Bert Kissinger Remembers
Albert Kissinger, who often writes of outdoor life and mining, has lived in this area since 1912. Of his early life and interest in writing, Mr. Kissinger reported:
I came to the Rogue River country in June 1912, by boat from Los Angeles, to San Francisco, then by train from the old Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. I was traveling with a friend who was returning to Woodville, Ore., where he had been the year previous when the name was changed to Rogue River. While living at Los Angeles, I worked part time in the "stuffing" department of the Los Angeles Daily Times. Between jobs, I read a great deal, especially western stories from Jack London, author of outdoor books and short stories written about Walter (Death Valley) Scotty, then a famous character who thrilled his listeners throughout all the West.
After getting employment for the summer, I moved on a homestead two miles from the town of Rogue River in September 1912. By that time I was living near neighbors and getting acquainted with many gold prospectors and miners from Gold Hill to Grants Pass, including old Alaska "sourdoughs."
The gold mining industry lasted up to the time of the beginning of World War I. In the meantime I had done some placer mining on upper Grave Creek, as well as learning to trace colors for "pockets" and do some hard rock mining.
Around 1916 I wrote a front page mining story for the Gold Hill News about using the old pack trail over the Pleasant Creek and Slate Creek divide to Grave Creek and meeting many old placer miners of a former era when gold dust and nuggets were all cashed as legal tender at all banks.
In the years from 1912 to 1917 such mines as the North Pole at Rogue River, the Braden quartz mine at Gold Hill, and the Millionaire quartz mine on Blackwell Hill were all operating and producing various amounts of gold.
Another promising quartz gold mine was the Nellie Wright mine near the foot of Blackwell Hill that became flooded with water; it remained idle from then on. A mine on Sardine Creek named Lucky Bart was one of the well-known producers for a number of years too, as well as the Sylvanite gold mine up the river three miles from Gold Hill. I could go on and on describing the numerous smaller "one-man" mines worked. Just by a rough estimate I would say that the gold pockets found in the western half of Jackson County outnumbered the gold quartz mines five to one.
The placer mines were in order next, rating third place.
I would say my first writing exploits started back in Kansas before finishing the eighth grade when literary and debating societies were all the rage through the long winter months. Before finishing the twelfth grade, I wrote country correspondence for a weekly newspaper, then afterwards I spent one summer slinging type by hand for the same small-town weekly newspaper, as well as writing a short story occasionally.
The lure of the mountains took me to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where I got my first real experience in minerals and "roughing it" in Boulder County before going out to the Pacific Coast a few years later.
Since coming to Oregon a lot of water has gone by the mill. At one time I met and talked with scores of miners and prospectors of the several mining districts of Southern Oregon. Today--well, I still know of several of them left that recall the happy-go-lucky attitude of mind that prompted each of us to seek for the "golden fleece" we never found. As a closing word I will venture to say there is even more gold in the ground yet, than has ever been taken out. As we ponder over the ever-enchanting hills, a vivid recollection of familiar scenes calls to us to keep on searching as of yore.
"Seven Letter Writers Interested in the Past, Present and Future," Medford Mail Tribune, January 17, 1960, page B8
Bert Kissinger, Early Miner, Dies
Albert "Bert" Kissinger, 96, formerly of Boardman Street, Medford, who died Monday in an Ashland nursing home, was among frequent contributors to the "Letters to the Editor" section of [the] Mail Tribune.
His letters were primarily about outdoor life and mining. He moved to Southern Oregon in June 1912.
His first writing was in Kansas, when in the eighth grade literary and debating societies were popular during the long winter months. He was born May 13, 1885, in Randall, Kan. Before graduating from high school he was a correspondent for the weekly newspaper and summers set type by hand for it as well as wrote short stories.
It was the lure of the mountains that took him to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Mr. Kissinger said in an interview in 1960. It was in Colorado that he started mining and "roughing it" in Boulder County before moving to California.
In Los Angeles he had worked for awhile in the "stuffing" department of the Los Angeles Daily Times.
Mr. Kissinger arrived in Jackson County in June 1912. He came with a friend whose home was in the Woodville area (now Rogue River). In September of that year Mr. Kissinger moved onto a homestead two miles from Rogue River and became acquainted with gold prospectors and miners from Gold Hill to Grants Pass, including some old Alaska "sourdoughs."
Operating and producing mines for the period 1912-1917, [the] North Pole, Braden, Millionaire, Lucky Bart and Sylvanite, he recalled, Mr. Kissinger "learned to trace colors" and do some hard rock mining on upper Grave Creek.
In 1916 he wrote a story about using the old pack trail over the Pleasant Creek and Slate Creek divide to Grave Creek and meeting many old placer miners. He story appeared on page 1 of the Gold Hill News.
Mr. Kissinger believed that the "gold pockets" in the western half of Jackson County outnumbered the gold quartz mines five to one. Placer mines he rated third.
He recalled in the interview the "happy-go-lucky" attitude that prompted men to seek for the "golden fleece" that was never found. Mr. Kissinger believed that there is more gold in the ground in Jackson County than was ever taken out. In the 1960 interview he admitted that he still had the urge to "keep on searching as of yore."
Mr. Kissinger had lived in Jacksonville, Medford and Ashland in addition to the Rogue River area. He joined the Modern Woodman Lodge before it moved from Ashland to Central Point.
One nephew, Don Kissinger, Palm Harbor, Fla., survives.
No service is planned. Cremation has been held with Perl Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 3, 1982, page 10
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Bert Kissinger did not enlist in the army, as we reported he was intending to do.
Jewell County Republican, Jewell, Kansas, November 21, 1902, page 8
Bert Kissinger was crossing the Wakarusa Saturday night on horseback when his horse broke through the ice and both went into the water with the thermometer at 10 degrees below zero.
"Shawnee County News: Berry Hill," The Mail and Breeze, Topeka, Kansas, February 18, 1905, page 33
Joe Sapp and Bert Kissinger have stopped school.
"Center Hill," The Randall News, Randall, Kansas, March 23, 1905, page 8
Bert Kissinger and Clayton Howland are helping the Joerg boys harvest.
"South Side News," The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, July 6, 1905, page 6
Bert Kissinger has purchased a new buggy.
"Berry Creek," The Mail and Breeze, Topeka, Kansas, September 9, 1905, page 33
Bert Kissinger and Robert French returned from their trip to Colorado Thursday.
"Calvary," Jewell County Republican, Jewell, Kansas, October 5, 1906, page 8
Bert Kissinger helped the Gertson boy husk corn a few days last week.
"Center Hill," The Randall News, Randall, Kansas, December 13, 1906, page 8
Harry Patrick and Bert Kissinger left Tuesday for Colorado.
"Center Hill," The Randall News, Randall, Kansas, April 18, 1907, page 8
NOW A METEOR GHOST SEARCH.
The Kansas Celestial Visitor May Not Rest in Peace.
The fact that the meteor of Friday night a week ago is dead and buried in a potter's field does not end his story after all. His spirit goes marching on with a ghost hunter trailing it. In a letter to the Star signed "Bert Kissinger, Randall, Kan.," the organization of another trailing expedition is announced in these words:
"Bert Kissinger, who lives four and one-half miles northeast of Randall, had just driven home from a baseball tournament and was unhitching his horse about 10:45 when he saw a large ball of fire passing through the air due south of him. It lit up the skies for a few seconds and was moving in a westward direction at a right angle. He supposed it fell somewhere near Beloit, twenty miles southwest of Randall, in Mitchell County. He thought no more about it until he read about it in the Kansas City Star as having been seen first in Ellsworth County.
"Bert Kissinger is a lover of the occult and mystical and may search for the visitor if it has not been found yet up to the present time."
Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri, August 29, 1908, page 2
Bert Kissinger, of Randall, was visiting in the city yesterday.
Concordia Daily Kansan, Concordia, Kansas, September 21, 1909, page 1
Bert Kissinger went to Kansas City Sunday night. He goes to attend an automobile school.
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, February 3, 1910, page 4
Bert Kissinger came home from Kansas City the first of the week. He has just completed his apprenticeship in an auto school, but thinks he can spend more time there to a good advantage and expects to return and go on with the work until he finds a suitable opening.
The Randall News, Randall, Kansas, March 17, 1910, page 5
Bert Kissinger went down to Concordia Wednesday evening to have some dental work done, prior to starting for San Diego, California, Friday morning, where he expects to stay indefinitely.
The Randall News, Randall, Kansas, March 9, 1911, page 1
Bert Kissinger left over the Santa Fe [Railroad] for San Diego, Calif., Friday morning.
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, March 16, 1911, page 5
Los Angeles, Calif., June 25, 1911.
I just finished reading the New Era of June 15th, and must say it still looks good to me. I have been enjoying the balmy breezes and perpetual sunshine for over three months, but still would prefer Kansas with its hot weather to all the flowers and orange groves of California.
This is a very dusty city to one not accustomed to it. The nights are always cool here, and a woolen blanket is always appreciated. This is the end of the world, and every tourist stops here. Most all of them are looking for work of some kind, which is not so plentiful in this city, and wages not the best. Yet it is still growing faster than any other city under like conditions. There is always a demand for carpenters, and they get from $3.50 to $4.00 a day for eight hours work. I had a little difficulty in getting work at first, but business is picking up now, and it isn't so hard to find a job. I work on the "extra force" in getting out the Los Angeles Sunday Times every Sunday morning, beginning at 1 o'clock a.m., and working until 7 a.m. It is the largest Sunday paper published in the world.
The sun appears to rise in the northeast and is almost directly overhead at midday, and it begins to get dark at 7 o'clock in the evening. There is no long twilight here like there is back there. I have had two friends, both from home, to call on me. One was Henry Zimmer, who came here in search of a climate that would benefit his health for asthma, but he had difficulty in breathing such heavy air as here and soon had to seek a higher altitude in Arizona. The other was Sam H. Farrer of Randall, the old Mo. Pacific agent, who has a job on the Santa Fe somewhere near Frisco. I went to La Mesa Springs while I was at San Diego to see Scott Ramsey, but found out he was living in San Diego. I called on him there and he said he had lots of work in his line and that he enjoyed living in this country fine. There seems to be a good market for eggs here, being worth 23 to 30 cents a dozen. As to the crops I cannot say, as I haven't been in the country much, but most of the hay and grain crops are raised without irrigation in this part and seem to do well. I saw corn growing near the beach that looked to be about two feet high and seemed to grow without any moisture except the heavy dews off from the ocean.
I see some Jewell County [Kansas] people here occasionally. Henry Alsdurf lives here, and Mrs. Treat and her sister, Miss Greenburg. I have been to several of the beaches and sure do enjoy every minute of the time. I expect to sojourn to Colorado sometime this summer, as this state does not appeal to me as to labor, as the Japs, Chinese and Mexicans seem to have a monopoly over the white labor.
I have a fine chance to learn job printing at Long Beach if I would agree to stay. The automobile business seems to be overdone here; there are so many garages and so many men looking for positions, but a good machinist can always get work. The pay isn't quite so good as in the East. A lathe man gets 40 cents per hour here; in the East 50 cents. I think I have written enough and will close. Hoping to see some more of my friends in the near future, I remain,
Your friend, BERT KISSINGER.
Los Angeles, California, 7-27-11.
As my letter appeared in print, I will attempt to tell you more about this ideal place termed "The City Beautiful." The city has several public parks, one containing 3,000 acres, the largest in the world. The first house built in Los Angeles is still standing--an old "dobie," General Fremont's residence. The county just finished a fine ten-story addition to the courthouse, called "The Hall of Records." The Times plant has started their new building where the old one was blown up Oct. 1st, 1910.
The hottest day here was 90° in the shade. The heat usually ranges from 74° to 88°. I was down to Redondo Beach yesterday and gathered a few "moonstones." I noticed small patches of corn on the way that was in silk and looked fairly good. This seems to be a great country for chickens, and many make their living from chickens alone. The cost of living here is not so high as in the Middle West. I have been thinking of leaving this place for some time, but it just seems like one cannot leave this delightful climate and stay away. What gets my "goat" is why such productive soil is always in an arid country, and where there is rainfall the crops are more or less affected by the hot weather. The difference in the seasons here and there is, the grass is green here in the wintertime and green there in the summertime (some times). The industry of raising eucalyptus trees here for their fine wood and oil is growing quite extensive. The trees only do well in a semitropical climate and get their growth in about seven years. The wood is used for various purposes, and its quality is next to mahogany. Houseflies are scarce compared with at home; I have not been bothered with a single fly in my room. Flies don't seem to have much ambition here. English sparrows are almost extinct here; you seldom see one. The most common birds are the blackbird and mockingbird. I am always reminded here of what Teddy R. wrote about the mockingbird singing in the magnolia tree. I have realized my dreams about sitting in the shade of a palm tree in California. I am planning on taking a trip to Santa Catalina Island before returning.
Bert Kissinger cut corn for Elmer Moore the first of the week.
"East Side News," Overbrook Citizen, Overbrook, Kansas, October 5, 1911, page 4
Los Angeles, Cal.
Jan. 26, 1912.
The tourists are sitting in the park reading about the cold, snow and ice, while you people can hardly keep warm.
This week is aviation meet at Dominguez Field. One aviator was killed last Monday by falling into a hole in the air. The next big affair will be Gypsy Smith, the great evangelist at the Shrine Auditorium, beginning next Sunday; five hundred men will sing in the choir. Then in March the big automobile races at Santa Monica. The street work here is all done by Mexicans; night shifts are run all the time and Sundays too. One of the greatest undertakings of modern times which I forgot to mention is, the Los Angeles aqueduct being next to the Panama Canal, is to bring the city water here a distance of 237 miles at a cost [of] $27,000,000, which is to be completed by Jan. 1st, 1913. The water will be brought from [the] Owens River through a tunnel for miles in the mountains and will furnish city water for 1,000,000 people, besides furnishing 250,000 horsepower with which to run factories. It is one of the most gigantic projects in the U.S. The severe cold weather here froze the fruit in many places. Ice will freeze (some say water) at about 40º here, so it don't have to get so very cold you see. The weather at present is milder; the thermometer registers all the way front 64 to 81 above during the day and 50 at night.
The sunken gardens of Adolphus Busch, the world famed beer king, at his winter resort at Pasadena are the finest in the world, Another place I contemplate going is upon Mt. Wilson, where the largest telescope in the world was placed at the Carnegie Observatory recently. Maybe I can tell you more about it the next time. A new industry for L.A. is a frog farm, and I guess it is a success, they don't croak. One can see flowers here now, especially violets. I noticed where the Center Hill [Kansas] school marm would go sleigh riding only for one reason, and we bet the boys never took the hint. "Better make hay while the sun shines."
Among the Oregon Pines.
ROGUE RIVER, ORE., JUNE 28, '12.
TO MY MANY FRIENDS:--I have been wanting to tell you of my trip for a long time, so I take this way. Please pardon me for not writing, as I have so many to write to.
I left Los Angeles harbor, by boat, June 6, for San Francisco, making the trip in 24 hours. Had a very pleasant trip, except that it was very cold on the water. I stayed there five days, saw the bay city and was entertained by Mr. Spiegel's brother and eldest son, who drove us through the City Park, the World's Fair grounds, the military grounds, seal rocks, the world-famed Cliff House, and through some of the ruins of the quake four [sic] years ago. I could write a book on Frisco, but will be brief here. I was in the oldest church and mission house of California, founded in 1776, I believe. Also one of the most handsome post offices I ever saw. It differs from Los Angeles in many ways, and is a business city and not for show.
Chinatown is one of the many scenes that attract the tourists, and one should not miss seeing it. It was rather cold and windy while I was there, and it did not appeal to me like it should after coming from a sunny clime. It is a strong union town and seems to be overrun by men who came from the East, expecting to get employment on the fair grounds, which had not been started yet when I was there.
They have one of the most beautiful and largest parks, filled with wild animals and lakes, on the coast. Market St. is the principal street, with nearly all the others joining it like a spinal column.
It is a very rough and hilly city, going up or down hill almost constantly. One also gets a grand view of the Golden Gate from the peninsula promontory. At the entrance of the bay are many disappearing guns that can only be seen from the land in the rear. It is a very nice city to cool off in, if you prefer cold weather. There is as much difference as day and night between Los Angeles and San Francisco, 470 miles apart.
About 8 o'clock at night we ferried across the bay to Oakland, where we boarded the S.P. train, then crossed Vallejo Bay on the largest locomotive ferry in the world, then went spinning on our way to Sacramento, reaching there at 11 p.m. Morning dawned upon us in the Sacramento Valley, one of the richest farming districts in California. Then by noon we reached the mountainous region, and went on a steady climb to an elevation of over 4,000 feet and stopped at the famous Shasta Springs, where the train stops ten minutes for everyone to take a drink of the invigorating soda water. In the distance we could see the great Mt. Shasta, the third highest peak in the United States, always capped with snow. About 2 p.m. we crossed the state line into Oregon for 58 miles. We are about 36 miles above Ashland, Ore., and 23 from Medford. This place is located in the Rogue River Valley, about 1,025 feet above sea level, in a timber, mining and agricultural country. It is among nature's prettiest scenes in Southern Oregon, where the pine trees are covered with moss and roses of all kinds bloom. It never gets very hot here, and thunder storms cool off the summer months. In fact, we have had considerable rain the past two weeks. All kinds of vegetables are raised here and are somewhat earlier than in Kansas. New potatoes are full grown. There are wild raspberries and strawberries in the woods. The chief products are grain and hay, which will soon be harvested. It also is a fruit country, and the prospects are good for a big crop.
The Rogue River is a swift-flowing stream, and is harnessed above and gives power for electric lights and water works. This is only a small place of about 300 inhabitants and has a light and power plant and water works, but no sidewalks. These Western towns are nothing like the East.
Oregon is a local option state, and there is one saloon here, a Methodist church, high school, three grocery stores, one bank, newspaper, etc. A new telephone exchange has recently been installed. The Pacific Highway, a county road from Seattle to San Diego, passes through here. There is good fishing in the river here, such as trout and salmon. The mountains are filled with such game as deer, bobcats, mountain lions, bear, coyotes and squirrel. Deer season opens Aug. 1 and closes Oct. 1. But the woods are full of "dears" that can be hunted all the year. Land here is all cut up into small farms of 5 to 20 acres around town, and sells from $100 to $300 per acre. Some irrigate small tracts for alfalfa. I saw a green field of oats this morning about 4½ feet high. The land is not worth any more here than elsewhere, but is boomed, is all. The Kansas farmer could get just the same prices if he said so. That's all they do here--try to sell fruit land at an enormous price. I see where some have left the coast country.
This is a country of opportunities if you are a financier or [will] develop its natural resources. In fact, one has all the advantages in the world here to develop them if you are a promoter. But like all other places, it needs the right attention to "do things."
There is a new gold mill being installed nearby, that is expected to be in running order by July 1. I hope I can tell you more about it in my next letter. The gold ore comes from the top of a mountain in a decomposed form and is called low grade, running from $15 to $150 per ton The owner saved only about 60 percent in his old crude mill and made a fortune out of it; now a company is putting up a modern mill which will save 95 percent. It will employ a number of men when completed.
Well, I am enjoying tent life at present. I have not had a cold since being among the pine and fir trees. One can see old-fashioned houses here with rose bushes high as the house and moss on the roofs. It surely is a sight to see.
Well, I do not wish to take up any more of your valuable space and time, so will close, with best regards to all.
We received a box of tree moss Tuesday morning from our young friend, Bert Kissinger, at Rogue River, Oregon.
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, November 28, 1912, page 4
A Letter From Oregon.
ROGUE RIVER, OREGON,
November 22, 1912.
After promising to write again I will now tell you how I like Oregon. We had a good rain here last Monday. It is called a Washington mist here. "Missed Washington and hit Oregon." But the weather is ideal now, and most of the farmers are plowing. Some haven't got their spuds dug yet. Some plow as late as March and sow spring wheat. We have white frosts and some ice.
The placer mines are getting ready to work when the winter rains set in.
I met F. W. Snyder at Gold Hill, who came out about fourteen years ago. He likes it better than Kansas. If anyone stays here three years they cannot get away, they tell me. I bought a relinquishment here of forty acres only two miles from town, which has to be cleared before I can do much farming. It has all kinds of timber on and a new log house 26x30 feet, so I am at home here. It has a small creek with running water and several good springs near the house. Also a new R.F.D. three-fourths of a mile away. There is a railroad section just south of me, and also some school land here yet. Also some good homestead land of forty and eighty acres, only about four miles from town. The trees do certainly look pretty with long, green moss hanging on them; it is just beginning to grow now.
I can get upon the mountainside and see Mount Pitt in the distance, which is covered with snow. Also see snow on the Siskiyous.
My homestead is located in a valley called Schieffelin Gulch, after a man named Ed Schieffelin, who homesteaded below me many years ago. He is the man that discovered gold at Tombstone, Arizona. The little city of Rogue River has made many new improvements the past year. A new city hall, a credit to a town many times larger, was completed and dedicated Oct. 5th, and a new I.O.O.F. hall is now under construction, the first brick building. Also a new store building is going up. My section line goes through Broadway, the new street which is being built up now. They are also doing some street work and intend to lay sidewalk soon. The city is lighted with electricity and has waterworks.
I will send you a copy of the paper printed by a twenty-year-old boy, which is a credit to any town its size. I will also send you some tree moss for your window, which if hung out in the rain will regain its natural life.
There isn't much wheat raised here for grain, and it sells at $1.00 per bushel. Potatoes sell for 75¢ to $1.00 per cwt. Eggs 45¢ a doz. and butter 35¢ to 40¢ lb. Turkeys 25¢ lb. There is apples galore here and sell for 25¢ a bu. up.
The woods are full of varmints such as coyote, fox, bobcat and skunk. Also deer, cougar and bear farther back.
Woman suffrage carried in Oregon, so now some of the local option towns will vote wet, I am told.
There was a small camp of the M.W.A. here called the "Live Oak," but since the rates raised it is a dead oak.
Wishing all my friends a happy Thanksgiving, I will close. As ever, your friend,
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, December 5, 1912, page 8
It Snows in Oregon
Rogue River, Oregon, 1-24-'13.
I will try and tell you something about the weather here. It started the 3rd inst., turning to snow, then rain alternating for fifteen consecutive days. It would snow in the daytime and rain at night. At one time there was about 24 inches of snow on the level, while down in the valley there was only about twelve inches, but the recent rains have reduced it to about six inches at present. It is an unusual thing and has not occurred since 1890, so they tell us. It was sure a "wet moon," for it appeared to rain without any clouds in sight. The thermometer registering 14 and 18 below freezing, which froze ice about ½ inch thick.
Time seems to pass quickly here as to where the winters are longer and colder.
I have been trapping for pastime, but must say "the game is not worth the candle" here, as I have only succeeded in catching two bobcats and one raccoon so far. A cougar passed by some time ago within a hundred yards of my shack, something very uncommon for this part, as it must have been traveling through and no stopover ticket.
I have received several communications inquiring about homesteads here, and in reply will say that all the land worth having, near a railroad, is taken. But a railroad is being projected from Grants Pass to the coast of Crescent City, California, which, when the Panama Canal is completed, [will] be a great boon to this country, and will open a vast number of resources and agricultural lands for settlement. I would suggest to you to make a trip before locating here, as it does not appeal to all alike. But with land from one to three hundred dollars per acre, there is certainly a great future for the coast country, as the mild climate is one of the main features.
Among the forest trees here are the white and the black oak, sugar pine, cedar, maple, alder, laurel, fir, mahogany, manzanita, yew, jack pine, ash and cottonwood. I am somewhat of a "hiker'' and climb an elevation of about 4,500 ft., and go back into the hills seven or eight miles and return in about five hours' time. There is a large mountain of decomposed granite back there, called granite rocks, and not far away a spring, which is ice-cold in the summer and warm in the winter; called Cold Springs. Those are the only two places of interest I have seen.
I am just in receipt of a trio of "The Habit," and in comment must say that its staff and contributors have one big object in life--visible usefulness. You have heard of cities being paved with gold; it may sound strange, yet it is true that the streets of Medford, Or., are paved with the tailings of ore run, three stamp mills which contained a large percent of gold dust in it. It is expected that winter will be over next month, and I am not disappointed, as a month is enough for me.
At the last city election the women, through sympathy for their inferior sex, voted for a "wet" town. I will close, wishing all the readers happiness and prosperity.
As ever your friend,
Rogue River, Oregon, 3-28-13
March came in like a lamb and acted as gentle as a kitten, regardless of the groundhog, until today, when everything was appearing green and "near to nature." We had an equinoxial snow accompanied by rain, but it all vanished with the noonday sun "as gently as an Arab folds his tent in the night and as quietly steals away." I did not plant any spuds today, but luckily, I had some planted already. Everything is from one to two weeks earlier here than there. I am having about six acres of virgin soil plowed for oats, corn and spuds. It is not soddy or grassy, is of a rich, deep, black kind. I will spend the rest of my leisure time sawing wood this summer. There is always a demand for wood, as coal is not thought of. Wood sells readily for $6.00 a cord delivered for fir and pine and $6.50 for oak. It is usually cut in four-foot lengths and 16-inch blocks and not ready for the stove. There is a man one-fourth of a mile from me with two sons, who took a contract to cut 500 cords of wood the past winter, and they have certainly got the woods full of it. The valley is nice and green with flowers in bloom. To one not familiar with panning gold, it is not uncommon to see men all along the river panning for flour gold that washes down from placer mines. Sometimes they do well, getting $1.50 to $2.50 a day. It seems a habit they can't resist. Some of the farmers and ranchers are having their houses lit up with electricity from the fast-growing little city. The new hall was dedicated with a masked ball the 17th. Another saloon was started, which gives the city a revenue of $1,800 a year, which is being used for street purposes. I am not under the impression anymore that the people get webfooted here, though some may be a little mossy.
"Over Oregon's mountaintops,
Where the gentle zephyrs blow;
A fog covers the grand scenery,
Where the moss-covered trees grow
White clouds float low and leave dewdrops on the mistletoe."
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, April 3, 1913, page 8
Rogue River, Oregon, May 20, '13.
As summer and sunshine is here again, I will try and tell you something about the beautiful weather here. In fact, it has been a rather late spring, but despite of it, the fruit promises a big crop. Corn is up and looking good after being nipped by the late frosts. The woods are very fragrant with all kinds and colors of flowers and the fields with yellow poppies.
Honeybees and hummingbirds are gathering their sweets from the myriads of flowers.
The river is lined with anglers now for trout and salmon, but I haven't got the fever yet for fishing. There is a prospector on top of the mountains that is looking for a "pocket," and he has very good prospects now. That is a very contagious disease to contract, and I am thinking it is getting too near for me to be immune. The Electric Light Co. is extending its poles along the Pacific Highway, and a new cement plant will soon be constructed at Gold Hill at a cost of $450,000, which will give employment to about 500 men. It will be put in operation next fall. The general manager wanted to build it near Rogue River, on account of better quality of cement and lime, but he could not secure a site of twenty acres for less than $500 an acre on a nearby ranch, but was willing to pay $250 for it. I'll bet those people will realize their mistake someday and would be willing to give the site rather than have it boost another town ten miles away. But alas, their sad mistake! Such ones never know an opportunity or inducement when it stares them in the face or knocks their front door down trying to get in. But the little city keeps on progressing, for they have just finished a new bandstand with a cement curb around it, a lawn for grass lighted by electricity and a drinking fountain near it. A sewer system is being put in, and new streets are being graded and laid with cement sidewalks.
The paper has changed hands and begins to look metropolitan. It is yet in its infancy, being only two years old. Rogue River begins at Mt. Crater Lake, which once was supposed to be an old volcano broken off with its walls 4000 feet high and 2000 feet of water with an elevation of about 4000 feet, its walls almost perpendicular and nearly round at the the top with an area of nearly four miles. The river has many tributaries and is fed by several springs, is swift and has the steepest grades of any river in America and is always cold, therefore it doesn't look as if the town would ever go "dry" instantly.
Many years ago, it was supposed to be, by the Indians, a vast lake in the valley and kept cutting its way to a deeper channel. It has cement reefs in it and carries a large quantity of gold placer mines not located yet.
The weather is nice and warm for growing, but the nights are too cool, the daytime makes up.
The only thing I miss here is the golden harvest time and gully washers. I almost omitted the wind, as I only have a faint remembrance of it here. Well, I must close as it is getting late.
A letter received from Bert Kissinger at Rogue River, Oregon, says:--"It has been sizzling hot here for a few days. It always brings up a rain after the extreme heat. I have not killed any deer yet, as the hills are just parching dry. We had a light shower this morning and it is still cloudy. I have not heard of many deer being killed yet; the minister got one last week. What little corn there is here looks good for forty or fifty bu. to the acre. There was a big crop of berries this year of all kinds. Peaches and prunes are getting ripe, also melons and cantaloupes. I had sweet corn and muskmelons to eat of my own raising. There will be an Industrial Fair held here Sept. 5th. I wish you could attend it and see the exhibits. I think I can pull off a land deal here next month. I am living the simple life, but have hopes of attaining the desired goal. I will send the New Era a letter as soon as I get straightened up, as I will feel more like writing again.
Well, I must bring this to a close, hoping it finds you people all well.
BERT KISSINGER.The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, September 11, 1913, page 8
ROGUE RIVER, ORE., 11-29-13.
I will pen you a few lines, as I promised to do some time ago. I will not dwell long on the weather, as it has been raining nearly every day since November 4th. So it begins to look like we would have a wet town election, December 1st, suffice to say.
Saw the first snow here the 20th. I visited with Ogden and F. W. Snyder of Gold Hill the 9th, and ate new potatoes and green beans from their garden, planted in August.
The new cement plant is well under way, as to the excavation. I can hear the rumble of the blasts that echo in the hills. There is a two-stamp gold mill being installed just across the river from town that has a capacity of sixteen tons of ore per day. It will be ready to start about the 1st.
The contract has been let for the grading of the Pacific Highway over the Siskiyou Mountains for $107,534.30; the estimated cost was $120,000, for a piece thirteen miles long and twenty-four feet wide.
The fall grain is looming up nicely, and the pastures are taking on a hue like a green carpet. As I write, the sun and rain take "turnabout." As there is nothing important to relate, I will close, with best wishes to all.
Bert Kissinger writes in from Rogue River, Oregon that the weather is summer-like out there and flowers are in bloom. He enclosed one in his letter.
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, March 19, 1914, page 1
Twenty-one acres of river bottom land, ½ mile from town, at $120 the acre. A bargain if taken soon.
Bert Kissinger, Rogue River, Oregon.
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, March 19, 1914, page 4
Albert Kissinger, Klamath Falls, mashed fingers, sawmill.
"No Fatal Accidents Are Reported to State Industrial Commission During Week," Oregon Journal, Portland, August 23, 1915, page 12
Bert Kissinger, who has been in Oregon for the past seven years, came in Saturday morning for a visit with the home folks. Bert has been working in the shipyards at Portland the past few months.
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, September 12, 1918, page 4
Will Flinn took Frank and Bert Kissinger to Concordia last Saturday.
"Center Hill," The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, October 3, 1918, page 5
Bert and Frank Kissinger started overland yesterday morning for Rogue River, Oregon. The boys have lately bought and fitted up a Ford and will make the trip in it, and no doubt will have a very pleasant time.
The Randall News, Randall, Kansas, July 25, 1919, page 4
Frank and Bert Kissinger started last Thursday on an automobile trip to the West Coast. They will drive through to Portland, Oregon, and stop on the way back at Rogue River, near where Bert has some land.
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, July 31, 1919, page 4
The latest reports from Frank and Bert Kissinger, who are traveling overland in a Ford to Rogue River, Oregon, are that they were delayed by a storm one day and at that time were in Ogden, Utah, but we expect they are near Pocatello, Idaho by this time.
The Randall News, Randall, Kansas, August 8, 1919, page 3
The last word from Frank and Bert Kissinger was from Twin Falls, Idaho, Wednesday, Aug. 6, and that they intended to go out that evening and visit Quincy Norris. They had some rough roads and have been delayed on account of a waterspout in the mountains.
"Cherry Hill," The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, August 14, 1919, page 3
A letter from Frank Kissinger, received Monday, says they arrived at Rogue River, Oregon, Saturday the 15th, and only had one puncture and one blowout in the 2,100 miles. Frank says he expects to go to San Francisco the first of the week and will stop in Denver on his way home. He says the forest fires are about two miles from Bert's cabin, and that they have an aeroplane patrol watching them.
The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, August 28, 1919, page 4
BERT KISSINGER HAS PLEASANT RECOLLECTIONS OF KANSAS
ROGUE RIVER, Jan. 22, 1920.MR. PALMER, Editor, JEWELL REPUBLICAN,
DEAR SIR: The article in the Country Gentleman, issue of Jan. 3, 1920, has inspired me with the obligation that your devotion in making Jewell County one happy family of readers instead of merely citizens, will do the same thing in other towns if the newspapers were not dead. Your host of readers and nearby neighboring counties represent their generosity probably which is more prevalent on account of the philosophy and witty sayings they have absorbed through the columns of your paper in bygone years.
Being raised in Jewell County myself, the fond recollections of my memory goes back to the time I eagerly devoured the paragraphs of the editor's inexhaustible supply in the Jewell County Republican each week.
I must admit, that this is a "homey" place. Yet it lacks that. great social and moral element and hospitality, the kind that a real spicy country newspaper makes. Some of the attributes here are: The roads are always passable in the wintertime, game here for the hunter or fisherman, plenty of wood to burn if it is cut, green feed for stock almost the year round, and noted for its delicious fruit. Rogue River is a beautiful little hamlet of 200 and surrounded by scenic mountains. In all it is the "end of a perfect day."
The winter has been a very dry one so far, with some cold days, but January has been very mild and springlike. Robins and blackbirds are coming back again. There is more or less fog here, which prevents the ground from freezing. The digger squirrel, native of Oregon, has been out all winter. There is considerable activity here in the way of mining, lumbering, irrigation projects and paved highway building. I am thankful for the sunshine we are being blessed with.
Roses may come and roses may go, but the memory of the Kansas sunflower lingers forever.
Here's wishing that your endeavor will be amply rewarded and hope favors are bestowed upon you in the future as a compliment for your literary gems.
BERT KISSINGER.Jewell County Republican, Jewell, Kansas, January 30, 1920, page 5
FOR SALE--40-acre wood ranch, 2 miles from town, 1 mile from Pacific Highway. Price $1500. Trade on light car. Bert Kissinger, Gold Hill, Oregon.
Evening Herald, Klamath Falls, October 31, 1924, page 7
Southern Oregon Personals
Charles Warren and Bert Kissinger last week discovered a three-foot ledge carrying free gold of about $30 per ton on the head of Wards Creek, about seven miles from Rogue River.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 30, 1925, page 10
Discovery of a ledge of stannite ore, 14 feet wide, colored from steel gray to black and carrying about one ounce of gold, has created considerable interest in the ore, according to Bert Kissinger, 109 North Park Street, Portland, who has returned from a trip of several days into the Gold Hill district. The ledge is near the outskirts of Gold Hill. Mr. Kissinger is interested in quartz mining claims near the town and has prospected in Southern Oregon the past ten years. He is enthusiastic over the future prospects of that country as the mecca of a permanent mining district. Gold was discovered in Southern Oregon in 1850 by men who had experience in the mines of Northern California, and for a number of years the gold output rivaled that of California camps. The Oregon mining, like that of California, was confined in those days to placer work, and was interrupted from time to time by the activities of hostile Indians.
"Those Who Come and Go," Oregonian, Portland, March 20, 1928, page 8 The paragraph was reprinted by the Medford Mail Tribune on March 23, page 14.
Bert Kissinger of Ashland, Ore. arrived last Thursday night to spend some time with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Kissinger, and his brother, Judge Frank Kissinger.
"Mankato News," The New Era, Formoso, Kansas, February 4, 1947, page 3
Another caller turned out to be Bert Kissinger, who lives on South Riverside here in Medford, and who also had mementos of the past. Mr. Kissinger brought in two empty flour sacks which at one time had held flour milled in the Medford district.
One bore the name Rogue Spray Flour, made by H. O. Nordwick, Medford, and the other was lettered Rogue River Flour, which had been milled by a Central Point firm. Both sacks had scenes of the Rogue River printed on them. Back in those days a 49-pound sack of flour sold for $1.50, he recalled.
Mr. Kissinger, who has lived here since 1912, said both mills operated for some time after he came to the valley. He plans to give the old sacks to the Jacksonville Museum.
Olive Starcher, "Potpourri," Medford Mail Tribune, April 12, 1953, page 21
That Unique WeathervaneTo the Editor: How many have observed the unusual weathervane atop the Allen Hotel, 104 East Main Street? The combination represents a miner's pick, pan and shovel. Presumably significant of some interesting past episode, we would like for someone to unravel the enigma in a true story for the Mail Tribune. Perhaps someone recalls the strange off-record history of the unique design.
One source of information has it that a small creek once flowed nearby and was sluiced by early day prospectors for the gold dust it produced.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 6, 1953, page 4 The weathervane was installed in 1895 by Capt. J. T. C. Nash, the new owner of the hotel, to commemorate the gold mine that made him wealthy.
520 Boardman St.
Trip to K.F.To the Editor: It was Klamath Falls or bust, when K.F. was more than a day's journey by foot for two hikers from Rogue River to Ashland, via passenger train, then the old stage road via Green Springs afoot.
The time of the year was the first week of July, 1915, when a friend, Robert Breeding, and the writer met at the S.P. depot at Rogue River and decided to go by passenger train to Ashland bright and early one morning. Leaving Ashland early we were on our long trek, what now is Highway 66, thinking we could hike the 65 miles in less than two days.
We were near Green Springs summit at noon when we helped push "a two lunger," opposed-type engine, Maxwell runabout up the steep grade and over "the hump" on their happy and dusty way.
After we sat in shade to eat our tasty lunch we hiked seven more hours before we arrived at the old Pinehurst tavern, where we bought our evening lunch and all the milk we could drink. After a brief rest, since daylight hours were long, we decided to utilize all the twilight possible with a bright moon. After heading into heavy timber and getting weary we decided to flop down at 11 p.m. at the base of a big pine tree.
Seeing a lighted window and hearing the barking of a dog about 100 yards away, we knew that we must be near civilization again. Getting up early the next morning, we washed and drank from a nearby pool of mossy water--but good. Walking over to the house we soon learned we were at "Shake," a tavern and old stage station, where we ordered breakfast. After a hearty meal we struck out on the road again. After a two-hour walk a taxi driver returning to K. Falls stopped and gave us a lift in his Model T Ford touring car. Our extra weight served as ballast besides having been so fortunate to get a lift when least expected and so much desired.
We chugged right along, even though some of the chuckholes were a foot deep in lava dust. Having arrived at K. Falls around noon, we were most thankful and never felt the worse for our wear and tear, the end of two perfect days.
The return trip was made a few months later in a Cadillac touring bus to Medford in about six hours time without any incidents.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, June 27, 1954, page 4
Hidden RichesTo the Editor--Around the second week in October, 1914, I was returning from a season's employment in Klamath County. A friend was driving over to the Rogue Valley for a supply of apples--a lumber wagon load. As the trip would take two days, he suggested I go along and view Crater Lake. We camped there near the superintendent's office.
We arose early to expedite travel at that season of year, and when we were nearing a wide place near Union Creek on the dirt road, we met up with an old-time "hoss trader," who wanted to swap his lone gray to the wagon master, so each would have a color-matched team. After a short exchange of trader's vocabulary, the dicker was closed, my friend getting some cash to boot. (I always will think my friend got the best deal, because the gray horse he got in the exchange was a typical camp horse and would eat leftover camp victuals or biscuits as readily as grain or hay.)
When we reached the sign of the Rogue "Natural Bridge" we rested awhile. A few moments later a posse of nine or ten Indian braves off the reservation on a deer hunting expedition on horseback rode up alongside the wagon. Afterwards I learned most of them were college grads, some lawyers, doctors, teachers and prospectors.
The spokesman ask me if we had any smoking tobacco. Wanting to be polite, before my friend had time to nudge me, I reached in the boot for a sack of "Geo. Washington" brand which the leader generously passed along until the little bag was emptied. (I was left holding the bag then.)
But I learned more; a prospector showed us a piece of white float quartz alive with native silver. Upon questioning the finder where he discovered the specimen, he pointed with his hand and said, "mebbe 9 or 10 miles due west of the Natural Bridge of lava."
We have often wondered about that story linked with the famous river landmark. How much to believe about it? We have never gone in search for the outcropping yet, for the main reason that there had always been places that had a more definite description of location to look for lost or hidden treasures. Far as I know the territory is quite likely mineralized.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, April 13, 1955, page 4
Did you ever hear of the "Bible Ranch"? Of course that was only a nickname given to a hillside clearing at the turn of the century by the few remaining "hard rock" miners near Gold Hill.
A pattern of an open book was formed in a clearing of brush with a small gully in the center--hence the name. The hillside was planted to vineyard and was the talk of the town for many years. Eventually it reverted to nature again, but the remains and dim outlines can still be distinguished about a half-mile from the Sams Valley Road north of Gold Hill, looking across the river.
Bert Kissinger"Potluck," Olive Starcher, Medford Mail Tribune, June 5, 1955, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Both Have DisappearedTo the Editor: One of our old friends, a gold miner of the second generation (now deceased), who lived and mined southwest of Grants Pass, Ore., until the late nineteen twenties, gave us much first-hand information of the early placer mines.
One incident we remember very well was when the usual cleanup of a placer, once in the Waldo district, when a small unknown piece of foreign ore or metal was found in the sluiceboxes. No one really claimed the new discovery, although it was so hard a hammer never fazed it on an anvil.
Another odd experience was it lit up the inside of a tent-house at night. A Klamath Indian who took a fancy to the little specimen decided he would quit his
job at the time, and when he went away the little piece evidently had gone too. There was no record of what became of either one, after that incident.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 7, 1955, page 4
520 Boardman St.
To the Editor: This is the saga of a raccoon tree. A number of years ago we were doing some gold prospecting around Nov. 1 when a light sprinkle of rain fell, so took shelter under the nearest tree; a large oak with broken branches, and suddenly heard a growling sound inside the trunk. After looking up we discovered a round opening about 15 feet above the ground. By leaving some props against the base we shinnied up in eager anticipation to see three young "coons" with black beady eyes. Not being in a hurry for the day of capture, we simply did not disturb them. When we returned with an axe some weeks later, all animals had vanished. How many there were all told will never be known for sure, as the tree probably was hollow all the way to the roots. Anyway, we plan to prospect that area again someday.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 26, 1955, page 4
520 Boardman St.
No Gold But Nice TimeTo the Editor: Some 40 or more years ago, a prospecting friend heard of the rich gold finds being made over on the coast anywhere from Hoopa Indian reservation in northern Humboldt County, California, to Curry County, Oregon. It made him pull up stakes in Jackson County with a pack animal and head west over the Coast Range.
Not having heard from him after several months, we were surprised to meet him one day again, saying he had too many callers. Asking him how come, he said he invited the natives over to camp and if it was raining they would stay until the storm was over; it might be a few days or last a week.
Anyway it was raining most of the time. And for the half-breeds. they always had plenty of time to pan out the price of a pair of blue jeans, a supply of tobacco, or a new phonograph record, every now and then. As for their secret of the gold diggings, it still remains a mystery.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, November 16, 1955, page 4
520 Boardman St.
More About MineTo the Editor: More reminiscence on the Lost Cabin Mine. In 1914 in Ft. Klamath, Ore., we by chance broached the subject of gold to one of the pioneers who happened to be in possession of an intricate piece of gold amalgam (that at today's prices would be worth around $5). This specimen had been perhaps lost on the old trail the Indians used when traveling back to the reservation. After reading the account given later in the Portland Oregonian, we talked with a former Klamath County resident who confirmed the press story, and also said no white man had ever re-located or found "the mine." An Indian and his son, both named Pedro, reputedly guarded this fabulous ledge until their death, years later. The details we have give us assurance that someone, someday, will discover the so-called lost lode high in the Umpqua Range.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 7, 1955, page 4
Tasty MorselsTo the Editor: How many of the older generation recollect when homemade bread baking time arrived almost every week on a given day, with a bannock meal for the younger "fry" of the household? The names varied, owing to the locality where you lived, of course, sometimes called pancakes or "dough-gods," some were baked on iron griddles, near an open grate, just before the yeast-raised dough was ready to mold into loaves and set in the oven. These small cakes were browned on either side on a well-heated and greased skillet. It was a toothsome treat to any youngster and in a robust phrase, "stuck to the ribs." These once-tasted, never-forgotten morsels are now only memories to most of us, yet their days are numbered, and gone forever, is our modest guess, who knows?
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, June 8, 1956, page 4
520 Boardman St., Apt. 1
Gold Mine TaleTo the Editor: This saga is not just another "lost mine" episode, but one of the few remaining almost-forgotten gold exploits to be retold by the old-timers to the writer, nigh on 50 years ago around Woodville (now Rogue River).
It was shortly after the Southern Pacific built from Sacramento to Ashland around 1886. [It was 1887.] The older pioneers recalled vividly how three young Frenchmen every summer, for three successive years, shipped three pack horses from San Francisco, and outfitted the three with four five-gallon cans to each pack saddle and stocked with grub at the local store. The old miners' pack trail led north to Douglas County, and headed for the Umpqua Range. After three seasons of shipping their summer cleanup by Wells Fargo express, the three miners never returned to go back to their well-secluded workings. An old map given to one of their friends at Woodville then clearly marked a trail to a spring of water on Cedar Mountain where the three men did their final washing of gold dust. Also a trail led to what is known as the "Bear Wallows" about two miles beyond Cedar Mountain. From there on, no more description was ever recorded on the map. The consensus is that it was more than likely a rich deposit, commonly called a pocket, and had been kept well hidden from ordinary observation by later searchers in the rugged terrain of southern Douglas County.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 5, 1956, page 4
520 Boardman St., Apt. 1
Another "Lost Mine"To the Editor: Another early day saga of Southern Oregon frontier life of the stagecoach days, related to this writer by one of the early pioneers, was the escapade around the time of 1870 of a questionable character who had been under suspicion for horse stealing. In those days the foothills were practically free of any underbrush.
Anyway this fugitive fleeing from justice took to the hills in a southwesterly direction from Gasburg, what is now the town of Phoenix. While on a high ridge keeping a lookout, the renegade came across an immensely rich lode of gold-bearing ore. Having some friends around the stage station, he decided to contact them at dark. It is said he took one, on a moonlit night, up in the hills to show him his secret. There it was in plain view of the two men all right, and the finder took off for parts unknown in a few days, after the fury of a search had been made by the local law officials and the excitement had calmed down.
The "silent friend" of the would-be criminal set out to stake a claim on the lode one day shortly afterward, and to his astonishment never could find the same ridge.
Whether the discovery was ever concealed by either one of the two men that night will forever remain a question. There it is yet, probably grown over in tall brush.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 17, 1956, page 4
520 Boardman St., Apt. 1
Mining HistoryTo the Editor: Around the turn of the century up to 1906 there were ten or more active producing quartz gold mines around the environs of the Gold Hill mining country, besides several thrifty placer mines in operation. Among the most notable quartz mines were the Braden, Corporal "G," Lucky Bart, Millionaire, Lawrence,Nellie Wright, Tin Pan, Bill Nye. Sylvanite and old Gold Hill mine. Besides numerous smaller mines were operated on a part-time basis. And about that time the two famous brothers, Enoch and Al Rhoten, made headlines in the Rogue Valley newspapers for their many rich gold pocket discoveries centering around the Kanes creek mining district.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 26, 1956, page 4
520 Boardman St., Apt. 1
Geologic WonderTo the Editor: There are many wonders in Southern Oregon, especially those of geologic nature, in a changing world of natural history.
For instance, once the shortest river was Link River connecting the upper and lower Klamath lakes, only 1 mile long. Lost River in Klamath County runs in a circle for nearly 90 miles and empties underground only about 10 miles from its original source, in Tulelake. One of the greatest fault formations of basalt in Oregon west of the Snake River Canyon, is the Abert Rim on U.S. Highway 395 in Lake County, Oregon.
As for semi-precious gem rock, Southern Oregon has the distinction of having the greatest variety of semi-gem stones found anywhere in the Northwest. The gem polishing and marketing business now in Oregon is rated one of the major industries of the past 15 years. Some of the lesser and rarer stones are in a general demand by collectors in many of the states.
One time in our mineral prospecting trips in the Cascade Range we discovered a small round extinct volcano about 16 feet in diameter with a molten hematite-stained quartz lying in the pit, and we mortared a sample that showed a small trace of free gold, not enough to get excited about at least.
Our belief is that the general mineral resources of Southern Oregon will last for many years yet, and that all the hidden minerals have not been found, almost a conclusive answer to prospecting and mining.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 2, 1956, page 4
520 Boardman St., Apt. 1
More Gold TalesTo the Editor: When the old Greenback mine, located on Tom East Creek, a tributary of Grave Creek around 25 miles north of Grants Pass, was at high production in 1897 and 1898, so the saga goes, the bullion taken from the mine at month's end was processed into three small bricks, amounting to around $7,000 each. The manager had a span of driving horses hitched to a spring wagon, after loading the gold in a hand satchel preparatory to driving to the bank to meet the miners' payroll. Tossing the bag in the rear of the vehicle, the hostler and his companion hit up a lively rate of speed over mountainous dusty roads. Having driven to within several miles of Grants Pass, the two men were hailed down by the shrill voice of the farmer who had picked up the bag of gold that had bounced out of the open rig a few miles back in the cloud of dust.
Another episode was in the mystery sale of an $800 nugget from the old China Gap "pocket" found by Chinese on Sykes Creek in the early days, above Wimer. Seems like the core of the shallow deposit was almost all in one single chunk of gold. Anyhow, the subtle method was to slice the chunk into three parts before taking it to a bank for sale. It is reported the gold buyer, being somewhat skeptical too, held back the first trophy until the entire three parts were eventually bought and matched together perfectly.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1956, page 4
Placer Mining RecalledTo the Editor: According to the local mining history we gathered from the old-time prospectors around 40 years ago, along the Rogue River, the first ground sluicing and long-tom workings on the Rogue was done by the early Chinese coolies who began placering for gold in 1849-50-51 and '52. The Chinese were dispersed later on, by the coming of the early white settlers. Some of the old Chinese "landmarks" are still in evidence where the best diggings were found. The source of placer gold began at the site of Ray Gold Dam on the Rogue. The facts told to this writer by miners around Gold Hill that in a six- to eight-hour waiting period for the reservoir to fill with water after completion, a dozen or so men with gold pans would wash out from $5 to $18 from each pan of gravel taken just below the Ray Dam. We remember still, quite well, when all the richer gravel bars were mined along the Rogue by young men of Gold Hill and Rogue River, mining with homemade rockers, when work was rather slack before the year 1917. One old-timer in particular mined steady just below the county bridge, for nearly six years, at [the] town of Rogue River. A distance of 45 miles from Ray Gold to Galice on the river below Grants Pass was a prospector's hope of getting a "grubstake" to promote higher ambitions in the way of opening up a "pocket" trace, or a quartz gold mine somewhere in the nearby hills. The depression years of 1933 when the Rogue was at lowest water mark proved the richness of the Rogue by the many rich crevices filled with nuggets that were worked out by the local citizens of Jackson and Josephine counties. Rogue River from Ray Gold Dam to Galice has been a gold panning area for new prospectors learning how to pan gold for the past 100 years. The Rogue River and its many tributaries producing gold and traces will continue to be searched for precious minerals by individuals inclined to prospect. We are entirely opposed to any land restrictions that would withdraw the Rogue River from mining purposes in the area from Ray Gold Dam in Jackson County through all of Josephine County. Access to any mining ground that shows mineral content should belong to all the people as a matter of right. Thus preserve the heritage of a vanishing adventurer of the early West, lest we forget.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, November 6, 1956, page 4
EarthquakesTo the Editor: A friend of the writer's who lives near Ashland related to us a few years back how his grandfather, an early day settler of Jackson County, had witnessed an earthquake here around the year of 1865, that caused the trees in the valley to sway and wave for several minutes duration.
Looking up the early recorded history we find that a remarkable earthquake did great damage to San Francisco in the year 1865. Also recorded up to 1919 are 4467 quakes on the Pacific Coast. Probably around nearer 5000 to date? A ride over Highway "40," from Truckee, Calif. and Donner Pass a few years ago showed the plainly marked remains of "buckling" the center line of the pavement down the mountain slope for several miles.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, November 21, 1956, page 4
Objects to WithdrawalTo the Editor: It is a well-known fact among mining circles that the Rogue River from Ray Gold Dam in Jackson County to Gold Beach in Curry County has been noted for its gold production for as far hack as 100 years. For more than 60 years the communities of Gold Hill and Grants Pass thrived entirely on the local mining interests. All the gold and other rare minerals have not been "worked out" yet.
This is proven when every time the river banks have been submerged by high water or flood there is a fresh supply of placer gold and nuggets found by prospectors and miners up to the time of the closing of the Rogue to placer mining in 1931 or thereabouts. Withdrawing any mineralized land within one half mile of Rogue River would prevent any hunting for buried treasure. Around 60 years ago there was reputed treasure of considerable amount of gold dug up on the Sams Valley Highway within a stone's throw of the river. Around 1924 an $84 gold nugget was found near the old Gold Drift Dam site below Savage Rapids Dam on the river.
A Jackson County native son who now resides at Kerby in Josephine County first learned to pan gold at Woodville, now Rogue River. He may well be the world's champion gold panner today, as he took first prize among five contestants at Jacksonville on August 4, 1956. His time using a medium-sized gold pan was 36 seconds.
There is no assurance that another financial depression will not happen; in case one did materialize there would be miners on the river again.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 2, 1956, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Recluse DogTo the Editor: This big Alaska husky dog was a mountain recluse back around 1912. He had been seen quite frequently by prospectors and stockmen in the same area three miles northeast of Gold Hill. Ten years preceding 1922, there never was seen or heard of a coyote or bobcat in the vicinity of the lone sentry. One warm spring day in 1922 the old dog ventured down to the nearest ranch house. Apparently it was too old and feeble to make his livelihood in the hills any longer, although yet fat, but quite grey, he made expressive gestures of friendliness to his strange environment. How, when or why he lived a solitary life is quite difficult to understand: rather, we were amazed at the bizarre canine habit formed. At last the old hermit spent [the] rest of his days where fate and destiny cast his lot, so ended his earthly realm except for the secret mountain retreat this lone dog had lived.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 27, 1956, page 4
520 Boardman St.
A Hot Tip From B. K.To the Editor: One of the little-known mineralized regions in Jackson County is the Wagner Butte area, especially at its higher elevations, although it has been known by former prospectors for yielding both quartz and pocket gold for nearly a century.
One of the hazards is the short season that is free from snow in the summer months. In former years, old miners have ground sluiced on the slopes of Wagner with good results, using snow water available from the early spring runoff.
Some areas are as much as six miles by foot or trail from end of a dirt road, so consequently a thorough job of scientific prospecting has lagged. Only the hardier old-time mountain men have really spent any amount of time to scratch the surface of the area yet.
Adventure and reward await the prospector.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, January 18, 1957, page 4
Do You Remember?To the Editor: Do you remember when a chicken incubator was considered a miracle? When we were told an apple a day kept the doctor away? When everyone wore "patent leather" shoes? When rural smokers puffed corncob pipes? When banks had stacks of five-, ten- and twenty-dollar gold pieces behind the cashier's cage for exchanging of customers' checks or gold dust? When hardware stores sold gasoline to use in gas mantle lamps? When the men wore watch fobs and fancy vests? When every school student possessed an autograph album? When you were slighted if you did not get a comic valentine around February 14th? When everyone drank some sassafras tea every spring? When everyone hoped the groundhog would not see his shadow on Feb. 2nd? "Seems like all a dream now."
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, January 27, 1957, page 4
Gold Under the BedTo the Editor: This saga of the fabulous mining days of Southern Oregon was told to me 33 years ago by one of the famous prospectors of the Gold Hill mining district. The time was in the "nineties" when "Old Reel Foot," the 800-pound [sic] grizzly bear on foray, had been shot and killed near Pilot Rock less than two miles from the present Highway 99, in the Siskiyou Range. A taxidermist shortly afterwards had the bear mounted to be exhibited at the July 4th celebration at Yreka, Calif., (and finally sent to the Smithsonian Museum at Washington D.C.).
Well, this mountaineer said he was returning from a hike over to Yreka with a pack including a blanket, small pick and a gold pan, when he "slept on a pocket of gold" near the Sterling Mountain pass. When night overtook him, as was the custom of every outdoorsman, he flopped under or near the branches of a tree. The early summer daylight began around 4 a.m. When he rolled up the blanket he noticed pieces of quartz lying on the ground that were filled with gold. The find was not really a big one by any means, yet it paid off well for the time and trip to a large city in those days. After he dug out all the gold-filled quartz in the deposit, he scribbled a note and pinned to a tree, it read: "A gold prospector slept here."
The Hammersley mine on Grave Creek was also found in like manner too, by accidentally being slept on by the locator, in the booming 1890s.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 5, 1957, page 4
was correct, according to newspaper clippings I have read, owned by Ashland men William R. Taylor and A. E. Powell.
"Old Reel Foot" was so named because one foot was partly amputated, presumably from a trap. He was four feet high and measured 18 inches between the eyes. Was shot a number of times before being killed by an 18-year-old young man named Purl Bean along with an older companion. As to the old prospector, it is alleged that he was the leading character in Jack London's novel called "Burn-
ing Daylight," because of his ambition and luck at finding gold.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 10, 1957, page 4
Just a Rusty Gold PanTo the Editor: Why so many early day gold mining adventures and exploits of interest have been lost to posterity is for lack of recorded notes made or left for later generations. From the early discoveries made around 1852, another generation followed up in the eighteen seventies and again in the eighteen nineties.
One of the almost forgotten stories was the prospectors who packed over Wagner Gap and down "Seven Mile Ridge" on the north slopes of Little Applegate in the seventies, where they found and worked a very rich surface deposit. In later years an Ashland man made a hasty search, but all his efforts paid him was finding an old rusty gold pan and remains of a pick on the bank of a small dry gulch. So, the story is left only to our imagination.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 15, 1957, page 4
Buzzard RoostTo the Editor: Anyone ever hear of, or know of, a Buzzard Roost Mountain? Well, neither have we, but some 50 years ago a man from a Middle West state stopped off the train at Woodville, Oregon, to make inquiry and also offered a generous reward to anyone who did know. Could it be the stranger had been confused as to the actual name of the mountain he was searching for? We hardly think so, although no one at that time was able to give any help to such a question. That was a time when the maps did not show all "buttes" like better maps do today. There is a Buzzard Butte about 14 miles southwest of Myrtle Point, in Coos County and two miles from the Curry County line.
We do know it is not unusual to hear of gold being found in that area of Oregon. Could it be possible that "roost" was substituted instead of butte? Perhaps it was, and that may be the clue to another forgotten gold strike, yet to be rediscovered. That remains a mystery.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 14, 1957, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Take Your BearingsTo the Editor: We were told this story many years ago. This incident happened around 1907. A Wagner Creek rancher was riding range for cattle somewhere in the vicinity of Horn Gulch, possibly seven or more miles from Talent, when he accidentally picked up a piece of float quartz literally filled with gold. Never having any experience in prospecting, he decided to engage the services of a miner he knew as the "king" of pocket hunters from Woodville, Ore. The two searched diligently for two days without finding another rich specimen of quartz. As the rancher had not marked the spot or made any landmark of the find, he then concluded he was "lost" through excitement. But their two-day search was not in vain, as the "king" of prospectors picked up a trace of a different character of gold that made a small pocket, about paid expenses. The moral to this story is, never fail to take bearings when in a strange territory alone.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 18, 1957, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Lost Gold DustTo the Editor: How California gold got into Rogue River, "strange as it seems," believe it or not.
According to Oregon records it was in the year 1849 when a party of former Oregon miners were returning from the early gold fields of Northern California. They had been attacked by Rogue Indians at Rocky Point, where their camp outfit and all their gold dust was poured into the river by the warriors.
In the same year, some Oregonians going down to the California mines did find "colors" of gold at the old fort [sic] of Rogue River down below the point where the town of Gold Hill is now located. But as it was not worth working it was never reported as a discovery. Two more parties of white men were attacked by Rogue Indians in 1851 near Table Rock and Stuart Creek, where the whites lost $1600 worth of gold dust and other property, presumably all poured into the Rogue River somewhere below Table Rock mountain. So, two characters of gold dust may be accountable for yet to anyone distinguishing the difference.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 7, 1958, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Experience NeededTo the Editor: One of the most obscure gold quartz discoveries of 60-some years ago probably remains a mystery yet today. It took place in the "Swede Basin" country around 22 miles west of Grants Pass, Ore., when an early day homesteader, as the story goes, wagered "Uncle Sam" $14 against 160 acres of raw land that he, the homesteader, could hold out the seven years required to obtain rights to patent before starving. The homesteader would most likely win out.
One summer afternoon late in the day as this homesteader went in search of his cows in the wide open spaces on foot, far beyond his mountain cabin, he paused a moment to listen for tinkling of a cow bell, and his eyes caught the gleam of several gold-laden quartz nuggets lying on the ground nearby. As the shadows of nightfall were closing in, he did not have time to do any further exploring than hastily put the nuggets into his pockets, planning to do more searching the next day. When he retraced his steps on the second day to where he thought was the same spot, he looked in vain, for there were no more nuggets to be found. He made numerous trips searching for the original place without any success.
It is the personal opinion of the writer that the homesteader had no previous experience or knowledge of using a gold pan for tracing the dirt or float ore found on the surface. Many ledges laden with gold may be actually hidden from view to the would-be, as well as the seasoned, prospector, not having had actual experience in tracing for hidden treasure. The art of prospecting is not as simple as one may think, as there are many angles to be learned by trial and error. But gold there is yet to be found in them thar hills.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 20, 1958, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Treasure CachesTo the Editor: We believe the report of a note and old crude map found in an old typewriter by a repairman should not be passed lightly or for just a hoax.
Old hidden treasure maps may be written in codes and not easily deciphered to one not familiar to the secret script. Back in the horse and buggy days, that is in the nineties, a roadside camper who presumably had a treasure map left earth marks where he dug up a good-sized iron pot at the base of a large oak tree about one mile northeast of Gold Hill. The tree has long been gone. Another cache of gold was found some 20 years later about one mile south and west. That was found by luck and accident and was believed to be hidden by old time "high graders."
Then again in the summer of 1923 some auto campers got permission to camp at an abandoned place for several days on a beeline as the crow flies from the first and second hidden treasure. After a few days of camping out both the number one and the last-named camper left the scene "in the middle of the night." The last hidden cache was at the base of a large pine tree, and the roots of the pine tree had been hacked off so the imprint of what might have been an old-fashioned iron tea kettle was unearthed, most likely filled with specimen gold nuggets. The impression is that both the locators evidently were in possession of maps in order to dig in the right spot the first and only time to get the loot.
There are probably some early day residents still living around the town of Gold Hill that can recall the authentic story of all three discoveries. This takes one back to a few of all the many adventures of lost treasures of the past, and there seems no end to them--not at the present, at least.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 24, 1958, page 4
Adventure of a MinerTo the Editor: This is the story as told to me by an old friend who for two years was a partner of the famed prospector named Ed Schieffelin, only a few weeks prior to the latter's last rich discovery, made while camped at a cabin on the head of Days Creek in southern Douglas County in May, 1897.
As a small lad, young Ed came to Southern Oregon with his parents from Pennsylvania (1854) and settled on a donation land claim in section 27 about one mile south of Woodville, now Highway 99, Rogue River, where he grew up and went to school. (There is a gulch near there named for him.)
Being of a romantic nature, endowed with adventure and having an older brother working as a miner in Arizona, Ed's thoughts turned to journeying to the new frontier, where a scouting party was under orders to form in routing some bad Indian renegades south of the north border.
After serving as a civilian scout, "Big Ed," as he was called, began his career as a full-time prospector. While searching in the Tombstone Hills, he was told later by the head scout, "All you will find is your tombstone." But being optimistic and not easily discouraged, he finally filed on three claims at Tucson and later got his brother and a partner to grubstake him, and the three set to work to develop some of the richest silver mines ever to be discovered.
After selling out for a million dollars each, 20 years later, Big Ed returned to Woodville again for the last time, where he had driven in a four-horse Concord stagecoach, and later to Roseburg, finally to Days Creek alone.
Probably Big Ed kept his rich find well covered up, as there is no record to our knowledge of the strike ever being found or rediscovered yet. Ed's young friend always believed the gold quartz was found on the Myrtle Creek slope.
Big Ed Schieffelin's body was buried at Tombstone, Ariz., among the hills he labored in, and that made him famous as a prospector.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, May 18, 1958, page 4
Silver OreTo the Editor: There was never a truer saying, "Gold is where you find it." The idea that all the quartz gold has been mined out is not true, according to present-day authorities.
Around the year 1911 a man from Medford during hunting season picked up a piece of high-grade ore in the vicinity of Grey Rock Mountain near the Douglas County line. A year or so later a hewed-out water trough from a tree trunk was reported discovered nearby. That all points to the same locality where the Klamath Indians were supposed to have found some high-grade silver ore in 1914.
One of the chief reasons given for lack of time devoted to prospecting was that it took an unlimited sized "grubstake" to determine results, and most of the early-day searchers were on what is termed "a shoestring" budget.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, June 13, 1958, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Visit Brother--Mr. and Mrs. Frank Kissinger and son Don, Mankato, Kans., are visiting a few days with his brother, Bert Kissinger, 520 Boardman St., Medford, according to Bert Kissinger. The brother and family will return home by way of Central California.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 28, 1958, page 1
Differs With BookTo the Editor: Since having read True West magazine from its first Volume 1, Number One, around six years ago, we have been buying the bimonthly copies for the past five years on newsstands. Having just read the September-October issue containing the story "Schieffelin's Gold" by J. Frank Dobie, it seems like the Oregon part of the story was told to the author by a man named Frank Cooper of southwestern Oregon. Some of the details and names are quite misinformed and loosely given about the facts. We got our first-hand facts of the Oregon discovery of 1897 from Ed Schieffelin's ex-partner of Woodville, 15 years afterward. His name was Charles L. Warren.
Mr. Dobie tells the story in good faith and we do not condemn what he writes, as he says, facts about Schieffelin's early life are in books. We got the true facts long before we read any books on the famous lost mine.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 26, 1958, page 4
The Days of GoldTo the Editor: Wednesday's editorial on A New-Old Jacksonville reminds us what a recent tourist had to report after seeing and visiting Jacksonville and the museum for the first time.
To quote his own words: "Here is a sleeping 'gold mine' only waiting to be publicized as a tourist attraction like the ghost towns of Deadwood and Lead in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where 'Wild Bill' Hickock was once city marshal and peace officer."
Jacksonville seems to be well supplied with all the old landmarks in the way of the historic buildings, so there seems to be nothing really lacking except the restoration of the old-time shops, even if the old furnishings were loaned to complete any stores that may be in need of any old-time fixtures. Old country stores and their wares seem to beckon the average tourist today.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 17, 1958, page 5
520 Boardman St.
Bear TracksTo the Editor: The picture on Page 5 of Wednesday's Mail Tribune showing a plaster cast of a giant footprint reminds us of the time we were camped near Grizzly Prairie 10 miles due north of Pinehurst, Jackson County in 1937. [The photo, in the October 8, 1958 issue, shows an unidentified Northern California man posing with a huge cast of the footprint of the "Abominable Woodsman."] One early morning in June near the camp in the soft earth were fresh bear tracks that easily measured 12 inches in length. It did not take my buddy and myself very long to decide the huge track was made by a giant grizzly bear.
Not having heard any report in the past 21 years of such a large bear being shot in Jackson or Klamath counties, it is just possible the huge beast has survived and its feet have grown 4 more inches while living in northern California's remote wilderness. Although one thing is certain, the 50-inch-long stride of the California footprint does not tally with the four-legged footprint made in southern Oregon. So, the tracks have nothing in common.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 13, 1958, page 4
"Tail-Holt" CrossingTo the Editor: One of the old historic landmarks which evidently has long since been almost forgotten was the site of the fording of the river about one-quarter mile above the present location of the new Rogue River bridge. According to all the stories we received from some of the early settlers at Woodville years ago, was that before the town was named Woodville, it was called "Tail-Holt" after a near tragedy of one person who held onto a horse's tail to prevent his being swept downstream by the swollen river in the attempt to cross over safely.
We were also informed of an old doctor who resided at Woodville, by the name of Samuel Morse. He had left a year or so before we arrived in 1912 at Woodville. He was nearly 100 years old then. It was the same old doctor who had lived in the Midwest, and was present when we were ushered into the world and first saw the light of day.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, November 24, 1958, page 4
520 Boardman St.
About Gold MineTo the Editor: Around 50 years ago two young miners living near Woodville, at low water mark in Rogue River, about one mile below the old steel bridge on the south side at a bend called "turtle bay," used a light raft to dive into 10 to 12 feet of water to fill a gold pan of gravel which yielded them $15 dollars in gold nuggets.
Near the same spot, a small wet weather gully about opposite the "North Pole" quartz mine furnished the younger prospectors ample gold dust to buy their dance tickets and treats over a period of years.
The supposition was that the source was from the western side of the "North Pole" mountain that breaks off abruptly, forming an almost perpendicular ledge of solid rock formation. That reason alone is the real answer why a more thorough investigation has never been made to trace up the steep incline. Now that more modern equipment is available, some mountain climber may find "a pocket" by sheer luck or plenty of perseverance and time.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, January 28, 1959, page 4
Man and BearTo the Editor: Many years ago there lived a miner and his wife at Woodville, Ore.
He was a veteran of the War between the States by the name of Walter Hale, a big
masculine specimen of the early gold seekers who with his companion traveled over the old pack trail that led to upper Grave Creek, some 24 miles northwest of Woodville.
On one of these hazardous trips he invariably walked while his wife rode one of the pack animals. He ground sluiced with a cotton fire hose for a number of years. Now one day he chanced to meet an ugly-mannered adult bear who refused to give an inch of the narrow trail to the couple. As Hale always carried a serviceable hunting knife for any emergency, he quickly "squared off" for a hand-to-paw combat that lasted fully an hour, but did not avoid getting scathed in the melee that left Mr. Hale shirtless, and with a deeply scratched chest, 'tis said he carried the rest of his long life.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 17, 1959, page 4
Gold Is Where You Find ItTo the Editor: It all happened here in Southern Oregon. Around the turn of the century the hand of fate played a role in the destiny of a number of quartz gold pocket hunters. The first sequence, a couple of prospectors about two miles west of Gold Hill, Ore., missed their deposit with a drift by only two inches. Seeking the advice of a Woodville miner, he pointed to the exact spot that turned failure into fortune. Around 1916 a Grants Pass miner and "pocket" hunter dreamed of finding a good gold quartz lead [that] he afterwards found named the "Golden Wedge of Ophir." In the year of 1921 an old prospector and an elderly retired railroad engineer asked a rancher near Rogue River a likely place to find gold. After meditating a moment the rancher pointed to a small ridge directly east, across the river. Within a few days the two old "fortune hunters" were "sitting pretty" by uncovering a lost trace to a handsome "pocket" that had been missed years before.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 30, 1959, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Mining RecollectionsTo the Editor: Having a romantic turn of mind and attentive ears around the turn of the century for the tales of adventure and gold discoveries as related by a few of the remaining old "fifty niners" who mined around Woodville, then a rather silent and peaceful community, the news of a new gold strike traveled in "a closed circuit" over the prospectors' "grapevine" line of communication.
One rather startling event after the first installation of electric power in the quiet village, a young local hombre rode up to one of two taverns and proceeded to shoot the electric lights out. One of the local amusements was hard rock hand drilling contests among the miners. One very seldom got hold of a currency greenback bill. They were a rare sight, except the gold certificates were available when anyone demanded a gold note instead of gold coins in exchange. Most of the mining was placer and numerous grass-root pockets, although quartz gold, hard rock mines were found that were producers for some years.
One account of "good pickin's" in particular was the leasing of a placer claim up Wards Creek where the former owner was suspected of having buried a cache of gold nuggets in an old tea kettle several years before in the same mining claim until his earthly departure. Anyhow the new lessee made a fair-sized stake to set himself up in a future business of his own, when he was rewarded with unusual good returns from a season's hydraulics. As the years slipped by most of the former mines either were exhausted or did not continue to produce on the same basis. That does not account for mismanaged operations, as new sources will always be located.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, May 19, 1959, page 5
520 Boardman St.
Great SnakeTo the Editor: The time, June 17, 1917, the place, township 36 south, range 4 west and section 28. The foreman at the Preacher Long ranch (formerly the old David Birdseye donation claim, and later the home of the famed prospector big Ed Schieffelin) had some upland oat hay cut down and asked me if I would shock the crop before the digger squirrels ate up the grain.
Consenting, I used a light pitchfork, the stubble ground was well dried out and hard as a flint rock, when as Eugene Field the poet would say, "I was seein' things." One of the biggest bull snakes ever, fully 14 to 16 feet long. It was a most shocking incident too, for this huge reptile meandered a long time before finding a hole big enough to get under cover. Afterward I was informed this serpent had been seen a mile away years before.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, June 14, 1959, page 4
Too StartledTo the Editor: In answer to Mr. F. J. Clifford's inquiry of [the] June 19 Tribune concerning whether I killed the big bull snake, I will say I was just too startled, as the big reptile was in making (his or her) getaway. I probably watched the meandering and skillful speedy pace of this giant serpent looking for shelter for as much as 20 to 30 minutes before it found a varmint hole big enough to crawl into.
As I mentioned in previous communication, after telling a friend then shortly afterwards of my thrilling experience, he told me that a big snake answering the same description had been seen in the Birdseye ranch pasture about one mile east some years before 1917. No, I had no anxiety to capture or kill the viper. As I was no authority on reptiles of any species, it could very well have been a boa constrictor, not a gargantuan king.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, June 22, 1959, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Black Bart's TreasureTo the Editor: Some 20 years ago there was an account in the "50 years ago" column of the Ashland Daily Tidings of a farm adjacent to Ashland that was dug on for a year or so by searchers who were looking for a buried cache of gold, without success. At that time there were no mineral detectors.
Apparently the hidden treasure was a part of the loot taken by "Black Bart," who
had held up around 28 stagecoaches loaded with Wells Fargo strong boxes on the
California "mother lode" country anywhere from Yreka to Jackson, from 1877 to 1883. It is recorded that "Black Bart" never shot a man in the six years of his stage holdups. Around that time Placerville was nicknamed "Hangtown" because of so many highgraders that were "strung up" there.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 15, 1959, page 4
Where's Stage?To the Editor: Just received by mail copies of the Jacksonville "Gold Rush Gazette" announcing the 1959 Gold Rush Jubilee Aug. 1 and 2.
We failed to see any mention of a "stagecoach special" for carrying passengers to and from Jacksonville during the Centennial celebration.
There are a number of erstwhile prospectors, miners and pocket hunters who now live around Medford that do not own a mule, horse or burro, like in their younger days when a walk of only 4 miles, as the old saying goes, was not crowded.
The only time I rode the Jacksonville traction steam rail line from Medford to
Jacksonville made me think of an ocean wave and riding the swells on a high set for 30 minutes. Now all is left is a memory and a plaque.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 26, 1959, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Author--Bert Kissinger, 520 Boardman St., Medford, is the author of a short mining story entitled "Ed Schieffelin's Last Strike," which will appear in the October issue of True West magazine, published at Austin, Tex.
"Locals," Medford Mail Tribune, August 14, 1959, page 11
To the Editor: This is still the age of miracles; in fact the wonderful period of the past 100 years has produced fantastic discoveries.
According to Ecclesiastes, Chap. 1, v. 9, there is no new thing under the sun. That reminds us some 60 years ago some prospector on Green's Creek in Josephine County found a green quartz boulder weighing nearly 100 lbs. Upon examination there was no more green quartz found. The specimen yielded considerable gold, being distributed all through the rock. The assumption then among the mineralogists was the single chunk of green quartz had been carried by a former glacier drift. However there are a number of instances of green quartz having been found in Jackson County, and when such carries gold, it is always of a high grade.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 30, 1959, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Prospector's LuckTo the Editor: One of the chief handicaps to prospecting the hills and mountaintops of southwest Oregon in the summer and early fall is the lack of water for panning purposes, unlike the desert prospectors, who depend upon tracing by the float method.
Another unique way of testing samples is to observe the "core drillings" of the badger and digger squirrel holes. Which reminds us of two brothers who were "pocket hunting" and in a time of excitement of having receiving a large amount of gold coin for their gold dust decided to bury part of the coins, when imbibing too freely in John Barleycorn. According to the fates that play tricks sometimes to the unwary at various times, the two old prospectors never failed to remember that only a part had been recovered. After a lapse of 20 years the two were quite surprised when a digger squirrel had unearthed a gold coin, revealing the location of the remaining cache of several hundred dollars in $20 gold pieces only a few feet from their cabin. Just one time a prospector's luck.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 5, 1959, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Where They Come FromTo the Editor: A present century miner-prospector asked me where I get all the mining stories I write.
That question is an easy one, for looking back almost half a century there was no carbon dioxide or smog to distract attention from a serene life of simple living. Instead of radio and talkie pictures, we had the phonograph and silent movies. Out in the hills where the old miners and prospectors could relax after a strenuous day's work, they delighted to sit by a fireplace at evening time and tell their favorite mining experiences. Consequently having lived among prospectors for a decade, we soon learned to record all the mining stories we heard from memory.
In those stirring days most of the mining element wore high-top leather boots, and one of their favorite axioms was, if a miner wore two straps and buckle at the top of his boots, he was good for 200 feet underground. The story setting is the Gold Hill mining district.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 8, 1959, page 4
520 Boardman St.
PricesTo the Editor: In the summer of 1920 in Grants Pass, I purchased a 1918 vintage car. After a few months ownership I chanced to find under the front seat cushion a complimentary paperback account book sent out by the Hamilton Carhartt, manufacturer of Detroit, Mich. There was no personal name in the ledger, but on page 13 there was this entry of Nov. 1916: "Flour, 4 bags, $9.75; one box apples, $1.20; one can oil, $1.50; 50 feet rope, $1.05; 500 pounds wheat, $10; paid for box at box social, $5.75. Stayed overnight in town Oct. 21, 1916, $1.65."
The box social date was Oct. 21, 1916. Except for a few miscellany items without the unit cost there was no further entry. At top of [the] page was: Cash on hand, Oct. 20, 1916, sum of $18.
This account was perhaps made by some single person, probably a miner; anyhow it is only a wild guess, although it does give us a clue to prices paid in 1916, 43 years ago.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 28, 1959, page 4
Foots Creek GoldTo the Editor: This is a romance of an adventuresome youth in the gay nineties, when more people were dependent on gold mining in the Foots Creek mining district than today.
This incident occurred around 65 years ago to a family having several young boys, some three miles up the left-hand fork of the creek. It so happened one day the mother, needing a spool of thread, gave one of the brothers some small change to go down to the flatlands store at the county road. This young man, being susceptible to the lure of gold, on the way along a dim shortcut trail, soon spied the glitter of gold colors in decomposed quartz.
Upon digging the soft outcropping with a stick, he soon had enough gold-bearing ore to fill his pockets. In the meantime, in his excitement, the errand was forgotten.
With his pockets bulging with precious rock, he turned back for home, and before he was questioned he fairly yelled out, "Hey, Ma, I've found more money than you gave me to start with!"
After being forgiven for his truancy, the other family members returned with the proud hero to the scene. Sure enough, there was the gold-laden quartz. The depth of the pay chute proved to be only around 12 feet. Old-time miners estimated the shallow pocket produced the owners $10,000 in gold.
According to substantial information, there was another nearby gold lead found, worked a while, then abandoned and covered up when the old miner went to work on a World War I project, and then never returned to his mine again.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 13, 1959, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Bear HunterTo the Editor: A lost mine short story in [the] January-February issue of True West magazine, by Tom Baily, formerly of Grants Pass, telling about the Lost Badger mine in a natural cave in the hillside of Josephine County, reminds me of an old bear hunter who lived at Woodville some 45 years ago.
This bear hunter was not a giant in stature; in fact, he was rather of a wiry, medium build, although he had plenty of stamina and a nerve of steel. He would always reiterate that when he entered a darkened cave in pursuit of a bruin he would first light a miner's candle before proceeding to chase the bear outside, as most animals have a fear of fire.
This old "mountain man" left the Rogue Valley after a shortage of bears and moved over on the coast, where he spent his remaining years following his much exciting and remunerative pursuit.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 30, 1959, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Old TrailsTo the Editor: One early day incident of the three-dimensional Siskiyou Range leads to another historical fact that is etched in stone.
A long-time resident of Oregon recently related to me that while on a hunting
expedition years ago in the vicinity of the Blue Ledge copper mine, he found imprints of the old 1852 miners' pack trail leading from Redding, Calif., over the Siskiyou Range to Jacksonville. Our friend added that parts of the remaining trail had evidently been chiseled out of solid rock and probably would be imprinted there as long as the mountains remain intact.
Another lesser-mentioned trail led from Savage Creek over the ridges of the Rogue River mountains to Jacksonville, the nearest trading post then to the settlers who lived along the river on donation land claims. Some of the settlers rode horseback and some walked over.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 9, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Tall TaleTo the Editor: The following fantasy was one of the stories told by nimrods when the old muzzle-loader scattergun was giving way to the newer breech loader gun.
In that era I was only about knee high to a Kansas grasshopper, but the vivid picture was a memory never to be forgotten. The tale went something like this:
A hunter shot all the feathers out of a duck on the wing, but the scared duck kept flying on, the old gun kicked the hunter backwards near a small river, killing a half dozen jackrabbits in his rear before the hunter fell in the water, splashing out a dozen catfish, which he picked up on the opposite bank of the stream.
We do not recall any prevaricators club in those days, but tall tales were rampant just the same. One version was that one swashbuckler said he could sidestep a bullet fired from the old Springfield black powder rifle at a distance of one-fourth mile away when he saw the smoke emerge from the muzzle end of the barrel.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, April 25, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Gold AwaitsTo the Editor: Some 48 years ago a young man then living in the town of Gold Hill went on a hunting trip on the upper reaches of the left fork of Foots Creek and chanced to pick up a small specimen of white quartz laden with gold. The total weight in gold was around $15. Not being an experienced prospector, he had no knowledge of tracing out a find on the surface.
Those days it was a good day's ride on horseback or on foot to go that far away and try to locate something. He really did not take a close observation of where the quartz was located when he found it lying on the ground. As no landmarks were made at the time, it would be rather difficult to imagine the exact spot, as the territory was all strange.
Perhaps that hidden treasure still lies there yet awaiting some lucky one to make a new discovery after all these years. Seems lady luck only smiles on a chosen few. It reminds us of the scripture, "Many are called, but few are chosen."
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, May 17, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Sound in the NightTo the Editor: Back in the palmy days of 1924 when Gold Hill boasted of having a brass band and "ate high on the hog," there was also a smelter boom among the townsmen and a rather spirited element of the last remaining old hard rock miners.
Gold claims were staked all around the surrounding hills for miles and then some. A chemist at Gold Hill, along with a friend and myself, knowing of an abandoned mine of years ago, set out to do the assessment work, which necessitated the three of us to work at a late hour of night. The chemist friend had a big collie dog that always tagged along.
One night on the mile-long trail, there were heavy foot sounds tramping directly across about 50 yards in a dark canyon, headed the same way we were walking down a steep grade. Whatever the heavy beast was, it caused the hair on the collie to stand straight out and almost to walk between our legs until we reached the end of the trail. At that moment everything was silent. We never did hear any more night prowling after that, but it was a rather eerie feeling to experience and not having any means for protection.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, June 12, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
CougarsTo the Editor: There was a gold miner of French descent that did considerable tunnel work on old Fielder Mountain during 1913. The old hard rock miner was "stone deaf," and his companion was a rather small part-bloodhound watchdog that quite often chased a cougar up a tree along the trail on their hike home every weekend.
The old-timer never carried "a shooting iron" so far as ever was known. Why not? It probably never occurred to him as a safety measure.
A cougar bounty in those days amounted to something less than is paid by the state at present, also each county paid a share of the bounty. We chanced to see a cougar's hideaway den in a cliff of rocks overlooking the Big Applegate River around that same year. The old mountain men told me at that time that all the cougars have a certain place where they used the same crossing of the river. In all of my jaunts in the Rogue River mountains for 15 years, I only heard the scream of a cougar once, and seemed like all the coyotes for miles around followed suit in howling that cold, foggy day. We shall never forget the chorus.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 19, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
The Rogue MysteryTo the Editor: A true mystery story of the early Fifties occurred just above the entrance of the Rogue on the Pacific Coast in the early days, when a tramp-trading light craft with several boxes of native gold dust and nuggets on board met real doom before she put out to sea again on her way, presumably, to sell the precious metal at Portland.
Seems the deckhands had connived beforehand with some friendly Indians to drop the boxes of loot overboard into a shallow creek above the mouth of the Rogue at night. As the skipper of the craft was given warning to keep silent and to make haste out of port as fast as possible, there is no record of the boat returning.
The mystery always has been how long the Indians guarded the secret and did the boxes sink deeper into the creek channel over the intervening years?
Anyhow, one white man married to a descendant of the lower Rogue River Indians had always maintained that the Indians who had taken part in the riot were superstitious and that perhaps there lies buried the forgotten loot to this day and may never be retrieved.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 29, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
An EncounterTo the Editor: Some few years ago we were in Jacksonville, wearing a scotch-plaid shirt, suspenders and a knapsack with a gold pan, and met up with a young energetic news reporter who asked us if we were a long-time prospector. We answered in the affirmative, and he began to talk by asking ponderous questions about how many figures in four ciphers of gold we could account for finding.
Not wanting to be plagued with a conscience of being a cheerful liar, we perhaps ruined an illusive gold story that could have been a yard wide and all gold studded right out of the mother lode district.
Well, as we began to tell him in a modest way that we only managed to eke out a living--and no more--our candid reporter friend brought the versatile dialogue to a rather sudden ending and a muffled close.
We never did hear or read of our short interview of venture or adventure, and added up the facts that it takes to turn out the elements of a sensational story plus evidence and realism, too.
Truth is stranger than fiction.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 11, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Gold TalesTo the Editor: Perseverance was rewarded by finding excerpts and numerous personal records of the successful early day miner and prospector in Southern Oregon, dating around 60 to 70 years ago. His way of living was not always a customary, easy one.
Sometimes before striking "pay dirt" his food supply would almost become nil. One old-timer we knew personally said he and his brother had cooked the last pot of beans only minutes before they uncovered a $10,000 pocket near the Applegate River divide. Another old placer miner subsisted on grey squirrels before he could make the first riffle "cleanup."
One pocket hunter told me all he had for a week was canned tomatoes to eat before he made a strike in five figures. That was in comparatively recent years.
Here is a true one about a Josephine County prospector. After making a fabulous gold pocket strike, he breezed into Grants Pass, to a high-toned restaurant, and ordered a dozen chicken gizzards fried in the best style of a connoisseur, 70 years ago.
An old recluse miner in Fiddlers Gulch, or Joe Gulch, collected live rattlesnakes and kept them in a box under his bunk in a cabin near Woodville, Ore., one time.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 24, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
With His Boots OnTo the Editor: Ever hear of John Day Valley? Well, it is a short, secluded valley lying on the eastern slope of the Siskiyou Range of mountains where the mountains make a left-angle turn south in western Siskiyou County, California.
As the story goes, as told to me almost half a century ago by an old-time miner of Southern Oregon, John Day, a mountain hermit and alleged horse thief, was a notorious character and had full control of a one- or two-mile-long valley named after him (later). His surroundings were so secluded and protected by natural boundaries that all officials of the frontier law enforcement agencies were at a disadvantage to approach the much sought-after mountain man villain who evaded the outside world as much as possible.
After a rendezvous in Yreka, Calif., by night rides under disguise, he ventured to be bolder one day, through misjudgment, and on that fatal day he was recognized by the law officers and a shooting affray took place on one of the principal streets, and John Day was overwhelmed by a posse and died as he had lived, with his boots on.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 3, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Lost CavernTo the Editor: One of the strangest stories ever told to me by a well-known prospector and miner of Jackson and Josephine counties some 40 years ago, was about one of his many exploits in the early nineties.
On one hazardous trip, with pack on his back, he hiked into the then-wild Trinity Alps of California. His whereabouts, if he told me at that time, I do not recall. But he did some exploring, he explained, on a well-beaten wild animal trail he was following in virgin rough terrain. He suddenly came to the entrance of a cavern that was black as pitch. He entered a ways with a lighted candle, and he heard a roaring stream of water running and could see there were fish in the subterranean river.
My prospector-miner friend did not talk about the episode in later years. We often had been together and tramped the hills, but the incident was never brought up again. I often wonder if the secret cavern was ever discovered again since then.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 5, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
In Hill AreaTo the Editor: As we read the story in Sunday's Tribune on page 2B about a file of old news clippings found in a pack rat's nest near Gold Hill recently by one Dwayne Blake, the incident recalls to my mind that a Mr. Mansfield, a gold miner, was working in the Blackwell Hill area in 1920-21, and 1922.
Mr. Mansfield and a partner occasionally boarded at the Gold Hill hotel. It was my impression then that Mr. Mansfield lived in a cabin in the vicinity of the old Millionaire mine. At that time I recall having seen Mr. Mansfield's name printed on a U.S. mailbox near a gate on a side road over the hill going south on the old Highway 99.
The same road and gate at present leads to the Hidden Valley ranch residence now owned by LaRue and Earl Morris.
I understand the ranch now contains some seven or eight hundred acres of land. In the past few years LaRue Morris has reconstructed the Oregon Gold Gulch frontier mining town located near Highway 99 now.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, November 29, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Rock FormationsTo the Editor: The mythical state of "Jefferson" comprising the northern counties of our neighboring state California and Southern Oregon has the unique distinction of having some unusual rock formations.
One of the outstanding sentinels serving as a landmark to the early emigrants was Pilot Rock, designating both the Cascades and Siskiyou mountain ranges. Some two decades ago when the new Highway 99 cuts were made over the present site near the California state border some symmetrical round hard rocks were embedded in the right of way and later were photographed and pictured in Fate magazine of Evanston, Ill., a magazine of true and strange stories.
Then there is the history of the Siskiyou Rain Rock found on the Klamath River road in 1947 by a county road crew working near Klamath near mouth of Beaver Creek. The huge rock is reported to be of soapstone, and the several Indian tribes knew of its magical powers, as the rock had been buried several generations ago to prevent future flooding of the Klamath River.
These are only a few odd bits of natural history. If all the weird and obscure rock formations of Northern California and Southern Oregon were classified, inspected and commented upon, the contents in historical importance and value would fill a brochure of no small edition.
Perhaps some of the local Southern Oregon present sites historians will in some near future be interested to undertake such a fascinating subject to compile the accumulated matter in book form. There is a vast amount of material and geologic material to be investigated right in the midst of this area's Siskiyou Wonderland.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 2, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
UFOs and TreasureTo the Editor: It was no spectacular moment in the day's special events when we heard a radio commentator announce recently that there was no authentic foundation for belief in the existence of U.F.O.'s, as 15,000 reports have been investigated and substantiated as no evidence of spacemen.
Now that did not come as a surprise at all. The whole theory has been a rather complex something in the realm of the fourth dimension, that is, providing such a law exists in the cosmos?
It reminds me of a mystic I once encountered out in the mountains around 45 years ago. He wore long black hair and possessed a dowsing rod which he claimed was an infallible guide to locating precious minerals along with gold. With all propriety I asked the wizard why he did not carry along any tools to dig out his treasure when he detected the exact location? He looked at me with great consternation a minute or two, with a twinkle in his eyes, and replied with a rather low pathetic voice, "I let the other person do the digging."
Evidently he figured he got paid for the information. He disappeared just as canny as he first appeared on the scene.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 5, 1960, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Gold Rush TalesTo the Editor. The time was early in 1920 when I first met one of the few remaining old 1859 prospectors and miners still hale and hearty, who recalled to me some of the thrilling stories of the most colorful characters in the old mining town of Jacksonville, Oregon.
One of the fabulous stories told about two young happy-go-luckies who ventured into the business of a men's wearing apparel store. They would tear a five-dollar note in two, hold [it] over a gas flame and light their much-enjoyed brand of cigars. On other occasions the partner, on selling [a] customer a single shirt, would invariably "throw in" all the other shirts remaining in the box.
The moral of the episode is their business venture, fast and furious while it lasted, soon ended on a decline of personal profit.
One of the few other business transactions negotiated by a newly made rich miner was to buy out a saloon, treat all his friends in a royal manner, then afterward give back the remaining building and stock to its former owner. Most of the transactions were paid either in nuggets or raw gold dust over the counter.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 7, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Bustling Little CityTo the Editor: After reading [of] the 50th [anniversary of the] founding of the Rogue River Civic Improvement Club, it reminds me of the bustling little city it was in the year of 1912, when Fritz Hammersley was editor and owner of the lively weekly newspaper Rogue River Argus.
Dr. E. A. Woods was proprietor of a drug store. A Mr. Seaman operated a grocery store. Mr. Charley Hatch operated a blacksmith shop and sharpened mining drills and picks. The first brick buildings were constructed and dedicated in 1912-13.
A five-stamp gold quartz mill on a 5-acre site just across the old steel bridge on [the] south hillside was operated by a miner friend, Phil H. Robinson, who also was discoverer of a nearby gold mine named North Pole. I often read library books then located in the old city hall south of the Waldorf Hotel.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 12, 1961, page 5
520 Boardman St.
Call of the WildTo the Editor: Since our last missive written to the M.T. communications, concerning "a mountain lion screamed," I was given more information by two long-time residents of Southern Oregon, including the Coos Bay area. The couple, Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Ellison, both heard the sound of "the call of the wild" when each was young, one living in the Butte Falls area and Coos Bay country during the early Nineties.
Another instance of bands of coyotes attacking bounty hunters on horseback some 50 years ago in the Butte Falls district has also been told me. My informer related that a pioneer woman, once a resident of Jacksonville, hunted down and shot ravaging coyotes for the bounty on scalps, paid by [the] Jackson County court. The woman was a crack marksman with two six-shooters from a trained saddle horse.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, April 3, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Mountain Lion TaleTo the Editor: One of the most awesome and pathetic tales ever told to me was about a lurking mountain lion stalking a young three-C man on a forest road over the Siskiyou summit on a moonlit night.
Around 1934 and '35 a CCC camp was established on one branch of Cottonwood Creek. On weekends trucks were used to carry some of the boys to valley towns when each one's turn came. It so happened this young man missed his transportation back to camp one weekend. He then determined to ride a bus to the top of the Siskiyou summit and walk the rest of the long winding road. After hiking some long distance he heard sounds of footsteps back of him. He turned to look; sure enough there was a big cat following him. When he ran, the cat ran too. Getting somewhat out of breath, he would stop for a short rest, and the big cat would stop until the young man would start out hiking again. He continued the trip, walking until dawn began to break. That was when his wild unwelcome trail molester turned off the well-beaten paths to roam the mountain haunts.
The mountain lion is a nocturnal prowler and has a habit of curiosity.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, April 6, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Golden DrumTo the Editor: One of those unusual incidents I remember happened around 45 years ago when a well-seasoned gold pocket prospector, a few years before that, had staked a 20-acre mining claim.
It was his habit to walk by my mountain cabin and ask if I wanted to go along, and in case we found any pocket, we would share the discovery between us.
We spent about a week, only finding a trace of gold now and then, due to the terrain and earth slides of a former geologic period. Well, my spirit had rather ebbed at not finding any encouragement, and our panning water was getting rather short, too. But my friend still had hopes, as one always must, and he was of a most optimistic nature. Well, the next morning he was earlier than usual, although he had not told me of a dream he had the previous night.
Being in a rather happy mood, probably he thought that if he told me about how he had visualized uncovering a gold quartz deposit I would only think of it as a silly omen of his. I told him how I would have to forget all about going along again and get back to earning by doing some other job the hard way, with an axe and crosscut saw.
To my amazement around 3 p.m. he came down the trail in long strides with a 10-pound ore sack full of grey slate-colored quartz literally filled with bright gold. He had found the hidden vein in the exact spot he had dreamed it, and named the new discovery the "Golden Dream," number 2.
The total value did not exceed more than a few hundred dollars, but I have good reason to believe the main deposit is still eluding the former searcher.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, April 26, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Wild DogsTo the Editor: Before the curtain rings down on the cougar tales and experiences by the present numerous pioneers of Southern Oregon of the last half century, I am certainly amazed and most happy to talk to so many people for having told me their own true accounts, although some wish to remain anonymous at their own behest.
Now, for a few words on wild half-breed English shepherd dogs mixed with coyotes, that once were outrageous denizens of the forests adjacent to the Butte Falls area some 50 to so years ago. According to reliable information given to this writer the "wild dogs," as commonly called, would attack a human being on least provocation.
At one time there were a few "wild dogs" that roamed the Indian forest land on the Klamath County reservation around as late as 1929 and '30. But probably all are now extinct.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, May 1, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
There's Still GoldTo the Editor: There is a vast mountain area of Jackson and Josephine counties, as well as the rest of southwestern Oregon. still accessible to gold discoveries and successful "pocket hunters," to our way of thinking.
We base our opinion on one incident that happened around 37 years ago when an old friend of the writer was on a deer hunting trip about half way up Battle Mountain. Being a prospector too, he would naturally keep a lookout for quartz. As he did, the first piece he found was a white variety of quartz containing about one-eighth part gold.
Not having any pan, tools or water available, he just forgot about the affair. That is "just one of those things" that happen. I do not think my friend ever did go back to do any real tracing for the rich float, a good locality to try out [an] electronic gold detector.
A few years later an automobile mechanic on a deer hunt on the same mountain chanced to find a small piece of gold-speckled quartz, but not being familiar with prospecting never pursued the quest from there on.
One of the strange stories of Battle Mountain that really happened during the last Indian battles was an aluminum casket that had been packed there by the U.S. troops, but never used, for one reason or another, and for many years after prospectors and hunters would tell of having seen the empty coffin hanging on a small group of trees. In later years the object was never seen any more. Whatever became of it is only legend.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 20, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Chinese TreasureTo the Editor: One of the most fascinating gold cache stories in the early days among the Chinese miners some miles west of early Jacksonville came to our attention, handed down from a line whose ancestors recalled the incident. One Chinese among the group of Orientals was especially more favored in finding gold. Being rather suspicious of his countrymen, who were jealous of his sudden riches, he started out from his tent carrying the pailful of nuggets to a new hiding place. Right on his heels a gang of Chinese coolies were in hot pursuit of the valued treasure. Not having much time to dispose of the loot he quickly set the pail alongside of a windfallen log and covered it the best he could with moss, leaves and sticks.
According to the story the Chinese was later overtaken and disposed of, never to return to claim his fortune. The gang never retrieved the hidden pail, as their stay in the mining district was of short duration after the assault on the captured, once-wealthy Chinaman.
A rumor in the depression days of 1933 or thereabouts concerned some hunters in the vicinity of the Chinese episode and some gold nuggets that were found lying on the surface. But if there is any connection to this last loot of 100 years ago is conjecture. There is always a possibility, though, [that] the stories coincide and someone will find the lost treasure.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 26, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Gold Along TrailTo the Editor: One of the old Alaska sourdough miners who took up hard-rock mining in Siskiyou County in the late nineteen twenties for a period of seven or more years, whom we became acquainted with, related some of his successes in operating and recovering quartz gold as well as experiencing the loss of values to hijackers that high-graded from the quartz mill plates while the mill was temporarily closed during the noon hour to cook lunch.
Well, he took the precaution from that "cue on" to eat his future snacks on the works. One of his favorite comments was telling about how he walked the trail down to the store and post office to get provisions and call for his mail. Hiking back up the mountain trail with a pack sack on his back gave him but a brief time to do any other prospecting in the vast mineralized area. He often used the same and familiar landmarks along the much-trodden trail for rest stops.
One of these moss-covered hard-rock seats was just barely off his claim lines. As he told me many times, he really never knew he used the green upholstered outcrop to sit on for the last home stretch. Well, something not unusual for a seasoned pocket hunter happened that changed the whole story. An alert prospector took his hand pick, knocked off a chunk of a corner and to his amazement and delight the mossy rock proved to be a high-grade iron oxide quartz showing up to be around one-quarter pure gold. In fact the rich hematite ore proved to run in the sum of five figures in free gold to the ton.
This old sourdough also was an erstwhile vigilante in the early Yukon gold mining territory, when "Soapy" Smith and his gang terrorized the northland in the fabulous nineties.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 16, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Shan Creek GoldTo the Editor: One of the most baffling, enchanting phantoms of searching to rediscover a gold-bearing ledge somewhere 15 miles west of Grants Pass has unsuccessfully been carried on since the depression days of 1931.
This gold bearing ledge is supposed to be in a white talc formation, as the former discoverer remembered the ordeal.
Starting out from Grants Pass, during the fall deer season, he parked his car near the road on Shan Creek. He had formerly planned to be gone only one night and to camp out while deer hunting. Seems as though the distance he had walked toward Baldy or Onion Mountain was underestimated the next day, so starting back on the hogback trail toward his parked car, darkness overtook him.
Thinking he could make better headway by following the creek down, he took off on one of a "thousand" small ridges in the brightness of a moonlit sky that reflected images. Coming to where the small ridge suddenly broke off towards the creek bed in a steep incline, he used his free hand to grasp onto some object while descending the terrain, his empty hand fell onto a very heavy piece of rock, [which] he slipped into his jacket pocket.
Still groping his way through the darkness, he never reached the end of the trek until late the following day.
On arriving home he eventually showed the specimen to a local assayer who pronounced the float an iron oxide, that it contained around $10 in native gold. The finder of the "rock" not having made any landmarks to guide his former route out of the wild area, just simply could never retrace his steps again.
Somewhere on a broken ridge is an exposed ledge that awaits to be rediscovered again.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 20, 1961, page 5
520 Boardman St.
Offers InformationTo the Editor: Some 60 years ago in the Kanes Creek mining district, two homesteaders had previously taken up land adjoining each other; one of the locators, having some prospecting experience, did some pocket tracing that proved to be a good gold trace adjacent to his neighbor's "line fence."
Being rather optimistic he informed his neighbor for permission to dig further on, but the other man objected as not seeing eye to eye on equal terms, so rather than to have any further discussion over the rights of each other the digging ceased and the trace was forgotten about.
Some 20 years later I was told the original story by a friend in Grants Pass. Passing the story along about 35 years ago to two old pocket hunters, I put a "gold bug" in their ear, just a slip of information to the wise, as they had proceeded shortly afterward to do some investigating from past facts.
I was informed by one of the brothers later that the pocket had netted them well over 18 hundred dollars for their efforts. Well, that gave me a tip not to give out long-lost secrets, especially in full detail at least, before I do some personal investigation first.
There is one more line fence prospect that never to my knowledge has been run down yet, within a stone's throw of a county road, and the chances are that if I contact the landowners, would not likely get the permission to do any tracing on either side of the property line fence.
In some mineralized states the mining law gives the discoverer the privilege to mine and a one-half portion of all the mineral values that are found on the land. That is the way the law should be for all concerned, where the mineral proves to be of paying commercial value.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 25, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
A Stranger's StoryTo the Editor: According to available information provided to a long-time resident of Gold Hill some years ago, a stranger, then an elderly man of perhaps 70 years of age, told of prospecting and mining in the area when he was a young man during the "nineties" when the times were booming.
This stranger related his story likewise: On a ridge facing the east not more than a mile northeast of the town he chanced to find an outcropping of very hard quartz near a steep canyon not far from the top of the mountain ridge. He broke off some small chunks of the quartz, took it along to camp and proceeded to mortar out a nice string of color.
The only reason he gave for not being interested in the milling ore at that time was, like a lot of other "get rich quick" gold prospectors often did in those exciting days of glamor, that the ore was not of sufficient value in gold showing to develop farther to prove the merits of working the ledge.
As a matter of fact, as far as we have any past history, the vein has never been searched for since the "strangers" had stopped overnight in Gold Hill from his home somewhere in California on a trip to the state of Washington in the depression days of the early thirties.
In later years brush covered most of the sides of the canyons, and the hillsides are quite steep and hard going. At that time, 1890, a custom quartz stamp mill was operating on the south bank of the river almost opposite the supposed site of the discovery. It takes lots of stamina to search for riches, especially something that is only legendary.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 30, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Old ProspectorTo the Editor: One of the least-known legendary figures, a recluse, prospector miner of Russian descent, is said to have secretly worked a gold mine on a mountain ridge adjacent to the city of Ashland and about half way to the present Lamb Mine.
This operation took place over a period of several years during the early nineties. In those days no one gave very much attention to goings or comings of the mining element, as most of them were of a migratory class, looking for sudden riches, and the returns for their work would naturally be well compensated for.
The theory was held this old hermit had worked out a lode or pocket, as he always seemed to have plenty of cash on hand. When the day of departure arrived, he just suddenly disappeared as he had arrived on the scene. The old workings are still visible.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 4, 1961, page 5
520 Boardman St.
Siskiyou County GoldTo the Editor: One of the most promising and prolific virgin mineralized areas, in our estimation, is the interior and western parts of Siskiyou County, California.
One summer day not too many years ago, traveling with a friend over a loop mountain forest road at leisure, we stopped to take samples of some half a dozen exposed "stringers" along a radius of about a 4-mile circle. Panning our samples when we returned to camp that evening showed that three samples turned out to carry traces of free gold. Not a bad showing.
Nowadays, with a jeep and a barrel of water, the modern-day prospector can do tracing of miles each day that took the oldtimer pack-horse or burro method months or years. The most profitable industry of Siskiyou County has always been dug out of the towering hills. We predict the future will still hold true.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 19, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Gold VeinTo the Editor: One of the least-known areas where gold float has accidentally been found in Jackson County is along the banks of Neil Creek, southeast of Ashland.
Some 40 years ago a resident of Ashland, along with a deer hunting companion, chanced to pick up a small specimen that weighed out about $10 then, at the old price for gold. As neither of the parties was an experienced prospector, nothing was ever done about the incident.
Although the general geologic formation is a granite and sandstone structure, that alone does not rule out the fact the district is barren of minerals. On the other hand some of the region is almost inaccessible on account of brush and undergrowth at higher elevations.
It is quite apparent a gold-bearing vein crosscuts the mountains somewhere below the surface.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 19, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Gold TalesTo the Editor: This writer to [editorial] communications was asked by a Gold Hill area resident if all our gold tales were really true, or if we "made them up"?
Our answer is, true--yes, all the stories over a period of 49 years have either been verified by reliable sources or told to us personally by the older fraternity of the fast-vanishing mining element of the almost forgotten past.
Most of the earlier discoveries of gold were of a "pockety" nature, therefore mostly found near the surface formations, because of easy access to prospecting. As the years went by, all easy-to-locate gold sources became harder and scarcer to find, quite naturally. Although other industries have developed that assured the next generation a better and more certain compensation for their skills and efforts, the mining industry began to lag and has been almost dormant since World War I, some 44 years ago.
Seems there are always a few of each later generation who will always be fascinated by the lure of gold, as a hobby or avocation. This cause alone will have a tendency to have a calling to search out some of the vast remaining mineralized areas that have escaped the former prospectors' and adventurers' attention. In all probability there is almost as much rare metal undiscovered deep in the hills today as has been recovered.
Some of the old so-called "worked-out" mines of Oregon, Nevada and California have once again proven to yield pay dirt. Not all, but many of the past discoveries of interest have been by sheer accident. The attention at present should be given more to the rare-earth minerals, which look more promising in this age of science. We recently read there are now 102 elements.
Bert KissingerP.S. We first began to write gold tales for the former Gold Hill newspaper (a weekly publication) around the winter of 1916. B.K.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 25, 1961, page 4
Bear PopulationTo the Editor: The bear invasion possibly can be explained away thus.
Of late years the bear population has undoubtedly been increasing. Southern Oregon seems to have been gradually been getting dryer each season, especially in the higher mountain elevations that furnish much of "the mass" for both deer and bear as well. In the past 18 or 19 years logging operations in the heavily wooded areas have been gradually deforesting the happy ranging grounds of all wildlife and consequently all the game animals have become accustomed to migrate closer to civilization, in taking the line of least resistance so to speak, learning by instinct like all wild creatures to forage for food in the most likely places, even at the risk of their lives.
Too many bears are being exterminated. I would protect them before all become extinct.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 8, 1961, page 5
520 Boardman St.
Lost StrikeTo the Editor: Some 30 years ago, so the story goes, some young boys and brothers living in the northwest suburbs of Ashland, having the inclination for rambling over the nearby foothills adjacent to their home one summer day, were soon in unfamiliar territory.
As they recalled afterwards, returning home from their successful adventure, in crawling through a jungle of manzanita thickets described as being on a mountain ridge, their eyes beheld on the bare ground some gold float specimens sparkling in the sun's rays through the bushes.
Picking up the gold-quartz-filled pieces and placing them in their pockets, they probably were too thrilled to mark the treasured spot. Anyway all their attempts afterwards to locate the lost trail have failed their search. Probably within a mile or two lies the dormant strike.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, November 13, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Miner's DogTo the Editor: 'Tis said a faithful dog is a man's best friend, and the fact has been demonstrated to us many times in the past. For instance, one of our old mining cronies who lived in Woodville was possessor of a highly intelligent canine, whose ancestry was one-half shepherd and the other half bloodhound, and was really a misplaced dog by nature, so long as he was a pent-up doghouse varmint.
The dog, whose name was Bobie, seemed to sense the understanding of spoken words by his master and showed it by well-trained discipline habits. Not having a dog at the homestead two miles up in the mountains, the owner of Bobie would ''farm him out" to me anytime for a watch dog, or to be a companion at the cabin, where he made himself master of all he surveyed.
On one occasion while I was away on a work assignment, the miner friend stayed at my cabin while he worked a hard-rock gold mine claim he had filed on. That is where the dog really served his master well, for one night he kept up a steady vigil that awakened the miner. Sure enough the next morning human prints of shoes wrapped in burlap sacks were visible in the soft damp ground all around the sloping hillsides. The intruder was supposed to be a well-known ex-convict who had just escaped from the Oregon state prison at Salem.
The miner always kept firearms available just in case of emergency, but being all alone without a good watch dog for a sentry, how easy one could have been fouled. Like the story of the fray that was lost for the want of a horseshoe nail. Smart dogs are expendable. As Harry Oliver says, you have to know more than the dog to train one.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, November 19, 1961, page 5
520 Boardman St.
Wild LifeTo the Editor: Among the many species of wildlife, birds and small rodents of the forest we called our pets on the homestead two score and five years ago, were a pair of grey squirrels that got quite friendly in a fir tree every morning.
It was a habit to toss the scraps of the morning meal left over to the birds. But before too long we were visited by two steady "garbage collectors" who posed for us as they sat on a nearby limb of the fir tree, chatting away in their own language as they ate their morning snack. They were as regular as a sundial.
After some months an unusual large tomcat appeared one day to take up abode with us. Then we had another pet to feed. I must have kind of slighted my regular daily pals, for as soon as I had fed the cat, I surely got a terrible "scolding" from my tree squirrels perched on their familiar limb near the kitchen door. They steadily appeared minutes earlier every morning with their warning chatter until I greeted them with a handout before any of the other living creatures were fed.
As we cleared away the second-growth trees nearby and left the slashings on the ground to dry out, one day we spotted a mountain quail setting on a nest of eggs. Before too long the quail hatched out quite a large covey of little ones. That also added to our grain bill until they were large enough to be on their own resources.
On one Thanksgiving Day we feasted on roast raccoon, and some years later we had snowshoe rabbit, the fall of 1919. It was the only snowshoe rabbit we had ever seen in the Rogue mountains. In the winter of 1916 in December the weather was cold enough to freeze small fir trees we were using for mining timbers.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, November 27, 1961, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Seek and FindTo the Editor: In the late winter months of 1915 and early January of 1916, the Rogue Valley snows lay deep in the surrounding hills. Three prospectors, a father and son residing in Gold Hill, and a neighbor near [the] Foots Creek store, began to have the "gold pocket hunting fever" rather early in February when the warm early spring sunshine began melting the foot trails and animal paths first. The three men set out one bright day to seek colors. Their efforts were rewarded when one of them took notice of float quartz right on the very trail they had walked over for years. They soon started to sink a shaft on the pocket outcropping, which was good enough to make their seeking worthwhile. Two of the trio were some of the last few remaining old-time prospectors of 45 years ago. Both are living in the Grants Pass area presently.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, January 7, 1962, page 5
520 Boardman St.
Fantastic RescueTo the Editor One of the most fantastic rescues from the Rogue River ever brought to this writer's attention just a few years prior to World War I was on one summer day when six Gold Hill high school girls, all in their teens, went in the Rogue just below the old bridge, now old Highway 99, the old swimming pool then used frequently.
After venturing out in deep water it seems as though all the group became helpless to return to shore again. All screaming for help for survival, their voices were heard by a lonely fisherman near the scene.
The young courageous life saver, Billy Knotts. lost no time in dragging each to a safe landing. It was one of the most heroic episodes of the century. I do not believe the young hero was ever listed as a well-deserved personage at the time for a celebrated Carnegie medal.
One other exploit in the youthful life of Billy Knotts was a few years later when in training in a World War I flying attachment in a camp somewhere in Texas, when one day he got his most dangerous thrill in parachute jumping from a plane in flight.
On that occasion when he made his high leap his chute failed to open up until about 300 feet above the ground.
We first became acquainted with Billy Knotts at the termination of World War I when we were both employees at the Gold Hill cement plant in 1920.
I think perhaps there are a few of the remaining persons still living in the Gold Hill area who remember the fateful near-drowning incident.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 28, 1962, page 4
Lost StrikeTo the Editor: One of the long-lost gold pocket strikes that has eluded all searchers for nearly three-fourths of a century lies hidden from rediscovery in the upper reaches of Patrick's Creek in northern Del Norte County, California, according to a very few of the old early day prospectors that lived in that isolated area.
The discovery was made in that day when wild Indians were roaming the fringes of an oncoming civilization. A lone prospector had showed samples of gold to others before he disappeared mysteriously one day. The theory among the miners was that he had met with foul play. Many years afterward a group of financial men, having heard the ill-fated story, set out from Portland to look for the once-fabulous strike. Having come to Northern California they employed an Indian guide that was thought to be familiar with all of the surrounding territory. As the story goes, the group was led along strange trails deep in the hills.
Finally the guide asked the group to take a five-minute rest while he made some observations. After taking leave of absence, he failed to come back to the weary group of fortune hunters.
So that ended their fond hopes, and they made their way back to safety.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, May 18, 1962, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Lemurians?To the Editor: One of the mysteries connected with supposed phenomena of the Sardine Creek House of Mystery commonly known to most of the earlier citizens still surviving in and around Gold Hill was the fact that the old building was used for a laboratory and assay office for the famous Corporal "G" mine nearby, operated in the 1890s. There was formerly a trap door in the assay office floor where the metallurgist dumped the concentrates, which were principally magnetite.
The story as was told to this writer by the old gold miners who worked at the mine explained that all operations ceased because all instruments used within a certain radius of the mine and assay office would not function in a normal manner any longer.
On the opposite side of Sardine Creek is Drummond Gulch, where the bedrock is exposed on the surface that clearly shows deep lines or tracks made in some prehistoric age.
When we view those peculiar indelible markings it seems to fill our imaginations with the thought: Did the former Lemurians once leave any evidence that they may perhaps have occupied this part of scenic wonderland of which is now part of southwest Oregon?
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, June 4, 1962, page 4
520 Boardman St.
Gold Find LostTo the Editor: Back in the depth of the depression days of the mid thirties one citizen of Ashland, Ore., a monument stone cutter by occupation, on days when business was slack often took a rock sample pack sack along with a miner's prospecting pick and headed north in his sedan for Blackwell Hill on old Highway 99, where he tramped over open clearings in search of mineralized quartz or float formations.
Not taking close observation and notes of his samples he often tossed in the rock bag caused him some consternation when on one trip he came across what he judged was an outcrop of hematite rusty ore, about the top size of a cook stove lid. Taking the hand pick and breaking off some pieces, he threw them into the rock collection as usual, not taking observations [of] future landmarks.
The only recollection he had at the time of the discovery was that looking in a northwesterly direction the town of Gold Hill was in plain view. To add more confusion to the location, when he returned home, some other events of the day had directed his thoughts to more important affairs. So the samples were forgotten for awhile, until an old sourdough, seeing the samples one day, took permission to mortar out the choice-looking rusty samples.
Sure enough, the old miner's judgment proved to be correct. After crushing and panning the pulp a long string of bright gold showed up in the pan.
There is only one cause to regret in searching for the hidden treasure, and that is, most of the ground in the area is patented or otherwise is held by mineral claims.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 26, 1962, page 5
322 South Riverside
Place NamesTo the Editor: Place names have played a big role in many local geographic features in southern Oregon. For instance, Schieffelin Gulch that meets the Rogue River in Section 21, Township 36 South, Range 4 West, formerly went under two nicknames.
In early days after Big Ed Schieffelin had left the old donation land claim near Rogue River, the surrounding hills were filled with gold prospectors; in fact, legend says the same gulch once boasted seven fiddlers, therefore was called "Fiddler's Gulch." Later on a deer hunter that had gone all the way to the head of Schieffelin Gulch in Section 33 stood on top of the mountain saddle or ridge and counted seven does. Quite naturally, not knowing any other place name for the gulch, always referred to it as "Doe Gulch." But the former name Schieffelin is the authentic place name on maps.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 16, 1962, page 5
322 South Riverside
To the Editor: Do any of the Tribune readers ever recall seeing a hard-shellback beetle that actually managed to survive hot ashes?
Fire Walking Beetles
Going out on a small brush fire one time on the Rogue River National Forest in the Union Creek area somewhere around 1937, a small crew of men were detailed to patrol the burned-over area all night. The foreman on duty asked me if I wanted to see some strange creatures around the burned-out tree stumps. Of course I was naturally curious to get first-hand information.
The foreman used a long-handled shovel to turn over a shovelful of ashes around a tree stump in the hot pumice ashes. There were literally scads of dark-colored beetles pouring out of the formerly red-hot ashes surrounding the charred tree stumps.
No one at that time seemed able to explain the unusual phenomenon, and I have never had the mystery explained. Perhaps there is someone who does know. This is one for Lynn M. Watkins to solve.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, January 2, 1963, page 4 Watkins wrote a syndicated nature column carried by the Mail Tribune.
322 South Riverside Ave.
Gold TaleTo the Editor: One of a few big gold strikes that reached the five-figure mark 60 some years ago in the wilds of Josephine County was really discovered by sheer accident.
As the story goes, a young rugged placer miner set out one day with his dog on a deer hunt. In order to suppress his dog from making a "break" to run, the lone hunter stooped down to pick up a stone to toss to halt his dog. Lo and behold! the first glance and heft told him it was laden with "pocket" gold. Right there the deer hunt came to an abrupt end, for the time being. He returned to camp to break the news to the family and secure their help to mine the rich find that yielded a small fortune.
In due time after the fabulous strike was made as an adventurer, never having been to a big city, the young prospector soon set out to see Portland, Ore. After sightseeing in the metropolis, he soon became broke. After telling some city officials of his plight and the story of his recent fortune and misfortune, the good and helpful people took heed of the bewildered young man's dilemma and volunteered to send a telegraph message to Grants Pass for more information.
In due time a return message stated that the young prospector had an ample supply of gold on deposit at a local bank and that all the prospector's wishes would be realized. So there ended another episode of another one of southwest Oregon's heyday romances of adventure and drama of the gay nineties.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 3, 1963, page 5
322 South Riverside Ave.
Jacksonville's GoldTo the Editor: Some time ago an article credited the town of Columbia, in Tuolumne County, as one of the best preserved of the early mining towns of California.
We believe that Jacksonville also can very well boast of the best preserved town in all of Oregon's former mining towns since discovery of gold in 1851-52. After more than 100 years some placer gold is yet panned, rocked or sluiced out of the remaining ancient gravel in the surrounding creeks.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 12, 1963, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
River PilotTo the Editor: We attended a recent meeting of the Roxy Ann Gem and Mineral Club of Medford, held at the Community Club on North Bartlett St., as a visiting guest. An enthusiastic group of rock collectors and guests attended the business session and showing of the Rogue River film, a "true life adventure sound film" of Glen Wooldridge, the Rogue River pilot of a powerboat riding the rapids of Hellgate gorge above Galice, Ore.
This writer knew Glen as a young adventurer, living in the town of Rogue River, 40 years ago. We have met him only once since, at Grants Pass about 10 years ago. If all goes well, we hope to interview him again to get material for a short story. It was around the 1940s when Glen was really "going places and doin' things" on the treacherous Rogue River, boat trips all the way from Grants Pass to Agness.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 15, 1963, page 4
322 South Riverside
Remembers WinterTo the Editor: Yes, we do remember 44 years ago Dec. 13, it was Saturday, 1919. Al that time we lived on a homestead two miles due south of Rogue River. The thermometer at the log cabin registered 10 degrees below zero on two mornings.
We also had a fireplace and kept tolerable comfortable, as there was plenty of wood to burn at that time. At night we could hear the tall and stately fir trees everywhere pop and snap all during the cold spell that lasted a week. It turned out to be one of the driest winters in half a century. It was rather a dry winter for gold prospecting, as all available water on the mountain slopes froze up for panning traces.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 16, 1963, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
Old Time SchoolingTo the Editor: Our friend Floyd R. McCabe's communication in a recent Tribune reminds the writer of his early day schooling experience.
We had one mile to walk to and from school, usually a seven-month term with one to two weeks winter vacation. Our athletics consisted of baseball, football and in winter, boxing exercises. Also in spring was running, jumping, weight lifting, throwing and wrestling. Most of the pupils were rugged in physique, as nearly all got a lesson in "hard knocks." The three R's were reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. On Friday afternoon there was either a spelling bee or a ciphering match. Above the teacher's blackboard were usually two water elm or willow switches, just in case of any required discipline. We did most of our school work during school hours, as we had chores to do after classes were dismissed.
All in all, we enjoyed every minute both in and out of school sessions.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 26, 1963, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
The Old Days
To the Editor: When the writer first came to the Rogue River Valley, most of the residents, not all, were of the second generation of the white settlers who had taken up land grant donation claims. One pioneer family by the name of James Savage lived near the mouth of Savage Creek, in the 1850s. From a son-in-law, a miner and prospector, I am indebted for many short and exciting exploits I have garnered by memorizing through the years. One of the accounts was that there was no underbrush to speak of then on the hills and mountains.
There was also a wild redtop [grass] or commonly called wild cheat (a kind of oat-like grain).
Among the prevalent pests were wild bear coming down to the flatlands and trying to pilfer young pigs, even in high log pig pens.
In the 1850s there was a well-marked pack trail that went over the ridge near the head of Little Savage Creek around "Lowd" mountain to Birdseye Creek and [the] head of Foots Creek, then to the county seat, Jacksonville.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 2, 1964, page 5
322 S. Riverside Ave.
To the Editor: There is gold somewhere on Lowd Mountain, located around two miles in a southwesterly direction from Rogue River. One of our old erstwhile miner friends 50 years ago, Charles M. Warren, had the misfortune to lose a hunting knife from his belt sheath. After backtracking for the lost knife at the head of a draw near the base of Lowd Mountain, he chanced to pick up a flat piece of float quartz on top of the exposed bedrock that literally showed to carry a large content of free gold. In fact, an analysis afterwards proved the specimen weighed out to $7 in gold.
Where the specimen came from is anyone's guess, as there is an immense slate slide that is at least one thousand feet up the northwest side of the mountain. Somewhere on that slate, likely buried deep in the bowels of Lowd Mountain, is a hidden gold quartz vein.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 12, 1964, page 5
322 S. Riverside Ave.
WrestlingTo the Editor: Over two score years ago, Gold Hill was the "biggest little city," in all of Oregon, that is, as a wrestling sports center. Some of the state's championship matches were held as frequently as twice a month. The old arena was on the commons just south of the Southern Pacific railroad tracks. Probably no locality of the town's size has ever drawn such huge crowds before or since. A Hindoo middleweight, one of the cleverest of the world's wrestlers, won over his opponent in the first bout but lost the second night to Gold Hill's own local man, who held the world's second middleweight championship wrestling honors.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 16, 1965, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
To the Editor: Around the year of 1916, a man and family who were formerly from the Cow Creek Canyon country near Roseburg, Ore., with his three sons purchased the old livery barn at Rogue River.
It was often quoted from some of the oldtimers living there who knew the father that in his younger days, as being a very strong man physically and a logger of oxen and a two-high-wheel logging cart, [he] would do the wonderful feat of lifting one cart wheel out of the mud in case the oxen got stuck or bogged down in a rut on the skid road.
The last time I saw one of the sons was in 1917 at Portland, Ore., where we incidentally met at the beginning of World War I. Their last name was Ellis. Perhaps someone remembers them yet.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, September 16, 1965, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
Animal Antics.Medford Mail Tribune, October 5, 1965, page 4
To the Editor: Did you know that some small wild animals do acrobatic stunts in their living habitat? Back in the early 1920s, we were employed on the evening shift at a limestone quarry on a mountainside operating an air compressor for the night crew; at 9 p.m. closed down 30 minutes for lunch.
There was a round hole in the rear end of the shop floor, where we would hear a thumping sound, so we tossed a few lunch scraps around the wood floor. In a second out popped two polecats and ate the crumbs, then retreated under cover. The next night we played a jest on the two intruders by sprinkling a small amount of O.S. (old style) smoking tobacco in a circle, at the regular time for lunch. Out both polecats came and did their stunts, by standing on their front feet walking all around on their forelegs sniffing the obnoxious stuff I had substituted for their usual snack break.
Never did molest the "pets" thereafter, but it was sure comical to watch their antics while we were on the job. Other feathered creatures such as topknot quail became quite tame, where they came to drink from the dripping wooden tankful of water pumped one-half mile above the river. The only mockingbird we ever heard sing was around midnight along Rogue River, then, a rather small red, black and white spotted bird.
322 S. Riverside
Returns for Gun.
To the Editor: In the fall of 1919 after World War I, we returned to the Homestead [mine] on the hillside two miles as the crow flies due south of the town of Rogue River. In the intervening years a stockman in the flat lands was running a small band of sheep in the surrounding mountainsides.
In the early spring when the dirt road leading to the valley below was muddy, I frequently hiked around the contour of the mountain ridges to the village that used to be "Woodville." On this particular trip, I did not carry a sidearm weapon, and when I approached a rather wide and very brushy canyon, I could hear sheep bleating and blatting like some wild animal was molesting the flock from every direction.
Then I stopped short to listen to the warning signal. In a thicket of chaparral some distance I could hear crushing, snarling and scowling sound of teeth like a vicious animal tearing its freshly caught prey to pieces.
Being only a fourth of a mile from the cabin, I lost no further time in returning for the trusty old .35 automatic, but lo, when I reached the scene of the previous commotion the sheep had dispersed and all was quiet again.
Our conclusion was that the predator was either a cougar or bear, as both species roamed the woods on the ridge at the head of Birdseye Creek and the Applegate divide.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, October 10, 1965, page 5
322 S. Riverside Ave.
Liberty Bell Comments
To the Editor: Neighbors have asked me to comment on the tour of the Liberty Bell in the year 1915.
The time of the year was June. [It was the morning of July 16, 1915.] When living near Rogue River, the Grants Pass Courier announced the arrival of a special train from Washington, D.C. that was transporting the famous bell from Philadelphia, Penn., and would arrive at the main depot at around midnight for a 30-minute stop on its trip to the World's Fair of 1915.
The bell was set on a flat car. The entourage of officials handed out free cards to the assembled crowd that gave a short history of the famous bell. I presented the card to the Jacksonville Museum some years ago.
I remember some schoolboys tossing some small granite pebbles on the bell to hear the sound. There were probably a thousand spectators present to view the train.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, December 14, 1965, page 4
322 S. Riverside
A Cockroach's Story
To the Editor: Our first encounter, or rather discovery, of the common Blatta orientalis insect was many years ago, in fact the species was a large-size cockroach that infests old buildings or houses.
A buddy and I had gone to Klamath Falls, Ore., to seek a summer job. As we dined at several restaurants we finally decided to patronize one operated by a Texas family in one of the old town's business buildings on the main thoroughfare. Perhaps you may guess the reason why. Well, the proprietor had a lively, pretty daughter as a waitress during mealtimes. There was wainscoting on the wall about level with the lunch counter. One day when we began to observe a contingent of real live insects pacing along the wall in all directions, at once the intruders just seemed to come out of open spaces like the proverbial "unidentified flying objects" do.
We called the proprietor's attention to the horde of unwelcome visitors and he apologized to us for the embarrassment caused. If memory serves me right, the operator closed the place down for renovating the building shortly afterward and in the meantime we shifted to another boarding place and lost all track of the incident and also forgot about the proprietor's comely daughter.
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary says any of the cockroach family are troublesome pests in houses and ships in warm climates.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, January 2, 1966, page 5
322 S. Riverside Ave.
To the Editor: When one does a bit of meditating, for instance, on the way of life some 70 years ago in the "gold standard" economic system at $16 an ounce paid for raw gold, a person naturally today is more or less flabbergasted when told there was a barter system used as a medium of exchange for commodities.
A former Klamath County judge (probate court) told the writer that when a young man as a sheep herdsman in the Rogue Valley, he worked at the rate of 15 cents a day. Another man of our acquaintance at Woodville (now city of Rogue River), confided to us as getting his first start in life by cutting and selling hard cordwood to the newly built Southern Pacific railroad company at the sum of $2 a cord.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, February 22, 1966, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
To the Editor: My grandfather, on the maternal side, was born in old Virginia in the year 1827, so the verbal record was revealed to me by him around 1908. When as a lad of 15 years, in his native state, his own father, whose surname was Keely, had a 30-30 muzzle-loading rifle, handmade, which incidentally now has been in the Topeka, Kan., state museum for over 55 years. In the year 1857 Grandfather emigrated to South Bend, Ind., where he married and worked for the Studebaker brothers when they began making wagons in a blacksmith shop.
After a brief period, he and his household moved to Adel, Iowa, and owned a farm. When a new railroad was built and crossed his farm, he sold out and moved to the new state of Kansas, 1870, where he bought a preempted claim of 160 acres. At that time there were large cattle ranches. As the story was told to me, a big cattle "king" whose initials were J.G. asked a neighbor of my grandfather to go along as a helper and cowhand to Dodge City, Kan., then some 200 miles southwest, where the pair intended to purchase some feeder stock. When they arrived at Dodge City, about that time Wyatt Earp, a U.S. marshal, had resigned his job at Dodge. The cowboys were on a tough shooting rampage. Mr. J.G. and his men had to take cover in some small draws just outside of the cow town.
Now this part of the tale is where the fun begins, as my grandfather would tell me about his friend's experience, lying low in the surrounding draws waiting for the rifle bullets' whizzing to cease. The wealthy cattle "king" would call to his partner to raise up and see if the cowboys' shooting was all over yet. A story like that always has "a moral" to it, for instance, the maxim, "Let George do it." Telling the yarn always brought a chuckle to my grandfather.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 29, 1966, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
An Old Miner
To the Editor: It was some 40 years ago on the north bank and east of Gold Hill around two miles, at the confluence of the old early-day Hay and Magruder placer "diggings" on the Rogue River, when the writer made the acquaintance of an old Scotchman, a typical character of former days, who was eking out a living by panning out the richer crevices at the low water mark in the summer months and early fall seasons each year.
The old Scot was an interesting conversationalist and enjoyed swapping early-day yarns familiar to his ever-bright memory. On occasion when we stayed a bit late talking of an evening on general subjects, it was very amusing to listen to his remark when he asserted, "Well, I guess we better have a little more light on the subject." Then he proceeded to light his kerosene lamp that had a glass chimney that was so dark with soot that it looked very much like a vintage historic-time magic lantern [like those used in] shows used before the still movies were seen in the eighteenth century.
About 1922 the old river sniper loaded his personal baggage onto a two-wheel pushcart and headed over the Siskiyou Mountain Range for the rugged Salmon River area in Northern California, where he planned to really find richer rewards of elusive gold nuggets before he was too old to enjoy more earthly rewards. We always hoped he did, too.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, March 29, 1966, page 4
322 South Riverside Ave.
To the Editor: This writer had the rare privilege to attend the Rogue River city annual "Rooster Crow Day" parade on Saturday. The most amazing part was the complete change in old landmarks that were familiar to us way back in the year 1926, when the old ModelT Ford was a mode of travel.
Fortunately we did meet a few early pioneers that brought back old memories to us again, especially the Grants Pass "Cavemen" and an old-time pick, pan and shovel gold prospector leading a burro in the colorful old-time parade. We also are proud of our friend and drum corps leader, Mr. Bliss Heine, as second place red ribbon winner for his troupers. One of the natural changes noticeable was the tree growth in the past 40 years surrounding the town.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 3, 1966, page 5
322 S. Riverside Ave.
To the Editor: In the month of March, 1907, a buddy and I heeded the call to "go west, young man" and seek adventure, which we did by boarding a Rock Island passenger train and landing in Denver, Colo. Arriving there we made the rounds of the so-called "slave markets," the employment labor office, where the manager sold you a job by paying a fee all the way from two bucks and upwards according to type and the compensation allowed.
If the job was at some distance away the fee usually called for "free transportation" to destination. We chose a subcontract reclamation project and were escorted there by the foreman's wife, who incidentally operated the boarding house. The location was in Elbert County some 70 miles south and east near a post office named Agate on the east fork of Bijou Creek.
The crew number varied from time to time, as the work was mostly excavating with fresnos with skinners who could handle wild bronc horses. I chose to be a grade leveler and long-handle shoveler.
One evening we went to a last day school social at Agate, where most of the pupils and patrons were Kiowa Indians. Our wages were $2.50 for an 8-hour day, and board cost one dollar. On Sunday we searched in the nearby bijous [sic] for agates. One time I found a pearly round white polished piece of quartz with a ribbon of gold running through the middle and concluded it may have been deposited by a glacier. So I never gave it any further concern.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 26, 1966, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
Going WestTo the Editor: This continues the second part of communications "Going West."
It was in Denver, Colo., 1907, [that] I saw the first elevating ground graders used to carve out new streets and pulled by eight-horsepower teams and horse-driven dump wagons. On the reclamation job one day, the foreman advised the excavating crew that he would be absent on Friday to attend a public auction some 18 miles away (perhaps near Deer Trail, on the C.R.I.&P. railroad).
That morning he wore a six-shooter from his belt. He probably returned to camp late that evening, as the next morning he had one "black eye."
When the gang jokingly mentioned his mishap, he grinned and said he had had an accident. He, the foreman, was a good sport, so we took it for granted.
One day part of our crew got orders to load up some wagons to drive some 15 miles south to cut a crop of wild hay. My buddy as a camp cook was sent ahead to prepare the camp chow at the ranch house. One of the favorite dishes I remember was a stone vessel of Boston baked beans that were done to a "queen's taste," at least everyone commented on the cuisine.
When we got to the ranch we were told that the grass crop had suffered a former drought and had dwindled away and was a disappointment. The next day we made the long trek back to our former camp, where about half of [the] crew called for their time, was paid off in cash and some were headed back to their former homes, never to meet again.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 31, 1966, page 5
322 S. Riverside Ave.
To the Editor: When we first came to Southern Oregon the gold miners and prospectors used slang names for distinguishing the various place names. For example, if the occupant's domicile was an arid homestead, he had a "squirrel ranch." If the land had a tendency to be brushy, it was referred to as an "umbrella wood" ranch. If one lived way back in the sticks, he had a "wool ranch." If the timber was cut off, he lived on a "stump ranch." If anyone lived on the O. and C. land he was then called a squatter, in the days of gold mining.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, August 1, 1966, page 5
322 S. Riverside Ave.
To the Editor: Some years ago a "rockhound" friend was over on the Southern Oregon coast looking for rock specimens, all the way from Brookings to Winchester Bay. Among the collection he found was a black basalt stone just literally filled with pure gold. The specimen was about the size of a cake of hand soap.
When we inquired the exaction location of the piece of basalt he found, he admitted to us, not being a prospector, that he had not remembered one stone from another he had in the day's hunt. Perhaps some mineral prospector who reads this letter can give us some information as to any basalt formation on the Oregon Coast.
Bert KissingerMedford Mail Tribune, July 2, 1968, page 4
322 S. Riverside Ave.
To the Editor:
I read in the Salina Journal, April 25, 1971 issue, of the "Pony Express" returning to Burr Oak, Kansas, June 5, 1971.
As a tribute to the occasion, I was born in Vicksburg Township, one mile east and 3 miles north of Randall, on May 13th, 1885. I came to the Pacific Coast in March, 1911, and homesteaded 40 acres of U.S. public land in September 1912. and sold in November 1926.
On one trip to Kansas in 1937, I had the pleasure to visit an old museum at Northbranch, also to see Burr Oak for the first time. I remember going to a country school named Center Hill, and three neighbor girls were named Ada, Ethel and Mamie Moore, who later moved to Burr Oak, Kansas--that was in the early 1890s.
Some years back I attended the old Jacksonville, Oregon "Pony Express" 100-year anniversary. It was a very thrilling day, and also the second town in Oregon, a gold mining camp in 1852. A museum is now in the old Jackson County courthouse built in 1882. It covers a city block and is 4 miles west of Medford, Oregon.
Bert KissingerBurr Oak Herald, Burr Oak, Kansas, May 13, 1971, page 1
P.O. Box 1301
Medford, Oregon 97501
Long Ago--But He RemembersOne of the Mail Tribune's most faithful writers of Letters to the Editor over the past years has been Albert Kissinger, who celebrates his 95th birthday on May 13.
BY MARY ANN CAMPBELL
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
Kissinger will be honored with a birthday party on May 8 at the Southern Oregon Lions Blind Center, Medford, where he attends crafts classes each week.
He came to Oregon in June, 1912 and settled in Jackson County, at the age of 27. He was born in Randall, Jewell County, Kansas, at 2 a.m. on May 13, 1885.
Because Kissinger suffers from deafness and has difficulty in speaking, besides his poor eyesight, his interview with the Mail Tribune was conducted by means of written questions and answers. His handwriting is somewhat shaky, because of arthritis in his hands, but remarkably clear and easy to read.
He wrote that since 1912, "I was a homesteader for 12 years until 1926, then worked in the woods around Klamath County in summertime and later worked on the Siskiyou 99 Highway until retirement in 1949."
Why did he retire in 1949, when he was 64?
"I was too weak to take the tough winters ever after."
What brought him to Oregon?
"I had a friend who had lived in Oregon and told me about all the wonderful things to see," he replied.
Kissinger lives in the Jacksonville Senior Guest Home now. He never married.
"He wrote, "A prospector friend said if one wants to prospect to stay single, so I did."
Before coming to Oregon, Kissinger spent a year in Los Angeles. He made his home at 924 S. Ivy St., Medford, and lived at 400 N. Ivy St. for three years before he moved into the senior home in December 1978.
Kissinger's many letters to the Mail Tribune usually describe life in Jackson and Josephine counties, especially regarding gold mining. In one, he recalled an incident that occurred during the winter of 1920, when he was living with a gold prospector friend in a log cabin "just over the mountain ridge of Schieffelin Gulch." In another, he tells of a ditch worker who was with the Columbia Mining Company at Placer, in the early placer mining days in Josephine County. The man fell asleep after lunch one day and awoke to find some silver change he had carried in a vest pocket was missing.
"Having a gold pan in his pack, he began panning the topsoil, whereupon he discovered the pan showed a new gold quartz trace that led to a quite rich gold pocket," Kissinger wrote. "This tale is only one among many gold finds made in Southern Oregon when gold mining was the early industry. While searching for the elusive metal is very exciting, the chances of finding it are very uncertain."
He wrote about meteorites.
"Around 40 years ago, a fellow timber worker from Ashland, in a conversation about early days, said his brother had been a watchman at a gold quartz mine in Josephine County. One day, on a stroll, he discovered a large meteorite partly sunken in the ground but never recovered it."
Medford Mail Tribune, April 27, 1980
Last revised September 27, 2021