North Bradshaw Mining History

The North Bradshaw FootPrint covers several major gold producing areas in the Bradshaw Mountains of Arizona including Lynx Creek, Big Bug, Walker, Groom Creek, Poland Junction and the Upper Hassayampa. Millions in Gold have been taken from the rivers, washes, benches and hillsides of these mountains. The following excerpt barely touches the extensive mining history of the area. Browse our Ripple Library for more details.

Placer information:
This information is taken directly from US Geological Survey Bulletin 1355, Placer Gold Deposits of Arizona, by Maureen G. Johnson, 1972

Lynx Creek Drainage

Location: North flank of the Bradshaw Mountains and the south side of Lonesome Valley.

Access: From Prescott, State Highway 69 east parallels the lower course of Lynx Creek, and light duty roads lead south from State Highway 69 at Prescott to many points along the upper reaches of Lynx Creek.

Extent: Placers occur along the entire length of Lynx Creek from near the headwaters at Walker, 7 miles southeast of Prescott, downstream to the junction of Lynx Creek with the Aqua Fria River, 13 miles east of Prescott.

The placers along the upper reaches of Lynx Creek, in the Walker district, occur in the main creek and along its tributaries from near Walker, downstream for a distance of about 8 miles to the lower dam area. This part of Lynx Creek flows across Precambrian rock, and the gold occurs in thin gravels on narrow benches or bars.

The placers in lower Lynx Creek occur in the east-trending part of the creek from the area around the lower dam, east to the junction with the Aqua Fria River.Gold occurs in the recent alluvium at the bottom of the steep-walled gulch cut into Tertiary conglomerate. The placer gravels attain a minimum width of more than one eighth of a mile and have a thickness of 8-24 feet; a rich pay streak 4 feet thick was found 2 feet above conglomerate bedrock.

An area called Nugget Patch, south of the lower dam on Lynx Creek is said to contain gold in black sands that were probably derived from quartz veins in the underlying Precambrian grabbo.

History: Lynx Creek is the most productive gold-bearing stream in Arizona, although other districts have yielded more gold from alluvial fans, floats and arroyos. The Lynx Creek placers were discovered in May 1863 by Sam Miller and four other prospectors of the group lead by Captain joe Walker. Sam miller reportedly panned $4.80 in gold from a gravel bank along Lynx Creek; on May 10, 1863 the party organized the first mining district in Yavapai County, which they called the Pioneer District. The Walker quartz mining district was formed November 24, 1863. Production from the Lynx Creek placers before 1900 is generally estimated at about $1M, although some writers estimate $2M.

During the 20th century the placers in the lower section of Lynx Creek have been the most actively mined. Large-scale placer mining was done by dredges operating along 5 miles of lower Lynx Creek from the lower dam in Sec 22 to the vicinity of Fain's Ranch in Sec 28.The Calari Dredging Co. worked placer ground in 1933 below the lower dam that averaged 32 cents per cubic yard. In late 1939 the Rock Castle Placer Mines Co. used a dryland dredge to work the bench gravels in this area. From 1934 to 1940 the Lynx Creek Placer Mining Co. worked the gravels on the Fitzmaurice property; this dredge was the largest single producer in Arizona.

Most of the placer mining in upper Lynx Creek was small scale rocking and sluicing, but a few larger scale operations were attempted, especially in that part of upper Lynx Creek just downstream from the old Highway Bridge. (NW1/4 of Sec 33, T14N R1W) During the period from 1940-41 gravels were worked in the area called Bigelow Flat to about half a mile below the bridge, a distance of about 3 miles.

Source: The placer gold in Lynx Creek was derived from numerous widely scattered small gold-quartz veins in adjacent parts of the Bradshaw Mountains. Mineralization in the Bradshaw Mountains is both Precambrian and Laramide in age, and placers have been derived from veins of both ages. In the Walker area, the gold-quartz veins are associated with a small stock of granodiorite that recent work has shown to be of Laramide age. Most of the gold in Lynx Creek is thought to have been derived from the gold veins in the Walker area. The gold found along the creek varies from coarse nuggets to 4 ounces in the upper reaches of the creek to fine gold along the lower reaches of Lynx Creek. The gold-silver ratio in the nuggets increases downstream.

Upper Hassayampa Drainage

Location: West flank of the Bradshaw Mountains.

Extent: Placers are found along most of the Hassayampa River and in many tributaries from Groom Creek near the headwaters, downstream to Blue Tank Wash near Wickenburg. In the headwaters of the Hassayampa River, placers are found along Groom Creek, the Hassayampa River and in small side gulches.

History: The placers in Groom Creek were discovered in the 1860's and actively worked in the 1880's. Sparks (1917) estimated $3M production in placer gold from Groom Creek, but this estimate is probably grossly high. During the 1930's this northern region was placered on a small scale by many individuals, and from 1939 to 1942, a dragline dredge on the Hobbs property (unlocated) on the Hassayampa River recovered several hundred ounces of placer gold.

Source: The tributaries of the Hassayampa River drain a wide area of mineralized terrain. The ore deposits found along the Hassayampa and its tributaries are of both Precambrian and Tertiary age, and it is difficult to demonstrate which vein or vein systems provided the source of the placer gold.

Big Bug Creek Drainage

Location: East flank of the Bradshaw Mountains.

Extent: Placers are found in stream gravels and gravel-covered mesas in a roughly triangular area that extends for about 20 miles east and northeast from the head of Big Bug Creek. Most placer mining activity was concentrated in the part of Big Bug Creek, tributary gulches and gravel benches in the area bounded by McCabe, Humboldt and Mayer. Apparently there was little or no mining in the part of Big Bug Creek downstream from Mayer. Small placers were worked in the upper reaches of Big Bug Creek below the Mesa mine, about 2 miles south-southeast of Walker, on the south side of the creek (T12N R1W sec 9); in Eugene Gulch, a major tributary to Big Bug Creek (T 13N R1W); and in Chaparral Gulch and other small gulches near McCabe.

History: The placers in the drainage area of Big Bug Creek were discovered during the 1860's, but the greatest activity in placer mining was during the 1880's. Wilson states that no estimate of early production is available, but recorded production for the 20th century (second only to Lynx Creek in Yavapai County) indicates early production probably was large.

In the eastern part of the area, north and northwest of Mayer, many small-scale and some large-scale placer operations have been active during the 20th Century. The Shank and Savoy property was active for many years; this placer is in a side gulch on the west side of Big Bug Creek and extends about 3 miles northwest of Mayer (probably Grapevine Gulch). The gold-bearing gravels overlying cemented gravels were bouldery to sandy, with little clay. The gold here was irregularly distributed, flat to round particles that were as much as 50 cents in value. This placer was worked by a number of companies and probably produced most of the placer gold produced from the district during the 1930's and 1940's.

Other placer mining activity was concentrated in the area surrounding Mayer where the placers are found in a wide gravel-covered area between outcrops of metamorphosed Precambrian volcanic rocks.The area was worked intensively for many years and during the 1932-33 season was reworked by individuals who mined the gravels by tunneling and packing the pay dirt to sluices, rockers or small concentrating machines.

Source: The placers in the Big Bug District originated by erosion of many small, and some large, gold-bearing veins on the east flank of the Bradshaw Mountains. Some veins, such as the Mesa mine in the upper part of Big Bug Creek and several veins in the vicinity of McCabe, are considered to be Precambrian in age; other veins in the vicinity of Poland and Providence, are considered to be later, probably Laramide.