Friday, October 05, 2007

The Fever


I was on the beach at Fort Stevens earlier this week. I never feel quite comfortable there, not because it is always cold and windy there. Not because I feel dwarfed by the visible distance or the miles of dune grasses. Not even because that whole peninsula will disappear the next time there is a tsunami and there is absolutely no where to run.

My lack of comfort comes from the magnetite that is visible in the sand everywhere you go out there. Magnetite, also known in some circles as black sand is heavier than sand so it will lay in pockets and be clearly visible to anyone in the area. Sometimes after a good wind you can see long stripes of magnetite lining up North to South for miles along the beach.

“OK, so he’s bothered my magnetite now, what a nut job this Guy is. Last week it was people eating that freaked him out and this week it’s magnetite.”

Well, shut up. I’m not freaked out by it. I’m uncomfortable around it because I’m drawn to it. Prospectors are drawn to black sand. If you are going to go panning for gold you don’t even waste your time unless you see black sand. When I go to the beach I just want to take out my pan and hunker down in a tide pool and wash and shake the whole beach though I know I’ll find nothing and here's why.

I once wrote to my Geologist friend, Paul See about gold in Dried Salmon County. He replied with some interesting historical insight. Here was his reply:

Guy,
While there have been a number of kooks over the years who claim to have found gold out here, there's absolutely no confirmation. The age and source of rocks in the County argue against any possibility of gold deposits. 30 years ago a nut created a mineral concentration plant over in Pacific County, just beyond Chinook at the airport road junction. He pumped sand out of the Columbia river by a 8-inch pipe,and ran it through a series of huge gadgets, some functional and some phony. He had conned a big mining company into providing the $$$.

For years I took classes there for a guided tour, where they received samples of all kinds of exotic elements, including gold. The students had already been advised of the phoniness of the operation, and no-one ever challenged him, fortunately. Most of the separated materials were forms of iron oxide.

He always showed us his tiny vial of gold flakes, about as much as in one of my molars. There's still a huge pile of black sand along the airport road, but the site is now a roof truss business, I think.

There have been claims of gold in several creeks under Hwy 26, and there was a deep "gold" tunnel in the embankment above the recent slide on the road from Seaside to the L&C valley. The "gold" was pyrite. It has now collapsed. But no-one has ever found a legitimate gold site in the County, to my knowledge.

Good to hear from you!

Paul

11 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

I think you should take out your pan, hunker down and shake that sand just because you want to! Go with the inclination, the urge. Who cares if there's nothing there? Who cares if people see you? They'll probably join you!

7:04 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Guy....get a detector instead. At your advanced age there will be not as much "hunkering down" to do LOL. Happy Friday to you.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous K-K-K-K-Herb said...

Pappy, Here goes K-Herb with a connection to the story. The place you refer to is locally known as the "mineral plant." It is now, or has been, a truss company. There used to be huge sand piles around hte place when I was a kid and we would do a little riding on them on our motorcycles. One of it's uses in the past was storage for Astoria Honda. I remember a friend's brother who was renting the house there and opened the big sliding door and it looked like "the mother load" of motorcycles. My favorite memory though was dropping by the house that's there when my friends older brothers were having a bachelor party. They kicked us out fairly quick, but they'd left the kegs downstairs for a little of our "samplin"....

8:45 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

K-Herb. You have far more memories of the beloved Mineral Plant than that....share with Pappy. Its time to confess, now.

9:55 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, it's better not knowing. If I found some, even a tiny bit I would constantly be there wasting my time. Though I do plan to explore Quartz Creek where there is a greater possibility. Quartz is usually found where gold is found, and that is what Paul was getting at with his Hwy 26 comments. Hey, at $600 and oz it's worth a try.

Auntie and K-Herb it is probably all that magnetite that has given both of you your magnetic personalities and kept you both out of jail...so far.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous K-K-K-K-Herb said...

Auntie,
Don't confuse the mineral plant with the property just across the mouth of Chinook River lovingly known as "Dope Haven." A term I'm not familiar with as its origins rest in the older brothers of the group.
Pappy, I even recall an article in the paper when I was younger about the volume of the black sand required to produce the gold and silver found and that it wasn't cost effective so it was given up. Somewhere I'm remembering seeing some molds of a mixture of gold and silver which supposedly came out of that place.
P.S. Never convicted.

11:12 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

That's why I've abandoned my urge to pan Ft. Stevens.

Also, it's never too late. Our District Attorney has a slogan, "Come on Vacation, Leave on Probation!"

11:32 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Yeah, thank god or DAD for small favors, huh pooh ? Hey, what are you gettin' our pappy for Christmas?

Lets brainstorm (a scary thought in and of itself - Guy is no doubt quaking in his birkenstocks) - lets say over some Black Bushmills?
We havent done that in ages and we're due.

11:32 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

A back hoe!?!

11:34 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

In your dreams, Pappy....

11:35 AM  
Blogger Mike S said...

There's a fast running river just north of us where they find gold at times. I'm told that if you stay there enough days you can get enough gold to pay for a stale sandwich and a flat coke:)
How about going for a CAT Skid Steer with all the goodies? My pal's got one on his farm, loadsa fun working with it:):):)

2:57 PM  

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