Author Bruce W. Harris 1991
Author 1984 on location N.F. Yuba River, CA.
To tell briefly a little about myself, I was born in 1953 in San Antonio, Texas. I have been living in Springfield, Missouri for some time now, but have spent a great deal of my life in both Los Angeles, California and Dallas, Texas.
In gold mining, I have spent many years mining in California's Grass Valley and Mother Lode areas. My first experience of actually living for many months on a claim and seriously learning the gold trade, was on the N. F. Yuba River out of Brownsville, California.
My father knew of a mining operation there where I could learn the profession. The location was a section of river on the N. F. Yuba river owned by the noted Bill Chrestman [William W. “Bill” Chrestman 1915-1989] of Quartzsite, La Paz County, Arizona. Most of the mining going on there was gold dredging. Everything from 4 to 8 inch dredges were operating up and down the claim section. There were other types of mining equipment among the miners, but mostly for spare time and not used in the daily routine. Since most dredging is done in teams, this gave a few miners a chance for their own handiwork.
A personal friend and fellow mining enthusiast, Robert Jacobsen; from Dallas, Texas; joined me on this mining endeavor. We joined teams working a 5 inch dredge on a percentage basis to start.
There were many other miners in separate camps along his one mile section of river claims. At the end of the day most would gather at Mr. Chrestmans camp to process their days work and collect their percentage of the take. During this time one could learn new techniques from the older or more experienced miners. I was fortunate to make a few friends there and tried to apply what I learned to my own work.
A short time later we were nicknamed the "Texas Rangers" by Mr. Chrestman and his family. My love for gold really started here under Mr. Chrestman. His help and understanding was truly inspirational. To him and his charming wife Thelma, I give my love and respect. I later found out that Mr. Chrestman had been in treasure & prospecting magazines since 1951 with mason jars full of gold nuggets.
These claims of Chrestmans I learned was not only historical, but truly one of the greatest natural bar formations on the Yuba Rivers; i.e. “Slate Range Bar.” The late Jerry Keene founder of Keene Engineering, Inc. [Jerry Keene 1934-2017] considered the “Father of the Modern Gold Rush” worked these same claims some 11 years before me. When I first met with Mr. Keene we discussed this section of river extensively. I have been very fortunate through the years working with the different claim owners to have had access to this awesome section of river to mine for gold. It’s always been on my mind and in my dreams. Such a spectacular and majestic location just north of lake Tahoe, California.
My father also showed me another place which I have spend a great deal of time on. This is on M.F. Yuba River out of North San Juan, CA. About 1/2 of a mile downstream from the small diversion dam and about 7 miles downstream from the famous original Sixteen to One Mine near Alleghany, CA. This area produces some of the finest gold quartz specimens running 950+ fine in the world. The location is really historic in that it has the remains of a 10 stamp mill (the largest size used during that time period) and the mines dotted all over the hillsides are quartz-gold mines. Here again, the place chosen was one you had to pack down to the claim area. It is about 1,300 feet down, from where you can park on a fire break road. I have spent a whole mining season here also and know the hardships involved with living on location through the seasons, especially with no transportation. But as it turns out, some of the best places to mine are the most remote.
My father owned a few claims on Otter Creek out of Georgetown, CA. It is a unique place to mine compared to working the larger rivers. Here the canyon walls are sheer and overgrown and the water at its best is 58 degrees F. I'll never forget my first visit to this place. When we finally parked, there was a small trail with a USDA sign stating "Otter Creek 1 mile." From this point on, I learned what "packing in" is all about. Not only did we have to pack down into this ravine, but also along the creek too!
I eventually spent a whole mining season here with a few friends, dredging with a 4 inch Keene single sluice. The best part of working this place is that the bedrock is mostly slate and the nuggets found were rough. I have learned a lot from my father about different kinds of placer mining and appreciate his help through the years.
Owner / Mining Consultant
Heavy Metal Mining Company,
Springfield, Missouri, 65801-8256 USA
Publishing Company (1990 - Present)
Own & Operate the "Gold Miner's Headquarters" Internet site
"Gold Miner's Handbook© 1986 published 1993," Modern Gold Dredging Series© 1992 published 2000, updated to 2020 20th Anniversary Edition; “Modern Dredge Sampling,” “Finding That Perfect Location,” “Gold Placer Geology,” “The Modern Gold Dredge.”
Worked for Keene Engineering, Inc. 1988-1995
Chatsworth, CA (Formally located in Northridge, CA) [Worlds largest underwater mining equipment manufacturer; recreational, industrial & commercial] Keene published my first book "Gold Miner's Handbook© 1986 published 1993."
The World Wide Association of Treasure Seekers (W.W.A.T.S.)
- Founding Member.
- Missouri State Director (2003-2019)
- Member of the Board of Directors (2003-2019)
Me and the World Wide Association of Treasure Seakers [WWATS]
I was interviewed on the “Bugler’s Shack,” a live Internet radio show covering prospecting, metal detecting, and treasure hunting hosted by Bob "Bugler" Sloan (Founder of WWATS) about my first book the “Gold Miners Handbook” just published by Keene Engineering. Bob Sloan shortly afterward offered me a position on the Board of Directors of a new treasure club called WWATS along with Patrick Keene (Keene Engineering, Inc.) who he also had on his show.
I want to thank Bob and Vice President Keith Wills for their trust in me and their comments:
A Message from the Vice President of WWATS
We are here to provide a service to all detectorists, prospectors and other various outdoor hobbyist. It has taken us several years now to find the best of the best people in various hobbies to serve on our board-of-directors. Each of the board members are executive material, finest in their field and very dedicated to solving the problems that exist within our hobby. We feel we have the finest Washington based lobbyist, several very intelligent attorneys, an outstanding legislative liaison, several major publishers, the best of the diver/prospector/detectorist community and several CEO's of major manufacturers on our board. As I said before, each of them are very dedicated to our cause and will be the best in intelligent problem solving in the future.
Keith Wills, Vice President
Best of luck in your mining adventures!