Hassayampa River Drainage Area

Publication Info:
Placer Gold Deposits of Arizona
Geological Survey Bulletin 1355 (1975)
Table of Contents

Related: Where to Find Gold in Arizona

Author's note: The most productive placers in Arizona are in the high mountainous region of south-central Yavapai County. Most of the placers are concentrated on the slopes of the Bradshaw Mountains in the vicinity of many small lode deposits. Because of the large number of small mining districts that include parts of gold-bearing streams. I have grouped the placers on the basis of drainage areas rather than formal mining districts


Yavapai County

West flank of the Bradshaw Mountains, Tps. 8-13 N., Rs. 2-5 W.

Topographic Maps

Congress 30-minute quadrangle; Wagoner NE 15-minute quadrangle (covers only NE 14 of quadrangle); Kirkland E. 15-minute quadrangle (covers only E 14 of quadrangle); Mount Union 15-minute quadrangle.

Geologic Maps

Arizona Bureau of Mines, 1958, Geologic map of Yavapai County, scale 1:375,000.

Anderson and Blacet, 1972b, Geologic map of the Mount Union quadrangle, scale 1:62,500.


U.S. Highway 89 leads south to Congress from Prescott west of the placer areas along Hassayampa Creek. Dirt roads lead east from U.S. Highway 89 to the different placer areas along the Hassayampa.


Placers are found along most of the Hassayampa River and in many tributaries from Groom Creek near the headwaters, downstream to Blue Tank Wash, a tributary near Wickenburg.

Upper Hassayampa River (Hassayampa district): In the headwaters of the Hassayampa River, placers are found along Groom Creek, the Hassayampa River, and small side gulches (T. 13 N., R. 2 W., Mount Union quadrangle). I have found no description of the gold-bearing gravels in Groom Creek and nearby parts of the Hassayampa River.

Central Hassayampa River (Wagoner, Walnut Grove, and Tiger districts): The central part of the Hassayampa drainage area, near Walnut Grove and Wagoner, includes the Hassayampa River, tributaries on the west side (Placerita and French Gulches), tributaries on the east side (Blind Indian, Milk, Minnehaha, Cherry and Oak Creeks). The gravels in the river near Walnut Grove contain many boulders but no clay; the gold is described as flake gold.

The Hassayampa River was most actively worked between 1885 and 1890; during that time a dam was built (near the junction of Cherry Creek with the Hassayampa—sec. 23, T. 10 N., R. 3 W., Wagoner quadrangle) to permit hydraulic mining in Rich Hill (10 miles west) and large-scale operations on the Hassayampa downstream from Wagoner. The dam failed in 1890, killing 150 people and flooding the downstream section of the Hassayampa.

Gravels were mined along the upper parts and side gulches of Placerita Gulch (approximately sec. 14, T. 11 N., R. 4 W., Congress quadrangle), near the junction of Placerita and French Gulches (sees. 7 and 18, T. 11 N., R. 3 W., Kirkland quadrangle), and on French Gulch, 1 mile southeast of Zonia (sec. 17 or 18, T. 11 N., R. 3 W.). Much of the gold in these gulches is fairly coarse and many 1/4- and 1/2-ounce nuggets were recovered.

Placers have also been found in Blind Indian and Milk Creeks on the east side of the Hassayampa (Tps. 10 and 11 N., Rs. 2 and 3 W.), but these were not worked so extensively as the placers in Placerita and French Gulches. Placer gold was reportedly found on Slate and Milk Creeks in beds of volcanic agglomerate that were hydraulicked before 1905.

South of Blind Indian and Milk Creeks, small placers were worked in Minnehaha, Cherry, and Oak Creeks. Placers were found near the headwaters of Minnehaha Creek in Minehaha Flat (unsurveyed sees. 19, 30, 31, T. 10 N., R. 1 W., Crown King quadrangle) and on Oak Creek, 1 mile below Fentons Ranch (sec. 3 or 9, T. 9 N., R. 2 W., Crown King quadrangle).

Lower Hassayampa River (Black Rock and Blue Tanks districts): Small placers are found in the Black Rock region in T. 8 N., R. 3 W. (Congress quadrangle) and on the Hassayampa River near the mouth of Blue Tank Wash in T. 7 N., R. 5 W., near the Maricopa County-Yavapai County boundary.

Production History

Upper Hassayampa River (Hassayampa district): The placers in Groom Creek were discovered in the 1860's and actively worked in the 1880's. Sparks (1917) estimated $3 million production in placer gold from Groom Creek, but this estimate is probably grossly high. During the 1930's this northern region was placered on a small scale by many individuals, and from 1939 to 1942, a dragline dredge on the Hobbs property (unlocated) on the Hassayampa River recovered several hundred ounces of placer gold.

Central Hassayampa River (Wagoner, Walnut Grove, and Tiger districts): Most placer mining in the central region was done by individuals using drywash machines.

Lower Hassayampa River (Black Rock and Blue Tanks districts): Minor amounts of placer gold were recovered intermittently from this region and from the Hassayampa River in Maricopa County.


The tributaries of the Hassayampa River drain a wide area of mineralized terrain. The ore deposits that contributed the gold found along the Hassayampa and its tributaries are of both Precambrian and Tertiary age, and it is difficult to demonstrate which vein or vein systems provided the source of the placer gold. Lindgren (1926) summarizes the physical characteristics and probable age of many of the veins in the area.


Allen, 1922: Location; names placer-bearing tributary creeks.

Blake, 1899: Notes presence of placer gold.

Browne, 1868: Describes discovery of placers on the Hassayampa River.

Burchard, 1882: General history of placer mining along the Hassayampa.

1883: History and placer-mining activity at Placeritas.

Church, 1887: Reports progress on Walnut Grove Dam.

De Wolf, 1916: Reports plans to rebuild Walnut Grove Dam.

Engineering and Mining Journal, 1933c: Results of sampling placer ground at Minnehaha placers.

1890: Reports failure of Walnut Grove Dam.

Girand, 1932: Describes drywash machine used at Walnut Grove; characteristics of gravels; size of gold recovered.

Jagger and Palache, 1905: Reports gold in Blind Indian and Milk Creek.

Koschmann and Bergendahl, 1968: Placer-gold production.

Lindgren, 1926: Notes placers in Minnehaha Flat; locates placers on upper Hassayampa.

Lindgren, 1926: Notes placers in Minnehaha Flat; locates placers on upper Hassayampa.

Sparks, 1917: Production estimates for Groom Creek.

U.S. Bureau of Mines, 1926-31: Names claims and creeks where placer mining is active.

1934: Names claims and creeks where placer mining was active.

Wilson, 1961: Hassayampa placers—location; production history; placer-mining activity during the period 1932-33; source. Groom Creek—location; production estimates; source. Placerita placersearly history; placer-mining activity during the period 1932-33; size of nuggets.

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