Friday, August 26, 2011

Camp Carson Mine Homeschool Field Trip

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.

Josiah taking in the view of the Blue Mountains/Tanner Gulch area.

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.

Kids, bugs and rocks. Does it get much better?

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?

Notice the pipe coming out?

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. 

The Forest Service archaeologist, explaining the history of the area and the workings of the mine.

One of the kids found some hand-forged, square nails. Very exciting!

We are hoping to do this trip again some time since so many people couldn't make it. The response was great!



Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

Sounds like a fun field trip! can't wait for you to take us up there.

Grandma Becky said...

AW, homeschooling field trips. I remember them well. Thanks for the fotos and info. A year ago this week we were at Crater Lake and we learned about Mt Mazama and found out that Diamond Lake was created then as well, since it cut off the river! Things you learn and hopefully retain when you go visit places.

RaD said...

"Kids, bugs and rocks. Does it get much better?" - Not for my kids, especially my daughter. She would have loved looking for gold with the rest of the kids.

Looks like fun, although I feel sorry for the kid who got stung. Thankfully he wasn't allergic to bee stings.

His bondservant said...

What a great field trip and how beautiful the landscape. I would love to visit that part of the country one day, Lord willing.

Python Heroics said...

Ma'am, I am a student at Eastern Oregon University and am writing my thesis about Camp Carson. Could I talk to you on the phone for an interview to get your personal feelings about seeing how this old mining town and your children and students' experience seeing it? my email is or you can call or text me at 541.805.8188

thank you so much for your help!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I will try to call you this week. It is a little crazy right now as we just started homeschooling. Thank you for your patience. Blessings, Jackie

Randy said...

Jackie, I ran across this while surfing. If you might be interested in seeing pictures of the Camp Carson area from the 1970's you can contact me at I traveled to a lot of the old mining camps and ghost towns in N.E. Oregon during those years and took lots of pictures. Graduated EOU in '75.



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