Earlier this month, our local homeschool group got together for a fun field trip to a hydraulic mine called "Camp Carson". Our local Forest Service archaeologist was kind enough to lead us on a tour. It was absolutely fascinating!
The mine operated from the 1860's until the 1980's. Platinum and gold were found. The area is pretty unstable due to all the mining activity and you can see efforts are being made to stabilize the area. The gulch you see is man-made.
On the other side of the gulch is the pond that was used in the hydraulic mining process as well as some old mining equipment. There were two towns above the hills you see. One was for families, the other for single laborers, Chinese and "working women".
The white material you see sliding down the "hill" is volcanic ash from Mt. Mazama (all that is left is Crater Lake). As a soil scientist, I always love seeing thick pure ash mantles. Soils with pure ash mantles at least 14 inches deep are called Andisols.
Tanner Gulch. You can see how unstable this hill could be. The Forest Service has planted trees on it to hopefully keep it stabilized. If it goes, scientists are concerned that it could ruin the stream/river system all the way to the Columbia River.
The kids found some petrified wood and interesting rocks. Of course, they were all in search of gold, but no such luck.
Here is the equipment that rolls the rock and dirt and separates the bigger boulders out and dumps smaller debris into the pond. Then they panned out the pond. It is full of toxic heavy metals now that were used to help separate the gold from the debris.
We had 10 homeschool families join us this time. That is quite a few people! We were blessed to have so many dad's come along this time. At least half were new to homeschooling this year. How cool is that?
One homeschooler found out the hard way that the end of the pipe contained a paper wasp's nest. The rest of us stayed away from that baby! Poor kid. He was a trooper though.
We are hoping to do this trip again some time since so many people couldn't make it. The response was great!