuity of the “old timers” was on the front of the old house. Someone had taken ¾” water pipe and built a trellis all the way across the front of the building, then planted grape vines at each end and trained them across the top, to form a shady roof. I really loved sitting in front of the old place talking and watching the traffic pass by about 30ft. away while munching on fresh picked grapes.

    Oh well, that’s all history now. Come to think of it, with all of the pictures the French, German, Chinese, etc. tourists took of us, I guess you could say that I’m a part of history now too!!

    Doggone it, I just spent over an hour adding to this when the phone rang. While I was talking, the screen flickered and I lost it all. So, I'm going to close this out and go back to "Word" and do my typing there.

    I'll return in a bit.

    Eagle

  4. #23
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    I’m back again, finally!! I feel the need to apologize for taking so long between posts. I just never realized how busy I was, until I started writing my “memoirs”.

    So, we’re here at Briceburg and I think it’s time to load up and drive on down-river. We’ll come back up to Briceburg on occasion and review a couple of the “lost treasure” stories that Mr. Brice told me. (One of them involves a couple of coffee cans full of gold.)

    As we turn off of hiway 140 to cross the river, there is a hand-built wall on our left, also of native river rock. It’s there to keep the embankment in place, especially during the rainy seasons. There’s about 100ft of pavement here, on up to the end of the old suspension bridge. In the embankment, on the left, you can still see some old prospect holes. I never did find out how old they were, or even if anything was found.

    O.K., we’re at the bridge now and we’ll have to make a 90 degree right turn to drive onto the bridge. If you look carefully, you can see that the bridge has a slight “bow” in it. That was caused by trees hanging up on it during the flood of 1955 (or thereabouts.) But, that’s also part of another story, having to do with El Portal AND Briceburg. (lol)

    As you’re crossing the bridge, if you look down, you’ll notice that we’re about 20ft above the river, even when it’s during the annual “spring run-off”. This “might” give you an idea of the sheer volume of water that must have been coming down the river canyon during the 1955 flood. Actually, it’s almost unimaginable, even to me and I’ve seen the Merced River in flood stages many times.

    Now, we’ve crossed the bridge, where we have to make another 90 degree turn. This time, to the left. About 50ft down the road, on the right, you’ll see a fairly well maintained wood frame, split level house. This old house use to be the old Yosemite Valley RR depot. I was told that there were two trains each day, one going upriver, and one going downriver. (lol)

    Now, after about 2 miles down-river, we are at McCabe Flats. I arrived late in the evening and was met by Don Brown’s watchman. He told me that Mr. Brown had the area claimed and was mining here, but it would be OK for me to camp here, but warned, stay away from the equipment and the “shaker tables”. Otherwise, enjoy myself. And of course, no prospecting on Brown’s claims. I thanked him and invited him over to my “camp” for a glass of wine. He accepted my invitation and kept me company while I brought out my cooler and retrieved a gallon jug of some pretty good red wine out of it.

    A little “digression” here. (is that a word??) Anyway, in those days, (early 1960s,) I liked a small glass of wine before retiring for the night. So, I would stop at one of the several wineries in the San Bernardino Valley and buy it for $2.50 a gallon. (The good stuff.) They did have cheaper wines at $1.50 per gallon. (lol)

    After I got out the folding chairs, we sat and talked for a couple of hours. Nothing like a moon-lit night and a jug of wine, shared with a “watchman”, for picking up all kinds of information and history about an area. (lol)

    Of which I’ll tell you some,

    when I return to this thread. (lol)

    Eagle

  5. #24
    us
    Dec 2007
    maui, hawaii
    289
    5 times

    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    again, many thanks for taking the time to share part of your past and for putting
    it down on paper so great.sure does capture the immagination and the wheels
    start turning [ smile ].ok my friend, we will be waiting for some more great stories
    when you are not too busy.
    thanks much my friend take care. ron

  6. #25
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    Well, it’s been a busy week for me. I sold one of my opals yesterday for cash. Now I can’t complain about being broke. But, that’s a good thing. (lol)

    Now, where was I?? Oh yeah, I’m at McCabe Flats on the beautiful Merced River.

    I woke up at my usual time the following morning, got out my trusty Coleman and fired up a pot of coffee. I noticed the old watchman was up and around, so I invited him over for a cup of coffee. We managed to kill off the whole pot while he gave me more history about the area.

    He told me that just before I get to the crossing to old Pete’s place, I would see an old, small building right beside the road. The old building was a saloon back near the end of the gold rush. In the morning, the miners kids would ride the train, (free,) to the saloon where during the daytime, it substituted as a school house. In the afternoon, the train would pick-up the kids and take them back down the river and drop them off in the area of their homes.

    An interesting little story he told me was; one night, after the saloon closed, the miners were walking back to their homes when they heard a couple of gun-shots ring out in the saloon. They ran back and found a miner ransacking the place and the owner lying on the floor, dead. Well, as you might guess, justice was swift back then. Since there was no question of his guilt, they took him out and strung him up on the nearest oak tree.

    He told me that it was well known that the saloon owner kept all of his valuables on the premises as it was too far to Mariposa and the nearest bank. At that time, there was only the saloon and a small cabin anywhere in the immediate area.
    (The saloon owner lived in the back part of the saloon and a “working girl” lived in the small cabin.)

    Later, (since the killer was still searching the place, he hadn’t found the saloon owners valuables,) the miners went in and did a thorough search of the saloon, the little cabin and the immediate surrounding area. Evidently, the saloon owner didn’t have much more than 5 minutes to hide the stuff before the killer broke in and shot him. I asked if anyone had ever found his cache, and he said that as far as anyone knew, no.

    This story was told to me by the watchman, so I’m not in anyway verifying that it’s true, and I knew that I wasn’t going out of my way to look for an undocumented treasure that had been searched for by God only knows how many people over the past 60 or 70 years. YEAH, RIGHT!! But that was several years later and you’ll have to wait ‘til I get to that part. (lol)

    Anyway, Don Brown, the owner of the claim(s) showed up about this time and the watchman introduced us, said his goodbyes then headed out in his old pick up, for home.

    An interesting man, Mr. Brown. And I should add, persistent. He had filed his claims several years before and brought in a bulldozer, a bucket dragline and other “toys” to work his claims. Not in the river, but rather, in the old alluvial channel about 25 ft. above the river and on the opposite side of the old road. If you happen to be up that way, you can still see where he dug out the ancient channel materials with the dragline. The bucket was then swung out across the road, towards the river where shaker tables were set up below a big grisly. The grisly separated the large materials and allowed the smaller stuff to feed out onto the pair of shaker tables where the gold was separated from the barren clay and soil.

    Frankly, to this day, I look at the separation process as pretty primitive. Of course, gold was only $35 an oz., so I suspect that he was actually “high-grading” the materials and wasn’t worried about what was being missed.

    Anyway, he showed me his operation and I was properly impressed. But, by this time, the sun was up and I said I wanted to go on down river and find a place to put my dredge in. He recommended a place, just barely upriver from “Railroad Flats”. (Now, like McCabe Flats, another pay campground for the BLM.) He said that if I saw ol Pete, to tell him that Don sends his regards and offer him a shot of my wine and Pete would welcome me with open arms. (lol) You’ve gotta admit that that’s a lot better than welcoming me with an old Colt 44. (lol)

    I drove slowly down the old road as there was so much to see, (in a historical sense.) I spotted several old stone………, well, I can’t call them foundations; they were actually part of the walls of small “cabins”. I had read about how the miners would build 3 or 4 ft. high walls, then build them higher by using canvas. Then they would use canvas for a roof. And I realized that this is what these were.

    It’s getting really hard to go on here, because I saw so much on my way down river. On the opposite side of the river, I could see the remains here and there of an old trail, in some places actually cut into a cliff face. (Later, I found that it was an old pack mule trail that was used long before the RR tracks were laid.)

    As I passed by Good’s Gulch, or actually, just after, on the right side of the road, there was a flat area where the “old-timers” had uncovered a good sized portion of bed-rock in an old alluvial bed and cleaned out the crevasses. The amazing part to me was; the crevasses were about 18” wide and at least 4 ft. deep. Wow, can you imagine how much gold might have been trapped in there?? (Can you imagine how much they might have over-looked, not having metal detectors??

    Now, there’s a real “Kick in the Head”. I never even thought about that in later years when I was in that area WITH a metal detector. That’s one of the things that’s making this story tough. I keep thinking of things I should have done. (lol)
    Well, no biggy, I’m planning to head back up to the Merced right after the 1st of August. I’ll close out a few of these should ofs then. (lol) I’ll also bring back some picts to share with you. Maybe even some gold.

    OK, I’m finally down to the “crossing” to Pete’s cabin. And as luck would have it, Pete is on this side of the river, tying his boat up.

    I stopped and called down to him. (You know what? I never did hear anyone say what Pete’s last name was.) Anyway, I called down to him, “Mr Pete”, “Don sends his regards and says that if anybody knows anything about this river, that would be you”.

    He came up the path to my truck and asked, “You ain’t one of them newspaper fellers are you”? “No sir”, I replied, “I’m just a beginning prospector looking to find a little gold”. I got out of my truck, (hoping that it was safe to do so,) and opened my cooler. I could see his eyes open up when I pulled out that gallon jug of wine. I poured a cupful and offered it to him. “Well thankee, don’t mind iffen I do” he said.

    We had a little “chit-chat”, and he asked me if I wanted to go across the river to his cabin where we could sit and jaw a bit. I’ll tell you about our chat the next time. (lol)

  7. #26
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    Well, I have a little “free” time and I guess you might like to know a little more about Hermit Pete. (Information gathered during our “Jawing” in the shade of his big old cedar tree.)

    I told him about my experiences at the North Fork, and about the tunnel being blown up. And at that, he slapped his knees, reared back and roared. “Yep, I remember those ol boys blowing up something up in Whiskey Gulch, but I never heered what it was”, he said between chuckles. “I’ve been wondering now for years what them tom fool idjits was up to”. “Leave it up to a railroad boy to use a dozen sticks of dynamite to do what 3 sticks would have done”.

    I was looking around at his set-up and found that he had fixed it really nice. First, there was the big cedar that we were enjoying the shade from. Then near the cedar, there was a rock lined pool, about 8 ft. across, with a pipe pouring water into it. I asked if I could drink some of the water and he said “hell yes, help yourself”.

    After I filled my cup from the water coming out of the pipe, he told me that he had piped the water down from a mountain spring, about a ¼ mile away. He said that that was one of the first things he did after he got his cabin built. Then, as an afterthought, he said that actually, the first thing he did was to plant that cedar tree. That was in 1901. (He must have been living a good life, as a quick mental calculation told me he must be around 80 to 83 years old. He didn’t look that old, and he sure didn’t move around like he was that old.) I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a wife and kids to worry about. (lol)

    He said that it was about 6 ft. tall when he planted it. (At this time, it was perhaps 50 ft. tall) He also showed me 3 or 4 apple trees that were loaded with small apples and told me to come back around in November, when the apples are full grown, and I could have all that I could carry. That is, the ones the deer don’t pick. (lol)

    He also had several peach and a couple of other fruits, (that I don’t remember at the moment.) Plus some great looking grape vines behind the cabin. He said that they provided him with a couple a gallons of wine every year.

    I mentioned that I’d been told that he shot at the forestry men when they came around. “Naw, that’s BS, I ain’t never shot AT them and they knows it”. “I do pop a couple of rounds over their heads, just to let them know I ain’t interested in listen’n to them trying to talk me into moving outa here”. “Hell boy, I’ve been living here mosta my life”. “Where would I go from here”? “No siree bob”, I been here mosta my life, and this is where I wanta die”. “Guess they won’t bury me here though, might mess up their purty Gover’ment land”.

    We did a lot more “jawing”, but I’ll fill you in on some parts, as I remember them, but now, I want to get to dredging. And, he pointed out the same area that Don Brown told me about, but more explicitly, as we were within a short distance of it.

    He boated me back across the river, (after I insisted he keep the jug of wine, (or what was left of it.) (lol) I said my “see you later’s and drove down to an area where I could park and unload without blocking the roadway. It took almost an hour to unload and get the dredge ready for work, then after getting my wet suit on, I had to wade across the river, (chest deep) pulling the dredge behind me.

    I filled the gas tank to the engine and fired it up. In those days, the foot valve to the water pump was on the end of a flexible hose so that you had to “pump” the hose up and down until the water pump was “primed”.

    Sometimes, it wouldn’t catch a prime with the engine running, so, you’d have to shut the engine off, prime the pump, then fire it back up before the pump lost it’s prime again. (lol)

    Fortunately, my dredge was new, so I didn’t have this problem, at this time. So, after the engine was running smoothly, I put on my face mask, picked up my regulator, (I already had my weight belt on for traction while crossing the river.)
    I stuck the regulator in my mouth and slowly settled beneath the surface of the river.

    And then, things started to get very interesting.

    I’ll tell you about that when I return. (lol)

    Eagle

  8. #27
    us
    Apr 2010
    Dallas, Texas
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    Holy cow I am addicted to this thread! This stuff is amazing and more to come it seems! Keep it coming!
    darthoblio likes this.
    Live each day as if it were your last.  Soak in and seek love and light and shine it upon everyone who will accept it.  Value your true friends like gold as they are more rare and valuable than you may ever know.  Live in integrity with all men.

  9. #28
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    Thank you RandyMan!! Yeah, that's what happens when you give an old man free rein to "run his mouth". What makes me even more dangerous is; I'm a "touch typist".

    I guess you could be considered lucky since I'm busy with other things!!

    Hey my friend, again, thanks for the encouragement!!!!!

    Eagle

  10. #29
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    The water is crystal clear and the feeling of weightlessness must be much like the astronauts feel once they are free of earths’ gravity………………. Until your knees bump lightly on the river bottom and stay there, rather than rebounding. (lol)

    Well, back to reality and my story!!

    “Hermit” Pete had told me that he knew “fer a fact” that this part of the river had never been dredged, or even worked by the “ol’ timers”. He said that when he built his cabin, there were only a couple of places, maybe about 2 miles up-river that had any type of mining operation going on, and the Mountain King, maybe a ½ mile down-river. Most of the mining was either hardrock mining, (like the Mountain King Mine,) or operations working the ancient alluvial channels up-river. Years later, I was exploring places up-river and found what had been a large operation, above McCabe Flats. I never did determine whether it was a hardrock or an alluvial operation. (Perhaps both?) Unfortunately, I had no interest in artifacts at the time, so I'm not sure, but, I believe it would still be a prime area for the dedicated artifact buff, even today. I'll tell you more about it in about 15 years. (lol)

    But right now, I have to get back to 1961 and see if I can get you excited about the area I was in then. (lol)

    Looking around under water, I realized that where I was, was very much like the spot I had dredged just below the mouth of the North Fork. The over-burden had been washed out a little more here, and the sixteen and eighteen inch boulders had the appearance of sitting on grassy topped pedestals that rose up a few inches out of the overburden. I picked up my suction nozzle and started working in the grass on the down-river side of the boulders, loosening and pulling out the grass. I know that sounds easy, but I’m here to tell you, the root structure of bunch grass is nothing to laugh about. That stuff is TOUGH!!

    It must have taken about an hour to work around 4 of the boulders, because, the next thing I knew, the dredge ran out of gas. By this time, I’m a bit disappointed as I had only seen a couple of small flakes go into the suction nozzle. So, I half heartedly stood up in about 4 ft. of water, wondering if I should move the dredge, or fill up and continue here until I found something. Decisions, decisions. And, I had thought that I was here to enjoy myself. (lol)

    I waded slowly back to the dredge, picking up the can of gas on the way, (you don’t wade fast in 4ft of water.) (lol) I sat the gas can on the float and leaned over to check out the header box, just in case. AND, “Holey Toledo Batman”. Where the heck did that come from??

    Remember the old song, “Happy Days Are Here Again”?? I’m not sure, but I might have been singing a little of it as I stood gazing in awe at what was laying in the header and right in front of the first riffle.

    Have you ever seen the rose colored “Black Hills” gold”? Well, this looked like it was straight out of the Dakotas. After much thought, I figured that the reason I didn’t see it while I was underwater was the color. There is an abundance of small gravel that has a bit of iron in it, giving it a kind of “rosy glow” and since I had no experience in gold of this color, I just wasn’t looking for it. Of course, today, I would like to think that I would find it impossible to miss more than two ounces of gold, regardless of the color. But, who knows? I surely haven’t seen everything yet, (just most everything.) (lol)

    I still have a couple of hours for dredging, but, I’ll tell you about that when I get back. (lol)

    Eagle

  11. #30
    us
    Dec 2007
    maui, hawaii
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    as always, thank you for your wonderfull life stories. sure do think you should write a book because as i said to you before, when you are gone [ god willing you will be around for another 50 years ] there will be nobody to tell the real life stories and a big part of our history.
    take my friend talk to you soon. ron

  12. #31
    us
    Jun 2010
    Northern California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    Thanks for taking the time to share these great tales with us! I really enjoy reading them.

  13. #32
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_larry
    as always, thank you for your wonderfull life stories. sure do think you should write a book because as i said to you before, when you are gone [ god willing you will be around for another 50 years ] there will be nobody to tell the real life stories and a big part of our history.
    take my friend talk to you soon. ron

    Thanks for taking the time to share these great tales with us! I really enjoy reading them.
    You are both very welcome and thank you Ron and mr_larry for your responses and encouragement!!

    One thing I have found about aging, is that everyone has a story they'd like to tell. Unfortunately, seldom do the younger generations listen. I include myself in this also. We all come in contact with older people in the course of "growing up", but, how often have any of us ever said: "Tell me about some of the exciting things you've done"?? You might be surprised at what you could learn.

    And, like me, chances are, you might even learn of a "lost treasure" that no one else ever heard of. I only wish I had searched out the older ones and just let them talk. If I had, my little stories might be a lot more exciting. I'd probably be writing in the "Found Treasures" thread instead of here.

    Eagle

  14. #33
    us
    Dec 2007
    maui, hawaii
    289
    5 times

    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    eagle, you do have so much to share and you are doing a great job of doing that. passing
    on a great deal of your life and adventures. it is to bad that more of the younger generation
    don't take the time to listen and learn from past history and the stories that go with them.
    i would love to sit down with you and listen to everything you have to say and i am sure that
    it would be very, very interesting. who know's, maybe one day [ when i go on my trip to see my son in washington ] i can make that special trip to meet you.
    take care my friend and hope to hear from soon.
    ron
    mthunter22 likes this.

  15. #34
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    O.K., now I’m feeling a whole lot better about the “ain’t never been worked” song. (lol)

    I thought, “if I got this much from around 4 rocks, I wonder how much is in the overburden behind the rocks”. (That is behind, not under.) So, after gassing up, I started dredging the rocks and gravel out from behind the lower boulder.

    Now, a lot of you know that a 4 inch dredge is pretty slow when you’re moving loose overburden. There’s either a ring around the intake, or the intake is “swaged”, down to about 3” as 4” inch rocks would continually jam in the hose or the jet. And of course, there are the oblong ones that invariably slip into the nozzle and jam it up anyway. (lol)

    At that time, I was inexperienced enough that I gave no thought to why the overburden was so loose. Frankly, now, loose overburden would indicate that it was disturbed by mining it, or by flooding of the river.

    Right here, I should say; just because the overburden is not packed, does not necessarily mean that it has been cleaned out by mining it:

    During our “jawing”, Hermit Pete had told me that before the “big flood” of 1955, the bedrock was visible from above his place, all the way down to the rapids about 50 yards or so below where I started dredging. Now all you can see is nodules of smooth, rounded bedrock sticking up out of the overburden here and there. So, I imagine that there was hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of tons of materials washed out to be redeposited further down-river. (I’ll tell you part of that when I talk to Mr. Brice later.) So, it takes a certain amount of observation, (and luck,) to ascertain whether to keep on dredging or to move elsewhere.

    I could tell you about 10+ foot of loose overburden with over three pounds of nuggets in a crevasse under it, but that would be cheating, because that happened in 1979 and we’re still in 1961. (lol)

    Anyway, it took 2 tanks of gas to clear out an area of about 3 ft. deep to about 6 or 7 feet across. During that time, I checked the header box and found only 4 or 5 nuggets total, so, I figure that those had fallen out of the materials I was dredging, behind the boulders. So obviously, all of my gold came from the top few inches, where it had become trapped behind the boulders, then fell out while I was dredging there, or been dislodged by the current and dropped down into the loose overburden, where I found it.

    Besides being rose colored, there was another oddity about these nuggets, I have never found (or seen) gold of this color and texture anywhere I’ve dredged on this river (actually, the texture isn't all that uncommon, just not so consistant in any area.) And I’ve “poked holes” here and there in well over 5 miles of the Merced River.

    Along with its color, there was not a round piece in all of the gold I ever found in this area. They were, for the most part, long, flat and smooth. I would say on the average, they were about ½ inch long, X ¼ inch wide and about an 1/8th of an inch thick. Of course, some were a little larger and some were a little smaller. The only “character” to them was the shape. I found one that had the shape of California, (but just flat.) There were many other shapes in the mix, but only a few stand out in my memory. But those also came several years later.

    Anyway, I have to do some work now, so when I return, I’ll have another “jawing session” with Hermit Pete.

    Eagle

  16. #35
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
    Whites MXT, Whites TDI
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    Hokay, today is Friday. And if nothing happens to change my plans, I’ll be driving up to Mariposa, Tuesday morning. I intend to take pictures of most of the places I’ve mentioned in the forgoing part of this thread. So keep your fingers crossed that I return with a bunch of them.

    Back to the story:

    After the dredge engine ran out of gas for the third time, it was mid-afternoon, and I decided to call it a day. Other than the initial tank of gas, I only had about ¼ of an ounce to show for the past couple of hours. You know how it is, if you don’t get at least 2 ounces for every tank of gas, it’s not worth dredging there. Yeah, Right!!

    No, actually, my mind wasn’t really on dredging, I had too many thoughts swirling in my brain about what I’d been told by the “watchman”, Don and old “Hermit” Pete. Tales of rich strikes and hints of lost treasures, coupled with the possibility of an old LOST SPANISH MINE.

    Incidentally, later, I had one of my incredible moments of luck, when I accidentally found the lost Spanish mine. Now, further along, I will not only tell you where it is, but I hope to take some pictures and show you. Of course, I’m not at all sure of what changes might have been made to the area over the past twenty years, so please bear with me on this. I do know exactly where it is!!! And, over that same period of time, I believe I found another Spanish Mine. I’ve never tried to prove that it was, (and it might not be,) but I do know from experience that there is gold in it.

    So, I floated the dredge back across the river and proceeded to “break it down” for loading. Once that was done, I changed out of my wet suit and loaded everything back into the truck.

    A little hint here; I use to buy “jungle boots” from the Army surplus store. These boots were developed for sloshing around in the wet conditions found in the Korean jungles. They have kind of like a screen mesh in the sides to allow water to drain out. (It also allows water to drain in.) If you locate a store that has them, I recommend taking along your wet-suit booties so that you can get a pair of boots that you can put your foot in, with your booties on. Believe me, they are (were) well worth what they will save you in buying several pairs of new booties. Rough slate and loose overburden can really get medieval on soft neoprene wet suit material.

    I had noticed earlier that on the lower end of Pete’s home site there was a place where the water appeared to be less than knee deep, so I put my “jungle boots” back on so that I could wade across, rather than have him come in the boat to get me. I walked back up the gravel bar to where I figured I could cross over to Pete’s place and found I was pretty close in my estimate. I waded across while Pete walked over to meet me.

    The first thing he asked was; “Well, you do any good”? So I pulled out my vial and handed it to him. “Whee doggies”, he exclaimed, “see, I told you that that there place had never been worked”. I agreed with him and asked him about the color. “Well now, I don’t rightly know”, he said. Then he said; “let’s go back across, I want to show you something”.

    We waded back across the river and he led the way up the bank, to the road. He then pointed to the mountain behind his cabin. “You see that hill behind my house”? He said. “Now if you look at the two hills behind this hill, you can see where this little hill in front use to be the highest part of those two hills”. Looking at them as he pointed out particular features, I could see what he was talking about. He then explained, “Now, when this river was a whole lot higher, it use to be over there, behind my cabin. Then it started cutting under the edge of the mountain”. “Before long, it had cut under the mountain so much that something had to give”. “Well” he said, “maybe there were a earthquake, and the whole top of that mountain fell, kerplunk, to where you see it right now”. “That’s the reason I’ve spent all these years tunneling under this little hill here”. He then pointed a little down-river and said; “Look up above the bank over there, can you see the hole in the side of the hill”? I looked and sure enough, there was a tunnel mouth, as a matter of fact, I could see three of them. I asked, “did you dig those tunnels”? to which he replied, “Sure nuff, been digging under that hill most all my life, and, taking care of all my needs doing it”.

    “Let’s go on back across and I’ll tell you about it”. I told him “Go ahead, I have another jug of that wine I’d like to get out of the truck”. “Okay” he said, “I’ll meet you back at the house”.

    I retrieved the wine, walked back up and waded across the river to where Pete already had a couple of old coffee cups ready for us. I filled my cup and his and sat down all prepared to listen.

    He reached into the bib of his overalls and took out a half pint whiskey flask and handed it to me. He said; “Take a look at this”. I took it from his hand, and almost dropped it, it was so heavy. He said; “Go ahead, open it up”. I pulled the cork out of it and poured some of the contents into my hand. “Lordy”, I said, “that’s really beautiful”!! I held in my hand about two ounces of nuggets and the flask was still almost full.

    He said; “I got that and a whole lot more, out from under that ol’ hill”. “But how do you know where to dig”? I asked. “Well now”, he said, “It ain’t all that hard to figure out”. “I figured that the river use to run almost cross-wise to what it does now, so I jist dig in a little ways and when I run across a crevasse, I jist follow along it, picking out the nuggets as I go”.

    I guess you must run into some boulders in there, what do you do then, tunnel around them”? He laughed and said; Well, iffen their too big to roll out, I jist gather some firewood and stack it up against them and set it on fire”. “Some biguns takes awhile to burn through”, he said. Now, I was beginning to think he was “pulling my leg”, until he explained. “After the boulder is good and hot, I take a bucket of cold river water in and throw it on the boulder”. “The boulder naturally starts to flake and crack”. “Sometimes, it can take a couple or three days to wear a boulder down to where I can manhandle it out”.

    I was really enjoying our talk, but, as I told him, the company was having to do an inventory tomorrow, (Sunday,) and as quality control supervisor, I had to be there. And, it was about a 5 hour drive home, so I had to get gone. So, we said our goodbyes, with me promising I’d be back the following week-end to visit with him. I told him to keep the jug, and I’d bring him some more when I return.

    Which will be when I can find the time to get back to this story.

    Eagle

  17. #36
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA

    I recently returned from the Merced river, where I went to take some pictures of the areas I've been talking about in this thread. I was kind of disappointed in some respects, though it was great seeing my old stomping grounds again. I met Randyman at the Bagby Campgrounds about noon Tues. (08/03/10) I really enjoyed our visit together. I got to point out some of the points of interest and he showed me a beautiful (approx.) 4 or 5 gram nugget he found just laying on top of the ground. If I could keep him around, I wouldn't need a metal detector.

    We found that we could drive up along the river for about 2 miles, which put us across from the North Fork. I knew it would be a little too rough for this old man, so I waited while Randyman took off down-river to find the place where the tunnel was dynamited shut. While I was waiting, I started walking up from the river to the trees for some shade. I was passing some stacked rocks, and jumped about 3 ft. backwards when a rattle snake started "singing" at me. Yikes!! He was about 2 ft. away, but up in a hole in the stacked rocks, where I couldn't see him. One more time like that, and I'll be looking for a pacemaker for my heart. Honestly, I've caught and skinned many rattlers, but the way the sound was bouncing off of the rocks, it sounded like I was standing on him.

    After about an hour, Randyman came back and confirmed that it was really a rough go. Climbing through poison oak and briars can be rough. He described the area, and it sounded like he found the slide that came down after the dynamite.

    After that, we drove back thru Mariposa and down to Briceburg. It was late afternoon by this time and was getting close to dark by the time I quit stopping to show him things. (lol) I got to show him Hermit Pete's bar and pointed out where the cabin and the rock lined water reservoir was. Randyman had to go back to town to contact home, (no reception in the river canyon,) and I set up my camp for the night. (I spread my sleeping bag on the ground.) (lol) In the morning, I started to take more pictures, and found my card was full. grrrr. I waited until 10:30am but Randyman didn't show back up, so I loaded up and headed home with these few pictures.

    When I got home, I had an email from Randyman. He had personal business to take care of and didn't get back to the river until around noon. (By that time, I was half-way home.) (lol) Anyway, he did some "brush hogging" on Hermit's Bar so that he could work his metal detector. But, I'll let him tell you about that, if he wants to. (lol)

    I had been told that I should be able to take a couple hundred pictures with the camera card I had. (16mb) After taking 24 pictures, the camera informed me that the card was full. The worse part of that was that 17 of the pictures were not worth sharing, or duplicates of these saved ones. I'll be making another trip in 3 or 4 weeks and then I will be better prepared.

    #1. Old Chinese store built about 1859. I couldn't find an exact date.

    #2. Showing the mouth of North Fork. Where I dredged in 1961 is under about 20ft of water now. If history repeats itself, in 2 or 3 years, we'll be able to wade across again.

    #3. Rock wall stacked up by the "49ers". Sometimes, the ground under walls like this were never worked for the gold.

    #4. Hermit's Bar. I spent many evenings there. Kicked back, listening to old Hermit Pete talk about the "old days". His cabin was behind and a little to the right of that big cedar tree in the center of the picture.

    #5. Life could be hard in those days. Louis was only 19 days old. Tombstone near RailRoad Flats on the Merced.

    #6. This one was 23 years old. I only took this one to show how disrespectful the @%$&&**@ graffiti artists are.

    #7. Historic Marker telling a brief history of the town of Bagby.

    I hope I haven't bored you with my little adventure. Thanks for reading.

    Eagle

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  18. #37
    us
    Dec 2007
    maui, hawaii
    289
    5 times

    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA (Photos Added)

    very good to hear that you had a good and safe trip. thanks my friend for the pictures, i really
    enjoyed looking at them. very beautifull country up there, wish i could be there to enjoy it.
    also, thanks much for giving us yet another good story and sharing some of your life's history
    with us.
    take care my friend and get rested up for when you make that other trip.
    ron
    mthunter22 likes this.

  19. #38
    us
    Medicine/Holy Man

    May 2010
    California
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    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA (Photos Added)

    Quote Originally Posted by maui
    very good to hear that you had a good and safe trip. thanks my friend for the pictures, i really
    enjoyed looking at them. very beautifull country up there, wish i could be there to enjoy it.
    also, thanks much for giving us yet another good story and sharing some of your life's history
    with us.
    take care my friend and get rested up for when you make that other trip.
    ron
    Rest up?? Hey, if I wasn't living from SS check to SS check, I'd be headed back up right now.

    Unfortunately, this trip cost me more than I could afford. But, it was well worth it. Who knows? I might get lucky and sell another opal tomorrow. Then, I would head back up and get some more pictures to share. I had hoped to get pictures of most of the places I intend to tell you about, then I could post 2 or 3 with each story. No problem, I'm sure things will work out just the way they should.

    I have a man that's very interested in buying my online business. So, I'm in the middle of doing an inventory for the sale. I hope to be done in a couple of days, then perhaps I can return to my wild adventures with a vengence.

    See you then.

    Eagle

  20. #39
    us
    Dec 2007
    maui, hawaii
    289
    5 times

    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA (Photos Added)

    hi eagle, sorry to hear that your was alittle costly but i hope that you enjoyed it.
    do you have a date set for going back up there? also it would really be good to see more
    pictures of your adventure the next time when you head out.
    also hope that you do well if you are able to sell you internet buss.
    hope that everything else is going well for you, take care my friend.
    ron

  21. #40
    us
    Feb 2008
    N. Calif
    Goldmaster V/Sat and MXT
    425
    39 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA (Photos Added)

    Hi Eagle,
    Just wanted to say thanks for the stories. You have a gift for story telling. Very entertaining and informative.
    Looking forward to reading more.

    Thanks again
    Steve

 

 
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