The Great Gold Rushes of North America
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The Great Gold Rushes of North America

Ther have been several great goldrushes in North America including those in the United States and Canada. The most famous was the Klondike Goldrush occuring in the Yukon Territory of Canada.

Many think the California Gold Rush of 1849 is the most famous, it wasn't the most famous one was actually the Klondike Gold Rush that happened in the Yukon Territory Canada over 50 years later. The biggest gold rush in the history of North America occurred in 1909 in the Ontario Canada, Gold Camp at Porcupine. Gold rushes even occurre today in North America the latest is occurring now Alaska in the gold bearing province called the “Tintina” Gold belt.

Most of these gold rushes occurred in areas that initially produced lots of placer gold this was because individual miners were able to work the diggings. Most of the early gold rushes were like this gold was easy to get, and free for the taking. However most of the gold is embedded in very hard rock making it difficult to mine. This kind of gold mining operation was more of an industrial undertaking rather than something an individual miner could do by himself.

Hard rock mining for gold is a different animal because it requires the great expense of money along with many men working in the mines and more in the refineries. To be successful in operating a mine like this you have to marshal your resources before you can even think of opening the mine. In today's world opening a gold mine can easily cost more than $1 billion.

The first gold rush in the United States happened in western North Carolina long before the gold rush of California, but many of the miners that went on to California originally came from the gold fields found in the southern mountains of North Carolina. They just transferred their knowledge of mining gold to the gold fields of California.

After the gold fields in California had petered out another major strike was made along the Fraser River in British Columbia. This was the famous Fraser River Gold Rush of 1859. Because of the rapid influx of miners from California the Gov. Gen. of British Columbia had to take quick action in this gold rush, or British Columbia will probably have become an American Territory.

What would've been another famous gold rush didn’t although it started that way was the Comstock lode. The miners who were panning for gold kept getting their gold pans filled with this peculiar sticky blue colored mud that made for gold mining very difficult. Finally one of the miners had this blue sand assayed and found out that it was rich silver ore.

The next big gold rush to occur happened in Colorado on the slopes of Pike’s Peak this led to a flurry of gold mining activities throughout the Rocky Mountains. While most famous of these areas were centered around Central City, Colorado. It was the mines in this area that literally supplied the money to build the present city of Denver, Colorado.

Other famous mining areas in Colorado were along the Colorado River near Cripple Creek and Leadville.

The Black Hills of South Dakota were sacred to the Sioux Indians but when gold was discovered there after the Civil War there was a gold rush that eventually led to Custer's massacre just over the line in Montana by the Sioux and their allies.

Around the same time gold was also discovered in western Montana that eventually led to the discovery of the great copper deposits that were used to build the Anaconda Copper Company. These mines operated until quite recently but when they finally closed down they left behind them a legacy of environmental pollution. The copper mining operations near Anaconda created the largest Superfund site in the United States.

Most famous of all the gold rushes in North America was the Klondike Gold Rush of 1892 in the Yukon Territory of Canada. This was only one of several gold rushes that occurred in the Tintina gold province found in British Columbia, Alaska and the Yukon Territory. Other notable gold rushes that have occurred in the same gold province include Nome and Fairbanks in Alaska.

The first gold rush that occurred during the 20th century was in Porcupine Ontario. This followed a few years after the great silver strikes at Cobalt Ontario. There is a Mexican saying that it takes silver mine to make a gold mine. This was true of the Porcupine Gold Rush, the silver mines Cobalt not only paid for the opening of the mines but also supplied a great deal of expertise to the miners.

One of the more famous of these miners was Noah Timmins for whom the town of Timmins Was they named. For many years this was the largest township in Canada and included the town of Porcupine.

Since the Porcupine Gold Rush of 1909 the area around Timmins as produced around 70,000,000 ounces of gold. In addition to that the great Timmins ore strike of 1964 has resulted in the deepest hard rock mining in North America; the Kidd Creek Mine producing copper, silver and zinc. During the 1980s and other gold rush happened in Ontario in a town called Hemlo. The latest big discovery in Canada as occurred just of the West of Timmins, in West Timmins. This is reported to be the largest Gold strike to be made in North America and over 100 years. Its discovery was announced in the summer of 2009.

In 1964 Newmont Mining made a significant discovery gold at Carlin, Nevada. The gold $they found here in a limestone matrix is so fine that the only way you can see it is with an electron microscope. Exploration continues in this area and they have opened several other gold mines since the original Carlin Mine was opened.

The search for gold and other valuable minerals is an ongoing process that is even occurring today!

For more information about gold mining go here!


Gold Country,

Much of this material comes from the author’s notes from various sources over being a geologist for many years and conversations with other geologists, prospectors and miners.

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