Polk County Historical Society
An article in the Independence West Side of August 29, 1890, tells of two findings of gold at Independence. A close scrutiny of the newspaper in later weeks showed no further reference to the gold discovery. But maybe it did exist.
Here is what the newspaper said:
Mr. W. B. Dalton, of this city, some eight months ago had a well driven on his lots to supply water to his residence in this city. The water was always rolly from, the first, and at one time his wife called attention to the shining particles in the water and wondered if it was not gold.
He thought it was only mica in the sand. One day a particle too large and heavy was pumped up. It was taken to Mr. White of this city who said it was gold. A small vial of sand was then gathered and sent to Butterfield Bros. of Portland, and here is what they say:
Portland, Aug. 20, 1890.
Mr. M. L. White, Independence, Or.:
Dear Sir — In reply to your favor of the 15th instant and bottle containing sand, the deposit shows free gold, and If you wish to have an assay made you must send us a larger quantity, say as much as a two ounce bottle will hold. There is no doubt but that if you have plenty of this sand you can get a good price for it, providing it will run as even and show as much gold as this does.
Yours truly, Butterfield Bros.
Mr. Dalton has had the sand all pumped out and finds that he gets coarser gold cut not so many pieces. A company has been formed and a six-foot well will be sunk and the matter of gold sand thoroughly tested. Well is forty two feet deep and three inches in diameter. The new well will be within ten feet of the other.
Mr. Henry Hill claims that gold was mined right here in Independence forty years ago.
(In the 1860s, productive gold mines were opened in the Cascade Mountains in eastern Marion and Linn counties. Minor, non-economic deposits of gold have been found throughout the Willamette Valley. Gold Creek in northwestern Polk County is believed to have been named by those who sought gold there. During the Depression of the 1930s, unemployed miners panned for gold – with some minor success – in Mill Creek in Salem.)
Information in this article is from the Library of the Polk County Historical Society. The Society’s Library and Museum, located at the Polk County Fairgrounds at Rickreall, is open to the public from 1 to 5 p.m. each day except Tuesdays, Sundays and holidays. Admission: adults, $5.00; seniors (age 62+), $4.00; children ages 6-17, $1.00; children under age 6, centenarians and Society members, free.)