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Kern County California Gold Production

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Posted February 7, 2007 in Gold Mining


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By A. H. KOSCHMANN and M. H. BERGENDAHL - USGS 1968

Click here for the Principle Gold Producing Districts of the United States Index

Gold was discovered in Kern County in 1851 in Greenhorn Gulch, near the Kern River, by a member of General Fremont's party. Mining began in 1852 at the Keyes and Mammoth mines in the Keyes district. From 1880 through 1959 about 1,777,000 ounces of gold was mined, mostly from lode deposits. The major districts are the Amalie, Cove, Green Mountain, Keyes, Rand, and Rosamond-Mojave.

AMALIE DISTRICT
The Amalie district is between, the south summits of the Piute Mountains and Caliente Creek in T. 30 S., Rs. 33 and 34 E. The principal mine, the Amalie, produced $600,000 in gold through 1932 (Tucker and Sampson, 1933, p. 280-281). Total production of the district through 1959 was about 30,000 ounces; nearly all production was from lode mines.

The country rock is dominantly granitic and contains narrow belts of schist and slate. Most of the veins are found in quartz porphyry.

COVE DISTRICT
The Cove district is 45 miles northeast of Bakers-field near Kernville, in T. 25 S., R. 33 E.

In the late 1850's a few placers were worked in the Cove district by the more persistent of the prospectors drawn to the area by the original discoveries in Kern County, along the Kern River, in 1851. Gold-bearing quartz veins were found in 1860. The towns of Quartzburg and Kernville, which were founded in the boom that followed, experienced a period of orderly growth and prosperity. The Big Blue mine of Kern Mines, Inc., was discovered early in the history of the district. The mine became the major producer and was credited with $1,746,910 in gold to 1933 (Tucker and others, 1949, p. 211) ; most of this production was in the first few years of the mine's activity. In 1883 most of the workings were destroyed by fire, and the mine was inactive until 1907 when the first of several unsuccessful attempts was made to rehabilitate the property.

Total gold production of the district through 1959 was about 262,800 ounces; none had been reported since 1942.

The country rock consists of metasediments— phyllites, quartzites, and limestone of the Kernville Series of Carboniferous (?) age, and the Isabella Granodiorite and acidic dikes of Jurassic (?) age. The granodiorite is probably related to the main Sierra Nevada batholith (Prout, 1940, p. 385-389; Miller and Webb, 1940, p. 378).

The metamorphic rocks are intensely deformed and crumpled by the intrusive rock. Along the east edge of the Cove district is the north-trending Kern Canyon fault, the major structure in the area. Ore deposits consist of veins which seem to be related to the closing stages of igneous activity. The veins occur in shear zones, parallel to the Kern Canyon fault, and are associated with acidic dikes that cut the granodiorite and metasediments (Prout, 1940, p. 386, 391-392). The veins are dominantly quartz with small amounts of calcite. The ore minerals are gold, which occurs in the free state, arsenopyrite, galena, and sphalerite (Prout, 1940, p. 411-412).


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