Make the McKenzie Connection!

Gold Hill was a magnet for 1863’s growth spurt

Great Nothern








Blue River - named in 1863, the year in which gold was discovered in the area. No doubt the name was used in a descriptive sense, as the clear water of the stream appears blue-green due to the color of the rock formations of the river channel. The first Blue River post office was established on January 18, 1886. Jim Davis was the first postmaster, with the office being located on his property 1/2 mile west of the present community.

From  Changing Times By Manena Schwering in the Wednesday, December 1, 1999, edition of McKenzie River Reflections.

Of all the magnificent mineral wealth locked in the Oregon treasure vaults by the hand of Nature herself, none are of greater value or promise than those of the Lucky Boy Mining Company. These are in Lane County, about 50 miles east of the City of Eugene, in the Blue River mining district and are located on that famous elevation known as Gold Hill. The gold and silver deposits here are phenomenal. These properties have established an enviable record for their production from low-grade ores of the precious metals. It is the opinion of expert geologists that the ore shoots which exist in well-defined fissures in andeslte and dlorlte formation have a permanency in depth.

In these true fissure veins there exists a secondary filling of porphyrltlc material, in which a greater yield of gold and silver will be found the more deeply the mines are developed.

The mineral area comprising the Blue River mining district is large. It is easy of access, and lies in the Cascade Range, about midway between their summit and base. Climatic conditions are such as to permit of the continuous working of the mines all the year round. A plentiful supply of pure water Is at band, as well as timber, thus supplying every need for the mining and reduction of ores at a minimum cost. Added to these advantages are the nearby food supplies of the Willamette Valley, all of which serve to make this favored region an ideal mining district.

The Morning Oregonian, Friday, January 1, 1904.


Three Musketeers of 1887

Such was the Blue River mining camp in the spring of 1887, when the “Three Musketeers” of Brownsville, George A. Dyson, Nate B. Standish and J.W. Moore arrived at the Davis ranch (now owned by S.G.Sparks) on their way with a couple of pack horses to try their fortune on this new district.

They arrived on the summit of Gold Hill soon after noon on the following day, with their tent and mining outfit, and found Messrs. Brisbane, Goodfellow, and three others, camped in the edge of the snow, and after a couple hours rest, they went over the hill on the north side into the Calapooia district and found much snow, but camped a few days and located several claims. One large ledge they called the “Odd Fellow,” since relocated under the name of the “Poorman.” The snow was too deep, however, and a heavy rainstorm compelled them to return to Treasure City, on the southwest side of the summit of Gold Hill. The so-called city was composed of a partial level piece of ground where there was a spring surrounded by a few trees and bleaching skeletons of several horses. This was the main camping place on the hill.

There were large patches of bare ground by this time on the south side of the hill so that the horses could get some feed, but the snow lay in many places to the depth of three and four feet, making the nights cold and wintry on the bleak mountain side. After several days spent in prospecting around, they located several claims which they named as follows: “Gold Dust,””Brownsville,” “Sunrise,” “Dead Shot,” and “Last Chance.”


Dyson And Standish Compare Notes

Dyson and Standish had been upon the headwaters of the Calapooia the previous fall and somehow had formed the idea that there were still greater propects to be found on that side of the range than on the Blue River side, but there was too much snow to attempt the Calapooia any more, so early in the season they kept trying in the open country on the south side of Gold Hill, but were not very enthusiastic over their find so far, though they all showed gold on the surface.

One night the “Three Musketeers” were down to Brisbane’s tent, talking and comparing notes concerning their prospects, when Brisbane took out some small pieces of whitish colored quartz, which were full of fine wire gold, saying two of his partners got them over on the north fork of Blue River.

Pointing over a big canyon cast of the hill, saying they were over there now prospecting, and if they found anything favorable they would soon be back and let them know, and he and his would all go over and take claims.

These little pieces of rock looked “awful good” to the three Brownsville men, and on their way back to “Treasure City” that night they talked the matter over and concluded if there was such rock as that over there they wanted a claim also, so it was agreed that Standish and Dyson should start for the “New Eldorado” early the next morning, while Moore was to remain behind and look after the ponies.

So as soon as it was daylight they each took a blanket, tools, and a little bread and some canned beef and started on foot across the hills and deep canyons for the North Fork of the Blue River. After a hard day’s travel, they reached their destination just before sundown, and found lots of snow, but got down into the bed of the stream and tried several pans of dirt but found “no colors” .........

The men were wet and cold by continued panning in the snow waters of the small creek. As they were warming themselves by the fire they discussed the situation, and were very much discouraged, as so far they could not find any indication of a defined ledge and scarcely any float quartz. That night these two prospectors had a hard bed and slept but little - on account of the high chilly mountain weather. Little did they know that they had that afternoon found something that would fully recompose them for all their hard and discouraging work - the Lucky Boy mine.

Excerpts from McKenzie River Reflections April 28, 1998, and  from the Brownsville Times


Image: Lower portal of the Great Northern mine in 1905 after a 1,200-foot tramway was installed to take ore over ridge and down to a four stamp mill. The mine buildings burned in late August of 1911.  They were located on the Calapooia  side of the Blue River Mining District.


McKenzie River Reflections


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