The Orick or Gold Bluff Beach district is in northwestern Humboldt County about 50 miles north of Eureka and near the town of Orick. A series of gold-bearing black sand deposits extend along the ocean beach for a distance of about 10 miles. This area was first placer-mined about 1852, and considerable activity continued through the 1880s. There has been intermittent small-scale placer mining on the beaches since. In 1888 it was estimated that the district had yielded more than $1 million.
Gold and minor amounts of platinum occur in thin but often fairly extensive layers of black sands on the beach. Gold also is found in terrace and bench gravels in the bluffs immediately east of the beaches. The black sands were deposited by the action of shore currents and waves, which sort and distribute materials broken down from the sea cliffs or washed into the sea by streams. Some of the gold here may have come from the Klamath River, which empties into the ocean a few miles to the north. The gold is fine grained and ranges from 900 to 950 in fineness. Various types of devices have been used here to recover gold, including sluices, a special type of long tom used in surf washing, amalgamating plates, and mechanical equipment.Bibliography
Hornor, R. R., 1918, Notes on the black sand deposits of southern Oregon and northern California: U.S. Bureau Mines Technical Paper 196,42 pp.
Irelan, William, Jr., 1888, Gold Bluff Beach mines: California Min. Bur. Rept. 8, pp. 216-218.
Rice, Salem J., 1961, Geologic sketch of the northern Coast Ranges: California Div. Mines Mineral Information Service, vol. 14, no. 1.