; Mike C _ Dave H Mining Gold in - Soap Lake School District
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Mike C _ Dave H Mining Gold in - Soap Lake School District


  • pg 1
Maye we could pursue that, stake a claim,
sell it, then fund our joint retirement. When
the great floods carved out the Grand
Coulee and Dry Coulee, the water had
already washed out some of the most
mineral-rich mountain ranges in the world.
Like in any Creek where gold panning takes
place, it could be expected that many of
those minerals might still be found at the
bottom of the Dry Falls or in the many Lake
bottoms that culminate in Soap Lake.
Glaciers could be expected to do a similar
job by moving material off the bedrock and
depositing it in the moraines it left behind
when it receded.
With all of those lava flows there are bound
to be areas where diamonds or several
valuable minerals exist within or at the
surface. I did a lot of hunting around those
potholes just west of the lake, but perhaps I
should have been hunting with a pick and
shovel, with a geology book in hand. I know
where there is a large log entombed in the
lava west of the lake, which is not petrified
because it has had no exposure to the sun.
When I was in high school I carved a piece
of it out and kept it in a medicine bottle for a
long time with the intention of sending it to a
university for carbon dating. I figured that
would really establish the year that that lava
flow took place. I can spot the location on a
topographical map or an aerial photo, but
wouldn't be able to get anywhere near it
today except by helicopter. And it would
take a big helicopter to hoist my big butt to
that location.
 Do any of you know a
great geologist who would do the leg work
for a reasonably sized share of the profits?
If there are any? With that information
about gold being mined in the area, it is
possible that the mercury found in
downtown Soap Lake might be the
remnants from an old processing plant.
That could explain why that acre or two
has/have not been developed completely,
as perhaps the city fathers realized there
would be risk involved in planting houses or
crops in that space.
 Think about it, as it
might be worth pursuing.
 Mike, full
partner of the the soon-to-be moguls
Last summer when I was laid up, I went to
Quincy for the Balloon festival in August
and took 2 - 5 hour Geology Tours. One
went north and the other south along the
Columbia. They took us up Moses Coulee
out of East Wenatchee. We talked to Mr
Billingsley, the owner of the ranch below
Devils Step coming from Ephrata. They
have 20 feet of top soil in the valley over
the top of 300' of gravel that was deposited
by the big flood that damed the Columbia
River at the mouth of the coulee. The huge
lake that built up broke and caused the
whole mountainside to fall into the river and
reroute it. They said all those homes, etc
built on that high sloping landslide on the
east side of the Columbia are at risk as the
soil is movable if a big enough earthquake
were to hit the area. It's loose ground and
has water under all of it and could turn to
something like quicksand. The Dam is built
on part of that gravel dam that was left

Anyway I was suddenly interested in
geology, hence the Grand Coulee picture
tour on the motorcycle I sent some of
you. I started studying geology online at
UA and Kahn Acadamy. In September I
took my first big trip over to Chinook Pass
and rode up to the summit. I noticed lava all
the way to the very top of the pass and it
looked just like the lava here. I found a rock
and pounded off a piece and brought it to
the University along with a hunk of lava I
pounded off a top level flow near Dry Falls
Park. Analysis shows its the same fricken
type of lava wth the same chemical
composition. According to my Geology
studies the lava flowed 39 times in this area
and is 1.1 mile deep at Grand Coulee Dam,
2-3 miles deep here and up to 4 miles deep
at Walla Walla. It's full of cavaties that hold
our ground water suply. That's why they
have water up on High Hill. The soil at
Quincy Basin is only 30' feet deep and was
dropped by the water as it fanned out into
the basin. Much of it is from Idaho and
Montana. The big rock out between Soap
Lake and Moses came from the Grand
Coulee Dam area. There is a big white
looking granite bolder embeded high up in
the hillside south of East Wenatchee out
past the dam. They claim it came from the
Missoula Montana area. Way cool stuff.
The glaciers never came into this area they
only damed up the Clark in Montana and
created the biggest fresh water lake in the
world. If you go to Missoula and like I did
and go up to 3,000 foot elevation in the
mountains, you can see the water groves
the big lake carved in the mountains. The
speed and amount of water that came
through here was enormous. They claim if
you were alive and in the Tri-Cities or
Portland, that you could have heard the
roar of the water when it got to the Grand
Coulee Dam area. Based on the size of the
bolders left behind on the 500 foot high
cliffs above the Columbia and the moarines
and cavities dug out of the lava above the
Waterville-Mansfield plateau it's estimated
the water was 4-500 feet above the plateau
at Mansfield and Dry Falls. It's like thinking
about billions and billions and billions of
galaxies spread over trillions and trillions of
cubic miles of space. Dave

That sounds like an amazing tour. It
continues to amaze me that soap Lake
schools did not focus on the amazing
geology, biology and botany unique to our
region. Instead we worked out of the
standard high school textbooks
and studied subjects that were the same as
being studied from the same books by
students throughout the country.

I learned about the Native Americans
through time spent with Ron Walters,
including a trip that he, Fritz Rennebaum
and I made one evening to Nespelem,
where Ron interviewed a tribal elder. Fritz
and I had to remain outside the house, but I
will bet that those tapes that Ron made at
the time would be valuable to anyone trying
to re-create the history of the Colville
nation. It was a long drive home that night,
with us getting home about midnight, and I
had my first cup of coffee in Coulee Dam on
the way home.

The only time that I panned successfully for
gold was in the creek near Liberty one
sunny afternoon. A coworker from the
railroad and I took our wives with us and
decided to see if we could find gold. By
scraping up the dirt in the cracks of the
bedrock we were able to gather a few very
fine flakes, which I kept in a medicine jar
with the black sand for several years. I
imagine my wife took it after the divorce, as
I haven't seen it since. I know that there is
no free-running water near Soap Lake
where such placer gold might be found, but
the same principle should apply for the
debris washed downstream in the great

I imagine that someone would get upset if
we dredged the lake below Dry Falls and
ran it through a big sluice box to determine
how much gold is there. However, there
may be areas where similar geological
features exist that are not part of a state
park and where similar deposits might even
contain these precious minerals. I do recall
seeing some quartz-like materials
embedded in the lava at random locations
within 10 miles of town, like on the plateau
near Bluff Lake, and wish I had retained a
few samples or explored further in the area
to see if there were larger deposits. A lot of
those potholes and dry creek beds have
been filled in with rocks falling off the
adjacent cliffs over time, but if you test
holes drilled in the area might find
something interesting at the bottom of

I woke up this morning thinking about the
possibilities, and how someone with a
geologic interest and background might be
able to invest some time and energy in
follow-up to the gold-mining history of the
area. If there really were gold mines in the
vicinity of Sheep Canyon and Wilson Creek,
were they veins of minerals within the rocks
or were they placer deposits? What agency
governed mining at the time, and are there
any records to indicate that gold was
actually found in Grant County? Has
anyone written a book about the search for
treasures in that area, especially of the
precious metals type?

Someone stumbled upon the rhinoceros in
the lava on the far side of Blue Lake, and I
regret that I never visited that site when I
was young and could hike there. That log
that I found embedded in the lava is
probably duplicated in several locations
throughout the length of the Grand Coulee,
but it will take someone with the mobility of
a mountain goat to find them.

Dream, no plan for, the possibilities of what
might be lying there just waiting to be
found. Let's find it! Might I add, before it
gets too late for us to do so…

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