As featured in the November/December 2019 Gold Prospectors Magazine
Photos and Story by Dominic Ricci
Are you looking for a location where you can go camping? A place to sluice in the creek and find some gold? Relax and enjoy the stress-free lifestyle that the outdoors gives you?
This past September, a few Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association (LDMA) members and I set out on an adventure. The destination was LDMA Finley Property.
This hidden gem is tucked in the Klamath National Forest in Northern California. It's perfect for those who want to escape the city and connect with nature — and even unearth some gold. Or yet, do what we did and make a day trip of it while staying at LDMA Scott River Camp in Northern California.
It’s a 61-mile drive from Scott River Camp (49 miles from Yreka, California). It’s not a quick drive as the road is narrow in spots, curvy in others and a 12-degree grade in places. The road is paved and in good condition all the way. It is a beautiful drive and one that I’ll encourage all to do.
I was getting anxious with the final decent as you are in the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County, and the tree-covered mountains are gorgeous. Anticipation of an LDMA property that I’ve not been to before, but yet the peace of the outdoors and good ole Mother Nature.
The Finley Property consists of 140 acres of patented land on the North Fork of the Salmon River, at 2,600-foot elevation. The property is secluded with combination meadow, conifer, Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine and oak trees.
The property was the site of an early mining town. (All structures now demolished, but you can see the foundation of a main building.) There is plenty of open area to set up a campsite or take advantage of maneuvering between the trees to capitalize on some shade.
Be prepared for self-contained primitive camping as there are no facilities on this remote property. There is a Forest Service campground across the road – Idlewild Campground with a few perks (see more about the Idlewild U.S. Forest Campground on Page XX).
Once we arrived, it seemed we all went in different directions to explore. As I walked around, there was a sense of peace that overcame me. Stress of the upcoming Dirt Parties soon left. I sat on a boulder on the North Russian Creek watching the water, looking at the movement and figuring out where I would start digging if I had the chance.
Then thoughts overcame me . . . “This is where George ‘Buzzard’ Massie was dredging with members in the past. I bet he was working over there. No maybe over there!” Why didn’t I come prepared with a pan and a few buckets, and shovel?
We explored the property for the next few hours. Don’t ask about the gold because no one came prepared to find gold, only to visit the property.
LDMA member Brett Davidson did bring his drone and was “mapping” the property.
LDMA Scott River Caretaker Keith Webb was soon crawling on rocks exploring hidden “gems” in the North Russian Creek. “Hey, Dominic! This is where I’d start pulling material from!”
John Mathis told his wife, Nannette, “I want to come back for maybe two weeks next summer and have my fishing pole. Did you see all the fish in the Salmon River?”
When I researched some of the geology/prospecting reports that we have in the LDMA office, I found they indicate the North Fork of the Salmon River has good gold from surface to bedrock. Abundant of fine gold is near the surface with larger nuggets being found on bedrock. This goes for the North Russian Creek as well.
My mind was visioning what could be done at this gem of a property. LDMA member Nancy Terwilliger could tell I was up to something and told me to “spill my thoughts” while she laughed.
Members need to enjoy this remote property. I can see doing a Day Trip Outing (or weekend) where we home base out of Scott River Camp and head to Finley Property for a day or two to “play in the dirt and find some gold!”
Not a “National Outing,” but just a fun adventure for a group of members and their families to enjoy the Finley Property. The gold is hiding there, just waiting to be found.
I encourage anyone who has stories about Finley Property to reach out to Keith at Scott River Camp and share them with him. Members love to learn about the past happenings, and I’m one of them.
If you are interested in being part of this future adventure, let Keith know that, too. I can see something happening at the Finley Property every year.
Get healthy . . . Get Camping
When camping, you’re closer to nature from the moment you wake up to when you crash at the end of the day — of course after a hearty campfire with some s’mores (essential, right?). Camping is proven to have an impact on reducing stress and contributes to emotional and physical health (depending on how many s’mores you’re eating, of course).
Some campers joke that stress can be caused by not camping enough. Who wouldn’t want to camp when it offers an opportunity to be entrenched in nature and more time to be able to explore?
At the Finley Property you can add to the reduction of stress by finding some gold and catching a few fish (make sure you have a fishing license!).
This is the time to start planning your adventure to LDMA Finley property next year. Close your eyes (once you are done reading this article), and envision you, your family and friends camping at Finley. Move a few rocks, scoop up some material and let the sluice do the work of capturing your gold.
Peace, the great outdoors and stress-free Finely Property is waiting for you!
Dominic Ricci is the Executive Director of Operations for GPAA/LDMA and can be reached at 800-551-9707 extension 163 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Idlewild US Forest Campground
If you don’t want to camp at Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association’s Finley Property in the Klamath National Forest, you can wander across to the other side of Sawyers Bar Road and stay at U.S. Forest Service Idlewild Campground.
Idlewild Campground has 11 campsites located on the North Fork of the Salmon River. There is potable water and garbage service provided during the summer season. There are vault toilets available.
LDMA members can enjoy camping at Finley Property for up to six months and it’s FREE for active members in good standing. Or stay at Idlewild Campground for $10 per day for a maximum of 14 days.