Friday 17th August 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘oregon’

Fraser River rush revisited

August 3rd, 2018

A new book reveals how gold fever brought American warfare north of the border

by Greg Klein

Is this the price of gold—the murder of defenceless people followed by retaliatory beheadings as a private American army threatens genocidal war in the future Canada? There’s more to British Columbia’s first great gold rush than has been acknowledged and, 160 years after the fact, a newly published book casts harsh light on the Fraser River mania and its accompanying Fraser River War.

When gold fever brought American warfare north of the border

Natives mined and traded gold for about
two years prior to being overrun by newcomers.
(Photo: Royal British Columbia Museum)

That the war even happened will take many people by surprise. Downplayed or ignored in Canadian research, its significance gets special emphasis in Claiming the Land: British Columbia and the Making of a New El Dorado. The war constitutes one of a number of surprises in what author Daniel Marshall, a University of Victoria professor and descendant of 1858 arrivals from Cornwall, calls a “substantial revisionist history.”

Officially, the rush began with the sudden arrival of some 450 “dregs” of the California goldfields, unloaded by steamboat in April 1858 at the Hudson’s Bay Company fort in Victoria. But HBC officials including chief factor and Vancouver Island colonial governor James Douglas had been anticipating such an event for two years, all the while buying gold from native placer miners. That ongoing trade, of course, belies stories of a dramatic discovery that sparked the rush.

Douglas even tried to discourage such an event by posting pre-rush ads in American newspapers asserting British authority over the mainland of present-day B.C. (then under HBC jurisdiction) and warning that the natives “are decidedly dangerous and that they have forcibly expelled all the whites who have attempted to work Gold in their country.” Hedging his bets, he also ordered the company to manufacture California-style mining gear that the HBC could flog to new arrivals via roving teams of travelling salesmen.

Natives had already fended off gold miners at the aborted Queen Charlottes rush of 1851, when they expelled an HBC crew and fought off American boats. Haida Gwaii aboriginals had devised a way of extracting sub-surface gold by heating rock with fire, then cooling the expanded rock with water to break it up. They reportedly made bullets of gold, an ironic choice of ammo to use on rival miners. But on the mainland, HBC traders worked amicably with native miners, who added yellow metal to the furs and salmon that they provided the company for export.

When gold fever brought American warfare north of the border

No stronger contrast could be imagined with circumstances south of the border. All-out war raged between the U.S. Army and massed tribes of eastern Washington territory. In one battle, 1,200 natives delivered a monumental defeat to their adversaries just as the rush was gaining momentum.

As for California’s ’49ers, some of them considered “Indian fighting” an integral part of gold mining. Between 1848 and 1870, an estimated 50,000 California natives died of disease, starvation or murder. When placer mining played out and news arrived of gold on the Fraser, “much of the cultural mentality that informed the genocidal attitudes of the California mining frontier was baggage carried north with the requisite pick, pan, and shovel.”

Among those joining the rush were Chinese veterans of California, Cornish and Welsh miners with experience in a number of camps, hundreds of blacks and some “violently” republican former French soldiers encouraged to emigrate by Paris police after their country’s 1848 revolution.

But, with British military presence ending at the Fraser’s mouth, it was the white Americans—sometimes egalitarian and racist at the same time—who proved the biggest threat to colonial authority and aboriginal security.

Among them were not only Indian fighters but filibusters, Americans who had joined privately organized militias in attempted conquests of foreign territory. Some targets included Sonora, Baja California, Cuba and Nicaragua, where in the latter case a short-lived filibuster regime gained official recognition from the U.S.

Dreams of American Manifest Destiny and loose talk of 54-40 or Fight extended in time and space past the international boundary set at the 49th Parallel in 1846. With at least 30,000 newcomers, maybe many more, pouring into the yet-to-be-proclaimed colony of B.C., Americans flouted the almost non-existent British authority to establish their own California-style laws and customs.

The old Californian miners and Indian-fighters were the worst, [believing that] they could travel in small parties and clean out all the Indians in the land.—A gold rush prospector

Miners who fought their way through the dangerous overland routes from Washington territory brought the Indian Wars with them, as they took revenge on defenceless targets north of the border. As one witness recounted, “The old Californian miners and Indian-fighters were the worst, [believing that] they could travel in small parties and clean out all the Indians in the land.”

Both rumours and credible reports circulated of increasing harassment and shootings on both sides, with dozens dead and headless corpses floating downriver, nine past Fort Yale, another six at Union Bar and stories of many more. Thousands of natives were said to have united, pushing newcomers back to Yale, where hundreds of miners formed five mounted militias. “Some were for exterminating all Native peoples encountered,” Marshall writes, “while others offered to broker a peace settlement supported by a large demonstration of armed force.”

The latter sentiment prevailed, as Captain Henry Snyder of the 250-strong Pike Guards, supported by a French militia, overshadowed the much smaller Whatcom Guards, who advocated wholesale slaughter. Pushing north, Snyder’s group held a dramatic meeting with Spintlum, described as the war chief for the Fraser region. He convinced 10 other Nlaka’pamux chiefs to pursue peace. An American army, supported by a French army, and the massed aboriginal bands ended their war in the nominally British region.

Within Canadian historical study “it is usually assumed that there is no parallel incident in Canada to the kinds of Native-newcomer violence that occurred in the American mining West,” Marshall points out. “There was, however, a most notable and neglected exception.”

Read more about B.C. mining history.

On the trail of the 49ers

April 24th, 2015

A neophyte meets the miners who still work California’s historic goldfields

by Greg Klein

He’s gotta be the tenderest of tenderfoots, the greenest of greenhorns and the cheekiest of cheechakos—a gold tourist who can’t even handle a shovel tries to relive the 1849 experience after the 2013 price plummet, arriving without equipment, experience or even a reality show film crew. But eventually something else overpowers yellow metal’s allure as a different kind of El Dorado becomes intangibly more important. That’s the story Steve Boggan relates in Gold Fever: One Man’s Adventures on the Trail of the Gold Rush.

A London-based journalist, Boggan rushes into his project chaotically. Completely unequipped, although with money to spend, he shows up in California’s historic gold country to throw himself at the mercy of latter-day Argonauts. Surprisingly they take him in, sometimes without even betraying amusement. As a result he gains the coaching as well as the friendship of some rugged characters.

A neophyte meets the miners who still work California’s historic goldfields

Among them is Dave Mack, self-proclaimed adventure junkie, extreme prospector and “the most aggressive underwater gold miner in the world.” A former U.S. Navy SEAL, he dives into fast-moving water, resisting the torrent with hundreds of pounds of lead around his waist, to vacuum riverbeds for gold. When Boggan asks to accompany him, the big guy laughs.

“The last person who came out with me drowned in three minutes. And he was a scuba instructor.”

“Okay. How about I come out with you for two minutes?”

Some others include Craig, whose first assault conviction came at age seven. Tom, a Scottish arrival via Australia, proves relentlessly determined despite being the “unluckiest man in California.” Mike, suffering from a serious spinal injury, carries a sluice box, pick, shovel, buckets and other gear on his back while hobbling to his claim on crutches.

As for Gene, he’d been panning since he was six or seven. Now 64 and given about two years to live, he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his late 50s.

One cause doctors suggested was “those long expeditions into the wild,” Boggan writes. “Rivers were more polluted back then, he said, so eating fish and drinking water from streams and rivers could have exposed him to dangerous levels of mercury. I asked him if that possibility sullied the memories. No, he replied. He wouldn’t change them for the world.”

Why? Duane offers an explanation. He claims to have gold fever but exalts over the lifestyle. “‘I love this way of life and I wouldn’t be living it if it wasn’t for the gold. Look at it here…’ He let his right arm surf the air outside the window. ‘It’s goddamn beautiful. Imagine all the poor bastards working at a desk in some office or in a factory, watching the hands on the clock go round. What time is it here? Hell, I don’t know!’”

Dave Mack’s explanation cites The Hobbit.

“It’s all about the ring, the ring,” he tells Boggan. “Tolkien had it right about all the traits and the corrosive power of that ring and the deep desire to possess it. It has a simple meaning—even the best of men could not hold that ring for long without being seduced by it. Raw gold is just like that.”

His quest continues even though he’s found enough to retire comfortably.

More modest are Duane’s returns, yet he does alright. About 500 bucks in a good week, three to four hundred in an average week. That’s more than he needs. “I have to pay insurance for my vehicle, I have gas and food for me and the dogs, but that’s about it. If I need something big—like the motor for the boat—I can usually work out some kind of trade. I have no worries, only excitement each time I find gold.”

Boggan touches on aspects of gold through the ages, subjects treated better elsewhere, notably in Matthew Hart’s Gold: The Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal. And Boggan’s remarks can be careless, giving the impression he’d never before been outside England. Even so, he alternates first-hand historic accounts with his own experiences to add balance and context, the book’s greatest strength.

Eventually the target of his own quest diverts from gold to “the guy,” an unnamed being people refer to when describing big discoveries. He “seemed everywhere and nowhere; rumours of his fantastical finds were enough to send hordes of miners rushing from one speculative camp to another.”

Boggan pretends they’re all referring to the same person.

The guy, I thought, always the guy. Every day someone would tell me about a big gold find, about the guy who found a nugget this big, and their hand would be shaped something like a walnut or a clementine.

‘Heard about the guy on the Bear River …?’

‘… the Yuba …’

‘… the Feather …’

‘… near Mariposa …’

‘… Colfax …’

‘… Grass Valley …’

‘… pulling them out this big …’

‘… this big …’

‘… this big …’

‘… swear to God, the guy is shitting gold nuggets.’”

The author does find the guy who is, as far as Boggan’s concerned, the guy. But the riches associated with him are intangible. And that wraps up this story with a happy/sad ending.

Athabasca Basin and beyond

March 21st, 2015

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere to March 20, 2015

by Greg Klein

Next Page 1 | 2

Step-outs renew Fission’s interest west of PLS resource

The zone’s five previous holes found disappointingly low grades but Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) most recent drilling brings new attention to R600W, 555 metres west of the Triple R deposit that surprised even some of the more optimistic Patterson Lake South-watchers. The most westerly of four PLS zones got five more holes this season, four showing mineralization in basement rock and three suggesting high grades over significant widths, the company announced March 18.

These results, no substitute for the still-pending assays, come from a scintillometer that measures drill core radiation in counts per second.

Hole PLS15-364, 570 metres west of Triple R, hit a composite total of 45.5 metres of mineralization over a 61-metre section starting at 107 metres in downhole depth. A composite 6.44 metres surpassed 10,000 cps, a level sometimes termed “offscale” due to the limitations of earlier scintillometers.

PLS15-352 revealed a continuous 56.5-metre intercept starting at 102.5 metres that included continuous “offscale” readings for 11.77 metres. PLS15-360 showed 25 continuous metres starting at 111 metres, while PLS15-364 gave up 40.5 continuous metres starting at 107 metres.

True widths weren’t available.

The angled holes have expanded the zone’s strike to 45 metres, a 50% increase that extends PLS’s potential strike from 2.24 to 2.25 kilometres. R600W’s lateral width extends up to about 30 metres. Results have “substantially increased our understanding of the geometry and tenure of the mineralization,” said Fission COO/chief geologist Ross McElroy.

While delineation continues at Triple R, R600W has more drilling to come.

Read more about the Triple R resource estimate.

See an historical timeline of the PLS discovery.

NexGen continues to find high grades at Rook 1’s Arrow zone

Its first two batches of winter assays once again have NexGen Energy’s (TSXV:NXE) Rook 1 project vying for attention with Fission’s Patterson Lake South. On March 17 NexGen announced the project’s widest high-grade interval yet, hitting 70 metres of 2.2% U3O8. Two days later the company confirmed an 88-metre strike extension from AR-14-30, an outstanding hole released last October. The results come from Rook 1’s Arrow zone, defined last month as three mineralized shears named A1, A2 and A3.

The star hole from the first batch, AR-15-34b, was a 30-metre step-out from October’s AR-14-30, centrepiece of the A2 shear. Although the new hole’s other intercepts fell far short in grade and thickness, these intervals brought redemption, the first from A2, the second from A1:

  • 2.2% U3O8 over 70 metres, starting at 522 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 8.95% over 11 metres)

  • 0.12% over 32 metres, starting at 697 metres

As for some other highlights:

AR-15-33

  • 0.26% over 12.5 metres, starting at 548.5 metres

AR-15-35

  • 0.33% over 18.5 metres, starting at 394.5 metres

  • 0.49% over 12 metres, starting at 553.5 metres

AR-14-36

  • 0.32% over 51 metres, starting at 167 metres

  • 0.1% over 61.5 metres, starting at 248 metres

True widths weren’t available. AR-14-36 was a vertical hole. The others were sunk at a dip of -70 or -75 degrees.

Assays for two angled holes released two days later inspired additional confidence in A2. Highlights show:

AR-15-37

  • 2.46% over 16.5 metres, starting at 580.5 metres
  • (including 12.85% over 3 metres)

  • 0.34% over 13.5 metres, starting at 602 metres

  • 2.88% over 40 metres, starting at 621.5 metres
  • (including 4.92% over 22 metres)

AR-15-38

  • 0.75% over 6 metres, starting at 664 metres

  • 0.9% over 32 metres, starting at 583.5 metres

Again, true widths weren’t provided. The latter hole confirms an 88-metre strike expansion southwest of AR-14-30, NexGen stated.

The Arrow zone covers about 515 metres by 215 metres with mineralization starting at about 100 metres in depth and now extending to 820 metres. The zone remains open in all directions and at depth.

NexGen has further drilling planned for the A2 shear as well as the newly discovered high-grade area within A3. At last count the season’s program had completed 38 holes, according to the March 19 press release, or 39, according to a February 24 statement. Roughly a third of the 18,000-metre winter agenda has been drilled.

Phase I drilling finds anomalous radioactivity at Lakeland Resources’ Star/Gibbon’s Creek

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere to March 20, 2015

The first round of drilling went radioactive at
Lakeland Resources’ Star/Gibbon’s Creek project.

Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK wrapped up a successful 14-hole, 2,550-metre winter program by reporting anomalous radioactivity at its Star/Gibbon’s Creek project on the Athabasca Basin’s northern rim. While assays are pending, initial results also reveal “alteration suggestive of a proximal basement-hosted or unconformity-hosted uranium occurrence,” said company president Jonathan Armes on March 12.

Six holes along a corridor about 1.5 to two kilometres long struck the unconformity at depths of less than 125 metres, finding either anomalous radioactivity, alteration or both. The results confirm the trend as a high-priority target.

Three other holes along a one-kilometre corridor near the head of the Gibbon’s Creek boulder field found the unconformity at depths of less than 110 metres, again intersecting either anomalous radioactivity, alteration or both and confirming another high-priority target.

The readings come from a downhole scintillometer and are no substitute for assays, which will follow. Lakeland attributes background radioactivity to readings of 10 to 100 cps. Results show these anomalous levels of at least 800 cps over 0.3 metres:

Hole GC15-01

  • An average 1,104 cps over 0.4 metres starting at 81.2 metres in downhole depth. The maximum level hit 1,379 cps.

GC15-02

  • An average 1,204 cps over 0.3 metres starting at 99 metres, with a maximum of 1,589 cps

  • An average 1,072 cps over 0.7 metres starting at 99.6 metres, with a maximum of 1,312 cps

GC15-03

  • An average 2,828 cps over 1 metre starting at 107.1 metres, with a maximum of 7,926 cps

GC15-11

  • An average 1,415 cps over 0.6 metres starting at 102.9 metres, with a maximum of 1,740 cps

True widths weren’t available. Along with the other anomalous results, hole GC15-03 is considered highly anomalous.

To further solidify targets, the project also underwent a 270-station ground gravity survey.

“During the coming weeks we will be in receipt of geochemical results for uranium and pathfinder elements such as boron, nickel, cobalt and arsenic,” Armes stated. “As with other historic uranium discoveries within the Athabasca Basin, each successful drill program helps guide the next towards the discovery of a new uranium occurrence.”

The road-accessible project sits a few kilometres from the town of Stony Rapids, with nearby infrastructure.

Lakeland also holds drill-ready projects at Newnham Lake, east of Star/Gibbon’s, and Lazy Edward Bay on the Basin’s southern rim. Late last month the company expanded its holdings to 32 properties totalling over 300,000 hectares, one of the largest portfolios in the Basin region.

As of March 12 Lakeland’s treasury held close to $3 million.

Read more about the Star/Gibbon’s Creek project.

Next Page 1 | 2