Latah County Idaho Gold Production

Posted July 16, 2009 in Gold Mining


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Early settlers who were attracted to Latah County by visions of mineral wealth soon found that lumbering, cattle raising, and agriculture were far more rewarding. Gold placers that were found in the Hoodoo district in 1860 produced more than 10,000 ounces of gold and were the chief sources of mineral production in the county; gold and copper lodes were also worked on a small scale (Hubbard, 1957, p. 10).

Across the northern part of the county, Precambrian metasedimentary rocks of the Belt Series are exposed in a 6- to 12-mile-wide zone; on the east edge of the county they crop out in another zone 4 to 8 miles wide. The central part of the county is underlain by granodiorite of the Idaho batholith which intrudes the Belt rocks. About one-third of the county is underlain by upper Tertiary Columbia River Basalt and younger lavas interlayered with lacustrine deposits composing the Latah Formation. Auriferous quartz veins with variable amounts of copper sulfides occur in both the granodiorite and the metasedimentary rocks near stocks of the granodiorite or near diorite bodies (Hubbard, 1957, p. 4-5,9-14).

Though placer gold mining began in 1860, production figures are available only since 1904. Hubbard (1957, p. 7) listed annual production of Latah County from 1904 through 1955 which totaled 17,165 ounces of placer gold and 76 ounces of lode gold. In 1956 the county produced only 4 ounces of gold, and during 1957, none.

The Hoodoo district, about 28 square miles in T. 42 N., Rs. 1 and 2 W., in the Hoodoo Mountains in northeastern Latah County, has been the chief gold producer in the county. Most of the gold came from placers along the Palouse River and Poorman Creek.

Gold was first found in the district in 1860 in Hoodoo Gulch, along the South Fork of the Palouse River (Hubbard, 1957, p. 10). These placers were quickly exhausted, but Chinese reworked the deposits in the 1870's. The district then declined and was dormant until the mid-1930's when a dredge was installed on the North Fork of the river (Hubbard, 1957, p. 10-11). Production was curtailed during World War II. Attempts were made in 1950 to revive the placers, and small quantities of gold were produced for a few years; however, in 1959 the district was again inactive.

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Did You Know.......

A mine is a hole in the ground, owned by a liar.
-Mark Twain


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