fbpx

LAKE COUNTY HISTORY CHAPTER 43: MINES AND MINERALS (PART 1)

Gold: Lake County has Gold. Quite a bit. It is low grade but, as the price of gold goes up, it may be worthwhile to dig it out of the ground.

Silver: The same applies for silver as for gold mining. 

Iron: Oxides of Iron are easy to spot. They give color to the red rocks and yellow clays of Lake County. Although Iron oxides run through the mountains of Lake County, there isn’t much in the way of ores.

Copper: Scarce. In November of 1863, A.D. Greene found a few samples of Copper float that were almost pure. Greene picked them up near the Colusa-Lake County line.

Mountain ridges form a great part of the boundary between Lake and Colusa Counties. Four miles’ northeast of Bartlett Springs lies the Pacific Ridge. The Ridge is a twelve-mile-long crest between Lake and Colusa Counties. It starts at Goat Mountain, goes southeast to Goat Rock and Pacific Point. There was a small sawmill there once but only lasted for two summers.

A.D. Greene’s copper find started some excitement on the Pacific Ridge. The mountains were overrun by prospectors within days after his report. In the following year, mines were dug and companies started. One town, Pacific City, had two thousand people. It was a going concern for two years. Then the copper gave out. All that remains today are a few old stoves, piles of stone that were foundations and chimneys, a few tunnels and shafts in the ground; monuments to unrealized dreams.

Borax: The first Borax ever produced on the American continent came from Lake County. Until the Borax mines in Death Valley stepped up to the plate, the County’s two Borax Lakes were the only sites in the entire United States where borax was mined. That’s not the only feather in the County’s cap. Borax Mines in Lake County, especially The Borax Lake and later, Sulfur Bank mines, were famous for the range of unique and rare minerals found near our Hollow Mountain, Konocti.

 If you drive down to the lower part of Clear Lake, on either side, like watchdogs, lie Big Borax Lake and Little Borax Lake. Their waters are filled with borax, a good cleaning agent and a water softener.

There’s a deeper reason why Lake County has borax. A thousand years before the pyramids were built, a large part of Cow Mountain fell apart and became a landslide. It covered Highway 20 and bottled up Clear Lake at the Blue Creek entrance. The springs and run-off soon filled the creek to become Blue Lakes. The same cataclysm bottled the Lake at the other end and separated Clear Lake from Borax Lake.

Borax Lake is only a few feet higher than Clear Lake. Depending on rain and weather, it grows or shrinks in size from several acres to a mud pond. The briny mud, in a four-foot layer, is filled with borax crystals 99.94% pure, the greatest purity ever found.

How was borax extracted? One way was to wash the mud over a sluice box and catch the crystals on ‘riffles’ (something like an old-fashioned ridged washboard). Another way was to boil the mud and put the residue in settling tanks. The mud is reboiled and the crystallized borax is caught up in shallow three-gallon pans.

Teeplite and Posephite: Minerals never before known, were discovered and unknown anywhere else in the world. Along with sixty-six other minerals, they are all the result of the recent volcanic activity in Lake County.

Anyone interested in knowing what those minerals are all about, please consult your encyclopedia. The Author had no need and no interest in knowing or putting the reader asleep with a litany of that sort.

Rupia Balls: An interesting sidebar on the lakes are Rupia Balls. What on earth are Rupia Balls? It’s plain Ditch Grass; Ruppia Maritima. But something happened to the plants. Sometime in the recent past the loose grass plants were rolled by the waves in bunches on the shore and packed into nearly indestructible masses. The Rupia Balls were always oval in shape and gray in color. In size, the balls were anywhere from the size of a large marble to football size.

Here is a second mystery. The phenomenon was unknown to the Native Americans until recently, sometime around the 1940’s. Where they came from in so short a period is still another unanswered question.

 Next Episode: Time to go downstairs and into the labyrinth beneath our feet.

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

e-mail: genepaleno@gmail.com

Website: genepaleno.com

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

error: Content is protected !!
w

Your Cart

Cart is empty.

Subtotal
$0.00
Shipping
Free!
Tax
$0.00
Total
$0.00
0