Gold Camps & Silver Cities

E. T. Beatty

From: Gold Camps & Silver Cities by Merle W Wells. pub. Idaho Dept of Lands - Bureau of Mines & Geology Bulletin 22, 1983.

The book is about the gold and silver mining camps and mining areas in Idaho, and was published by the state Bureau of Mines and Geology. 

Page 28--
E. T. Beatty
"E.T. BEATTY , a leading citizen of Rocky Bar, visited Owyhee in November (1863) and returned with average specimens of Morning Star rock running $2,800 in gold and $7,000 in silver to the ton. These assays far surpassed those of the Comstock."

Rocky Bar is an old placer gold mining camp and town located on Bear Creek, a tributary to the South Fork of the Feather River, 45 AIR miles east of Boise. It is shown on the current AAA map at N/5. Owyhee refers to the Owyhee Mines around Silver City in the far southwestern part of the state. Silver City is shown on the AAA map at O/2. The Morning Star mine wa sa rich lode silver mine located at what became Silver City. Assays are chemical analysis of the ore-bearing rock, and used to determine the value of gold and silver. Any figures quoted will generally indicate the value PER TON of ore. These are based on small specimens weighing several pounds or less. If you sample one rich-looking rock, the assay figures could be a bit skewed. Also during the 1860-1900 period almost every mining district compared itself to the Comstock. The Comstock was the Virginia City, Nevada silver bonanza that redefined western mining. The Rocky Bar area produced a little over $6 million in gold, and the Silver City/Owyhee mines area over $90 million. Not quite as much as the Comstock's 1 BILLION plus, but still nothing to sneeze at.

Now our focus switches to the new gold mining camp of Leesburg, high in the mountains west of Salmon. Leesburg was founded in 1866, but began to boom in 1867, drawing miners from other mnining areas all over the state. Within a few years it had 3000 people, and a mile-long main street. It is in this town that Mr. BEATTY resurfaces.

Page 78--
"Even at the end of 1868 a reliable observer, E.T. BEATTY of Salmon, felt that the Lemhi mines around Leesburg were still barely opened. Much ground worth $4-6 a day was still untouched. Having no way of anticipating the future distraction in the rush to Loon Creek, BEATTY felt that 1869 should suffice to bring the area into full production."

The Lemhi Mines were another name of the Leesburg area mines. Also it needs to be noted that the average wage in the 1860s was LESS THAN $3.00 per day. That makes this placer ground pretty valuable. Total production form the mines at Leesburg did yield around $5.4 million in gold over the life of the mining activity. However , Leesburg faded, and by 1870 only 180 folks remained. Loon Creek was about 40 AIR miles southwest of Leesburg, and produced $1.9 million in gold. Salmon is a modern town of 3000 people and is shown on the AAA map at J/7. A second area called the Lemhi Mines was located along the Lemhi River Valley, southeast of Salmon.

BEATTY appears to have remained in the Salmon area for many years.

Page 79 --
"In less than a decade, E.T. BEATTY (an old Rocky Bar miner who had settled in Salmon)* reported on January 26, 1876, that two arastras were producing gold on Kirtley Creek, that another arastra near Leesburg was paying well on Arnott Creek, that a six-stamp mill was active on the west side of the Salmon at Carmen Creek, and that New York investors had a ten-stamp mill headed for Geertson Creek."

* The author's parenthesis An arastra is a primative and simple gold crushing mill. It consists of a large circle of flat stones (shaped like letter o, with sides) with a pole in the middle. Then a boom is attached to the pole and mules (or other critters) turn the boom in a circle. A chain or cable is attached to the boom and then to a large rock or other heavy weight. The gold bearing rocks are placed on the in the circle and the weight is dragged around and over the rocks, crushing them. The crushed ore is then panned for the gold. A stamp mill is a mechanical crusher where vertical weights are dropped onto the rocks. Kirtley Creek is about 5 miles east of Salmon, and Carmen Creek is about 5 miles north of Salmon. 

Contributed by Gary Speck, [email protected]

Last update: February 25, 2000