Some Definitions Used in Gold Mining
alluvial fan - cone-shaped
gravel deposit formed where a stream emerges from mountains onto a
bedrock - solid rock underlying
bench (alluvial) deposits
- An alluvial deposit is an ancient river-washed rock and gravel bar
that may be thousands of feet from the nearest stream, creek, or river.
Alluvial (or bench) deposits contain untapped potential for finding gold
because such areas have never been worked before. The hydraulic giants
generally worked alluvial deposits.
'cheechako' or 'chichaco' is probably of
Kanaka origin. 'Chi' or 'chee' means 'new' and 'chaco' or 'chako' means
'to come'; a 'cheechako' is a newcomer. The term
corresponds to 'tenderfoot' in Alaska. It is a word from the
Chinook language, a jargon composed of derelicts from English, French,
Indian, and Kanaka. Long before the Russian or the American controlled
Alaska, there was trade between the Indians of the Pacific coast and the
islanders in the South Seas.
claim - mining ground held under
federal or state laws by virtue of location and record.
color - a particle of gold found
in the prospector's pan after the gravel has been washed.
concentrate - minerals which
have been separated from less valuable materials.
discovery (above or below) - the
first claim on which gold is found on any creek is called the discovery
claim, or briefly, 'Discovery'. Other claims located subsequently are
numbered according to their relative position above or below the
discovery claim, so that the third claim down-stream is called No. 3
Below Discovery, and the tenth claim up-stream from the discovery claim
is called No. 10 Above Discovery. The
claims in the Yukon now extend for 500 ft. along the course of the
creek; formerly the}7 were smaller. In
Alaska they are usually 1320 ft. lengthwise along the creek and 660 ft.
across, making 20 acres. Hence the number in the name of a claim will
give an idea of its relative position, although the accuracy of the
deduction is apt to be spoiled by the existence of intermediate
fractional claims. If the discovery is made at the point where a branch
creek joins a main valley, there will be no claims below 'Discovery'.
Thus we speak of "No. 5 El Dorado".
dredge - A common
piece of mining equipment today, the dredge sucks up dirt and gravel
from within the stream bed by the use of water pressure. The dredge is
operated by the use of a water pump and a network of hoses. Dredge hose
sizes can be anywhere from one inch in diameter to 20 inches or more.
drift - 'drifting', as a word to
describe the driving of galleries along the bedrock of an alluvial
deposit. The main drift will be referred to as a 'tunnel', the
excavation will be labeled a 'drift'
false bedrock - a hard
formation, usually a clay layer, within a placer deposit some distance
fines - sand or other fine-sized
material associated with placer deposits. Usually the last material left
during the panning process.
flour gold - finest gold dust,
much of which will float.
float - rock separated from the
parent vein by weathering.
hard rock mine - a
hard rock mine is a tunnel that is dug into solid rock for the sole
purpose of finding valuable or precious rocks, minerals, or metals. Gold
originates deep within the earth in places called Pockets. The pockets
are filled with gold, heavy ore, and quartz. Early hard rock mines
were hand dug, and the Chinese were often hired to dig them.
heavies - minerals of high
specific gravity in a placer concentrate, also called black sands.
lay - the men who undertake to
work a claim on a royalty, paying the owner a fixed proportion of the
gold obtained, are called 'lay-men,' and they are said to have a 'lay'.
limit - a river is said to have
a right and left 'limit'; here 'limit' corresponds to bank or border.
The right limit is on the right going down-stream.
lode deposit - a vein of mineral
ore deposited between nonmetallic rock layers.
nugget - a piece of gold that
can usually be picked up with the fingers.
patent - a government deed that
conveys legal title of public land to the party to whom the patent is
pay streak - a limited horizon
within a placer deposit containing a concentration of gold rich enough
placer deposit - a glacial or
alluvial deposit of sand or gravel containing eroded particles of
placer mine - Placer
Mines are in the categories of mining through the use of water. It
involves mining gold that has been washed away from it's motherlode (or
source) and deposited in small cracks, holes, or sand bars in the
mainstream of a river. Some Placer Mining involves working bench
gravels. Hydraulic giants take advantage of the bench deposits and
recover gold from these ancient river-borne gravels.
poke - a bag or sack of gold.
prospector - a person who
searches for valuable minerals.
sluice box - a long,
narrow, wood or metal artificial channel that water passes through when
put in a creek or stream. Nineteenth century miners used and twentieth
century miners still use sluice boxes to separate the dirt and junk
material away from the gold. Gold, the most dense metal known to man,
stays in the sluice box because of it's heavy weight. The sluice
box is the most commonly used tool in mining aside from the shovel and
sourdough - a highly
experienced miner who has prospected for many years. 'Sour dough'
and 'cheechako' are complementary. Being unable to procure yeast, the
prospector or woodsman carries a little can filled with soured
dough-batter; with this and by the addition of a little baking soda, he
starts the leavening of his bread, in the form
of pancakes, or 'flapjacks.' The men of the North will allow the lump of
sour dough to freeze and as the stock is diminished they add flour and
water, mixing the mass, so that it performs for them the function of
stake - laying out and marking
the corners of a mining claim. Originally wooden stakes were used.
streak - the width of
gold-bearing gravel rich enough to be mined. The gold-bearing
gravel may exist as a deposit half a mile wide, and even when smaller
there is no connotation of narrowness.
tailing pile - Gravel,
dirt, and rocks with no gold. Whatever is left behind from mining
activity. Occasionally, a gold nugget can slip out of a mining
classifier or piece of equipment and end up in the tailing pile, but in
modern sluice boxes most of the gold never makes it to the tailing pile.
troy ounce - 1/12-pound, used in
reference to amounts of precious metals.